The Philippines, an archipelago consisting of more than 7,000 islands, is a tropical paradise that offers a plethora of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. From stunning beaches and vibrant coral reefs to lush rice terraces and historic landmarks, this Southeast Asian country is a haven for adventure seekers, nature lovers, and culture enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking to relax on pristine white sands, explore unique natural wonders, or immerse yourself in rich cultural heritage, the Philippines has something for everyone.
With its warm hospitality and abundant natural beauty, the Philippines has gained popularity as a top tourist destination in recent years. Its diverse landscapes, ranging from towering mountains to turquoise waters, provide endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. The country is also home to a rich cultural heritage, with influences from indigenous tribes, Spanish colonialism, and Asian neighbors.
In this article, we will explore the top 10 things to do in the Philippines, highlighting the must-see attractions and experiences that make this country so special. From the breathtaking beauty of Palawan to the historic significance of Manila, each destination offers a unique and unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, get ready to indulge in mouthwatering cuisine, and prepare to be amazed by the stunning natural wonders and vibrant culture of the Philippines.
When it comes to natural beauty, Palawan is often hailed as one of the most picturesque destinations in the world. With its crystal-clear waters, pristine white sand beaches, and stunning limestone cliffs, this province in the western part of the Philippines is a true tropical paradise.
One of the must-visit attractions in Palawan is the stunning Puerto Princesa Underground River. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features a navigable underground river that stretches for about 8.2 kilometers, showcasing impressive rock formations and a diverse ecosystem. Exploring the underground river on a guided boat tour is an enchanting experience that allows you to marvel at the wonders of nature.
Another popular destination in Palawan is El Nido. Known for its iconic limestone karsts and turquoise lagoons, El Nido offers breathtaking scenery and the opportunity for countless outdoor activities. Go island hopping and discover hidden beaches, relax on secluded shores, or snorkel and dive to explore vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life.
For those seeking even more adventure, Coron is a must-visit. This municipality is renowned for its world-class diving sites, including the famous Japanese shipwrecks from World War II. Dive enthusiasts can explore these shipwrecks, which have become home to a rich array of coral and marine species.
Palawan is also home to some of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines. Visit the picturesque beaches of Nacpan, where you can bask in the sun or take a dip in the crystal-clear waters. Or, venture to the small island of Coron, where you can take a dip in the hot springs or hike to the peak of Mount Tapyas for a stunning panoramic view.
With its incredible natural landscapes and diverse marine life, Palawan truly offers a slice of paradise for travelers. Whether you choose to relax on the beach, explore underground rivers, or dive into the vibrant underwater world, a visit to Palawan is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Explore the Rice Terraces of Banaue
The Rice Terraces of Banaue in the northern part of the Philippines are a marvel of engineering and a symbol of the country’s rich agricultural heritage. Carved into the mountains by the indigenous Ifugao people over 2,000 years ago, these ancient terraces are often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Visiting the Rice Terraces of Banaue is like stepping back in time. The terraces, which cover an area of over 10,000 square kilometers, are a testament to the ingenuity and hard work of the Ifugao people. The complex irrigation system that sustains the terraces is a masterpiece of engineering, utilizing gravity to distribute water evenly to the paddies.
Aside from their agricultural significance, the Rice Terraces of Banaue are a sight to behold. The terraces are often compared to giant staircases ascending the mountains, creating a stunning visual display. In fact, the terraces are so grand in scale that they can be seen from as far as the International Space Station.
Exploring the rice terraces is a truly immersive experience. Hiking through the terraces allows you to appreciate their intricate design and breathtaking view of the surrounding mountain landscape. You can also interact with the Ifugao people, who have preserved their traditional way of life and continue to cultivate the terraces using traditional farming methods.
For a deeper understanding of the Ifugao culture, paying a visit to the Banaue Museum is highly recommended. Here, you can learn about the history and significance of the rice terraces, as well as see artifacts and traditional crafts of the indigenous people.
Beyond the picturesque rice terraces, the Banaue area is also home to other attractions. Batad, a nearby village, offers more stunning rice terraces and the opportunity to stay in traditional Ifugao huts. Tappiya Falls, located in Batad, is another highlight. This majestic waterfall is accessible through a scenic hike and provides a refreshing oasis surrounded by lush greenery.
Exploring the Rice Terraces of Banaue is not only an opportunity to witness a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also a chance to appreciate the harmonious relationship between humans and nature. The ancient terraces are a testament to the sustainable farming practices of the Ifugao people, as well as a reminder of the importance of preserving our cultural heritage.
