Top 20+ Philippine Tourist Spots To Visit

Written by Bianca Versoza

The Philippines is a hotspot of tourist destinations for all kinds of travelers. Whether you’re passionate about history, nature, adventure, or simply relaxing and watching beautiful sunsets, you’ll find something to enjoy all across the country.

For those who don’t know, the country is made out of 7,000+ islands divided into three major island clusters: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. We’ve organized the best tourist spots in the Philippines by their respective island clusters.

Best Philippine Tourist Spots in Luzon

Luzon is where the capital city of the Philippines, Manila, is located. It’s the largest and most populated island in the country and is home to many different cultures. There’s a stark contrast between the people in the northern and southern regions of the island, with variations in dialects, cultures, and ways of life.

Tourists coming in from abroad will arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Manila is also a good jumping point for your trips to the Visayas and Mindanao. 

Puerto Princesa Underground River

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is an underground river located in Palawan. It is an 8.2-kilometer-long underground river system that’s home to a host of species endemic to this place. Inside, you will find a collection of animals such as bats, swallows, fish, crabs, giant spiders, and snakes.

The underground river is part of a national park and is hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As such, tourists are only allowed to go about 4.3 km deep—but that’s enough for visitors to see stunning cave formations and limestone cliffs and swim through pristine, clear waters.

Visitors to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River should plan to go here during the dry season between November and May. This is when the waves outside are calmer. It’s also the best time to visit nearby tourist areas in the vicinity of Palawan.

Banaue Rice Terraces

The Banaue Rice Terraces of Ifugao Province is a National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines. These breathtaking terraces resemble gigantic staircases that seem to ascend into the heavens. What makes them truly remarkable is that they were crafted by ancient communities without the use of modern tools over 2,000 years ago.

The Banaue Rice Terraces is composed of six major terrace clusters covering a total of 10,360 square kilometers of mountainous land. The clusters are filled with terraces, each of which becomes part of a huge irrigation system providing water to the rice planted at every step. This is the reason why the staircase-looking terraces appear distinctly green from a distance.

These terraces are not just a testament to agricultural ingenuity but also a source of inspiration for people worldwide, motivating other nations to develop their own crop production techniques and preserve their unique cultures. In fact, the significance of the Banaue Rice Terraces is so profound that it is taught in our elementary schools as a vital part of Filipino culture!

Tourists coming here will get the chance to immerse themselves in Ifugao culture by visiting local villages in the area. Local folks are hospitable and proudly show their heritage to those who come.

Calle Crisologo, Vigan

If you want a quick trip back in time, then go to Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. This 500-meter strip is actually one of the most—if not the most—beautiful streets in the Philippines. The street is lined with cobblestone; the stone houses are centuries-old, like how they looked during the Spanish colonial period, and the street lamps are made of tungsten. 

Kalesas or horse-drawn carriages still ply the nearby streets for tourists, but Calle Crisologo itself is a pedestrian-only zone.

The ancestral houses along Calle Crisologo also still feature the architectural design of its time. This means you should expect to see old sliding wooden windows, heavy wooden doors, and intricately detailed stone pillars and walls. Some of these houses have opened up to tourists so they can proudly showcase Vigan’s history. Others were converted into commercial establishments such as restaurants and shops.

Regardless, a short trip to Calle Crisologo will take you back to a time when social media weren’t even imagined by the people. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t take selfies and photos and post them on the web.

Vayang Rolling Hills, Batanes

Batanes province is generally a beautiful place to go swimming, biking, and sightseeing. However, to witness one of the most stunning views in the region, a trip to Vayang Rolling Hills is a must. Imagine slopes of hills rising and falling over and over, as far as your eye can see. These hills may not be identical in height, width, or slope, but they collectively create a landscape that’s a dream for any photographer.

What completes the scenery here is what you can find on and around the hills themselves. Looking from inland, you’ll have the vast West Philippine Sea as your backdrop. On top of that, you’ll spot Mt. Iraya and the neighboring islands of Batanes. Sometimes, you might also witness herds of cows grazing on the grass growing on the hills.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

Located near Palawan, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is known as one of the best diving spots in the Philippines. It is situated right at the heart of the Coral Triangle and includes the North and South Atoll and the Jessie Beazley Reef. It is a marine protected area about 97,030 hectares wide.

