With over 7000 islands to explore, the Philippines is packed with exciting activities and incredible tourist spots to discover. Find out the best and must-try things to do in the Philippines in this article and plan your ultimate vacation itinerary.
As a holiday destination, the Philippines boasts of unique experiences and exciting adventures wherever you go. Through the years, it has become known as one of the most popular tropical hideaways globally - making it the go-to place for beach lovers, adventure seekers, food lovers, thrill chasers, and everyone who wishes to satisfy their wanderlust.
The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. From North to South, there’s so much to see and do around the country that fits whatever type of traveler you may be. It’s jam-packed with diverse activities, unforgettable escapades, and even laid-back, relaxing experiences that can truly inspire wanderlust.
From Palawan's and Boracay's world-renowned islands and beaches to Cebu’s rich history to Siargao’s magical island vibe and surfing oasis – the Philippines will never fail to amaze you. With so much to cover, deciding on where to go can be quite a challenge.
Photo by the Philippine Department of Tourism
There’s an endless list of reasons to visit the Philippines. To make sure that you won’t find yourself saying, “So many things to do, so little time,” here are some of the top activities that you should add to your itinerary:
You don't have to try extreme activities to enjoy the best of the Philippines. The country is filled with beautiful tourist spots that anyone can enjoy regardless of age and physical condition. A sightseeing tour is an easy and relaxed way to see the best of the Philippines and discover why it's a popular destination for many travelers.
You'll be able to make the most out of your trip by joining some of the country’s top sightseeing tours. Hop in a van and do a countryside tour around the island of Bohol where you can see the Chocolate Hills and cruise along Loboc River. Walk or bike around the walled city of Intramuros in Manila and learn of its rich colonial heritage. Visit the old mansions of Bacolod with their storied past. For an experience closer to nature, try strawberry picking in La Trinidad, Benguet, or visit the awe-inspiring rolling hills of Batanes, which is a landscape unlike any other within the country.
The Philippines has a rich heritage and visiting museums lets you learn how its culture developed and manifested throughout history. It also gives you a glimpse into the life and times of Filipinos from different eras.
If you're in Manila, there is no need to travel far since there are a number of museum tours worth checking out, including the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, The National Art Gallery at the National Museum of the Philippines, Calvo Museum, and the Casa Manila Museum in Intramuros.
Other must-visit museums outside the metro are Balay Negrense Museum in Silay, Negros Occidental, Palawan Special Battalion WW2 Memorial Museum, Museum Sugbo in Cebu, and Davao Museum of History and Ethnography in Mindanao.
The Philippines is one of the few predominantly Christian countries in Asia. As a Spanish colony for over 300 years, the Philippines' culture has largely been shaped by religion. You see this influence in traditions, festivals, and even architecture. Clearly, this influence of Christianity is one of the main reasons the Filipino culture is unique from its neighboring countries. It also does not come as a surprise that the country is a top destination for religious or faith-related travel.
All over the country, there is no shortage of churches, basilicas, and shrines - each with its own story to tell. Joining religious pilgrimages around the country allows you to visit these and learn about their history and significance to local culture.
Some famous pilgrimage destinations include St. John the Baptist Parish Church in Quiapo, Cebu’s Simala Shrine, Minor Basilica of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Manaoag, San Pascual de Baylon Parish Church in Obando, Bulacan, Baclaran’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Pink Sister’s Convent in Tagaytay.
Wakeboarding has been gaining popularity in the Philippines the past few years and there are now more wakeboarding tours to help you get started in this sport. There are no age restrictions for learning this water sport if you know the basics of swimming.
Camarines Sur is the Philippines' wakeboarding capital due to the success of the 2009 WWA Ultimate Wakeboard Championships held at CamSur Water Sports Complex.
Lago de Oro in Batangas is also perfect for a quick getaway with family and friends since it’s just a two-hour drive from Manila. Like Batangas, Republ1c Wakepark in Nuvali is also a great option for a weekender to enjoy wakeboarding.
