Top 10 Must-See Places in the Philippines
If you’re traveling to the Philippines, a country consisting of over 7,000 islands, there are a multitude of destinations you could visit and not enough time to see them all. How do you prioritize?!
I’ve broken down the top 10 must-see places in the Philippines by mountains versus the beach. Depending on your travel preferences you can choose the ones that appeal most to your sense of adventure. Whether you’re looking to hike giant rice terraces in the mountains or just need some sand and turquoise water, you’ll find both here!
If you’re like me and want the inside scoop on local advice, look no further! I lived in the Philippines for over three years and had the opportunity to travel a lot. Look for the travel tips below for culture and local customs.
Keep reading! These top 10 must-see places in the Philippines are sure to satisfy your wanderlust and sense of adventure.
The mountainous region of the Philippines is called the Cordilleras consisting of several provinces that have awesome mountain terrain. It’s also a lot cooler than in the lowlands.
Baguio City, known as the summer capital of the Philippines (significantly cooler in the summer, around 80 degrees F) is the gateway to the mountain regions. It’s a major city with lots of cool tourist attractions and a chance to experience Filipino city life without the overwhelming (and suffocating) feeling you get while in Manila.
Travel Tip: You can try a cup of civet coffee (cat poop coffee) at Good Shepherd cafe. It’s delicious!
Sagada is hikers central. It’s a small mountain town known for the fun caving tours and hiking amidst beautiful rice terraces and waterfalls. All you have to do is head to the tourist office in the town center to book a tour. They offer a lot of adventure packages all lead by local guides.
Travel Tip: If you’re already in Baguio, catch a bus going to Sagada at the Dangwa Terminal (a bus and jeepney terminal) just behind the Baguio Center Mall on Magsaysay Ave.
Banaue is sometimes referred to as the 8th wonder of the world, known for the magnificent rice terraces. You can view them from a lookout along the highway or book a day tour for a more adventurous hiking among the terraces.
Batad, a little ways further out from Banaue is a hidden gem. When I traveled to Batad, there were no roads leading to the village (though I heard they are now building one). We literally had to rent a jeepney to take us to the trailhead, then hike down for about 2 hours before we got into the village. But it was so worth it! There were hardly any tourists around – our group was one of the few I saw.
If you’re into hiking and viewing spectacular sunrise views over a sea of clouds, then this is a definite must-see for you. You’ll hike first to a base area and camp the night, then wake up at 4am to hike to the summit for sunrise. It was one of the coolest things I’ve done while traveling.
While there are beaches to be found everywhere in the Philippines, some are nicer looking than others. These are some of my favorite must-see beach destinations.
El Nido, Palawan
El Nido is unreal. I repeat, unreal. Sometimes I felt like I was in the movie set of some adventure film like Pirates of the Caribbean. The scenery is incredible. You can book an island hopping tour which will take to you five different islands (with a campfire-grilled lunch included!) and really see the beauty of the area. El Nido can get touristy during peak season, which makes it fun for going out on a Saturday night, but crowded if you’re looking to be away from people. However, the crowdedness of El Nido is nothing compared to popular destinations like Hawaii, so to me it was never a big deal.
Travel Tip: There aren’t many ATMs where you can get cash and many places don’t accept credit card. So be sure to have plenty of Philippine pesos on hand before you arrive.
Now, if you’re looking to get away from the crowds, THIS is the place for you. Siquijor is a small island with a small-town feel. We stayed at a place where you could rent tents so we were literally camping on the beach. Picture white sand, turquoise waters, and no one around except a few locals. Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Pagudpud is on the very north tip of the Philippines. What I love about this place is that the coastline feels very rugged compared to other parts of the Philippines. There’s supposed to be some excellent spots for surfers but if you’re just looking for the beach it’s great as well. Not as many people make it up that far north, so while there are still tourists, there aren’t many. There’s also a really cool waterfall nearby that you can hike to and swim around.
Travel Tip: Don’t leave the Ilocos Norte region without trying their famous empanadas. You’ll recognize them immediately by their bright orange wrapping. You can find them on street food carts or in restaurants.
Bohol is a nice island with plenty of fun activities to do. It is known for the famous tarsier creatures (allegedly Yoda from Star Wars was modelled after one), the chocolate hills, and plenty of beach activities like snorkeling and sipping tropical drinks. This can be a high tourist area during peak seasons but it’s still lovely!
Travel Tip: The Bohol Bee Farm has awesome food! Make this a must-stop destination and don’t forget to eat some fun ice cream flavors like guyabano, spicy ginger, and durian.
What are You Waiting For?
There you have it! The top 10 must-see places in the Philippines. Whether you’re a mountain-loving or beach-going traveler, there’s plenty to see and do in the Philippines. Just remember that it’s more fun in the Philippines!
What is your favorite must-see travel destination in the Philippines? What other cool places in the world have you traveled to?