As we all know, the Philippines has a lot to offer to every kind of travelers. It’s not just the beautiful landscape that keeps the tourism sector alive. It is a combination of good food, rich culture, and friendly people that makes the overall experience worthwhile.
If you are planning a trip to the Philippines, here are the top 20 best things to do in the Philippines.
Best Things to Do in the Philippines
It can help travelers plan a trip to a country when they know some of the best things to do there. Some of these activities are very popular and some actually new ones.
Explore beautiful islands by Island hopping
The Philippines, as an archipelago, has a lot of beautiful islands to explore. That is why you can find a lot of island hopping packages in Luzon, Visayas, and even in Mindanao. Here are the top island hopping experiences in the Philippines:
- Palawan – With Coron and El Nido located in Palawan, you will surely have this on top of your island hopping list. These popular tourist destinations offer a lot of island hopping packages to choose from. Check here for Coron Island Hopping tours.
- Cebu – Cebu has a lot of islands that are a “Philippines must-see”. To name a few, there’s Pescador Island, Bantayan Island, Malapascua Island, and Carnaza Island. You can even find an island-hopping package near the airport which consists of a trip to Gilutungan Island, Caohagan Island, Sulpa Island, and San Vicente Marine Sanctuary in Olango Island. Check here for the 3 island hopping tours for Olango Island.
- Siargao – the Tri-Island experience in Siargao is another Philippines must-see. You get to experience swimming with the jellyfish in Bucas Grande, sunbathing in Naked Island, Instagram-worthy pictures in Daku Island, and sunset in Guyam Island. Check here for the Sohoton Island hopping day tour.
Why should I do island hopping in the Philippines?
The Philippines has a lot of beautiful islands not only recognized in Southeast Asia but also all over the world. Usually, dolphins and some of our marine friends make a surprise appearance or put on a show for the island goers while sailing in the middle of the sea. The seafood buffet is also one of the best parts of the experience as most tour operators are very generous in serving seafood to their guests.
Waterfalls are stunning water bodies and luckily, the Philippines is highly-blessed with these. Here are some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines:
- Maria Cristina Falls – For starters, Maria Christina Falls is highly recommended. Not only because it is the most popular waterfall in the Philippines but because it is also easily accessible. It is located in Iligan City, specifically near the border of Barangay Maria Cristina, Ditucalan, and Buru-un.
- Hikong Bente – the amazing view of the falls from the Seven Falls Zipline is one of the reasons why a lot of tourists chase this waterfall. It is the second waterfall of the seven waterfalls in Lake Sebu.
Why should I chase waterfalls in the Philippines?
Although there are gigantic waterfalls in other countries, the waterfalls in the Philippines offer a different experience where you can actually swim near it and even cliff-dive in one of the levels. It also has the perfect temperature that won’t freeze your ass off. At the end of the day, the best waterfalls are the ones you can fully enjoy and experience.
If you can’t go to those 2 waterfalls, check the day tour to Kawasan Falls in Cebu
Scuba-dive and Discover the deep blue sea
The crystal clear and turquoise beaches that you can see in every travel photos in the Philippines has a lot more than meets the eye. In fact, a lot of free-divers and scuba divers come to the country to explore its rich marine life.
Where to scuba dive in the Philippines? Here are our suggestions:
- Tubbataha Reef – This popular diving spot in Palawan is not just the best diving spot in the Philippines but also one of the most biodiverse diving spots in the world. You can find more than 600 species of fish, 360 species of corals, 11 species of sharks, and 13 species of dolphins and whales. Manta rays, barracuda, tuna, and even sea horses can be spotted here.
- Anilao – If you are looking for the best macro photography destination in the country, this diving spot in Anilao, Batangas is perfect for your hobby. Check here to book for a diving experience in Anilao.
- Moalboal Island – The sardine run in Panagsama Beach is the best place to go to witness this mind-blowing sardine bait ball. Whether you’re in your scuba-diving suit or just in your snorkeling equipment, you can see the sardine run. You can also book a private transfer from Cebu to Moalboal to get there easily.
Why should I try scuba diving in the Philippines?
