The Philippines is home to some of the best beaches in the world, picturesque views, historical landmarks, and mouth-watering Filipino dishes. Each of its thousands of islands is blessed with a variety of natural and man-made attractions.
The Philippines geography is divided into 3 main islands: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. If it's your first time exploring the Philippines, you will most likely be landing in the capital city of Manila, located in the island of Luzon.
Luzon is the country's (and 15th in the world's) largest island, roughly divided into four sections: Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, and the National Capital Region. These regions are accessible from Manila City by flights, and land vehicles like buses and private guided Luzon tours with transfers.
To help your plan a Philippine travel itinerary, we listed down 20 of the must-see Luzon island attractions. Places on this list vary in terms of accessibility. For instance, Palawan Island and Batanes Island are within an hour's trip or two by plane from Manila.
Meanwhile, the highlands of Tagaytay is barely 70 km away from the metro, making it a popular go-to weekend destination for locals. Some may take you on 4- to 6-hour drives. We've also included a few tourist spots near Manila City, some of which are right in the heart of the metro.
Buckle up and let us take you for a ride with these top Luzon tourist spots and learn the many reasons why visit the Philippines.
In the province of Sorsogon in the Bicol Region, you can swim with the Donsol whale sharks. If you love the sea and the majestic creatures that inhabit it, then Donsol whale shark tours are a must-try for you. One of the best Bicol tourist spots, here you will get the chance to observe whale sharks in their natural habitat.
With stern rules and practice in place, the Donsol Whale Shark program provides tourists with an exhilarating experience without compromising the safety of both tourists and wildlife. The local tourism boasts its protected tourist spot as the most heavily visited waters for whale sharks. There's no guarantee on how many sharks will be visible at any given time, but it's best to book during January to May when they are known to be in the area.
You can try this once-in-a-lifetime experience by booking a flight to Legazpi from Manila. Once landed, there's an hour-and-a-half land trip to get to Donsol. You can also arrange for private Bicol tours packaged with transfers. Alternatively, you can take a 13-hour bus ride straight from Manila to Donsol.
Barely an hour away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) or Manila Airport sits the oldest Chinatown in the world. Discover one of the best Manila tourist spots, Binondo, situated right in the heart of the country's city capital.
Binondo, also known as Chinatown District, is one of the top historical spots in the Philippines, serving as the center of commerce during the American occupation. Today, its old-timey charm, lively energy, and golden food finds continue to surprise the modern world.
There are a lot of Bindondo tours for you to explore in this Chinatown. Walking tours, food crawls, and bike tours are just some of the ways you can sightsee within this small yet inexplicably large space. There are tons to discover in Binondo; whether you're on the lookout for hidden food gems in Binondo restaurants or up for finding old churches, there's no shortage of activities for you to do.
One of the best times to visit Binondo Chinatown is during February, in time for Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival. There are plenty of festivities and tikoy rice cakes around this time! If you're looking for a more artsy vibe, walk over to Escolta, one of the popular streets in Manila, and see how young local artists revived the street and gave it a new life.
Baler is considered one of the top surfing spots in the Philippines. It captivates its visitors with its chill surfer vibes and splendid view of the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountain range.
Travel time to reach Baler, which is about 270 km from Manila, is roughly 5-6 hours. You can either drive up through the Manila-Cabanatuan-Baler route or hop on a bus that will take you straight to Baler without stopovers.
Don't miss your chance to catch some waves during your visit. Whether you're a complete novice or a pro, you have a whole lot of options along the shore for surfboard rentals and tutors.
When you get hungry after surfing, you can take your pick along the shore for a hearty grub. There is no shortage of food options, chill cafes, and artsy places for you to fill up and rest. There are also historical and natural tourist spots in Baler that you can check out aside from surfing. Baler hotels and resorts are available for longer stays.
If you're not up for a long drive, then take a short trip from Manila airport and visit the most iconic place in the capital, the Rizal Park. Also known as Luneta Park, this staple in Manila tours covers approximately 140 acres of land surrounding the Rizal Monument. It is a place built to pay homage to the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal.
Rizal Park has three sections: The northeastern section where you can find the National Museum Complex, the central section where the monument stands along with the Open-Air Auditorium, and the southwestern section that covers the Quirino Grandstand and the Manila Ocean Park.
Rizal Park offers a multitude of explorable areas and activities for local and international tourists to enjoy. Catch a performance at the Open-Air Auditorium, or be treated to a captivating light show at the Rizal Park Dancing Fountain. Walkthrough its many gardens, each with its signature characteristic. Stroll through the Noli me Tangere Garden or take a breather at the Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion, showcasing part of the Philippines's rich orchid species.
