7 best places to visit in the PHILIPPINES
The Philippines is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. With more than 7000 islands, the Philippines is the second largest archipelago in the world.
Being a little bit “out of the way”, the Philippines is far less crowded and touristy than Thailand – the tourist mecca of Southeast Asia.
But that doesn’t mean that this amazing island country is not worth visiting. Those who wonder of the well-trodden path will be rewarded with an abundance of places to visit – such natural wonders as pristine beaches, beautiful coral reefs, rainforests, ancient rice terraces and so much more!
Here is a list of some of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
7 best places to visit in the Philippines
Manila, the capital of the Republic of the Philippines, may seem chaotic and extremely grimy upon arrival, but actually, it’s a good place to start your trip to the Philippines.
Not only because you won’t want to return to the city after time spent chilling on beaches and taking in nature (it’s true!), but also the city is rich with sights and culture.
We recommend spending at least a couple of days in Manila.
There are plenty of unique places in Manila – many local Filipino markets which sell authentic and, let’s be honest, weird food, “cemetery slum”, colonial architecture in the Spanish Old Town (Intramuros) and so much more.
“Cemetery slum” is a slum situated in Manila North Cemetery. It is one of the oldest cemeteries in Manila, and a place where living life along with the dead. Many poor people call it home. Some of these people serve as caretakers of the cemetery. Despite the poverty, people are friendly and very welcoming to visitors.
Also Manila is home to the world’s first Chinatown – Binondo, which was established in the 1590s.
2. Banaue Rice Terraces
Head to Banaue to see ancient rice terraces.
The rice terraces in Banaue is North Luzon’s most popular landmark, and one of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
These mud-walled rice terraces were created around 2000 years ago. They were carved into the mountains of Ifugao by the Ifugao people who were skilled engineers.
Now occasionally Banaue rice terraces are called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.
3. Mount Mayon
There are 23 active volcanos in the Philippines. Though not so many as in Indonesia (127), but still it is a considerable number.
Mount Mayon is one of them.
It is located in the province of Albay on the island of Luzon and considered one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. It is the most active volcano in the Philippines.
With a height of 2463 m, the volcano can be seen from quite far away – even as far as Naga and Catanduanes island.
Being the world’s most symmetric volcano, Mount Mayon is one of the Philippines’ most photographed sights.
When there is no danger of eruption, tourists can climb part of the way up the volcano. To climb the volcano it is compulsory to hire a guide.
There are several viewpoints in the area. You can see the volcano from miles around. Ideal times are early mornings or late evenings when Mayon is not obscured by clouds.
4. Chocolate Hills
Chocolate Hills, a popular tourist attraction in Bohol, is grassy mounds, stretching far and wide.
Chocolate Hills geological formation consists of more than 1260 near identical hills. The size of the hills ranges from 40 m to 120 m.
These conical karst hills were formed ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits, erosion, and weathering.
The name has nothing to do with chocolate. The hills got their name because of the vegetation which turns brown in the dry season.
Known for its resorts and stunningly beautiful beaches, Boracay is a very popular place for holidaymakers.
The most iconic beach of Boracay, if not of all the Philippines, is White Beach. Fringed with palm trees, this white sand beach is a great spot for enjoying the sun and the sea.
6. El Nido
Situated in North Palawan, El Nido is one of the best beach destinations in the Philippines.
Being so laid back and beautiful, El Nido is ranked as one of the best beach islands in Condé Nast Traveler’s list of “The 24 Best Island Beaches in the World”.
Situated amid impressive towering karst cliffs of Bacuit Bay, El Nido boasts beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. What travelers like the most about El Nido is that there are plenty of uncrowded secluded beaches where you can spend a lazy afternoon away from people.
El Nido also is a gateway to the country’s one of the most beautiful natural treasures – the Bacuit Archipelago. It is a group of jagged limestone islands (more than 45) and islets jutting from azure water up towards the sky. Bacuit Archipelago is one of the places with the bluest water in the world.
Local tour operators in El Nido offer island hopping tours to the archipelago.
Swimming with whale sharks is an exhilarating experience, possible only in a few places in the world. One of these places is Oslob, in South Cebu.
Swimming with a shark might sound like a scary experience, but it’s not the case with whale sharks. These sharks are gentle giants swimming at the average speed of just 5 kilometers per hour. And they don’t attack people.
The Philippines travel tips
- You don’t need a visa to travel to the Philippines. EU citizens are entitled to visa-free entry for up to 30 days.
- The Philippines is a bit more expensive than Thailand and Vietnam but still very affordable. To save some money, book accommodation in advance. Especially if you are traveling during the high season. Traveling during the shoulder season is another way to save money.
- The Philippines is a diver’s paradise. If you are looking for a new diving spot, consider traveling to the Philippines.
- Boracay, a popular beach and party destination, was closed for 6 months last year (in 2018) for rehabilitation and clean up. So don’t expect it to be as busy now, after the rehabilitation. No more partying 24/7. Now the island is open “in the light mode”.
- Weather conditions are diverse. While it rains heavily on one island, the weather is dry and pleasant on other islands. So, plan according to the weather.