When it comes to tropical destinations, Bali tops the list of many travelers around the world. Its natural wonders, laid-back vibe, and distinct charm make it a destination worthy of many people’s travel bucket lists.
But if you’re looking for alternatives to Bali, you should consider the Philippines! Also located in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is home to gorgeous beaches, stunning islands, homey villas, cool surfing spots, and unique cafés and restaurants. You might even be surprised that there are many Bali-inspired resorts in the Philippines! There is also no scarcity of nightlife spots, so you can enjoy your trip 24/7.
In fact, the Philippines has its own reputation for having some of the best islands in the world, thanks to its tropical weather, white sand beaches, delicious Filipino food, colorful Philippine festivals, unique culture, and hospitable and friendly locals. It also doesn’t hurt that it is one of the most affordable countries to visit, having a variety of options when it comes to budget hotels, cheap food, and affordable transportation.
If you’re looking for places like Bali, here are several destinations in the Philippines that you should definitely visit:
With its laid-back atmosphere, this teardrop-shaped island in Mindanao is one of the best tropical vacation destinations in the Philippines. Like Bali, Siargao is a popular surfing destination and is considered the Surfing Capital of the Philippines.
It is home to Cloud 9, which, during the rainy season, can see waves as high as 12 feet! Beginners will enjoy the waves during the summer season, as the swells are tamer, ideal for those who are just learning to surf.
Apart from being one of the top surfing spots in the Philippines, Siargao is also home to several tourist attractions. Siargao tourist spots that you can’t miss during your visit are Sugba Lagoon, Naked Island, and Guyam Island. You can book Siargao tours to these spots for a hassle-free experience.
Even though the island is one of the top tourist spots in Mindanao, it’s still relatively affordable to go on a vacation here, as there are many budget accommodations in Siargao, including hostels and homestays. The island is one of the best places in the Philippines to travel alone, and with Siargao motorbike rentals being cheap, it’s easy to explore.
Those who can afford a bit more luxury can book Siargao tour packages. Visitors also have many options when it comes to dining, as there are a variety of restaurants in Siargao that serve different cuisines at different price points.
2. El Nido, Palawan
Considered by many as one of the best islands in the world, El Nido has charmed visitors with its clear waters, pristine islands, gorgeous beaches, and breathtaking limestone cliffs. This municipality in Palawan has a laid-back vibe reminiscent of Bali but offers so much more.
Most El Nido tourist spots are beaches, lagoons, and caves that are only accessible via El Nido island hopping tours, and this experience is nothing short of idyllic. During these tours, you won’t just be able to see stunning vistas and some of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines, but you will also experience the hospitality of the locals firsthand.
Some of the stops you can see during these tours include Big Lagoon, Secret Beach, Snake Island, and Cathedral Cave. These picturesque destinations make El Nido one of the top tourist spots in Luzon and one of the most romantic places in the Philippines.
While known for its Philippine luxury resorts, El Nido is host to a variety of accommodations. You’ll find mid-range resorts in El Nido, as well as budget accommodations and hostels. A lot of these more affordable accommodations are also near the best restaurants in El Nido, so you won’t need to go far to sample the best local food.
If you’re looking for places similar to Bali but cheaper, give Siquijor a try. At 343 square kilometers, this island in the Central Visayas region is the third smallest province in the country. While it mirrors Bali in terms of its stunning beaches and lush forests, it has a fascinating culture that involves witchcraft and mysticism that is unique to the island. It is also one of the most underrated places in the Philippines.
You’ll get to experience this firsthand when you visit the Old Enchanted Balete Tree. Located in the municipality of Lazi, the tree is believed to be over 400 years old. Apart from its massive branches and twisting roots, what makes it even more mysterious and extraordinary is the cold spring that flows from its base.
