Top Tourist Destinations in the Philippines
The Philippine archipelago comprises some 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean and is situated in the China Sea. Modern Filipino culture has absorbed Western culture more than any other Pacific Asian country due to its prior colonization by both Spain and the US. As such, it’s a “friendlier” tourist destination than other countries which haven’t assimilated as much Western culture into their own.
The entire country of the Philippines is a delight to both surfers and divers, with many popular beaches and reefs. There are, of course, other tourist attractions suitable for people who don’t surf or dive and it would be a disservice to not list some of them independently:
- Aklan: This is one of the most visited provinces in the Philippines, not only because of its beaches but also because of its popular yearly colorful event which is the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo.
- Banaue Rice Terraces: About two thousand years ago, mountains in Northern Luzon were carved into rice terraces by the indigenous people. The rice terraces cover 4,000 square miles of mountainside, an area classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site and said to be the 8th wonder of the world.
- Boracay Island: The island has a 4-kilometer stretch of white sand beach, is considered to be the best beach in Asia, and is one of the top ten beaches in the world. It’s also a favorite party destination.
- Baguio City: Established by Americans in 1900, the summer high temperatures are usually 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) lower than the rest of the country, making it a popular summertime destination.
- Bohol: The Chocolate Hills are limestone hills that turn brown during the summer. One of the world’s smallest primates, the Philippine Tarsier, makes its home on this island.
- Cebu: The country’s oldest street and city are found in Cebu City, where the urban sprawl is ever growing. Cebu’s hidden secrets include amazing dive sites, island resorts, white-sand islets, waterfalls, lakes, springs, mountain trails and countless wonders, all of which are a short bus ride away from Cebu City.
- Hundred Islands National Park: A group of more that 400 islets with coral reefs surrounding them, these islands are famous for their beaches and their coral reefs. The coral reefs can be explored by snorkeling.
- Manila. There is a walled city called “Intramuros” that was built by the Spanish in the 1500s and Manila’s boundaries were originally the city walls. Today, Intramuros contains museums, churches and an old fort. Makati City is the modern face of Manila, including major malls, business centers and hotels. Manila’s vibrant party scene rivals those of Shanghai and the nightlife is amongst the most underrated in the world with the Filipinos penchant for parties and fiestas.
- Palawan: There are natural gas fields on the northeastern part of the island but the beautiful beaches around the island remain pristine. The island is home to the spectacular Tubbataha Reef and the breathtaking Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Puerto Galera: This coastal town is well known among tourists for its numerous pocket beaches and many snorkeling and scuba diving spots. The area was designated a Man and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO in 1973 and has some of the most diverse coral reef diving in Asia.
- Subic Bay Freeport Zone: Formerly a US Navy base, beaches, diving and duty-free shopping make this not only a tourist attraction for people outside the country, it attracts people from all over the Philippines.
- Tagaytay City: A city in the province of Cavite, it’s only 55 km (34 mi) from Manila. It provides a good view of the Taal Volcano (in the Batangas province) and is a popular destination, like Baguio City, because of its cool climate in the high altitude.
These are only some of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines. You are invited to investigate for yourself and find those that haven’t been listed.
The author is an American living in the Philippines, who occasionally writes about some of these destinations.