If you are fond of discovering marine creatures, the diving spots in the country are a Philippines must-see. You can also find a variety of dive spots and choose according to your preference. The dive resorts in the country also have accommodating staff and budget-friendly prices. Check here for a Mactan Island Scuba diving trip.
Enjoy a Plate of Lechon
Lechon is a traditional pork dish in the Philippines and is usually present in every Filipino gatherings and celebrations. And because Cebu is known to have the tastiest lechon in the country, here are the best places you can eat lechon in Cebu:
- Carcar – you can find rows of lechon stalls in Carcar Public Market . You can even get a free taste from each stall which makes it more difficult to decide. If you’re on your way South, you can stop by Carcar to grab a few kilos for lunch.
If you are staying in the heart of Cebu City and you don’t want to drive far to Carcar, you can also enjoy the lechon meals in these restaurants:
- House of Lechon
- CnT Lechon
Why should I eat lechon in the Philippines?
Lechon is very popular in the Philippines most especially in Cebu where you can find the tastiest kinds. It is already part of the Filipino tradition and if you want to experience Filipino traditional foods, Lechon is one of the highly-recommended foods.
Catch Waves in the Best Surfing Spots
There are a lot of watersports in the Philippines and surfing is not an exemption. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, you will surely find the perfect surfing spot for you to enjoy. Here’s a list of the best surfing places in the Philippines
- Siargao – this island in Mindanao is the most popular surfing spot in the country. This is the reason why it is one of the Philippines must-see places if you’re visiting. It has around 13 surfing spots on the island and a lot of surfing resorts you can choose from. Check out surf and hotel packages in Siargao here.
- La Union – the best thing about La Union is that it is easily accessible from Manila. Plus, it also has affordable surfing lessons which are perfect for beginners.
- Zambales – If you want a closer surfing spot to Manila, Zambales is the perfect fit. It is just 3 hours from the capital and it has three main surfing spots. Surfing in Zambales is a “Philippines must-see” for beginners and intermediate surfers because the swell is not too large.
Why should I try surfing in the Philippines?
The Philippines has one of the best waves in the world. Not to mention, the laid-back vibe of the islands and its affordable resorts wraps up the overall charm. You can also find cheap flights to the top surfing destinations in the country like Siargao and La Union.
Don’t Miss Spelunking in Sagada
There is something fearful yet fun in caving that some tourists want to try in their vacations. May it be for social media purposes or you are just simply in awe to discover what’s hidden deep in these caves, you will surely find a lot of tours in the Philippines perfect for this. In this list, spelunking in Sagada remains to be on the top.
- Sumaguing Cave – Sumaguing cave is popular among spelunkers because it connects with Lumiang Cave and features ancient stalagmites and steep descents. The most fun part of caving in Sumaguing Cave is identifying the rock formations inside. As many would say, this activity is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Why should I try spelunking in the Philippines?
There are more than 3000 caves in the Philippines while some are not even discovered yet. Out of these thousands of caves, you can find the best caves in the world. You can find different rock formations which some are too interesting to see. There are a lot of cheap tours in the country which includes caving in the itinerary. The tour guides are also very fun and accommodating.
Conquer Mountain Peaks
Aside from crystal clear beaches, you can also find a lot of mountains and mountain ranges in the Philippines. Beginners and advanced mountaineer will surely enjoy conquering peaks with these Philippines must-see peaks:
- Mt. Apo – Mt. Apo is the highest point in the country at 2,954 meters high. Even though it is the easiest climb, the view from the peak will surely leave you breathless.
- Pico de Loro – The view from Pico de Loro is also a treat. From above, you can see Batangas, the West Philippine Sea, and even Manila Bay.
- Mt. Pulag – Located in the Northern part of the Philippines, Mount Pulag is popular because of the sea of clouds. If you’re lucky, you might experience this awesome view on your visit.
- Mt. Pinatubo – Many Filipinos feared this volcano because of its deadly eruption in 1991. However, in present times, it has become one of the Philippines must-see peaks because of the white sand and turquoise water in its crater. The easiest way is to hire a private car to bring you to different parts of Manila.