Finally, DECA Wakeboard Park is dubbed as the largest wakeboarding park in Southeast Asia and is just a 30-minute drive away from Davao City International Airport.
The Philippines is best experienced outdoors and is a haven for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. With its many national parks, there are plenty of spots to explore.
Ranking high on the list is a tour to Hundred Islands National Park, which is perfect for family outing and nature tripping as you marvel at the exquisite beauty of more than a hundred mushroom-like islands in front of you.
Another crowd favorite is the Caramoan Peninsula National Park. This one is a little harder to get to, but its serene view of white sand beaches, sparkling rivers, and magnificent limestones makes the trip worth it.
Meanwhile, for those that enjoy wildlife spotting, a tour in Calauit Safari Park in Palawan is surely the experience to go. Apart from being home to Somali giraffes from a controversial translocation project in the 70s, the place also boasts of diverse indigenous flora and fauna for you to witness and appreciate.
Get wet and wild! River tubing will give you a heart-pumping experience as you go through the river rapids using the interior of big tires or commonly referred to as the tube.
Somehow similar to water rafting, the main goal is to not fall off the tube until you’re able to conquer all the possible rapids before the main destination.
Pangi River in New La Union and Maitum in Sarangani Province are some the popular destinations for water tubing. Check out river trips for a complete experience.
Puerto Princesa's Underground River or Subterranean River National Park has been granted the UNESCO World Heritage award due to its spectacular limestone and awe-inspiring landscape with an underground river. By joining boat tours, you get to see up close the longest navigable underground river in the world.
Likewise, Ihawig River in Puerto Princesa offers an enthralling river cruise experience at night. Imagine staring at the beauty of the night sky and breathing in the cold breeze as you cruise. If that’s not enough to melt your heart, you’ll also be treated with a magical light show of fireflies that look like dancing stars. Another popular river cruise is the Loboc River cruise in Bohol, where you experience dining on local cuisine while getting serenaded by a world-class children's choir.
Enchanting, captivating, and exciting – just some of the words that come to mind to best describe the experience in some of the Philippines must-visit caving tour sites.
Samar is known to be the Caving Capital of the Philippines as it houses the Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge Park, which features picturesque caves, subterranean rivers, and limestone formations.
On the other hand, a tour in Callao Cave, located in the province of Cagayan, offers 300 cave systems that will let you see the grand attraction of huge limestones and rock formations. Hinagdanan Cave tours in Bohol will also reward you with unexplored beauty as remarkable stalagmites, and the cave’s striking beauty welcomes you upon entering the site.
Photo by the Philippine Department of Tourism
If you want to tweak your next holiday trip and skip the beach, why not try some of the country’s hot springs tours.
Ardent Hot Spring is located in Camiguin and is one of the main tourist attractions in the area. It is found at the foot of Mt. Hibok-Hibok, an active volcano, and a popular hiking destination.
Another top option in this category is Maquinit Hot springs in Coron. Take the Maquinit Hot Springs tour to explore one of the few saltwater hot springs in the world. Saltwater hot springs are said to be more beneficial than freshwater variants due to the presence of more minerals in the water.
The Puning Hot Springs tour in Pampanga is another local favorite. It has eight pools of 40 degrees and up water, a soothing way to spend your day after a 4x4 ride through Mt. Pinatubo's spectacular landscape.
Natural springs are known to be therapeutic. If you’re looking for a trip that’s equal parts adventure and rejuvenation, consider these options.
This activity will definitely take your adventure junkie self a notch. This isn’t your typical boring theme park ride because ATV tours take you off the beaten path.
A trip to Mt. Balabag, in the province of Rizal, will transport you into an instant action scene. Due to its wide and nearly flat trail, you can take your 4x4 truck all the way to the summit and submerge it in the water as you cross the rivers.
An off-road 4x4 ride to Puning Hot Springs in Angeles, Pampanga should also be on every explorer’s bucket list. Imagine passing through unique rock formations caused by lahar mudflows and running over puddles of water through a gorgeous landscape. It's definitely an experience that excites multiple senses.
