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There are so many amazing places to visit in Asia that the Philippines often get overlooked. But this is an archipelago of 7,107 islands, so you’d better bet this is an amazing beach destination! It’s also a very affordable travel destination that’s full of history, culture, and some of the friendliest people in the world you’ll ever meet.
Some of the most diverse plants, animals, birds, and sea creatures call this part of the world home, and you can hike and dive to see so many of them during your trip. Some say that Filipino food is a mix of Malay, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and American cuisine, and some of the best authentic dishes here are halo-halo, adobo, balut, and calamansi juice.
To avoid monsoon season and getting drenched in rain, the best time to visit the Philippines is between November and May. So as you start planning your trip, add these places to visit in the Philippines onto your travel itinerary!
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One of the most popular reasons to visit the Philippines is the amazing beaches, and if you only have time for one beach area, make it Palawan. This is where some of the very best beaches in the country are located, and there are lots of luxury resorts to choose from to make your stay comfortable. Most travelers fly into Puerto Princesa Airport to get here, and Palawan is accessible by plane from Manila, Cebu, and Iloilo. Its white-sand beaches, lagoons, cliffs, and scenery won’t disappoint you.
Although the Philippines aren’t overrun by tourists in the ways that some other countries are, some areas are still notoriously more packed with crowds than others. One of the lesser touristy places you can visit is Iloilo, which has a lot of authentic things to see that aren’t too crowded. Don’t miss the lovely beaches and islands in Guimaras and Gigantes. Foodies will enjoy the fresh and affordable seafood offerings, and a top cultural attraction to check out is the Miagao Church.
Camiguin has been called the Island Born of Fire because there are so many volcanoes here. In fact, it has more volcanoes per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world! Some popular ones are Mount Vulcan, Mount Uhay, Mount Hibok-Hibok, and Mount Mambajao. As you may know, volcanoes and hot springs go hand-in-hand, and the natural wonders here largely remained untouched. If possible, plan your visit around the Lanzones festival, which takes place here and is one of the best festivals to attend in the Philippines.
As a large collection of islands, you can find great areas to play around with water sports all over the country. But if you’re having trouble deciding which area to play in, head to Boracay. Along with Palawan, this is among the most popular beach and water sports destinations in the country, with soft white sands and bright blue waters to enjoy. Although Boracay was once an off-the-beaten-path destination, it’s now an ultra-popular holiday spot equipped with boat rentals, parasailing adventures, and scuba diving lessons. If you want sip some cocktails and enjoy the scenery or get up and dance, this place also has a great nightlife scene.
The Philippines might not be the first place you think of to go for surfing, but there are some excellent areas here to catch a wave. Head to Siargao in Surigao del Norte to go surfing and Bucas Grande for some beautiful lagoons. For a little more peace and serenity, visit Surigao del Sur, which has a less-traveled lagoon with stingless jellyfish in the Cantilan municipality. There are a couple of dozen islands and inlets that are largely unspoiled by tourist activity in the San Agustin’s Britania area of Surigao del Sur. While you’re in this area, make sure to check out the Tunuy-an Falls, an impressive waterfall in the Bislig municipality that flows down three tiers and is 95 meters wide.
Manila is the capital of the Philippines and the best place to learn about the nation’s history and culture over the years. The National Museum of the Philippines is a great place to start, while other top attractions in Manila give a background to the city’s history. Learn about the walled city of Intramuros, where Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral, and Plaza de Roma are located. Make sure to check out Rizal Park, which is a very famous park that has an iconic monument and the country’s tallest flag.
Another place in the Philippines that can’t be missed is Bohol because this area has a little bit of everything and is ideal for both first-time visitors and travelers who are already familiar with what the Philippines has to offer. The most famous place here is the Bohol Chocolate Hills, so try to plan your visit to see them at sunrise for the best views. The world’s smallest primates, the tarsiers, call this area home, and there’s a primate sanctuary here to protect them. You can also go diving, spend time on the beach, see Spanish colonial architecture in the churches and historical sites, and even go on a river cruise to see waterfalls while staying here.
Many first-time travelers to the Philippines start their journeys in Cebu, but it’s also worth spending some time in Cebu City before moving on to other destinations. This is the second-largest city in the Philippines. Some of the country’s most important historical and cultural sites in the country are located here. Make a point to see Casa Gorordo, Lapu Monument, Fort San Pedro, and Magellan’s Cross. Of course, there are plenty of malls here if you want to get your shopping fix and trendy restaurants that’ll tempt your taste buds.
It’s easy to get caught up in the Philippines’ stunning beaches, but if you crave the adventure of a different kind, you can also take to the mountains here for a whole different type of exploration. Cordilleras is a mountainous area that has some incredibly scenic landscapes and waterfalls, and it’s perfect for hiking to summits for panoramic views. Some of the most popular places to visit in this area are Baguio, Banaue, and Sagada. The Banaue rice terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Sagada is filled with mysterious caves and walking trails. This is a budget-friendly, culturally rich destination in the Philippines that’s a favorite among backpackers.
There are plenty of places for outdoor adventure in the Philippines, but one of the best places to go to get your adrenaline rush is Quirino. This is a less touristy area in the Philippines that is a favorite among active adventurers who love to explore mountains, caves, and rivers. This is a great place to go for spelunking, mountain biking, hiking, and kayaking on the Cagayan River. Another fun area is the Governor’s Rapids in Maddela, which is a top spot for whitewater rafting.