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Philippines Travel Guide: Everything You Need to Know

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Caramoan Island in Camarines Sur, Philippines

IMPORTANT: The destinations featured in this article may have COVID-19 travel restrictions and requirements. Check our COVID-19 Philippines travel requirements guide for details.

 

Discover the treasures of the Philippines from beaches and islands, highlands, historical spots, and must-try food and fun activities. Find out the best time to visit and the best tourist spots. Learn how to get around from the Manila airport. Discover the best places to eat. Take inspiration from a 2-week itinerary that will take you around the best destinations in the country. Read this article for an introduction to traveling around the Philippines. 

It can be difficult to decide where to travel first in the Philippines. There are so many beautiful, postcard-worthy white sand beaches and pristine islands all over the Philippines, complete with crystal clear waters and rich and diverse marine life.



Travelers who love swimming would find it hard to leave, as idyllic beach trips, exciting island-hopping adventures, and incredible diving tours are abundant here. The Philippines' beaches are among the best in the world as well, whether it's white sand, black volcanic sand, or even pink sand in some places. 

Sea of clouds at Mt. PulagAside from its famed island and beach destinations, the country offers other natural wonders and activities too. You can try mountain hiking and trekking adventures with stunning views of a sea of clouds. There are also waterfalls trips and sightseeing escapades to man-made rice terraces, centuries-old historical landmarks, and architecture.



You can also take your pick from the Philippines' best festivals that showcase the locals' culture and experience unique food trips that will get you craving for more Filipino food

If you're traveling to the Philippines soon, this ultimate guide has everything you need to know to plan your trip. 

Best Time to Go to the Philippines

Cloud 9 in Siargao, Surigao del Norte

The Philippines has two distinct seasons, wet and dry. The dry season starts from November until June. These months are considered the best time to travel to most destinations in the Philippines.

The wet season, on the other hand, is from July to October. During this time, an average of nine typhoons hit the Philippines and may cause flooding and landslides in some areas. While not all typhoons make landfall, the heavy rains may still affect your trip, so make sure to check weather forecasts. 

Note, though, that it doesn’t rain every day, nor does it rain the whole day during the wet season, unless there is a typhoon. It's still best to check the weather forecast for your Philippine destinations when planning a trip. Weather-wise, here’s what you can expect when traveling in the Philippines and where to go.

January to March | Ideal Months to Travel in the Philippines

Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, Philippines

January to March is usually the ideal period to travel to the Philippines. Even if there are bigger chances of precipitation, these are the months of the year when the temperature is cooler. The month of March also signals the upcoming festivals and the long weekend of Holy Week (Easter).

These months also highlight some of the biggest and grandest festivities:

April to June | Summer and Peak Season in the Philippines

White sand beach in Malapascua, Cebu

During this time, the temperature and humidity levels are highest. This marks the summer season in the Philippines, which is also a school break for Filipino students. Locals plan beach getaways or vacations in their hometowns. Expect that beach resorts will most likely be fully booked and have higher rates. 

The sun is the strongest from April to June, so precautions are needed when spending most of the time under the sun. Lather sunblock every two hours to avoid sunburn.

Some popular summer destinations in the Philippines include:



Aside from beaches and island hopping tours in the Philippines, here are other summer season activities you can try:

  • Watch the Moriones Festival in Marinduque and how the people in Pampanga celebrate the season during Holy Week. Check some activities in Marinduque and tours in Pampanga.

  • Taste the freshest catch in Dagupan City during Bangus Festival every April.

  • Head to Quezon Province and witness the colorful Pahiyas Festival, a thanksgiving festival held every 15th of May.

  • Witness the festivities and watch the beautiful women of the country all dressed up during Flores De Mayo.

  • Take part during the different pistang bayan (town fiestas) in the provinces of Batangas and Bulacan. 

  • In June, take part in the combined Pintados-Kasadyaan festivals of Tacloban City that features a sailboat race, the Subiran Regatta, and the religious rite Balyuan. Join a Tacloban city tour to get the full experience.

