Between the Philippine Sea and the Chinese Sea there are more than 7,000 small and large islands with one beautiful name: the Philippines. These islands have always attracted tourists, and everyone found something to see in the Philippines, based on their interests and preferences, whether it is nature, parks, palaces, or entire islands. Incredible scenery, comfortable beach vacations, authentic traditions and cuisine, excellent conditions for diving, eco-tourism and even extreme mountaineering, and the unique attractions of the Philippines, scattered on different islands of one state - all this makes the Philippines one of the most popular Asian countries in the field of tourism.
Choosing where to go in the Philippines, everyone is faced with the need to choose, and sometimes this choice is complicated by the variety of places and tight timeframes of the future trip. The following top 30 will give you a brief overview of the main attractions and choose what to see in the Philippines in 1 day or any available time period.
Traditionally, Manila City, the capital of the state, opens the ranking. It is one of the largest and most densely populated cities in Asia, and it is usually from here that one begins to get acquainted with the Philippines. Here neighbors of our time and antiquity, modern business centers and ancient historical buildings, luxurious villas and poor quarters. It is recommended to stay here for 1-2 days, take a sightseeing tour, get into the historical district of Intramuros, Chinatown, walk through museums and Risal Park, and the best way to end the walk is in a local restaurant or bar with live music.
If you start your vacation from the capital city, guides in the Philippines will first take you to Manila’s historic Intramuros district, which is right on the banks of the Pasig River. The old town of about 60 hectares, surrounded by fortress walls, was Manila until the 20th century and after it became just one of the districts of the city. Unlike today’s districts of Manila, Intramuros is an ideal place to take a leisurely stroll and explore the local historical sites such as Fort Santiago, St. Augustine Church, the Spanish Colonial House Museum or the square with the monument to Carlos IV.
One of the largest islands of the Philippine archipelago with a province of the same name is the island of Palawan, which is a large area of land with pristine tropical forests, mangroves and mountains. This island is considered the safest corner of the Philippines, which bypasses the natural elements. There are no active volcanoes, so there are no earthquakes and typhoons - all disasters bypass this place. The main treasure of the island is considered a nature reserve El Nido, and many wild beaches, untouched by civilization. Palawan’s coastal waters are ideal for snorkeling.
Despite its modest size, the Philippine island of Boracay is considered one of the best places for beach vacations. The beach capital of the Philippines, which is tacitly Boracay, back in the 20th century was the unattainable dream of many adventurers. A few decades ago the island did not even have electricity, and only from the 80s of last century began to be built the first hotels. Today, hundreds of thousands of tourists come here every year to go scuba diving, surfing, lounge peacefully on the sandy beach, and in the evening - to taste cocktails in the beach bars or to recuperate in the numerous spas.
Choosing what to visit in the Philippines in terms of beach vacation, you should definitely opt for the White Beach of Boracay Island. Why is it so remarkable? White Beach is about 5 kilometers of white coral sand and impeccable azure sea, where you can choose the rest according to your taste because the beach is divided into 3 parts. The first part of the coast has a quiet atmosphere, luxury hotels and resorts. The second part is for lovers of noisy entertainment, restaurants and bars. The third - for fans of wild recreation, having a few cozy bungalows for quiet leisure.
The historic Jose Risal City Park in downtown Manila has its own centuries-old history. Even in the Middle Ages, this area was home to a Tagalog settlement, and in the 18th century, during the Spanish colonization era, it was home to a Spanish military hospital and some fortifications, and next to it, a square in honor of the Spanish king, once known as the center of social life of Manila residents. Today, the main attraction is the monument erected here in 1913 to Rizal, the Filipino educator, after whom the park was named.
Not far from the old Intramuros district is another of the Philippines’ best attractions, Manila Ocean Park, a marine theme park where guests are invited to visit the oceanarium and experience the many inhabitants of the deep sea by walking through a huge 25-meter tunnel. The glass walls of the tunnel overhang directly overhead, creating an immersive experience. Here you can also visit other thematic zones, for example, feed penguins right from your hands, admire exotic birds or communicate with sea lions.
