Philippines Map & Geography Guide: Top Destinations in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao

Philippines Map & Geography Guide: Top Destinations in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao

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Sceneries of the Philippines

With a country that has over 7,000 islands, the Philippines is a destination where you'll have thousands of options for places to explore and things to do.

Thanks to the geographical features of the Philippines, the country is home to some of the best islands and beaches in the world, like Palawan, Boracay, and Siargao.

This is why a lot of travelers try to make the most of their time in the country by island-hopping in the Philippines or visiting the best tourist spots in the Philippines all in one trip.

The best golf courses in the Philippines also feature some of the most stunning scenic views because of the country's geography. You can easily tour the country via the many Philippine airports.

However, the top tourist destinations in the Philippines are usually scattered around the three island regions of the country: Luzon (where you can find Palawan), Visayas (where you can find Boracay), and Mindanao (where you can find Siargao).

Before you finalize your trip, make sure to take a look at a Luzon Visayas Mindanao map to familiarize yourself with the many tourist destinations. Here's a Philippine map showing the top tourist spots in the 3 major island regions: 

Philippines map of top tourist spots

Exploring the Philippines requires careful planning and ample knowledge of what each island region has to offer to make the most of your limited time to travel. Read our guide on getting around the Philippines and the best cars to rent for a road trip in the Philippines to help you have a hassle-free vacation. Here's a comprehensive guide on Philippine geography to help you plan your trip:


The largest island in the Philippines, Luzon serves as the primary entry point for international travelers. Here, you will find the country’s bustling capital, Manila. Together with other major cities nearby, the region is known as Metro Manila.

While Manila is the economic center of the entire nation, Luzon also boasts of other notable Luzon tourist spots that make the Philippines worth visiting and exploring.


Calesa in IntramurosPhoto by the Philippine Department of Tourism

Start your journey with a visit to some of Manila’s famous historic sites, including Intramuros, or the Walled City, a historically significant fortress that was once the center of power back in the Spanish era.

Here you’ll find some of the country’s oldest buildings, including its oldest stone church, San Augustin Church. Nearby Intramuros are other Manila tourist spots like the National Museum Complex, Rizal Park, Binondo Chinatown, and Roxas Boulevard, where you can see the stunning Manila Bay sunset.  You can visit these attractions and try other things to do in Manila by going on Manila day tours.

For your nightlife fix, head to Makati City's Poblacion where you can find the hippest up-and-coming restaurants and pubs frequented by backpackers and travelers.  You may also try other fun activities in Makati.

Cordillera Region

Rice Terraces in Banaue

More than the charm of Manila’s busy streets and offerings, it’s the places outside of it that will bring you the most authentic Luzon experience. If you wish to have a longer road trip, travel to North Luzon and witness the breathtaking gifts of nature found in the Cordillera region. 

Here, you can visit the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio, hike the third highest peak in the Philippines, Mt. Pulag, pick and eat the most delicious strawberries at La Trinidad, and explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Banaue, the Batad Rice Terraces.

Cordillera is also home to the quaint town of Sagada where you can check out the Hanging Coffins, watch the sunrise with its sea of clouds at Mount Kiltepan, and visit other Sagada tourist spots.

To get here, you can ride a bus from Manila to Baguio. But, if you wish to have a more comfortable travel experience, you can also drive a private vehicle or rent a car to Baguio, or arrange Baguio tours that have transfers from Manila. 


Calle Crisologo in ViganPhoto by the Philippine Department of Tourism

Travel back in time when you visit the Spanish colonial town, Vigan, located in northern Luzon in Ilocos Sur. This city’s well-preserved architecture dates back to the 16th century.

Buildings and structures are reminiscent of the Spanish era and you can even have a complete feel of the times back then by exploring its cobblestone streets and other Vigan tourist spots through a kalesa or horse-drawn carriage in Vigan tours


Lighthouse in Batanes

Go off the beaten path when you travel to Batanes, a small island in the northernmost part of Luzon. A lot of typhoons pass by the island, that's why the best time to go here is during the dry and summer season, around March to June.

