Located at the very eastern edge of Asia, the Philippines are home to more than 7,000 islands, which are inhabited by friendly locals and many indigenous tribes. From pristine beaches and marvelous natural wonders to interesting historic sites and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, the Philippines pack many exciting things to see and do. Here is my TOP 10 destinations in the Philippines:
10. Mountain Province (Banaue Rice Terraces and Sagada).
The Banaue Rice Terraces are terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. They are frequently called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1,500 metres (4,900 feet) above sea level. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps were put end to end, it would encircle half the globe. There have been rice terraces in the mountainous regions of Ifugao and northern Luzon Island for over 2,000 years. The Banaue Rice Terraces are just the most notorious terraces in northern Luzon but there are other notable ones that are worth visiting: the Batad Rice Terraces, Mayoyao Rice Terraces in Mayoyao, Hapao Rice Terraces and Kiangan Rice Terraces. The terraces can be visited anytime of the year but the best time for a visit is between February and March when the cleaning and planting time occurs and between June and July when the harvest occurs. Read more here
The Ilocos Region occupying the northwestern section of Luzon. It is bordered by the Cordillera Administrative Region to the east, the Cagayan Valley to the northeast and southeast, and the Central Luzon to the south. To the west lies the South China Sea. The region comprises four provinces: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan. A place where nature and history collide, Ilocos is truly a great place to visit. From the historical streets of Vigan to the great formations of sand dunes in Paoay, Ilocos is near to perfection when it comes to rest and recreation.
The most famous and major tourist magnet in Vigan, Calle Crisologo is full of Spanish-styled houses that gives people of this generation a glimpse of the Spanish era. This street also features the prosperous lifestyle of the said era because of the Manila-Acapulco trade. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in that it is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines where its structures have remained intact, and is well known for its cobblestone streets and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine and Oriental building designs and construction, with colonial European architecture. In May 2015, Vigan City was officially recognized as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities together with Beirut, Doha, Durban, Havana, Kuala Lumpur and La Paz.
While only 7km tall and 500m wide, tiny Boracay is the Philippines top tourist draw, fuelled by explosive growth and a tsunami of hype. The centre of the action is dreamy White Beach, a 4km, postcard-perfect stretch of sand lined from one end to the other with hotels, restaurants, bars and dive shops several blocks deep. Boracay was awarded as the 2012 best island in the world from the international travel magazine Travel + Leisure. In 2014, the resort island was at the top of the Best Islands in the World list published by the international magazine Condé Nast Traveler. In 2016, Boracay headed the magazine’s list of Top 10 destinations to watch. Leisure activities available on or near Boracay include horseback riding, scuba diving, diving helmet, snorkeling, windsurfing, kiteboarding, cliff diving, parasailing. Boracay is the site of an 18-hole par 72 golf course designed by Graham Marsh. In addition, as of 2010, Boracay has in excess of 350 beach resorts offering more than 2,000 rooms ranging in quality from five-star to budget accommodation. In addition, Boracay offers a wide range of restaurants, bars, pubs, and nightclubs. A landmark natural rock formation, Boracay’s Rock, juts prominently directly in front of Willy’s Beach Resort.
7. Surigao del Sur
Surigao del Sur has 17 municipalities and two cities – Tandag and Bislig. Each municipality offers wonders of nature that can take your breath away and leave you in awe.
The main tourist attraction is the Hinatuan Enchanted River. Hidden in the Philippine jungle is a short stretch of river that seems to pop up out the ground just to send its miraculously clear, blue water out to sea. The river’s unusual colors and unexplored depths has inspired various local legends. One story tell of fairies that added the colors of sapphire and jade to the river to make its unique shade. Local fisherfolk also report seeing fish in the river that cannot be caught through any means. According to locals, the river was called the Enchanted River because of the engkantos that dwell there. Their legends also say that the river is haunted by supernatural beings which act as its protectors.