For adrenaline junkies who want to try something different, canyoneering or canyoning will surely make waves. If you’re looking for an extra dose of outdoor fun and adventure where you get to enjoy the natural scenery and test your limits, then you must try going on a canyoneering tour.
A tour to Kawasan Falls in Cebu is the ultimate must-do for travelers who want to experience the thrill and excitement of canyoneering due to its stunningly clear waters and picturesque canyons. A short trek brings you to multiple levels of this waterfall, where you can cliff dive from ledges as high as 6 meters.
Some of the other recommended places for canyoneering are Mt. Isarog National Park in Camarines Sur, Bangon Falls in Samar, and Sampao River in Biliran.
The Philippines' surfing spots have grown in popularity in recent years. Siargao Island is considered the best surf destination in the country and has become a must-visit site for international surfers.
It has surf breaks and spots for different levels – whether you’re a newbie who wants to catch your first wave or a professional who wants to take your surfing skills to new heights. Not to mention that the island’s inexplicable charm has caught the attention of international tourists. Cloud 9 tours offer a year-round way to explore Siargao. Though for surfing, it's best to visit between September and November.
La Union and Baler are two other destinations known for surfing. Both located in Luzon, these are a few hours' drive away from Metro Manila.
Both have taken their spots in the hearts of the surfing community with their laidback island vibe, friendly locals, and impressive waves that will surely leave you stoked for days.
What better way for tourists to appreciate the Philippines' rich culture than to get immersed in its history? From its indigenous roots to more than 300 years of colonial influence, the Philippines' has developed one of Asia's most unique cultures. Be transported back in time and discover the country's ethnic and colonial history by joining heritage excursions.
One of the top activities to do in Manila is to go on a trip to Corregidor. Here, you're brought to the site of the epic Battle of Corregidor, which was the culmination of the Philippines' Japanese conquest during the Second World War.
The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras in Ifugao, the historic town of Vigan, San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, and Miag-ao Church in Iloilo will surely awaken your curiosity and fascination of the events that molded the country’s history.
The Philippines is not just about islands and beaches. For nature lovers looking for a different type of adventure, a hiking or trekking tour allow you to explore the country's varied terrains and impressive mountain ranges.
Pack your bags, put on your hiking shoes, and escape the bustling city by hiking in the Philippines. The Philippines is famed for a long list of breathtaking hiking trails, catering to enthusiasts with various skill and experience levels.
Popular among amateur hikers is Mt. Batulao, which is just a few hours from Metro Manila. If you want to unwind amongst wonderful, easy-to-access scenery, then this is the perfect choice for you.
Hiking Tarak Ridge in Mariveles is a bit more challenging but will surely be worth it once you’re soaking up the great views of Bataan, Manila Bay, and its surrounding islands.
Last but not least is the famed Mt. Pulag, which is the highest peak in Luzon. Being at the summit of Mt. Pulag, standing above a sea of clouds, is another mind-blowing experience. If you’re lucky to see it during sunset, these clouds seem to catch fire in the afterglow – such an awe-inspiring view that’s marked in your mind forever.
More than the sun, sand, and sea - there are also many hidden gems in the form of waterfalls tucked in some of the country’s most famous tourist spots. Some may require a bit of hiking to reach, but their unique charm and beauty will truly make the journey worth your while.
Natural beauties such as Kawasan Falls in Cebu, Ditumabo Falls (also known as Mother Falls) in Baler, Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor, and Aliwagwag Falls in Davao Oriental top the list of most sought-after attractions included in waterfalls tours.
You will not just find yourself chasing them; you’ll surely fall for them too.
There’s something magical about discovering the underwater world. Scuba diving lets you see a whole new dimension to our planet. It's both calming and exciting at the same time, and the Philippines is one of the best places in the world for this activity.
Divers from all over the globe can attest to the beauty and rich marine biodiversity of the Philippines. From the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tubbataha Reef to the accessible dive spots in Anilao, Batangas, the country promises to spoil you with many choices for your diving adventures.