Batanes is the land of the Ivatans, who have successfully preserved the island’s identity. Batanes tours will take you to luscious green mountains, endless hills perfect for relaxing and disconnecting from the world, and other Batanes tourist spots.

You can also trek a mountain called Mount Iraya or take a postcard-worthy photo with you at the Tayid Lighthouse. Due to its location, travelers have fewer and more expensive flight options going to its capital, Basco, but it will all be worth it once you set foot in this island province. 


Kayangan Lake in Coron, Palawan

Palawan is one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines and has been named one of the best, if not the best, islands in the world by different travel magazines. It's a constant top contender for international travelers' favorite destinations in the Philippines because it offers attractions that are truly paradise-like. 

Its capital, Puerto Princesa, is home to a UNESCO World Heritage and New7Wonders of Nature site, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park or Underground River. To make your visit hassle-free, book Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour or other Puerto Princesa tours.

Both Coron and El Nido are home to some of the best beaches in the Philippines, stunning limestone rock formations, and a breathtaking underwater world. It’s perfect for divers and beach lovers. Both are also home to some of the best beach resorts in the Philippines. If you want to try island hopping in Palawan, Coron and El Nido are two of the best places to try it. You can try booking El Nido island hopping tours or Coron Palawan island hopping tours. You can also see other tourist attractions when you book El Nido tours and Coron tours.

San Vicente is a less popular destination in Palawan compared to the first three but it's a must-visit since it's where you can find Long Beach, the longest beach in the Philippines, and try other things to do in San Vicente Palawan


A collection of islands in Central Philippines, Visayas is home to a rich and diverse culture and history. Some of the top tourist spots in Visayas include the oldest city in the country, Cebu, the world-famous Boracay Island, and Bohol, home of the Chocolate Hills. 

This region is further divided into three parts: Central, Eastern, and Western Visayas. Festivals, bucket list destinations, and unique delicacies abound in this region. 


Paraw boats in Boracay

Boracay is a must-visit for first-time Philippine visitors. It has been named multiple times by travel magazines as one of the best islands in the world.

This small island has drawn travelers to its shore because of its fine, white sand beaches (White Beach being the most popular), diving spots, cliff diving spots, stunning sunsets, thrilling water adventures like parasailing, vibrant nightlife, and other tourist spots in Boracay. Island hopping in Boracay is also a popular activity.


Magellan's Cross in Cebu

Cebu is one of the most historically significant places in the Philippines and is also home to multiple destinations packed with mus-visit Cebu tourist spots.

Check out stunning beaches in Cebu, including beaches in Moalboal and Bantayan Island beaches, and the islands in Mactan Island and Bantayan Island. Explore diving spots and swim with millions of sardines in Moalboal and thresher sharks in Malapascua, try exciting activities like canyoneering, and go on gastronomic food adventures to taste Cebu lechon and other local dishes. 

Its capital, Cebu City,  the “Queen City of the South,” is where you’ll find historical landmarks and remnants such as the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu and Magellan's Cross. You can visit these spots easily if you rent a car in Cebu or book Cebu City tours.

Cebu can also be an alternative entry point to the Philippines since it has the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, which services international flights. 


Chocolate Hills in Bohol

Just a ferry ride away from Cebu is another famous Visayan island, Bohol. This is where you’ll find the world’s second smallest primate, the Philippine tarsier, and the unique landscape, Chocolate Hills.

Bohol Chocolate Hills will treat your eyes to a wondrous view of hundreds of green mountainous hills. During the dry season, they turn to brown, making them look like chocolates.

Bohol is also a top beach and diving destination since it is home to Alona Beach, Balicasag Island diving, and Pamilacan Island. You can explore its other islands through Bohol island hopping tours.

Some must-visit attractions in Bohol tours aside from the Chocolate Hills include the Loboc River, where you can feast on a Filipino buffet while on a boat, the Tarsier Sanctuary, and the Bilar Man-made Forest.  You can visit most of these attractions by booking Bohol countryside tours or Loboc River cruise tours.


Church in Iloilo City

Another famous Visayan province is Iloilo, with its equally stunning beaches and islets that can rival the country’s best and historical landmarks that date back to the Spanish colonial period too.

