Most Beautiful Places to Visit in the Philippines
Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean with its more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is a captivating destination of many pristine beaches, spectacular natural wonders, historical colonial sites and stunning landscapes that attracts a lot of travellers from all around the world. If you’re planning your travels around this tropical archipelago in Southeast Asia, let’s have a look at Asia Tours list of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
1. El Nido, Palawan
With its stunning white-sand beaches, crystal clear waters, gorgeous rock formations, and beautiful coral reefs, El Nido is the main reason why many travels to Palawan and why this island is recognized as the best island in the world. Located in the northernmost tip of mainland Palawan, El Nido is made up of 45 islands and islets, and also is the gateway to the Bacuit archipelago. Apart from enjoying the breathtaking views of nature and soaking in the bright blue waters, most travellers choose an island hopping tour to explore the breathtaking seascapes. These tours with different set routes named A to D usually visit 4 or 5 islands in a day, offering many water activities like kayaking, swimming, snorkelling or diving.
• Best things to do: Enjoy island hopping tours, Take part in many water activities, Admire amazing sunset in some beachfront, Explore the town by mountain biking and motorbiking
• Best time to visit: Between November and May when the sea is relatively calm and underwater visibility is good
• Recommended duration: 3 - 5 days
2. Coron, Palawan
Also located in the gorgeous island of Palawan, Coron is a tropical paradise with similar natural marvels as El Nido – blue waters, powdery beaches, and picture-perfect seascapes. As in El Nido, you can join many island hopping tours including visits to some secluded islands and hidden lagoons, like Kayangan Lake, Siete Pecados, Banol Beach, and Twin Lagoon. Besides, Coron is also known as one of the top diving destinations in the world with numerous wrecks here, the most famous of which is the World War II wreck dive site. With the depths ranging from three meters to 42 meters, beginners can glimpse the outside of the ships, while expert wreck divers can enter and discover the abandoned world inside with dark engine rooms, bomb holes and scattered personal items.
• Best things to do: Embark on island hopping tours, Enjoy water sports (swimming, snorkelling, diving,…), Admire amazing sunset in some beachfront, Join biking and motorbiking tours through tropical jungle and beautiful mountains, Trek to Mount Tapyas for superb views
• Best time to visit: from November to May when the weather is warm with limited rainfall
• Recommended duration: 3 - 5 days
Tucked in the mountainous region of the Cordilleras on the northern island of Luzon, the Filipinos still keep their unique culture alive and away from the Spanish colonizers with the emerald-green rice terraces dating back to some 2,000 years ago. These historic terraces carved out of the mountains at a higher altitude are a masterpiece by the ancestors of indigenous people that handed down from one generation to the next and are still occupied by the Ifugao ethnic group this day. Though Babaue’s Batad Rice Terraces and Bangaan Rice Terraces are the most famous with a UNESCO World Heritage Site status, there are many other scenic rice terraces that backdrop traditional farmers’ houses and villages where you can take a stroll and mingle with the locals to learn more about their way of life.
• Best things to do: Hike around beautiful rice terraces, Explore the local cultural traditions and lifestyle, Visit nearby waterfalls and villages, Learn about the local sustainable agriculture
• Best time to visit: during April – May or October – November when the terraces are in their greenest
• Recommended duration: 3 - 4 days
4. Chocolate Hills, Bohol
Besides the white-sand beaches and green rice terraces, another picture and postcard-perfect wonder that the Philippines is renown for the rolling landscapes of the Chocolate Hills. Situated on the island of Bohol in the central Visayas region, the Chocolate Hills is a collection of over a thousand cone-shaped hills covering a 50 square kilometre area, which are covered in green grass then turn brown in the dry season, resembling chocolate candy kisses. Looking from afar, the unique landscape is like a man-made creation and many often dub it as an “Eighth Wonder of the World”. As for the best views of these hills, you can visit the viewing deck of the Chocolate Hills in Carmen or at the Sagbayan Peak.
• Best things to do: Admire the Chocolate Hills from viewing decks, Visit Tarsiers’ sanctuaries – the world’s tiniest primates endemic to the Philippines, Explore Bohol’s stunning beaches
• Best time to visit: January to May when the hills will change to the iconic chocolate brown colour
• Recommended duration: 3 - 4 days
5. Intramuros, Manila
For the culture buffs to the Philippines capital of Manila, Intramuros or the “Walled City” is certainly the best place to visit and explore the country’s history. Nestled on the south bank of the Pasig River, Intramuros was once the old “Manila” under the control of Spain, established as a centre of religious, political and military power. Over half a square kilometre in size, the walled city today still preserves its originally old Spanish-era look with cobblestone streets, historic sites and traces of the past. Though many ruins and old structures are converted into new uses: museums, restaurants, gift shops or modern cafés, visitors can go on walking tours around favourite attractions, such as Fort Santiago, Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, Casa Manila Museum and Rizal Park, to learn about Intramuros and its glorious heyday.
• Best things to do: Take a stroll around the walled city, Visit ancient churches and historic sites, Explore some cultural shops, museums and cafes
• Best time to visit: January to April when the climate is favourable to walk around Intramuros
• Recommended duration: 2 - 3 days
6. Tubbataha Reefs, Palawan
A Unesco World Heritage Site, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park lies in the middle of the Sulu Sea, southeast of Palawan island, comprising two huge atolls (North Atoll and South Atoll) and the smaller Jessie Beazley Reef. Covering a total area of almost 100,000 hectares, the park is known as one of the best marine reserves and dive sites in the world with a high diversity of marine life. The reef ecosystem is home to over 360 coral species and some 600 species of fish (about half of all known species), where divers can have chances of spotting sharks, dolphins, turtles, whales and Napoleon wrasse. The only way to visit the park is by live-aboard vessels, taking about 10 hours to sail from Puerto Princesa. Most liveaboards will depart after dinner and reach Tubbataha by first light the next day.
• Best things to do: Dive and admire the amazing biodiversity of coral reefs and various endangered marine species, Relax on the deck
• Best time to visit: mid-March to mid-June when sea conditions are at their calmest and clearest
• Recommended duration: 6 - 7 days
From paradise-like beaches to grassy hills, green terraces to historical colonial streets, there are seemingly endless surprises waiting for travellers to the Philippines. Let’s plan your ultimate escape to this tropical nation including some of the most striking things to see and experience or check out more of our Philippines Private Tours to help you create a perfect itinerary.