With over 7 thousand islands scattered in an area of 300,000 square kilometres, the Philippines never runs out of places to see and discover. In today’s era where travelling is a part of life, how many PH tourist spots have you seen? Have you been to Mount Pulag to see the sea of clouds? Have you seen Mayon Volcano up close? How many of the Philippines’ top attractions have you been to? There is an abundance of amazing destinations in this Southeast Asian peninsula, from gorgeous beaches to picturesque mountains, down to scenic lakes and countrysides… Locale City Guide hopes to inspire your wanderlust and motivate you to embark on your soon-to-be PH travel adventure.
Having said so, here are the top 10 places worthy of your Philippine bucket list.
1. Mayon Volcano
Get ready to utter “awesome” and “wow” once you see this stratovolcano located in Albay province. Acknowledged by CNN as “one of the world’s most photogenic volcanoes”, Mayon Volcano is known for its perfect symmetrical shape, despite the fact that it is the country’s most active volcano.
Photo credits: @roamboy_rommel via IG
Locale tip: There are hotels and resorts in Legazpi City that have spectacular views of the Mayon Volcano such as The Oriental Legazpi, Balay De la Rama Bed & Breakfast and Misibis Bay Resort, to name a few.
Imagine a panoramic view of sparkling blue sea waters, beautiful green mountains and expansive hills, all blended into a spectacular scenery that will surely usher you into bliss. This is Batanes, the Philippines’ smallest island in terms of population and in land area, and is located in the northernmost tip of the archipelago. Ask any Filipino and for certain, Batanes is one of the Philippines’ must-visit places.
Photo credits: @the.restless.pinoy.traveler via IG
Locale tip: The best time to explore Batanes are the dry months of March, April and May since the area gets major rainfall in other months of the year.
3. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River
Listed under the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the PP Subterranean River is one of Palawan’s jewels. It used to be the world’s longest underground river, recently toppled by Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Nevertheless, the allure and grandeur of PP Subterranean River certainly didn’t wane as more and more local and international tourists line up to take glimpse of the beautiful formations of stalactites and stalagmites inside. Over the years, a lot more new discoveries are made such as more river channels, rock formations, one of the largest cave rooms in the world and other marine life.
Photo credits: @adventureswithgail via IG
Locale tip: The best time to visit the PP Subterranean River is during the dry season (January to April) as the waves are calmer. Go for light, comfortable clothing and wear flip-flops or trekking sandals. Do not forget to bring sunblock and mosquito repellent.
4. Chocolate Hills
What seems to be more than a thousand mounds differing in sizes, these natural attractions of limestone hills are green in color during the rainy season and turn chocolate brown during the dry season, thus earning the name “Chocolate Hills.” Located in central Bohol, the Chocolate Hills is one of the Philippines’ more recognizable landscape formations and a fascinating sight all year round.
Photo credits: @bennybensink via IG
Locale tip: Aside from these geological wonders, why not test your fear of heights and try The Plunge, said to be one of the world’s highest canyon swings with a 70-meter free fall, in Danao Adventure Park, also in Bohol.
5. Palawan Island
Voted as the number 1 island in the world by Conde Nast Traveler readers in 2016, Palawan is a gem offering idyllic beaches, aquamarine sea waters, captivating lagoons, beautiful limestone cliffs, diverse marine life and rich flora — all elements conniving to make a postcard-perfect destination worth remembering.
Photo credits: @issai_garcellano via IG
Locale tip: The island has a long list of hotels and resorts, as well as hostels and inns for budget travelers. Some opt to travel to Palawan during the off-peak season (June to mid-November) to avail of the airline and tour promos, and during which time, the island has the least amount of visitors.
Famous in all corners of the world, Boracay (as of this writing, Boracay is undergoing a 6-month closure for rehabilitation) is often synonymous to Philippine tourism. A crowd-drawer famous for its soft, white sand, varied water sports and exhilarating nightlife, it is indeed a party vacation island for all.
“Is Boracay reopening soon?” That’s one question every beach bums and aficionado is all excitedly asking.
Photo credits: @marcus_on_site via IG
Locale tip: The best time to go to Boracay is during the months of January and February. One of the country’s biggest festivals, the Ati-atihan Festival, the Philippines’ version of Mardi Gras, happens every third week of January, a good side trip when in Boracay. There’s also the Boracay International Funboard Cup and the International Paraw Cup Challenge to see in these months.
7. Callao Cave
Cagayan Province’s best known tourist attraction is the 7-chambered Callao Cave. Named after kalaw birds that inhabit the area, Callao Cave is hidden in the mountains of Penablanca in Tuguegarao City. Each chamber has its own distinct charm and the most popular ones are the Divine Room, a spacious chamber transformed into a church and the Sun Room, which is a favourite chamber of the tourists – both with cave openings that create drama and amazing illumination when hit by rays of light.
Photo credits: @tourism_phl via IG
Locale tip: If you’re a cave junkie, try to visit Samar, the caving capital of the Philippines. It is there that you can find Langun Gobingob Cave, said to be the country’s largest caving system. It is so enormous that 3 soccer fields can fit inside it!
8. Batad Rice Terraces
A UNESCO Heritage Site since 1995, the amphitheater-like Batad Rice Terraces are the best-preserved rice terraces between 2,000 – 6,000 years old. The idyllic place to experience life’s simplicity and rawness (the area is so far-flung that no mobile service is present), Batad Rice Terraces is only reachable by foot and varies in color depending on the month of your visit – barren and brown on dry months, and verdant green on planting and harvesting season.
Photo credits: @makakalikasan via IG
Locale tip: Want to experience sleeping in a native Ifugao hut? Most hikers recommend Ramon’s Homestay where you can rent a bona fide Ifugao hut good for 3-4 persons. That’s a truly immersive experience in a breathtaking place!
9. Great Santa Cruz island
How excited will you be if the beach you’re going to has pink coralline sand? I bet the excitement will really intensify once you’re about to step your feet onto it. Welcome to Great Santa Cruz Island, the only island in the Philippines with pink sand!
Located along the Basilan Strait off the coast of the bustling city of Zamboanga, Great Santa Cruz Island is a tiny island covered with lovely pink sand. This happens due to crushed red organ coral that are washed ashore and mixed with the white sand. The pink sand beach made it to last year’s “Best Beaches in the World” list of National Geographic. Raise your hands if you want to frolic in this paradise soon!
Photo credits: @restlesssole via IG
Locale tip: There are no resorts on the island, but there are souvenir and craft shops and huts for rent. Overnight camping is not allowed and the beach receives visitors only from morning until 2 in the afternoon daily.
10. North Sandbar
The Philippines, being an archipelago, has a wide selection of gorgeous and pristine sandbars that can leave you speechless. But first, what is a sandbar? A sandbar is a build up of tiny pebbles and sand formed by coastal currents and usually located a few hundred feet from the shoreline, elevated so slighty such that only a bar of sand appears above water.
Bohol boasts of a number of beautiful, inviting sandbars you definitely have to visit and one of them is the North Sandbar. Also known as Bongan Sandbar, it is a long stretch of white sand and only a small portion of it visible when the tide is high.
Photo credits: @reydioactiv via IG
Locale tip: Although a part of Bohol, the North Sandbar is a part of Cebu’s island-hopping tours. It is a 2-hour boat ride from Macta, Cebu and is one of the most Instagrammed spots lately.
Photo cover credits: @krsdy_ via IG