Located at the eastern tip of Asia, the Philippines is home to over 7,000 islands, inhabited by friendly locals and many indigenous tribes. From pristine beaches and wonderful natural wonders to interesting historical sites and unique experiences, the Philippines has a lot of exciting things to see and do. Take a look at the following top tourist attractions in the Philippines.
1. Banaue Rice Terraces
No trip to the Philippines can be complete without seeing the spectacular Banaue Rice Terraces. Carved into mountain ranges around 2,000 years ago without modern tools by the Ifugao tribes, these magnificent agricultural terraces look like giant steps rising to the sky. Locals continue to plant rice and vegetables on the terraces, although more and more young Ifugaos do not find agriculture attractive and migrate to the cities.
2. Chocolate Hills
One of the main tourist attractions in the Philippines, the Chocolate Hills are unusual geological formations made up of at least 1,268 individual mounds scattered throughout the interior of Bohol Island. The formations, almost symmetrical and of the same size, are between 30 and 50 meters high and covered with green grass. During the dry season, the grass turns brown, hence its name. There is no consensus on how these gigantic molehills formed. One theory holds that the Chocolate Hills are rock formations eroded from a kind of marine limestone on a layer of impermeable clay.
Boracay may be a small island, but it has great features like award winning beaches, beautiful resorts, and great adventures like cliff diving, parasailing, motorcycling, horseback riding, snorkeling, kite surfing and scuba diving. As if that weren’t enough, boat trips allow visitors to see breathtaking sunsets, explore volcanic caves and secluded coves of turquoise lagoons. When the sun goes down, Boracay’s nightlife is in full swing with many bars and restaurants serving food, drink and entertainment until dawn.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Boracay
4. Puerto Galera
Just south of Manila is the charming coastal town of Puerto Galera, well known for its beautiful beaches, excellent dive sites, and great diversity of marine life. The most popular beaches are White Beach and Sabang Beach, which also offer shopping, dining, nightlife, and hotel accommodations nearby. Another popular attraction is the natural harbor of Muelle Bay, with its rows of shops, restaurants and bars. Visitors can also snorkel to see some of Asia’s best coral reefs or dive among ancient wrecks and hundreds of species of fish.
Located in Sorsogon Province, a place of pristine beaches, stunning waterfalls and unexplored caves, the sleepy fishing village of Donsol is the place in the Philippines to see whale sharks. Gentle ocean giants can be seen between November and June, with a peak between February and May. Tourists can also take a boat cruise on the Donsol River among mangroves and palm trees, and watch the night light up with millions of twinkling fireflies. As if that weren’t enough, you can also join a traditional shrimp catching expedition with bamboo and nets, followed by a delicious dinner with cooked catches.
6. Puerto Princesa underground river
Located on the north coast of Palawa Island, Puerto Princesa is a nature lover’s paradise. Home to unspoiled landscapes rich in wildlife, this charming town also claims one of the world’s most unique natural phenomena, an underground river known as the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Protected in a national park, this natural wonder is the longest navigable underground river in the world. Guided rowing boat tours show intriguing rock formations and floating bats.
7. Tubbataha Reef
Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea is a marine sanctuary protected as Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park. The reef is made up of two atolls, the North Atoll and the South Atoll, separated by a deep channel about 8 km wide. It has become one of the most popular dive sites in the Philippines for its coral walls, where the shallow reef ends abruptly to give way to great depths. The marine park is open for diving trips on board between April and June, when the waves are calmer.
8. Malapascua Island
A small island made up of laid-back fishing villages, Malapascua Island is popular for its ideal snorkeling spots and for being the only place in the world where you can regularly see thresher sharks, as well as mantas and hammerhead sharks. Other hidden gems here are the beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear waters fringed by coconut palms, and colorful coral gardens.
9. Mayon Volcano
The Mayón volcano, which rises more than 2,400 meters above sea level, is distinguished by its perfectly symmetrical conical shape. Visitors can engage in various activities here, such as camping, rock climbing, hiking, bird watching and photography. A scenic spot to view Mayon Volcano is at the nearby ruins of Cagsawa. Mayon is the most active volcano in the Philippines, having erupted more than 49 times in the past 400 years. Mayon’s most destructive eruption occurred on February 1, 1814, bombarding nearby towns with volcanic rocks. You can still see the bell tower and what remains of the baroque church destroyed by the eruption of 1814.
10. Church of San Agustín, Manila
Located in Manila, the Church of San Agustin is a must-see. Built in 1589, this beautiful church has survived seven earthquakes and two fires over the centuries and is now the oldest stone church in the Philippines. At the main entrance there are exquisite carvings on the wooden doors. The Mexican-influenced interior is designed in the shape of a Latin cross. The magnificent ceiling was painted in the 19th century by Italian artists Giovanni Dibella and Cesare Alberoni.