  • Join the celebration of St. John the Baptist's feast day, where locals get doused with water on June 24th. It’s officially called the Wattah Wattah Festival or Basaan Festival in Filipino. It's usually celebrated in Batangas, Bataan, and Nueva Ecija, to name a few.

July to October | Rainy and Off-Peak Season in the Philippines  

Kadayawan Festival in Davao City, Philippines

The volume of rainfall in the Philippines increases from July to August. These months are considered the wettest months, although it does not necessarily mean that it will rain all day long.

When typhoons hit, most of the islands in the country are affected, making trips around the country (depending on where the typhoon hits) difficult. Expect flight delays and even cancellations in some cases.

Flights to different islands and beach resorts are cheaper during these months. Go to the beach, enjoy a food trip, or visit museums and historical places. Here are some other things to do in the Philippines on these months:

For Filipinos, Christmas or the holiday season starts as early as September or the beginning of the -ber months. Some establishments start to decorate their stores with Christmas ornaments as early as September 1st.

November to December | Holiday Season in the Philippines   

Christmas lanterns in the Philippines

November marks not only the beginning of the dry season but also the start of the long holiday celebration in the Philippines. These are the best months to visit Philippine cities because of the night markets, light and sound shows, and Christmas bazaars.



November to December are the best months to do your holiday shopping, as most malls are on sale and extended operating hours. However, there are other things you can do too:

  • Watch the Higantes Festival (giant paper effigies) in Rizal.

  • Appreciate a grand Christmas experience in San Fernando, Pampanga, and its Giant Lantern Festival. 

  • Enjoy the cold weather and admire the views of Banaue Rice Terraces while sipping a hot cup of tea or coffee in Benguet

Choosing the best time to visit the Philippines depends on what kind of activity you want to do. Come at different times to appreciate everything the country has to offer.

Geography of the Philippines

Map of the Philippines

The Philippines' geography is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Before planning a trip to the Philippines, it's important to know where your chosen destinations are. Your transportation, schedule, and budget will depend on the distances between each place. You can also book all-inclusive Philippines vacation packages that will take you around the top tourist spots in the country. 

Luzon

If you're outside the Philippines, your first destination will most likely be Manila, the Philippine capital located in Luzon.  Most connecting flights to other destinations in the countries continue from Manila.

The Luzon island group also includes other big islands and island groups like Palawan, Batanes, Baguio, and Vigan. Top Luzon activities include city sightseeing, beach adventures, and some island-hopping trips. Check out the top Luzon tourist spots that you should visit. 

Visayas

Visayas is located in the central part of the Philippines. Cebu is the main gateway to other Visayas destinations. Visayas is home to destinations like Boracay, Bohol, Iloilo, Negros Region, Leyte, and Siquijor. The top activities and best tourist spots in Visayas include idyllic beaches, island-hopping, outdoor adventures, and food tours.

Mindanao

Mindanao is located in the southern part of the Philippines. Davao City is the main gateway to other destinations in this island group, which includes Siargao, Camiguin, Zamboanga, and Cagayan de Oro, to name a few. Top things to do and best tourist spots in Mindanao include outdoor adventures, beach escapades, and island-hopping.



Given the number and variety of things to do here, filling your itinerary for a week or so when traveling in the Philippines won’t be a problem. 

Arriving at Manila Airport: What You Need to Know      

Inside Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines

Like any metropolitan city, Manila can be confusing for first-time visitors, starting with arriving at the airport. Manila international airport, officially known as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) or Manila Airport, has four terminals, which are not connected via airport rail link. Consider this when booking your flights, as inter-airline transfers may be complicated.

However, there are now Point-to-Point (P2P) shuttle buses that you can board to transfer airports, or you can book a taxi or Grab car via the Grab App (like Uber) if you have connecting flights. These transport options take public roads, so allot sufficient transfer time if you plan to transit between airlines. Here's a rundown of these four airport terminals:

NAIA Terminal 1

Terminal 1 serves all the international flights from and to Manila except for the ones operated by airlines in NAIA Terminal 2 and NAIA Terminal 3.