Dive into the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
Located in the Sulu Sea, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a marine protected area that has garnered global recognition for its exceptional biodiversity and pristine coral reefs. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this underwater paradise offers some of the best diving experiences in the Philippines.
The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is famous for its crystal-clear waters, colorful coral gardens, and abundant marine life. Divers can explore a vast array of coral formations, including vibrant hard and soft corals, upon which a stunning variety of fish and other marine species thrive.
One of the highlights of diving in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is encountering large pelagic species. Sightings of sharks, including hammerheads, tiger sharks, and whale sharks, are not uncommon. The park is also home to various turtle species, barracudas, manta rays, and countless other marine creatures, making each dive a truly exhilarating experience.
With over 100,000 hectares of marine biodiversity, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park offers plenty of dive sites to explore. Each site boasts unique features and marine inhabitants, ensuring a diverse and exciting underwater adventure. Some popular dive sites include Jessie Beazley Reef, Seafan Alley, and Washing Machine, each offering its own distinct charm.
Due to its remote location and commitment to preservation, access to Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is limited. Diving trips are typically conducted by liveaboard boats, which provide accommodation and access to multiple dive sites within the park. This exclusivity adds to the allure of diving in this pristine marine sanctuary.
Aside from diving, the park is also a haven for snorkelers and nature enthusiasts. The shallow reefs near the surface teem with marine life and are ideal for snorkeling, allowing non-divers to witness the beauty of the park.
As Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a protected area, conservation efforts are of utmost importance. Strict regulations are in place to ensure the preservation of the park’s fragile ecosystem. Visitors are required to follow guidelines and responsible diving practices to minimize their impact on the environment.
For avid divers and nature lovers, diving into the depths of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is an experience of a lifetime. The park’s awe-inspiring beauty and remarkable biodiversity make it a must-visit destination for those seeking unparalleled underwater adventures.
Discover the Chocolate Hills in Bohol
Bohol, an island province in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, is a destination known for its natural wonders, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage. Among its many attractions, the most iconic and unique are the Chocolate Hills.
The Chocolate Hills are a geological formation consisting of approximately 1,268 perfectly cone-shaped hills spread across an area of more than 50 square kilometers. During the dry season, the hills turn brown, resembling giant chocolate mounds, hence their name. This surreal landscape is a sight to behold and has become one of the most famous landmarks in the Philippines.
To fully appreciate the beauty of the Chocolate Hills, head to the viewing deck in Carmen, the main town in the area. From the deck, you can marvel at the breathtaking panoramic view of the hills, their symmetrical formations stretching as far as the eye can see. The best time to visit is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the light casts enchanting shadows on the hills, adding to their mystique.
While the Chocolate Hills are the main draw, Bohol offers so much more to explore. Take a cruise along the Loboc River, surrounded by lush foliage and serene waters. Enjoy a floating restaurant experience while indulging in delicious local cuisine and being serenaded by live musicians.
Another must-visit attraction in Bohol is the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary. This protected area is home to the world’s smallest primate, the Philippine Tarsier. Observing these adorable creatures in their natural habitat is a unique and unforgettable experience. Remember to respect their space, as they are nocturnal and easily stressed.
For beach lovers, Bohol boasts stunning coastlines dotted with white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Alona Beach in Panglao is a popular choice, offering a laid-back atmosphere and excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. Here, you can swim with vibrant marine life and even spot turtles and dolphins.
Bohol is also rich in cultural heritage, with several historic churches and old Spanish-era buildings. The Baclayon Church, one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, is a notable landmark that showcases beautiful Baroque architecture. The Blood Compact Shrine, commemorating the first treaty of friendship between the Spanish and Filipinos, is another significant historical site to visit.
Whether you’re exploring the mystical Chocolate Hills, cruising along the Loboc River, or relaxing on stunning beaches, Bohol offers a captivating mix of natural wonders and cultural treasures. A visit to this enchanting province is sure to leave you with lasting memories of its unique charm and beauty.
Relax on the Pristine Beaches of Boracay
Boracay, a small island in the central Philippines, is renowned for its world-class beaches and crystal-clear waters. With its fine white sand, vibrant nightlife, and a multitude of water activities, Boracay offers the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure.
White Beach, stretching along the western side of the island, is the most popular beach in Boracay. Its powdery white sand and calm turquoise waters make it an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying breathtaking sunsets. Take leisurely walks along the beach, indulge in beachfront dining, or simply unwind under a shady palm tree.
Puka Beach, located on the northern part of the island, is another must-visit destination. Known for its less crowded and more serene atmosphere, Puka Beach offers a relaxing retreat away from the bustling tourist areas. Take a dip in the refreshing waters, stroll along the shore collecting beautiful seashells, or simply bask in the tranquility of this stunning beach.
