The best places to visit in the Philippines

The best places to visit in the Philippines

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05 April

There are 7,641 islands in the Philippines, so if you’re starting to think about a trip there, it can be hard to know where to start! Let’s be honest — you’re not going to see too many of those islands on a short holiday. However, with a little bit of planning, you can still see all the best bits. Here are our best places to visit in the Philippines.


Let’s start with the capital. You’ll almost certainly be flying into this sprawling city, but many travellers don’t actually make it any further than the airport lounge. Manila may be the capital of the country, but it doesn’t have the same allure as some of the nation’s beachier destinations. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of things to see in Manila, so we reckon it’s worth heading out of the airport and taking a couple of days to explore.

The best way to get around town is by taking a ride on a jeepney, the iconic, colourful little buses that have become a symbol of the city. Use one to take you to historic buildings like San Agustin Church or Fort Santiago, both striking reminders of the Philippines’ past as a Spanish colony. Don’t miss the ruins of Intramuros, a once-proud Spanish fortress that was left shattered by the fighting in World War II. Oh, and while you’re here, don’t miss the Dessert Museum, an eccentric bubblegum-pink attraction, where you can taste some treats and pose for unique photos. On the weekend, this fun museum fills up with local teens, who dress up just for the occasion.

city skyline under blue sky during daytime.


After a day or two in Manila, you might be feeling overwhelmed and ready to head out of the big city. Luckily, number two on our list of the best places to visit in the Philippines is totally different. Palawan has been called the Philippines’ Last Frontier. Although it is becoming more popular with visitors, it still retains the feeling of pure wilderness. This corner of the archipelago consists of Palawan Island itself, a long, slender slice of tropical paradise, and several smaller islands that are ripe for discovery. Choose Puerto Princesa or Port Barton as a base and get exploring!

Rugged karst cliff scenery, crystal clear turquoise waters, and some of the world’s best scuba diving are just a few of the attractions waiting for you in Palawan. This is an adventurer’s paradise, and you could easily spend your entire holiday just exploring Palawan Island and the nearby islets.

green and brown mountain beside body of water under blue sky during daytime.

Puerto Princesa

While exploring the Palawan area, don’t miss the stunning city of Puerto Princesa. Don’t panic when you hear the word “city” — this is a world away from the bustling metropolis of Manila. Puerto Princesa still retains a lot of local charm, and in fact, the best things to see here are examples of nature in all its splendour.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River is the world’s longest navigable underground river, and you simply can’t miss it. Take a boat tour that plunges into the darkness of the limestone caves for an experience you’ll never forget. Remember to leave enough time to explore the surrounding Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, too. It’s home to monitor lizards, bats and a huge number of monkeys. Remain calm and stand still if one of these curious primates jumps on you, and whatever you do, don’t make eye contact!

If that’s not enough wildlife for you, the Puerto Princesa Crocodile Farm is another one of the best places to visit in the Philippines for nature lovers. Don’t let the name put you off — this is actually a very large complex, which includes a conservation centre dedicated to animal rescue. You’ll also have the chance to get a close look at the crocs, who are some of Southeast Asia’s meanest inhabitants!

person in red shirt standing on rock in the middle of lake during daytime.

El Nido

No, we’re not done with Palawan yet! How could we forget El Nido, which many travellers consider the single best place to travel in the Philippines? This is a great place to try climbing up the rocky cliffs. It’s a bit of a workout, even if you’re already in decent shape, but you’ll enjoy amazing views from the top. Take a couple of minutes to catch your breath, then set out along a clifftop walk, gazing down at the blue waters and white sands below.

El Nido is a true paradise for beach lovers. These aren’t just the best beaches in the Philippines — they’re really some of the best in the world. Spend your day relaxing on the white sand and going for dips in the clear waters to cool off, or opt for an island-hopping adventure, visiting the numerous tiny islands in the surroundings. If you love snorkelling or scuba diving, don’t miss the chance to get into the water. Colourful coral reefs teeming with life will keep you busy all day.

landscape photography of island with boats.


Coron Island is right next to Palawan. So, if you’re spending time in Palawan, you should definitely add Coron to your itinerary of the best places to see in the Philippines. After all, it’s just a 25-minute ferry ride away!

This island is particularly popular with scuba divers for one simple reason: it’s a paradise for shipwrecks. There are twelve separate wrecks for adventurous divers to tackle, all of them dating back to the days of the Second World War. The Philippines was the site of some of the fiercest naval battles in the conflict’s Pacific Theatre, but today, these battlegrounds have become coral reefs. There are so many fish and other creatures living around the wrecks that you’ll feel like you’re diving in an aquarium.

Not a diver? Don’t worry! Coron has some great attractions above the surface of the water, too. One of our favourites is Kayangan Lake, a smooth lagoon with incredibly clear waters. If you’re feeling lazy, just sit back and enjoy a boat trip around the lake, taking in the epic scenery of the surrounding limestone cliffs. Want something a little more active? Grab your snorkel and take a closer look at the colourful fish that call this lagoon home.


Yet another part of the Philippines with crystal clear water and amazing sea life? You bet! We’re actually starting to lose count of the Philippines’ incredible beach destinations — there are just so many. Cebu’s main attraction is its large aquatic species, including the mighty whale shark. Don’t be scared if you spot one of these enormous creatures swimming towards you. Unlike their great white cousins, whale sharks don’t see humans as a snack. They’re gentle giants that prefer to feed on plankton.