NAIA Terminal 2

Terminal 2 houses the domestic and international flights of the country's flag carrier, Philippine Airlines, and its affiliate PAL express. This terminal is also known as the Centennial Terminal to commemorate the centennial declaration of Philippine independence.

NAIA Terminal 3

Terminal 3 caters to international flights operated by Cathay Pacific Air, AirAsia, Emirates Airline, Cebu Pacific Air, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Delta Air Lines, All Nippon Air, and Singapore Airlines, as well as all domestic flights of Cebu Pacific Air. It has a transit lounge (airport hotel) and a massage place.

NAIA Terminal 4

Terminal 4, the smallest of the four, serves domestic flights from CebGo, AirSwift, and SkyJet. Some AirAsia flights depart from here as well, so check your tickets closely. 

Outside Manila: Clark International Airport

A secondary international airport nearest to Manila is Clark International Airport. It takes two to three hours to travel from Manila to Clark, which is 93 kilometers away. One transport option is through the Premium point-to-point (P2P) Bus Service. This bus service has a station at NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City, which is ideal if you come from the southern part of Metro Manila. If you're coming from the northern part of Metro Manila, take the P2P bus from its North EDSA MRT / Trinoma Station in Quezon City.

You can also hire a car rental service from Clark to Manila for a more comfortable and private transportation. 



Philippine peso bills

Currency Exchange and ATMs

All airport terminals have money changers open 24/7 in both the arrivals and departure areas. There are ATMs as well that accept foreign-issued cards though fees may apply.

Free SIM Card

Once you arrive in Manila airports, take advantage of the free SIM cards given by the Philippines' major telecommunications companies: Globe and Smart. You can top up your credit in convenience stores like 7-Eleven all over the country.

Transportation to and from the Manila airports

All Manila airports have taxi stands. You can get a coupon taxi (white) that’s dispatched by airport personnel and charged a fixed price or a yellow taxi that’s metered. Both are more expensive than regular white taxis but relatively safer to use.

There are also shuttle buses that will take you to the nearest metro station. However, if it’s your first time in the Philippines, taking this route is not as comfortable as taking either an airport taxi or booking an accredited taxi/cab, hire Manila car rental services, or carpool through the Grab App.

How to Get Around the Philippines

Jeepneys in Manila, Philippines

The primary way of going around the Philippines is by buses, planes, and ships/ferries. Boat rides are great for inter-island trips with short distances; for everywhere else, flights are recommended.

Depending on when you visit, you can find a lot of cheap flights in the Philippines. In fact, sometimes it’s cheaper to book a flight than a ferry. The biggest flight carriers are Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, and AirAsia 

Within small towns and cities, the primary modes of transport are bus, jeepney, or tricycle (like Thailand’s tuk-tuk or India’s auto-rickshaw, but smaller). In addition, major cities have taxi cabs and the Grab app. Only Manila has the metro system. 

Hotels in the Philippines

Stilt cottages at Pearl Farm in Samal Island of Davao, Philippines

It is not hard to find accommodations in the Philippines. In top destinations, you would find various options, from 1- to 5-star hotels, ranging in price from budget to luxury. 

For budget travelers, there are numerous hostels, guesthouses, and homestays all over the country. Note that budget places are less likely to have a hot shower available, and in some places, there would be no Wifi.

It's highly recommended to book at least one night (or more) in advance, especially in popular destinations like Boracay, Palawan, and Puerto Galera during peak season (e.g., summer and holidays).

Read our selection of the best hotels and resorts in top destinations in the Philippines: 

Best hotels and resorts in Luzon

Best hotels and resorts in Visayas

Best hotels and resorts in Mindanao

Best theme hotels and resorts in the Philippines

Must-Visit Tourist Spots in the Philippines

With over 7000 islands, you will definitely need to prioritize when deciding on the places to visit in the Philippines. Much depends, of course, on how long you will have in the country and what you are interested in doing. For starters, you can check out our article on the top tours in the Philippines.

