Made up of over 7,000 islands, the Philippines is a tropical paradise that boasts white sand beaches, majestic waterfalls, and more. Many destinations like Boracay, El Nido, Siargao, and Bohol have been recognized as top beach and island destinations in the world because of their stunning attractions, rivaling other famous tropical destinations like Bali, Indonesia.
If you're planning on traveling to the Philippines for the first time, it's highly recommended to go on a multi-destination trip to explore the best of this Southeast Asian country. However, organizing it can get challenging and confusing since you'll need to travel by air, land, and sea to get to the top places in the Philippines.
One of the best ways to have a hassle-free first time vacation in the Philippines is by booking multi-destination trips or all-inclusive Philippine travel packages with flights, airport transfers, hotels, and tours with credible travel agencies like Guide to the Philippines.
As the largest online marketplace for Philippine travel, Guide to the Philippines offers the best Philippine vacation packages and travel guides where you can find everything you need to know before going to the Philippines.
To help you plan for your first time to travel in the Philippines, we've listed down the 5 best places to go, what attractions and activities you shouldn’t miss, and why you should add them to your Philippine itinerary:
Home to the world-famous White Beach, Boracay Island in Visayas has consistently been a must-visit destination for anyone going to the Philippines for the first time. Aside from lounging on the best white sand beaches in the Philippines, travelers can go island-hopping in Boracay to visit island and snorkeling spots like Crystal Cove, ride a paraw during sunset, and even try scuba diving to explore the marine life of Boracay. Read our article on the top attractions and activities in Boracay when planning your itinerary.
In between your tours and activities, you can also dine at the top Boracay restaurants and go on a Boracay pub crawl in the evening to get a taste of the famous Boracay nightlife. You can also head to the beachside shopping center called D'Mall to shop for clothes and other essentials you can use during your getaway. With so much to offer, Boracay is easily a perfect vacation destination for all kinds of tourists, from families, couples, to group of friends.
Another great thing about Boracay is that travelers can choose from a wide variety of Boracay hotels and resorts that fit their needs, cementing its reputation as one of the best places to stay in the Philippines.
On White Beach alone, you can find luxury beachfront resorts from Station 0, to Station 1 Boracay, such as Shangri-La's Boracay Resort and Spa, Crimson Resort and Spa Boracay, and Discovery Shores Boracay. Meanwhile, you can find more affordable budget-friendly Boracay hotels like Astoria Current and The District Boracay in Stations 2 and 3.
The island province of Cebu sits in the Visayas region as well and boasts beautiful beaches and majestic waterfalls. This popular destination is also known as "The Gateway to a Thousand Journeys" since it is made up of nearly 170 islands that feature all kinds of attractions like the iconic Kawasan Falls, one of the top Visayas tourist spots, and the best waterfalls in the Philippines. These falls are a must-visit spot for adventure lovers as you'll get to go canyoneering, cliff jumping, and swimming here.
Cebu is also a hotspot for scuba diving courses in the Philippines because of its rich marine life. In Northern Cebu’s Bantayan Island, you'll find thriving coral reefs that house several species of colorful fish. Then when you head to Southern Cebu’s Oslob, you can go on Philippines whale shark watching tours to see these gentle giants up close.
Along with the province's breathtaking natural scenery, Cebu boasts a vibrant heritage as well. For starters, you can visit Museo Sugbo, one of the top museums in the Philippines, to get a glimpse into the local culture.
Another great way of immersing in Cebu's heritage is by tasting its most famous dish, lechon. It's made by slow-roasting a native pig stuffed with a mixture of local herbs and spices over a charcoal pit. While lechon is made in other provinces as well, Cebu's version has been favored by Filipinos everywhere due to its savory taste, making it a staple part of Philippine cuisine.
When putting together your Philippine itinerary, don't forget to include Palawan. This beautiful island province is located on the westernmost area in the country and is part of the Luzon region. It has also been named the nation's last ecological frontier since it's among the most biodiverse provinces in the Philippines.
For travelers planning a trip here, the best spots to explore are Puerto Princesa, Coron, and El Nido. Each district has its own charm and is home to lush forests, pristine beaches, and towering limestone formations.
Puerto Princesa's a great place to start your Palawan adventure since it's home to the world-famous Puerto Princesa Underground River, a must-visit attraction for Philippine tours. The river is also one of the UNESCO heritage sites in the Philippines due to the breathtaking rock formations and ecosystems that thrive here.
Meanwhile, Coron is better known for having some of the best diving spots in the Philippines, such as Barracuda Lake and various shipwreck sites. And last but not least, El Nido has become one of the best places to visit in the Philippines, thanks to the powdery beaches and pristine lagoons you can find here. During a trip to El Nido, it's also recommended to go on island-hopping tours so you can easily visit its various lagoons and islands.
Situated across the southeastern coast of Cebu, the island province of Bohol is another perfect destination in Visayas for first-time visitors to the Philippines. Its most popular attraction is the iconic Chocolate Hills, which gets its name from its resemblance to the dessert during the dry season.
Besides this natural wonder, the island province also features powdery white sand beaches that rival those of Boracay and Palawan. Among the best beaches here are Alona Beach and Dumaluan Beach on Panglao Island, which is also where some of the top honeymoon resorts in the Philippines are located.
When it comes to local cuisine, the best way to enjoy it is by going on a Loboc River cruise that includes a buffet of fresh seafood and other Filipino delicacies. After exploring and tasting the local food, you can go on a firefly river tour as well since the province's most prominent waterways are home to groups of these magical insects.
Known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, Siargao is one of the best tourist spots in Mindanao, the southern region of the country. This island's shores enjoy reliable surfing conditions all year round, making it home to the top surfing spots in the Philippines. Many locals also come here to learn the sport and enjoy Siargao's clear waters, beaches, and laid-back island vibe.
Aside from its reputation as a surfer's dream getaway, Siargao has more adventures and sceneries to offer curious visitors. A few meters off its shores, you can go island-hopping to visit Daku Island, Guyam Island, and Naked Island. Meanwhile, if you coast along the quiet town of Del Carmen, you can end up in the serene Sugba Lagoon. This 4000-hectare lagoon boasts calm turquoise waters perfect for a refreshing swim.
Siargao is also a great place for people who prefer to rent a motorcycle or rent a car since you can easily travel to the inland Siargao tourist spots at your own pace. Many of the roads here also pass through lush coconut tree forests, so you get a fantastic view as well while you make your way across the island.
Plan the best first trip to the Philippines
Discover the best tourist spots in the Philippines by visiting any of these destinations during your first trip to the Philippines. Along with enjoying the sights of Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, Bohol, and Siargao, these provinces offer ecotourism activities and cultural experiences that you can add to your itinerary as well.
You can also choose from various Philippine travel packages on Guide to the Philippines so you can enjoy a perfect first visit to the Philippines in a few clicks!
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