It’s a country of immense natural beauty with a vibrant capital and a mix of culture unique to its region. I’m talking about my native country, the Philippines. The Southeast Asian country lies in the equator, just several hundred miles south of Hong Kong. It’s made up of over 7,000 islands and will positively take multiple trips to explore but if you’re considering a taking a holiday in the Philippines, make sure you take the time to enjoy these well-known and worthy Philippines must-see attractions.
Must See Attractions in the Philippines
One of the premier dive sites in the world lies in the Philippines’ Sulu Sea. The Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993 and features numerous marine and bird species that are distinctive to the location. It’s large, at over 100,000 hectares and is divided into two sections that are separated by a channel five miles wide. Explore the turquoise blue waters through live-aboard diving excursion between the months of April to June.
Nowhere else in the world but in the Philippines will you find a more perfectly symmetrical shape volcano that rises to more than 2,000 meters above sea level. Mayon Volcano sits in the province of Albay, approximately 260 miles southeast of Manila. Apart from seeing its picturesque setting, visitors to the volcano can also partake in activities like hiking, camping, and bird watching. Just keep up to date with the latest alerts considering the Mayon is the country’s most active volcano.
A quiet fishing spot near the Visayan island of Cebu, Malapascua Island makes the list of Philippines must-see attractions for its beautiful and sandy white beaches. The crystal clear waters surrounding the island also makes it a superb thrill-seeker dive spot where you can easily swim with manta rays, thresher and hammerhead sharks. Coconut trees and brightly colored coral gardens line the beaches which make them particularly fine locations to view sunrises and sunsets.
No one knows exactly how the Chocolate Hills of Bohol formed but that certainly contributes to the allure of these grassy mounds that are scattered within the interior of the province of Bohol. They vary in height, ranging from 100 to 150 feet, and turn brown during the dry season. When viewed from above, the collective mounds resemble a compilation of chocolate bonbons.
Located on the western side of the Visayan region, the Palawan Islands should be on anyone’s Philippines must-see attraction list because of three locations: Puerto Princesa where you can visit and experience a one-of-a-kind natural phenomena inside its infamous Underground Caves, El Nido, a beach side community with the largest marine sanctuary in the country, and Coron, where you can enjoy a relaxing beach holiday and explore a number of sunken Japanese warships that now harbor an extraordinary collection of marine life.
There’s no list of Philippines must-see without mentioning Boracay. The small island has been rated one of the best in the world thanks to its miles and miles of fine white sand. In addition to its award-winning beaches, Boracay Island also features a number of activities such as off-roading to see volcanic caves, parasailing, and scuba diving. The fun doesn’t stop when the sun sets however. The island has a pulsating nightlife that includes a number of excellent bars and restaurants that stay open until the crack of dawn.
Banaue Rice Terraces
Prepare to be struck by awe-inspiring beauty as soon as you get a glimpse of the man-made rice terraces courtesy of the indigenous Ifugao tribe that started carving and farming them some 2,000 years prior. Set 5,000 feet above sea level, the terraces were made without modern tools and when viewed from below appear to look like giant stairways to the sky. The terraces continue to be farmed the traditional way by ancestors of the Ifugaos. Visitors to the rice paddies often extend their stay in Banaue for several days to hike the nearby mountains and learn more about the culture and history of the Ifugao people.
A visit to the Philippines isn’t quite the same without spending a few days in its bustling capital, Manila. Plenty of great food, high-quality artistic performances, and well-preserved colonial remnants from the Spanish era are the highlights of Manila. The capital region has hundreds of excellent eats from popular fast-food chain Jollibee to traditional dishes prepared by Suzette Montinola at her restaurant, La Cocina de Tita Moning (translates to “The Kitchen of Aunt Moning.) Manila is also where you’ll get to see outstanding performance art shows led by the Bayanihan Philippine Folk Dance Company. Finally, take some time and visit the walled city of Intramuros and the adjacent San Agustin Church, both of which provide insight of what life was like in the Philippines during Spanish colonial times.