Tubbataha is home to a massive collection of underwater life, be it reef-building corals, fish, or whales. Sea turtles and fish-eating birds have also made their nests in the area. Those who visit this place will get a glimpse of unspoiled marine life.

Tourists who plan to go to Tubbataha Reefs should book their tours well ahead of time because they are fully booked even years ahead of schedule. There are no accommodations in the area, and those who go here join liveaboard or vessel-based tours.

Kayangan Lake, Coron

Kayangan Lake is a freshwater lake featuring crystal clear water, underwater rock formations, islets, and caves to explore. Tourists often come to this place just to dive and snorkel around to see what’s beneath the surface of the water.

The water in Kayangan Lake is so clear that under perfect weather conditions, you will be able to see the rock formations about 10 meters deep under the water. This means even non-swimmers will be able to enjoy what the lake has to offer. Kayangan is also the cleanest lake in the Philippines, so it would be a waste not to jump in and swim.

Aside from swimming, guests can go around and explore nearby caves such as the Awuyuk Kayangan Cave, which is found near the boardwalk. Make sure to wear lifevests and get some guides so that you have a safe adventure!

Mayon Volcano, Albay

The Mayon Volcano is a beautiful active volcano with a violent history of eruptions on record. It has erupted more than 50 times in 500 years since 1616, causing millions of pesos worth of damage to crops and property. Despite this, Mayon has retained its nearly-perfect cone shape until today. 

Although it continues to release emissions from time to time, Mayon remains one of the most popular natural attractions in Luzon. Visitors love to take photos with the stratovolcano as their background. Others ride ATVs and explore the areas near the foot of the mountain. Some even hold their wedding ceremonies with the volcano as their backdrop.

Sumaguing Cave, Sagada

Sumaguing Cave, located in Sagada province in northern Luzon, is known as the deepest cave in the country. Known as the “Big Cave,” it is one of the best caves to explore in the Philippines, thanks to its huge caverns and amazing rock formations that have earned fancy names such as “Cauliflower” and the “King’s Curtain.” 

Exploring Sumaguing Cave is a serious adventure. Guests will be guided but will need to crawl through tight crevices, move through very dark areas, and get themselves soaked in very cold water. The entire walk takes around three to four hours, but those who finish it and overcome their fear of the dark will find that it’s an adventure like no other.

Tourists who want to go spelunking in Sumaguing Cave need to travel to Sagada from Manila. It’s an 11-hour trip by bus, so make sure you have your snacks and necessities ready.

Mount Pulag

Mt. Pulag is one of the highest peaks in the Philippines, at about 2,922 meters above sea level. This is a popular tourist destination in Benguet—a prominent dormant volcano stretching between the Ilocos Norte and Cordillera Provinces.

This favorite hiking spot is a protected national park. Visitors to this place need to strictly implement rules and regulations. Hikers must be registered, attend a mandatory orientation prior to hiking, and submit themselves to the required medical checkups.

Hikers looking to climb Mt. Pulag must be prepared for very cold temperatures—sometimes reaching sub-zero levels. Gloves, socks, and thick hiking gear are advised.

Mt. Pulag is not an easy climb, but it does offer a trail designed for beginners. Those who have a bit of experience can opt for the Akiki trail, also known as the “killer trail” because of its “hardcore” difficulty, characterized by steep and winding paths. Hikers who go on this route will be rewarded with Mount Pulag’s rich biodiversity, passing through grasslands, mossy forests, and pine forests.

Best Philippine Tourist Spots in Visayas

Visayas is the second, or central, region of the Philippines. It consists of seven major islands and hundreds of smaller islands scattered around the Visayan, Samar, and Camotes seas. Every major island has its local dialect and culture, and going from one place to another often involves riding ferries or airplanes.

There are many places of interest in the Visayas region. They are generally laid-back and are perfect for those who want to have a relaxing vacation in the Philippines. Some of these destinations require trekking or hiking, however, which can be fun for those who like that. Tourists who want to go here can fly straight to Cebu via the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, or land first in Manila and then fly to Bacolod, Iloilo, Cebu, or Tacloban.

