The Philippines is home to so many world wonders and one-of-a-kind attractions, from the unique natural formations to pristine beaches and historical landmarks you won’t find anywhere else. Surely, there’s no shortage of Philippine tourist spots and things to do in our country.
With over 7,600 islands, you’ll probably have a hard time picking the places to add to your Philippine travel bucket list. So, we’ll make it easy for you with this rundown of the must-visit tourist spots in the Philippines depending on your interests.
Welcome to our home!
Famous Philippine tourist spots for nature lovers
1. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and became one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. This complex cave system features an 8.2km stretch of underground river that slithers into the sea.
Part of the Underground River Tour is riding a small boat to see the enigmatic limestone karst formations and chambers while the guide shares some interesting tidbits as you cruise along.
When we entered the cave, it felt like we were transported to an underworld full of mystery and wonder. You should definitely check this off your travel bucket list.
2. Banaue Rice Terraces
Often tagged as the 8th Wonder of the World, the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Ifugao Province is a breathtaking masterpiece carved and built by hand by the Ifugao people. Believed to have existed more than 2,000 years ago, it is considered the oldest and most extensive rice terrace in the world.
Seeing this wonder up close was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences we’ve had. This is one of the top Philippine tourist spots you have to see in your lifetime.
3. Hundred Islands
We’ve been to Hundred Islands in Pangasinan on two different occasions, and each visit was uniquely incredible. A Hundred Islands island hopping tour will take you to the many islands dotting the Lingayen Gulf, although only a few islands were developed for tourism.
On top of island hopping, you can actually do ziplining, kayaking, parasailing, and many more water sports activities here. If you want, you can even stay for a night or two by camping or renting one of the guest houses here including the Pinoy Big Brother House. You may read our Hundred Island guide to plan your trip to this national park.
4. Chocolate Hills
You don’t have to be a chocolate lover to appreciate the beauty of Chocolate Hills, one of the top Bohol attractions. The name came from its color that changes from grassy green to chocolate brown during the dry season.
More than a thousand hills are sprawling over a 50 sq km area in Carmen, Bohol. After seeing this geological formation right before our eyes, we can’t help but wonder how on Earth did they exist here? It is a postcard-worthy attraction you have to see for yourself.
And while you’re here, level up your experience by riding the Bike Zip, Tony Hawk, or Wave Runner at the Bohol Chocolate Hills Adventure Park.
5. Kayangan Lake
Kayangan Lake is probably the most photographed and well-loved tourist spot in Coron, and we can easily see why. With its crystal-clear brackish water (a combination of saline and freshwater), majestic karst landscapes, and rich ecosystem, it is a slice of paradise on Earth. Not to mention its reputation as the “cleanest and clearest lake” in the Philippines and the whole of Asia.
Kayangan Lake is usually part of the Coron Tour A where you’ll get the chance to snorkel in Coron’s clear turquoise waters and enjoy breathtaking nature views.
6. Hinatuan Enchanted River
Hinatuan Enchanted River in the Province of Surigao del Sur is the clearest river we’ve ever seen! We initially thought that eye-catching photos we saw online were highly edited, but we were surprised that it was really enchanting to see in real life.
Legend has it that this deep spring river is enchanted by deities who added jade and sapphire colors to the water. Urban legend aside, we absolutely enjoyed swimming in its clear waters and witnessing the fish-feeding session at 12pm.
Top Philippine tourist spots for adventure-seekers
7. Kawasan Falls
Kawasan Falls is one of the top tourist spots in Cebu where you can have a picnic and take a dip in its ice-cold waters. You can kick your adventure up a notch by going on a thrilling canyoneering adventure.
We did it and we must say that it was indeed bucket-list worthy. We screamed our hearts out as we jumped off cliffs and splashed on natural pools. Our trail ended with a sumptuous feast in Kawasan Falls.
8. Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo is an active volcano in the mountains of Zambales. It is called a “beautiful disaster” because even though its tragic eruption in 1991 destroyed so many lives and livelihoods, it has now become one of the top tourist spots in the Philippines, especially for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
We joined a Mt. Pinatubo tour where we hopped on a 4×4 vehicle across a vast lahar field before hiking up the scenic crater lake. You may read our Mount Pinatubo guide if you want to do this beginner-friendly hike.
9. Mayon Volcano
Mayon Volcano or Mount Mayon in Albay in the Bicol region is an iconic volcano famous for its perfect cone shape. Although it is an active volcano, it is greatly considered one of the top Philippine tourist spots.
10. Paoay Sand Dunes
Paoay Sand Dunes is one of the top Ilocos Norte attractions where you can hop on a 4×4 vehicle and go sandboarding. It is also a popular filming location for several films like Panday, Himala, Born on the Fourth of July, and Mad Max.
When we made our way here, we immediately felt like we were in a desert in the Middle East. It’s a rare sight you won’t normally encounter in our country so we cannot not include it in our list of top Philippine tourist spots.
While exploring Ilocos, it pays to learn some useful Ilocano words and phrases to help you interact with the locals and navigate the region.
