More than 7000 islands together make up the country of the Philippines. Below we will highlight some of the top tourist cities and throughout the site will do out best to try to cover all of the major ones that are the best for Philippine travel.
The Philippines as a country could be best defined by its swarming cities, white sandy beaches and the jeepneys with graffiti splashed all over them, but really the best representation of the country is its cheerful, welcoming and upbeat people – the Filipinos.
Culturally and geographically, the Philippines is like no other country in Southeast Asia. Having been under Spanish rule for three centuries, the influence of Catholicism is pretty much weaved into society everywhere. The fifty or so years of American influence is also pretty obvious. But the Philippine Islands as a country, has very much its own identity.
Here are some of the Countries most popular tourist destinations for tourists:
Boracay: Easily the country’s most popular tourist destination (although currently under a beautification program and not open to the public for a few months) with over 1 million annual visitors. This is the place many young and trendy Filipinos and foreigners alike go to party and get away from the city. There are countless restaurants, bars and clubs to go with some of the finest sand beaches in the country, tourists can enjoy swimming in crystal clear water, island hopping or water sports. More about Boracay. In 2018, it’s been closed for clean up, but should be reopening towards the end of the year.
Baguio: If you want everything that’s great about the Philippines, plus a cool climate, then Baguio is your city. Because of the city’s high elevation, it is much cooler than the lower land cities. Tourists enjoy hiking, shopping, eating and touring around this beautiful city where pine trees are everywhere. You can even play 18 holes at Camp John Hay. See more about Baguio.
Bohol: Bohol is probably one of the most well rounded and all encompassing Philippine travel destinations. It’s got the white sand beaches, nice hotels, great food and it has top attractions like the Chocolate Hills, Tarsiers and Man Made Forest. Located near Cebu, it is fairly accessible and completely modern. Visitors to the Philippines should highly consider visiting this beautiful island.
Cagayan de Oro: Located in the north part of Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro (or CDO as it is commonly referred to) is a large highly urbanized city that is considered to be one of the most progressives cities in the country. While CDO has many beautiful parks, shopping malls and nice hotels and restaurants that make it attractive to visitors; its natural resources such as the famous white water rapid adventures, water falls and nearby top beaches make it a huge draw. More on Cagayan de Oro.
Camiguin: Generally tourists who visit Cagayan de Oro naturally also can travel to the neighboring paradise of Camiguin. This small island is one of the most beautiful of all of the Philippine Islands with picturesque white sand beaches, gorgeous waterfalls, rich diving spots and natural springs (both hot and cold).
Cebu: It is sometimes referred to as “Manila without the chaos”, meaning that while Cebu has a lot of the nice restaurants and modern amenities of the Philippines’ capital city, it is cleaner and comes with far less crime. Cebu is a favorite for foreigners, expats in particular. With beaches and water activities nearby to go with other great attractions, Cebu is a favorite for visitors to the Islands. From Cebu, tourists often visit the neighboring Islands of Bohol and Dumaguete. Some more information on Cebu.
Davao City: The second largest metro area in the country by population and third most important, Davao City (or commonly just “Davao”) is located at the southern most part of the country on the Island of Mindanao. While the Island itself has had some conflicts in different area, Davao is said to be one of the safest and most livable cities in the Philippines. It is not the most touristy place, but still absolutely a Filipino travel spot. The area is home to beautiful beaches along with attractions such as zoos and resorts that you would expect from a large city. It has an international airport and 4 new malls in just the last couple of years.
Dumaguete: A calm and relaxing college/university town that happens to have amazing food, world class diving, a marine sanctuary, beautiful white sand beaches, dolphin and whale watching along with several pristine lakes. This is a great place for people who don’t want to deal with the hassle of the high paced tourist spots, but still want to visit paradise.
El Nido: Speaking of paradise, I don’t know that there are many places in the world, not just the Philippine Islands, that are more beautiful than El Nido in northern Palawan. This charming tourist city has been featured as a world top travel destination in National Geographic and it is no exaggeration that the entire area is post-card picturesque. The island hopping adventures are the highlight where you start off visiting teal colored lagoons surrounded by marble cliffs that are hundreds of millions of years old and end on a white sandy beach with the clearest water you have ever seen sipping a coconut through a straw. The only downside is that it is a 5 or 6 hour air-conditioned van ride up to El Nido from Puerto Princesa. Not the easiest Philippines travel destination to get to, but I assure you that it is well worth it.
Manila: The capital city of Manila is where most people arrive when they land in the country and the city itself has many attractions. With 22 to 25 million people, Metro Manila is made up of 16 cities and is the most densely populated city in the world. Manila is full of large shopping malls, nice restaurants, museums and for those who want to go out, there is a vibrant nightlife. If you haven’t been there, you may not be able to imagine how big Manila is in size. Some of the popular attractions Manila has to offer are the old walled city of Intramuros, the Manila Cathedral, Manila Ocean Park (which is a a modern oceanarium), Fort Santiago (which at one time was a Spanish fort and garrison) and Malacanang Palace, the official residence of the country’s president.
Siargao: This gem is no longer a secret. To people in Mindanao, it has been an amazing travel spot for a long time. But it has now catapulted to being listed as one of the top location spots in the Philippines in recent years, especially with the temporary current closure of Boracay. With white sand beaches, the largest mangrove reserve in all of Mindanao and surfing waves that draw in international competition, the cat is out of the bag on how great Siargao is.
Tagaytay City: The city’s proximity to Manila, along with the amazing scenery and cooler climate, are what make Tagaytay one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The city has less humidity than the country’s capital city and is a nice respite for tourists who who want to relax and enjoy themselves during their vacation. The city overlooks Taal Lake which is a lake that has a volcano in the center.
If you are planning on travel to the Philippines, the above are just a sampling of the can’t miss destinations tourists from all around the world have fallen in love with.