Boracay, Aklan

At this point, most of us are familiar with Boracay Island, the world-famous vacation spot in Malay, Aklan province. This island is a popular destination for solo travelers, honeymooners, and families looking for a vacation beside the sea. Boracay boasts white sand beaches, fringed by clear blue waters on one side and lush greenery on the other. 

The most popular beach here is White Beach, a four-kilometer-long strip of white sand and pristine blue waters located in the west south-western part of the island. This beach is where some fancy hotels and other attractions, such as the iconic landmark known as Willy’s Rock, can be found.

Visitors to this place can stay in accommodations scattered across three different locations, known as Stations 1, 2, and 3. Station 1 is perfect for those who want to be as near to the beach but quite far from the crowds as possible, and Station 2 is for those who want to be where the action is because this is where malls, restaurants, and other establishments are found. Those who want secluded lodgings that are more peaceful and quiet compared to others better look for a place to stay in Station 3.

Chocolate Hills, Bohol

These hills, estimated to number between 1,268 and 1,776, occupy an area measuring about 50 square kilometers wide in Bohol province. The hills are not uniform in size and height, with the tallest reaching about 120 meters high and the shortest measuring about 30 meters tall.

Despite its name, the hills are not chocolate-colored all year round. The grass growing on the hills can be healthy and green thanks to constant watering from rains during the rainy season, or dried and brown-colored due to the heat caused by the dry season.

That said, guests are not allowed to climb the hills themselves. Visitors to the Chocolate Hills can only look at them from viewing decks in specific locations.

The Ruins, Talisay Neg. Occ.

As its name implies, The Ruins, located in Talisay City in Negros Occidental, are what remains of a family mansion that was burned as an act of defiance. Today, it provides guests with a glimpse into the former glory of this architectural marvel, often dubbed the “Taj Mahal of the Philippines.”

Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a sugar baron in Negros, had the original mansion constructed in the 1900s to honor his late wife, Maria Braga Lacson. The sugar baron lost his wife after she died while giving birth to their child. When the Japanese came in the 1940s, some local rebels set the mansion on fire to prevent the invaders from using it. The fire lasted for three days, leaving nothing but the structure’s framework and original tiles.

Those who visit The Ruins and understand the story behind its creation will be moved by a husband’s love for his wife. In fact, couples tend to book this place for prenup shoots.

Manjuyod Sandbar, Neg. Or.

The Manjuyod Sandbar is a strip of white sand located off the coast of Bais City in Negros Oriental. This huge sandbar occupies an area measuring about 600 hectares and is often referred to as the Maldives of the Philippines. The white sandbar is surrounded by, or submerged in, crystal clear water, depending on the tide. During high tide, the structures built on the surface seem to look like they are floating. 

Regardless of water level, it’s a perfect place to swim and hang out—as long as the weather conditions are good.

Those who want to visit this stunning place can join tours that jump off from Bais City. Those who want to stay overnight can do so by renting out the wooden structures in the area.

Apo Island, Dauin

Apo Island, located in Dauin in Negros Oriental, is a marine reserve that can be accessed from either Dauin, Zamboanguita or nearby Dumaguete City. It is home to a massive collection of coral species—about 400—scattered around an area measuring 106 hectares.

This stunning island is also the dwelling place of a large collection of marine life, be it flora or fauna. Divers and tourists on boats can see green turtles, hawksbill turtles, jackfish, groupers, and fusiliers in the area. 

Tourists coming to Apo Island can book their stay in one of two resorts on the island. Both resorts have dive centers. Those who love to see marine life in its untouched beauty should come here at least once in their life.

Islas de Gigantes, Iloilo

The Islas de Gigantes (or “lands of giants”) is a popular tourist spot in Iloilo province. It is a group of islands that are found off the coast of the towns of Estancia and Carles. These islands are home to a number of attractions, such as white sand beaches, caves, rock formations, and lagoons.

Islas de Gigantes was originally named “Sabuluag” or “Salauag” but was later changed to “Gigantes” during the Spanish colonial era. It is said that the name was coined from the human skeletons that were found inside Bakwitan Cave and the other 72 caves scattered across its group of islands. The bones were so large that people believed that they belonged to giants. 

