How to Travel to the Philippines: 50 Amazing Tourist Spots to Visit


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No words can accurately describe how beautiful the Philippines is. Not to mention that it’s a cheap country to visit. 

But with more than 7,000 islands to choose from, even globe-trotters would be hard-pressed to pick the tourist spots in the Philippines they should explore first.

This guide makes travel planning easier by recommending the best places to visit in the Philippines, what to expect, must-try food and activities, and other important information to help you decide which tourist spots to include in your travel bucket list.

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Table of Contents

Top 25 Best Tourist Spots in the Philippines.

Here are 25 of the most popular Philippine destinations frequently visited by foreign and domestic tourists:

1. Boracay.

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Ideal for: Couples, families, beach bums, adventure seekers

Tourists from all over the world flock to the Philippines’ famous beach destination for its powdery white sand, crystal-clear blue water, and majestic sunset.

After Boracay’s rehabilitation in 2018, beach regulations have become stricter to protect the island. Upon entering Boracay, visitors are required to present booking confirmation from any Department of Tourism-accredited hotels.

Top things to do in Boracay.

  • Watch the picturesque sunset at White Beach and Willy’s Rock
  • Join a half-day tour around Boracay’s different beaches and snorkeling sites
  • Experience parasailing to enjoy a breathtaking view of the island
  • Jump off a cliff at Ariel’s Point
  • Buy fresh seafood at D’Talipapa and have it cooked in a nearby restaurant

Where to stay in Boracay.

Boracay resorts cater to every budget. Luxury hotels are located in Station 1, mid-range hotels in Station 2, and budget hotels in Station 3.

How to get there.

  • The faster but more expensive way to travel to Boracay from Manila is to fly to Caticlan Airport. Then ride a tricycle to Caticlan Jetty Port, where you’ll board a ferry to Cagban Jetty Port. From Cagban, ride a tricycle and get off at the drop-off point nearest your hotel.
  • The cheaper but slower option is to fly to Kalibo Airport. From there, ride a van or bus to Caticlan Jetty Port and then follow the same steps.

 

2. Palawan.

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Ideal for: Couples, beach bums, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Palawan has so much captivating natural beauty, from towering limestone cliffs and beaches with turquoise water to caves and rich marine life. No wonder travel magazines like Conde Nast¹ and CNN Travel² list Palawan as one of the world’s most beautiful islands.

The most popular tourist destinations in Palawan are Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron. Many other hidden beaches on the island are also worth exploring.

Top things to do in Palawan.

  • Explore the Puerto Princesa Underground River, the world’s longest navigable underground river and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature
  • Enjoy different water activities (snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, etc.) at El Nido’s beaches and lagoons 
  • Dive at Coron Bay to discover diverse marine life and World War II Japanese shipwrecks
  • Eat tamilok, a slimy delicacy from branches of mangrove trees
  • Join an island-hopping adventure at Honda Bay
  • Go scuba diving at Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO Heritage Site and home to great marine biodiversity

Where to stay in Palawan.

How to get there.

  • To get to Puerto Princesa, fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa International Airport. 
  • To get to Coron, fly from Manila to Busuanga and ride a van to Coron.
  • To get to El Nido, fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa. From the airport, ride a van and drop off at Corong-Corong bus terminal. Then ride a tricycle that will take you to your hotel. The faster but more expensive way to get to El Nido from Manila is to take a 1.5-hour direct flight via AirSWIFT.

 

3. Cebu.

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View at the top of Osmeña Peak in Cebu, overlooking Tañon Strait. At the background is Mount Kanlaon, Negros Island. Photo Credit: Tyrll Adolf Itong via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: History buffs, foodies, beach bums, adventure seekers

Cebu is home to the Philippines’ oldest city, famous historical places, pristine beaches, and mouth-watering dishes. The island province is foreigner-friendly because locals speak fluent English, and its bustling city is teeming with hotels, shopping malls, and entertainment halls.

Related: 10 Amazing Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Cebu

Top things to do in Cebu.

  • Enjoy an island hopping tour around Cebu’s nearby islands
  • Swim with whale sharks in Oslob
  • Experience trekking and canyoneering in Badian
  • Witness Sinulog Festival, Cebu’s largest festivity held every third Sunday of January
  • Sample famous Cebu delicacies: lechon (roasted pig), danggit (salted dried fish), puso (steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves), and dried mangoes
  • Visit Cebu’s historical sites: Colon Street, Mactan Shrine, Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, and Basilica del Santo Niño.

Related: How to Travel to Cebu: 30 of the Best Tourist Spots to Visit

Where to stay in Cebu.

How to get there.

  • From Manila, take a 1-hour flight to Cebu. To get to your hotel from the airport, take a taxi or book a Grab ride.
  • Visitors from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, and Dubai may fly directly to Mactan Cebu International Airport.

 

4. Bohol.

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Ideal for: Solo travelers, couples, families, beach bums, nature lovers

Bohol is not your typical beach destination. Aside from its white-sand beaches, Bohol has some of the unique tourist spots in the Philippines, such as the famous Chocolate Hills and Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary. Its natural and man-made wonders are also worth exploring.

Top things to do in Bohol.

Where to stay in Bohol.

How to get there.

  • From Manila, take a 1.5-hour flight to Tagbilaran Airport. To get to Panglao, ride a tricycle, van, or taxi.
  • From Cebu, take a 2-hour fast ferry ride to Tagbilaran.

 

5. Baguio.

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Photo Credit: Sir Mildred Pierce via Flickr.

Ideal for: Couples, families, nature lovers, art enthusiasts

The Philippines is world-famous as a beach destination. But there’s more to the tropical islands than just seas and sand. Case in point: Baguio City.

The summer capital of the Philippines may be too commercialized and overcrowded nowadays, but it has not entirely lost its charm. Baguio is still a romantic year-round destination with its cool breeze and lovely scenery of lush mountains and pine trees.

Related: The Fascinating History of Baguio’s Iconic Lion

Top things to do in Baguio.

  • Stroll along Burnham Park, Baguio Botanical Garden, Wright Park, and Camp John Hay
  • Score local goods at bargain prices in Baguio Night Market
  • Shop for souvenirs and fresh produce in Baguio Public Market
  • Visit BenCab museum in the nearby town of Tuba
  • Join the Panagbenga Festival, the Baguio Flower Festival in February or March

Where to stay in Baguio.

How to get there.

From Cubao, take a Victory Liner/Genesis Transport/Partas bus to Baguio (travel time: 4 to 6 hours).

 

6. Siargao.

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Surfing at Siargao. Photo Credit: www.wayph.com

Ideal for: Surf enthusiasts, beach bums, backpackers

Siargao’s huge and strong waves make it one of the world’s best surf spots³. Although the surfing capital of the Philippines appeals mostly to surfers, the island also has awesome tourist spots for beachgoers.

Top things to do in Siargao.

Where to stay in Siargao.

How to get there.

Fly from Manila to Sayak Airport. To get to General Luna town (where Siargao tourist spots are located), rent one of the vans, motorbikes, or multi-cabs parked outside the airport.

 

7. Davao.

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Ideal for: Families, nature lovers, beach bums, foodies

Davao is home to the Philippine eagle (one of the world’s rarest birds), the country’s highest mountain, and the exotic fruit durian. There’s so much to see and explore—from stunning beaches to family-friendly parks—for every type of traveler. Tourists can even book a day tour around Davao City to visit President Rodrigo Duterte‘s actual house.

Top things to do in Davao.

