25 Best Things to Do in The Philippines

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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The Philippines is a remarkable country made up of more than 7,000 islands. It is a country with a fast growing population and has a whole array of natural elements to contend with. There are 20 active volcano’s throughout the islands and the area is also prone to typhoons and other harsh weather conditions.

Despite these issues there is a truly beautiful country to explore here with many natural wonders to be seen. If you are looking for a country like no other then take a look at the 25 best things to do in the Philippines.

1. Chill Out For A Few Days In Boracay

BoracaySource: Matyas Rehak / shutterstock

The island of Boracay in the Philippines has become famous around the world for its beautiful white beaches. The island is only 7km in length and at its narrowest just 500m wide but people flock here for the outstanding beauty that the island offers. The main attraction is White Beach that has a 4km stretch of white sand that is surrounded by restaurants, hotels and diving shops. There is always a party happening on the island with fire shows and live music giving revelers an evening of non stop entertainment. Over the years the development of the island has continued but there are still plenty of places to relax and thoroughly enjoy yourself.

2. See The Beauty Of The Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice TerracesSource: Frolova_Elena / shutterstock
Banaue Rice Terraces

Many people consider the Banaue Rice Terraces to be the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and it is easy to see why when you begin to look at their shear magnificence. The terraces are 2,000 years old and they were carved into the mountains of Lfugao with the use of very few tools. The terraces are still used today by the locals who plant their vegetables and rice there, as they are naturally irrigated by the surrounding rainforests.

3. Marvel At The Wonder Of San Agustin Church

San Agustin ChurchSource: Richie Chan / shutterstock
San Agustin Church

San Agustin Church is located in Manila and is an incredible building that was built during the Spanish Colonial Period. The church is the third building that has been erected in this space as the first and second churches were both made of wood and destroyed by fire.  The building is now made of stone and has withstood major earthquakes on seven occasions. Many people come to visit this beautiful church to learn about its incredible history and see its breath-taking magnificence.

4. See The Active Mayon Volcano

Mayon VolcanoSource: Puripat Lertpunyaroj / shutterstock
Mayon Volcano

On the island of Luzon is an active volcano called Mayon Volcano which is also known as Mount Mayon. The volcano has picked up the nickname “Perfect Cone” due to its symmetrical cone shape. There are frequent eruptions at the volcano which lead to large evacuations of the neighboring towns as the ash and mud rains down on the people below. The most serious eruption recorded was in 1814, this led to over 1200 people losing their lives. The volcano and surrounding areas are part of a national park that is certainly worth visiting whilst you are in the Philippines.

5. Visit Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National ParkSource: View Apart / shutterstock
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

If you are looking to see something a little bit special then a trip to this National Park will leave you feeling that you have just seen something incredible. The area is protected and has a cave system that is incredibly complex. There is a river that flows through the caves for 8.2km before flowing directly into the sea. The Puerto Princesa Underground River has been declared as one of the Seven Wonders of Nature. You can go for a ride on a paddle boat which is an excellent way to see the river and learn about the rock formations as well as the thousands of bats that live there.

6. Spend Time At Historical Fort Santiago

Historical Fort SantiagoSource: Sean Hsu / shutterstock
Historical Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago in Manila is a citadel that was built by the Spanish as a defense fortress within the cities walls. The fort is incredibly popular with tourists and has a fascinating story. Jose Rizal was a Philippine national hero who was imprisoned within the fort up until his execution in 1896. Whilst you are exploring the fort you can take a look at the bronze footprints that have been embedded into the ground to mark out the prisoners final steps before execution.