Regardless of your skill level and interest, there are various dive experiences available. For beginners, there's an abundance of dive shops where you can get your dive certification. For experienced divers, you can choose from day trips to liveaboards and customize your experience.
Different destinations cater to different interests as well. Coron offers wreck diving; Anilao is known as the Nudibranch Capital of the Philippines; Malapascua in Cebu gets you close to thresher sharks. Other popular dive destinations are Verde Island in Batangas and Balicasag Island in Bohol.
Is your trip really complete without tasting the best local cuisines in the country? Many people may not have heard about Filipino cuisine, let alone taste it. However, for those who have, the verdict is clear - it's incredibly good!
There’s no better way to experience the Philippines' gastronomic scene than to eat like a local. Fortunately, there are several food tours that not only offer you the chance to try the best local dishes but also provide insight to its culinary and cultural history.
Be ready to feast over the most authentic, homemade delicacies in the country and the fascinating tales of the various hometowns. You’re in for a serious food coma (in a good way) when you join food experiences.
Filipinos are known for their happy and positive nature. They always find reasons to celebrate colorful festivals, also known as “fiestas,” which have been a part of the Filipino culture through the years.
Part of the Philippines' culture is its known respect for religion which is evident in the celebration of various patron saints throughout the country. Sinulog Festival in Cebu is one of the most popular Catholic festivals. Tourists from different parts of the world join the festivity to witness its street parties, native dances, and colorful costumes.
Other well-known festivals include MassKara Festival in Bacolod, Moriones Festival in Marinduque, Panagbenga Flower Festival, Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals in Leyte, Davao’s Kadayawan Festival, and Kalibo’s Ati-Atihan.
The Philippines has the 5th largest coastline in the world. This coastline stretches thousands of miles dotted with many beautiful beaches, making it a slice of heaven for all sun and sand lovers. Its beaches are also consistently included in lists for the best beaches in the world in international publications.
If you're looking for the most idyllic unspoiled beaches with crystal clear waters for a relaxing getaway, the Philippines has to be on top of your list.
Must-add beaches in your list should include the famous White Beach of Boracay, Nacpan Beach of El Nido in Palawan, Alona Beach of Bohol, and Long Beach (the longest beach in the Philippines) in San Vicente, Palawan.
Its islands are what makes the Philippines the ultimate dream destination. As a tropical archipelago, the Philippines doesn’t disappoint when it comes to pristine postcard-worthy islands. The Philippines' islands are recognized worldwide as some of the best in the world, with Palawan consistently earning the number 1 spot for years.
Island hopping tours are a must-add in any Philippine itinerary. These are usually done on a full day where you visit at least 2-3 islands. Some tours can even take you to as many as 5-7 islands in a day. Now that's an island lovers' dream getaway.
You'll get to visit islands with powdery white sand underneath your feet, with the salty air kissing your face as you savor the clear blue water surrounding you. It’s like a scene in a movie where you’re in an unbelievably beautiful island, but instead of just one, you get to experience this in different islands that each offers a unique beauty.
Top island hopping destinations in the Philippines include Palawan's El Nido and Coron, Cebu, Bohol, Siargao, Boracay, and Bohol, to name a few. But wherever you are in the Philippines, as long as you're near the ocean, you're sure to find islands to explore. These will surely take your breath away and leave you speechless, and ignite your dream of living the island life.
Plan Your Ultimate Philippines Holiday
There’s a lot to love about the Philippines, and there are plenty of reasons to keep coming back for more. From island hopping to diving and snorkeling in crystal clear waters to experiencing its rich culture and history, you will surely find something to make your traveler’s heart skip a beat.
Exploring this country is like meeting a potential lover. It intrigues you; it piques your interest, and as you get to discover more about it, the more you’ll fall in love with it.
Discover and explore what this country offers by checking out Philippines tours and activities that will surely make you fall with the Pearl of the Orient Seas!