  • Visit Davao’s top attractions, including Philippine Eagle Center, People’s Park, Davao Crocodile Park, and Eden Nature Park
  • Dine and enjoy a spectacular view of Davao in Jack’s Ridge Resort & Restaurant
  • Trek Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines
  • Sample Davao’s most popular fruits: durian, mangosteen, marang, and pomelo
  • Join Kadayawan sa Dabaw, Davao’s grandest annual festival in August
  • Swim, snorkel and bask in the beauty of pristine beaches on Samal Island 

Related: 14 Bizarre And Fascinating Philippine Festivals

Where to stay in Davao.

How to get there.

Fly from Manila to Davao. From the airport, take a taxi or jeepney to get to Davao City.

 

8. Banaue Rice Terraces.

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Ideal for: Backpackers, couples, nature lovers

Hundreds of years ago, indigenous people of the Ifugao tribe hand-carved thousands of rice paddies in the mountains of the Cordillera, now known as the Banaue Rice Terraces. It’s one of the most prominent tourist spots in the Philippines and often called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.

When you visit, it’s best to hire a local guide. Go to the Banaue viewpoint for the breathtaking scenery and Instagram-worthy snaps.

Top things to do in Banaue.

Aside from Banaue Rice Terraces, there’s so much to do and see in and around Banaue:

  • Enjoy the breathtaking scenery at Batad Rice Terraces, Hapao Rice Terraces, Mayoyao Rice Terraces, or Bangaan Village Rice Terraces
  • Trek to Batad Village and Tappiya Waterfalls
  • Discover the Ifugao culture, history, and arts at Banaue Ethnic Village, Tam-an Village, and Banaue Museum
  • Shop for handicrafts, wood carvings, local coffee, and other souvenirs

Where to stay in Banaue

How to get there.

  • Via plane: From Manila or Clark, take a 1.5-hour flight to Cauayan Airport in Isabela. From the airport, take a 3-hour van ride to Banaue.
  • Via bus: From Manila or Baguio, ride an Ohayami Trans bus to Banaue (travel time: 9 to 15 hours).

 

9. Intramuros.

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Ideal for: Solo travelers, couples, barkadas, history buffs 

Discover and appreciate the Philippines’ rich history by touring Intramuros, one of the best places to experience the Spanish colonial period in the country. Intramuros is also a romantic setting for a date with its old-fashioned charm. After touring Intramuros, visitors may take a side trip to other equally popular places in Manila: Binondo and Escolta.

Related: The Lost Tunnels Buried Deep Beneath Intramuros

Top things to do in and around Intramuros.

  • Join a bamboo bike tour of the different tourist spots within the walled city: Fort Santiago, Plaza San Luis, Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, etc.
  • Enjoy a food trip in Binondo
  • Visit Binondo Church
  • Marvel at the iconic landmarks along Escolta Street

Where to stay in Intramuros.

How to get there.

  • The most convenient way to get to Intramuros from any point in Metro Manila is to ride a taxi or Grab car.
  • Alternatively, take the MRT to Taft Station and take the LRT1 to Carriedo Station. Ride a jeep going to Pier and get off at Intramuros.

 

10. Vigan.

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Ideal for: Solo travelers, couples, barkadas, history buffs, foodies

Be transported back in time when you visit Vigan City in Ilocos Sur. Be awed by the Spanish colonial period ancestral homes and structures that make Vigan a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of CNN’s most picturesque towns in Asia4.

Top things to do in Vigan.

  • Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets around Calle Crisologo on foot or a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) ride
  • Try famous Vigan delicacies: empanada (pork-stuffed pastry), pakbet (vegetable dish), bagnet (deep-fried crispy pork belly), sinanglaw (beef innards stew), and Vigan longganisa (garlicky and spicy sausage)
  • Visit iconic ancestral homes such as Syquia Mansion and Father Burgos’ house
  • Join a cruise in Mestizo River to learn about Vigan’s history and marine biodiversity
  • Visit an Abel cloth shop to see weavers in action and buy traditional woven products

Where to stay in Vigan.

How to get there.

  • The fastest way to get to Vigan is to take a 1.5-hour flight from Manila to Laoag, Ilocos Norte. From the Laoag Airport, take a 2-hour bus ride to Vigan.
  • Alternatively, ride a bus from Cubao, Pasay, or Manila with a direct route to Vigan (travel time: 8 to 10 hours).

 

11. Mayon Volcano.

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Ideal for: Backpackers, couples, families, adventure seekers, foodies

Mayon Volcano is one of the most popular tourist spots in the Philippines and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its distinct, perfect cone shape. Aside from admiring the natural wonder, visitors can also experience a unique food trip and adventure in Albay where the volcano is located.

Related: 5 Magnificent Facts About the Mayon Volcano

Top things to do near Mayon Volcano.

  • Take a thrilling ATV tour around the base of Mayon Volcano
  • Visit the Cagsawa Ruins Park
  • Eat pili nuts, sili ice cream (made of chili and coconut milk), and spicy dishes cooked in coconut milk, such as Bicol express (pork stew), laing (vegetable dish), and pinangat (fish stew)
  • Enjoy street food and sunset view of Mayon Volcano at Legazpi Boulevard
  • Hike up and zipline at Ligñon Hill Nature Park
  • Enjoy an unobstructed, enchanting view of Mayon Volcano from Sumlang Lake while riding a bamboo raft or kayak

Where to stay near Mayon Volcano. 

How to get there.

From Manila, take a 45-minute flight or a 9-hour bus ride to Legazpi City, Albay.

 

12. Tagaytay.

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Ideal for: Couples, families, foodies

Tagaytay is a favorite road trip destination because of its proximity to Manila, cool weather, amazing views of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano, delicious food, and fun outdoor activities.

Top things to do in Tagaytay.

  • Visit the top tourist spots in Tagaytay: People’s Park in the Sky, Picnic Grove, Caleruega Church, SkyRanch, etc.
  • Dine in Tagaytay’s popular restaurants: Breakfast at Antonio’s, Sonya’s Secret Garden, Bag of Beans, Josephine Restaurant, Mushroomburger, etc.
  • Visit Zoori to enjoy wildlife experience and panoramic views of Taal Volcano
  • Have a fun-filled day with farm animals and flower gardens at Paradizoo
  • Buy delectable tarts and other pastries at Rowena’s Pasalubong shop

Where to stay in Tagaytay.

How to get there.

From Manila, ride a bus or shared van bound for Tagaytay/Nasugbu/Calatagan.

 

13. Mt. Pulag.

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Mt. Pulag Sunrise. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Backpackers, adventure seekers, nature lovers

Standing at 2,926 meters above sea level, Mount Pulag is the third highest peak in the Philippines. It’s also the highest mountain in Luzon. Because of its easy trail and the magnificent sea of clouds surrounding its top, Mt. Pulag is a favorite hiking destination for first-timers. 

Top things to do in Mt. Pulag.

  • Trek to Mt. Pulag for about 3-4 hours using the Ambangeg trail (for beginners). Advanced hikers can take the Ambaguio trail or Akiki trail.
  • Witness the glorious sunrise and sea of clouds atop Mt. Pulag
  • Experience the simple life in the mountains without internet, signal, and electricity
  • Meet and interact with the locals
  • Buy fresh produce and pasalubong from stores at the ranger station

Where to stay near Mt. Pulag.

How to get there.

From Manila, ride a bus to Baguio. From Baguio, charter a van or jeep bound for Bokod, Benguet where the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office is located. Hikers need to register, attend an orientation, and pay fees to the DENR before climbing Mt. Pulag.

Outside the DENR office, ride a habal-habal (motorcycle) to the Babadak Ranger Station, the jump-off point where you can book a local guide (required) and a porter (optional).

