- 13. Alaminos City (Pangasinan)
- 12. Dapitan City (Zamboanga)
- 11. Daraga (Albay)
- 10. Lake Sebu (South Cotabato)
- 9. Silay City (Negros Occidental)
- 8. Buscalan Village (Kalinga)
- 7. Sitangkai (Tawi-Tawi)
- 6. Taal Heritage Town (Batangas)
- 5. Colors of StoBoSa (La Trinidad)
- 4. Sagada (Mountain Province)
- 3. Batad (Banaue)
- 2. Vigan City (Ilocos Sur)
- 1. Batanes
With more than 7000 islands within three major island regions, the Philippines is home to natural wonders like islands, mountains, and pristine beaches. A vacation in the Philippines isn't complete without a trip to these natural attractions.
Aside from the Philippines' best beaches and islands, some of the best places to visit in the Philippines possess a rich history and vibrant culture. Aside from the languages and food, the architecture of villages, towns, and cities in the Philippines tell visitors about the Filipinos' history, culture, and everyday life.
Small heritage towns all over the world have always attracted tourists. Greece has Oia in Santorini, Morocco has Blue Village of Chefchaouen, Slovenia has Bled, and Japan has Shirakawa-go. The Philippines also has beautiful scenic towns, villages, and cities that are worth visiting. From the busy city life in Manila, the laidback small-town vibe of Batanes, to the charming Calle Crisologo of Vigan, the Philippines offers unique experiences.
Here is a list of the most beautiful small towns, cities, and heritage villages in the Philippines that best reflect the history, heritage, and culture of their region:
13. Alaminos City (Pangasinan)
Alaminos City in Pangasinan is home to the Hundred Islands National Park, one of the top tourist spots in Luzon. This national park consists of 124 beautiful islands spread across the Lingayen Gulf. Barangay Lucap is the jumping point for the Hundred Islands. Popular tourist activities in the Hundred Islands include island hopping, snorkeling, kayaking, and camping.
Alaminos is close to Bolinao, another tourist attraction and home to the best resorts in Pangasinan. You can explore Bolinao from Alaminos on your own. But you also have the option to avail yourself of a Bolinao Pangasinan tour package, which highlights the most notable attractions in Pangasinan.
There is a wide range of accommodation options in Alaminos because of the sheer number of tourists that visit Pangasinan tourist spots.
12. Dapitan City (Zamboanga)
Dapitan is a historical city in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. It sits on the northeastern coast of the Zamboanga peninsula and faces the Sulu Sea to the north.
Dapitan may be one of the smallest cities in the Philippines, but it was already well established before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers to the Philippines. It became even more prominent when it became the place of exile for Jose Rizal from 1892 to 1896. Rizal, the Philippine national hero, was exiled by the Spanish colonial government for being a threatening revolutionary figure.
Today, the most visited attraction in Dapitan is the 16-hectare Rizal Shrine, which includes houses, a hospital, an aqueduct, and an amphitheater. Other Dapitan attractions include the Spanish military fortress Fort de Dapitan and the Ilihan Hill, Sta. Cruz Beach, St. James Church, and the Dapitan Heritage Houses.
Dapitan is the jump point to the famous beach resort of Dakak. It has a decent collection of hotels and homestays for tourists.
11. Daraga (Albay)
Daraga is a municipality in Albay, a province located in the Bicol region, on the southeastern section of Luzon Island. Daraga lies on the foothills of Mt. Mayon and is home to prominent historical sites in the region.
Many Albay Bicol tour packages include stops at Daraga attractions. The most prominent of these attractions is the Cagsawa Ruins, remains of the 16th-century Franciscan Church, destroyed during one of the eruptions of the Mayon Volcano. The church’s old bell tower and its surroundings are now a protected park area. This park also offers one of the best panoramas of the Mayon Volcano. Joining an Albay tour will let you experience Cagsawa Ruins.
Another historical building worth visiting in Daraga is the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Porteria, more often referred to as Daraga Church. This church showcases Baroque architecture and stands on a hill that overlooks the Mayon Volcano and the sea.
10. Lake Sebu (South Cotabato)
Despite the name, Lake Sebu is a name for the municipality (not a lake) deep within South Cotabato. South Cotabato is one of the provinces in the Soccsksargen region of Mindanao.
Covering more than 42,000 hectares of land, Lake Sebu is filled with lush forests, tall mountains, and beautiful lakes. It is one of the top tourist spots in Mindanao, and a UNESCO recognized cultural landscape in the Philippines. Lake Sebu is home to the indigenous tribes of South Cotabato’s like the T’bolis, Manobos, and Tirurays.
