With over 7,000 island to visit figuring out the best places to visit in the Philippines is a difficult task – there’s just so many destinations to cover!
But with the country becoming more and more popular on the South East Asia Backpacker trail and it being one of my favourite places to explore I wanted to figure out which locations should make it onto my next itinerary!
The Best Places To Visit In The Philippines
Despite having visited the Philippines on 4 separate occasions now I’ve barely scrapped the surface on discovering what every part of the country has to offer – so I reached out to my fellow travel bloggers to see where they’d recommend as the best places to visit in the Philippines.
…get ready to add a few places and activities to your travel bucket list, I certainly have!
As recommended by Hannah of Eat Sleep Breathe Travel
If your heart lies in the sea, then Apo Island is a must visit. A tiny island located on the south side of Negros, Apo Island’s biggest draw is the fact that the area around the island is a dedicated marine sanctuary. The waters around the island boast over 600 species of fish and 400 of the 450 species of coral found in the Philippines.
The biggest draw, however, is the population of sea turtles that call this area home. Sea turtles are pretty much a guaranteed sighting for anyone visiting, and while touching and chasing is not allowed, it’s easy to get close to, and even swim beside, these amazing creatures. If you are lucky, you may also see thresher sharks, whales, and manta rays. It’s an underwater wonderland perfect for scuba divers of all levels and snorkelers.
Want to go? Visitors can either stay on Apo Island itself, or do day trips from the nearby towns of Dauin or Dumaguete on Negros island. It is possible to visit year round, depending on the weather. Please note that there is a tourist fee for all visitors coming to the marine sanctuary with proceeds going to protect the area.
As recommended by Sarah of Live, Dream, Discover
The Philippines is a stunningly beautiful country known for it’s gorgeous beaches and world class diving so it’s understandable that for many, those are the reasons to visit and beach destinations are also voted the best places to visit in The Philippines. However, nine hours north and inland from Manila lies a magical place that has remained much unchanged for the past 2,000 years.
In the Ifuego region of the Philippines you will find the spectacle of the Banaue rice terraces along with several other lesser known, but equally impressive, terraces. The area is considered to be an Eighth Wonder of the World and a couple of the terraces are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It is not easy to reach Banaue but the incredible collaboration between man and nature is well worth the effort. These amazing terraces were carved by hand and are still cultivated and harvested in the same way by the ancestors of these artists centuries later. It is truly one of those places that you need to see to fully believe and appreciate.
As recommended by Margherita of the Crowded Planet
Ilocos Region: Vigan, Paoay, and Pagudpud
As recommended by Kisty from Lets Go Wander
As recommended by Joe of Best Of World Travel
Caramoan peninsula is a hidden gem for tourists that love the sea. You can eat freshly cooked sea foods for a very low price as well. Tent pitchers or hotel goers are very much welcomed in this tourist spot.
Caramoan is one of my favorites because it is an all-in-one tourist spot. It can give you the ambiance of the creamy white and pinkish sands of Boracay, the staggering limestones of El Nido and the spectacular Batanes-like scene near the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Do not also forget the island coves and strong waves just like in Zambales where tourists can enjoy snorkeling, and island hopping — or maybe surfing! Also, the popular TV show Survivor Series has been shooting some of their favorite episodes right there in Caramoan.
The peninsula is consisted of beaches, islands and caves where tourists can access by riding a boat. A two day trip was not enough for us to experience everything in the Caramoan group of islands. Future goers must at least book a three day trip to explore everything in the vicinity. Be sure to ready your snorkeling and swimming gears as well as your sun protections since you’ll most probably be drenched in a lot of sea water and extreme sunlight.
As recommended by Ruben from Gamin Traveler
Our favorite place to visit in The Philippines is Tagaytay. There are many plans to do in Tagaytay. First thing in the morning, you definitely need to witness the sunrise as it reveals the amazing views of the Taal Crater Lake volcano. Get a good view and see the fog and clouds swimming over the crater lake, as the sun rises to start the day. We are foodies and we love enjoying local gastronomy.
Tagaytay is famous for its Bulalo, a Filipino beef soup cooked with fresh vegetables, Barako coffee (local ground coffee) and Buko (coconut) pie. Make sure you get a taste of all 3! If you want adventure, the best plan is to hike Taal Volcano and enjoy the top views from the crater. It’s a very easy hike, around 3 hours and you can even ride a horse if you don´t feel like walking. At the end of the day, make sure that you find a great spot to watch the sunset. Also, have a nice walk around at night since the weather is refreshing in Tagaytay, very breezy without it being too cold.
