Top Destinations

Top Destinations in the Philippines

1. Banaue Rice terraces, Luzon

Banaue, photo by Kerolic

Banaue, photo by Kerolic

  • Rice terraces. Sometimes referred to as the Staircase to Heaven and the Eighth Wonder of the World, the 2000 years old Banaue rice terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage site, and while many are still in use today, the outer rims are showing signs of deterioration. They were created by the Ifugao (local native people), in a massive engineering project to cover the sides of the valleys for several miles, irrigated by means of mountain streams and springs that have been tapped and channelled into canals that run downhill through the rice terraces.
  • Viewpoint. On the road to Bontoc, there are several viewpoints with beautiful panoramas overlooking the rice terraces. Walking from Banaue up to the main view point will take 1 to 2 hours, depending on how often you stop to enjoy the breathtaking views. After trekking through the terraces, consider visiting the spring-fed stream of Guihob and the magnificent Tappiya Waterfalls, where you can swim.
  • Also in the area: Sagada. Home to the impressive Sumaging limestone cave and the famous burial chambers and hanging coffins.

For more tourist information about Banau, please click here.

2. Chocolate Hills, Bohol

Chocolate Hills, photo by Jeroen Hellingman

Chocolate Hills, photo by Jeroen Hellingman

The Chocolate Hills form a rolling terrain of haycock hills – mounds of a generally conical and almost symmetrical shape.Estimated to be from 1,268 to about 1,776 individual mounds, these cone-shaped or dome-shaped hills are actually made of grass-covered limestone. The domes vary in sizes from 30 to 50 metres (98 to 160 ft) high with the largest being 120 metres (390 ft) in height. Bohol’s “main attraction”, these unique mound-shaped hills are scattered by the hundreds throughout the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan in Bohol.

During the dry season, the grass-covered hills dry up and turn chocolate brown. This transforms the area into seemingly endless rows of “chocolate kisses”. The branded confection is the inspiration behind the name, Chocolate Hills.

For more tourist information about Bohol, please click here.

3. Boracay Island, Western Visayas

Boracay perfect day by Angelo Juan Ramos

Boracay perfect day by Angelo Juan Ramos

Boracay is a small island located approximately 315 km (196 mi) south of Manila and 2 km off the northwest tip of Panay Island in the Western Visayas region. Boracay Island and its beaches have received awards from numerous travel publications and agencies. In 2012, Boracay has been named the Best Island in the World by the international travel magazine, Travel + Leisure.

Boracay is a beach and party destination. Have a massage under a coconut tree beside the beach, party from dusk to dawn; welcome to the tropical Eden called Boracay!

For more tourist information about Boracay, please click here.

4. Cebu

Cebu City by P199

Cebu City by P199

Cebu is the traveller’s fantasy of a tropical island come true – balmy weather, pristine beaches, crystalline waters, and luxurious resorts with all the frills of modern living.

The island-province of Cebu was where the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan planted the Cross of Christianity in the name of Spain in 1521. But even before Cebu became the Occidental gateway to the Orient, it was already a popular entry point among Asian merchants.

Cebu has since blossomed into a choice tourist destination, with many leisure establishments taking full advantage of its sea-valley-and-mountain location.

Metropolitan Cebu, the country’s second biggest metropolis, is the political, economic, educational and cultural center of the Visayas. Hotels, shopping malls, entertainment halls, casinos and golf fairways are ever present in the metro to cater to every tourist’s whim.

The rest of Cebu’s 166 islands and islets are fringed with sandy beaches and sapphire-clear waters teeming with marine life, perfect for divers.

For more tourist information about Cebu, please click here.

5. Davao City

Davao City skyline, photo by Jaysalva

Davao City skyline, photo by Jaysalva

“Kadayawan sa Dabaw” is Davao City’s premier festival and showcases the natural and cultural bounty of the land.

A movable feast in August, the week-long merrymaking highlights the manifold tribal cultures of the region which are vividly expressed in traditional songs, dances, games and crafts. It is also on this occasion when a lively trade fair, capped by a flower-and-fruit float parade, takes place. Street dancing and popular entertainment complete the celebration.

Agriculture-based industries thrive in the Davao region. A major exporter of bananas, citrus, mangosteen and other tropical fruits, it is also the biggest producer of cultured flowers in the country. Its surrounding waters are rich sources for commercial fishing.

The world’s largest city in terms of land area, Davao covers all of 244,000 hectares.

For more information about Davao, please click here.

6. Manila

Manila Skyline by Mike Gonzalez

Manila Skyline by Mike Gonzalez

The capital of the Philippines. Some love it, others hate it. Fact remains that Manila is the country’s bustling metropolis, the heart and soul of the Philippines.