Photo by Lake Sebu Tourism/Aiman Ralla & Carlito Jann Magarso
You can find seven waterfalls and three lakes (Lake Seloton, Lake Lahit, and Lake Sebu) within the Lake Sebu area. Other cultural attractions worth visiting include the T’Boli Museum, which highlights the history and heritage of the T’boli people, and the Grand Dulay T’nalak Weaving Center, which showcases the unique T’nalak fabric.
Lake Sebu has a collection of hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and lake resorts for visitors to stay.
9. Silay City (Negros Occidental)
Photo by Silay Heritage
Silay City is part of the Bacolod Metropolitan area in Negros Oriental. It is 15 kilometers away from the city of Bacolod. Negros Occidental lies in the northwestern half of Negros Island, Central Visayas region.
Silay is dubbed the “Paris of Negros” because it has become a cultural and intellectual hub and home to cultural shows and events, artists, and heritage houses. More than 30 of Silay’s heritage homes are declared Silay National Historic Landmarks by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
Silay is a fast-developing city that has a large commercial fishing port and an international airport (Bacolod–Silay International Airport).
Aside from the heritage homes, other attractions worth checking out include the Balay Negrense Museum, the San Diego Pro-Cathedral, the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum, the Mambukal Mountain Resort, and the Old Port.
8. Buscalan Village (Kalinga)
Buscalan Village is one of the most remote Philippine villages tucked within the mountainous landscape of Kalinga. Kalinga is a landlocked province located in Luzon’s Cordillera Administrative Region .
Buscalan may be small and remote, but it is popular among fans of Filipino indigenous culture. The town is home to the Butbut tribe and its oldest living traditional tattoo artist (mambabatok), Apo Whang Od. This 100-year old iconic figure is the oldest in her tribe to practice the traditional Butbut tattooing technique, which uses hand-tapping movements and indigent materials.
Most tourists come to Buscalan to meet Apo Whang Od and get a tattoo from here. But Buscalan is also one of the most authentic rural places in the Philippines. The village features lush scenery, waterfalls, and green hills. Buscalan's Padjao Rice terraces are worth checking out. There are no hotels and inns in Buscalan. You can opt for homestays, which have basic beddings, tap water, and no internet.
7. Sitangkai (Tawi-Tawi)
Sitangkai is one of the popular Tawi Tawi tourist spots and is unlike any other town in the Philippines. This municipality in Mindanao is the southernmost place in the Philippines. Tawi-Tawi encompasses a group of islands that sits on the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea.
Sitangkai is called the “Venice of the Philippines” as the whole municipality is partially submerged in water. Locals had to build stilt houses and footbridges and use boats as the primary means of transport.
The main livelihoods in Sitangkai are fishing and seaweed farming. The best things to do during your visit here include touring the town itself by riding boats. The stilted structures and bridges you will come across will be quite memorable as they are unique. Sitangkai has cheap fresh seafood and features Moro-Filipino cuisine, unique to this Filipino region.
6. Taal Heritage Town (Batangas)
The town of Taal used to be the capital of Batangas, a province in the Calabarzon region of Luzon. Named after the Taal volcano and founded in 1572, Taal has been declared a heritage town. It is also home to some Filipino revolutionary heroes during the Spanish colonial times. These heroes include Don Felipe Agoncillo, and his Doña Marcela Marino Agoncillo, Doña Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio, and Gen. Ananias Diokno. Today, the ancestral homes of these figures are all well-preserved to remind the younger generations of their sacrifices and stories.
- Check out our article on the best Batangas resorts
Located at the center of Taal Park, the Basilica de San Martin de Tours is the most prominent historical attraction in town. It is also one of the largest churches in the country. Just around the Basilica’s vicinity are well-preserved Spanish colonial homes and the Hall of the Municipal Government of Taal. Taal town is about 43 kilometers from Tagaytay City - a popular weekend getaway spot for residents of Manila.
5. Colors of StoBoSa (La Trinidad)
The Colors of StoBoSa of Benguet is a small neighborhood situated in La Trinidad and close to Baguio City. La Trinidad is a municipality filled with mountains, springs, and strawberry plantations. StoBoSa (StoBoSa Hillside Homes Artwork) provides a striking contrast to the typical Philippine countryside look and feel.
StoBoSa used to be a collection of shanty homes sitting on the green hill. Then the Tam-awan Village group fixed and painted the houses and transformed them into one unique work of art. The name StoBosa is a combination of the housing compound names where the artwork resides. The names are STOnehill, BOtiwtiw and SAdjap in Barangay Balili (village).
