Top 10 Tourist Attractions in the Philippines

A hammock on one of many beaches in the Philippines.
A hammock on one of many beaches in the Philippines.

The Philippines is located at the eastern edge of Asia - it consists of approximately 7,641 small islands (called archipelagos), upon which a host of diversity can be found. The Philippines boasts of pristine beaches and spectacular natural attractions that are visited by millions of visitors annually. In 2015, it was estimated that the country was landed on by approximately 5.3 million visitors, a threefold increase compared to a decade ago. Below we explore some of the best places to visit in the Philippines.

10. Picturesque Palawan

Palawan, the Philippines.

The island of Palawan is the gem of the Philippines and probably the most visited destination in the country. The island boasts of lush vegetation, jungle terrain, and beautiful beaches. The destination has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Tubbataha Atoll Reef and the Palawan’s Subterranean River. The white beaches provide exotic scenery. The Coron Reefs is home to seven lakes surrounded by limestone cliffs - a must visit for tourists. The Tabon Caves is considered to be the Cradle of Philippine Civilization because of the archaeological discoveries made on the site. In 2014, the Island was voted the best island in the world in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

9. Lake Sebu

Lake Sebu, Mindanao.

Lake Sebu in southern Mindanao is a perfect place for an adventure. It is well-known for its seven waterfalls, two of which have been developed for tourists. Visitors can ride a 590 ft high zipline over the seven waterfalls, and from an elevated point, they can enjoy the beautiful scenery around the waterfall. Visitors can enjoy a natural walk along the lake while the sun rises or take a boat ride in the lake during sunset.

8. The town of Miagao, Iloilo.

Miagao, Iloilo, Philippines.

The town of Miagao, in Iloilo, is not just another small town. In fact, it is a World Heritage city that attracts thousands of tourists every year. Among the major attractions are the Miagao Church (Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva) that was inscribed as a UNESCO heritage site in 1993. It was built in 1786 by Spanish Augustinian missionaries. Visitors can also visit the “Taytay Boni”, an ancient stone bridge built by the Spanish. The locals offer lessons on Hablon weaving and pottery making, and tourists can enrol in these courses if interested. The Salakayan Festival offers tourists a chance to participate in the lively street performances that can be found within the town.

7. Nightlife of Manila

Trees at night in Manila.

Manila is one of the most energetic cities in Asia. This is particularly true at night, when the gigantic city comes to life as locals and tourists fill the clubs and bars for dancing, and drinking. Tourists claim that alcohol in Manila is cheap, taxis are cheap, and on top of all, the music is fantastic. The locals welcome foreigners, and English is largely spoken in the country - therefore, there is no language barrier for English speaking tourists. Some of the most active nightlife destinations in Manila are located in Makati City, Malate area, and Eastwood City.

6. Tagaytay Resort Town

The pier at Tagaytay Resort Town.

Tagaytay Resort Town in the island of Luzon offers tourists an out of town experience. It is about an hour's drive from Manila, and most visitors who visit Manila also visit the town. Tourists get to experience outdoor activities including visits to the Picnic Grove, which offers family activities such as horseback riding and zip-line adventures. Tourists can also visit the Taal Volcano and Crater Lake where they get to ride on boats to the island and horsebacks to the top of the crater. A trip to the town is not complete without visiting the sky ranch, a five-hectare area with a Ferris wheel, super Viking ride and lots of other rides for kids.

5. White Beach at Puerto Galera

The view of Puerto Galera.

Among the 32 beaches of Puerto Galera, the White Beach is perhaps the most famous. This is evident from the thousands of local and foreign tourists who flock to the beach. During summer in the Philippines (March to May), colorful festivals and concerts are held on the beach, attracting both locals and foreigners. Tourists at the White Beach get to engage in sports activities such as beach football and volleyball, riding jet skis and banana boats. At night, visitors gets to enjoy local music and dances while enjoying drinks served by open bars. Fantastic accommodation is provided by resorts such as the White Beach Resort and the Jewel Beach Resort.

4. Boracay Island

Boracay Island, Philippines.

The island of Boracay may be small, but it is one of the best places to visit in the Philippines. In 2014, it was voted the second best island to visit in the country after Palawan. Tourists visiting the island tour several beaches including Tambisaan Beach, Crocodile Beach, and Puka Beach. When the earthly ground gets too boring, tourists have the choice of scuba diving. More than fifteen dive sites offer tourists a once in a lifetime opportunity to view underwater tunnels, corals, and caves. The more adventurous ones get to experience cliff diving at heights of about 42.5 ft. while those not familiar with cliff diving can use the floating dock to get into the water.

3. Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces.

Banaue Rice Terraces are considered a cultural treasure of the Philippines. The terraces, carved on a hill by the Ifugao people approximately two millennia ago, create a scenery unlike any other. The terraces, shaped like stepping stones, reach an altitude of 4920 ft. The terraces made of rocks and mud are clustered and extend over a wide area. Although UNESCO does not consider it to be a heritage site due to the modernization that has occured in some parts, it has included the terraces in its red list due to erosion.

2. Explore Cebu City

A Taoist temple in Cebu, Philippines.

Cebu City is the oldest city in the Philippines, the second largest after Manila, and the capital of Cebu province. It is a city rich in history and offers a wealth of cultural diversity. Tourists who visit get to experience natural wonders and great food. One of the important landmarks is the Basilica del Sto. Nino, a Catholic Church that was built by the Spanish in the 16th century. Close to the church is the chapel that houses the Magellan’s Cross - a cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan to propagate the arrival of Christianity to the Philippines. For those seeking modern culture, Cebu IT Park and Ayala Center offers the chance to experience the world of technology and shopping in the Philippines.

1. MassKara Festival

The beautiful parade of the MassKara festival.

The MassKara Festival is a festival held annually in Bacolod, Philippines. It began in 1980 and it is still being celebrated today. The festival takes place in October and lasts for about 20 days. Both locals and tourists participate in various activities including dancing and body painting. The festival is held to commemorate two occasions, one of them being the economic crisis that affected the people of the town after a global drop in sugar prices due to a market influx caused by overproduction in the Caribbean countries. It is also held in commemoration of when MS Don Juan crashed with a tanker, a national tragedy wherein 700 people lost their lives.


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