 

14. Sagada.

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Photo by chicheyani zsoid from Pexels

Ideal for: Solo travelers, backpackers, adventure seekers

Sagada’s tranquil charm and natural beauty make it one of the most popular tourist spots in the Philippines. There are many amazing places to see and activities to try for the adventure junkie.

Top things to do in Sagada.

  • See the hanging coffins in Echo Valley
  • Explore Lumiang, Sumaguing, or Crystal Caves
  • Hike to Kiltepan Peak or Marlboro Hills, watch the sunrise, and bask in the dreamy sea of clouds
  • Swim at Bomod-Ok Falls and marvel at the rice terraces surrounding it
  • Visit the Sagada Weaving Cooperative to see weavers in action and buy woven products

Where to stay in Sagada.

How to get there.

  • From Manila, ride a Coda Lines bus going directly to Sagada (travel time: 12 hours).
  • From Baguio, go to GL Liner Terminal in Baguio Dangwa Terminal and ride a bus to Sagada (travel time: 6 hours).

 

15. Puerto Galera.

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Via Wikimedia Commons

Ideal for: Beach bums, backpackers, families, barkadas

Puerto Galera is a favorite beach destination every summer because of its white-sand beaches. If you’re into scuba diving and snorkeling, this is one of the tourist spots in the Philippines you shouldn’t miss.

Top things to do in Puerto Galera.

  • Swim and relax at Aninuan Beach
  • Snorkel or scuba dive at Coral Garden
  • Experience the vibrant nightlife at White Beach
  • Take a carabao ride to Tukuran Falls and enjoy the beauty of this hidden paradise
  • Immerse in the local culture at the Mangyan Village

Where to stay in Puerto Galera.

How to get there.

From Manila, ride a bus to Batangas Pier (travel time: 2 to 3 hours). Take a ferry boat ride from Batangas Pier to Balatero Port or Muelle Port (around 1 hour travel time). Ride a tricycle to your hotel.

 

16. Subic.

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Photo by Ongkek Ebuen from Pexels

Ideal for: Families, barkadas, beach bums, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Looking for a place to enjoy summer outdoor activities with family or friends? Subic—just a few hours away from Manila—is one of the must-visit tourist spots in the Philippines. Many fun activities and beautiful beaches are available for tourists to enjoy.

Top things to do in Subic.

  • Explore the top tourist spots in Subic: Capones Lighthouse, Pundaquit Coves, Camara Island, etc.
  • See wild animals up close in Zoobic Safari, the only tiger safari in the Philippines
  • Enjoy thrilling water slides and attractions in Aqua Planet Waterpark
  • Spend a fun-filled day on Subic’s Inflatable Island, the largest and wildest floating playground in Asia
  • Cliff dive and swim at El Kabayo Waterfalls

Where to stay in Subic.

How to get there.

From Manila, ride a bus bound for Olongapo and get off at Subic Bay.

 

17. Batangas.

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Photo by Rafael Miru Lesaguis from Pexels

Ideal for: Families, barkadas, beach bums, adventure seekers, foodies

Batangas is just a two to three-hour drive from Manila and has many affordable beach resorts. This makes the province a go-to place for family or barkada summer outings and corporate team-building activities.

Top things to do in Batangas.

  • Visit and enjoy water activities in Batangas’ most popular beaches: Anilao, Laiya, Nasugbu, Calatagan, Isla Verde, etc.
  • Trek up any of Batangas’ famous mountains: Taal Volcano, Mt. Pico de Loro, Mt. Batulao, Mt. Gulugod Baboy, Mt. Maculot, etc.
  • Go scuba diving in Anilao to explore the famous diving spot’s spectacular underwater scenery
  • Sample Batangas’ local cuisine: lomi (egg noodle soup), bulalo (beef stew), lechon (roasted pig), sinaing na tulingan (braised fish), kapeng barako (Batangas coffee), etc.

Where to stay in Batangas.

How to get there.

From Manila, ride a bus to Batangas City/Batangas Pier/Nasugbu. From the bus terminal, ride a tricycle to your Batangas beach destination.

 

18. Iloilo.

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Islas de Gigantes in Iloilo. Photo by 2il org via Flickr

Ideal for: Families, barkadas, foodies, beach bums, history buffs

With its stunning beaches, one-of-a-kind culinary experience, historical sites, and genuinely warm and friendly people, Iloilo is one of the tourist spots in the Philippines where visitors want to keep coming back.

Top things to do in Iloilo.

  • Feast on Iloilo’s popular dishes and delicacies: La Paz batchoy (chicken and pork noodle soup), pancit molo (pork dumpling soup), fresh oysters, biscocho (twice-baked bread), barquillos (crunchy wafer roll), etc.
  • Stroll along Calle Real and see heritage buildings that exude Iloilo’s old city charm 
  • Visit Iloilo’s famous centuries-old churches: Miag-ao Church, Jaro Cathedral, Molo Church, San Joaquin Church, etc.
  • Soak up the beauty of Islas de Gigantes and Sicogon Island
  • Join the Dinagyang Festival, a religious and cultural festivity in Iloilo City held every fourth Sunday of January

Where to stay in Iloilo.

How to get there.

From Manila/Clark/Cebu/Davao/Hong Kong/Singapore, take a direct flight to Iloilo International Airport. To get to the city, ride a taxi, jeep, or van from the airport.

 

19. Batanes.

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Ideal for: Solo travelers, couples, backpackers, nature lovers

Batanes is every Filipino traveler’s ultimate dream destination. What’s not to love about the romantic island province? From its scenic landscapes and gorgeous beaches to unique cultures, Batanes is worth a visit.

Related: 9 Interesting Facts You Might Not Know About Batanes

Top things to do in Batanes.

  • Tour the top Batanes attractions (Tukon Church, Basco Lighthouse, Honesty Coffee Shop, etc.) on Batan Island and Sabtang Island
  • Meet the Ivatan people and immerse in their culture. Try wearing vakul, the traditional headgear made of abaca fiber, too!
  • Enjoy fresh seafood dishes: dibang (flying fish), payi (lobster), etc.
  • Climb Mt. Iraya in Basco, the highest mountain in Batanes

Where to stay in Batanes.

How to get there.

Fly from Manila (via SkyJet) or Clark (via Philippine Airlines) to Basco, Batanes. From the airport, just walk to reach the Basco town proper. To get to Sabtang Island, ride a tricycle, jeep, or van to San Vicente port, where you’ll ride a ferry to Sabtang.

 

20. Camiguin.

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Ideal for: Beach bums, adventure seekers

This serene and beautiful tropical paradise in Northern Mindanao will leave you in awe with its many natural wonders. Camiguin is known as among the world’s best dive spots and recognized by the Department of Tourism as one of the top tourist spots in the Philippines.

Top things to do in Camiguin.

  • Swim in the crystal-clear water of White Island
  • Dive or snorkel at Sunken Cemetery to see its underwater tombs
  • Snorkel around the Giant Clams Sanctuary 
  • Visit the old church ruins in Bonbon, Catarman
  • Hike up Mt. Hibok-hibok
  • Take a dip in one of Camiguin’s hot springs and cold springs
  • Eat lanzones, a fruit native to the island and is considered the best and sweetest in the Philippines

Where to stay in Camiguin.

How to get there.

From Manila, fly directly to Camiguin via SkyJet. If you’ll travel with a different airline, fly to Cebu first and then take a connecting flight to Camiguin Airport.

 

21. Bataan.

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Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. Photo Credit: www.lascasasfilipinas.com

Ideal for: Families, history buffs, beach bums, nature lovers

Only a few hours away from Manila, Bataan is perfect for a quick weekend getaway. It’s not as touristy as the neighboring Subic Bay. People visit this province for its many historical and natural attractions.