7. See The Head Of All Churches

Santo Nino BasilicaSource: Aleksandar Todorovic / shutterstock
Santo Nino Basilica

The Santo Nino Basilica is also known as the Minor Basilica of the Holy Child, the church is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the country and was built in 1965. The Spanish discovered an image of the Santo Nino de Cebu, a statue of the baby Jesus and so on the same spot they built this church. Inside the Basilica Complex is a museum that tells the history of Christianity in Cebu and is well worth a visit once you have finished looking at the Basilica

8. Take Some Time To Relax In Rizal Park

Rizal ParkSource: joyfull / shutterstock
Rizal Park

Named after Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. This 60 hectare park in Manila has many ponds, walking areas and ornamental gardens. The park of course has a monument to Jose Rizal, the monument has a 46 meter flagpole at its front and is guarded by sentries. There is a lagoon in the center of the park that has the heads of many Filipino hero’s on its bottom. There is also open air concerts that take place each Sunday evening, a fountain that bursts into color as darkness descends and each morning you can watch many locals practicing their t’ai chi.

9. Enjoy The Unusual Chocolate Hills

Chocolate HillsSource: Eva Mont / shutterstock
Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills are in the Bohol Province of the Philippines and they are a rare and fascinating site to see. There are at least 1,260 hills spread out over an area covering approximately 20 square miles. The small hills are covered in grass and as the dry season advances the grass turns from green to brown and starts to look like chocolate. The hills vary from 30 to 50 meters high and really are an iconic landmark of the country. No trip around the country is complete without a trip to the hills. Want to learn more about Bohol? Check out this post!

10. Take A Trip To Volcano Island

Taal VolcanoSource: Joseph Oropel / shutterstock
Taal Volcano

Taal Volcano is located on the island of Luzon and is an active volcano that has erupted at least 33 times previously. Due to the volcanoes location, previous eruptions have led to large losses of life. Now it is not possible to live on Volcano Island as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology have declared the entire island as a Permanent Danger Zone. A trip here is well worthwhile especially as the Crater lake on the island is the largest island on a lake on an island in the world.

11. Go Island Hopping From Your Base At Mactan Island

Mactan IslandSource: travelchick79 / shutterstock
Mactan Island

If you are looking to escape from any of the cities and just spend some quality time relaxing on a beautiful beach then Mactan Island could be what you are looking for. This beautiful island has many water sports to engage in, and there are many dive sites around that will provide you with some beautiful views of the local marine life. Mactan Island is also an excellent place to start your island hopping due to its connection with Cebu. The islands accommodation caters to all budgets from the cheap affordable guest houses right up to the indulgent Shangri-La Resort.

12. Forget About The Real World At Malapascua Island

Malapascua IslandSource: photosounds / shutterstock
Malapascua Island

There are 7,107 islands in the Philippines so getting around them all could prove to be almost impossible, however Malapascua Island is one that you should not miss out on. This island is a tiny beach paradise that offers you seclusion and a chance to get away from everything for a few days whilst you just relax. You can rent a small beach bungalow and stop for a few days whilst you mingle with the locals and their community. Life on the island is still fairly primitive compared to that of a western country, you are likely to lose electric for a while on a daily basis and the water will need to come from a bottle but when on a break these things all add to the authentic feel of your stay.

13. Go For A Dive At Tubbataha Reef

Tubbataha ReefSource: Jason LSL / shutterstock
Tubbataha Reef

If you are into your diving then a dive at Tubbataha Reef is a must do! This glorious dive spot was discovered by divers in the 1970’s and has become famous for its incredible coral reefs. The location is quite remote and so you would need to go on a liveaboard boat to get to the location, but once you experience the underwater sights and large marine life the trip would have all been worth it. The dive season here is very short so make sure you go between the middle of March and the middle of June.

14. See The Shrine Of The Black Nazarene

The Shrine Of The Black NazareneSource: Tony Magdaraog / shutterstock
The Shrine Of The Black Nazarene

The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene is a Roman Catholic Church in the city of Manila. The church became famous due to its shrine of the Black Nazarene. The Black Nazarene is a statue of Jesus Christ that is said to have miraculous powers. Many people both local and foreign flood into the basilica to see the Black Nazarene and kiss his feet or wipe him with their handkerchief. Each year in January the statue leaves the church for the Feast of the Black Nazarene and is paraded through the streets as part of a procession.