For those seeking more thrill and adventure, Bulabog Beach on the eastern side of the island is the place to be. Known as the water sports hub of Boracay, Bulabog Beach is famous for its strong winds, making it perfect for kiteboarding and windsurfing. Grab a board, learn a new water sport, and experience the adrenaline rush as you glide across the waves.
Aside from the amazing beaches, Boracay also offers a vibrant nightlife scene. Head to Station 2, where you’ll find numerous bars, nightclubs, and live music venues. Enjoy beachfront parties, dance the night away, and make unforgettable memories with fellow travelers from around the world.
Boracay is not just about beaches and nightlife. The island also offers opportunities for island hopping, snorkeling, and diving. Embark on a boat tour and visit nearby islands like Crocodile Island and Crystal Cove, where you can explore vibrant coral reefs and swim with tropical marine life.
To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Boracay, consider taking a paraw sailing adventure. A paraw is a traditional Filipino sailboat, and sailing on one of these colorful vessels allows you to appreciate the stunning coastline and enjoy the gentle sea breeze as you glide across the waters.
With its picturesque beaches, exciting water activities, and vibrant atmosphere, Boracay is a paradise for beach lovers and adventure seekers alike. Whether you prefer to relax on the pristine shores, indulge in thrilling water sports, or party the night away, Boracay offers an unforgettable beach experience that caters to every traveler’s desires.
Experience the Cultural Heritage of Vigan
Vigan, located in the province of Ilocos Sur in the northern part of the Philippines, is renowned for its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture and rich cultural heritage. This historic city offers a glimpse into the country’s colonial past and provides an immersive experience of traditional Filipino culture.
Walking through the laid-back streets of Vigan is like stepping back in time. The city’s most iconic attraction is Calle Crisologo, a cobblestone street lined with colonial-era houses. These well-preserved heritage houses, adorned with intricate wooden balconies, are a testament to Vigan’s Spanish colonial past. Take a leisurely stroll along Calle Crisologo, soak in the nostalgic atmosphere, and admire the architectural beauty of these magnificent structures.
Another highlight of Vigan is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, the Historic City of Vigan. This well-preserved colonial town showcases a fusion of Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino architectural styles. Explore the charming plazas, visit the centuries-old St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral, and marvel at the intricate details of the Syquia Mansion, the ancestral home of former Philippine President Elpidio Quirino.
To delve deeper into Vigan’s cultural heritage, a visit to the Crisologo Museum is highly recommended. The museum is home to a collection of antique furniture, artifacts, and memorabilia that offer insights into the city’s history and the lives of prominent Vigan families.
While in Vigan, it is a must to try the city’s famous delicacy, “Vigan Longganisa.” These locally made sausages are known for their garlicky flavor and distinctive taste. Indulge in a hearty breakfast of Vigan Longganisa, paired with garlic rice and vinegar, to truly savor the flavors of the region.
Immerse yourself further in Vigan’s cultural heritage by watching a performance of the “Kalesa,” a traditional horse-drawn carriage that was once a common mode of transportation in the city. Taking a leisurely ride in a Kalesa allows you to explore the streets of Vigan at a relaxed pace and adds a touch of nostalgia to your experience.
Visiting Vigan during the annual “Viva Vigan Festival” is an opportunity to witness the vibrant cultural traditions of the city. The festival, held every January, showcases colorful parades, street dances, cultural performances, and a showcase of local crafts and delicacies, providing a truly immersive cultural experience.
With its well-preserved architectural treasures, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant festivals, Vigan offers a unique and captivating travel experience. Exploring the streets of this charming city allows you to step back in time and gain a deeper understanding of the Philippines’ colonial past and traditional way of life.
Trek to the Mayon Volcano in Albay
Towering majestically over the province of Albay in the Philippines, the Mayon Volcano is an impressive natural wonder that attracts adventurers and nature enthusiasts from around the world. Renowned for its perfectly symmetrical cone shape and scenic landscapes, trekking to the summit of Mayon Volcano offers a thrilling and rewarding experience.
Rising 2,462 meters above sea level, Mayon Volcano is known for its volcanic activity and its picture-perfect beauty. The scenic landscapes surrounding the volcano feature lush green forests, undulating hills, and picturesque rivers, creating a breathtaking backdrop for your trekking adventure.
While climbing Mayon Volcano is a challenging and physically demanding activity, the exhilaration and sense of accomplishment you’ll feel upon reaching the summit are unmatched. The most popular trail is the Mayon Lava Front or “Budiao” trail, which takes you through volcanic rock formations and ash fields.
