the Philippines

Travel: the Philippines

the PhilippinesA trip to the Philippines is not as popular for the average traveller than say Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. And that is actually not completely fair: there is so much to do on the 7.107 islands that the country knows. This makes planning a trip to the Philippines quite difficult, because you have to choose between many paradise like islands. Here you will find an overview with the most beautiful spots in the Philippines.

The Philippines in short

The Philippines is becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination. And that is not without a reason. Although sometimes thought of differently, the country has more to offer than sun, beach and the Philippine Sea, Celebes Sea and the South China Sea. For example you can pay a visit to Mount Mayon, one of the most active vulcanoes on earth, and get to know the Spanish and American influences from the past. The 7.017 islands are in total 7 times the size as the surface area of the Netherlands for instance. Dispersed over these islands live 92 million people that in general speak good English and receive tourists with open arms.
It is possible to organise a tour in the Philippines by yourself or use the services of an agency. In principle it is fairly simple to organise everything yourself, because the necessary information (bus- and boat times etc.) is easily found on the internet, the average Filipino speaks a bit of English and you can book your bus tickets and hotel nights simply on the internet. By organising the tour yourself you will have more freedom and the sense of adventure grows. Would you rather have some extra comfort without stressing yourself too much, then an organised tour may suit you better. These you can book at an online or offline travel agent.

Manila, Luzon

Manila is the capital city of the Philippines where you will most probably land with the airplane. Most tourists choose to skip Manila or stay here for only a short amount of time, because there is little to do here and the city is overpopulated. During a visit to Manila you will spent a lot of time in traffic and that is not what most travellers want; especially not at the beginning of your trip. May you do decide to spend the night in Manila then you can pay a visit to Intramuris, the old Spanish colonial district. Besides that you can also choose to pay a visit to the Rizal Park, where you can also find the National Museum of the Philippines. Do you have extra time? Then go and see China town, where you can eat delicious food and visit different temples.
The impressions of the streets in Manila can be quite confronting. People are dying on the streets, the population lives in small huts and it is quite chaotic. Especially if you are not used to this, seeing the hard truths can be a confronting experience. But if you want to understand the country on a deeper level, then you should also be prepared to see the less comfortable sides of the country. We recommend to take care of your valuable belongings or leave them in the hotel room.

The island Luzon

The majority of the Filipinos live on the island of Luzon, that lies in the north of the Philippines. Despite the busyness of the island, it still attracts a lot of people from other parts of the Philippines to Metro Manila to look for work. A visit to the Luzon island is an absolute must and you can go here in the beginning or the end of your trip (if you enter and leave the country from Manila). Here you will find the highlights:

Taal Volcano

The Philippines is surrounded by several volcanoes, a sea of fire you could say. One of the most special volcanoes and the most accessible is the Taal Volcano, which is a 1,5 hour drive from Manila. The volcano has a crater lake and lies itself on an island within another lake. The Filipinos like to bring a visit themselves to this volcano to avoid the busyness of the city and call the volcano ‘A lake within a volcano within a lake within an island’.

The Rice Terraces of Banaue

Truly: you will be amazed by the beauty of these rice fields. These rice terraces are more than 2.000 years old and form an important irrigation method to supply the inhabitants of Banaue with water. It lies about 6 hours driving from Manila, but it is absolutely worth going. The area lies in the mountains, which is why the temperatures will be lower here. Maybe you would not appreciate this at the beginning of your trip in the Philippines, but at the end of your tour, after many hours of sun, this can be quite a welcome change actually. In the area of Banaue you will find besides these rice paddies also different viewpoints and impressive waterfalls.

The village of Vigan

Vigan is an historical village in the northwest of Luzon. In this village you will find many buildings from colonial times and you see a lot of Spanish influences in the shapes of churches and houses, built in the authentic Spanish style. A visit to Vigan is easily combined with a visit to Banaue. It lies on the route from Manila to Banaue.


Sagada is also easily combined with the rice terraces and the historical village Vigan. In the town of Sagada there are particular ethnic minorities that have the custom of hanging coffins with their passed loved ones on the mountain sides. This is very special to see, because (as far as we know) no other tribe or community in the world has this custom. Not everyone in Sagada is able to be buried like this, because, amongst other things, you have to be married and have grandchildren.


There are a number of places in the Philippines where you can swim with whale sharks, dive and snorkel. But in contrast to Donsol, which lies in the south east of Luzon, these places are in general very touristy. This makes it less fun, because you will go in the water with hundreds of people at the time to see the special whale sharks. Do you want to have the whale sharks for just yourself, then you are better off paying a visit to Donsol. When you do this, do it between December and the beginning of June, then you have the biggest chance to actually see the animals. It is a unique experience swikking, snorkeling or diving with whale sharks because you will only truly realize how big they are when you do this. Although they look quite frightening, you don’t have to be scared. They never hurt a fly.

