The 13 Best Places To Visit In The Philippines

With over 7,000 islands, we wouldn’t blame you for not knowing where to visit in the Philippines. Luckily, we’ve narrowed it down to the 13 top places. Keep reading below to find out where they are!
El Nido’s gorgeous Small Lagoon. Photo: Jules Bss | Unsplash

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With over 7,000 glorious islands to choose from, narrowing down the best places to visit in the Philippines isn’t an easy task… 

It’s no secret that the Philippines is inundated with beautiful islands and beaches, but we’ve tried to balance out our list with some of the country’s top cultural sites, to showcase the wonderful diversity found across the archipelago. 

From island hopping across idyllic El Nido, taking the plunge and diving in the pristine coral reefs of Tubbataha Reef, or walking the colonial streets of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a trip to the Philippine isn’t without its fair share of adventure! 

Without further ado, (and in no particular order) here is where we think are the best places to visit in the Philippines:


Riding a local banka to Sugba Lagoon. Photo: Alex Hill | Earth Curious

As a world-class surfing destination, you can’t think of Siargao and not think of waves. The island has great conditions year-round, and there are spots for every level. Beginners can get to grips with the water at breaks like Jacking Horse, whereas advanced surfers can tackle the infamous Cloud 9. 

While Siargao has definitely made a name for itself first and foremost as a surfing destination, there’s still plenty to do on this gorgeous island for non-surfers. 

For beach bums, there are miles of white sand beaches plus plenty of cool beach-side cafes to hang out in, or you could do some island hopping, heading to nearby Naked, Guyam, and Daku Islands. We also highly recommend a trip to Sugba Lagoon, a picturesque turquoise lagoon hidden away amongst the mangroves. 

Once the sun sets, there’s still lots going on with live music nights, buzzing beach bars, and plenty of parties. 

Best for: Backpackers, island hopping, surfing

El Nido

A gorgeous island we discovered on Tour D. Photo: Alex Hill | Earth Curious

El Nido is one of my personal favourite places in the Philippines, thanks to its insane beaches and islands. It’s a great escape for backpackers, couples, and families with a range of accommodation options to choose from. 

The top thing to do in El Nido is to jump on a traditional ‘banka’ and hit up the nearby islands. There are four tours to choose from (A, B, C, and D) with tours A and C being the most popular, and therefore the most crowded.

No matter which tour you choose, they all stop by some seriously magical beaches, islands, and lagoons, and include a delicious buffet lunch (usually with seafood, pork, rice, fruits, and Filipino eggplant salad). 

Once you’re done for the day, hop on a scooter or hire a tricycle to bring you over to Las Cabañas Beach, which is a beautiful sunset spot. 

Best for: Couples, backpackers, island hopping, beaches


The unmistakeable waters of Kayangan Lake. Photo: Sammy | Unsplash

Coron might be one of the most Instagrammed spots in the Philippines… and with good reason. This part of Palawan is home to Kayangan and Barracuda Lake, two gorgeous lakes, easily recognizable thanks to their stunning blue waters which are encircled by lush limestone islands. You can reach these spots, alongside other Coron attractions on full-day tours which usually include a buffet lunch. 

Diving fans will be happy to hear that Coron is home to some of the best wreck diving in the Philippines, with at least 12 wrecks in and around the area. If you’re limited for time, we’d recommend sticking to exploring the ‘Big 6’ (Akitsushima, Irako, Kogyo Maru, Olympia Maru, Okikawa Maru, and an unnamed Japanese Freighter). These fantastic wrecks (a diverse mixture of seaplanes, cargo vessels, and oilers) are a must-visit for any diving fanatic! 

Best for: Island hopping, diving


Nothing beats White Beach on Boracay. Photo: Alex Hill | Earth Curious

If you only need one reason to go to Boracay, then let it be the beaches. Boracay’s beaches are voted time and time again as some of the most beautiful in the world, and once you lay your eyes on them, you’ll probably agree! 

Boracay is a diverse holiday destination great for families, couples, and backpackers, thanks to its modern infrastructure and range of accommodation and restaurants. It’s one of the most popular islands in the country, so we don’t recommend it for anyone looking for an off-the-beaten-path retreat, however, if you want to party like crazy, lounge on world-class beaches, and eat at delicious restaurants, then this is the place for you. 