Top things to do in Bataan.

  • Visit historical landmarks in Bataan: Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor) at Mt. Samat, Death March Marker, Fall of Bataan Marker, Bataan World War II Museum, etc.
  • Join a walking tour at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar to learn how it was like to live during the Spanish colonial era
  • Visit the Pawikan Conservation Center to learn about sea turtles and release baby sea turtles into the sea
  • Admire the stunning rock formations and watch the sunset in Sisiman Bay

Where to stay in Bataan.

How to get there.

  • Via bus: From Manila, ride a Victory Liner/Genesis/Bataan Transit bus to Balanga, the jump-off point to Morong and other parts of Bataan (travel time: 3-4 hours).
  • Via ferry: Go to the Esplanade Seaside Terminal behind SM Mall of Asia and take the ferry to Capinpin Port in Orion, Bataan (travel time: 1 hour). From Orion, ride a bus bound for Balanga.

 

22. Antipolo.

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Ideal for: Art enthusiasts, nature lovers, foodies

Antipolo is the home of the famous Hinulugang Taktak. But there are many other reasons to visit this city near Manila, particularly its hidden gems that will surely delight art and nature aficionados.

Top things to do in Antipolo.

Where to stay in Antipolo.

How to get there.

Go to EDSA Shaw or Cubao and ride a van or jeepney to Antipolo. From the town proper, ride a tricycle to your destination in Antipolo.

 

23. Bacolod.

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Bacolod City’s Masskara Festival Celebration last October 2017. Photo by Ceslou via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Families, barkadas, foodies, adventure seekers

Bacolod is where you’ll meet friendly, welcoming locals—you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s called The City of Smiles. Apart from the people, Bacolod’s delicious food, rich history and culture, and natural attractions are the biggest reasons to visit this city.

Top things to do in and around Bacolod.

  • Take a morning or late afternoon stroll along Capitol Park and Lagoon
  • Visit The Ruins or the “Taj Mahal of Negros” in Talisay and discover its interesting story
  • Enjoy snorkeling, kite surfing, or kayaking on Lakawon Island in Cadiz
  • Join in the fun at MassKara Festival, the happiest and most colorful Philippine festival, in October
  • Eat the famous inasal (Bacolod-style chicken barbecue)
  • Sample and bring home Bacolod delicacies: piaya (sweet flatbread), pinasugbo (deep-fried and caramelized banana slices), napoleones (layered puff pastry), etc.

Where to stay in Bacolod.

How to get there.

  • From Manila, take a one-hour flight to Bacolod-Silay International Airport. Ride a van, taxi, or Grab car from the airport to Bacolod City.
  • From Cebu or Iloilo, board a ferry to Bacolod.

 

24. Dumaguete.

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Silliman University was established as Silliman Institute by Protestant missionaries in 1901. Silliman Hall stands as a monument of that heritage. Photo by Ric Canizares via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Nature lovers, adventure seekers

Known as the City of Gentle People, Dumaguete has been recently named the top retirement spot in the Philippines for foreigners5. Travel to Dumaguete and find out for yourself why the laid-back city is attracting tourists and foreign retirees.

Top things to do in Dumaguete.

  • Tour around Dumaguete’s top tourist spots: Dumaguete Belfry, Rizal Boulevard, Silliman University, etc.
  • Visit the captivating Manjuyod Sandbar (the “Maldives of the Philippines”) and see dolphins swimming on your way to the sandbar
  • Trek around the twin crater lakes of Balinsasayao and Danao
  • Climb up Mt. Kanlaon, the highest mountain and largest active volcano in the Visayas
  • Eat silvanas and sans rival, Dumaguete’s famous pastries

Where to stay in Dumaguete.

How to get there.

  • From Manila, take a direct flight to Dumaguete. From the airport, ride a multi-cab or tricycle to the city proper. 
  • From Cebu, take a direct bus to Dumaguete City.

 

25. Cagayan de Oro.


Ideal for: Adventure seekers, barkadas, families

Up for a physically challenging, unforgettable experience? Travel to Cagayan de Oro City and satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie. Conquer the raging rapids of Cagayan de Oro River—that’s what the Whitewater Rafting Capital in the Philippines is for!

Top things to do in Cagayan de Oro.

  • Experience whitewater rafting on Cagayan de Oro River, or take it up a notch with the more intense whitewater kayaking adventure
  • Enjoy ziplining or canopy walking in Macahambus Cave leading to a fantastic view of Cagayan de Oro River 
  • Visit CDO’s historical landmarks: Plaza Divisoria, Plaza de Los Heroes, MacArthur Memorial Marker, etc.
  • Have fun rappelling, trekking, ziplining, horseback riding, or biking in Mapawa Nature Park
  • Trek from Mapawa Nature Park to Mintugsok Falls, a hidden gem in CDO

Where to stay in Cagayan de Oro.

How to get there.

From Manila/Cebu/Davao/Iloilo/Zamboanga, fly to Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro. From the airport, take a shuttle or bus to various points in CDO.

 

Top 20 Hidden and Underrated Tourist Spots in the Philippines.

Aside from its most popular destinations, the Philippines has many equally stunning places waiting to be discovered. 

Because of their remote location from Manila or underdevelopment (no electricity, Wi-Fi, mobile signal, shopping malls, etc.), these off-the-radar places don’t get visited as much. But for travelers who want to visit places that are off the beaten path, such underrated destinations are simply perfect.

Here are the best up-and-coming tourist spots in the Philippines you should check out:

1. Abra.

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A morning view with the beautiful backdrop of Sierra Madre mountains and river of Abra as foreground. Photo by Klienneeco via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Backpackers, solo travelers, adventure seekers

Abra is not as popular as its neighboring tourist spots in the Philippines (Ilocos, Baguio, and Sagada). But the landlocked province has a lot of natural attractions to offer.

Top things to do in Abra.

  • Visit Kaparkan Falls, Piwek Rock Formation, and Apao Rolling Hills in Tineg
  • Trek Mt. Bullagao, the “Sleeping Beauty of Abra,” in Langiden
  • Taste the local fare: pancit miki (stir-fried noodles), lechon de Abra, cascaron (deep-fried glutinous rice), palileng (mullet or goby fish stew), abuos (ant egg dish), etc.
  • Visit the loom weaving community in La Paz

Where to stay in Abra.

How to get there.

From Manila/Baguio/Vigan, ride a Partas/Dominion/Viron bus to Bangued, Abra. Travel time takes 8 hours from Manila or 2 hours from Vigan. From Bangued, take a jeepney to your destination in Abra.

 

2. Bontoc.

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Maligcong Rice Terraces at Bontoc, Mountain Province. Photo by LemuelSalibio via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Backpackers, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Bontoc is the gateway to Sagada and Banaue, two of the most popular tourist spots in the Philippines. If you’re traveling there, why not make a side-trip to Bontoc for a day or two? This small, quiet town is surprisingly blessed with awesome natural wonders.

Top things to do in Bontoc.

  • Get a panoramic view of the town and mountains at the Bontoc View Deck
  • Trek Mt. Kofafey and witness the sunrise and sea of clouds
  • Be mesmerized by the beauty of Maligcong Rice Terraces
  • Take a dip at the enchanting Blue Lagoon

Where to stay in Bontoc.

How to get there.

  • From Manila, ride a Coda Lines bus bound for Bontoc or Sagada and get off at Bontoc (travel time: 11 hours).
  • From Baguio, ride a taxi to Dangwa Terminal or Slaughter House and ride a D’ Rising Sun bus to Bontoc (travel time: 6 hours).
  • From Sagada, ride a jeepney to Bontoc across the public market (travel time: 2 hours).

