Top 15 Must-Visit Places in the Philippines: A Complete Travel Guide


Let’s dive into the beautiful Philippines and explore 15 must-visit places that you should definitely add to your travel itinerary. Grab your virtual passport, and let’s get started on this exciting journey!

1. Manila: The Vibrant Capital

Welcome to Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines! If you're flying into the country, there's a good chance you'll start your adventure here. Manila is a city that seamlessly blends the old with the new.

First things first, you have to visit Intramuros, the historic walled city. It’s like stepping back in time. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, visit the grand Manila Cathedral, and don’t miss Fort Santiago, a citadel that played a significant role in Philippine history. If you’re a history buff, the Rizal Shrine inside the fort, dedicated to the national hero Dr. José Rizal, is a must-see.

After soaking in the history, switch gears and head to Makati, the modern heart of Manila. Here, you’ll find glitzy malls, skyscrapers, and an energetic nightlife. If shopping is your thing, Greenbelt and Glorietta are your go-to spots. And for a taste of local culture, catch a performance at the Cultural Center of the Philippines or explore the National Museum Complex, which houses an impressive collection of Filipino art and artifacts.

Manila is also a food lover’s paradise. From street food to fine dining, the city offers a culinary journey like no other. Try the famous lechon (roast pig), balut (fertilized duck egg), and halo-halo, a deliciously sweet dessert. Don’t forget to visit Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown, for a taste of Chinese-Filipino fusion cuisine.

2. Palawan: Nature’s Masterpiece

Next, let’s head to Palawan, often referred to as the last frontier of the Philippines. This place is a paradise for nature lovers. If you’re looking for crystal-clear waters, stunning limestone cliffs, and diverse marine life, Palawan should be at the top of your list.

Start your Palawan adventure in El Nido. It’s like stepping into a postcard. The dramatic karst landscapes and hidden lagoons are simply breathtaking. Island hopping tours are a must here. Hop on a boat and explore the stunning Bacuit Archipelago, with stops at Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, and Secret Lagoon. Don’t miss the chance to kayak through these crystal-clear waters.

Then, make your way to Coron, another gem in Palawan. Coron is famous for its World War II wreck diving sites, crystal-clear lakes, and beautiful coral gardens. Kayangan Lake, often dubbed the cleanest lake in the Philippines, is a sight to behold. Hike up to the viewing deck for a panoramic view that will leave you speechless.

For a more laid-back experience, visit Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must-visit. Take a boat tour through the underground river and marvel at the stunning rock formations and diverse wildlife.

3. Boracay: Beach Lover’s Paradise

Now, let’s set our sights on Boracay, the ultimate beach destination. Boracay is known for its powdery white sand beaches and vibrant nightlife. White Beach is the star attraction here. Stretching for about four kilometers, this beach is divided into three sections, each offering a different vibe.

Station 1 is where you’ll find upscale resorts and a more tranquil atmosphere. Station 2 is the bustling heart of Boracay, with plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops. If you’re looking for nightlife, this is the place to be. Station 3 is quieter and perfect for those who want a more laid-back experience.

Aside from lounging on the beach and soaking up the sun, Boracay offers a plethora of water activities. Try parasailing for a bird’s eye view of the island, go kiteboarding at Bulabog Beach, or take a sunset sail on a paraw, a traditional Filipino sailboat.

If you’re a diver, Boracay has some great dive sites. Yapak, with its deep walls and abundant marine life, is a favorite among experienced divers. Crocodile Island, despite its name, is a fantastic spot for snorkeling and diving, with vibrant coral reefs and a variety of fish.

After a day of fun in the sun, Boracay’s nightlife awaits. From beach bars to nightclubs, there’s something for everyone. The famous Boracay PubCrawl is a great way to meet fellow travelers and experience the island’s party scene.

4. Cebu: The Queen City of the South

Next up is Cebu, known as the Queen City of the South. Cebu is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and plenty of natural attractions. It’s the perfect blend of city life and outdoor adventure.

Start your Cebu adventure in Cebu City, where you can explore historical sites like Magellan’s Cross, planted by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, home to the oldest religious relic in the Philippines. The Cebu Taoist Temple, with its stunning architecture and panoramic city views, is another must-visit.

For a dose of adventure, head to the southern part of Cebu. Oslob is famous for whale shark watching. Swimming with these gentle giants is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Nearby, you can visit Tumalog Falls, a stunning curtain-like waterfall perfect for a refreshing dip.