When you’re tired of the beach, take an inland trek into the interior of Cebu Island. Kawasan Falls is an incredible sight, surely one of the best places to visit in the Philippines. This multi-layered waterfall cascades down into a clear pool that’s deep enough for you to swim in or just float around on a bamboo raft. If you really fancy an adventure, you can go on a canyoneering trip around Kawasan Falls. An activity that’s best left for adrenaline junkies, canyoneering involves rappelling, jumping off waterfalls and swimming down the river. It’s not for the faint of heart, so if you’d rather just stay and chill on that bamboo raft, feel free!

landscape photography of island with boats.

Cebu City

Cebu City may not be a traditional tourist spot in the Philippines, but we still think it’s worth a place on our list. While you’re exploring Cebu Island, take the opportunity to spend a day in the city. There are plenty of historical buildings and monuments to explore, with one highlight being Magellan’s Cross. This large cross marks the spot where explorer Ferdinand Magellan baptised the Philippines’ first Christians in 1521. It has become one of the country’s most important religious monuments. To this day, the Philippines remains a fiercely Catholic nation.

Other sights to see in Cebu City include the oldest church in the Philippines, the Basilica del Santo Niño, which dates all the way back to 1565. The city also has some interesting buildings that celebrate other religions, like the Cebu Taoist Temple. Perched high in the hills, this colourful temple is decorated with beautiful dragons, and its gardens offer some of the best views across the surrounding area.

Remember when you’re visiting Cebu City’s religious monuments that these are still houses of worship. If your holiday wardrobe tends to consist of crop tops and shorts, you’ll probably need to put on something more modest before you go inside. Some areas may be off-limits to non-worshippers, too. If in doubt, always ask a local — they’ll be happy to help!

long-exposure photo of urban city with lights.


The main attraction here has to be the Bohol Chocolate Hills. These unique, remarkable sights are definitely on most people’s lists of the best places to visit in the Philippines. They’re almost conical in shape, and at first glance, it’s hard to believe that they’re all natural. In fact, the hills were formed millions of years ago from dead coral. Some people have called them one of the natural wonders of the world. You’ll have to see them for yourself to decide if you agree or not!

Your Bohol adventures should also lead you to Hinagdanan Cave, a gorgeous cave with an incredible, natural underground pool. Be prepared to pay an extra fee if you want to swim in the cooling waters. If you don’t feel like getting your feet wet, you’re sure to keep busy just by exploring the cave. Don’t forget your camera, as this is one of the most picture-perfect locations in a country that’s already full of photo ops.

Finally, don’t miss the Tarsier Sanctuary. You may never have heard of tarsiers before, but once you see these tiny primates, you’re bound to fall in love. Get a close look and learn about their conservation at this charming, family-owned sanctuary.

green trees and mountain under blue sky and white clouds during daytime.


Are you the type of person whose holiday isn’t complete without a bit of history? Then Vigan might just be the best place to go to in the Philippines! In the northwest of Luzon Island, this city will make you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. It has charming cobbled streets and old colonial architecture. It’s a great place to just wander around, going down different streets to see what you find waiting for you.

For travellers who want a bit of romance, horse-drawn kalesas — traditional two-wheeled carriages — are the best way to get around town. As you trot through the streets, you’ll see churches, a stunning cathedral and, best of all, the Bantay Bell Tower. Get out here and climb the stairs for a closer look, and be sure to admire the gorgeous view that extends across the city.

trees near brown concrete temple.

Cordillera Rice Terraces

Also in Luzon, the Cordillera Rice Terraces are definitely one of the best places to visit in the Philippines. Even UNESCO agrees, officially designating it a World Heritage Site. You may have seen similar rice terraces in Bali, but the Filipino version is on a much grander scale.

The rice terraces are a remarkable feat of engineering. Ancient farmers have carved the mountainous region into a series of small layers, creating flat, fertile land out of nothing. Take a trek through the rice terraces to enjoy amazing views at every turn. Don’t forget your binoculars, as this lush green landscape is a paradise for birds.

There are several places in Luzon where you can see the rice terraces. They’re all dotted around the province of Ifugao, which offers some of the most brilliant green scenery in all of the country.

aerial photography of green mountain.


We’re almost at the end of our list — and it’s time to go back to the beach! There are twelve different beaches on Boracay Island, so if you get bored of one, guess what? There’s another one to discover just around the corner!

Many visitors to Boracay just come to sprawl out on the sand and work on their tan. It’s also one of the best places to visit in the Philippines if you’re into water sports. If you start to feel tired of endless sun-worshipping, go for a hike up Mount Luho and enjoy the views.

green coconut trees under by cirrus clouds.

Davao City

This may be a city, but it makes our list because it’s a great base for exploring nature. Davao is close to the highest mountain in the Philippines, the imposing Mount Apo. Climbing it is serious business. It generally involves a three-day trek, and most companies only run tours during the dry season, as the route can be extremely treacherous when it rains. The views are worth the effort, though!

In Davao City, you can also visit the Philippine Eagle Centre, which celebrates this rare native breed, and the gorgeous Eden Nature Park. Set in a lush pine forest on the side of a mountain, the park will feel like a totally different country after all those white sand beaches and tropical rainforests. Adventure lovers will find plenty here to keep their adrenaline pumping, including ziplines, sky swings and sky cycles, a daring activity that involves riding a bike over a tightrope suspended high above the beautiful scenery.

Green-leafed plant with orange flowers.

Where will your trip to the Philippines take you? After reading our list, you may be feeling even more indecisive than ever! Why not start with our 12-night tour, which will take you to some of the most beautiful islands, giving you a real taste of what this island nation has to offer?

WeRoad Team
Written by WeRoad Team