If ancient magic does not interest you, you can always visit other Siquijor tourist spots, including the Tulapos Marine Sanctuary, home to a rich marine life that makes it perfect for snorkeling; Paliton Beach, a white-sand beach lined with coconut trees that is perfect for a lazy afternoon, and Cambugahay Falls, which features small cascades that flow into a large basin of turquoise waters and is considered one of the most scenic waterfalls in the Philippines. To ensure a seamless experience, you can book Siquijor tours for your trip.
4. La Union
Tourists coming from Manila who want to visit destinations like Bali are in luck as La Union is accessible via a road trip. The 270-km trip to the province usually takes around 4 hours and 20 minutes. Like Bali, La Union is also known for its swells, and surfers regularly visit Barangay Urbiztodo in San Juan to ride its waves.
Urbiztondo Beach is known for its consistent waves and laid-back surf culture. More advanced surfers go here, especially from July to March. Beginners can learn how to surf in Bacnotan, which has calmer waves that are perfect for first-timers. Surfing is one of the biggest draws of the province, which is why you’ll also find plenty of resorts in La Union in San Juan. Several of the top restaurants in La Union can also be found in this area.
If you’re not much into surfing, you can find other La Union tourist spots that are similar to Bali’s. You can drop by Kamay na Bato, a quirky art gallery that features large stone carvings, visit Tangadan Falls, a two-tier cascade where you can enjoy swimming and cliff-jumping, and stop at Ma-Cho Temple, the Philippines’ first Taoist Temple, which also offers panoramic views of the West Philippine Sea. Some La Union tours already include these three attractions and more.
Located in the northernmost part of Cebu, Bantayan Island is known for some of the most stunning white sand beaches in the Philippines, a lush mangrove forest, and eco-tourism sites that promote responsible tourism. Some of the Bantayan Island tourist spots that deserve a place on your bucket list are Virgin Island, Kota Beach, and the Obo-Ob Mangrove Garden, which features bamboo walkways that will give your travel photos a rustic appeal.
- Book Cebu tours for your trip
- Check out our Cebu tour packages
- See our Philippine scuba diving packages
Moalboal, on the other hand, is known for its chill beach vibes and underwater attractions, making it one of the best diving spots in the Philippines.
Its most popular activity is the sardine run, where a large school of sardines swims in unison to form a massive shimmering wall underwater. This phenomenon can be seen year-round and occurs just near the shore of Panagsama Beach, so pretty much everyone who can swim and have snorkeling gear can enjoy it. This beach is also home to restaurants and bars where you can enjoy sunset views and have a drink.
Other Moalboal tourist spots you can include in your itinerary are Pescador Island and the much quieter and starfish-filled Lambug Beach. You can visit these spots and more when you book Moalboal tours.
Known as one of the best summer holiday destinations in the Philippines, Boracay is a must-visit for any first-time to the country. While this island is the most touristy destination on this list, it can still be a great alternative to Bali, thanks to its pristine beaches and lively nightlife.
White Beach, one of the best beaches in the Philippines, is the island’s main attraction and where you can find many resorts in Boracay. It’s also a meet-up point for many Boracay tours, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find the most tourists here.
But the island does have its pockets of calm that can be found in other Boracay tourist spots. For a quieter beach experience, you can visit Puka Beach, Diniwid Beach, Manoc-Manoc Beach, or Cagban Beach. If you want a panoramic view of the island, you can go on a short trek up Mount Luho.
After catching the world-famous Boracay sunset, you can head to one of the bars on the island for a fun night out. There are plenty of options when it comes to Boracay nightlife, but most of the bars can be found along White Beach.
Explore these Philippine Destinations if You Loved Bali
In many ways, the best places to visit in the Philippines are similar to Bali in terms of natural attractions and a laid-back atmosphere. But each of the destinations listed here has its own unique charm, and if you have the time, it’s still better to visit all of them so that you can experience the best Philippine tours and experiences.
Whether or not you choose to explore these destinations on one trip or through several return visits to the country, one hassle-free way to explore them is to book Philippine travel packages. This way, you can see for yourself that these destinations are as awe-inspiring as, if not more than, Bali.
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