With so many places to visit in the Philippines, it can be hard to know where to go during your trip. The country is made up of over 7,000 islands! You can’t visit them all in one go!
The Philippines is one of southeast Asia’s underrated destinations. Thailand and Vietnam might get all the love, but there is plenty to see in the Philippines too.
With beautiful spots like El Nido, Boracay and Honda Bay to check out, you’re missing out if you don’t visit the Philippines while you’re in the region. The big cities of Manila and Cebu have plenty to see too.
I spent a good month travelling around the Philippines, and although I didn’t get to see everything that I wanted to do, I still saw a lot of this beautiful country.
This list contains some of the amazing places in the Philippines that I was fortunate enough to visit and some others that I would like to check out should I return to the country in the future!
Places to visit in the Philippines
El Nido is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in the Philippines. This hidden gem on the island of Palawan is a beautiful part of the world and is rumoured to have served as the inspiration for Alex Garland’s famous novel, The Beach.
It’s not hard to see when you visit. To get there, you need to take a 5-hour bus journey from Puerto Princesa on bumpy concrete roads. But once you arrive in the town, you’ll be blown away by what you see.
My El Nido travel guide goes into more depth, but you’ll discover glorious sandy beaches, views that will take your breath away and lots to do. One thing you have to do is go on a boat tour.
There are a lot of islands in the bay in El Nido and exploring them is a must. With names like Hidden Beach and Secret Beach, it’s an indication of how unspoilt these places are!
El Nido was my favourite place from my trip to the Philippines. My only regret is that I didn’t spend more time there!
Boracay is another beachside destination that is popular in the Philippines. With white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, it’s not hard to see why!
This small island is one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines. Because of its beauty, you have to visit Boracay, while you’re in the Philippines. Even if you spend your whole time at White Beach, it will be worth it.
But there is a lot more to do than just relax at the beach. You can go cliff jumping at Ariel’s Point, party at the numerous bars on the strip or go hiking in the hills on the other side of the island.
Boracay is renowned for its beach and that will be the main pull for most people, but look beyond that and you’ll find more than a beachside paradise. You’ll find a beautiful island with a lot to offer!
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is one of the lesser-known places to visit in the Philippines, but it’s one of the best too. The river was included on a list of the new seven wonders of nature.
It’s easy to see why when you visit. The river is located on the island of Palawan and you’ll need to book a tour from the capital, Puerto Princesa, to get there.
You enter the underground river on a boat with a tour guide taking you through the incredible sights. Even though it’s dark, the lights on the boat do illuminate the river and bring home big and deep it is.
You only get to see a portion of the river, it’s 24 kilometres (15 mi) long, but it’s worth it. I can’t think of any other similar place I’ve visited. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is an amazing place that will leave you in awe at the beauty of nature.
As the capital of the Philippines and the main gateway into the country, you’re going to visit Manila at some point during your stay in the country. Manila is a huge city and it can be hard to get your bearings when you first visit.
I was taken aback by this when I first visited. It was my first experience of an Asian city and I was struck by how busy it was and how many people there were in one city. It was eye-opening.
Manila has plenty of places to visit and perhaps the best is the old town of Intramuros. It’s a walled city that dates from the Spanish occupation of the Philippines, which still retains plenty of the charm to this day.
You’ll also find plenty of malls, museums and a sprawling promenade that overlooks Manila bay. It may seem grungy on the surface, but peel away at this veneer and you’ll discover a fascinating city.
Cebu City is the biggest city on the island of Cebu and is located in the Central Visayas region. It’s an intriguing city with a lot of places to explore.
Cebu has a lot of history and that is evident if you go and visit Magellan’s Cross. The cross was planted by followers of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan after they arrived on the island in 1521.
Fort San Pedro is another historical place in the city you should check out. It was built as a military fortress to repel Muslim raiders in 1738. The fortress has been damaged in the years since, and what remains are the ruins of its former self.
You can also take a day trip to Moalboal, which is a 2.5-hour drive from Cebu city. Here, you can relax at the beach, go snorkelling, or travel inland to check out the amazing Kawasan Falls.
If you visit you’ll be treated to sandy beaches, blue waters and some stunning views. This is one of the best places in the Philippines to go if you want to relax on a beach.
One of the best things to do while you’re in Honda Bay is to go island hopping. You’ll find many tour operators in the area who can take you out on a boat to the numerous islands in the bay.
You can go jet skiing and snorkelling on Cowrie Island, while Starfish Island is another great spot to go snorkelling. It’s also full of starfish, as you’d expect given the name.