Here are some of the most popular destinations in the Philippines that you shouldn't miss out on: 

Manila | The Capital of the Philippines

Sunset at Philippines' Manila CathedralMany visitors skip the capital city of Manila and only go here as a jump-off point for their forward destination in the country. Like any metropolis, it’s big and populated. However, this bustling city has many interesting attractions and activities that you shouldn't miss. 

It has, for example, the old Spanish fortress in Intramuros that provides you with a glimpse of what the city used to be under over three centuries of Spanish rule. Nowhere is the Spanish influence seen more clearly than in the Walled City, from the cobbled streets to the restored houses. Make sure to join Intramuros tours to get the full experience.



Highlights in Intramuros include the old churches of San Agustin, built in 1587, and the Manila Cathedral, originally built in 1571 and governed by the Archdiocese of Mexico. Outside Intramuros, there’s also the historic Quiapo Church, whose annual Feast of the Black Nazarene every January attracts millions of devotees.

Binondo, Manila at night

You can also try some of the trips around Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world. You can also watch one of the best sunsets in the Philippines along the Manila Bay at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex.

When booking a hotel, we recommend booking accommodations either in Manila City or in Makati City. Both of these destinations have plush hotels, high-end shopping malls, and various bars and restaurants that offer a range of local and international cuisines.

Palawan | Gateway to the Best Islands in the Philippines

Palawan's limestone karst, white sand beach, and turquoise watersThe island province of Palawan definitely deserves its title as one of the world’s most beautiful islands and one of the best places to visit in the Philippines. You will see it for yourself once you go island hopping in Palawan.

You’ll see beautiful powdery, white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, towering limestones, hidden lagoons, and even a safari. 

Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, is often the first place that travelers go to, as it has frequent and affordable flights to and from Manila and Cebu. It is home to the Underground River, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. The city is the jump-off point for Honda Bay island hoppingUnderground River tour, and several Palawan destinations like El Nido and San Vicente.



Coron is another popular destination in Palawan. There are direct flights and boats from Manila to Coron (via Busuanga Airport, an hour from Coron town proper), making it a possible first destination for the Palawan leg of your Philippine itinerary.

If you’re into water activities, Coron is the getaway you might be looking for. It is best known for wreck diving and snorkeling, island hopping to hidden lagoons surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, and the iconic Kayangan Lake.

Google Coron, Palawan, and the first photo you'll see is of the view going to the freshwater lake. It's why Coron island-hopping is popular with both locals and internationals.

Kayangan Lake in Coron, Palawan

Coron is the best place for wreck diving because it has a handful of sunken ships hidden beneath its waters, some of which are big enough to be explored inside, while some are shallow enough to be seen by snorkelers. If you're not a certified diver, dive shops in Coron have Discover Scuba activities too.



El Nido is another well-known destination in Palawan. Over the years, the town has transformed from one that doesn’t even have an ATM and 24-hour electricity into a popular holiday destination.

There are regular island-hopping trips in El Nido that take you to various islands and beaches such as the Hidden Beach, Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Hidden Lagoon, Paradise Beach, and Natnat Beach, among others.



Boracay Island | Tropical Paradise

Top view of Willy's Rock at White Beach Boracay, Philippines

Boracay became a popular destination for local and international travelers because of its fine, white sandy beaches (led by the famous White Beach), its combination of a party and family-friendly atmosphere, its many accommodations across budgets.

Watching sunsets may be cliché to some, but the sunset in Boracay is definitely one of the best you’ll see in the country. The silhouette of sailboats, the shadows of people walking along the shore, and the sky turning from blue to a fiery red and into a faint orange is an image you won’t quickly forget.

Beautiful sunset in Boracay, PhilippinesIt's why a luxury sunset yacht cruise tour is a must-try on the island. You can also try other fun activities in Boracay's White Beach like wakeboarding, parasailing, paraw sailing, paddle boarding, helmet diving, speedboat riding, banana boat ride, and jet ski experience.

