10 things to do in the Philippines

Beach hopping in El Nido is easily one of the best things to do in the Philippines

Photo by CC user Jerick Parrone on Flickr

Southeast Asia has been a powerhouse in the travel industry for decades, but until recently, the Philippines has largely flown under the radar. Watch someone’s first time in the Philippines and first impressions.

Sprung into the spotlight with a concerted marketing push led by the ‘It’s More Fun In The Philippines’ TV spot, more foreigners are including this nation in their travel plans.

There are many Philippines travel packages which will help you save money on a trip here, but it helps to know what you want to see so you can pick the one that is right for you.

Let’s discuss some of the best things to in the Philippines below…

1) Discover Intramuros

Many people dismiss Manila out of hand due to unfair characterizations they hear from third party sources.

While it has issues many Asian cities are also dealing with, it possesses something which few other places in Asia have: European colonial architecture.

Forming the centre of the Spanish administration in the Philippines from the early 16th century through the 19th century, Intramuros is home to San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the walls and ramparts of Fort Santiago, which defended this city for many centuries.

2) View the rice terraces of Banaue and Batad

Before heading off to the beaches of the south, take a road trip north to the famed rice terraces of Banaue and Batad.

Built into the steep mountainsides of Central Luzon, these impressive rammed earth and stone terraces are a testament to the ingenuity of humankind.

These works are so dramatic, these places are also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

3) Go on a boat tour of El Nido

Once you do make your way down to the Visayas, start by heading to El Nido in Palawan. Studded with some of the most jaw-dropping limestone karsts found anywhere on the planet, your days will be best spent by going on boat tours which will take you to some of the most gorgeous beaches in Asia.

It is said that author Alex Garland found the inspiration to write his novel The Beach after visiting this magical place … and how!

4) Sail through the Underground River

El Nido isn’t the only highlight worth visiting on Palawan; six hours to the south, the city of Puerto Princesa serves as the perfect base to explore the Underground River.

Yet another jewel in the Philippines’ UNESCO World Heritage Site crown, this attraction was also voted as the top natural wonder of the world by the New7Wonders of Nature initiative.

While the cave is an amazing experience in itself, there are also plenty of amazing outdoor experiences in its immediate vicinity, so don’t miss this place if you are in the area.

5) Lounge on the beach and party in Boracay

As one of the top beach resort destinations in SE Asia, Boracay compares admirably with heavyweights like Phuket, Nha Trang, Bali, and Langkawi.

The fineness of this island’s sands are what drew people here in the first place, but with tons of hot clubs, excellent restaurants, and kitesurfer-friendly breezes, there are plenty of reasons to spend several days here.

6) Take a panoramic shot of the Chocolate Hills on Bohol

Before you get excited, we’ll go ahead and deflate your dreams: the Chocolate Hills of Bohol aren’t actually made of chocolate.

Don’t let this dissuade you from including it in your itinerary, though, as these conical grass-covered limestone hills are incredibly striking, as thousands of them stretch into the horizon of Bohol’s horizon.

Time your visit during the dry season, as it is at this time when the grass covering these hills turns brown, making them look like mounds of ‘chocolate’.

7) Swim with the whale sharks in Dumaguete

Whale sharks swim past off the coast of the city of Dumaguete on a regular basis, giving visiting divers and snorkelers the opportunity to get up close with these gentle giants.

Be sure to pick an environmentally responsible tour operator, though, as some have hassled these animals to the point where some have begun to avoid the area.

8) Get the perfect photo of Mayon Volcano

Many of the 7,000+ islands of the Philippines owe their existence to volcanism that occasionally disrupts the lives of residents here.

However, when they aren’t throwing a tantrum, many of them are photogenic tourist draws. Mayon is one of the most attractive, as it is often cited as a perfect example of a cone volcano, so be sure to make a pit stop on your way back north through Luzon.

9) Sail to the centre of the caldera lake at the Taal Volcano

You don’t have to spend your last days in the Philippines doing nothing: the Taal volcano is an excellent day trip from Metro Manila, as it is located only 65 kilometres south of this teeming metropolis.

Although it is the second most active volcano in the country, regular outrigger boats offer rides across the world’s largest lake on an island in a lake on an island in the world on a daily basis. Join them, and get a photo of its steaming crater before it blows again.

10) Go shopping in Makati City

Finish your time in the Philippines by treating yourself to a day of shopping in Makati City. As the most affluent borough in Metro Manila, it has loads of super-modern malls such as Greenbelt, Glorietta 5, and countless others where you can get new gadgets, clothes, or whatever it is that your heart desires.

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