Philippines is an archipelago of approximately 7500 islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. More than two thirds of the total territory belongs to Luzon on the north and Mindanao on the south. The Philippines are best known for its outstanding beaches, but the country has much more to offer. Rice terraces, strange mountains, limestone cliffs and even colonial heritage make up for a delightful destination. Its large cities are tough, but the natural spots are something else. This is where you get to know the Filipinos, one of the nicest people in the world. Being an archipelago, the best way to get to know the country is by plane and boat. Since the appearance of low cost flights many isolated islands can be easily reached now. Within the islands you can move by bus, jeepneys and tricycles. To explore the sea flora and fauna you can organize scuba diving or snorkeling.
For more tips check out this extensive Philippines guide.
Here are the Philippines Top 7
Vigan, the crown jewel of Luzon is a great city, full of crumbling Spanish colonial buildings and alive, inhabited by charming locals who organize events all the time. Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a Spanish colonial town in Asia, blending perfectly with the cultural elements of the Philippines, China and Europe.
Rice Terraces of Banaue and Batad
To get to the Rice Terraces of Banaue and Batad in Northern Luzon you have to take an overnight bus ride with the air-conditioning so intense that you’ll shiver all through the night. It is so worth it: sparsely populated lush mountains covered in vegetation and 2000 year old massive rice terraces. You feel small just looking at them and they are still in use today.
Manila is a hard city. Moving around is science fiction, there is garbage everywhere, and the number of homeless people is astonishing. On the other hand the Old Town Intramuros is a beautiful display of colonial architecture, still inhabited today. In Malate you can have great massages and a drink at a bar. The big park, Rizal, is also worth visiting just like the historical Quiapo church.
Camotes Islands. Not far from the country’s second largest city you’ll find a completely tourist free secluded group of islands called Camotes. Two large islands are connected by a bridge while two small ones lay separately. Forests and mangroves cover the islands leaving space for a couple of spectacular sand beaches equipped for a perfect relaxing holiday.
Bohol is rapidly becoming one of the country’s top tourist destinations. The main city Tagbilaran doesn’t offer much, so you better go to Loboc, a village near the beautiful Loboc River. You will be close to the world’s smallest and cutest mammals, Tarsiers, dense forests, rice fields and the famous Chocolate Hills, an unusual geological formation.
Balicasag Island is a deserted island across Panglao, Bohol’s twin island, with only a couple of cabins and a few locals. Some of the best snorkeling spots are just in front with exotic colorful fish, corals and giant turtles. Most of the diving and snorkeling excursions from Panglao take place around the island, but when they leave it’s only you and the turtles!
You won’t care about any other place as soon as you see el Nido, a bunch of spectacular limestone islands surrounded by lush forests and beaches. You must hurry up while it’s still pristine; Tourists are arriving in masses and unfortunately the most beautiful spots can only be reached with organized excursions. While far less crowded than Thailand, it seems heading that way.
Also check out this post for the best things to do in El Nido.
Please note that this is just a list of our favorite places in the Philippines. Other bloggers recommend places like: Siquijor Island, Siargao Island, Taal Volcano, Boracay, etc