As you ascend, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, the nearby cities of Legazpi and Daraga, as well as the stunning Albay Gulf. On clear days, you may even catch a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean and neighboring islands.
It’s important to note that trekking to the summit of Mayon Volcano is only permitted with a local guide for safety reasons. These experienced guides will ensure that you navigate the trails properly and provide valuable insights about the volcano’s geology and history.
For adventurers looking for a more challenging trek, there is an option to do a traverse hike, starting from the Lignon Hill in Legazpi and ending at the Mayon Rest House, located near the crater. This demanding trek will take you through varied terrains and reward you with stunning panoramic views of the volcano at different perspectives.
For those who prefer a less strenuous experience or have limited time, there are also viewing decks located around the volcano that offer stunning views without the need for a full ascent.
As Mayon Volcano is an active volcano, it’s important to check with local authorities and guides for any safety advisories or restrictions before planning your trek. It’s advisable to wear appropriate hiking gear, bring plenty of water and snacks, and be prepared for changing weather conditions.
Trekking to the Mayon Volcano in Albay is an unforgettable adventure that allows you to appreciate the raw beauty of nature and witness the power of a live volcano. This awe-inspiring journey will leave you with lasting memories of stunning landscapes and a sense of awe at the forces of nature.
Explore the Underground River in Puerto Princesa
Located in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, the Underground River is a natural wonder that has gained global recognition and is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. This subterranean river system offers an extraordinary and mystical adventure that will leave you in awe of its hidden beauty.
The Underground River, also known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, features a navigable underground river that stretches for about 8.2 kilometers. Exploring this underground river is an unforgettable experience as you glide through its dramatic limestone formations, ancient rock formations, and eerie darkness.
As you journey through the river, you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who will point out interesting rock formations that resemble various objects, animals, and even religious figures. The most famous formation is called the “Cathedral,” a massive cavern with towering stalagmites and stalactites resembling a place of worship.
The diverse ecosystem within the Underground River is a sight to behold. The river is home to various species of bats, rare birds, reptiles, and insects. As you explore, you may spot swiftlets flying overhead or catch a glimpse of the Palawan hornbill, a critically endangered bird species.
The serenity and mystique of the Underground River create an otherworldly atmosphere that captivates visitors. The importance of conservation is emphasized as you navigate through the river’s pristine environment, with strict guidelines in place to protect its fragile ecosystem.
Due to its natural and cultural significance, the Underground River has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This recognition highlights the importance of preserving and showcasing this unique natural wonder for generations to come.
Access to the Underground River is carefully regulated to protect its integrity. Visitors are required to secure permits and undergo a guided tour to ensure the preservation of the site. It is advisable to book your tour in advance, especially during peak seasons.
Aside from the Underground River, Puerto Princesa offers other attractions such as Honda Bay, where you can enjoy island hopping or snorkeling in clear waters teeming with marine life. The city is also known for its crocodile farm, butterfly garden, and mangrove forest tours, allowing you to further explore the natural wonders of Palawan.
Exploring the Underground River in Puerto Princesa is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that immerses you in a world of hidden beauty and natural wonders. Discover the enchantment of this underground marvel and witness the awe-inspiring grandeur of one of the world’s most extraordinary river systems.
Discover the Stunning Waterfalls of Cebu
Cebu, an island province in the Philippines, is not only known for its pristine beaches but also for its breathtaking waterfalls nestled amid lush mountains and forests. Exploring these stunning cascades in Cebu is a must for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
One of the most popular waterfalls in Cebu is Kawasan Falls. Located in Badian, Kawasan Falls is a three-tiered waterfall that showcases crystal-clear turquoise waters cascading into serene natural pools. Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters, go canyoneering to experience the rush of jumping off cliffs and swimming through hidden canyons, or simply relax and savor the beauty of this enchanting waterfall.
In the town of Alegria, you’ll find Cambais Falls, a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Cambais Falls is a series of small cascades surrounded by lush greenery and rock formations. Take a short hike through the forest to reach the falls, where you can enjoy a peaceful swim and bask in the tranquility of this secluded paradise.
Tumalog Falls in Oslob is another must-visit waterfall in Cebu. Known for its unique thin cascades resembling strands of white hair, Tumalog Falls offers a mesmerizing sight. Immerse yourself in the refreshing waters and feel the gentle spray of the cascades as you marvel at the beauty of this natural wonder.