Kawasan Falls, located in Badian, is another highlight. This multi-tiered waterfall is known for its turquoise blue waters. You can go canyoneering here, which involves trekking, climbing, and jumping into the falls. It’s an adrenaline-pumping adventure that you won’t forget.

Cebu is also a gateway to other beautiful islands. Malapascua Island is famous for its thresher sharks, while Bantayan Island offers pristine beaches and a more laid-back vibe. Don’t miss Moalboal, known for its sardine run and vibrant coral reefs.

5. Bohol: Nature and Adventure

Bohol is another gem in the Philippines, known for its unique natural attractions and outdoor adventures. The island is home to the famous Chocolate Hills, a series of over a thousand limestone mounds that turn brown during the dry season, resembling giant chocolate drops. The best way to see them is by visiting the Chocolate Hills Complex or climbing up to the viewing deck at Sagbayan Peak.

Another must-visit in Bohol is the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella. The tarsier is one of the world’s smallest primates, and seeing these tiny creatures up close is a unique experience. Remember to respect their space and avoid using flash photography, as tarsiers are sensitive to light.

For beach lovers, Panglao Island, connected to Bohol by bridges, is the place to be. Alona Beach is the most popular spot, known for its white sand and vibrant nightlife. You can also go island hopping to nearby Balicasag Island and Virgin Island, both offering excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities.

Bohol is also a great destination for adventure seekers. Go zip-lining at the Loboc Eco-Tourism Adventure Park or take a river cruise along the Loboc River. The Abatan River Firefly Tour is a magical experience, where you can see thousands of fireflies lighting up the night sky.

6. Siargao: Surfing Haven

Siargao is the surfing capital of the Philippines, and it’s no wonder why. With its world-class surf breaks and laid-back island vibe, Siargao has become a favorite destination for surfers and beach lovers alike.

Cloud 9 is the most famous surf spot on the island. Whether you’re an experienced surfer or a beginner, the waves here will not disappoint. If you’re new to surfing, there are plenty of surf schools offering lessons and board rentals.

But Siargao is not just for surfers. The island is home to stunning lagoons, beautiful beaches, and lush mangrove forests. Take a boat tour to Sugba Lagoon, where you can swim, paddleboard, or jump off the diving board into the clear blue waters. Don’t miss Magpupungko Rock Pools, natural tide pools that are perfect for a refreshing dip during low tide.

Island hopping is another must-do activity in Siargao. Visit the trio of islands: Naked Island, Daku Island, and Guyam Island. Naked Island is a small sandbar with nothing but white sand, while Daku Island offers a more traditional island experience with its coconut trees and clear waters. Guyam Island is a tiny, picturesque island perfect for a relaxing day trip.

7. Banaue: Rice Terraces Wonder

Let’s head to the mountains for a change of scenery. Banaue, located in the northern part of Luzon, is famous for its stunning rice terraces, often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” These terraces were carved into the mountains by the Ifugao people over 2,000 years ago and are still used for farming today.

The Banaue Rice Terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage site and are best viewed from the Banaue Viewpoint. From here, you can see the terraces cascading down the mountainside, creating a breathtaking landscape. For a more immersive experience, hike to Batad, a village with its own set of stunning rice terraces. The trek can be challenging, but the views are absolutely worth it.

While in Banaue, take the opportunity to learn about the culture and traditions of the Ifugao people. Visit the Banaue Museum to see artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of this indigenous group. You can also explore traditional Ifugao houses and learn about their way of life.

8. Vigan: Colonial Charm

Step back in time with a visit to Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture. Walking through the cobblestone streets of Vigan feels like traveling back to the 16th century.

Calle Crisologo is the heart of Vigan’s historic district. This picturesque street is lined with ancestral houses, antique shops, and souvenir stores. Take a leisurely stroll or hop on a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) to explore the area. Visit the Syquia Mansion, the former home of Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, to get a glimpse of Vigan’s colonial past.

Another must-visit is the St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral, also known as Vigan Cathedral. This impressive structure, built in the Baroque architectural style, is a prominent landmark in the city. Nearby, you’ll find Plaza Salcedo, a charming plaza where you can watch the famous dancing fountain show in the evenings.

For a taste of Vigan’s culinary delights, try the local delicacy called Vigan longganisa, a garlicky sausage, and empanada, a savory pastry filled with meat and vegetables. Don’t forget to visit the local pottery shops and watch the traditional process of making burnay jars.