Manila was born out of the ashes of a once flourishing Malay settlement by the banks of the Pasig River. In 1571, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established the Ever Loyal City of Manila which, until 1898, was the seat of Spanish colonial rule in Asia. He built the city within walls and called it Intramuros. Today, Intramuros is one of Manila’s top tourist destinations. From nightlife to some of the world’s finest shopping malls; you will find it in Manila.

For more tourist information about Manila, please click here.

7. Palawan, the last Frontier

Puerto Beach

Puerto Beach

For a long time, Palawan’s bountiful resources, abundant wildlife and extraordinary natural beauty were only known to the many ethnic communities that live in these islands. From the 70’s Palawan started to be discovered by tourists. Some of the main attractions in this ecological paradise are

El Nido, with its amazing scenery of sky scraping dark cliffs and white sand beaches

Caluit Island, with its population of African animals that were transported from the Kenyan savvanas to the plains of this wonderful island.

Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan which prides itself as the cleanest city in the Philippines, which is home to the famous Underground River, one of the Seven New Wonders of the Nature.

For more tourist information, please click here.

8. Vigan, Ilicos Sur

Vigan Calle Crisologo, photo by Simon Burchell

Vigan Calle Crisologo, photo by Simon Burchell

Vigan is a World Heritage Site in that it is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines, and is well known for its cobblestone streets, and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine and Oriental building designs and construction, with colonial European architecture.

One of the earliest Spanish settlements in the country, Vigan was founded in 1572 by Juan de Salcedo who patterned its design to that of Intramuros (Old Manila). It became the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia and was called Ciudad Fernandina in honor of King Ferdinand.

Today, Vigan retains much of the patina of 18th century Castillan architecture as seen in some 150 stone houses which stand in the town’s Mestizo District, notably Mena Crisologo Street. Many of these ancestral homes are still in good condition and some have been turned into cozy inns, museums, and souvenir shops.

Along with the homes are other vestiges of the town’s colonial past:

The majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral was built by the Augustinian friars along the distinct “Earthquake Baroque” style of the Ilocos region and features Neo-Gothic and pseudo Romanesque motifs. Standing on an elevation west of the cathedral is Plaza Salcedo, the oldest monument in Northern Luzon. The Archbishop’s Palace is a rich repository of religious artifacts from the Ilocos region. Plaza Burgos was built in honor of Fr. Jose Burgos, one of three Filipino priests who were garroted by the Spaniards for espousing church reforms.

But it is not only edifices which are preserved in this town inscribed in the World Heritage List. Viganos also remain steadfast in their traditional crafts, notably pottery (burnay) and handloom weaving (inabel).

The horse-drawn calesa (rig) is as much a presence in the streets as motor vehicles.

For more tourist information about Vigan, please click here.

9. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

Tubbataha Shark, photo by Simon Hefti

Tubbataha Shark, photo by Simon Hefti

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is one of the best diving spots in the world. It has a pristine coral reef with a 100-m perpendicular wall, lagoons, and coral islands. It covers 130,028 hectares, including the North and South Reefs, with the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles.

To get to Tubbataha, you can join diving trips to explore the vast area for 5-7 days. There are also organised tours for people who just want to snorkel, but diving is highly recommended to see the wide variety of colourful marine life. Because of the weather conditions, you can only visit Tubbataha during the summer (from late March to early June).

The park is situated in the middle of the Sulu sea, some 150 kms southeast from Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan.

For more information about the Tubbataha Reefs National Park, please click here.

10. Taal Volcano

Taal Volcano, photo by Roberto Verzo

Taal Volcano, photo by Roberto Verzo

Taal Volcanois one of the world’s lowest and smallest volcanoes. It is very popular because it is only a day trip away from Manila. An adventure-filled day awaits you as you journey to the volcano’s crater. First, you drive down the mountain along a steep, winding path. Then, you take a boat ride to cross Taal Lake to get to the foot of the volcano. You have the option of trekking or riding on horseback to go up to the crater, and then hiking down its slopes as smoke emanates out of the earth to release its steam.

For more information about Taal Volcano, please click here.

11. Donsol, Sorsogon

Whale shark at Donsol, photo courtesy of

Whale shark at Donsol, photo courtesy of

Donsol is known as the “Whale Shark Capital of the World” because it has the largest number of recorded sightings of whale sharks anywhere on earth from December to May. Donsol is the feeding ground for these gentle creatures because of the high concentration of plankton in the area.

It is possible to encounter the whale sharks up close, which is one of the major tourist attractions of Donsol.

For more tourist information about Donsol, please click here.

The texts on this page are adaptations of the contents on Wikipedia and Wikitravel.

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