As recommended by Nathan of Foodie Flashpacker
I know many people are quick to hate on Boracay, instead choosing to seek out lesser visited islands. And I get it, Boracay is definitely touristic – but it’s also noted as one of the best places to visit in The Philippines for good reason. The beach is literally the most gorgeous beach I have ever seen. White sand that seems to go on forever and the water is the turquoise and deep blue colors you assume are Photoshopped when you see them in magazines. That’s not Photoshop- that’s actually the color of the water in Boracay.
As recommended by Lisa of Flip Flop Globe Trotters
As recommended by Gabor of Surfing The Planet
Siquijor was one of our favorite islands in the Philippines. We planed to stay only a couple of days, but we spent there a week instead, and would have stayed more – which is why it makes the cut for our best places to visit in The Philippines. The beaches in Siquijor are not the most spectacular in the country, and probably this is the main reason why it is so not popular amongst tourists, which makes it a calm and relaxing island. We spent most of the time in our “private” beach in front of our homestay enjoying the sea, eating the fish we bought in the market and cooked for ourselves, and every day we sat out to see the sunset, which was pretty amazing most of the time.
If you want to explore the island, you can rent a motorbike, and there are many things to see. You can visit the spectacular waterfalls of Lugnasos and Cambugahay, and you can swim under the waterfall in both places. Siquijor is a quite religious island, so you will find several nice Catholic churches. You can get to Siquijor by ferry from Dumaguete, which is accessible by bus from Cebu International Airport.
As recommended by Hannah Of Getting Stamped
As recommended by Alice from Teacake Travels
As recommended by Lina of Divergent Travelers
Hands down Coron is our pick to add to the best places visit in the Philippines. While most people fly into Coron Town, spend a day in town and a day visiting Coron Island, they truly miss out on the real experience of this area, and that is why I love it.
While most people are busy doing the above, there is rustic wilderness to be explored in the interior of Busuanga Island and remote islands that see little to no visitors. They offer up white sand beaches and healthy coral reefs to explore. You truly get the sense of being alone, unlike so many other places in the world today. While staying in Coron Town is nice for the first couple days, we recommend heading up the shore of Busuanga and staying in the more remote areas. another great option is heading off on a kayak trip, supported by Banca boat, and spend your time camping on islands.
As recommended by Jules and Christine of Don’t Forget To Move
No trip to the Philippines is complete without a trip to the unbelievably gorgeous Kalanggaman Island and it’s our top pick for the best places to visit in the Philippines. Located off the western coast of the Leyte province, this stunning island epitomizes everything you would hope to find in a Philippines island. Long stretches of soft white sand give way to calm crystal blue waters as far as the eye can see.
Palm trees sway lazily in the afternoon breeze; giving you some much needed shade from the hot days. Making your way to Kalanggaman Island is a little bit of a mission, but the end goal is definitely worth it. First it’s a trip out to Leyte province and the city of Palompon, where you’ll take a ferry another couple of hours out to this island paradise.
Accommodation options are slim pickings, with camping being the only option, but you can be guaranteed you’ll be the only person on the island overnight. If you plan on traveling to Kalanggaman Island, be sure to pack a hammock and a good book, and just laze the day away!
As recommend by me – Chris from Backpacker Banter!
I’m sure this recommendation from me will come as no surprise – I freaking LOVE Siargao! In fact Siargao is one of my favourite places on the planet!
The mixture of empty, beautiful beaches, palm tree forests and clear warm water make it the perfect place to kick back on island time!
And then of course there’s the surf – Siargao has some world class waves and I’ve returned again and again (staying at Kermit Siargao Surf Camp) for some epic board short sessions – so whether you already surf or want to learn to surf Siargao has plenty of waves on offer.
It’s not all about the waves though, there are some awesome day trips to be had – including island hopping, rock pools and the lagoons, just make sure you have your GoPro ready to capture the beauty of this place!
When Are You Heading To The Philippines?
Like a lot of Asia you don’t need a huge budget to travel in the Philippines which makes it a perfect addition to any South East Asia backpacker trip! Hopefully this list has inspired you to explore more of what this amazing country has to offer and added a few things to your bucket list!
And if you’re busy planning you trip use the map below to locate all the spot mentioned in the post!
Have you travelled the Philippines yet?
Where would you recommend as some of the best places to visit in the Philippines?