Mount Mayon

Mount Mayon is the most active volcano of the Philippines and lies at 2.642 meters altitude. The volcano is known by its perfect cone shaped point and it produces smoke the entire day. Who wants to climb Mount Mayon, will have to pay a visit to Legazpi, in the south east of Luzon. From this town you can simply book a tour with a guide. It is possible to climb this volcano to 2.200 meters high.

Island group Visayas

Visayas is a name for the different islands in the middle of the Philippines. The marine life in this area is called the incubator of the Pacific Ocean. The Visayas Islands are because of that very attractive for divers. But also those who do not dive will be able to enjoy themselves. Besides the tropical beaches you can count on a very diverse landscape, waterfalls and many old Catholic churches. Visayas should actually be the reason why you pay a visit to the Philippines.

Cebu City

A big city that is popular amongst tourists. This is because this city has an international airport. But the city itself is not really worth going. There is much poverty in Cebu City, it is very busy, dirty and there is little to do. From Cebu City you can book different tours, which could be a good reason to stay in the second largest city of the Philippines:

Dao Falls, Samboan

Dao Falls is absolutely a unique waterfall, you will be amazed by the light blue colors of the water. Most of the time it is fairly quiet at this waterfall, so if you are lucky you will have this beautiful waterfall all to yourself.

Tumalog Falls, Oslob

The Tumalog Falls is a wide waterfall where big volumes of water come down at once. The color of the water is unique and depending on the position of the sun (and clouds) you can see a rainbow in the water.

Inambakan Falls, Ginatilan

This is maybe the most unique waterfall that you will see in your life. Despite the beauty of this waterfall the chances are that you also do not have to share this beauty with anyone.

Swimming with whale sharks, Oslob

This is one of the most touristy places to spot whale sharks. Early in the morning, together with hundreds of other tourists, you get in a boat to watch the whale sharks from up close and personal. It is a pity that this place is so touristy, but the chances are very small that you will miss the whale sharks here.


Palm trees, white beaches and clear blue water is what you will find here. It is perhaps the most touristy destination of the Philippines, but a visit to this island should really not be missed during your trip to the Philippines. You will find many luxurious resorts here where you can recover with comforts from your long flight. Boracay is also the place to be if you want to party.


During a visit to Bohol you will get to know that Philippines is not only about beautiful beaches, blue sea water and the underwater world. Even though these aspects are present also in Bohol (Panglao), you have other good reasons to pay a visit to Bohol. With a scooter (or private driver) you can discover and undertake the following sights and activities: the Chocolate Hills, the Mahogany man-made forest, hanging bridge and loboc river. In principle you can do all of this within one or two days. After you have seen everything in Bohol, you can recover in Panglao: an island with two bridges that are connected to the island of Bohol.
From Cebu City you can take the boat to Bohol. It is also possible to take a plane to Bohol.


Siguijor is a little less well known, but that makes it a better holiday destination. It is only a small island, but it has everything you need: beautiful beaches, waterfalls and a lookout point. From Siguijor you can make a daytrip to Apo Island. A small island where you can dive and snorkel. The coral is beautiful here and you will be guaranteed to see big turtles!


Malapascua has not been touristy for a while. The tourism is therefore not too big here yet. Who wants to discover the beauty of Malapascua can beter go now, before the island is fully built with big resorts and international hotels. The green island may have the most beautiful beaches in the Phillipines.


The best is saved for last. Palawan lies in the west of the Philippines and belongs to the Visayas island group. Actually you can not come home before paying a visit to this island. The following destinations are popular for tourists:

Puerto Princesa

The name of this city is more beautiful than the city itself. Still most tourists will stay here a night or longer, because it has an airport. From Puerto Princesa you can book a tour to the Underground River, one of the seven world wonders. With a boat, a tour guide and many other tourists you can admire the underground river from the inside.
El Nido lies in the southern most point of the island on 6 hours driving from Puerto Princesa. Actually you pay a visit to Palawan to see El Nido. The village itself is not very appealing, but it is the starting point for several tours. During these tours you pay a visit to beautiful lagoons, uninhabited islands and snorkel in beautiful places. El Nido should be top of your list when you visit the Philippines. The following sights and activities are a must:
•small lagoon
•big lagoon
•nacpan beach
•Hidden beach
•Secret lagoon beach
•Dilumaca island

Coron Island

From the port in El Nido you can take the boat to Coron Island. This boat ride take 8 hours in total and will be everything but pleasant. But after a visit to Coron you will conclude that it was absolutely worth the horrible boat ride. There people that say that Coron is the tip of El Nido, but less damaged and less touristy. From Coron you book a boat trip and pay a visit to uninhabited islands, the best places for snorkeling and you will see the clearest water in the world, the following sights and activities are a must:
•Kayangan Lake
•Twin lagoon
•Dimakya Island
•Duiken/snorkelen bij Japanse wrakken
•Coral garden
•Maquinit hot spring


Article written by: roybor
Times read: 2546x
Added: 11-11-2016 12:58
Last modified: 29-11-2016 16:22

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