Official website: https://www.manilaoceanpark
In the western part of the Philippine island of Luzon, right on the very coast, sits the historic city of Vigan. The city’s history begins in the 16th century, during the era of Spanish colonization, and its streets are an architectural mix of Spanish and Filipino structures. Among the city’s most famous landmarks are St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Residence of the Archbishop, Salcedo and Burgos Squares. For a complete experience it is worth visiting the district of Pagburnayan, where the famous Vigan jugs are made, or walk along one of the main streets of Vigan, Mena Crisologo Street, the pavement of which was paved with stones back in the 16th and 17th centuries.
On the island of Palawan, near the city of Puerto Princesa, there is an underground river of the same name, recognized worldwide as one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. Its main feature is that its length is 8 kilometers, breaking the world records among other underground rivers. This allows the reservoir to be used for navigation, but recreational cruises are allowed only 1.2 kilometers deep, due to the lack of oxygen inside the cave. However, even after swimming a short distance, you can admire the views of stalactites and stalagmites. The cavity, where the river flows, is 80 meters high and 140 meters wide.
Excursions to the Philippines seldom go without a visit to Bohol Island, which is especially famous for the Chocolate Hills, small cone-shaped hills up to 120 meters high. In the dry season the grass cover on them burns out, due to which these hills acquire a “chocolate” hue, hence their name. To this day, scientists have not established the exact versions of the origin of this miracle of nature, but there are three opinions: some say that the hills appeared in the process of volcanic activity, others say that the hills appeared as a result of lime deposits of the ocean that existed on these lands, and according to the third, the hills are coral deposits, which rose under the influence of various natural factors.
A special object of tourist interest is the volcanic island located in the middle of Taal Lake. The main attraction of the island - the smallest in the world, but also one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Since the formation of almost 450 years Taal volcano has erupted more than 30 times, destroying all life within a radius of tens of kilometers. For all the danger of this place, the surrounding area of the volcano is still inhabited to this day, and many tourists come here to join an organized tour.
Unlike Taal, the Mayon Volcano, located on the island of Luzon, is active. Mayon has erupted more than 50 times in its 4 centuries of existence, including 4 eruptions since the 1990s. Reviews indicate that externally the volcano is beautiful, it has regular symmetrical shapes. But at the same time, this beauty is very dangerous - the park surrounding the volcano is closed in case of the slightest activity. Particularly brave tourists who want to conquer the volcano can go up with a tent, it will take 2-3 days.
The real crown of farming on the slopes of the Cordilleras are the rice terraces. The Ifugao tribes created them more than 2,000 years ago and have resisted the invasion of foreigners for a long time but still managed to preserve their special way of life. The terraces on the mountain slopes resemble a large staircase, where the upper edge of each threshold is a ploughed field planted with crops. Rice terraces are a vivid example of human industriousness and the ability to adapt to life in all natural conditions.
Churches built in the opulent Baroque style have graced several Philippine cities - Manila, Miagao, Santa Maria and Paoya. These unique architectural structures still impress today with their splendidly carved facades and sumptuous interiors. All these architectural masterpieces, built by local and Chinese masters, were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in the 1990s. To this day they are a shining example of the skill of craftsmen who were able to interpret the traditional European style of architecture in their own way.
The following recommendations will touch on a dangerous, yet even more attractive sight on the island of Luzon: the active Pinatubo volcano, long thought to be extinct. In 1993 the volcano, which “slept” for 6 centuries, reminded himself the most powerful eruption of the 20th century. As a result, a crater arose at the summit, which is now filled with water - the mountain lake, regularly replenished with rainwater, now enjoys unprecedented tourist popularity. To this day, Pinatubo shakes its surroundings with small tremors within a radius of about 20 kilometers.
