Top 20 Best Places to Visit in the Philippines 2021

2020 has left us no choice but to pause our lives due to the outbreak of Coronavirus all over the world. A lot of unexpected things happened and the tourism sector was greatly affected – including the Philippines which had one of the most cases in Southeast Asia. Thankfully, 6 months after the global outbreak, the Philippines, together with the rest of the world, is slowly adapting to the new normal. Businesses are starting to implement COVID-proof ways in order to recover what was lost from the previous months. 

With these extra precautions, we can finally say that 2021 is never too late to resume our postponed travel plans. In fact, if you are looking for places to visit in the Philippines, here are the best places to visit in 2021.

Related Read: How to Plan your Trip to the Philippines: The Best Philippines Travel Guide

Top 20 Best Places to Visit in the Philippines 2021

To make it easier for you to choose the places to visit, we have also divided these places to the 3 major groups of islands in the country so you can find a specific place to visit in the Philippines easily.

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Luzon

Batanes

Located in the northernmost province in the Philippines, Batanes is composed of 10 small islands. However, only 3 of its biggest islands, Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang, are inhabited. Its lush green hills will surely give us “Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit” vibes. Others would also say it reminds them of New Zealand. Who would have thought that the smallest province in the country possesses a lot of beautiful tourist attractions like the Basco Lighthouse, Morong Beach, Vayang Rolling Hills, Valugan Border Beach, and so much more? And since it is the topmost province in the Philippines (facing Taiwan), Batanes has a cool and windy climate. In fact, it is hailed as the “Home of the Wind” because of this. 

A lot of tourists wanted to tick this off their bucket list but due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Batanes government decided to temporarily close its tourism in the 4th quarter of 2020 and will only resume next year, 2021.

Getting to:

Batanes is a very remote place and before it became a Philippines must-see destination, it was once inaccessible from Manila. However, with its growing popularity, there are now flights to Basco, it’s capital town. 

Top Attraction:

Basco Lighthouse

Top Place to Stay:

Nathaniel’s Lodge

Coron, Palawan

Coron remains to be one of the top Philippines must-see places for consecutive years already. Aside from its clear water, It is known for its beautiful rock formations and historical WWII Shipwreck diving spots. There are several diving spots in Coron and each varies in depth. While some require diving skills to explore, there are also some sites that can be seen through your snorkel equipment. Prepare a lot of swimwear since most of the activities here are water activities. However, if you want to take a break from the water, you can also explore the wildlife in Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary or watch the sunset in Mt. Tapyas. 

The overall vibe of the island attracts a lot of tourists who want to enjoy a laid back vacation. For sure, you will never regret visiting Coron for an authentic island experience.

Getting to:

The most popular way of getting to Coron is by flying to Busuanga Airport where top airlines in the Philippines are serving domestic flights to and from Manila, Cebu, and Puerto Princesa. Tourists can also take a ferry to the seaport of Coron most especially those who are coming from El Nido.

Top Attraction:

Kayangan Lake (The Blue Lagoon)

Top Place to Stay:

The Funny Lion – Check rates here

El Nido, Palawan

El Nido, aside from Coron, is also one of the best places to visit in Palawan. It has also been catching attention from the tourism industry for consecutive years now because of its picture-perfect beauty. You surely don’t want to miss this “Heaven on Earth” and its 45 islands and islets. Because of that, the top activity while in El Nido is island hopping. There are four island hopping packages you can choose from but if you’re staying longer, why not choose all? Each of these packages features different activities. In summary, Tour A takes you to the popular attractions in El Nido, Tour B takes you to different caves and sandbars, Tour C takes you to the beautiful beaches in El Nido, and if you can’t get enough of these beaches, Tour D takes you to more beaches. Aside from island hopping, there are also other activities in El Nido like diving, kayaking, and snorkeling.

Getting to:

You can take a flight to Puerto Princesa and take a 4-hour ride bus or van to El Nido. On the other hand, if you’re coming from Coron, you can take a ferry to get to El Nido.

Top Attraction:

Nacpan Beach

Top Place to Stay:

El Nido Resorts, Miniloc Island – check here

Tagaytay

Tagaytay is the best escape from city life in Manila. With a travel time of only 1 hour to 1.5 hours, you can already enjoy the refreshingly cool climate along with the picturesque view of Taal or the exciting rides in the Sky Ranch. You can also enjoy hilltop picnics in Tagaytay Picnic Grove and maybe spend some time in this funky museum called the Puzzle Mansion.

