This post was most recently updated on December 19th, 2022
With over 7000 islands to explore, the Philippines is full of exciting activities and incredible tourist spots and festivals to explore. Discover the must-see and must-try things in the Philippines in this article and plan your itinerary.
Philippines: things not to miss
As a vacation destination, the Philippines boasts unique experiences and exciting adventures wherever you go. Over the years, they have become a globally toured tropical destination – making it the ideal place for beach lovers, adventure seekers, foodies, thrill seekers, and anyone who wants to satisfy their wanderlust.
Dancing during festivals
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 Filipino culture over the years.
Part of Filipino culture is its well-known respect for religion which is evident in the celebration of various patron saints throughout the country. The Sinulog Festival in Cebu is one of the most popular Catholic festivals. Tourists from different parts of the world join the festival to witness its street parties, indigenous dances and colorful costumes.
Other well-known festivals include the MassKara Festival in Bacolod, the Moriones Festival in Marinduque, the Panagbenga Flower Festival, the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals in Leyte, the Kadayawan Festival in Davao, and the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo.
Take part in guided tours
It is not necessary to try extreme activities to enjoy the best of the Philippines.
The country is full of beautiful tourist spots that anyone can enjoy regardless of age or physical condition. A sightseeing tour is an easy and relaxed way to see the best of the Philippines and discover why it is a popular destination for many travelers.
You can make the most of your trip by joining some of the country’s best sightseeing tours. Hop in a van and take a ride in the countryside around Bohol Island, where you can see the Chocolate Hills and take a cruise along the Loboc River.
Walk or bike around the walled city of Intramuros in Manila and learn about its rich colonial heritage. Visit Bacolod’s old mansions with their storied past.
For a closer experience with nature, try strawberry picking in La Trinidad, Benguet, or visit the impressive hills of Batanes, which is a landscape unlike any other in the country.
The Philippines has a rich heritage, and visiting museums allows you to learn how its culture has developed and manifested throughout history. It also gives you a glimpse into the lives and times of Filipinos from different eras.
If you are in Manila, there is no need to go far as there are a number of museums to visit, including the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, the National Art Gallery at the National Museum of the Philippines, the Calvo Museum, and the Casa Manila Museum in Intramuros.
Other museums to visit outside the metro are the Balay Negrense Museum in Silay, Negros Occidental, the Palawan Special Battalion WW2 Memorial Museum, the Sugbo Museum in Cebu, and the Davao Museum of History and Ethnography in Mindanao.
Going on pilgrimage
The Philippines is one of the few predominantly Christian countries in Asia. Having been a Spanish colony for over 300 years, the culture of the Philippines has been largely shaped by religion. One can see this influence in traditions, festivals, and even architecture. Clearly, this influence of Christianity is one of the main reasons why Philippine culture is unique compared to neighboring countries. It is no surprise that the country is a major destination for religious or faith-related travel.
Throughout the country there is no shortage of churches, basilicas and shrines, each with its own story to tell. Participating in religious pilgrimages across the country allows you to visit them and learn about their history and significance to the local culture.
Some famous pilgrimage destinations include the parish church of St. John the Baptist in Quiapo, the Simala Shrine in Cebu, the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Manaoag, the parish church of St. Pascual de Baylon in Obando, Bulacan, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, and the Convent of the Pink Sisters in Tagaytay
Enchanting, captivating, and exciting-these are just some of the words that come to mind to best describe the experience at some of the must-visit sites in the Philippines for caving tours.
Samar is known to be the caving capital of the Philippines, as it is home to Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge Park, which features picturesque caves, underground rivers, and limestone formations.
On the other hand, a tour to Callao Cave, located in Cagayan Province, offers 300 cave systems that will show you the great attraction of huge limestone and rock formations. Tours in Hinagdanan Cave in Bohol will also reward you with the unexplored beauty of remarkable stalagmites and the impressive beauty of the cave will welcome you as you enter the site.
Take part in boat tours or river cruises.
The Puerto Princesa Underground River or Underground River National Park has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status for its spectacular limestone and impressive landscape with an underground river. By participating in boat tours, you can see the longest navigable underground river in the world up close.
Similarly, the Ihawig River in Puerto Princesa offers an exciting river cruise experience at night. Imagine gazing at the beauty of the night sky and breathing in the cool breeze as you cruise. If that is not enough to melt your heart, you will also be treated to 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 local cuisine while being entertained by a world-class children’s choir.