Most Boracay accommodations are lined up in White Beach grouped into Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3. However, you can easily visit the other beaches there during your stay. Puka Beach, for example, may not have sand as fine as White Beach, but if you go early enough, you can avoid the crowds and have a relaxing hour or two by the beach.

Bulabog Beach is becoming a popular destination for kitesurfers. The winds here are strong enough for those who want to try something new or improve their skill. There are several shops offering lessons and provide rental gear too. 

You’ll have plenty of options in Boracay when it comes to food, as there are markets, budget restaurants, Western food, buffets, and bars that cater to different kinds of tastes. Read our article on the best restaurants in Boracay to learn more. There are fun activities like Boracay pub crawls too! Indeed, Boracay is the destination to be if you want a bit of everything in one place.



Cebu | Islands, Diving, Historical Sites, and More

Magellan's Cross in Cebu City, Philippines

The province of Cebu is another popular place to visit because of the range of natural, historical, and cultural attractions. 

Bantayan Island and Malapascua Island in the north are famous beach destinations because of their pristine beaches and sky-blue waters. Visitors usually combine a trip to these two destinations. Both islands provide a laid-back atmosphere if you want to just spend the whole day relaxing. 

Malapascua is best known for its thresher sharks. It's the only place in the world where this species is consistently seen almost every day. 

Bantayan Island, on the other hand, is more for beach bumming and snorkeling. It has a healthy coral garden you can explore and a long coastline of white sandy beaches.

Make sure to go to the south of Cebu as well and include Moalboal in your Philippine itinerary. This is where you can experience the famous sardine run tour. Seeing the hundreds of thousands of sardines swimming beneath you (or above you if you choose to dive) is definitely an awesome experience unique to Cebu.

A must-try during your visit to Cebu is the fun canyoneering experience. It is an adrenaline-pumping activity where you jump into a pool of water from around 25 meters high. You’ll also get to trek and enjoy some moderate hiking activities and take the plunge at the azure waters of Kawasan Falls. 

Other places of interest in Cebu province include hiking Osmeña Peak, trekking to Tumalog Falls, lounging in Tingko Beach, Lambug Beach, and Basdaku Beach, just to name a few.



Cebu City, the capital of Cebu province, is cosmopolitan and developed. You can join a historical tour in Cebu that will take you to sites like Magellan’s Cross, as well as old churches and museums, among others. There is a variety of restaurants offering local and international food, too.

If you’re a meat-eater, never miss the famous lechon (suckling pig) that Anthony Bourdain called “the best pig ever.” There are countless bars and shopping malls for entertainment as well.

The Queen City of the South has the second busiest airport in the Philippines located in Mactan, flying to 25 domestic and 22 international destinations. From here, the best beaches in Cebu are easily accessible by private transportation and public buses. 

You also have several options for accommodation, whether you want to splurge or stick to a tight budget.

Bohol | Countryside and Island Tours

Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines

The island of Bohol is another must-include in your Philippine itinerary. You can do a countryside day tour of Bohol, but why spend only one day in one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Philippines?

Bohol has many beaches and activities for those who want to see more of the region. Make sure to explore Panglao Island to make your trip more fun and exciting! Start your trip by trying Alona Beach activities such as fly fish, UFO, parasailing, banana boat ride, and many more.

A trip to Bohol is incomplete without making Chocolate Hills trips. These green hills that turn brown during the summer months will remind you of Hershey’s Kisses, hence the name. The viewpoint was affected by the major earthquake in 2015, but it has since been restored.

Another must-see is the tarsier, a tiny primate (around 3.5 to 6 inches long) with huge eyes that can only be found in Southeast Asia. You can visit tarsier sanctuaries in Bohol, where you can see these tiny and cute creatures (do not hold or touch them, though).

While in Bohol, try the Loboc River Cruise experience. It provides you with a relaxing and scenic way to see the countryside while feasting on Filipino cuisine and being serenaded by local performers.