All that said, there are no giants here anymore—only powdery white sand, turquoise waters, and lots of fresh seafood served at an affordable price. If you ever come here, make sure to eat your lunch at the local restaurants, particularly in Antonia Beach. The food is amazing!

Kawasan Falls, Cebu

Kawasan Falls is a popular tourist destination in Badian, Cebu. This magnificent set of waterfalls will require you to trek uphill for about 1.5 kilometers to reach the first cascade. However, once you get there, you will realize that the uphill climb was worth it.

Tourists come to Kawasan Falls to see its raw, pristine beauty and enjoy its refreshing waters. As part of the Matutinao River System, Kawasan is known as one of the cleanest inland bodies of water in the Philippines. Just one look in its clear, blue waters proves that.

Kawasan has three tiers. The first one, the one you arrive at after a 1.5-km trek, is a 40-meter-high waterfall. This is normally crowded, especially during the weekends. If you don’t mind crowds, then this place will be enjoyable for you.

The second tier, which is about a 15-minute trek away, is a 20-meter-high waterfall. This is accessible via a small staircase found at the left-hand side of the waterfall. It’s more secluded than the first tier, offering a sense of privacy. 

From here, the third tier is accessible via a 10-15-minute walk across a bamboo bridge and through the jungle. The third tier is smaller, but those who go to Kawasan Falls from a canyoneering trip all arrive here. It’s worth coming to the second and third tiers if you want some peace and quiet. Just make sure you wear good footwear to avoid slipping on slippery surfaces.

Monad Shoal in Malapascua Island, Cebu

Malapascua Island, in Cebu, is home to many tourist attractions. One of them is Monad Shoal, a sunken coral plateau that serves as a popular diving spot in the area. It’s the place where divers can get up close and personal with pelagic Thresher Sharks. While these rare marine creatures can be found in many places, the Philippines’ Monad Shoal is the only place where they can be seen almost every day.

Encounters with Thresher Sharks are uncommon because they typically inhabit waters around 650 meters deep. However, they come close to the surface in Monad Shoal because they use this place to get themselves cleaned.

Aside from Thresher Sharks, divers can also expect to see many other underwater creatures, such as Manta Rays, Pygmy Seahorses, Mantis Shrimps, and Nudibranchs. Divers should also expect to see an assortment of corals.

Best Philippine Tourist Spots in Mindanao

Mindanao is the second-largest but seventh-most populous island in the country. This is because over a third of Mindanao’s land area is dedicated to agriculture. It produces about 40% of the entire country’s food needs and is collectively known as the major breadbasket of the Philippines.

Thus, tourists visiting Mindanao should have a number of natural attractions, such as waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and beaches. Those who want to visit the region can book a flight to Davao and land at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport. From there, tourists can proceed to their target destinations either by plane, ferry rides, or by bus. 

Siargao Island

Siargao Island is home to a slew of tourist destinations, such as beaches, secluded lagoons, and cliffs where you can jump from and dive into the sea. These include the popular Cloud 9 beach, where surfers can ride huge swells. There’s even an annual surfing competition held every September. 

Beach bums will enjoy the many beaches Siargao Island has to offer. If you don’t know where to start, Sugba Lagoon makes for a great first destination. This body of turquoise water is found within a massive mangrove forest. Sugba Lagoon is a popular spot for those who want to jump from high dive platforms, as well as those who love paddleboarding on calm waters.

For those who don’t want to ride a boat to go to Sugba Lagoon, Magpupungko Rock Pools is a great alternative. This spot is a pool of crystal clear water surrounded by rock formations. It is only accessible during low tides, but guests still come here to go cliff diving into its three-meter-deep waters.

Philippine Eagle Center, Davao

The Philippine Eagle Center is an eight-hectare wildlife breeding center in Davao City. It is a park that provides shelter to captive eagles and teaches visitors about the importance of breeding and protecting the Philippine Eagle, which is locally known as the Haribon (a play on words combining local terms for “king” and “bird”). It’s our national bird!