Tagaytay started reopening its doors for tourists in September 2020. Its tourism sector was among those that were badly affected because of the eruption of Taal Volcano which was followed by a nationwide lockdown brought by the pandemic. 

Getting to:

If taking a bus, you can ride the bus bound to Nasugbu or Calatagan in Pasay Terminal or bus to Tagaytay, Mendez or Nasugbu in Coastal Mall, Paranaque. You can also take the van bound for Lemery or Calatagan from Starmall EDSA, Alabang, or Metropoint Mall. 

Top Attraction:

Taal Volcano

Top Place to Stay:

The Lake Hotel Tagaytay – check here

Pagudpud

The Philippines also has its own popular windmills and it is located in Pagudpud. The Bangui Windmills which plays an important role in supplying 40% of Ilocos Norte’s electricity, also stands as one of the most popular landmarks in the city. In total there are 20 units of wind turbines and pictured together with the sunset in the West Philippine Sea makes a really great photo. Aside from these windmills, Saud Beach is also popular in Ilocos Norte. From afar, you can also see the windmills peeking.

Since October 2020, Pagudpud resorts are already opening its doors for tourists.

Getting to:

Pagudpud is accessible by land and air. There are flights available from Manila, Cebu, and Davao to Laoag City which is just a bus ride away from Pagudpud. Check here

If traveling by land, there are direct buses from Manila and Tuguegarao to Pagudpud and a series of bus transfers from Clark. Check here

Top Attraction:

Bangui Windmills

Top Place to Stay:

Pannzian Beach – check here

Vigan

The preserved Spanish colonial and Asian architecture in Vigan makes it to the list of best places to visit in the Philippines. Aside from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vigan is also one of the New7Wonders Cities. If you are planning to visit, be sure to stop by these popular attractions in the city: Calle Crisologo, Syquia Mansion, Ilocos Sur Dancing Fountain, and Balurate Zoo. All these are best experienced during the dry season so be sure to plan your trip during the dry and summer season which is from November to May.

Vigan is accepting domestic tourists from Luzon starting on November 15 2020.

Getting to:

There are two ways to get to Vigan from Manila. One is via a coach bus which offers day trips and overnight trips (takes at most 11 hours). The second one is by flying to Laoag City then taking a coach bus to Vigan (takes 4 to 5 hours).

Top Attraction:

Calle Crisologo

Top Place to Stay:

Regency Hotel de Vigan – check here

Sagada and Banaue

Sagada is such a beautiful place to unwind, relax or even ponder about the beauty of nature. Indeed, whose heart would not heal after watching the breathtaking sea of clouds in Kiltepan Peak? The remote and simple lifestyle in Sagada paired with its beautiful view will surely warm your heart and make you appreciate life even more. Spelunking in Sumaguing Cave is also a must-try in Sagada. If you can’t get enough of the 2-hour experience in Sumaguing, you can continue your journey to Lumiang Burial Cave which will take another 2-3 hours of caving. There’s definitely a lot of nature activities awaiting you in Sagada. At the end of the day, don’t forget to stop by the popular Lemon Pie House and Gaia Cafe for some authentic Mountain Province treats.

Getting to:

From Manila, you take a direct bus to Banaue and Sagada from Cubao which will take approximately 12 hours. This bus takes the Banaue route but if you want to pass by Baguio, you can also take a Victory Liner or a Joy Bus from Manila. Then from Baguio City, you can take another bus to Sagada which takes 6 hours.

Top Attraction:

Sumaguing Cave

Top Place to Stay:

Coffee Heritage House and Hostel – check here

Baguio City

After your Sagada trip, you can also spend a few more days in Baguio City where you can explore the different city attractions and chill– like literally chill because of Baguio’s low temperature. Attractions like Mines View Park, Burnham Park, Philippine Military Academy, and the Baguio Botanical Garden are the typical Baguio itinerary but if you are into outdoor activities like hiking, you can also schedule a hike to Mt. Pulag. 

Getting to:

Baguio is only 4-6 hours away from Manila. The most popular buses to Baguio are Victory Liner and Joy Bus which have terminals in Pasay, Cubao, Caloocan, Sampaloc, and Avenida. – check here or here

Top Attraction:

Mt. Pulag

Top Place to Stay:

The Manor at Camp John Hay

Visayas

Boracay, Aklan

Of course, if you plan a trip to the Philippines, you will always list down Boracay in your bucket list. Tourists from all over the world just can’t help coming back for more white sand and world-class resort experience in Boracay. Now that the island is back to its natural state, a lot of people are even more excited to spend a vacation here. 