 

3. Quirino.

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Quirino is a landlocked province between Isabela in the north, Aurora in the east and Nueva Vizcaya in the south. Cagayan River runs through the province and is one of the main tourist attractions in the province. Here, you can go water tubing, cliff diving and kayaking. Photo by Richardsmarcelo via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Families, barkadas, backpackers, adventure seekers, nature lovers

Named after a former Philippine president, the smallest and youngest province in Cagayan Valley is an emerging eco-adventure destination. Quirino more than makes up for its lack of beaches through its breathtaking waterfalls, pristine rivers, limestone caves, verdant mountains, and other hidden natural attractions.

Top things to do in Quirino.

  • Cruise the Cagayan River at Governor’s Rapids in Maddela or Siitan Park in Nagtipunan
  • Have an adrenaline-pumping wakeboard adventure at Quirino Watersports Complex in Cabarroguis
  • Trek to the different waterfalls in Quirino and take a dip in the clear water
  • Go spelunking at Aglipay Caves and other amazing caves in Quirino
  • Visit different ancestral villages to experience the cultures of different indigenous tribes 

Where to stay in Quirino.

How to get there.

  • Via plane: Fly from Manila to Cauayan City, Isabela. From the Cauayan Airport, ride a van to Santiago City. From the terminal, ride a van or jeepney to Aglipay, Cabarroguis, Diffun, or Maddela in Quirino.
  • Via bus: From Manila, ride a Florida/Five Star/Solid North bus to Maddela, Quirino.

 

4. Jomalig Island.

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Jomalig Island in the Province of Quezon, Philippines. Photo by Iandacpano via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Beach bums, nature lovers, solo travelers, couples, barkadas

Reaching this remote island in Quezon province is an adventure in itself. While that sounds like a difficult feat, you’d be glad you took the challenge. The golden sand beaches and turquoise water on secluded Jomalig Island are nothing short of awesome—the long trip will be worth it!

Related: 8 Hidden Paradises in the Philippines That Will Take Your Breath Away

Top things to do on Jomalig Island.

  • Explore Jomalig’s unspoiled beaches: Salibungot Beach, Kanaway Beach, Little Boracay, etc.
  • See and take a photo with the Puno ng Walang Forever, Jomalig’s most popular tree
  • Visit Lingayen Cove aka Little Batanes
  • Watch the breathtaking sunrise at the beach

Where to stay on Jomalig Island.

How to get there.

From Manila, take a Raymond Transportation bus to Infanta, Quezon (travel time: 4-5 hours). Get off at Ungos Port, where you’ll ride a boat to Jomalig Port (travel time: 4-6 hours). Upon arriving at the port, ride a motorbike or habal-habal to your resort.

 

5. Caramoan Islands.

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Matukad Island in Caramoan. Photo by Ianpetercapocao via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Beach bums, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Caramoan is Bicol’s secret paradise, perfect for beach junkies who want to escape the stressful city life. Fall in love with its fine white-sand beaches, diverse marine life, and other natural wonders that rival those of the top tourist spots in the Philippines.

Top things to do in Caramoan.

  • Enjoy island/beach hopping and water activities (kayaking, snorkeling, or scuba diving) at Sabitang Laya, Gota Beach, Hunongan Cove, etc.
  • Explore the caves of Caramoan: Omang Cave, Culapnit Cave, Manipis Cave, etc.
  • Hike up Mt. Caglago to get a panoramic view of Caramoan Islands
  • Climb the sharp rock cliff on Matukad Island
  • Eat kinalas (noodles in thick brown broth) 

Where to stay in Caramoan.

How to get there.

From Manila, fly to Naga City Airport in Pili, Camarines Sur. Ride a van or taxi from the airport to SM Naga. At the van terminal, ride a van called Filcab to Sabang Port. When you reach the port, take a boat to Guijalo Port. Ride a tricycle to Caramoan town center.

 

6. Romblon.

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The jagged peaks that give Mt. Guiting-Guiting its name.. Photo by Androkoy via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Beach bums, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Romblon is recognized by the Department of Tourism as one of the emerging tourism destinations in the Philippines. Heading to Boracay soon? Consider taking a side-trip to the secluded, laid-back beaches of Romblon for relaxation.

Top things to do in Romblon.

  • Climb up the scenic Mt. Guiting-Guiting on Sibuyan Island
  • Tour Romblon’s hidden gems: Carabao Island (the “next Boracay”6), Cresta de Gallo, Balabara Beach, Bonbon Beach, etc.
  • Explore different dive spots across Romblon
  • Buy marble products as souvenirs at Romblon Shopping Center

Where to stay in Romblon.

How to get there.

  • From Manila, fly to Tugdan Airport in Tablas, Romblon.
  • From Boracay, walk to Bulabog Beach and hire a boat to Carabao Island.

 

7. Masbate.

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Animasola Island is part of Burias Group of Islands at San Pascual, Masbate Province, Philippines. Photo by Jpcabarles via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Beach bums, nature lovers

Masbate may not be the top-of-mind choice for traveling to the Bicol region, but it does offer a unique experience. For one, you can live like a cowboy in the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines—with its rolling hills, ranch life, and an annual festivity reminiscent of the Wild West.

For nature enthusiasts, Masbate offers unspoiled beaches, marvelous rock formations, stunning waterfalls, and other natural wonders. 

Top things to do in Masbate.

  • Go scuba diving, swim with manta rays, and see other marine creatures at Manta Bowl shoal
  • Revel in the beauty of Masbate’s natural attractions: Buntod Sandbar and Marine Sanctuary, Burubancaso Rock Formation, Sese Brahman’s Ranch, Catandayagan Falls, etc.
  • Watch the dreamy sunset or camp out at Mayong Payong
  • Experience the Rodeo Masbateño Festival in April

Where to stay in Masbate.

How to get there.

Take a direct flight from Manila to Masbate City.

 

8. Antique.

 

Ideal for: Beach bums, history buffs, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Surrounded by top tourist spots in the Philippines (Boracay and Iloilo), Antique is easily overlooked by travelers. But this quaint province deserves more attention. Being groomed as the next eco-adventure destination, Antique has so much natural beauty and historical and cultural heritage that make a visit worthwhile.

Top things to do in Antique.

  • Visit Seco Island, a gorgeous white-sand beach with serene turquoise water and a sandbar
  • Enjoy an adrenaline-pumping river tubing activity at Malumpati Cold Spring
  • Indulge in a relaxing Kawa Hot Bath in Tibiao
  • Trek to Antique Rice Terraces and admire its majestic view
  • See Antique’s heritage sites: Anini-y Church, Patnongon Church, Ruins of San Pedro Church, Casa Azurin, etc.
  • Check out the Rafflesia, the world’s biggest flower, in Sibalom Natural Park

Where to stay in Antique.

How to get there.

  • From Manila/Davao/Hong Kong/Singapore, take a direct flight to Iloilo International Airport. Ride a van from the airport to Molo Terminal. Then take a van or jeepney ride to Antique.
  • From Clark, Pampanga, take a Philippine Airlines flight to Antique Airport.
  • From Boracay, ride a ferry to Caticlan Jetty Port (or a tricycle if you’re coming from Caticlan Airport). Take a Ceres bus to Antique. 

 

9. Guimaras.

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Long exposure shot of Roca Encantada House with pacific waves as foreground. Photo by M0N FEDERE MD via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Beach bums, history buffs, foodies

Guimaras is another underrated province overshadowed by its neighbors Iloilo and Boracay. The small island province—famous for growing the sweetest mangoes in the Philippines—is being promoted as an alternative to Boracay because of its white-sand beaches and proximity to Iloilo City. Discover what Guimaras has to offer before it becomes a mainstream tourist destination.