Bohol is an island located in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines. It’s an interesting island with a lot to see and do. To get there, you’ll either need to fly into the airport or take the ferry from Cebu.
When you do visit, you’ll be treated to some spectacular natural sights. Chocolate Hills is the most well-known. You won’t find any chocolate here, but the hills are a spectacular sight.
There are over 1,000 of them covering an area of 50 square kilometres (20 sq mi). You’ll need to book a tour or rent a scooter to get there, as they are 55 km (34 miles) from the regional capital Tagbilaran.
As well as the Chocolate Hills, you’ll find beaches to relax at such as Alona Beach and rivers and forests to explore too. Bohol is also one of the few places you can see a Tarsier monkey at numerous sanctuaries on the island.
Siargao Island is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Philippines. The island is located in the central Visayas with Tacloban being the nearest city.
While the vast majority of the island is underdeveloped, the main attraction is the stunning beaches. Backpacking in the Philippines will take you to some incredible beaches, but Siargao may have the best of the lot!
Another reason to visit Siargao is to go surfing. The island has some of the best surf in the Philippines owing to its location in the Philippine archipelago.
If you’re not into surfing, there are still plenty of things to do on the island. You can relax at the beach, spend some time in the main town of General Luna, or check out the intriguing Tayangban Cave.
If you want to take a step back in time, a trip to Vigan is in order. The town is a well-preserved 16th-century town which dates from the Spanish occupation of the Philippines.
The city is located on the western part of the island of Luzon. Vigan is worth visiting to see the beauty of the city and to imagine what is like back when it was first founded.
In the city you’ll find a lot of plazas, a cathedral and many more historic buildings to marvel at. You can also visit the beach, which is a great place to relax and catch a few rays.
One thing you have to try in Vigan before you leave is the food! Ilocano food is some of the best in the Philippines. Vigan Longganisa, Empanada, Bagnet and Chichacorn are some of the delicacies you should try!
Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces is without a doubt one of the most impressive places to go in the Philippines. The rice terraces are located in the mountains of Banaue in Ifugao.
The main reason to visit is to marvel at the sight of rice terraces that are located 1,500 metres (4,900 feet) above sea level. To this day, locals still plant rice and vegetables in the terraces.
As well as the terraces, you can also check out the Tappiya Waterfall, which is nearby. You can hike to the waterfall and also swim in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.
There are plenty of beautiful places in the Philippines, but the Banaue Rice Terraces are one of the best!
One of the weirder places to visit in the Philippines is Sagada. The main reason for this is the hanging coffins that can be found in Echo valley.
The coffins hang on the side of steep crevices as the locals believe that the dead should be placed there because they can be closer to God as they begin their journey into the afterlife.
As interesting as the coffins are, there are plenty of other things to do in Sagada. You can go caving in Sumaguing Cave and admire the various rock formations to be found there.
Sagada is located on the island of Luzon, although it is a hard place to get to. However, should you decide to visit Sagada, you won’t be disappointed with what you find!
The Philippines has plenty of breathtaking places to visit and the Batanes Islands are among the best. The scenery here is on a par with backpacking in New Zealand, which is some statement considering how beautiful New Zealand is.
The islands are the northernmost province in the Philippines and it’s almost as close to Taiwan as it is to the nearest Filipino island, Luzon!
Of the ten islands, only the largest three are inhabited, Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang. The islands have green rolling hills and pristine beaches. Sabtang beach is one of the best in the province.
The Batanes Islands aren’t the easiest place in the Philippines to get to. But if you do visit, you’ll be blown away by the beauty of these unspoilt islands!
Corregidor Island is a strip of land that lies in the Bay of Manila and is a fascinating place to visit if you’re interested in history.
Due to its location in the bay, it was an important strategic point during the Battle of the Philippines in the Second World War.
You’ll find plenty of remnants from the war, such as destroyed buildings that have been left as a memorial to the victims of the war and the Malinta Tunnel.
As well as the reminders of the war, you’ll find plenty of other stuff on Corregidor too. The lighthouse is worth checking out as is the beach on the island!
Siquijor is one of the best islands to visit in the Philippines. The island is the Central Visayas region with Cebu to the north, Bohol to the northeast and Mindanao to the west.
You’ll find a whole array of things to do in Siquijor. The beaches on the island are magnificent and ideal for relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather.
While the natural beauty of the island includes coral reefs, numerous waterfalls and pools that you can swim in and caves to explore.
It takes five hours to reach Siquijor from Cebu, but the journey is worth it. This is one of the most beautiful parts of the Philippines and you’d be missing out if you didn’t visit!
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