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Things to do in Philippines

Things to do in  Philippines

Welcome to Philippines

An enchanting archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines serves up mist-shrouded mountains, white-sand beaches, and jewel-toned water in Southeast Asia. Often lesser-known than its Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai neighbors, the Philippines attracts travelers looking to stray from the beaten path. Both cities and less populated areas beckon: Get a healthy dose of colonial history and metropolitan chaos on a tour of Manila; hike amid staggering natural scenery on guided trips to the Taal volcano and Tagaytay Ridge; marvel at Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; or escape from the madness of modern life in Palawan, where Coron Island and Kayangan Lake provide a serene retreat on an ecotour. The caves of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park provide ample wildlife watching opportunities; while Cebu City, the thriving port capital of the Cebu province, serves as an excellent jumping-off point for Moalboal, where backpackers flock to dive, drink, and dine. From Manila, tours of Fort Santiago (built by a Spanish conquistador) and Corregidor Island (long fortified against attack) reveal the Philippines’ rich history. From Oslob, strong swimmers can snorkel alongside whale sharks in crystal-clear waters. And from Malay, sun-worshippers can spend the day hopping between the islets surrounding Boracay island, the epitome of a coastal paradise.

Top 15 attractions in Philippines

Fort Santiago

One of the most important historical sites in Manila, Fort Santiago was built by a Spanish conquistador to protect the newly formed city. The fort is a key feature of the famous walled city known as Intramuros, a complex of manicured gardens, fountains, lily ponds, and sunny plazas, as well as the Rizal Shrine Museum, as well as a Manila city tour highlight.More

Intramuros Walled City

The colonial heart of Manila, Intramuros—which means “within the walls”—is the capital’s oldest district and home to some of its most impressive historic monuments. Founded by the Spaniards in the 16th century, the gigantic stone citadel is surrounded by impressively preserved city walls, stretching for almost 3 miles (5 kilometers).More

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

A new Seven Wonders of Nature, the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Puerto Princesa Underground River flows through a limestone cave system before spilling into the South China Sea. A paddle through this eerie ecosystem, filled with otherworldly cave formations and chattering bats, is one of the Philippines’ most unforgettable experiences.More

San Agustin Church and Museum

Located in the historic Walled City of Old Manila, the beautiful baroque Church of San Agustin is both the oldest church in the country and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Highlights include the tombs of several historical figures—including conquistadors, statesmen, and artists—as well as the adjoining San Agustin Museum.More

Sumilon Island

Amid the crystal waters and vibrant reef of Cebu’s Sumilon Island Marine Sanctuary, tiny Sumilon Island offers secret caves, hiking trails, colorful marine life, a lighthouse, and a brilliant white sandbar that’s an Instagram favorite. It’s home to the Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, with pools, water sports, restaurants, and stylish bungalows.More

Big Lagoon

A pristine channel of gin-clear waters framed by limestone cliffs, Big Lagoon meanders through forested Miniloc Island in the Bacuit Archipelago. Island-hopping boats from El Nido generally stop in the shallow water at the head of the lagoon, but travelers can discover the scenic coves or search for turtles by sea kayak.More

Magellan's Cross

The Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan led the first expedition to sail around the earth but never made it home, dying in Cebu. Today, a tall wooden cross known as Magellan’s Cross (Cruz de Magallanes) commemorates his memory—and supposedly contains relics of the original crucifix Magellan planted in Cebu in 1521.More

Heritage of Cebu Monument

Conceptualized by local award-winning sculptor Eduardo Castillo and unveiled in 2000, Heritage of Cebu Monument is a brass, bronze, and steel monolith that showcases the country’s history in giant form. Telling a story of colonization and occupation, visit the monument to learn about the Philippines’ centuries-long struggle for freedom.Dominating the heart of the monument is the sculpture of the Spanish galleon ship that carried explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew to 16th-century Cebu. Magellan’s arrival marked the beginning of the colonization of the Philippines, though on the night of April 21, 1521, local chieftain Lapu-Lapu ended up killing him in the Battle of Mactan, and Cebu Heritage Monument depicts this event too.From Spanish sailboats to men preparing for battle, Cebu Heritage Monument is hyper masculine, though there are touches of color, with the red, white, and blue of the Philippine flag splashed across one corner of the monument.Based in Plaza Parian in front of the Chapel of San Juan Bautista, the Philippines’ religious history is also carved into this monument. See the the conversion of Rajah Humabon — one of the first indigenous converts to Roman Catholicism — to Christianity. Spot a statue of the blessed Saint Pedro Calungsod, a giant cross, a representation of Cebu City’s first Mass, and depictions of Cebu City’s Basilica del Santo Niño, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, and San Juan Bautista Parish Church.More

Fort San Pedro

Set in landscaped gardens just back from the waterfront in the heart of Cebu City, Fort San Pedro (Fuerte de San Pedro in Spanish) is a postcard-perfect colonial fort. First built in the 16th century, the triangular structure dates mainly from the 18th century. It houses a little museum devoted to Spanish colonial times.More