Why should I trek in the Philippines?
Aside from the beautiful trails and peaks in the country, you should also not miss your chance of finding rare wildlife and plants. The Philippines is one of the world’s mega-diverse countries and who knows what you will find deep in the forest? You can also find a lot of locals that are very fond of trekking. This means that organized trekking tours with professional guides are easily available.
Explore Historical Sites
There are a lot of historialc sites in the Philippines where you can learn more about how the Philippines became an independent country after being conquered by Spain, America, and Japan, and also how these different cultures influenced the Filipinos until present times. You can find it in almost every city you visit.
- Leyte Landing Memorial Park – also known as the McArthur Park, marks the site where General Douglas McArthur returned to the country to fulfill his promise in helping it gain freedom from the Japanese.
- Sandugo Shrine – this historical site in Bohol is one of the best things to do in Bohol. This marks the site of the first treaty of friendship between Spain and the Philippines.
- Tabon Cave – This cave became popular when a skull cap that was believed to be 20,000 years old was discovered. Other artifacts such as stone tools, animal bones, and human fossils were also discovered in this cave.
- Basilica del Santo Nino – Whenever you visit Cebu, the Basilica is always a “Philippines must-see”. You will always find this swarmed by devotees most especially during Sinulog season.
Why should I visit historical sites in the Philippines?
The Philippines has one of the most interesting histories in the world. Aside from that, It is also a good to know a little background of the country we are visiting to be able to fully appreciate and understand the tradition and culture of the place.
Celebrate Local Festivals
Aside from visiting historical sites, participating in local festivals is a good idea while you’re in the Philippines. Filipinos are known to be very religious and outgoing people. How they celebrate their festivals is one good example of these traits. Here are the best festivals in the Philippines that you need to experience.
- Sinulog Festival – Sinulog is very popular in the country. It is celebrated every 3rd Sunday of January to show devotion to the Santo Nino, the Roman Catholic title of the child Jesus. While a lot of religious activities (mass and religious gathering) are held, the Cebuano also incorporate their creative side by hosting various events like street dancing, music and singing competitions, and a lot more.
- MassKara Festival – Bacolod also has its own festival which seems like a giant masquerade party. Thousands of festival-goers wear colorful masks– some big, some small, and some are decorated with beads, feathers, flowers, and paint. Because of this, the city has been named the “City of Smiles”.
Why should I celebrate festivals in the Philippines?
It’s more fun in the Philippines, they say. And indeed it is true. Attending festivals in the Philippines will show you another beautiful charm of the country– which is its people. If you try to go to rural areas during a “fiesta”, you will most likely be invited for a meal in every house you pass by.
Watch the Sunset at the Sunken Cemetery
Watching the sunset is a beautiful therapy. Although the country has a lot of peaks and beaches to watch the beautiful golden hour, the one at the Sunken Cemetery is on top of the list.
- Sunken Cemetery – This tourist attraction in Camiguin is a one of a kind and a Philippines must-see destination. It is an ancient cemetery which sank underwater due to a volcanic eruption. Along with this tragedy, the sunset at the Sunken Cemetery is a dramatic view. The silhouette of the cross against the golden sky is picture perfect. If you have a passion for sunset photography, you will fall in love with it.
Why should I watch sunsets in the Philippines?
Sunsets are a nice way to wrap off your day and according to experts, watching sunsets can give us a psychological benefit such as improving our emotional-well being. Whether you’re in the beach, camping, or just in your hotel room in the city, the beauty of a sunset will never fail you.
Get Inked by the legendary Whang Od
Whang Od is a Filipino traditional tattoo artist from Buscalan, Kalinga. She is known as the last and oldest “mambabatok”, a living-proof of the Kalinga tradition. She has been tattooing warriors and headhunters for protecting their village when they still existed. Now, Apo Whang Od is one of the most popular tattoo artist in the Philippines by just using a thorn, soot, and a bamboo hammer.
- Buscalan, Kalinga – the long and challenging road to Whang Od’s village is one that many tourists take and endure just to get a tatto from this legend. Some tourists may even have to stay for a few days in the village while waiting for their turn.