For beach lovers, Islas de Gigantes or Gigantes Island Iloilo package tours deserve a spot in your itinerary. Iloilo tours won’t be complete without a taste of their famous La Paz Batchoy, a noodle soup mixed with chicken stock, beef, and pork cracklings.

Iloilo is also home to centuries-old historical churches Jaro Cathedral and Molo Church, and other must-visit Iloilo tourist spots such as Camiña Balay nga Bato, Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art, and Calle Real.


The Ruins in Bacolod

Also located in Western Visayas in the province of Negros, Bacolod is known for the famous MassKara Festival, a grandiose parade of people in masks celebrated every October.

Bacolod is also a great starting point for visiting the famous The Ruins. To complete your Bacolod tours, make sure to feast on Bacolod’s signature chicken inasal (grilled chicken).

Other Bacolod tourist spots include the century-old San Sebastian church, mansions of the rich families in Negros, and Lakawon Island.


Southern Philippines may be the least visited among the Philippines’ three major islands but that’s not to say it’s not as great as the other two. It has some of the country’s jaw-dropping natural attractions, Mindanao tourist spots, and unique culture and heritage.


Cloud 9 in Siargao

The tear-drop-shaped island of Siargao has gained increasing popularity over the years as the ultimate surfing destination in the country. It rivals even the best in neighboring countries Indonesia and Australia.

Surfers from all over the world flock to Siargao for the annual International Surfing Cup, usually held at the most famous surfing spot called Cloud 9 in General Luna.

Siargao has also been named the best island in the world multiple times, head-to-head with the more famous Palawan and Boracay.

Aside from surfing, Siargao island-hopping tours are also a must-try where you can visit Daku Island, Guyam Island, and Naked Island

Other Siargao private tours will take you to stunning Siargao tourist spots like Sugba Lagoon, Magpupungko Rock Pools, and Sohoton Cove, to name a few. For a hassle-free trip, you may book Siargao tour packages. Aside from surfing, check out other rainy season activities in the Philippines.


Peal Farm Beach Resort in Davao

Davao, also known as the “Crown Jewel of Mindanao,” can also be an entry point for travelers to the Philippines through the Francisco Bangoy International Airport.

Some of the city’s highlights included in Davao tours are Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines, the Philippine Eagle Center, Eden Nature Park, Malagos Chocolate Museum, and the famous durian fruit which you may have a love-hate relationship with because of its potent smell. If you can, time your Davao itinerary to coincide with the Kadayawan Festival in August.

If you want to get out of the city to lounge at pristine beaches, a trip to the nearby Samal Island may just be what you need.

Cagayan de Oro

Whitewater Rafting in Cagayan de Oro

Located in Misamis Oriental in Northern Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro (CDO) prides itself as “The Whitewater Rafting Capital of the Philippines.” Best enjoyed with friends, you’ll be splashed with water from all sides of your raft as you yell your heart out as you enjoy your Cagayan de Oro whitewater rafting package.

Other activities you can try in Cagayan de Oro tours are spelunking at Kweba de Oro or paragliding at Sierra del Oro. Cagayan de Oro is also known for being the jump-off point to get to Asia’s longest dual zipline at Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon. You may also visit other attractions in the city via a Cagayan de Oro city tour.


White Island in Camiguin

If you want to go to an island paradise that’s near Cagayan de Oro, then Camiguin is the best choice for you. Just a ferry ride away from Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin is also dubbed as the “Island Born of Fire” because it's home to seven volcanoes, with only one of them being active.

From waterfalls and natural springs to secluded beaches and heritage sites, you’d pretty much have a taste of everything when you visit some of the top Camiguin tourist spots.

Check out the iconic landmark, Sunken Cemetery, and enjoy the picturesque White Island sandbar via a Camiguin White Island & countryside tour. Take a relaxing dip at Ardent Hot Springs. If you want it cold, let the water from the Sto. Nino Cold Spring treat you during a hot afternoon.


Facade of the Zamboanga City Hall

Get a feel of Spain’s influence in the Philippines when you visit Zamboanga in southern Philippines, also known as “Asia’s Latin City”.

