The Philippines is an incredible country in Southeast Asia made up of over 7,000 islands with a diverse landscape that offers beautiful beaches, rice terraces, and limestone caves. The Philippines has become a top vacation destination for tourists in recent years, with over eight million international visitors in 2019 alone. The Philippines offer visitors the opportunity to explore the natural wonders of the islands, enjoy the tropical climate, and consume traditional Filipino food. The Philippines provides visitors with access to history and natural wonders, ensuring that any group visiting will find something to suit their tastes.
If the Philippines is on your list to visit, and it definitely should be, here are the 14 best things to do while you visit.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN THE PHILIPPINES
Visit the most active volcano in the country, Taal Volcano
Located on the island of Luzon in the middle of Taal Lake is Taal Volcano. Taal Volcano is an active volcano with the most recent eruption happening in January of 2020. Getting to Taal Volcano will require some advanced planning but once you are there you can walk three different trails to get to the crater of the volcano. If you are planning on staying in Batangas city, you are sure to find a tour to Taal Volcano at any of the Batangas beach resorts near the area.
Relax on the White Beach in Boracay
Touted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the island of Boracay is home to White Beach, a white sand beach with pristine blue waters and sand that stays cool even on the hottest of days. White Beach stretches only 4km but is home to a large variety of hotels and beach resorts, so regardless of your budget and preference you will find hostels and 5-star hotel options. Boracay has a mild climate so you are sure to enjoy warm weather throughout the year, but the island’s dry season starts in December, and the peak travel season is from March to May.
Plan your trip around the Kalibo Ati-Atihan Festival in January which is considered one of the best festivals in the Philippines and is often referred to as their version of Mardi Gras.
Marvel at UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Chocolate Hills
Located in the city of Bohol, the Chocolate Hills are sometimes referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. The Chocolate Hills are a unique geological site made up of over 1,200 small mountains of varying sizes that from a distance look quite symmetrical. The hills get their name because during the dry season the usually green and grassy hills turn a chocolatey brown colour.
Visitors to the Chocolate Hills can walk along a path that leads to a lookout area that showcases the expanse of the area.
Dive into the wonders of Tubbatah Reef
Tubbatah Reef is located in the Sulu Sea approximately 50km southeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan. It wasn’t discovered until 1970 but has since become famous for its incredible coral reefs. Similar to other sights in the Philippines, the Tubbatah Reef is quite remote so you will need to plan your visit well ahead of time and ensure you plan for the short dive season between March and June.
The Tubbatah Reef on the Cagayan Ridge was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1993 for its high density of marine animals.
Learn about Philippine history at Fort Santiago
Located in the capital of the Philippines, Manila, Fort Santiago is a citadel built in 1593 by a Spanish navigator as a defense fortress. Known as one the most important historical sites in Manila, Fort Santiago housed famous Philippine national heroes, including Jose Rizal, a prisoner there until his execution in 1896.
See the Batad Rice Terraces in Banaue
Around 2,000 years ago the Batad Rice Terraces were carved by hand into the hillside, and they are still in use today. To see the most impressive view, make time to visit the tiny remote village of Batad. Plan for a two-hour drive and one-hour hike from nearby Banaue, but your travels will be well worth the spectacular view of the terraces.
Explore the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River
The Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park is known as one of the world’s most impressive limestone cave systems and is home to a full “mountain-to-sea” ecosystem. The 8.2km river flows directly into the sea, making it a natural global phenomenon. Visitors can easily book a boat tour to visit the area and your tour guide will be sure to point out the most interesting aspects of the cave as well as tropical wildlife that is indigenous to the area.
Discover natural beauty at Kawasan Falls
About three hours southwest of the city of Cebu tucked away into the mountains, is the peaceful retreat of Kawasan Falls. The falls offer visitors three levels of viewing so you can experience the crystal blue water and beautiful waterfalls from a variety of areas. On the first level, you can enjoy swimming in the cool waters of the pool, but when that area gets too busy head up to the second and third levels. At level three, enjoy cliff jumping or a Tarzan swing into the clear water.
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Take in the military history of Corregidor Island
Located at the entrance to Manila Bay in southwest Luzon, Corregidor Island is home to artillery batteries that were established to defend Manila Bay from enemy warships. The island is most well known for being the spot where US and Filipino forces fought against the Japanese during WWII. First fortified by the Spanish in the 18th century, Corregidor Island provides a glimpse into the national military history of the Philippines.
Avoid the crowds at Puka Shell Beach in Boracay
If you’re hoping to enjoy more beaches but want to escape the crowds of White Beach, Puka Shell Beach, also located in Boracay, is a great option. Originally called Yapak Beach, this stretch of the island has since been dubbed Puka Shell Beach because of the number of shells that are mixed in with the white sand. With eight hundred meters of beach to enjoy, visitors should have no problem finding a cozy stretch to relax or swim on.
Visit the picturesque Taoist Temple in Cebu
Located in Cebu, the Taoist Temple opened in 1972 for the large Filipino-Chinese community that resides in the area. The multi-tiered, colorful temple is located one hundred meters above sea level and can be accessed by three different routes. Visitors can partake in the local ritual to have their wish granted by the gods by entering the chapel barefoot and dropping two blocks of wood. If both blocks of wood fall face up then you can make a wish to the gods. If not, it means you’ll need to return to the temple another day to try your hand at having your wish granted.
Enjoy the unique architecture of the Saint Augustine Church
The Saint Augustine Church, also known as Paoay Church, is a Roman Catholic Church that highlights the Philippines’ Spanish colonial era. The church is over three centuries old and earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1993.
A beautiful bell tower was constructed alongside Paoay Church in 1793, just far enough from the church to minimise damage should it fall in an earthquake. Visitors to the area can stop by the Paseo de Paoay for shopping and restaurants.
Catch the natural light of Hinagdanan Cave
Hinagdanan Cave is an underground, limestone cave located in the province of Bohol. Visitors to the cave will enter through a small hole one at a time and climb down a staircase to access the cave. Once in the cave, you can enjoy the sights of stalactite and stalagmite formations and a freshwater lagoon. The cave has some historical significance as it was a hiding place for locals from the Japanese military in WWII.
See The Ruins in Talisay City
The Ruins is what remains of the ancestral home mansion of sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson. The mansion, located in Talisay City, was built in honor of Don Mariano’s late wife, Maria Braga Lacson, who passed away while giving birth to their eleventh child. The mansion was built in the Italian architectural style in the early 1900s but was unfortunately burned by Filipino guerilla fighters during WWII so that the Japanese would not be able to utilize it as a military officer.
Today, The building is still missing windows, most walls, and the majority of the floors but it has been restored and reopened to the public. The Ruins are an interesting architectural sight and are also home to a venue that is used for weddings and events. Visitors can also enjoy dining at a nearby restaurant.
Ⓒ Photos from Unsplash
The Philippine Islands are home to a huge variety of sites; both historical and natural. Home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, WWII historical areas, natural waterfalls, and beautiful beaches, the Philippines offers a variety of interesting spots for any group of tourists to enjoy. Whether you are interested in relaxing on a beach or learning more about Filipino history, you are sure to find something to enjoy in the Philippines.
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