9. Batanes: The Land of the Wind

Batanes, the northernmost province of the Philippines, is often described as the country’s most picturesque destination. With its rolling hills, dramatic cliffs, and traditional stone houses, Batanes offers a unique and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Start your Batanes adventure in Basco, the capital. Visit Basco Lighthouse for a panoramic view of the island and the surrounding ocean. For a more challenging hike, climb Mount Iraya, an active volcano that offers breathtaking views from the summit.

One of the most iconic sights in Batanes is Marlboro Country, also known as Racuh A Payaman. This vast pastureland offers stunning views of rolling hills and the sea. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic or just to sit and take in the beauty of nature.

Don’t miss a visit to the traditional Ivatan villages of Savidug and Chavayan in Sabtang Island. Here, you’ll see stone houses with thick thatched roofs, designed to withstand the strong winds and typhoons that frequent the area. The honesty of the Ivatan people is also a unique experience; you’ll find unmanned stores where you can buy snacks and leave your payment in a box.

10. Davao: Mindanao’s Gem

Davao City, located in the southern part of the Philippines, is known for its clean and green environment, diverse culture, and delicious food. It’s also the gateway to Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines.

Start your Davao adventure by exploring the city’s attractions. Visit the Davao Crocodile Park, where you can see crocodiles and other wildlife up close. For a taste of local culture, head to the Museo Dabawenyo and learn about the history and heritage of the region.

One of the highlights of Davao is the Philippine Eagle Center, home to the critically endangered Philippine Eagle. The center is dedicated to the conservation of this majestic bird, and visiting it supports their efforts.

If you’re up for a challenge, consider climbing Mount Apo. The trek to the summit takes a few days and is not for the faint of heart, but the views from the top are absolutely worth it. For a more relaxed outdoor experience, visit Eden Nature Park, a mountain resort with beautiful gardens, hiking trails, and a zip line.

Davao is also known for its fruit, particularly durian. Love it or hate it, trying durian is a must when you’re in Davao. You can also sample other local fruits like mangosteen, pomelo, and marang.

11. Camiguin: Island of Volcanoes

Camiguin, also known as the “Island Born of Fire,” is a small island in the northern part of Mindanao with a lot to offer. Despite its size, Camiguin is home to seven volcanoes, lush forests, hot springs, and beautiful beaches.

Start your Camiguin adventure by visiting White Island, a pristine sandbar just off the coast. The island offers stunning views of Mount Hibok-Hibok and the surrounding sea. It’s the perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.

Another must-visit is the Sunken Cemetery, a hauntingly beautiful site marked by a large cross. The cemetery was submerged during a volcanic eruption in the 1870s, and you can snorkel or dive to see the underwater gravestones.

Camiguin is also known for its hot and cold springs. Ardent Hot Spring, located at the foot of Mount Hibok-Hibok, is a popular spot for a relaxing dip. For a refreshing swim, visit Sto. Niño Cold Spring, where the water is cool and crystal clear.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hike to the top of Mount Hibok-Hibok. The trek is challenging but rewarding, with stunning views of the island and the surrounding ocean. If you prefer a less strenuous activity, visit the Katibawasan Falls, a beautiful waterfall surrounded by lush greenery.

12. Sagada: Mountain Escape

Sagada, located in the Mountain Province, is a popular destination for those seeking adventure and a peaceful mountain retreat. Known for its cool climate, stunning landscapes, and unique cultural heritage, Sagada offers a refreshing escape from the lowlands.

One of the most iconic attractions in Sagada is the Hanging Coffins. This ancient burial tradition involves placing coffins on the cliffsides, and you can see these coffins in Echo Valley. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the local culture and beliefs.

Sagada is also known for its caves, the most famous of which is Sumaguing Cave. A spelunking adventure here involves crawling, climbing, and wading through the cave’s stunning limestone formations. If you’re up for a more challenging experience, try the Cave Connection, which involves traversing between Sumaguing Cave and Lumiang Burial Cave.

For nature lovers, Sagada offers beautiful hiking trails and viewpoints. Kiltepan Viewpoint is famous for its breathtaking sunrise views over a sea of clouds. Marlboro Country is another great spot for sunrise, with its rolling hills and panoramic views.

Don’t leave Sagada without trying their local delicacies. Lemon pie, yogurt, and etag (a traditional smoked meat) are must-tries. And of course, Sagada’s coffee, grown in the highlands, is a treat for any coffee lover.

