The Philippines is one of the most extraordinary destinations in the world, famed for its clear turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, coral reefs, lush mountains, and amazing wildlife. It’s one of the best countries on the planet for diving, snorkelling, hiking, and connecting with beautiful nature. But with over 7,000 islands, where do you begin? We’ve got you covered, with seven of the best Philippines tourist spots to add to your bucket list.
Palawan is a group of islands and one of the Philippines’ most incredible tourist spots. The area is home to some of the best beaches in the country, with white sandy shores, lush jungles, rocky cliffs, and clear turquoise water.
Puerto Princesa is the capital city of Palawan province, with the nearby Subterranean River National Park where you’ll find towering karst formations and an underground river.
One of the most popular spots in Palawan is El Nido, a little town set between soaring limestone karsts and the gorgeous Bacuit archipelago. It’s home to clear waters, sandy islands, and excellent snorkelling spots. For incredible diving, head to Coron Island, where you’ll find electric blue water and many shipwrecks from World War II.
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The island of Bohol in the Visayas region is one of the best places to visit for a first time Philippines trip because it has everything from natural beauty to wildlife to historical and cultural sites. The most famous spot in Bohol is the Chocolate Hills in Carmen, a geological wonder where hundreds of dome-like formations scatter across the landscape. The greenery coating the hills turns brown in the dry season, making them look like chocolate kisses. They’re particularly beautiful at sunrise when the sun rays light up the hills.
If you’re a wildlife lover, you’ll want to see the amazing Tarsiers that live in this area. They’re the world’s smallest primate with huge orange eyes and tiny fingers and you can visit a primate sanctuary in Bohol to see them up close.
Of course, there’s plenty of water activities in Bohol. With dozens of gorgeous beaches and nearby marine reserves off the Panglao and Pamalican islands, you can spend days snorkelling and diving ‘til your heart’s content. You can take a boat up the Loboc River to see waterfalls or head over to Hinagdanan Cave. Or take a boat to Balicasag to see wild turtles and vibrant coral. And if you ever get tired of all the natural wonders, there’s also a number of historical sites and Spanish colonial architecture to explore.
Located in the west Visayas region, Boracay is one of the most popular stops on any Philippines tour… And for good reason. It’s an incredible beach and water sports destination with dozens of soft white sandy beaches and bright blue water. You can go scuba diving, snorkelling, parasailing, kayaking, and more. And if you love to party, Boracay is famed for its buzzing nightlife scene.
For the best beaches, head to Puka Shell Beach where you’ll find gorgeous shells. Or explore Cagban Beach with nearby caves rumoured to hold treasure chests! There’s also the central White Beach that has amazing views of the island and is close to lots of shopping, food and party spots. If you get tired of all the stunning beaches, take a day trip to the highest point of Boracay – Mount Luho.
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Surigao del Norte
If you’re looking for surfing, swimming and serenity, head to Surigao del Norte in the Caraga region of Mindanao. You’ll find some excellent surfing conditions and beautiful islands and lagoons.
Siargao is one of the most incredible islands, famed for its surfing waves, gorgeous waterfalls, and unique rock formations. The Cloud 9 break is the best surfing spot, but there’s plenty of other great surfing spots around the island. And if you don’t surf, you can snorkel in the coral lagoons, lounge on the white sandy beaches, or indulge in the freshest seafood. You can also hop over to Bucas Grande to see the beautiful Sohoton Caves. Or spend the day at the picturesque Guyam Island.
If you’ve still got time, you can head down to nearby Surigao del Sur. It’s about a four-hour drive and you can swing by a quieter lagoon with stingless jellyfish and explore unspoiled islands. There’s also the Tinuy-an Falls, which is 95-metres wide and flows down three spectacular tiers.
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The island province of Cebu in the Visayas region is one of the Philippines top tourist spots. Home to some of the best snorkelling and diving in the country, this is the place to explore islands, coral reefs and sea caves. You can even spot whale sharks and sea turtles here!
One of the best dive sites is Matcan, just a short drive from the international airport in Cebu. If you have the time, you could also head to Malapascua, said to be the best dive site in the Philippines. It’s a four-hour drive from the airport and a boat ride, but it’s an extraordinary place. You can also go hiking and exploring in the beautiful nature of Sudlon National Park, just an hour from Cebu city. Kawasan Falls is another spectacular spot.
While the water and nature is the main drawcard of Cebu, you can’t miss exploring Cebu City. It’s the second-largest city in the Philippines, with several incredible cultural and historical sites. Put the Lapu Monument, Casa Gorordo, Fort San Pedro, and Magellan’s Cross on your sightseeing list.
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The Philippines is famous for its beaches… But did you know it’s also home to some remarkable mountains? The Cordilleras is a stunning area on Luzon Island with lush green mountains, waterfalls and rice terraces to explore. You can spend your days hiking up mountains for spectacular views, exploring caves, and visiting local communities across popular spots like Baguio, Banaue, and Sagada.
You’ll find some of the best emerald rice terraces in Banaue. The Batad Rice Terraces and Bangaan Rice Terraces are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and you’ll be amazed by the intricate landscaping of the terraces. Built around 2,000 years ago, these agricultural wonders have been passed down through the generations.
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As the capital of the country, Manila is one of the most common Philippines tourist spots. Your trip will likely start or end in Manila and it’s worth spending a few days exploring the city before you head off to the islands. Start with the National Museum of the Philippines to learn about the country’s history. Then check out the cultural and historic sites like the walled city of Intramuros. Here you’ll find highlights like the Manila Cathedral, Fort Santiago, Plaza de Roma, and San Agustin Church.
If you want to relax in some greenery, head to Rizal Park. You’ll find ornamental gardens, wooded areas, and historic monuments. If you want to do some shopping, you’ll find handmade gifts at the public market at Quiapo Church, or head to the Makati area for luxury shopping malls. And if you get hungry, you’ll find everything from mouth-watering street food to high-end restaurants.
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Have you ever been on a Philippines trip? Or are you dreaming of a Philippines travel experience? Let us know in the comments below!