11. Cloud 9, Siargao Island
If you love surfing, there’s no other place to go than Siargao, the surfing capital of the Philippines. One particular Siargao attraction that draws many travelers and surfing enthusiasts from around the world is Cloud 9. It is touted as the best surf break in the country with its classic right-hand waves breaking over a reef.
Not to worry if you’re a surfing newbie — you can always join surfing lessons in Siargao with professional instructors to guide you. Surf’s up!
Best Philippine tourist destinations for beach bums
12. El Nido, Palawan
We’ve been to many beach destinations in the Philippines but there’s nothing quite like El Nido in Palawan. The beaches and lagoons here are truly unparalleled. You have to join island hopping tours categorized as Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, Tour D, to reach specific islands where you can dive, swim, snorkel, kayak, or frolic at the beach.
The top El Nido attractions include the Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Secret Beach, Paradise Beach, Hidden Beach, 7 Commando Beach, Nacpan Beach, Shimizu Island, and Snake Island. But our favorite has to be Pinagbuyutan Island a.k.a The Survivor Island, which was one of the filming locations of the Survivor reality show.
13. Boracay Island
Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan is consistently included in the list of the world’s best islands and one of the famous Philippine tourist spots. We aren’t even surprised. With its long stretch of white sand beaches, clear waters, and sunny vibe, you can easily fall in love with this tropical paradise.
It’s an all-in-one destination for all types of travelers. As foodies, our taste buds were pleased with the range of food choices here. Of course, we had to try the famous calamansi muffin and Jonah’s fruit shake.
14. Bantayan Island, Cebu
As Cebuano locals, we always regard Bantayan Island as a world-class beach destination that can rival Boracay. The four-hour road trip up north is definitely worth it, and we would always recommend it to friends who visit Cebu.
Bantayan Island features white sand beaches like Kota Beach and Sandira Beach and other unique natural attractions such as caves and mangroves. If you’re looking for a more laid-back island life, Bantayan is the place to go. We compiled a list of the best Bantayan resorts and hotels for you to call home.
15. Alona Beach, Panglao, Bohol
We can say that Alona Beach in Bohol’s Panglao Island is a smaller, less crowded version of Boracay Island. It’s our go-to beach destination outside of Cebu as it is just a two-hour ferry ride away. Read our Cebu to Bohol ferry guide for everything you need to know about riding a ferry to Bohol from Cebu.
We always enjoy the simple pleasures of walking on the beach and going on a food trip here. Bohol Bee Farm’s ice cream is a must-try — we particularly love their avocado and durian flavors.
16. Pink Beach, Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga City
The Pink Beach of the Great Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga City continues to be on our travel bucket list. We haven’t been there but some of our friends and relatives who are locals of Zamboanga City and Basilan recommend visiting so we can see its beauty ourselves.
We can’t wait to actually dip our toes in the pink coralline sand and swim in its crystal-clear waters. We’ll brush up on our Chavacano language, too, before going there.
Must-visit Philippine tourist attractions for history buffs
17. Calle Crisologo, Vigan City
Calle Crisologo is one of the top Vigan City tourist spots. In fact, it is almost always the starting point of every Vigan City tour. Strolling around the area felt like we were living in the Spanish colonial era with its cobblestone street, ancestral homes, and old shophouses.
18. Intramuros, Manila
Another place that transports you back to the Spanish colonial times is Intramuros in Manila. Intramuros literally means “inside the walls” in Latin, hence the name “Walled City of Manila”, which defended the city from invaders in the late 16th century. Today, it houses the Fort San Santiago and Jose Rizal shrine.
We learned so much about Philippine history just by exploring Intramuros and entering the museum dedicated to Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero.
To make your trip even more magical, ride a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) for ₱350-500 per 30 minutes. And maybe practice your Filipino language before you go.
19. Magellan’s Cross, Cebu
Magellan’s Cross is one of the top historical attractions in Cebu where Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his troops planted the cross to signify the birth of Christianity in Cebu. Look up and you’ll see ceiling murals depicting the baptism ceremony.
To maximize your heritage tour in our hometown, why not join this Cebu City private day tour? It already includes transfers and admission to Magellan’s Cross and other landmarks including Sto. Niño Church, Simala Shrine, Temple of Leah, and more!
And oh, while exploring Cebu, Central Visayas, and some parts of Mindanao, be sure to learn some basic Bisaya words and phrases to interact better with the locals.
20. Rizal Park and Shrine, Dapitan City
Aside from Rizal Park (Luneta) and Rizal Museum in Intramuros, another historical place to learn more about our national hero is Rizal Park and Shrine in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte. This 16-hectare protected landscape was where Jose Rizal was exiled for four years.
The native casas (houses) originally built by Rizal that served as his residence, clinic, and other quarters were reconstructed and preserved. When we came here, we were so amazed at how Rizal lived a meaningful life full of talent, passion, and love for the country. This is really a great place to relive the life of our national hero and get inspired by him.
These 20 tourist spots in the Philippines are just the icing on the cake. There’s still so much more that awaits you in our beloved country.
So, which of these Philippine tourist spots will you add to your travel bucket list?
Want to have more fun in the Philippines? Join in the celebrations of these Philippine festivals and fiestas.