Top things to do in Guimaras.

  • Join an island-hopping tour of Guimaras’ best beaches: Nagtago Beach, Ave Maria Islet, etc.
  • Visit different historical landmarks: Guisi Lighthouse, MacArthur’s Wharf, Roca Encantada, etc.
  • See the Smallest Plaza, a Guinness Book of World Records holder for being the world’s smallest plaza
  • Feast on mango-based dishes: mango pizza, mango bulalo, mango bibingka, mango beer, etc.
  • Buy mango products (dried mangoes, jams, etc.) as pasalubongs

Where to stay in Guimaras.

How to get there.

From Manila/Davao/Hong Kong/Singapore, fly to Iloilo International Airport. Ride a van from the airport to SM Iloilo, where you’ll hail a taxi or jeepney to Ortiz Wharf. Take a ferry ride to Jordan Port. From the port, ride a tricycle to your resort.

 

10. Danjugan Island.

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Photo Credit: Danjugan Island Facebook Page.

Ideal for: Backpackers, nature lovers, adventure seekers, beach bums

Danjugan Island is a protected marine and wildlife reserve sanctuary in Cauayan, Negros Occidental. With its lush rainforest and amazing biodiversity, Danjugan is indeed a paradise. 

This ecotourism destination won’t just wow you with its pure beauty but will also let you experience a rustic, back-to-basics lifestyle (no electricity and no cellphone signal), which is perfect if you’ll be on a digital detox. 

Most importantly, a short stay on the island will teach visitors the value of environmental conservation.

Top things to do on Danjugan Island.

  • Appreciate Danjugan’s beauty through kayaking or sailing
  • Explore its rich marine life through snorkeling or scuba diving
  • Trek into limestone and mangrove forests, beaches, lagoons, and other natural attractions
  • See a variety of bird species at the birdwatching view deck
  • Watch the sunset at Turtle Beach

Where to stay on and near Danjugan Island.

Tourists have two accommodation options when traveling to Danjugan: an overnight stay in either an open-air cabana (Moray Lagoon Camp) or a private room (Typhoon Beach) on the island or book a resort outside Danjugan in Sipalay City.

Best Sipalay resorts near Danjugan:

How to get there.

From Manila, fly to Bacolod-Silay International Airport. Ride a taxi or Grab car to the South Ceres Bus Terminal. From the terminal, catch a bus to Hinoba-an and get off at Crossing Remollos-Quadro de King. Take a 30-minute boat ride to Danjugan Island.

 

11. Biliran.

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Sambawan Island in Maripipi, Biliran. Photo Credit: Rodel Bontes via Flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/)

Ideal for: Beach bums, nature lovers

Biliran is quite unheard of even among Filipinos. Not many know it’s a province (Biliran used to be a sub-province of Leyte before becoming independent in 1992)—much less a tourist destination. 

This small province is brimming with natural and man-made wonders that a weekend getaway is not enough to experience everything it has to offer. Be in awe of its beautiful mountains, rice terraces, waterfalls, caves, and beaches.

Top things to do in Biliran.

  • Trek to the photogenic Ulan-Ulan Falls, one of Biliran’s most beautiful waterfalls
  • Go island-hopping on Higatangan Island (famous for its sandbar that changes shape and color), Sambawan Island, Dalutan Island, Agta Beach, etc.
  • Visit Biliran’s historical and religious sites: Nasunugan Watchtower Ruins, Pilgrimage Site of Padre Gaspar, Almeria Church, etc.
  • Discover the mystery of Tingkasan Bat Cave
  • Bask in the majestic view of Iyusan Rice Terraces in Almeria

Where to stay in Biliran.

How to get there.

  • Via Cebu: From Manila/China/Hong Kong/Singapore/South Korea/Taiwan/Kuala Lumpur/Tokyo/Dubai, take a flight to Mactan Cebu International Airport. Ride a taxi from the Mactan Airport to the port where you’ll take an overnight trip to Naval, Biliran.
  • Via Tacloban: From Manila, fly to Tacloban City Airport. Ride a jeepney from the airport to Tacloban downtown, and then take a shuttle bus to Naval.

 

12. Kalanggaman Island.

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Ideal for: Beach bums, adventure seekers

You might have already seen breathtaking aerial shots of Kalanggaman Island on the internet. But viewing such images pales in comparison to personally experiencing the white powdery sand beaches and pristine blue water of the uninhabited island.

Related: How to Unwind on Kalanggaman Island in Leyte: The Ultimate Travel Guide

Top things to do on Kalanggaman Island.

  • Enjoy different water activities: swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, banana boat, etc.
  • Chill under the trees and mingle with the locals
  • Take a side-trip to the top attractions in Palompon: Tabuk Marine Park and Bird Sanctuary, Masaba Falls, St. Francis Xavier Church, Lantaw Palompon, etc.

Where to stay near Kalanggaman Island.

Kalanggaman has no beach resorts or hotels, but overnight camping is allowed. If you want to spend the night on the island, your only choice is to rent or bring your own tent. 

If camping is not your thing, you may book a hotel in Palompon or Ormoc. Here are the best accommodation options for your Kalanggaman escapade:

How to get there.

  • From Manila, fly to Tacloban, Leyte. From the airport, take a taxi or tricycle to Vansvans or Duptours terminal. Take a five-hour van ride to Palompon and then a one-hour boat ride to Kalanggaman Island.
  • If you’re traveling from Cebu, the most convenient way to access and enjoy Kalanggaman is to join a day tour that will pick you up from your hotel in Cebu, take you to the island, and bring you back to the hotel.

 

13. Siquijor.

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The century-old Enchanted Balete Tree in Lazi, Siquijor. A natural spring emanates from its roots, where doctor fish were introduced, giving visitors the unique experience of having their dead skin cells cleaned by these fish. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Beach bums, nature lovers

Siquijor is synonymous with witchcraft, sorcery, and mythical creatures. But fear not—the small, mystic province is not as scary as you might imagine.  

In fact, it’s considered one of the emerging favorite tourist spots in the Visayas, welcoming an increasing number of visitors7 lately. Why is that so? Unknown to many, Siquijor is home to spectacular beaches, caves, nature parks, and historical attractions.

Top things to do in Siquijor.

  • Unwind, swim, or swing ala Tarzan into the water of Cambugahay Falls in Lazi
  • Explore Siquijor’s best beaches: Salagdoong Beach, Kagusuan Beach, and Paliton Beach
  • See the 400-year-old balete tree and have fun taking photos with it
  • Visit Siquijor’s historical landmarks: Lazi Church, Siquijor Church, etc.
  • Go spelunking at Cantabon Cave
  • Trek to Mt. Bandilaan National Park

Where to stay in Siquijor.

How to get there.

  • Fly from Manila to Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. From the airport, ride a jeepney or tricycle to Dumaguete Port. Then take a ferry ride to Siquijor.
  • If you’ll take a side-trip to Siquijor from Dumaguete, you can easily book a day trip to the island. You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Dumaguete, toured around Siquijor’s best tourist spots, and bring you back to the hotel.

 

14. Bukidnon.

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View of Mt. Kitanglad from a pineapple plantation in Bukidnon. Photo by Francisco M. Pajares, Jr. via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Families, barkadas, adventure seekers, nature lovers

A favorite destination among hikers and adventure junkies, Bukidnon is perfect for enjoying the great outdoors and cool weather in Mindanao. The mountain province offers plenty of natural and man-made attractions.

Top things to do in Bukidnon.