This housing complex stands along the Halsema Highway. You can either drive to the location or join a StoBoSa Valley of Colors tour. There are no hotels within StoBoSa, but there are nearby bed-and-breakfasts, cabins, and homestays. You can also stay at Baguio hotels and go to La Trinidad as part of your day tours.
4. Sagada (Mountain Province)
Sagada is one of the most popular tourist town in the Mountain Province of the Cordillera Administrative Region, North Luzon. Sagada and the whole of Mountain Province possess a serene atmosphere and spectacular natural sceneries characterized by valleys, waterfalls, mountains, rice fields, caves, and cliffs.
Sagada is famous for its hanging coffins, which are part of the burial tradition followed by the Igorot tribe. This tradition dates back to around 2,000 years. Until today, you can still find the hanging coffins in places like the Lumiang Cave.
An excellent Sagada travel itinerary may also highlight visits to Sumaguing Cave and Bomod-ok Falls; treks across the Echo Valley and the Kapay-aw Rice Terraces; as well as hikes up the top of Marlboro Hills and Mt. Kiltepan.
Sagada has several accommodation options like hostels, homestays, bed-and-breakfasts, and boutique hotels.
3. Batad (Banaue)
After finishing a Baguio itinerary, you may want to head over to the neighboring town of Banaue within the Ifugao province. Banaue is home to the Ifugao Rice Terraces. You can find some rice terraces within the Banaue town proper, but many regard Batad as the best Banaue tourist spot for rice terraces.
Batad is home to the Batad Rice Terraces - an inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many consider it as the best-preserved among the rice terraces clusters because of its amphitheater-like structure. The Batad rice terraces are hand-carved to occupy a steep mountainous terrain. The terraces cover around 10,360 square kilometers (about 4,000 square miles) of land. Some sections are aged more than two thousand years.
The town of Batad itself is serene and remote. Most tourists reach it by hiking through a forested trail. The only lodging option in Batad is homestays.
2. Vigan City (Ilocos Sur)
Most cities in the Philippines are highly urbanized and that is why Vigan stands out as it has successfully preserved its historic center. This heritage village treats Ilocos itinerary visitors to charming cobblestone streets, heritage houses and structures, delicious traditional cuisines, and plenty of old-world charm.
The houses in Vigan’s old town (some of which operate as Vigan hotels) are some of the best-preserved colonial-style houses in Asia. Aside from exploring the historic center, a Vigan tour package can also feature attractions like St. Paul’s Cathedral, Syquia Mansion Museum, Baluarte Resort, Bantay Church Bell Tower, and RG Jar Factory.
Batanes is the smallest and most northernmost province in the Philippines. It is composed of a group of Islands in the Luzon Strait. Its landscape and seascape make it one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines.
Basco on Batan Island is the capital of Batanes. Basco is known for its hilly lush scenery and the Basco Lighthouse, which is the first lighthouse built in the country. This lighthouse offers a splendid 360-degree panorama of the island and the sea.
Other fascinating small villages to add to your Batanes itinerary are the Savidug and Chavayan, which can be both visited on a Sabtang Island tour Batanes. Savidug is located close to the port of Sabtang Island and still reflects the Ivatan culture and old ways. It is also home to the natural rock formations called Savidug Idiang.
Chavayan is another charming old village famous for its traditional Ivatan stone houses, some of which are more than a century old. Some of the Batanes’ stone houses welcome guests and are included in our list of best heritage hotels and houses in the Philippines.
Explore the Most Beautiful Small Towns, Villages, and Cities in the Philippines
Aside from the places mentioned above, consider visiting other fascinating historical spots like Bataan and Intramuros. Bataan tours highlight top attractions like Corregidor Island, Bataan World War II Museum, and Balanga Cathedral. A Bataan tour package can also feature the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, a cultural complex that features some of the most beautiful houses in the Philippines built during the Spanish colonial times. During your visit to this site, you can choose a Las Casas day tour or a more complete Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar tour.
Many Philippine tour packages and heritage tours feature Intramuros - the colonial walled city within Manila. It is home to important historical structures like Fort Santiago, the Manila Cathedral, and San Agustin Church.
Some of the most scenic places in the Philippines mentioned here are accessible by flying. Be mindful of the latest requirements for domestic flights in the Philippines to avoid any hassle and stress during travel.
The most wonderful places in the Philippines are not only beaches and islands. The country’s heritage towns, historical cities, and small villages are also fascinating and worth visiting as they reveal the Filipino’s true character and identity.
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