Published Oct 5, 2020

With more than 7,000 islands, planning an itinerary in the Philippines can be dizzying. I mean, the country has it all: from lush mountains to white-sand beaches to diverse cultures and everything in between.

In fact, all of its 81 provinces have something to offer. The Philippine landscape is as diverse as its people. Even us locals haven’t fully explored the country, yet. So whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a history buff, or just someone who wants to enjoy the tropics, a visit to the Philippines won’t disappoint.

If you’re planning to visit soon, here are 5 Philippine tourist spots you shouldn’t miss:

1. Banaue Rice Terraces

Carved more than 2,000 years ago with nothing but rudimentary tools and bare hands, the Banaue Rice Terraces is dubbed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. It stands as a testament to the industriousness and creativity of the Ifugaos – one of the country’s most famous indigenous groups.

How to get there:

From the country’s capital of Manila, you can take a night bus to Banaue. The journey takes about 9 to 12 hours, depending on the traffic. You can also take a plane to Baguio City and then a bus ride to Banaue but that doesn’t save you much time either. From Banaue, you can trek to the interconnected indigenous villages at the foot of the mountains.

What to Do:

Though Banaue is mostly known for its terraces, it has a lot more to offer. Aside from the gorgeous mountain views, you can also take a dip at the hot springs and waterfalls you’ll pass along the way.

2. Puerto Princesa Underground River

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Puerto Princesa’s Underground River is one of the most famous tourist spots in the Philippines. And why not? With mountains, caves, rivers, and various wildlife, the area is an entire ecosystem by itself!

How to Get There:

From Manila, take a plane to Palawan. There are available flights daily and direct ones last just an hour and 20 minutes. From the airport, take a tricycle (three-wheeled rickshaw) to San Jose Terminal. From there, you can take a bus or jeepney going to Sabang Port. Travel time usually takes two to three hours but they won’t leave until the seats are filled. So total travel time might be longer.

If you’re not keen on waiting for hours for the bus to leave, you can always hire a van. Or sign up for group tours with round trip transfers from the airport.

From Sabang Wharf, you board a small boat that will take you to Sabang Beach. The entrance to the cave is just a short walk from thee.

What to Do:

Underground River Tours is a must (of course). But there are also a lot of noteworthy side trips you can make while on the island. For adrenaline junkies, you can try out Ugong Rock Adventures. Beware though that it’s not for the faint of heart. Aside from the 71-meter high zipline, you can also do spelunking, zip biking, rock climbing, and many more.

A picture of turtle below the ocean in the philippines

3. Chocolate Hills

If Switzerland has a chocolate factory, then the Philippines has hills of chocolates. Well, it’s not really made out of real chocolate (or the ants would have eaten all of it by now). But these land mounds turn a chocolatey-brown color in the summer, hence the name.

How to Get There:

From Manila, there’s a daily flight to Tagbilaran in Bohol. From the airport, you can take a taxi to the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park in Carmen. Note that this option can be expensive as drivers usually ask for a fixed rate. If you want to save some money, you can just go to the city’s terminal and hop on a bus to Carmen. Travel time is at 45 minutes to an hour. The bus will drop you off at the foot of the hill leading to the adventure park. Then you can take a motorcycle going up to the park itself.

What to Do:

The park’s main attraction is the Chocolate Hills view deck. It’s a steep climb from the main park itself but it’s so worth it. After taking Instagram-worthy photos, you can head back down and enjoy other activities such as:

  • zipline
  • horseback riding
  • zorb ball
  • eco-hiking
  • sumo wrestling

The park also has a “serpentarium” where you can get up close and personal with a python, a boa constrictor, and a king cobra, among others. And when we say “personal”, it’s wrap-them-around-your-neck kind of personal. If that won’t get your adrenaline pumping, then I don’t know what will.

4. Cebu

Just a boat ride away from Bohol is the sprawling metropolis of Cebu. Dubbed as the Queen City of the South, it’s the first Spanish settlement and the oldest city in the country dating back to 1565! Now, it has become one of the country’s leading centers of commerce. But outside of the hustle and bustle of the metro, Cebu has a lot of scenic places that attract tourists from around the world.

How to Get There:

All local airlines have direct flights from Manila to Cebu. The city also has an international airport which caters to flights from all over the world.

What to Do:

I think the right heading should be “where to start?”. There’s just so many tourist-worthy destinations packed in this small island that it’s hard to choose. If you want to get a really nice tan, you can head on to the white-sand beaches of Bantayan Island and Malapascua Island. For the outdoorsy type, there’s Osmeña’s Peak just a few hours from the city. Or if you just want to soak up history, this island is dotted with old churches and houses from north to south.

5. Boracay Island

Boracay has consistently topped Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the Best Islands in the World. And there’s no reason not to. Dubbed as “the island that never sleeps”, this little strip of land just buzzes with energy from dusk to dusk. Plus, it has one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world with powdery white sands and tranquil blue waters.

How to Get There:

Though the island is a major tourist spot, there’s no direct mode of travel from Manila to Boracay. The nearest airport is in Kalibo. Flights are available daily and last about an hour and 15 minutes. If you’re hailing from Cebu, you can also ride a ferry or a bus but it will take longer. From Kalibo Airport, you need to travel to Caticlan Jetty Port. There are a lot of available travel options so you don’t have to worry. At the jetty port, you can get a boat that will take you to Boracay Island.

What to Do:

Beaching, of course! I’m not exaggerating when I said the island has one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. And it would be a shame if you don’t get to enjoy it. If you’re looking to let loose, the island also hosts epic parties similar to the ones in Pattaya, Thailand, and Bali, Indonesia. Though there might be some curfews and limitations now that the island is undergoing rehabilitation.

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About The Author

As an avid traveler, loves to write blogs about traveling and how to save money when making international calls.