The Philippines is one of the most exotic and delightful tourist destinations in the entire Southeast Asian region. Stunning landmarks can be found on more than 7,000 Filipino islands, such as beautiful Boracay, Bohol Island, and Cebu. From the most enchanting tropical beaches in the world to scenic mountains surrounded by tropical rainforests, and from the most exotic wildlife to the impressive volcanoes, this place will leave you enthralled.

    There are several major diving spots which are immensely popular and the Philippines is one of the hot picks amongst adventure lovers who head to this wonderland to experience an adrenaline rush. Besides, there are various cultural and historic sites from the era of World War II, associated with the Philippines that can help people get a glimpse of the islands’ past.  

    What are the best things to do in the Philippines?

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    The Banaue Rice Terraces are among the Philippines’ top tourist destinations and are often called the 8th Wonder of the World. These terraces are said to have been carved into the mountains and hillsides by the ancestors of the local indigenous Ifugao tribes more than 2,000 years ago.

    It’s also believed that these terraces were created with little or no machinery and were carved mostly by hand. They provide level steps in the sloped ground, allowing people to plant and cultivate rice. Undoubtedly effective, they’re still in constant use to this day.

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    Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park

    Sulu Sea

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    Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is home to some of the world’s most unique and beautiful coral reefs. The park is a marine sanctuary responsible for the protection and preservation of the Tubbataha atoll coral reef. It's home to various endangered species of fish and coral.

    It was declared a National Marine Park in August 1988 by former President Corazon Aquino. It's about 160 km southwest of Cagayancillo, almost exactly in the middle of the Sulu Sea. It’s a similar distance southeast of Puerto Princesa City, which is the starting point for most of the dive boats heading for Tubbataha.

    photo by q phia (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Chocolate Hills


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    The Philippines boast of some of the most unique and mystical natural wonders. But not many can match the popularity of the Chocolate Hills, which form the major tourist attraction in the central island of Bohol, otherwise known for its exotic beaches. 

    These hills constitute an unusual geographical formation and still bewilder people all around the world. The number of small individual mould hills comprising the area is estimated to be anywhere around 1,268 to 1,776, covering a total area of more than 50 sq km, distributed through the towns of Batuan, Sagbayan, and Carmen.


    White Beach

    Boracay Island

    The Philippines are known for their exotic and picturesque beaches, of which the most famous and beautiful is White Beach in Borocay, 315 km to the south of Manila. This beach is situated off Panay Island’s north-western tip.

    The tropical surroundings, panoramic ocean views, and various forms of vegetation and wildlife offer a picture-postcard scene. White Beach is also the commercial centre of the island. This international tourist hotspot has modern facilities and amenities.




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    Intramuros is situated on the southern side of the Pasig River. Built in 1571, it served as the centre of political, military and religious power during the time of Spanish colonisation. It's often called the walled city of Manila. 

    Consisting of 51 blocks within the vast walls, the only access in or out of Intramuros is through its 7 fortified gates. A moat around the walled city was added in 1603. Over 12 churches, hospitals, domestic accommodation, military barracks, the Governor's Palace and schools dot the inner city of Intramuros.


    Taal Volcano & Lake


    Taal Volcano is an active volcano in the freshwater Taal Lake, about 50 km south of Manila. Hot fumes and ashes are often sighted coming out of the mouth of the volcano. The Taal Lake spans 243 sq km, partially covering the Taal Caldera, which was formed by powerful prehistoric eruptions of the volcano.

    Mount Taal, on the other hand, rises to a height of 300 metres, with the last violent eruption occurring as recently as 1970. Together, they present a very beautiful sight and picturesque views when seen from the Tagaytay Ridge, with the Taal Volcano enclosing another smaller lake in itself.


    The Historic City of Vigan

    Province of Ilocos Sur

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    The Historic City of Vigan was established in the late-1500s, during the Spanish domination of the Philippines, and still has the same look and feel hundreds of years later. The well-preserved city is the capital of Ilocos Sur, in the northwest of Luzon, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    The unique architectural fusion of colonial Spanish and Philippine building designs resulted in the development of a unique townscape and culture, with no parallel anywhere else in Southeast Asia. It derives its name from the word ‘Biga’ – the name of a giant taro plant that grows in abundance on the banks of the river Mestizo.


    Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park


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    The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a stunning natural place about 50 km north of Puerto Princesa City, in the St. Paul Mountain Range. It features the world’s longest navigable underground river and one of the most impressive cave systems in the world.

    The national park is located on Palawan’s northern coast, with St. Paul Bay and the Babuyan River nearby. It was named as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. One of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World, it protects an extraordinary cave system, spectacular rock formations, a beautiful tropical rainforest and amazing native wildlife.


    Baroque Churches of Philippines

    Manila, Sant Maria, Paoay and Miagao

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    The Baroque Churches of the Philippines consists of 4 churches built during the Spanish colonial era in the late 16th century – San Agustin Church in Manila, San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur, and Santo Thomas de Villanueva Church in Iloilo.

    These churches have stood out in the history of the Philippines by furthering Christianity in the island nation, providing political stability during the colonial rule of the Spanish. While the structures have been subjected to rebellious attacks revolts by locals, they were officially listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1993.


    Maria Cristina Falls

    Iligan City

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    Within the suburbs of Iligan City, you'll find the Philippines’ 2nd-highest waterfall, called the Maria Cristina Falls. This waterfall is fed by the River Agus and is found on Mindanao Island. It's often used as a landmark of Iligan, which is also renowned as ‘City of Majestic Waterfalls’, as it has over 20 waterfalls.

    Maria Cristina Falls is often referred to as the ‘twin falls’, as the flow of water is separated by a rock at the crest of the fall. You can only visit the waterfall on Sundays, and other days of special occasions, when the power plant is shut for 1 hour or so, allowing the river to return to its full flow.

    photo by Lawrence Ruiz (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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