This famed Philippine-destination is also one of the places in which the tourism sector has been greatly affected by the pandemic and since October 2020, Boracay is already slowly opening to tourists.

Getting to:

The easiest way to get to Boracay is by flying to Caticlan Airport. Then from Caticlan Airport, you can ride a ferry in Caticlan Jetty Port to Boracay.

Top Attraction:

White Beach

Top Place to Stay:

Shangri-La Boracay – check here

Malapascua, Cebu

One of the diving centers in the Northern part of Cebu, Malapascua Island offers a handful of water activities both underwater and above water. Malapascua is just one of the attractions in the Philippines where it seems like there are more foreign tourists than locals. Most of these are international divers who are eyeing to spot a Thresher Shark and other marine life in Monad Shoal.

Aside from scuba diving, snorkeling and island hopping is also popular on the island. There are even packages which offer island hopping to its neighbor island, the Kalanggaman Island in Palompon Leyte. Don’t forget to save some energy for the happy hour in some bars and restaurants which usually starts from late afternoon until late at night.

Getting to:

From Cebu City, take a Ceres bus bound for Maya Port. Travel time usually takes 4 hours. Once in the port, take a boat to Malapascua Island. You can go to Ceres Bus terminal or Cebu Northern bus terminal to take the bus.

Top Attraction:

Bounty Beach

Top Place to Stay:

Tepanee Beach Resort

Oslob and Moalboal Cebu

Cebu City is one of the best places to see in the Philippines in 2021 because every 3rd Sunday of January, the city celebrates the Sinulog festival. People from all over the world come to take part in the grand celebration through street dancing while several establishments also hold fun activities and events during this season. On the other hand, a lot of tourists also start their Cebu itinerary in Cebu City before heading to the Northernmost or the Southernmost part of the province. 

Related Read: Cebu Travel Guide: What to See, Do, Costs and How to Get Around

Getting to:

You can find a lot of flights to Mactan Cebu International Airport served by the top airline companies in the Philippines such as Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, and Philippine Airlines. There are also direct international flights by Emirates, All Nippon Airways, Korean Air, EVA Air, and more. From the airport, you can ride the airport bus to SM City Cebu or take a taxi to your hotel in Cebu City.

Top Attraction:

Kawasan Falls

Top Place to Stay:

Bayfront Hotel Cebu – Check here

Camotes, Cebu

If you are looking for a budget friendly island getaway in Cebu, Camotes Island is the perfect choice. It offers a combination of white-sand beaches, and mysterious caves without hurting your budget. In the evening, if you happen to stay somewhere along Santiago Bay, be sure to stop by the food stations by the beach and you will be treated with some reggae music.

Aside from the beautiful beach in Santiago, be sure to try cliff jumping in Buho Rock too. You can also get a nice sunset from here. Lastly, don’t forget to bring waterproof bags when exploring the caves in Camotes. 

Getting to:

There are 3 options to get to Camotes Island. First is by taking an Oceanjet fastcraft from Cebu Port, Pier 1, second is by taking the Jomalia Roro from Danao City Port, and third is by taking the Jomalia Fastcraft in Mactan Wharf.

Top Attraction:

Santiago Bay Beach

Top Place to Stay:

Santiago Bay Garden and Resort – check here

Bohol

In 2021, plan a trip to the Philippines and make sure that you won’t be missing Bohol in your vacation. It is popular for its immaculate beaches, world-class resorts, and country-side tour where you can visit the world renowned Chocolate Hills. A typical itinerary in Bohol would be to take the countryside tour on the first day which comprises the Blood Compact Shrine, Loboc River Cruise, Chocolate Hills, Tigbao Hanging Bridge, Bilar Man-made forest, and Bohol Tarsier. If you’re spending a few days more, you can visit Alona Beach and Doljo Beach in Panglao or stay in Anda Beach and maybe explore the Cabagnow Cave.

The best thing about visiting Bohol is that you can find a lot of tour packages or you can also rent a car and explore the island at your own pace.

Starting November 15, 2020, Bohol will be open to domestic tourists with negative RT-PCR testing results required for entry.