Why should I get a tattoo from Whang Od in the Philippines?
Whang Od is one of the most respected women not just in Kalinga but in the country. As the last living “mambabatuk”, getting a tattoo from her is a once in a lifetime experience. It also brings so much pride knowing that you have been inked by Whang Od who once tattooed the bravest warriors in their village.
Face your Fear and Cliff-dive
Surfing, scuba diving, and hiking– why don’t you add cliff-diving in your list of best things to do in the Philippines? If you are an adrenaline junkie, here are the Philippines must see cliff diving spots:
- Buho Rock – This attraction in Camotes Island has a cliff which stands 10 meters high and 20-30 meters high. You can warm up by taking the 10 meters cliff before taking the much higher 30 meters cliff.
- Magpupungko – the cliff diving spot from this site is not that high which is perfect for those who are not into cliff diving but want to give it a try. Looking down from the cliff, the turquoise sea is also tempting enough to make you jump. It is located in Siargao.
- Ariel’s Point – this is the most popular cliff-jumping destination in Boracay because it is just 40 minutes away from the mainland– definitely a quick fix for adrenaline rush. The diving spot has a 5 meter dive and 15 meter dive.
Why should I try cliff diving in the Philippines?
There are a lot of cliff diving spots in the Philippines which adrenaline junkies cannot resist. If you are not just looking for beautiful scenery but also thrill-inducing adventures, cliff diving in the Philippines is a must try.
Visit Amusement Parks
The Philippines has a lot of parks, amusement parks, water parks and themed parks most especially when you’re in the top cities and travel hubs of the country like Manila. Among the best parks in the Philippines are:
- Sky Ranch – located in Tagaytay, Sky Ranch is a notable theme park known for its massive ferris wheel, the Sky Eye. From the ferris wheel, you will also be treated with the beautiful view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano.
- Enchanted Kingdom – the most popular amusement park in the country. It offers a world of imagination, magic, and creativity best suited for all ages. Check here to pre-book your tickets to Enchanted Kingdom.
- Anjo World Theme Park – this theme park in Cebu is the largest in the Visayas Region. It offers fun rides inspired by these four continents: Asia, Africa, Europe, and America. However, the most popular part of the park is the Snow World which brings ice sculptures, ice slides, and snow in the tropical island of Cebu.
Why should I spend a day at the park in the Philippines?
If you need a quick break in your itinerary and you just want to spend the day out or maybe play, visiting parks and amusement parks in the Philippines is a good ice-breaker. You can do it on the remaining days in yor itinerary or when things go out of plan.
Stroll through the World’s Oldest Chinatown
Yes, the world’s oldest Chinatown is in the Philippines and it is located in Binondo, Manila. There is a long history how this Chinatown was built but at present, this town which was once just a settlement for Chinese immigrants is now a giant commercial center in Manila.
- Binondo Chinatown – located in Binondo, Manila, this Chinatown was hailed as the oldest in the world. It was established in the 1590s by the Spaniards for the Catholic Chinese.
Why should I visit the world’s oldest Chinatown in the Philippines?
If you are looking for a place to enjoy good food and delectable cuisine, Binondo is the right place to go. You can find Chinese foods like dumplings, siopao, and lumpia from various restaurants. You can also visit Ongpin Street for cheap finds like charms, jewelries, gold, herbal medicines, etc.
Experience the Sea of Clouds
Aside from sunsets, the sea of clouds is also a sought after phenomenon. The magical view on top of the peak will surely ease away the stress of waking up early and hiking to the peak.
Here are the best places to experience the sea of clouds in the country:
- Mount Pulag in Benguet
- Kiltepan in Sagada
- Mt. Amuyao in Barlig Mountain Province
- Mount Kemalugong in Laur, Nueva Ecija
- Mt. Apo in Davao
- Mount Binacayan in Rodriguez, Rizal
- Mount Puntaas in Dagohoy, Bohol
Why should I catch a sea of clouds in the Philippines?