Guests who come here will be able to watch the majestic birds fly inside the Flight Zone during the “Raptors in Flight” show. At this time, the eagles will be released to fly safely inside the center’s premises. You’ll see just how big and awesome these endangered predators are.

Aside from breeding Philippine eagles, the center also provides shelter for other endemic birds, macaques, and crocodiles. These animals are placed in aviaries and cages of varying sizes. Those who visit the Philippine Eagle Center can enjoy free guided tours featuring lectures about the eagles. These include lessons teaching guests about their findings on the few remaining eagles in the country.

When you’re done visiting the Philippine Eagle Center, you can go to nearby destinations such as the Malagos Garden Resort, where you can find specialty foods made with locally produced chocolate.

Maria Cristina Falls, Iligan

The Maria Cristina Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines—perhaps even in the world. It is known by the name “Twin Falls” because this huge rock at the top separates the water and causes it to drop in two 320-foot-tall columns. It’s the second-highest waterfall in the country and the top tourist destination in the city of Iligan.

The Maria Cristina Falls supplies about 70% of Mindanao’s electricity. It powers the Agus VI Hydroelectric Plant, a power plant that has a 200MW capacity. This natural wonder is regulated by the National Power Corporation, which built a National Power Nature Park near the area.

Visitors to the park can enjoy trekking, rock climbing, or riding ziplines. Those who want a more leisurely trip can visit the Botanical and Zoological Garden.

Lake Sebu, South Cotabato

Lake Sebu, located in South Cotabato, is recognized as a UNESCO cultural landscape in Mindanao. It is home to many indigenous tribes, including the Ubos, Manobos, Tirurays, and T’bolis. Visitors to this place can learn more about their culture.

Lake Sebu is known for many things, such as its peaceful waters where you can paddle around in a canoe, the islets you can visit with the help of a local boatman and the abundant variety of fish you can eat here. It also irrigates the provinces of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, helping to produce local crops. It is also close to several attractions, such as The Seven Falls and Punta Isla Lake Resort.

By the way, there are three lakes in the area—Lake Sebu, Lake Lahit, and Lake Seloton—and all of them feature beautiful pink lotus flowers that float above the water. It’s just that Lake Sebu is the largest and most popular of the three. 

Enchanted River, Surigao Del Sur

The Hinatuan Enchanted River of Surigao Del Sur features the bluest of waters you will find in a river in the Philippines. Situated in Hinatuan town, it’s relatively short at around 290 meters in length, but its depth remains a mystery. All that’s known about it is that there is an opening of an underwater cave at the deepest portion of the river and that the river leads to an estuary that flows out into the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

The Enchanted River has tempted many to try and reach its bottom floor, but no one has ever succeeded in the endeavor. Explorers have gone as deep as 82 meters, but the river’s deepest area goes beyond that. The exact depth remains unknown at the moment.

That said, there is a safe place for visitors to swim here, located about three meters away from the main pool. This is so that the river’s beauty remains preserved—even though the blue part is but a portion of the entire river.

Visitors to the Enchanted River are advised to come early in the day to experience it best. Those with experience can dive a bit and see the abundant fish living under the waters. Locals managing the area feed the fish during lunchtime and will ask guests to come up out of the water. 

Cagayan River Whitewater Rafting, CDO

The city of Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao is home to many tourist spots, but those looking for an adventure in this area can only find it in the Cagayan River. This is because this river is where the most popular of extreme activities in the area happens: Whitewater Rafting.

During this thrilling journey, you and your fellow adventurers will need to paddle vigorously against strong currents, traverse dense mangrove forests, and navigate past towering rock formations. There will be a professional and experienced guide riding with you, so you can worry less about safety. 

The Cagayan River has 59 rapids scattered across a distance of 48 kilometers. It’s an adrenaline-pumping adventure that typically lasts around five hours. Tourists looking for a serious challenge on these rapids can come between the months of July and December because the currents are stronger.

Wrapping Up

The Philippines is a land of exciting adventures, diverse cultures, and a very vibrant love of life. There are tons of interesting places and thousands of unique cultures, dialects, local delicacies, and traditions you’d want to explore. Come and see what makes the Philippines a popular tourist destination for adventurers around the world!