13. Iloilo: Heritage and Festivals

Iloilo, located in the Western Visayas region, is a city known for its rich history, vibrant festivals, and delicious food. It’s a perfect destination for those who want to experience the cultural heritage of the Philippines.

Start your Iloilo adventure by exploring the city’s historical sites. The Molo Church, also known as the Feminist Church, is famous for its all-female ensemble of saints. The Jaro Cathedral, another iconic church, is home to the miraculous Our Lady of the Candles. Don’t miss the Miagao Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its unique baroque architecture.

Iloilo is also famous for its festivals, the most popular being the Dinagyang Festival. Held every January, this festival features vibrant street dancing, elaborate costumes, and a lively atmosphere. It’s a celebration of the Santo Niño (Holy Child) and a great way to experience the local culture.

For a taste of Iloilo’s culinary delights, try the local specialty called La Paz Batchoy, a noodle soup made with pork, liver, and crushed pork cracklings. Another must-try is the pancit molo, a dumpling soup with a rich broth. And if you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the delectable treats from Roberto’s, particularly their famous Queen Siopao.

Iloilo is also a gateway to the beautiful island of Guimaras, known for its sweet mangoes. Take a day trip to Guimaras and visit the mango plantations, explore the beaches, and enjoy the laid-back island vibe.

14. Tagaytay: Scenic Getaway

Tagaytay, located just a couple of hours from Manila, is a popular weekend getaway known for its cool climate and stunning views of Taal Volcano. It’s a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

One of the highlights of Tagaytay is the Taal Volcano and Lake. The volcano is unique because it’s a volcano within a lake within a volcano. You can take a boat ride across the lake and hike up to the crater for a close-up view of the steaming caldera. The hike is relatively easy and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

For a more relaxing experience, visit Picnic Grove, a popular spot with picnic areas, horseback riding, and a zip line. It’s a great place to enjoy the fresh air and stunning views of Taal Lake. Another must-visit is the Sky Ranch, an amusement park with rides, a Ferris wheel, and a great vantage point for viewing the volcano.

Tagaytay is also known for its delicious food. Bulalo, a beef shank soup with bone marrow, is a local specialty that you must try. There are plenty of restaurants offering this hearty dish, along with other Filipino favorites. And for dessert, try the famous buko pie (coconut pie) or tarts from Rowena’s.

Don’t miss a visit to the Puzzle Mansion, home to the world’s largest collection of jigsaw puzzles. It’s a quirky and interesting stop, perfect for families. And if you’re into gardens and nature, the Tagaytay Picnic Grove and People’s Park in the Sky offer beautiful landscapes and panoramic views.

15. Zambales: Beach and Adventure

Last but not least, let’s head to Zambales, a province known for its beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, and delicious mangoes. It’s a perfect destination for beach lovers and adventure seekers alike.

One of the most popular beaches in Zambales is Anawangin Cove. What makes this beach unique is its white sand, which is actually volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. The cove is surrounded by agoho trees, which resemble pine trees, giving the place a unique landscape. Camping is a popular activity here, and it’s a great place to disconnect and enjoy nature.

Another must-visit is Nagsasa Cove, similar to Anawangin but less crowded. It offers the same beautiful scenery and is perfect for camping, swimming, and hiking. Capones Island, with its old Spanish lighthouse and stunning rock formations, is another great spot for a day trip.

If you’re into surfing, head to San Antonio, specifically to Pundaquit Beach. The waves here are perfect for beginners and experienced surfers alike. You can also arrange island-hopping tours to nearby islands and coves.

For a more challenging adventure, climb Mount Pinatubo. The trek to the crater lake takes you through a rugged landscape created by the volcanic eruption. The view of the turquoise crater lake is simply breathtaking and worth every step.

Zambales is also known for its sweet mangoes, considered some of the best in the world. If you’re visiting in April, don’t miss the Dinamulag Festival, a celebration of the mango harvest with street dancing, parades, and plenty of mangoes to enjoy.

And there you have it, 15 incredible places to visit in the Philippines! Each destination offers something unique, from stunning beaches and vibrant festivals to rich history and outdoor adventures. Whether you’re a beach bum, a history buff, or an adrenaline junkie, the Philippines has something for everyone. So pack your bags, book your flights, and get ready to explore this beautiful archipelago. Happy travels!

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