Don’t miss an opportunity to take Instagram-worthy pictures with the sea of clouds, most especially with the sunrise in Kiltepan. However, not all venture to see the sea of clouds will be fruitful since there are other factors such as the weather condition on the time of the hike.
Visit and get to know the Ivatans
Ivatans are the indigenous people of Batanes. They have lived in isolation for many generations and because Batanes is not easily accessible, the Ivatan culture remained to be alive even with the modernization. The most interesting part about the Ivatans is that there’s not much information of their origin. This mystery makes them even more interesting.
Why should I visit the Ivatans in the Philippines?
The Ivatans have an interesting culture and if you want to know more of the different cultures in the Philippines, a visit to the Ivatans is a good idea. Batanes is also filled with lots of beautiful scenery that you should not miss. Since it is not easy to travel to Batanes, stories from different tourists who have visited sparked interest in the international audience.
Pay respect to the Hanging Coffins
Another interesting culture to visit is the Igorot in Mountain Province. Part of their culture is this unique burial ritual where they carve their own coffin on a hallowed log. If they die, their bodies are brought to the cave for burial but instead of burying the coffin to the ground, it’ll be hanged inside the cave or near the coffins of their ancestors (on the face of the cliff). The Igorots believed that the higher the dead were palced, the higher chance they get to reach the afterlife.
Why should I visit the hanging coffins in the Philippines?
The hanging coffins have been a tradition for generations already and it is interesting to know that such tradition exists in the Philippines. The way to the hanging coffin is also an easy 15-20 minute hike and from afar, you can already see the coffins. This is a good activity if you want to get warmed up from the cool climate in the Mountain Province.
Try Local Cuisines
You can find a lot of interesting local cuisines in the Philippines that has been influenced from the Chinese, Spanish, and even our neighbor countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Here are the highly recommended foods that you should try in the Philippines:
- Kare Kare
- La Paz Batchoy
- Chicken Inasal
You can find these in native restaurants all over the country. Some cities even specialize these foods like Cebu where you can find lechon, Iloilo where you can find the original La Paz Batchoy, and Bacolod for the best tasting Chicken Inasal.
Why should I try local cuisines in the Philippines?
Although burgers and western foods are available in the Philippines, trying what Filipinos eat in their homes is also a nice experience. For sure, you will not regret trying out these Filipino foods and they might even remind you of foods you have tried from other countries. Trying out local cuisines in the Philippines is truly a feast.
Indulge yourself in a Seafood Buffet
Of course, seafoods deserve a special spot in this list. This is one of the perks of visiting The Philippines where you can easily buy fresh seafoods from the market or while you’re in an island hopping. There are also a lot of seafood restaurants almost everywhere in the country.
- Roxas City – Roxas City is dubbed as the Seafood Capital of The Philippines. It exports seafood products to other countries like Taiwan, United States, and Japan.
Why should I try the seafoods in the Philippines?
There are a lot of fresh seafoods meals you should not miss while in the country. Aside from its taste, you can also buy them for cheap. A few of them are: Adobong Pusit, Kinilaw na Isda, Sinigang na Hipon, and Ginataang Alimango.
Take a Day Trip to the Pink Beach
The pink beach in Zamboanga belonged to the world’s best pink beaches together with the popular pink beaches in Greece and Bahamas.
- Great Santa Cruz Island – The Great Santa Cruz island in Zamboanga is where you can find the popular pink beach in the country. There are no resorts or camping sites in the island since it is only accessible during the day. To get there, visitors also need to coordinate with the local tourism.
Why should I visit the pink beach in the Philippines?
A trip to the pink beach in Zamboanga is an unusual experience because most of the top beaches in the Philippines are famous for its white sand. There are only a few pink beaches in the country compared to the number of white beaches which makes it one of the Philippines must see destinations.
Did we miss anything else? Let us know in the comments!
Have you got any questions about traveling to the Philippines? Join our Philippines Travel Planning FB Page to get your answers.
Don’t know how to start planning your Philippines trip? You can start here.
Angie is a travel consultant and blogger who has started by writing her travel memoirs on her blog and then got published on international travel sites. She’s now focused on creating in-depth travel itinerary and articles about planning trips to the Philippines.