Situated in Southeast Asia sits the Philippines, a country known for its thousands of islands, amazing sights, and incredible culture. Once you visit this country, you’ll keep wanting to go back to explore even more.
You’ll fall in love with the laidback, island life and never get sick of waking up on the beach. Not to mention the locals are super friendly and show visitors a great time!
Since there is so much to see and do in the Philippines, we rounded up the top things to do in the Philippines when you find yourself planning a trip here.
*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in the Philippines check prices on Booking.com, we’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.*
1. Island Hopping in the Philippines
You could spend a lifetime in the Philippines and barely scratch the surface of what this picturesque country has to offer. From upscale, luxurious resort towns to secluded off-the-beaten-path destinations, the Philippines is home to over 7,000 individual islands. Although you can’t squeeze every island on your list, hopping between some of the country’s most desirable retreats is a guaranteed memorable experience.
Relax on the beach in Boracay, take Instagram-worthy photos on Coron, and swim through the crystal clear lagoons around El Nido. There are thousands of islands to choose from, and you can’t go wrong by crafting the perfect itinerary for your trip!
2. Dive Shipwrecks in Coron
Between the warm waters and abundant sea life, scuba diving in the Philippines is one of the most popular activities. For a unique diving experience, check out the mysterious wreck dives around Coron. There are over 12 different ships from a 1944 Japanese supply vessel bombing that lurk deep beneath the ocean’s surface.
The wrecks are scattered on the northwestern side of Coron Bay and sit anywhere from 30 to 140 feet deep, making it ideal for novice and experienced divers alike.
Explore the brushes of corals in Olympia Maru, swim through the cargo holds in Irako, or rub fins with groupers and lionfish in Okikawa Maru. These wreck dives are an impressive alternative to the natural marine life often found in other dive sites.
There are several dive shops in Coron. I dove with Corto Divers in Coron and highly recommend them.
3. Take in the Beauty of Kayangan Lake
Located on Coron, the stunning Kayangan Lake is a must-see during your trip to the Philippines. Surrounded by towering mountains and lush foliage, the vibrant blue and turquoise hues of Kayangan Lake are one of the country’s most beautiful natural wonders.
The lake is considered the cleanest, purest lake in the country, which makes it ideal for swimming and snorkeling. You’ll even have visibility at the bottom of the lake! You can also hire a local guide and venture around the lake on a fun and exciting bamboo raft.
Besides swimming and rafting, don’t forget to climb to the Kayangan Lake viewpoint. From here, you’ll have unparalleled views of Coron Bay. We recommend arriving at the viewpoint as early as possible, as it becomes quite crowded with tourists during the afternoon.
4. Visit the Chocolate Hills
With lush rolling hills stretching as far as the eye can see, Chocolate Hills is one of the best Philippines attractions. There are over 1,500 geometric hills covered in a dense shrub of grass. After the rainy season, the green grass turns a light brown color, giving the hills their dark, chocolatey appearance.
For the best views of the iconic hills, head to the Chocolate Hills Complex, where you’ll find a viewing platform with unobstructed views from high above the ground. You can also visit the lesser-visited Sagbayan Peak for sweeping 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape.
5. Go Surfing in Siargao
The tropical island of Siargao is known for its shallow lagoons, white sandy beaches, and swaying palm trees. However, Siargao is also the surfing capital of the country! Whether you’re standing on a board for the first time or never leave home without your board, the surf breaks in Siargao are ideal for all levels of experience.
There are 15 different surf breaks in Siargao around the island. Cloud 9 is by far the most popular and advanced spot on the island and hosts a variety of surf competitions throughout the year. Beginners should practice on G1, which is just a short motorcycle ride from the main town of General Luna. If you’re looking for a surf with fewer people, then head to Daku Reef or Cemetery to have the ocean practically to yourself.
We also love visiting Naked Island, it’s just stunning!
6. Swim with Whale Sharks
The waters in the Philippines are teeming with vibrant sea life. If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime activity, then we suggest snorkeling with the gentle whale sharks! As one of the largest marine mammals in the world, the whale shark can grow as large as 60 feet in length and weigh over 20,000 pounds.
There are several places in the Philippines to swim with whale sharks. Southern Leyte is considered the most ethical place to find these amazing creatures. There are fewer tourists and more regulations, which means you’ll get to enjoy a more authentic whale shark snorkel experience.
You can also find whale sharks in Tubbataha, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other popular (but often touristy) places in the Philippines with whale shark habitats include Oslob, Donsol, and Ligazby.
7. Diving in Malapascua
Brimming with tropical fish, colorful crustaceans, and larger-than-life sharks, Malapascua is home to one of the best diving destinations in the country. With dozens of dive spots to choose from, Malapascua caters to both beginner and experienced divers.
Monad Shoal is considered the best spot for year-round Thresher Shark sightings. Water depths are around 100 feet, which means you’ll get up close and personal with these stunning, majestic creatures! As they are still wild animals, it’s not advised to touch or grab them during your swim.
Kemod Shoal, Deep Rock, and Lapuslapus are three other popular sites located around the island. No matter where you swim in Malapascua, you’ll likely see a variety of marine life like scorpionfish, sea horses, and yellowfin tuna.
8. Chase Waterfalls in the Philippines
The landscape in the Philippines is unlike anywhere else on the planet. Besides the tropical beaches, rolling hills, and mirror-like lakes, the country is also flooded with cascading waterfalls. No matter what part of the country you’re visiting, you’ll likely encounter one of these magical, scenic wonders.
The 1,000-foot Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel, Davao Oriental, is comprised of over 120 different drops. The wider Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig City, Surigao spans a breathtaking 300 feet wide across the lush forest behind it.