Remnants of the Spanish era can still be seen in Zamboanga tours when you visit tourist spots like Fort Pilar, a defense fort built in the 17th century, and the Zamboanga City Hall, where the whole street is lined with well-preserved buildings.

Take day tours to Great Sta. Cruz Island, which is known for the Pink Beach, and ride a colorful vinta boat while cruising alongside mangroves. 

How to Get Around Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao

Plane of Philippine AirlinesPhoto by Philippine Airlines

The Philippines has several international airports that serve as gateways to the country and its different destinations. There are international airports for all three major island regions of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Aside from flights, you can also travel through the different regions via ferry.

Flights to/from Luzon

The country’s largest international airport is Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which can be found in the city of Pasay in Luzon. NAIA is the most common starting point for other airports in the country, as it has numerous connecting flights to Visayas and Mindanao. 

Another international airport in Luzon is Clark International Airport in Pampanga which services flights that usually have less expensive fares to destinations in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Clark is around 90km away from Manila, so you need to ride a bus or hire a transfer to get there. 

Flights to/from Visayas

For those wanting to hop from Luzon or Mindanao to Visayas, there are regular flights from Manila in Luzon and Davao in Mindanao to and from Cebu's Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Visayas. Cebu's airport also services international flights from Hong Kong, Singapore, Doha, and Quanzhou, so you can fly here directly if you want to explore destinations in Visayas like Cebu, Boracay (take a connecting flight), and Bohol (ride a ferry from Cebu). 

There are also connecting flights from Cebu airport going to Mindanao destinations like Siargao. 

Flights to/from Mindanao

Mindanao's main entry point is the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City. There are also regular flights from Manila in Luzon and Cebu in Visayas to and from Davao. Davao's airport also services international flights from Hong Kong, Singapore, Doha, and Quanzhou.

It's best to fly here directly if you want to visit Mindanao destinations such as Davao City and Samal Island.

By Ferry

If you have more time to spare and would want a cheaper option, getting on a Roll-on/roll-off Terminal System (RoRo) or ferries is another option to get around. The RoRo system is an integration of roads and ports that connect the major islands of the Philippines. 

You can board public buses that traverse the RoRo routes or drive your own car. The land vehicles will be boarded (roll-on) on the ferry and dock at the port of the destination, where you can alight the ferry (roll-off) and drive to the next port or explore your next destination. 

Travel Tips for Exploring the Philippines

Take note of these important information to help you have a hassle-free trip in the Philippines:


Currency of the Philippines - the Philippines Peso

The country’s currency is Philippine Peso (PHP). Some establishments, especially in Manila, Cebu, Davao, and other major tourist spots, accept cashless payments either via credit or debit card.

However, the Philippines is still a largely cash-based economy, so make sure to have enough cash with you, especially if you’re traveling to places frequented less by travelers, as stores and transportation may still require you to pay via cash.

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are commonly found inside malls but it’s always safer to transact in ATMs in banks. 


Aside from the vibrant Philippine tourism geography and culture, warm and hospitable people, and scenic spots, another advantage of the Philippines over its neighboring Asia countries is its English-speaking population, making it easier for foreigners to travel around the country.

The majority of Filipinos know how to speak and understand English and so conversing with tourists isn’t such a big challenge. If you need anything or need to ask for directions, you’ll most likely get the answer you need and find Filipinos always willing to help.

Since the country is divided into islands, each region will most likely have a local language but the majority speak Filipino, the country's national language. 

Start Planning Your Trip Around the Philippines

Palawan beaches and landscapes

Wherever part of the Philippines you find yourself, the geographical characteristics of the Philippines will give you everything you crave as an explorer. From picturesque beaches that you can explore via island-hopping in the Philippines and spectacular landscapes to the warm smiles of its people and rich history, there's something in here for any kind of traveler.  Those who want to indulge will enjoy staying at one of the 5-star hotels in the Philippines or glamping in the Philippines.

Bookmark this guide to help you plan your Philippine adventure and complete your online trip booking. Read our travel guides and browse tours and activities to add to your Philippine itinerary, or browse our collection of Philippine trip packages, including vacation packages for couples and all-inclusive family vacation packages

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