Getting to:

You can fly directly to Bohol from Manila or other travel hubs in the Philippines. You can also take a ferry if you’re coming from Cebu, Siquijor, or Dumaguete. Getting from Cebu to Bohol is the best and easiest way to get to the island. Check here

Top Attraction:

Chocolate Hills

Top Place to Stay:

Eskaya Beach Resort – check here

Siquijor

Siquijor, also called the “Mystic Island”, is the third smallest province in the Philippines and because of its size, you can explore everything you have to see in the island in just a day. This will be a great side trip if you plan a trip to the Philippines. If you are visiting with a  small group, you can take the Tricycle tour to get around the island. For a bigger group, the multicab tour or the van tour is perfect for approximately 15 people. Solo travelers will also love it here as you can easily find motorcycle rentals. There are two types of tours in Siquijor– the first one is land tour and the other one is mountain tour. The land tour takes you to various attractions in Siquijor like the historical churches and beautiful beaches in the island. The Enchanted Balete tree is also a must-see. The mountain tour on the other hand lets you explore Mt. Bandilaan and Cantabon Cave. 

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Siquijor is one of the few provinces in the Philippines that does not have a high number of positive cases. 

Getting to:

The closest jump-off point to Siquijor is Dumaguete City and Sibulan which are just a boat ride away. So if you want to go to Siquijor, you can fly to Sibulan and board a ferry to Siquijor or you can take a ferry from Dumaguete City to Siquijor.  – You can also search here.

Top Attraction

Cambugahay Falls

Top Place to Stay

Infinity Heights Resort

Dumaguete City

Dumaguete City is known for it’s laid-back vibe. You can often find locals and tourists peacefully dining or enjoying a drink along Rizal Boulevard– where you can find a lot of food choices, by the way. To be honest, there’s not much to see in Dumaguete, the city itself, aside from Rizal Boulevard, Silliman University, and Campanario de Dumaguete. But if you are looking for good food, you can try the Sans Rival Bistro and of course,  Bacolod’s pride, the chicken inasal. Dumaguete City is a good starting point if you’re going to Manjuyod Sandbar and the Twin Lakes of Danao and Balinsasayao.

Despite being limited in tourist attractions, Dumaguete City still captures the heart of many tourists most especially millennials who want to take a break from the city life but don’t want to fully disconnect from what they’re used to– it’s more like a middle ground between the urban and rural living. In 2021, when we are expecting the coronavirus outbreak to settle down, it would be nice to spend a day or two in Dumaguete in distress from the crazy year. 

Getting to:

You can fly to Sibulan and take a bus to Dumaguete. There are also ferries from Tagbilaran, Santander, Dipolog, Siquijor, and Dapitan going to Dumaguete.  – Check the ferries here.

Top Attraction:

Twin Lakes of Balinsasayao and Danao

Top Place to Stay

Hotel Essencia

Iloilo

Iloilo city is filled with rich and well-preserved heritage that you can see from the city’s festivals, cuisine, and top tourist attractions. This makes Iloilo one of the Philippines must-see destinations in Visayas. Although Iloilo can be enjoyed all throughout the year, it is best to come on dry season where you can spend a lot of time in Isla de Gigantes.

You might also want to take advantage of the festivity in January, the Dinagyang Festival, where you get to experience Iloilo in a more lively mood. If you want to dive deeper into tIloilo’s heritage, you can also visit churches and cathedrals like Miagao Church, Molo Church, Jaro Cathedral, and Guimbal Church. If you are looking for local foods, you can try La Paz Batchoy, a clear noodle soup with pork cracklings, chicken, beef, and round noodles. It is also Iloilo’s signature dish. You can also enjoy a platter of affordable seafoods in Isla de Gigantes. 

Getting to:

Iloilo has an international airport which hosts flights from various cities in the Philippines and abroad. Aside from that, Iloilo also has four seaports where ferries from Manila and other places in the country. – Check flights here.

Top Attraction

Isla de Gigantes

Top Place to Stay

Seda Atria – Check here

Bantayan Island

One of the most tempting islands to visit in the Visayas region is the Bantayan Island. Upon docking in Santa Fe, you will already want to take a dip in the water because of the crystal clear and turquoise sea that will welcome you upon disembarking the boat. Indeed, there’s no other way to welcome a tourist to this lovely paradise than giving you a glimpse of what the island has– and that is the beautiful beaches and all sorts of water activities.