To see the most waterfalls in the Philippines, venture to Iligan City, which is appropriately nicknamed, “The City of Majestic Falls.” Tinago Falls is the best place for swimming and rafting; however, Maria Cristina Falls and Mimbalot Falls are also great spots to hike and take photos.
9. Rent a Motorbike and Explore the Islands
If you want to immerse yourself in authentic Filipino culture, then rent a moped or motorbike and explore the country at your leisure! With the wind blowing through your hair and the sun shining on your skin, a moped is a perfect way to explore the great outdoors of one of the many islands.
Unlike with tour groups, you’ll be able to visit your favorite beaches and Philippines attractions whenever you please. Some smaller islands may prohibit cars, which means getting around by moped or bike is the only way to reach certain destinations.
Hourly and daily moped rentals are available in most cities and touristy islands. You can almost always bargain for a lower price when determining the cost of your rental.
10. Try Balut
Balut is one of those things you may have read about in books and seen on TV. This traditional Filipino delicacy is a boiled, fertilized duck egg that contains a partially developed duck embryo on the inside. Eaten as a street food snack, Balut is loved by locals but often feared by foreigners.
There’s a specific way to eat this tasty treat (if you build up the courage to try one). You’ll need to make a small hole in the top part of the eggshell. Sprinkle some salt and vinegar inside, then slowly sip the broth inside. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can also eat the yolk and embryo inside. Adam ate his fair share of Balut while in Manila.
11. Underground River in Puerto Princesa
No visit to the Philippines would be complete without a trip through the underground river in Puerto Princesa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Palawan. Not only is it the world’s largest underground river, but it’s a thrilling journey through giant limestone caves.
As your boat glides through the water, you’ll be able to see stunning stalactites and stalagmites above you. You’ll then reach the grand cathedral, the largest room in the cave, which is home to nine different species of bats.
12. Party on Boracay Island
The holiday island of Boracay attracts thousands of party-goers each year. Between the soft sand and warm tropical weather, Boracay is the ideal destination for a night of fun and entertainment. The beers are cheap, the bars are rowdy, and the visitors are looking for a good time!
Although the government has started to enforce certain measures to clean up Boracay’s party image, you can still find fun places to spend the evening. Once the clock strikes midnight, you’ll be able to make your way to one of the nightclubs to dance until the sun comes up.
13. Visit a Tarsier Sanctuary
The pint-sized, big-eyed tarsier is one of the Philippines ‘ most lovable creatures. At only three to six inches tall, they also happen to be one of the smallest! During your trip to the Philippines, you’ll be able to visit a Tarsier Sanctuary to get up close and personal with these tiny, endangered primates.
The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the island of Bohol. Unlike other places that claim to be tarsier sanctuaries, The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected forest that raises tarsiers in their natural habitat. You aren’t watching them in a closed encounter like you would in a zoo.
Although the tarsiers will probably be sleeping during the day (they’re nocturnal after all!), you can still catch of glimpse of them dozing on one of the tree branches.
- Tarsier Sanctuary Rd, Corella, Bohol, Philippines
- Daily 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- 50 pesos
14. Hike up the Rice Terraces in Banaue
The astonishing tiered rice terraces in Banaue will take your breath away. These cascading fields were hand-carved into the sides of the mountains over 2,000 years ago as a way to irrigate the farmland.
The picturesque backdrop of the rice terraces is ideal for hiking and walking. You can hire a local guide to take you to the most famous scenic spots, including the beautiful Sunrise viewpoint. You could easily spend hours getting lost through the different flowing terraces in the area.
Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the rice terraces are arguably one of the best attractions in the entire country!
15. Ride a Jeepney
The Jeepney is not only the most popular method of transportation in the Philippines, but it’s also the quirkiest! These colorful and ornately decorated buses are like pop art museums on wheels, and attract attention wherever they go. For just a few cents, you’ll be able to enjoy an authentic journey just like a local.
16. Rent a Private Boat for the Day in Palawan
Imagine sailing around paradise for a few hours on your very own private boat! In Palawan, you can rent a boat with a skipper for an action-packed day of island hopping and sunbathing. There are so many things to do in the Palawan and the best way to do them is with a private boat!
Tours of El Nido are usually offered through four different itineraries; tour A, tour B, tour C, and tour D. Each route highlights some of the best islands, caves, and beaches that Palawan has to offer. However, renting a private boat unlocks the world of destinations that are not often available on guided tours. You’ll be able to customize and choose your favorite places to visit at your own pace!
Some of our favorite places to explore are best with your own private boat. We highly recommend visiting Snake Island and Nacpan Beach if you have time.
Related Article: Easiest Way – Manila to El Nido
17. See The Active Mayon Volcano
The sacred (and very much active) Mayon Volcano is a must-see during your visit to the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It’s the most active volcano in the Philippines and has erupted almost 50 times since the early 1600s. Although it’s been nearly 30 years since its last, fatal eruption, Mayon is definitely not asleep.
Besides admiring the sheer size of the volcanic mountain, there are a variety of other activities to do during your trip. Take an ATV tour towards the base of the volcano, shop for local hand-made products in the village, or photograph the perfect symmetry of the mountain from a trail.
Hiking the mountain is no longer permitted, but it’s still worth a journey to Albay to admire this beautifully destructive work of nature.
Sunday 1st of May 2022
I’m loving your posts about the Philippines! My mom is from there, but moved to Maine when she was young. We recently went back in 2018 and visited Coron and loved it! We’re hoping to go next year and I’m definitely going to use your tips on Siargao Island. It doesn’t seem like the Philippines is a very popular destination for many US tourists, but it should be!! Such a beautiful and friendly country. :)