Bohol also has relics of Spanish colonial times; you’ll see several old churches that provide you with a glimpse of the province’s historical and cultural heritage. While some of these churches were destroyed during the 2015 earthquake, most of them have been restored, including Baclayon Church.

These destinations are only some of the best places to visit in the Philippines. The country has plenty more to offer travelers with various budgets and preferences for their trip. 

What to Eat in the Philippines  

Filipino food

Filipino food is one of the most underrated in Asia. Most international visitors know what to expect from Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese food but are usually totally clueless about the Philippines' local cuisine. 

Filipino cuisine is actually one of the most diverse in the world. Because of its colonial past, it has influences from the west as much as it has oriental roots. Note, though, that the cuisine is meat-heavy. Vegetarian or vegan guests traveling outside major cities may find it hard to look for restaurants that provide vegetarian or vegan options.

If you are a first-time visitor in the Philippines and don’t know what Filipino food to try, here are some of the best food in the Philippines that you should keep on the lookout for in your culinary and food trips.

1. Adobo

Pork Adobo with rice in the PhilippinesAdobo is a popular Filipino dish and a cooking process in Filipino cuisine. It involves meat or seafood cooked in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper. Some regions have their own version by adding more ingredients, but the base flavor remains the same.

The name adobo was given by the Spanish due to the similarity to adobo or adobar, a cooking practice that also uses vinegar and soy sauce indigenous to Iberia. It is considered the unofficial national dish of the Philippines due to its popularity across all regions.

2. Sisig

Sisig is a favorite pulutan (food eaten with alcohol) accompanied by a local beer. The dish is made of chopped parts of a pig’s head and liver. Onions, chopped chili peppers, eggs, and calamansi are added. It is normally served in sizzling plates.

This appetizing dish originated from Pampanga, the culinary capital of the Philippines. Hundreds of sisig variations are available today, such as tuna, squid, tuna, milkfish, and mussels. If you are looking for a vegetarian version of Sisig, some restaurants serve mushrooms and tofu sisig. Read more about it on our travel guide to Pampanga.

3. Lechon 

Lechon in Cebu. PhilippinesA Filipino party is not complete without lechon. Lechon is a suckling pig roasted to perfection. The whole pig is skewered on a large bamboo stick and spit-roasted over burning charcoal.

The pig is roasted for hours with occasional basting. It is served with a local sauce in some regions. One of the most famous foods in the Philippines, lechon is a must-try for anyone coming to the country. The best lechon in the Philippines are from Cebu. Read our travel guide to Cebu to learn more about it.

4. Sinigang

Sinigang is a Filipino soup or stew characterized by its sour and savory broth. A classic Filipino dish, sinigang is what most Filipino kids ask their moms for if they are sick. The sour taste is from the use of tamarind to flavor the broth.

This traditional food in the Philippines has evolved so much that several tamarind alternatives are being used these days. It includes guava, mango, kamias, santol, and even watermelon.

5. Caldereta

Caldereta is another classic Filipino dish and stew. This savory dish is cooked originally using goat meat, but beef, chicken, or pork can also be used these days.

Tomato sauce, liver spread, vegetables, bell peppers, and cheese are added to the meat. The name of the dish is derived from the Spanish word caldera or cauldron in English. 

6. Crispy Pata

Crispy pata or pork knuckles is a famous Filipino pork dish among Filipino family dinners.

This dish is made by boiling the entire pork knuckles with seasonings for 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender. It is then frozen overnight with another batch of seasonings and then deep-fried until the skin is crispy. 

7. Chicken Inasal

Chicekn Inasal with rice in the PhilippinesChicken inasal is grilled chicken marinated in vinegar, calamansi, and annatto oil. This delicious dish came from Bacolod and was popularized by several restaurant chains around the Philippines. Check out our travel guide to Bacolod to find out where you can taste the best chicken inasal in the Philippines. 

8. Dinuguan

The name dinuguan derives from the word “dugo” or blood; hence the word dinuguan means “to be stewed with blood.” It is made of pig’s blood and offal.