15. See The lakes At Coron Island

Coron IslandSource: Maxim Tupikov / shutterstock
Coron Island

Just a short journey from Coron Town is Coron Island, an island that has become famous for its two lakes. To access the first lake you need to be prepared for a ten minute climb up steep terrain that is sure to leave you a little out of breath. You will have arrived at Lake Kayangan which has crystal clear water and is nestled in the walls of the mountain. You can go swimming in the lake and there is also a small wooden platform where you can leave your belongings. The second lake is called Lake Barracuda, here the water can reach temperatures of 38 degrees centigrade and can be seen by climbing over some jagged rocks that will take you straight into the water.

16. Explore The Historical Island Of Corregidor

Historical Island Of CorregidorSource: Rick L. Saint John / shutterstock
Historical Island Of Corregidor

Corregidor Island is located at the entrance of Manila Bay and is maintained in honor of the Filipino and American’s that lost their lives defending the country from the Japanese during World War II. The remains on the island tell a moving story of the battle and a guided tour will give you all the information you could need to learn about the great history of this special place. For those that want to experience the island for longer, a hotel is available with excellent accommodation and very knowledgeable staff.

17. Enjoy Some Activities At Burnham Park

Burnham ParkSource: hijodeponggol / shutterstock
Burnham Park

Burnham Park is located in Baguio in the Philippines. It was named after Daniel Hudson Burnham (an American Architect who made the plans for the city.) The park has various activities that you can get involved with including a skating rink and football fields. There is also a small shop where you can rent bikes so you can explore the 32 hectares that the park offers a lot easier. If you wish to go out on the water the park has a man made lake that has paddle boats you can rent. There are many beautiful flowers in the park and a trip to the Orchidarium should not be missed whilst at the park.

18. A Day With The Family At Manila Ocean Park

Manila Ocean ParkSource: saiko3p / shutterstock
Manila Ocean Park

If you are looking for something to do that will engage the whole family then a trip to Manila Ocean park will satisfy everybody. The park has more than 8,000 square meters of space to be explored. Some highlights of the park include a 25 metre acrylic tunnel that you can walk through and see the marine life from another angle. There is a penguin exhibit that has plenty of swimming penguins as well as a long slide that can be ridden using sleighs. The choices for food are vast with 25 different restaurants to choose from.

19. Take Great Photo’s At The Cebu Taoist Temple

Cebu Taoist TempleSource: Curioso.Photography / shutterstock
Cebu Taoist Temple

The Cebu Taoist Temple was built by the large number of Chinese people that live in the temple’s surrounding area. The temple stands at 300 meters above sea level and is a large construction that can be accessed by three different paths. The temple is an active temple for Taoism and you will see many worshipers there when you visit. The temple has 81 steps leading up to it, each step represents one of the 81 chapters of Taoism scripture. The entrance to the temple was deliberately designed to look like the Great wall of China. When inside the temple you will be able to walk onto the balconies where you will enjoy a fantastic view of Cebu.

20. Take In The Spectacular View From Mines View Park

Mines View ParkSource: NgJi3Qi / shutterstock
Mines View Park

Mines View Park in Baguio is home to one of the best views in the Philippines. There is an observation deck here that offers panoramic views of the gold and copper mines below you, and the mountains ahead of you. To get to the viewing platform you will need to climb up some winding steps, these steps can unfortunately get quite slippery after it rains so it is always advisable to watch your step. When you reach the top you can rent some binoculars or have your photo take by one of the many camera men around. The best time to go is early in the day to make sure there is no fog that could disrupt your view.