This national park is a large coral reef in the waters of Palawan Island. The reef is particularly admirable, being about 15 million years old. The incredible underwater beauty of the corals attract divers from all over the world. The total area of the reef is truly enormous - about 10 thousand hectares, and the marine life here is simply not counting: 5-6 hundred species of fish, several dozen species of waterfowl, as well as whales, sea turtles and dolphins. All this makes Tubbataha one of the most outstanding coral reefs on earth.
Incredibly bright, colorful, impressive temple on the island of Cebu will not leave any tourist indifferent. The elevated temple is in classical Chinese style, surrounded by lush greenery and contrasting with the Philippine landscape. Its facade is finished with colorful ceramic tiles and decorated with different figures. Visitors, besides the external beauty of the structure, are attracted here by fortune-telling, which is held here weekly, according to an ancient technique.
Another one of the best attractions of the Philippines is the protected aquatic area at Apo Reef Natural Park, which covers a huge area of more than 30 square kilometers. From December to the end of May diving enthusiasts come here to see the beautiful underwater world. There are about 500 species of coral, there are hundreds of tropical fish, sharks, rays, invertebrates. The park has several dive sites where the depth of coral ranges from 25 to as much as 900 meters.
Official website: http://whc.unesco.org/en/
The highest point in the Philippines is a mountain of volcanic origin, the potentially active Apo Volcano. A trip to the volcano includes a visit to the national park, an area dotted around it, and the most extreme visitors can even climb to the top - it is worth noting that this arduous journey will take from 2 to 7-9 days. On the territory of the reserve, the area of which is more than 50 thousand hectares, you can see evergreen forests with rare plants-endemics. Here you can also meet more than a hundred endemic species of birds and the largest winged raptor - Philippine eagle.
On the west side of the old city of Intramuros is the ancient Fort Santiago, whose fortress walls have stood for almost 5 centuries, since it was erected by the Spanish colonists. During World War II, the structure was significantly damaged, and only the reconstruction of the 1980s was able to rehabilitate it. What you can see today is just the result of that reconstruction. Today, you can visit a museum inside the fort, go down to the underground chamber, where the famous Filipino activist Jose Rizal was once imprisoned, and admire the gorgeous panoramic view from the walls of the fort.
The review continues with another defense monument in Cebu City erected by the Spanish colonizers, Fort San Pedro. For almost 2 centuries, starting in the mid-16th century, the fortifications were continually rebuilt and strengthened. The Fort Bastion has a very modest size and occupies an area of about 2 thousand square meters. But despite its size, it was the fort that once saved the lives of thousands of people by repelling the attacks of Muslim raiders. Later the fort served as a barracks, hospital, school, military camp, and even a zoo. Today, San Pedro is positioned as a historical park with a historical museum.
The monuments to these two personalities, located next door to each other on Mactan Island, are surprisingly contradictory, because they are essentially both a tribute to the famous seafarer Magellan and to the chief Lapu-Lapu, who killed the pioneer. The fact is that the Filipinos revere both of these great men, but each for his own merits: Magellan as the man who first revealed Christianity to the Filipinos, and Lapu-Lapu for his fight against colonization. Both relics are located in a park created back in the 16th century on the site of the discoverer’s death.
Official website: http://www.publicartaroundtheworld
The island of Cebu holds one of the state’s most important religious landmarks, Magellan’s cross, a symbol of the Christian faith to which the famous discoverer introduced the Filipinos. The Christian cross was brought by Spanish sailors on Magellan’s orders in the 16th century, the moment he arrived on the island. A chapel was built to house the revered shrine of God and it is kept there to this day. Today, the ancient cross is placed in another, modern wooden cross, in order to protect the relic from time and the increased interest of tourists.
