We all know travel is best when you have a few insider tips about what to see, do, and eat, as well as what to avoid. Because I am a Filipino and I have traveled all over the Philippines, I’ve had a lot of time and experience to test and refine my top 10 list of destinations. So if you’re planning a trip to the Philippines, this article will help you make your trip even better!
If you’re looking for a colder place near metro Manila (which is the capital of the Philippines), Tagaytay is the right place for you.
You can reach the beautiful Tagaytay with a short 2-3 hour car ride from the capital. This spot is known for its delicious food like bulalo, or bone marrow, and halayang ube, purple yam jam. The best place for eating these foods is at the Tagaytay Picnic Grove where you can breathe the fresh air and take in the famous sight of the Taal volcano, one of the most popular and active volcanoes in the Philippines. While there, if you want to see the lake, just ask a tricycle driver outside the Picnic Grove, and they will take you on a scenic ride. If you are planning to stay overnight, there are many resorts and hotels, as well.
#9: La Union
La Union, a province of the Philippines located in the Ilocos region on Luzon Island, is known for its beautiful beaches, so if you are seeking water adventures, this is the place to go.
If you just want to relax, swim, snorkel, or find some child-friendly waves, La Union offers many low-key pleasures, but if you want to do some surfing, La Union has that, too. The local people there are very friendly and there are many excellent cooks so don’t forget to taste some local Ilocano food.
#8: Puerto Galera
Puerto Galera, located about 130 kilometers south of Manila at the southwestern end of the Isla Verde Passage, offers a mix of water adventure and camping fun. The island is surrounded by warm water and the beach is great: you’ll find banana boats, jet skis, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, and much more. Plus, when night comes, the beach is still happening so you can bar hop and meet new people. Then, because the island is overlooked by lush mountains, if you get tired of the beach, you can go visit the mountains and forests and maybe do some overnight camping: the best of both worlds.
#7: Corregidor Island
Let’s now go to one of the most prominent places and active seaports in the history of the Philippines, Corregidor Island. This island is nestled in the southwestern part of Luzon Island, at the entrance of Manila Bay. (An island in a bay on an island! How cool is that?) It was the last island in the Philippines to be captured by the Japanese during WWII and is therefore a historic and sentimental place not only for the Filipinos and Japanese, but also for the US, who aided its liberation. You can still see remnants and relics of those battles, including the tunnels where Filipinos and Americans hid during the war and cannons they used to fight the Japanese ships and aircraft.
Some of the tourists that have been to the island have expressed feeling a lingering sense of those battles and say that they can feel the spirits of the soldiers who died during the war. In my experience, when I visited the island, I found myself thinking a lot about that history and imagining the pain and difficulty of life during WWII. So if you like vivid history, this is the place to go.
#6: Baguio City
Baguio City is one of the coolest places in the Philippines due to its high altitude. It is considered the summer capital of the Philippines because the best time to go there is summer, when the temperature in metro Manila reaches 37°C/98.6°F. Baguio City has many tourist spots: a botanical garden, Mines View Park, Wright Park where you can ride a horse, Burnham Park where you can ride a boat or a bike, and the mansion where the president of the Philippines stays when he visits. You can also try mountain climbing (Baguio is surrounded by beautiful mountains), and don’t forget to buy some souvenirs because this city is known for its beautiful wooden crafts.
By the way, this is where you’ll find the best halayang ube or purple yam jam in the entire world. And guess who makes it? Believe it or not, the nuns in Good Shepherd, a local convent, are the ones who make the best jam ever. They are also famous for their very delicious and sweet strawberry jam.
Boracay is famous for its white and glassy-smooth sand beaches. The island of Boracay, which is 315 km (196 mi) south of Manila, is very tourist-friendly: in fact, they have spent a lot of time, money, and effort on development and improvements for tourism. If you are seeking to relax and enjoy in one place that caters to tourism, Boracay is the place to be. There are excellent hotels around the beach, and if you’re looking for water adventures, you just name it, and you get it. Some say that if you visit the Philippines and skip Boracay, you have missed the whole point.
#4: Banaue Rice Terraces
How have I gotten this far and not yet mentioned the 2000-year-old rice terraces carved into Mt. Ifugao? These amazing terraces were made and tended by the Ifugao people, a group of native Filipinos. It has been said that if you took every terrace made by the Ifugao and stacked them end to end, they would circle the moon two times. They also call these majestic terraces the eighth wonder of the world. If you visit, not only do you get to see the terraces but you also get to meet the people who made them.
If you are a hiker or a nature lover, Sagada will be your paradise. It takes roughly 15 hours from the airport by car to reach this paradise, which is one of the newest tourist destinations in the Philippines, and because it is located so far from Manila, few people visit. Trekking, caving, visiting waterfalls, rock climbing, and nature tripping are all points of interest. Don’t miss the hanging coffins—it is a local tradition to bury the dead in coffins nailed to cliff faces, high above the ground.
The first time I saw this beach, I was speechless. I can’t measure the happiness I felt the when I saw that crystal clear water and white sand. All I wanted to do was take off my clothes, jump in that water, and never come out.
You can also enjoy many other sights in Pagudpud, like windmills, lighthouses, and waterfalls. I want to go back there, if given the chance.
My top destination in the Philippines is Palawan. If we took all the tourist spots that I mentioned above and put them in one place, we’d call it Palawan. I’d even say that Palawan is the most beautiful place in the Philippines.
Just recently, the underground river in Palawan was named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The Cabayugan River runs for more than 15 miles (24 km) underground, through caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites before it flows directly into the West Philippine Sea. You can explore it by boat.
If you go to Palawan, you will know why this is my top destination in the Philippines.
I didn’t include too many pictures here because I want you to discover how beautiful these places are on your own. If you do, I hope you see what I saw and feel what I felt.
Thanks for reading and happy travels!