Dinuguan is similar to the Irish black pudding except that it is a stew instead of sausage. Aside from being eaten with rice, Filipinos also pair it with puto (steamed rice cake).

9. Fish Kinilaw

Fish kinilaw is the ceviche of the Philippines. Made of raw fish, this appetizing dish is denatured using vinegar as a primary ingredient. Onions, ginger, chili peppers, black peppers, and calamansi are added for flavoring.

Popular fish used for kinilaw includes yellowfin tuna, mackerels, and marlins. 

10. Halo-Halo

Halo-halo ice dessert in the Philippines

Halo-halo is a Filipino favorite snack or merienda. This cold snack and dessert consists of crushed ice, evaporated milk, and various ingredients such as beans, jellies, tapioca pearls, mixed fruits, leche flan, purple yam, and even ice cream.

Halo-halo is extremely popular, especially during the summer months, to cool off from the heat. You can find a lot of food stands selling halo-halo in the local neighborhoods.

11. Taho

Taho (soy pudding) is a popular street food in the Philippines. This healthy snack is made of soft tofu, caramelized brown sugar, and tapioca pearls. It is comfort food that you can buy from street peddlers, usually in the morning. In local neighborhoods, local peddlers walk or bike around houses. When you hear a deep voice shouting "taho," just shout back "taho" to call the peddler's attention to buy a cup. 

12. Balut

Balut in the Philippines

For non-Filipinos, you might have heard of balut from your adventurous friends who keep telling you that you have never been to the Philippines if you haven’t tried this Filipino street food.

Balut is a boiled fertilized egg embryo that is eaten from a shell. Don’t let it scare you, though; balut tastes like an ordinary egg with a tasty soup. It's usually sold in the streets at night, with some vendors going around local neighborhoods at night shouting "balot."

Suggested 2-Week Itinerary in the Philippines        

Traveler in Coron, Palawan

Creating an itinerary for a trip to the Philippines can be difficult, especially for a first-time visitor. This 2-week itinerary in the Philippines will give you an idea of how to maximize your time in the country.

Day 1: Manila

If you only have 2 weeks, a day tour in the capital city Manila is enough. If you're spending more time here, check out our Ultimate Travel Guide to Manila

Things to do in Manila for 1 day:

  • Explore Intramuros. It used to be the center of government during Spanish times.

  • Visit Rizal Park. It’s a favorite leisure spot for the locals.

  • Watch the Manila Bay sunset along Roxas Boulevard.  

Ride a night bus going to Baguio and travel to Banaue.


Day 2-3: Banaue 

Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines

The mountain province of Banaue is famous for its iconic rice terraces. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and often called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Located at around 1500 meters above sea level, it uses an ancient irrigation system where water comes from the rainforest above it. 

Things to do in Banaue for 2 days:

  • Walk around the rice terraces.

  • Check out the local village and watch an Ifugao cultural show.

  • Trek to Batad and check out Tappiya Waterfalls. Depending on when you go, you can swim there, too.

Take a night bus going back to Manila so you can arrive early the following day. 


Day 4: Layover in Manila + Fly to El Nido

If you have time to explore Manila before your flight, head to the bustling city of Makati, where you can explore shopping malls or parks, and treat yourself to a good meal or a bit of shopping. Make sure to withdraw enough cash for El Nido, Palawan.

The ATMs in El Nido don't always have enough cash. Many places don’t accept credit cards yet, so you might want to plan just in case.


Day 5-7: El Nido, Palawan

El Nido, Palawan in the PhilippinesMost travelers go to El Nido by flying to Puerto Princesa and then traveling by land for 5-6 hours to El Nido. To save time, flying direct from Manila to El Nido is a good option. Only AirSwift flies direct, and the airfare may be more expensive. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, and AirAsia have daily flights to Puerto Princesa.

Things to do in El Nido for 3 days:

  • Join an El Nido island hopping trip which runs for a full day. Each tour has a different itinerary, so it’s up to you to select which sites you would like to visit. You can allot 1 tour a day.