All year round, Bantayan Island is swarmed by domestic and international tourists that is why you can find various restaurants and bars with different specialties anywhere you go. Island hopping is the main activity in the island but if you want to experience the island even more, you can also drive from Santa Fe to Madridejos and vice versa. The drive won’t even take half a day as the island is just small. 

Getting to:

The most popular route is by taking a bus from Cebu City to Hagnaya Port. Tourists from Palompon can also take a ferry to Bogo City and then take a bus to  Hagnaya Port. From Hagnaya Port, you can catch a public ferry to Santa Fe as early as 7AM. 

Top Attraction

Virgin Island

Top Place to Stay

Kota Beach Resort

Mindanao

Siargao

Another island to visit in 2021 is Siargao Island. Proudly located in Mindanao, Siargao has been very popular to surfers around the world because of its large waves that are ideal for this watersport. Beginners and even those with no experience also want to try this challenging activity as the highlight of their Siargao trip. But aside from that, there are a lot of activities you can do in Siargao that even some tourists prefer to stay for a month or two to get the most of the island life. The locals on the island are also very fun to be with. On some nights, there are parties held in the most popular hostels and resorts in Siargao so be sure to check with the locals.

Related Read: Siargao Travel Guide: Things to See, Do, Accommodation and Itinerary

You can also just drive at night to check where the crowd is. You will most likely know it because there are usually tricycles and motorcycles for hire waiting outside the venue. You can also find a variety of foods in Siargao. While you get the Instagrammable and expensive ones in resorts, there are also budget-friendly food choices along the road or sometimes outside these resorts. There is also a public market if you want to cook your own fresh seafood.

Getting to:

You can fly through Cebu Pacific to Sayak Airport.  And because this is just a small airport, only small planes can fly in and out of Siargao. Aside from flying, you can also take an overnight passenger boat from Cebu to Surigao City and take another ferry from Surigao to Siargao.

Top Attraction

Cloud 9 Beach

Top Place to Stay

Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa

Lake Sebu

This pearl in South Cotabato was hailed as a cultural landscape by UNESCO. Aside from that, Lake Sebu is also celebrated as the Land of the Dream Weavers because of its popular T’nalak tapestry which plays an important role in the social, cultural, and personal perspective of the T’bolis. There are a lot of places to visit in Lake Sebu and you can start your trip by exploring these three important lakes: Lake Sebu, Lake Lahit, and Lake Seloton. Lake

Sebu is also known for the Seven Waterfalls where you can also ride a zipline that passes by these waterfalls. If you have fear of heights, you can hike to Hikong Bente instead. You surely don’t want to miss a trip to T’Boli museum too where you can see a collection of gongs, T’nalak, antiques, and other artifacts of T’boli culture. In total, you will need at least 2 days to get the most of your Lake Sebu trip.

Getting to:

If you are coming from Manila, Cebu or Iloilo, you can take a flight to General Santos. Then ride a taxi or a multicab to Bulaong Terminal where you can catch a van to Lake Sebu. If you are coming from Davao, you can take a bus from Davao Ecoland Terminal to Marbel in South Cotabato. Then from Marbel, you can take a van to Lake Sebu.

Top Attraction

Seven Waterfalls

Top Place to Stay

Punta Isla Lake Resort

Camiguin Island

Camiguin is the smallest island in Mindanao and the second smallest province in the country. However, this small island earned its fierce title as the Island Born of Fire because of the seven volcanoes that have been changing Camiguin’s landscape from time to time. Camiguin is also a combination of heritage sites and beaches. You can find ancestral homes, old churches, and other historical sites all over the island. Hidden in various corners of the island, you can also find waterfalls, natural springs, beaches and diving spots. The most popular of them is the Sunken Cemetery. 

Getting to:

Cebu Pacific has small planes flying directly to Camiguin. If you are looking for more flights, you can also fly to Cagayan de Oro or Butuan. From Cagayan airport, you can take the direct shuttle van to Camiguin or you can take the bus/van in Agora Terminal then take a ferry to Camiguin.  – Check flights here.

Top Attractions

Sunken Cemetery

Top Place to Stay

Paras Beach Resort – Check here

We know it’s difficult to travel at this time, but planning you trip to the Philippines is always a good idea. You can dream of the places that you want to visit and know exactly where you will go.

Did we miss anything else? Let us know in the comments!

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