The island has a kitesurfing season from late October to late March, so if you’re looking to try something thrilling and new, head to Balabog Beach where you’ll find a couple of kite schools. 

Best for: Families, couples, beaches, nightlife, kitesurfing


The rice terraces at Banaue are truly breathtaking. Photo: AR | Unsplash

The Philippines is incredibly culturally diverse, with an estimated 110 indigenous groups living across the archipelago. One group is the Ifugao, who reside in the mountainous areas in the north of the country. For centuries, the Ifugao have been carving out the landscape to create magnificent rice terraces, which are described as steps in the mountain. 

Getting to Banaue is no easy feat, taking roughly nine hours overland from the country’s capital, Manila. However, those who do make the journey can all agree that the terraces take your breath away. All in all, there are five rice terraces in the area (confusingly, including one named Banaue), but most people are in agreement that the Batad Rice Terraces are the most well-maintained. 

The Batad Rice Terraces are only accessible on foot, so bring your hiking boots, as you’ll have to trek to get to the best viewpoint (around two hours). 

Best for: Solo travellers, couples, culture, hiking


Take a dip in the refreshing waters of Cambugahay Falls. Photo: Allan Ascaño | Flickr

Siquijor is an enchanting island in the Visayas Region of the Philippines that, for the most part, has escaped the hordes of mass tourism, largely thanks to its reputation for black magic, having been dubbed the ‘Island of Witches’.

It may seem like a destination better suited for dark tourists, but Siquijor has all of the usual charms of an idyllic Filipino paradise, including waterfalls, beautiful beaches, and stylish accommodation. 

Some attractions we recommend checking out are Cambugahay Falls, one of the most popular waterfalls on the island, and Lugnason Falls, if you’d prefer somewhere a little quieter. Paliton Beach is one of the best beaches on the island (especially for sunset), but head to Salagdoong, a famous cliff-jumping spot, to experience a rush of adrenaline.

While you’re there, we’d also suggest leaning into the island’s magical reputation and stopping by the enchanted Balete Tree (thought to be over 400 years old). Last time I was there you could even purchase ‘love potions’ and other ‘witchy’ souvenirs.

Best for: Couples, families, culture, beaches

Apo Island

It’s not uncommon to spot turtles on Apo Island! Photo: Allan Ascaño | Flickr

Apo Island is a small island off the coast of Negros Oriental, renowned for world-class diving and snorkelling. While a stint on a small island sounds fabulous, Apo Island has extremely limited accommodation, so most people who visit just head over for the day from neighbouring Siquijor, Dumaguete, or Dauin. 

The waters around the island have been protected for decades, leading to a diverse and thriving underwater ecosystem. Divers can encounter everything from huge schools of fish, to pristine corals, and even reef sharks. 

The island has a reputation for turtles, with two species of turtle (Green and Hawksbill) thriving in its waters. However, from personal experience, the turtles can come close to the shallows, with eager tourists crowding them and causing them distress. If you do decide to visit, I urge you to practice responsible tourism and admire the turtles from afar, giving them an opportunity to swim away if they want to. 

Best for: Snorkelling, diving


Camiguin and its stunning sandbar, White Island. Photo: Nico Alumbro | Unsplash

This next island is close to my heart, as I spent parts of my childhood and adult life there. Camiguin, or the ‘ Island Born of Fire’ is a relatively small volcanic island in North Mindanao. When I was a kid, it was hard to reach, keeping it off the tourist radar, but nowadays, there are regular flights and ferries from Bohol and mainland Mindanao.

A sleepy little island, Camiguin is not the place to go if you’re looking for wild nights out, but rather a destination to reconnect with nature and enjoy the slow island life. It’s a great spot for divers and freedivers (check out Kurma Camiguin for freediving) with healthy reefs and varied dive sites. 

The only possible downside of the island is that most of its beaches have volcanic black sand (although you could argue this is what makes it unique), but, you can always ride a banka over to nearby White Island and Mantique Island for some white-sand bliss. Don’t miss out on hiring a scooter and driving around the island, taking in the amazing views of the coast and lush green mountains. 

Best for: Couples, families, island hopping

Tubbataha Reef Natural Park

A stunning table coral in Tubbataha Reef. Photo: Q Phia | Flickr

Tubbataha Reef Natural Park is a must-visit for anyone who loves scuba diving. The 96,828-hectare park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993, boasting the best coral reefs in the Philippines and arguably the world. 

