The best things to do in the Philippines as a tourist
Although a less busy destination than surrounding countries like Vietnam or Thailand, the Philippines is a destination you can see all over Social Media. It has amazing beaches, diving spots and sunsets, all worth being framed.
The Philippines is composed of more than seven thousand islands. Therefore, deciding where to go for two weeks or even a month holiday is not an easy task. Hence why it requires some planning. You will very often need to fly, boat or, rarely, bus from one destination to the other. In other words, you will often spend half a day here and there travelling to your destination.
We have prepared a list of the best things to see and do, accompanied by some travelling tips.
Boracay is a small island and is especially known for its idyllic beaches, palm trees and sunsets. It used to be one of the most visited destinations in the Philippines but suffered from over-tourism and neglecting visitors, so it had to close for six months.
The reopening was done in 3 stages:
- Part reopening in October 2018 with new government rules, limiting the number of visitors allowed
- The second stage of the reopening in April 2019
- Full reopening in December 2019
During the closure of Boracay Island, major improvements have been made, especially on the sewage systems (waste used to go directly in the sea) and on widening the roads, making traffic smoother.
When we visited, just before April 2019, a lot of the works were still ongoing, but you could definitely see the positive impact these would have in the near future.
Boracay Island Beaches
The most famous beach on Boracay Islands is White Beach. If you go slightly up north, one of the best views of the island is on Diniwid Beach.
If you feel more adventurous, Cagban Beach has some nearby caves. Puka Shell Beach is great for shell collectors.
Boracay Island Nightlife?
Boracay Island used to be famous for its nightlife, with parties on the beach being common. Due to the issues mentioned at the beginning of the article, these have been banned and only indoor nightlife is now allowed, still giving you more than enough to do with a full street of bars and restaurant open till late every day.
Coron Island is known for having some of the best diving and snorkelling spots in the Philippines.
The area surrounding the island was used during World War II and has, therefore, several wrecks, some going as deep as 42 meters. Rest assured, the ones nearest to the surface are about 3 meters, meaning you will be able to see some of these amazingly preserved wrecks snorkelling or during your diving initiation.
Don’t like diving? Then you can go to Baraccuda Lake, which used to be a volcano and has unusual rock structures and fishes.
If you are looking to visit some caves, Rock Islands or other natural wonders, Puerto Princesa, located on the island of Palawan is the city where you will be based to go around.
One of the most famous activities around the city is the Subterranean River National Park, one of the UNESCO World Heritage, with a five-mile underground river and limestone caves.
Honda Bay, not far from the Puerto Princesa, is also another spot worth visiting, popular for its zipline, caves and snorkelling.
El Nido, situated in the North of Palawan, is 4h or so bus away from Puerto Princesa. It’s a great spot for everything you would want from a holiday in the Philippines: diving, beaches, sunsets, surfing etc.
You have day tours available, jumping on a boat taking you around the best beaches, caves, snorkelling spots in the Palawan’s area.
It is also one ferry away only from Coron.
Manila, situated on the island of Luzon, is the capital of The Philippines. It is as busy as you would expect from a capital.
Some of the icons of the city are the jeepneys, a mix between a bus and a jeep, full of colours, one of their public transportation.
Main activities and visits are the San Agustin Church, built in the 1500s, the main park, Rizal Park, and Quiapo Church.
Similar to Coron Island, Cebu is one of the best spots for diving and snorkelling in the Philippines.
Day excursions will take you close to whale sharks, coral reefs and turtles.
If you aren’t keen on sea-related activities, we would recommend driving an hour and visit the Sudlon National Park.
Bohol, similar to Palawan, has a UNESCO protected site: the Chocolate Hills, in Carmen. Considered a natural geological phenomenon, this is a must-see when visiting the Philippines.
The best spots for you to admire the Chocolate Hills are the Chocolate Hills Complex or the Sagbayan Park. However, the first one is way busier than the latter.
It’s an all year round thing to see but the best time to visit is during the dry season, from the end of November to May.
The Philippines are well known for being surfers’ paradise and are considered one of the best places in the whole of Asia for it. Siargao Island is Philippines’ ‘crème de la crème’ of the surf. The best (or at least most popular) spot to do so is in the municipality of General Luna. This area is also called Cloud 9 as it is ranked 9th position in the best surfing spots worldwide.
Already visited The Philippines and looking for another great holiday destination in Asia? Why not check out our guide of the best things to do in Taipei!