The Philippines is a desirable vacation destination for people from all around the world, and for lots of different reasons. Beautiful beaches, excellent resorts, and a vibrant local culture make for a fairly complete destination, so to speak, and the country is so spread out that there’s always something new and unexpected to see.
So, rather than honing in on a single destination, we’re going to use this piece to take a broader look at some of the more popular tourist spots around the Philippines. This should give you an idea of the variety of options at hand, and ultimately help you to enjoy your trip as much as possible!
Palawan is an entire province in the Philippines, essentially making up its own small archipelago. So in a sense it’s its own broad destination to include on a list like this. That said, Palawan is also renowned as one of the most beautiful and enjoyable spots for travelers, so it certainly bears mentioning.
Popular spots on the Palawan archipelago include El Nido, Puerto Princesa, and Coron, just to name a few. Puerto Princesa is the main city in the area, and is known for its “underground river” attraction, and Coron is one of the Philippines’ best spots for scuba diving travelers. But El Nido is perhaps the main highlight, consisting of beautiful bays, beaches, and mountains that comprise the “postcard image” of the Philippines that so many people are captivated by.
Batad is a little bit more out of the way, despite the fact that it’s situated in Banaue, in the middle of Luzon – the largest individual island of the nation (and the same one where many go to visit Manila, which is later on this list). That’s because it requires a little bit of a hike to cut through the country and find your destination. But if you do, you’ll undoubtedly find it to have been worth the effort.
Batad is where you’ll find the most stunning examples of the Philippines’ famous rice terraces. They’re a sort of man-made wonder of landscaping that can make a given valley look like a land imagined by a particularly creative fantasy author. Granted it’s a little bit elaborate for a sightseeing opportunity, but it’s still a popular option for travelers.
It’s almost easy to forget that the Philippines was once a place stumbled upon by explorers from the West as they began navigating the world and looking for new resources and trade routes. Accordingly, there is a Spanish colonial feel to certain parts of the country, and nowhere is it more evident than in Vigan.
Designated as a world heritage city by UNESCO, Vigan is said to be the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. It was founded in the 16th century and even now you can enjoy stone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and old colonial architecture. Charming restaurants, beautiful old constructions, museums, and nonstop history make it a fascinating place to visit.
Manila is perhaps the most unique place on this list, and certainly the most built up. This is because it’s largely a casino hub at this point, with high-end venues like City Of Dreams Manila and Resorts World dominating the landscape (and some of the skyline, come to that). Going to Manila can be a blast for a lot of tourists, though it also involves a little more preparation. You’ll need to look at the different resort and hotel options and book a room in advance.
And, if you’re interested in the casinos themselves (which are the main attraction), you’ll want to do research in this area as well. Learning about casino etiquette and what to wear on the floor is a good idea to begin with, and of course you’ll want to make sure you understand the games you might play as well. Provided preparation though, it’s a very fun place to be.
If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines and you’ve already started searching, there’s virtually no doubt Boracay has come up in your searches. Aside from massive islands like Luzon, it may actually be the most famous island in the nation – which is certainly saying something. Known for gorgeous beaches and with enough space to support a steady flow of tourists, it’s just a delightful option for a more relaxing visit.
Indeed, it provides what many people expect to find in a trip to the Philippines. On top of beauty and beaches, however, know that Boracay is also one of the true nightlife capitals of the country. The club scene, while not quite as flashy as in some counterpart destinations around the world, is something to behold.
We’ll wrap up with Mount Pulag, which is more of a spot for those seeking adventure and activity (as opposed to serenity and relaxation). Another destination on the island of Luzon, Mount Pulag is one of the highest peaks in the country, standing nearly 3,000 meters above sea level. That said, the hike is actually fairly manageable (you can reach the summit in two hours or less from the base camp).
It’s certainly a good way to get some exercise as you go about touring the country, though the real value of the experience is the unparalleled views you’ll see from the top. Indeed, Mount Pulag has a reputation as being able to take people on hikes above the clouds.
These destinations certainly don’t tell the whole story of a trip to the Philippines, but they’re all worth keeping on your list.