The Hinatuan Enchanted River in Mindanao, Philippines, is a flawless saltwater river that flows into the Pacific Ocean. It is around 80-feet deep, and just barely long enough to be considered a river, yet the flow attracts visitors from around the world who want to experience the beautiful waters that locals have long thought to be miraculous.
Bicol comprises six provinces, four on the Bicol Peninsula mainland (the southeastern end of Luzon) – Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon – and the offshore island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate. The regional center and largest city is Legazpi City. The region is bounded by the Lamon Bay to the north, Philippine Sea to the east, and the Sibuyan Sea and Ragay Gulf to the west. The northernmost provinces, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, are bordered to the west by the province of Quezon.
Bicol region is highly volcanic in origin and part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Volcanism is evident by the number of hot springs, crater lakes, and volcanoes that dot the region starting from Mount Labo in Camarines Norte to the Gate Mountains in Matnog, Sorsogon.
The main tourist attraction is Mayon Volcano – the most prominent of the volcanoes in the region, famous for its perfect conical shape and for being the most active in the Philippines.
Cebu is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas (Region VII) region, and consisting of a main island and 167 surrounding islands and islets. Its capital is Cebu City, the oldest city and first capital of the Philippines, which is politically independent from the provincial government. Cebu is one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, with Cebu City as the main center of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas. In a decade it has transformed into a global hub for shipping, furniture-making, tourism, business processing services, and heavy industry.
Tourism numbers are booming, Cebu draws almost two million foreign travellers a year. The island’s prime attractions are its white-sand beaches and spectacular diving, chiefly off the northern tip of Cebu at Malapascua and down on the southwest coast at Moalboal. And don’t ignore much-maligned Cebu City, which has lively bars, emerging eateries and burgeoning retail appeal.
Batanes is an archipelago province in the Philippines situated in the Cagayan Valley region. It is the northernmost province in the country, and also the smallest, both in population and land area. Its capital is Basco located in the island of Batan. Batanes, a picturesque setting in the northernmost island province of the Philippines remains to be a dream travel destination for many. From green rolling hills under the blue skies to harmonious landscapes and seascapes to cobblestone-walled houses topped with cogon roof to the quaint way of living of the Ivatans (locals), the “home of the winds” continues to amaze visitors.
Bohol has 114 springs, 172 creeks, and four main rivers that run through Bohol with a radial drainage pattern. The largest river, the Inabanga River, runs in the northwestern part of the province; the Loboc River drains the center of the island to the mid-southern coast; the Abatan River runs in the southwest, and Ipil River in the north.
Numerous waterfalls and caves are scattered across the island, including Mag‑Aso Falls in Antequera. Mag‑Aso means smoke in the native tongue. The water is cool and often creates a mist in humid mornings which can hide the falls.
The Chocolate Hills are considered one of Philippine’s natural wonders and Bohol is often referred to as the Jewel of the Philippines. They are hills made of limestone left over from coral reefs during the Ice Age when the island was submerged. They turn brown during the summer.
Personally, it is my favorite destination in the Philippines.
For the third year running, the Philippine archipelago of Palawan has been crowned the best island in the world by Daily Mail and Condé Nast Traveler. The main attractions is Puerto Princesa Underground River. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, and voted as a New7Wonders of Nature in 2012. El Nido as one of the best spots to scuba dive and island hopping in the world is very popular as well. Beautiful blue water mixes with emerald green, jungle-filled mountains that appear to rise up from the ocean, and small fishing villages dot the island. Together with its neighboring islands, it creates the Palawan province, aka paradise.
Coron is a tropical island in the province of Palawan, Philippines that is best known for world-class WWII-era wreck diving, though the area also offers limestone karst landscapes, crystal-clear freshwater lakes and shallow-water coral reefs. Coron also refers to nearby Coron town, a basic transit hub on neighboring Busuanga Island where the airport and most accommodation is located, as well as daytime boat trips that are the only way to visit the tribally-protected island itself.