If you're traveling with kids, Rizal Park has a unique Children's Playground, too! Fun fact: Just across the Rizal monument is the Luneta Kilometer Zero marker, which serves as a reference point of distance in Luzon.
Photo by Department of Tourism
Head up north to the highlands of Luzon for an adventure at one of Sagada's best natural attractions, the Sumaguing Cave. Known to be the deepest cave in the Philippines with the nickname "The Big Cave," it holds within its caverns wondrous rock formations created over thousands of years.
Revel in the beauty of the underground in this breathtaking activity. While the local guides would allow newbies to take part, it's not for the faint of heart. You will be crawling through tight crevices, getting drenched in ice-cold cave water, and scrambling in the dark.
If you're up for an adventure, then a visit to the Sumaguing Cave, one of the top Sagada tourist spots, is a must-try for you. Just remember to wear the right clothes, bring extra and waterproof everything before you start your ascent!
Spelunking inside Sumaguing Cave can take about 3-4 hours, depending on your pace. To get there, you will have to take an 11-hour bus ride to Sagada from Manila and another 30-minute tricycle ride to the cave, so be sure to properly plan your trip.
Tucked in the east of Manila in the mountains of Sierra Madre is an award-winning conservation project and one of the top hiking spots in the Philippines, the Masungi Georeserve.
Masungi Georeserve has a strict no-reservation-no-entry policy. This is an effort to manage the amount of foot traffic that walks through the reserve. Once you've booked and confirmed your preferred date, ready yourself to be treated to an abundance of flora, fauna, wildlife, and glorious rock formations.
There are carefully placed pathways and amazing rope sections installed with minimal impact on nature without compromising safety. Wear comfortable and stable footwear, light and breathable clothes, and sunscreen protection. Don't forget to bring your camera or charge your phone to capture the magnificent 360-degree views.
From one of the biggest natural disasters in the 1990s to the most sought-after tourist destinations in the Philippines, Mt. Pinatubo has become a definite must-try adventure destination in Luzon.
Just a few hours away from the metro, Mt. Pinatubo is all about a fun-filled adventure. Book Mt. Pinatubo tours to ride a 4x4 on ashen terrain, trek up to the mountain's crater and be greeted by the lake's sparkling turquoise waters. Be sure to wear ample protection from the heat of the sun, wear comfortable hiking clothes, and bring lots of water too! It's definitely going to be a hot hike, but the reward after is well worth it.
The Mt. Pinatubo trek can be enjoyed by novice or seasoned hikers alike. Climb difficulty is rated at 2/9 but take that with a grain of salt. Near the base of the volcano is a must-try spa that uses volcanic ash believed to have healing properties, perfect for aching muscles after a tiring hike.
Take a short drive to Tagaytay City and treat yourself to cold weather, good food, and scenic views of Taal Volcano and Lake at this popular family-friendly destination. The Taal Volcano is famous for being the smallest active volcano in the world.
Though trips to the active volcano are not allowed, viewing the “island within a lake, inside a volcano” from the restaurants, parks, and Tagaytay hotels is part of the experience when traveling here.
If you're traveling with kids, you'll never go wrong with Sky Park that even grownups will enjoy it. If you want a place to chill and buy trinkets as a remembrance, Picnic Grove is for you. If you're on the lookout for goodies to bring home, head to Rowena's Pasalubong Center. There are Tagaytay tours you can book to help you experience the most on your visit.
Tagaytay City might be small, but it is packed with well-loved tourist spots like Bag of Beans restaurant, Puzzle Mansion, and Sonia's Secret Garden. It also has new must-try places like The Bathhouse at Qiwellness Living, Ayala Malls Serin, and many more.
Standing tall on the northwest tip of Luzon are the Bangui Windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. These 230-foot windmills line up in a 9-kilometer stretch along the Bangui Bay facing the West Philippine Sea.
To visit and marvel at the sheer size of these turbines, you have to travel roughly 438KM from Manila. You have several options to get there: you can do it via land travel either with a private vehicle or bus which will take 11-14 hours with several stopovers to stretch your legs. You can cut significant travel time if you book a flight to Laoag and then take a bus going to Bangui or Pagudpud. There are also Pagudpud tours that offer a hassle-free trip to these picturesque windmills.