  • Challenge yourself and your travel buddies to extreme activities at Dahilayan Adventure Park: ziplining, free-fall ride, sky jumping, obstacle course, etc.
  • Hike up Panimahawa Ridge and revel in the view of mountain landscapes and a sea of clouds
  • Marvel at the Hobbit-inspired houses in Mt. Kitanglad Agro-Eco Farm
  • Visit Del Monte’s pineapple plantation, one of the largest in the world
  • Conquer Mt. Kitanglad, the fourth highest mountain in the Philippines

Where to stay in Bukidnon.

How to get there.

  • From Manila/Cebu/Davao/Iloilo/Zamboanga, fly to Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro. From the airport, ride a van to Agora Terminal and catch a bus to Valencia or Davao City, which also passes by Malaybalay City.
  • Alternatively, look for a transport service outside the Cagayan de Oro Airport where you can rent a car or van that travels directly to Bukidnon.

 

15. Mati, Davao Oriental.

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Dahican Beach in Mati City. Source: wayph.com/mati-city-tourist-spots-and-travel-guide/

Ideal for: Backpackers, adventure seekers, beach bums

If you’ll travel to Davao City, consider adding Mati to your itinerary. One of the oldest towns in Davao region, Mati will surprise you with the beauty of its famed Dahican Beach—the skimboarding capital of Davao—that boasts of powdery white sand and laid-back vibe. Some tourists even find it more beautiful than Boracay.

Top things to do in Mati.

  • Enjoy a majestic view of the Sleeping Dinosaur or hike around the base of the hill
  • Take a leisurely walk, relax, and try the popular empanada at Mati Baywalk
  • Relax, swim, skimboard, or surf at Dahican Beach
  • Visit the Subangan Museum that showcases Davao Oriental’s historical and cultural heritage

Where to stay in Mati.

How to get there.

From Manila, take a flight to Davao. Outside the Davao airport, ride a Bachelor Express bus to Mati. Or take a taxi to Gaisano Mall or Victoria Plaza and ride a van to Mati. Get off at Mati City Bus Terminal and charter a habal-habal or tricycle to your resort.

 

16. Maragusan, Compostela Valley.

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Tagbibinta Falls in Barangay Covonobe, Maragusan, Compostela Valley. Source: Travel Mindanao Facebook Page.

Ideal for: Families, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Dubbed the “Summer Capital of Davao Region”, Maragusan is great for tourists who are looking for an alternative to Baguio and Tagaytay to escape the scorching heat in Manila. Aside from enjoying cool temperatures, you can also soak up the beauty of Maragusan’s waterfalls and mountain landscapes. 

Top things to do in Maragusan.

  • Trek to and explore Maragusan’s majestic waterfalls: Tagbibinta Falls, Marangig Falls, and Pyalitan Falls
  • Climb up Mt. Candalaga, a favorite hiking spot in Mindanao, and be impressed with its flora and fauna and its sea of clouds view
  • Witness the P’yagsawitan Festival, a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of the Mansaka indigenous people 

Where to stay in Maragusan.

How to get there.

Fly from Manila to Davao Airport. From Davao City, ride a bus or van to Maragusan.

 

17. General Santos.

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Queen Tuna Park, General Santos City, Philippines. Photo by Michael E. Peligro via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Nature lovers, adventure seekers, foodies

General Santos City (GenSan) is known as Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao‘s hometown and the gateway to other provinces in the SOCCSKSARGEN region. But these are not the only reasons to visit this city in South Cotabato. Traveling to GenSan is a must if you love nature and food tripping. 

Top things to do in General Santos.

  • Discover why GenSan is the country’s Tuna Capital—visit the Tuna Fish Port, buy fresh tuna, and have it cooked your way
  • Join a Pacman “Adventour” to see Pacquaio’s mansions, Wildcard Gym, Pacman Beach Resort, Pacman Farm, The Manny Pacquiao Hotel, etc.
  • Trek to the Sanchez Peak and enjoy a panoramic view of GenSan
  • Have a satisfying culinary experience at different GenSan restaurants
  • Take in a stunning view of Sarangani Bay at Sarangani Highlands in GenSan

Where to stay in General Santos.

How to get there.

From Manila, fly to General Santos International Airport in South Cotabato.

 

18. Glan, Sarangani.

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The warm and cozy white sand beach in Gumasa, Glan, Sarangani Province. Photo by Bailabiaquia via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Backpackers, families, beach bums, adventure seekers, culture enthusiasts

Craving a Boracay-like experience but hate the crowd? Head over to Sarangani Bay, where the quaint coastal town of Glan awaits visitors who will take in its unadulterated beauty. Its powdery white-sand beaches make Glan worthy of the monicker “The Small Boracay of Mindanao”.

Beyond the stunning beaches, there’s more to see and do in Glan and its neighboring towns. Experience Sarangani’s natural wonders, cultural diversity, colorful festivities, and more!

Top things to do in and around Glan.

  • Chill out or enjoy water sports and activities (swimming, snorkeling, diving, volleyball, etc.) at Gumasa Beach and Isla Jardin del Mar
  • Experience Sarangani Bay Festival, the largest beach festival in the Philippines, held every May in Glan
  • Tour around Glan to see century-old, American colonial period ancestral houses
  • Get wet and wild on a whitewater tubing adventure along Pangi River in Maitum
  • Paraglide from the mountaintop in Maasim for a breathtaking view of Sarangani Bay
  • Take an immersion tour at the Lamlifew Tribal Village in Malungon and discover the weaving tradition of the B’laan tribe, one of Sarangani’s biggest ethnic groups

Where to stay in Glan, Sarangani.

How to get there.

From Manila, fly to General Santos. From the airport, ride a taxi to KCC Mall. Next to the mall is a terminal where you’ll ride a van to Glan. 

 

19. Sultan Kudarat.

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Sultan Kudarat provincial capitol. Photo by Bonvallite via Wikimedia Commons.

Ideal for: Backpackers, nature lovers, beach bums

Sultan Kudarat offers an interesting mix of natural attractions and cultural gems for travelers looking for a great side-trip from Davao or South Cotabato. This little-known, underrated province is truly worth a visit.

Top things to do in Sultan Kudarat.

  • See the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Capitol building in Isulan and be wowed with its luxurious, Moro-inspired architecture and interior design
  • Visit Baras Bird Sanctuary, home to a variety of bird species, in Tacurong
  • Have a unique cultural experience at Talakudong Festival (held every September) that highlights the indigenous tribes in Sultan Kudarat and nearby provinces
  • Explore the rich marine life and watch the golden sunset on Balet Island in Kalamansig
  • Take a relaxing dip at Margues Hot & Cold Spring in Esperanza, Lagandang Hot/Sulphur Spring in Isulan, or Nuling Hot Spring in Lebak

Where to stay in Sultan Kudarat.

How to get there.

From Manila, fly to General Santos and then ride a multi-cab or taxi to Bulaong Public Terminal. From the terminal, ride a bus or van to Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

 

20. Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

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Lake Seloton in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Source: wayph.com/lake-sebu-south-cotabato-travel-guide/

Ideal for: Culture enthusiasts, nature lovers

Lake Sebu is South Cotabato’s summer capital and primary eco-cultural destination. Tourists visit the charming town for its Instagram-worthy natural scenery (including its enchanting lakes), cool weather, and vibrant indigenous culture. 

Top things to do in Lake Sebu.

  • Join a cruise around Lake Sebu and immerse in the T’boli culture
  • Trek to the Seven Waterfalls of Lake Sebu and ride the zipline, which is the highest in Asia
  • Watch how T’nalak, the traditional T’boli fabric, is woven at Lang Dulay T’nalak Weaving Center
  • Wear traditional T’nalak ethnic costume for a photo-op
  • Visit the T’boli School of Living Traditions and learn T’boli native dance and music
  • Sample different tilapia dishes (fried, grilled, steamed, kinilaw, etc.)