Crocodile Island

There’s no need to watch for crocs when you snorkel or scuba the coral around this Boracay islet. Seen from the water, Crocodile Island looks exactly like a crocodile, with a protruding spine, low-lying head, and long tail, all covered in green leaves. But it’s the huge sea fans and colorful life below the surface that draw travelers.More

Chocolate Hills

On the island of Bohol, the Chocolate Hills are hailed as one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the Philippines. The more than 1,260 mounds—which get their name from the rich, brown color they turn during the summer months—are a geological anomaly best seen from an elevated overlook in the town of Carmen.More

Crystal Cove Island

Large letters atop this rocky Boracay islet spell out the name “Crystal Cove.” For some years, the island housed the Crystal Cove Island Resort, with beach bungalows, photogenic sea caves, and a collection of birds of prey. But the resort closed in 2018 when authorities shut down Boracay and, as of early 2020, shows no signs of reopening.More

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

Built in the 17th century by Chinese-Filipino merchant Don Juan Yap and his wife Doña Maria Florida, Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is one of the oldest preserved homes in the Philippines.In Cebu City’s Parian district, as you wander the two-storey home you can get a glimpse of life as it would have been during colonial times. One of the best things about this little museum? You’re allowed to pick up and get a feel for all the centuries-old artifacts dotted around the house — chinaware, cutlery, figurines, ornaments, and glassware — everything. Be careful not to drop anything though, as truly, all these ornaments are priceless.Clearly the Yaps were a devoted Roman Catholic family — you’ll see life-sized religious figures all over the house. Check out the wishing well in the back garden, too, and ask the caretaker/guide/resident photographer to snap your picture in front of it. He’s famous for being happy to take your photo wherever you’d like. He’ll also regale the history of the home, but of course, you’re free to explore by yourself too.Converted into a museum by Yap’s great great grandson, Val Mancao Sandiego, in 2008, at the weekends Sandiego and his family still sleep here so that the house will continue to feel like a home.More


Centered on the city of Legazpi, the Bicol region of the Philippine island of Luzon comprises the Bicol peninsula, home to four provinces, and the island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate. While most travelers visit for the whale sharks of Donsol or volcanoes such as Mt. Mayon, the area is home to dazzling beaches and quirky festivals.More

Santo Niño Basilica (Basílica del Santo Niño)

Cebu's Basilica del Santo Niño (Basilica of Santo Nino) was born from fire. In 1565, the church was built on the site where one of conquistador Legazpi's men supposedly found a statue of Jesus in the burning ruins of a hostile native village. The statue—considered the country’s oldest religious artifact—was left completely unharmed.More

Trip ideas

Top Beaches in the Philippines

Top Beaches in the Philippines

How to Spend 2 Days in Manila

How to Spend 2 Days in Manila

Top activities in Philippines

Manila Old and New: Sightseeing Tour Including Intramuros and Fort Santiago
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Whale Shark Encounter and Sumilon Sandbar with Kawasan Falls
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Mactan Cebu Island Hopping with Lunch - Gilutungan, Caohagan, Nalusuan
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Top Destinations

Top Destinations

People Also Ask

What are the Philippines best known for?

The Philippines comprise more than 7,500 islands. They’re famous for island-hopping, diving, and beautiful beaches, as well as wildlife from whale sharks to tiny, bug-eyed tarsiers, landscapes from rice terraces to volcanoes, and colorful transportation including jeepneys and tricycles. Some of the best-known islands are Luzon, Cebu, Bohol, Boracay, and Palawan.

What activities do people do in the Philippines?

The Philippines fall within the Coral Triangle, a hugely biodiverse marine area, so diving, snorkeling and island-hopping are popular. But the islands are also an up-and-coming surf destination, with water sports from parasailing to stand-up paddleboarding on offer. Volcano climbs, waterfall adventures, mangrove tours, and firefly river trips are popular.

What are the unique things in the Philippines?

Bohol signatures include the Chocolate Hills rock formations and tarsiers; Palawan offers the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a UNESCO World Heritage site, island-hopping at El Nido, and wreck diving in Coron; Luzon boasts volcanoes, soaring rice terraces, UNESCO-listed churches, and the Pagsanjan Falls rapids. Fiestas are crazy colorful, especially around Easter.

Is the Philippines safe for tourists?

Not entirely. Both the UK Foreign Office and the US Department of State advise against travel to Mindanao island and the Sulu archipelago for fear of kidnapping. Street crime and robbery are common, while maritime safety is poor: don’t display valuables in the street and never get on a crowded boat.

What can you do with $100 in the Philippines?

Outside Manila, $100 can go a long way in the Philippines. Scuba diving can cost as little as US$25 for a boat dive; a double room in a basic hotel can cost just $15. You can eat street food for just a couple of bucks and spend $5-10 on a long-distance bus ride.

What is the most popular entertainment in the Philippines?

The single most popular entertainment in the Philippines is cinema, be that in multiplex malls or beachfront outdoor cinemas. Other popular entertainments include gambling—Manila boasts several Vegas-style casinos—cockfighting, boxing matches, beauty contests, and karaoke. The islands’ many different cultures boast rich traditions of music and dance, as well as fabulous fiestas.


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