The travel time is well worth the trip when you lay your eyes upon this sustainable source of energy. While you're there, it's best to visit the many tourist spots nearby to make the most out of your trip. You can rent a vehicle or commute from one place to another or avoid the hassle by booking Luzon tour packages that cover this tourist site.
This Luzon tourist spots list will not be complete without the island's highest peak and one of the top three highest mountains in the Philippines, Mt. Pulag. Towering at 2,922 meters above sea level, Mt. Pulag is a protected national park that is famous for hiking tours. Expect strict implementation of rules and guidelines when you visit. Be sure to check announcements from park officials before you go.
Hiking Mt. Pulag is no easy feat although it offers a trail for beginners. Still, ample preparation is a must to reach the summit safely. Apart from the usual precautions for any climb, know that since temperatures here can reach sub-zero levels, you'd have to layer up and wear appropriate heat-control clothes, gloves, socks, etc., when you go.
Several trails lead to the elusive sea of clouds. There's Ambangeg, which is perfect for beginners with a steady yet gentle incline. The Akiki trail is for the more experienced hikers. Several other trails will excite the most seasoned climbers. Mt. Pulag is famous for its sea of clouds view when you reach the peak.
To get to Mt. Pulag, you will first make your way to Baguio, which is about 4-6 hours away by bus or car from Manila. From Baguio, you can arrange for a private vehicle or hop on a jeepney, top load style, to DENR for the briefing. Then make your way to the Rangers' Station. You can also book Mt. Pulag hiking tours for a hassle-free experience.
From the Legazpi Airport, you will already be treated to the majesty of this must-visit Bicol tourist spot. To get an even better view, hop on an ATV in Mayon Volcano tours and drive past rocky and muddy terrain, climb up the lava wall, and take in the breathtaking view as you stand close to the foot of the volcano.
Be sure to check out the other nearby sights in Legazpi, such as the Cagsawa Ruins, Daraga Church, and Sumlang Lake, all of which have a unique unobstructed view of Mayon's perfect cone.
Cool off in the clear blue waters of Puerto Princesa's Honda Bay. This Palawan tourist spot has some of the most pristine beaches that are home to diverse marine life, numerous picturesque islands, and a hearty seafood spread.
You can book Honda Bay island-hopping tours to have an amazing time on the island minus the hassle. Transfers, food, and accommodation are usually included in the package. You will explore Honda Bay's three famous spots: Luli, Cowrie, and Starfish islands, all of which make for a fun snorkeling and swimming experience in the Philippines.
There are daily direct flights to Puerto Princesa from Manila. Alternatively, you can travel by sea but note that this route would take you over a day to get there. Upon arrival, you can arrange for a local transfer to Honda Bay via tricycle, which will take an additional 30-minute journey.
Also found in the southern tip of Luzon is Kayangan Lake in Coron, Palawan. The emerald-like beauty of Coron's waters are famous all around the world. One of the top tourist spots included in Coron island-hopping tours is Kayangan Lake, locally known as "the blue lagoon." Hidden within marble-esque limestone formations, you'll find its crystal-clear waters truly inviting.
Kayangan Lake also features a view deck that is 150 steps high up, giving you a 360-degree view of picture-perfect surrounding areas. Just remember to protect yourself from the sun, pack light, and bring ample drinking water to quench your thirst after a long day of swimming and visiting Kayangan Lake.
The diving site Tubbataha Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a part of the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. It is regarded as one of the best diving spots in the Philippines serving as a sanctuary for marine biodiversity. Located at the center of the Sulu Sea, the Tubbataha Reef sits quietly in between the Visayan region and the island of Palawan.
If you wish to see the immaculate beauty of this underwater world, it's best to join diving tours during the dry months of March to mid-June when the waters are more still. There are flights, buses, and ferries from Manila that can take you to Puerto Princesa in Palawan, which is approximately 594KM away.
From the Puerto Princesa wharf, you can book a liveaboard which will take you to Tubbataha Reef, about 10 hours away from the city. These liveaboards are available for pre-bookings and sail on a weekly basis.
As with any sanctuary, the Tubbataha Reef has strict diving protocols to follow. It's a small thing to do compared to the awe and jaw-dropping beauty that it will give you.
Great things come in small packages, and that rings true for the island province of Batanes. Located on the northernmost part of Luzon and accessible only by plane with limited flights to and from Manila, the province of Batanes holds some of the most breath-taking scenic views the country has to offer.