In the town of Ginatilan, you’ll find the enchanting Inambakan Falls. This multi-tiered waterfall boasts a picturesque setting with its turquoise pools, moss-covered rocks, and towering cliffs. Take a dip in the cool waters or climb to the higher tiers for a more stunning view of the area.
For a more adventurous trek, head to Aguinid Falls in Samboan. This five-tiered waterfall presents a unique challenge as you climb up through the cascades, with the water becoming more intense at each tier. The reward is a refreshing swim in the natural pools at each level and the exhilaration of conquering the climb.
When visiting the waterfalls in Cebu, it’s important to respect the environment and practice responsible tourism. Follow the guidelines set by local authorities, dispose of trash properly, and be mindful of the flora and fauna in the area.
Exploring the stunning waterfalls of Cebu offers a chance to escape into nature’s beauty and experience the tranquility of these hidden gems. From relaxing by the cascades to embarking on exciting treks, the waterfalls of Cebu promise awe-inspiring landscapes and unforgettable adventures.
Visit the Historic Fort Santiago in Manila
Located in the heart of Manila, Fort Santiago is a significant historical landmark that offers a glimpse into the rich and tumultuous past of the Philippines. This well-preserved fort holds deep cultural and historical significance and is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking to understand the country’s colonial past.
Fort Santiago served as a military stronghold during the Spanish colonial period and later as a prison during World War II. Today, it stands as a memorial and a museum that showcases the country’s history and honors the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, who was imprisoned and executed within its walls.
As you enter Fort Santiago, you’ll be greeted by its iconic entrance, known as the Puerta Real, which bears the Spanish coat of arms. Inside the fort, you’ll find a peaceful garden lined with palm trees, fountains, and a statue of Jose Rizal. Take a leisurely walk and soak in the serene atmosphere while learning about the fort’s historical significance.
Within the fort, the Rizal Shrine Museum provides insights into the life and writings of Dr. Jose Rizal, a prominent figure in Philippine history. The museum features artifacts and memorabilia that depict Rizal’s contributions to the country’s struggle for independence, making it an essential stop for those interested in Philippine nationalist movements.
One of the significant areas within Fort Santiago is the Dulaang Raha Sulayman, an open-air theater that showcases cultural performances and reenactments of historical events. Watch live performances that showcase traditional Filipino dances, music, and theater, providing a deeper understanding of the country’s cultural heritage.
As you stroll through the fortress, you’ll come across well-preserved buildings, dungeons, and ramparts that offer a glimpse into its military past. The bastions and walls, some adorned with historical markers, provide a picturesque backdrop for photographs and a chance to reflect on the fort’s historical significance.
Fort Santiago is not only a historical landmark but also a place for reflection and contemplation. The Rizal Shrine, located at the site of Rizal’s execution, stands as a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by the national hero for the sake of Philippine independence.
By visiting Fort Santiago, you can delve into the nation’s colonial history, honor its heroes, and gain a deeper understanding of the struggles and triumphs that have shaped the Philippines. It is a must-visit destination that offers both educational and cultural insights into the country’s rich past.
The Philippines is a captivating country that offers a wide array of experiences for travelers seeking adventure, natural beauty, and cultural immersion. From the stunning beaches of Boracay to the enchanting Underground River in Palawan, the Philippines is a haven for those who yearn to explore extraordinary landscapes and immerse themselves in rich cultural heritage.
Whether you’re marveling at the perfectly cone-shaped Chocolate Hills in Bohol or trekking through the dense forests to discover hidden waterfalls in Cebu, the Philippines never fails to delight and awe visitors with its diverse natural wonders.
But it’s not just about its breathtaking landscapes; the Philippines also boasts a rich cultural tapestry that reflects the influences of its indigenous tribes, Spanish colonial legacy, and diverse Asian heritage. From the historic Fort Santiago in Manila to the cultural heritage of Vigan, each destination offers a window into the country’s remarkable past and vibrant present.
As you indulge in mouthwatering cuisine, witness colorful festivals, and engage with warm and hospitable locals, you’ll understand why the Philippines is not just a destination but an experience that leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of those who visit.
However, it’s important to remember that the beauty and allure of the Philippines come with a responsibility to protect and preserve its natural treasures and cultural heritage. Respect for the environment, local customs, and traditions should be at the forefront of every traveler’s mind.
So, whether you’re seeking thrilling adventures, peaceful relaxation on pristine beaches, or a journey into the rich history and diverse culture, the Philippines has it all. Embrace the spirit of exploration, prepare to be enchanted, and let the wonders of this beautiful archipelago unfold before you.
Are you ready to embark on your Philippine adventure? Discover the Philippines – a country that will captivate your senses, ignite your spirit of adventure, and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.