  • Do the Taraw Cliff climb and see the stunning view of the town and the islands. 

  • Drink beers or cocktails and watch the sunset of El Nido in Las Cabanas.


Day 8-9: Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Underground River in Puerto Princesa, PalawanPuerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan. It is home to the UNESCO Heritage site and the “New 7 Wonders of Nature,” the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Leave early for Puerto Princesa from El Nido on Day 8 since travel time is around 5-6 hours.

Things to do in Puerto Princesa for 1 day:


Day 10-12: Bohol

Loboc River Cruise in Bohol, Philippines

You can’t fly directly to Bohol from Puerto Princesa, but you can fly to Cebu and then take a ferry to Tagbilaran, Bohol. The flight takes about an hour while the fast ferry takes about 2 hours.

Several fast ferries travel between Cebu and Bohol, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding transport to Bohol.

No advance booking is necessary. Just go to the ferry terminal in Pier 4 North Reclamation Area.

Things to do in Bohol for 2 days:

  • Do the Bohol countryside tour where you can visit most top Bohol attractions like the Chocolate Hills, Loboc River, Bilar Man-Made Forest, Baclayon Church, and Blood Compact Shrine. 

  • Explore Alona Beach in Panglao Island. There are several bars and restaurants there if you need a break from lounging in the beach.

  • For more adventurous activities, a trip to Danao Adventure Park is where you can experience the Plunge (canyon drop) as well as other exhilarating activities.


Day 12-14: Cebu

Kawasan Falls in Cebu, PhilippinesOn Day 12, you can take a ferry to Cebu from Bohol. There are several trips during the day, and you won’t need to book your ticket in advance. Go to the pier in Tagbilaran and book the next trip.

Things to do in Cebu for 2 days:

There are several flights from Cebu to Manila, so going back to Manila on Day 14 won’t be a problem. Just make sure to check your flights and allot extra time for delays so you won’t miss your flight out of the country!

Frequently Asked Questions about Traveling to the Philippines Aerial view of Kota Beach in Bantayan Island of Cebu

Now that you know which destinations you should add to your trip to the Philippines take note of these helpful tips: 

Is it safe to visit the Philippines?

Generally, yes. But it's always best to keep your belongings secure at all times and be wary of strangers. 

There are some areas in Mindanao that international travelers best avoid due to the region's political instability. 

What are the Philippine citizens called?

We are called Filipinos (not Philippinos).

What languages are spoken in the Philippines?

The Philippines has two official languages: English and Filipino. This makes it easier for travelers to get around since English is widely understood and spoken.

While Spanish was the country's official language in the 19th and early 20th centuries, only a very small percentage of the population speak or understand it now.

A lot of words, however, derive their origin from Spanish. All over the Philippines, around 180 languages (and dialects) are spoken, 12 of which are used by at least one million people.

Do I need a visa to visit the Philippines? 

Passports holders from any country except the following either don't need a visa or can pay for a visa on arrival:

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • China
  • Cuba
  • Egypt
  • Georgia
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kosovo
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Macedonia
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Nauru
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Pakistan
  • Palestine
  • Sierra Leone
  • Serbia
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Taiwan (have to apply for an ETA online)
  • Timor-Leste
  • Tonga
  • Ukraine
  • Yemen

If unsure, double-check with your embassy.

Is Wifi widely available all over the country? 

Most hotels, hostels, and guesthouses in major cities would have Wifi connectivity, but the connection's quality varies widely, depending on location. You can use data but note that the signal can be weak to nonexistent in many islands. 

Can I use my credit card? 

Cash is still king in the Philippines. You can use credit cards in shopping malls and restaurants in major cities, but once you go out of the major cities, and especially in the islands, credit cards are not usually accepted.

Before leaving Manila or other major cities, make sure to acquire enough cash. A lot of destinations do have ATMs and money changers, but check before you leave.

Discover what the Philippines has to offer. With so many destinations to travel to, start planning your trip now! Read our travel guides to learn more and explore our collection of Philippine tours and activities for your trip. 

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