One of the notable sites, and possibly one of the favorites in Batanes tours, is the Vayang Rolling Hills. Here you’ll have an unobstructed view of Mt. Iraya as well as the three main islands of Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat. The gentle green slopes of Vayang paint a vibrant complement to the bright blue waters of the West Philippine Sea.
Once on the windy island, the best way to get around and be blown away (literally and figuratively) is by renting a bike or walking and taking it all into memory.
Beaches in the Philippines are plentiful, and some of the most beautiful ones can be found in El Nido, Palawan. The top activity here are the El Nido island hopping tours that will take you to not just one but multiple islands, hidden beaches, and lagoons. One of the most enchanting destinations in these island hopping tours is the Big Lagoon.
It will seem like you’ve been transported to an ethereal fantasy world, but you’re only gazing at one of the most fabled tourist destinations in the country. Swim in the crystal clear waters of the lagoon, or rent a kayak for an all-worth-it experience.
There are other beaches and lagoons you can visit in a day in El Nido. The Big Lagoon is usually lumped in together with visits to the Secret Lagoon, Payong-Payong Beach, and 7 Commandos Beach.
Some of the best tourist spots in Luzon will either transport you to another world or at another time. The latter is the case for our next destination, Calle Crisologo in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.
Known for its cobblestone streets, old-timey charm, and preserved Spanish-era architecture, Calle Crisologo defies the test of time and is one of the most visited tourist spots in North Luzon.
About over 400 km away from Manila, Calle Crisologo holds a rich history of politics and love along its cobblestone path. Shops line the street, selling loads of trinkets, souvenirs, and antiques that you will have your fill of pasalubong (souvenirs) at an affordable price. Explore the many hole-in-the-wall type restaurants that offer Vigan delicacies for you to enjoy.
Another historical place on the list is the walled city of Intramuros nestled right in the heart of Manila City. This tourist spot is one of the most budget-friendly, accessible, and picturesque sights in Luzon.
While you can walk around and discover Intramuros on your own, several Intramuros tours can take you around the walled city to better appreciate the history that is hidden in its walls. Take a peek back at the heritage that Intramuros holds from the Spanish colonial period while riding a horse-drawn carriage or kalesa, or you can also book a bike tour to go around.
Available within the walls are iconic restaurants that opened their doors date way back as well as modern places like The Bayleaf’s Sky Deck View Bar. Just a stone’s throw away are other historical landmarks, such as Fort Santiago, Manila Cathedral, and Baluarte de San Diego, all of which you can visit in a day.
From a stroll in the city in the previous entry, the next spot is an exhilarating and challenging hike up a 1500-meter-high attraction. The Batad Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, Cordillera Region, which is more than 600 km from Manila, is a man-made, stair-like rice paddy that follows the steep slopes of the mountainside. It was also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995.
The intricate irrigation system of the Batad Rice Terraces allows it to still be used up to this day. To see the beauty of this old-time human ingenuity, you will have an hour-long hike up to the village of Batad. The panoramic views of pristine, unsoiled forestry will greet you next.
Puerto Princesa’s Subterranean River or the Puerto Princesa Underground River is a New 7 Wonders of Nature holder and UNESCO World Heritage Sites lister. It’s a consistent placer in many travelers’ bucket lists, too.
The 8.2-kilometer-long Puerto Princesa Underground River is known for its cave formations, stunning limestone cliffs, and pristine waters. Here, you’ll feast your eyes on stunning sights while cruising on a paddleboat. Once you reach the caves, you’ll be in the company of stalactites, stalagmites, birds, bats, and fishes that inhabit the Underground River’s ecosystem.
Explore this jaw-dropping, breathtaking beauty by joining a Puerto Princesa Underground River tour. Book your Puerto Princesa tours in advance because this sought-after tourist spot in Palawan has a long line of eager visitors to witness its beauty. It’s also highly recommended to schedule your trip during the dry season and consistently check weather updates from time to time.
From Manila, you can get to Puerto Princesa via land, air, or sea travel. Then you’ll make your way to Sabang via land transfers. Once in Sabang Wharf, you're just a few moments away from the exquisite allure of the Underground River.
Remember to waterproof your things, wear light clothes, and follow guidelines that will ensure the conservation of this unique attraction for younger generations to witness, too.
Plan Your Trip Around Luzon in the Philippines
This is just 20 of the many unique tourist spots worthy of discovery in the islands within Luzon. It has everything for people looking for extreme activities on land and underwater. On the flip side, it also offers places where you can loosen up, sit back and relax, and just vibe out in its tranquil destinations. After you've ticked these places of your list, you can continue to explore the rest of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
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