21. See The Effects Of Mount Pinatubo

Mount PinatuboSource: Nick Utchin / shutterstock
Mount Pinatubo

Mount Pinatubo is situated on the island of Luzon and when it erupted in 1991 it became one of the most destructive eruptions that the 20th century saw. When the volcano erupted it spewed out millions of tons of sulphur dioxide, the effects of which were felt across the world. 30,000 people lived on the slopes of the volcano before its eruption, luckily however scientists were able to predict when the volcano would erupt and so thousands of lives were saved. Trekking up the side of the volcano has now become very popular and is a great way to experience the awesome power of nature.

22. See The Most Famous Waterfall – Pagsanjan Falls

Pagsanjan FallsSource: AAR Studio / shutterstock
Pagsanjan Falls

In the province of Laguna is perhaps the most famous waterfall in the country. It is a three tier waterfall that is reached by going on a river trip and most often a canoe. The falls are 91 meters high and once you have reached the top a skilled canoeist will take you back down the falls which go past 14 rapids. If a rapid ride is not your thing you can also hike up to the falls which will include two vertical ladders and 500 steps.

23. Climb The Tallest Mountain In The Philippines

Mount ApoSource: nifty50gallery / shutterstock
Mount Apo

Mount Apo stands at 2954 meters above sea level and is the highest volcano and mountain in the country. To climb the mountain you will need a permit as well as a guide but that is easy to obtain and the costs are very low. A complete trek to the top will take between one and three days depending on weather and your pace. Temperatures at night can drop to around zero degrees so some warm clothing is needed. Along your route you will experience many different bird varieties, there are 270 in total and a lot are endemic.

24. Island Hop At The Hundred Islands National Park

Hundred Islands National ParkSource: Roman Skorzus / shutterstock
Hundred Islands National Park

As mentioned earlier getting around the 7,107 islands in the Philippines is an almost impossible task so doing 100 at once is a great way to see a lot of places in a short space of time. The Hundred Islands National Park in Alamino is full of great places to explore. You can rent an outrigger and go from one island to the next, there are some with caves or hills, some can be camped on, Governor’s Island even has houses you can rent. Some of the islands have stand out names such as Kissing Island or Devil’s Island but the best thing to do is get out there and explore whatever you come across.

25. See The Starfish At Honda Bay

Honda BaySource: Juergen_Wallstabe / shutterstock
Honda Bay
Cowrie Island in Honda BaySource: Andrei Goncharov / shutterstock
Cowrie Island in Honda Bay

If going for a complete dive is a step to far then maybe you could consider going snorkeling at Honda Bay. Located on the eastern shore of Palawan the waters are often full of starfish (Starfish Island) and they make for a beautiful view as you gently snorkel through the calm waters. You can also book tours from here or rent a boat and explore on your own.

25 Best Things to Do in The Philippines:

  • Chill Out For A Few Days In Boracay
  • See The Beauty Of The Banaue Rice Terraces
  • Marvel At The Wonder Of San Agustin Church
  • See The Active Mayon Volcano
  • Visit Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
  • Spend Time At Historical Fort Santiago
  • See The Head Of All Churches
  • Take Some Time To Relax In Rizal Park
  • Enjoy The Unusual Chocolate Hills
  • Take A Trip To Volcano Island
  • Go Island Hopping From Your Base At Mactan Island
  • Forget About The Real World At Malapascua Island
  • Go For A Dive At Tubbataha Reef
  • See The Shrine Of The Black Nazarene
  • See The lakes At Coron Island
  • Explore The Historical Island Of Corregidor
  • Enjoy Some Activities At Burnham Park
  • A Day With The Family At Manila Ocean Park
  • Take Great Photo's At The Cebu Taoist Temple
  • Take In The Spectacular View From Mines View Park
  • See The Effects Of Mount Pinatubo
  • See The Most Famous Waterfall - Pagsanjan Falls
  • Climb The Tallest Mountain In The Philippines
  • Island Hop At The Hundred Islands National Park
  • See The Starfish At Honda Bay