Let’s pay attention to another religious landmark, Manila’s main mosque, Maschid al-Dahab. Its opening more than 40 years ago was timed to coincide with the visit to the Philippines of Libyan leader Maouammar Gaddafi, who came to the island with a peacekeeping mission. Today, this mosque is a sacred place for Muslims living in some areas of the capital. It is worth noting that Christianity has been the dominant religion in the Philippines since Spanish colonization.
The main attractions of the Philippines are summed up by a unique historical and religious monument - the country’s oldest Catholic church of Santo Niño, located in Cebu City on the island of the same name. There is a legend that after one of the Spanish conquistadors in 1565 invaded Cebu City and set them a devastating fire, the members of the expedition of Magellan, who arrived there later, found a statue of baby Jesus on the ashes of one of the burned houses. To the amazement of those who arrived, the statue had not suffered, it was not at all affected by fire. On this spot was erected a temple, which initially looked like a modest wooden building, and only in the 18th century was thoroughly rebuilt of stone.
The above Philippines sights photos with names and descriptions are probably a very extensive list of places for future travel, but far from being exhaustive. After getting acquainted with the main finds of the archipelago, travelers fascinated by the beauty of the Philippines will always find something else to see here.
Another unusual attraction in the capital city of the Philippines is the Coconut Palace. It is an amazing structure made entirely of different types of Philippine wood and coconut shells. The palace was created at the behest of the lavish wife of the Philippine dictator, Imelda Marcos, and was striking in its wealth and splendor. The palace was erected to coincide with the visit of the Pope, who, by the way, did not appreciate the splendor and wealth of this gift and refused to be housed there, explaining that he considered it wrong to live in a luxurious palace when the whole country was suffering from poverty.
On the island of Palawan is an amazing geological find - Tabon Caves, which is a complex of 3 dozen caves, but only 3 of them are available to visit. Wide popularity of this place is due to the found here the remains of an ancient Filipino man - so, during the excavations were discovered skull, which is estimated to be about 24 thousand years old. In addition, traces of ancient human activity have been found in the caves - clay products, jewelry, tools made of stone.
Official site: http://www.nationalmuseum
The variety of places of interest in the Philippines is complemented by the scenic winding Loboc River on Bohol Island. This body of water is also famous for regular cruises on the river, during which you can quietly contemplate the beautiful palm-fringed shores and have lunch at floating restaurants and listen to songs sung by Filipinos. The river tour takes about 45 minutes, ending at the small waterfalls of Busay.
Another natural jewel of the Philippines on the island of Cebu is the Kawasan Falls, which includes three waterfalls. The first of them is the most remarkable: there is no rampant water element here, but this place is famous for its crystal clear turquoise water, which from the waterfall falls directly into the lake at its foot. To the second waterfall you have to climb up the mountain a quarter of an hour, but it is worth it: there are fewer visitors, and you can fully enjoy the beauty in silence. The third level of the waterfall is considered the most difficult to reach and the least remarkable, so only a few people get here.
Official website: http://kawasancanyoneering.com
One of the interesting representatives of the fauna of the Philippines is a cute animal - a tiny tarsier monkey, the size of no more than the palm of your hand. The highlight of their appearance - long clingy fingers, soft fluffy fur and, of course, huge expressive eyes. These gentle animals cannot bear captivity, so the local population creates special reserves to keep and protect this species. One of such places is the Center of Dolgopiat, where you can hear a whole lecture about the life, habits and features of the Dolgopiat, feed the animals from your hands and take pictures with them.
Official site: http://philippine-tarsier
The island nation of the Philippines is a land of endless sea and sun. No matter what part of the Philippine archipelago you are in, the sea coast will always be no further than 2 hours away. This is why beach lovers and entertainers go here most often, and coastal hotels in the Philippines offer a wide range of services. But the sea is not the only thing for which the Philippines is famous. Centuries-old attractions, rich history, amazing nature, interesting archaeological finds, friendly people - all this you will find in the Philippines and probably want to return here more than once.