Where to stay in Lake Sebu.

How to get there.

Fly from Manila to General Santos and then ride a taxi or multi-cab to Bulaong Terminal. Ride a van that will take you straight to Lake Sebu terminal. From the terminal, ride a jeepney or rent a habal-habal to Lake Sebu.

 

Top 5 New Tourist Spots in the Philippines to Watch Out for.

More tourist destinations in the Philippines are propping up. Recently, President Rodrigo Duterte approved laws declaring several sites in the country as new tourist spots8. This means the new tourist destinations will be funded and developed to boost tourism in their respective areas.

Here are the five new attractions in the Philippines travelers should explore:

1. Mount Bulaylay.

Mt. Bulaylay has the longest and tallest zipline in Nueva Ecija, making it the primary tourist spot in Cuyapo town. The local government of Cuyapo plans to develop it into an eco-tourism park.

 

2. Candon City Ecotourism Zone.

Here’s another reason to visit Ilocos Sur besides the historic city of Vigan: a new ecotourism destination in Candon City is in the works. The Ecotourism Zone in Candon houses a sprawling watershed, and the local government hopes to lure tourists by offering recreational activities near the watershed. 

With the recent opening of the newly built Heroes bypass road in Candon, the city’s tourist spots—including the new ecotourism zone—will be more accessible to tourists.

 

3. Santiago Cove.

Ilocos Sur has its own version of Boracay in Sabangan Cove (aka Santiago Cove). Like Bora, Santiago Cove boasts of white sand and serene, crystal-clear water. Visitors can swim, dive, or just unwind while appreciating the beauty of the beach.

 

4. Pinsal Falls.

tourist spots in the philippines 44

Another hidden treasure of Ilocos Sur, Pinsal Falls (aka Twin Falls) is an 85-foot cascading waterfall—the largest in the Ilocos region—located in Sta. Maria.

Trek to reach the top of Pinsal Falls. Small jacuzzi-like pools sit above the falls, where tourists can take a dip into the cold water and enjoy a stunning view of the landscape.

 

5. Hinatuan Enchanted River.

tourist spots in the philippines 45

The Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur isn’t exactly a new tourist attraction, though it has just been recently discovered by more tourists. Still, up to this day, not many people know that this mesmerizing natural wonder exists.

The river is nothing less than magical, as its water changes from aquamarine to blue, depending on its shifting depth. Locals believe that fairies and other mythical spirits protect the river—this adds to the river’s mystical nature.

 

Tips and Warnings.

1. Never lose your temper when dealing with locals.

Filipinos have a lot of admirable qualities—but punctuality is not one of them. Expect that your flights will be delayed, the food will be served late, the tour won’t start on time, and so on. In fact, we have a label for this tardiness habit: Filipino Time.

Lashing out at the flight attendants, waiters, or tour guides won’t make the situation any better. You’ll just end up wasting your time and energy. Worse, you might just become the next viral sensation on social media, like the Chinese tourist who assaulted a cop9 in a train station.

When dealing with locals on your Philippine trip, try to be more patient, calm, and diplomatic. You might get better service that way.

 

2. Pack light and loose clothing.

In most tourist spots in the Philippines, the weather tends to be very hot and humid, especially during the summer. Make sure you’ll be comfortable on your trip by bringing clothes that won’t make you sweat buckets.

 

3. Respect local culture and tradition.

Most Filipinos, especially in far-flung places, are conservative. So be careful with what you wear and what you do while vacationing in the Philippines.

Wearing very skimpy clothing, skinny dipping, and kissing in public may be acceptable in your home country, but these things can offend the locals and make them uncomfortable. Learn a lesson from a Taiwanese tourist who was fined for wearing a string bikini10 in Boracay.

Also, there are places (like mountains, churches, etc.) and religious rituals that are sacred to the locals. This is why researching the destination before a trip is extremely important. Be mindful and respectful of the customs in the places you visit in the Philippines. Don’t be noisy and rowdy in sacred places and during rituals.

 

4. Respect the environment.

As a tourist, your role goes beyond just visiting a place. So you can enjoy the place as much as you did the first time you visited, do your share in preserving the environment. This couldn’t be more crucial in the Philippines where natural resources abound. 

Simple practices—like not leaving trash on the beach, not stepping on corals, and not disturbing marine life and wildlife—prevent harming the environment. Know the guidelines before you go. If you aren’t sure about something, ask your tour guide about it.

 

5. Beware of tourist scams.

Taxi scams, especially at the airport, happen quite often to foreign tourists in the Philippines. When hailing a taxi, make sure that the driver agrees to use the meter. Otherwise, you might be charged a fixed and steep price.

If the driver refuses your request, just wait for another taxi. Better yet, book a ride via an app like Grab, Micab, or Hirna.

Also, beware of pickpockets in crowded areas (like malls and markets), jeepneys, and buses. Don’t put your valuables in the back pocket of your pants or backpack. Store them safely in a belt bag or sling bag instead. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions.

1. Is the Philippines safe to visit?

2. Do I need a visa to visit the Philippines?

3. When is the best time to visit the Philippines?

4. How many days are enough to visit the Philippines?

5. How do you get around in the Philippines?

6. How much money should I bring to the Philippines?

7. How do I travel for cheap in the Philippines?

8. Can I fly a drone in the Philippines?

 

References.

1. Talbot, L. (2016). Palawan, the Philippines: The Most Beautiful Island in the World. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-07-13/visiting-the-most-beautiful-island-in-the-world-palawan-philippines

2. Smith, J. (2019). 10 of the world’s most beautiful islands. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/worlds-most-beautiful-islands/index.html

3. Bremner, J. (2013). World’s 50 best surf spots. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/50-surf-spots/index.html

4. Springer, K. (2019). 13 of Asia’s most picturesque towns. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/asia-beautiful-towns/index.html

5. ‘Very friendly’ Dumaguete named top retirement spot in PH. (2018). Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://news.abs-cbn.com/life/08/13/18/very-friendly-dumaguete-named-top-retirement-spot-in-ph

6. Fuentes, A. (2018). The search for the next Boracay: Carabao Island, Romblon. Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://news.abs-cbn.com/life/multimedia/slideshow/05/29/18/the-search-for-the-next-boracay-carabao-island-romblon

7. Dagooc, E. (2019). Siquijor tourist arrivals hit record high in 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://www.philstar.com/the-freeman/cebu-business/2019/05/10/1916636/siquijor-tourist-arrivals-hit-record-high-2018

8. Corrales, N. (2019). Duterte declares 4 new PH tourist destination sites. Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1158790/duterte-declares-4-new-ph-tourist-destination-sites

9. Perez, A., & Villaruel, J. (2019). Chinese woman to face charges over viral ‘taho’ tantrum at MRT. Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/09/19/chinese-woman-to-face-charges-over-viral-taho-tantrum-at-mrt

10. Burgos, N. (2019). Taiwanese tourist fined in Boracay for wearing just a ‘string’. Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1176343/taiwanese-tourist-fined-in-boracay-for-wearing-just-a-s

 

About the Author.

Venus Zoleta is an experienced writer and editor for nearly 15 years, covering topics on personal finance, travel, government services, and digital marketing. Her background is in journalism and public relations. In her early 20s, she started investing and purchased a home. Now, she advocates financial literacy for Filipinos and shares her knowledge online. When she’s not working, Venus bonds with her pet cats and plans her next travel adventure.

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3 thoughts on “How to Travel to the Philippines: 50 Amazing Tourist Spots to Visit

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