It’s only accessible by liveaboard dive boat with a brief diving season spanning four months (March to June), making it truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most visitors. The reef is home to 360 species of coral and 600 species of fish, with regular sightings of reef sharks and occasional encounters with hammerhead, thresher, and whale sharks!

Best for: Diving


The emerald blue waters of Kawasan Falls. Photo: Alex Hill | Earth Curious

Cebu has been a popular tourist destination for years. It’s easy to reach and a great base for exploring other parts of the country. Our top things to do in Cebu are visiting Kawasan Falls and seeing the sardines in Moalboal. 

Kawasan Falls is a series of three strikingly blue waterfalls nestled in the jungle. You used to be able to visit the falls for the day, enjoying the cool waters and fuelling up in local restaurants, but following the devastating typhoon in 2021, as far as I know, the falls themselves are still closed. You can, however, still get a taste of the aqua waters on an adrenaline-filled canyoneering trip. 

A short drive from Kawasan Falls, you’ll find Moalboal, a laid-back beach town renowned for its ‘sardine run’. Just off the shore at Panagsama Beach, sardines gather in the thousands, becoming huge balls of flashing silver.  The best time to swim with the sardines is between November and May. 

Many people also head to Cebu to swim with whale sharks in Oslob – sadly, this is a highly unethcial practice that we don’t recommend.  

Best for: Backpackers, diving, adventure


Alona Beach’s killer sunset. Photo: Eduardo Casajús Gorostiaga | Unsplash

Bohol seems to have something for everyone. From the pristine white beaches of Anda, the spectacular reefs of Balicasag Island, and the family-friendly fun in and around Loboc, it’s a great destination for a wide variety of travellers. 

You could easily spend an entire week on this island alone, spending a few nights in different destinations. Alona Beach (Bohol’s most popular beach), is a great jumping-off point, although it can get crowded at times, so skip it if you want some peace and quiet. 

We recommend Anda for honeymooners and couples, as it’s a fantastic dive location with more than a few romantic resorts to choose from. For families, the Chocolate Hill Adventure Park, home to ziplines, and treetop rope courses is a must-visit. 

Best for: Backpackers, families, couples, diving, adventure


Step back in time on Vigan’s cobblestone streets. Photo: Kyle Pangan | Unsplash

Vigan, a historic city that dates back to the Philippines’ colonial era, is (as we mentioned earlier) a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The journey to Vigan from Manila takes between three and seven hours, depending on how you choose to travel. 

It’s the best example of a Spanish colonial town throughout Asia, and a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts and those looking to explore a different side of Filipino history. The best way to explore Vigan’s cobblestone streets is on foot or on a ‘karitela’, a traditional horse and carriage. 

The top attractions in the city are taking a stroll along Calle Crisologo, making sure to stop by a local cafe for ‘merienda’ (a light snack), checking out the Bantay Bell Tower, and visiting one of the city’s many museums. 

Best for: Culture, history


Sagada’s hanging coffins. Photo: Dahon | Flickr

A visit to Sagada is a far cry from the stereotype of a ‘vacation in the Philippines’, as this off-the-beaten-path destination is far removed from the white sand beaches and swaying palm trees most of us associate with the country.

It takes between six and 12 hours to reach, depending on how you choose to travel, but once you get there you can relax in the cool mountain air before hitting up some attractions. 

This peaceful mountain province in the north of the Philippines is renowned as the home of the Sagada hanging coffins. The coffins are part of a 2,000-year-old burial ritual practised by locals, where the elderly carve out their future coffins, which are then hung high up on cliff faces or inside caves once they pass. 

It’s a truly fascinating place and one that deserves the utmost respect, so make sure to keep your voices down and not touch or walk under the coffins. 

Best for: Culture, adventure

Final Thoughts

As you can see, despite the Philippines being a world-class beach destination, this magnificent country has many layers. From vibrant party islands like Boracay to historical cities like Vigan, the diversity of the Philippines is astounding. 

Hopefully, our list of the best places to visit in the Philippines has inspired you for your next holiday. But, if you need a little extra help, check out our Ultimate 10 Day Philippines Itinerary, for a curated day-by-day itinerary hitting up some of the country’s top sites!


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