The 34 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in the Philippines

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Katrina Escalona

Filipinos are renowned for the immense pride they take in their homeland. Anything made in the Philippines or achieved by a Filipino, especially when recognized abroad, sets off a flood of national joy. In a country as startlingly beautiful as the Philippines, there is indeed plenty to be proud of. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful places to visit in this nation of more than 7,000 islands.

1. El Nido

Natural Feature

El Nido is a Philippine municipality on Palawan island
Eibner Saliba / Unsplash

With its gorgeous rock formations, pristine beaches and clear aquamarine waters, El Nido is one of the best attractions that makes Filipinos beam with pride. Located on the northern tip of mainland Palawan, the municipality of El Nido has been increasingly drawing tourists year after year, with more travellers, both local and foreign, discovering its undeniable beauty. The area is responsible in large part for why Palawan is recognized –and has been for some time – as the best island in the world.

2. Coron

Natural Feature

Coron, Philippines
John Hernandez / Unsplash

Also within the gorgeous province of Palawan is the municipality of Coron. With crystal clear waters perfect for snorkelling, powdery white sandy beaches and innumerable picture-perfect landscapes, Coron is a beach bum’s dream. As in El Nido, travellers can charter a small boat or join organized tour groups for day trips around the many islands and lagoons here. One stop that should not be missed is the breathtaking Kayangan Lake, dubbed the cleanest in the country and surrounded by stunning karst walls; truly a sight to behold, both above and below the water.

3. Tubbataha Reefs

Natural Feature, Park

Southeast of the island of Palawan, within the Sulu Sea, lies one of the best marine reserves and dive sites in the world; the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. A sprawling system of coral reefs (containing about half of the world’s coral species) that is home to an extensive variety of fish, sharks, dolphins, and whale species, the Tubbataha Reefs is one of the most sought-after waters for divers on the planet. For anyone interested when is the best time to visit, the limited three-month-long dive season runs from mid-March to mid-June and the only way to explore its spectacular waters is by visiting on a live-aboard boat.

4. Banaue Rice Terraces

Natural Feature

Banaue rice fields, Philippines
AR / Unsplash
The Philippines is studded with natural beauty from the depths of its seas to the top of its mountains. Another site in the archipelago that Filipinos can rightfully brag about are the rice terraces of Banaue. More than 2,000 years old, these rice terraces are a product of manual work carried out by the ancestors of the region’s population. The picturesque terraces are still valuable to locals today, providing an efficient space upon which to farm. Though the Banaue Rice Terraces are the most prominent, there are several other scenic rice terraces within the mountainous region of the Cordilleras.

5. Chocolate Hills

Natural Feature

Chocolate Hills, Bohol, Philippines
Aldrino / Unsplash

The pride of Bohol Province is a historical attraction. The rolling landscapes of the Chocolate Hills were named after their colour transition taking place between the wet and dry seasons when they grow a deeper and deeper shade of brown. Over 1,000 hills are estimated to be scattered across the 50sqkm (5,000ha) area.

6. Intramuros

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Baluarte de San Diego, Sta. Lucia Street, Intramuros, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines
Aela Mataverde / Unsplash

Intramuros, nestled within today’s restless Metro Manila, is a walled area that played an important role in the country’s history. The heart of old Manila, the area packs a lot into its 0.5sqkm (50ha) size and with cobblestone streets, preserved ruins and colonial architecture, Intramuros is a must-see for visitors to the capital. Visitors can go on walking tours to learn about Intramuros and the country’s history and take kalesa (horse-drawn calash) rides around the historic zone.

7. Siargao

Natural Feature

Landscape with a person riding a motorcycle in a road with palmtrees in Siargao, Philippines.
Alejandro Luengo / Unsplash

Gaining more and more popularity in recent years is the country’s surf capital of Siargao. Strategically located on the east coast, Siargao receives strong winds and currents that flow in steadily from the Pacific Ocean. To the delight of surfers, this gives the island solid swells they can enjoy, including the famous Cloud 9.

8. Mount Mayon

Natural Feature

One natural wonder that locals are truly proud of, Mount Mayon sits in the Filipino province of Albay. Mayon is an active volcano (the most active in the country) that is famous for its seemingly perfect symmetry. Standing at nearly 2,500m (8,200ft), its flawless conical shape captivates anyone who sets eyes on it. And while viewing it from afar is a sensational sight, it is best experienced up close through a multi-day hike.

9. Hinatuan Enchanted River

Natural Feature

This deep spring river in the province of Surigao del Sur takes its name from the mystical qualities locals believe surround the body of water. With its enchanting shades of deep blues and greens, the river is believed by locals to be guarded by fairies and other spirits known as engkanto. Contributing to its mystical nature is the unexplained source of its clear saltwater.

10. Batanes

Natural Feature

Basco, Batanes, Philippines
Rexy Quieta / Unsplash

Batanes offers an escape like nowhere else in the country. Perched at the northernmost tip of the Philippines, Batanes is surrounded by picturesque landscapes of rolling hills, big sky and azure seas. A tranquil, slowed-down vibe permeates life here, with locals known for their pleasant and amiable nature. They are also proud of their province’s virtually non-existent crime rate.

The Most Beautiful Islands in the Philippines

11. Boracay

Natural Feature

Boracay, Malay, Philippines
Hector John Periquin / Unsplash

Perhaps the second most popular Philippine island next to Palawan is the island of Boracay. Known for its powdery white sand, spectacular sunsets and vibrant nightlife, Boracay has long been a tourist hotspot Filipinos like to brag about, but the island was shut in 2018 due to a large-scale sewage problem, which dramatically affected tourism. With a long list of activities and watersports available, visitors will never run out of things to do on the island.

12. Kalanggaman Island

Natural Feature

While the luxurious island of Pamalican may sound divine, a trip here does end with quite the hefty bill. For those seeking out a tropical escape with a more feasible price tag, the country has a remarkable lineup of undeveloped virgin islands, too. One of these is Kalanggaman in Leyte. While the island itself isn’t all that large, two dazzling sandbars extend into the sea on either side. There are no hotels on the island, nor is there electricity – two enticing features to campers. There are basic facilities however, such as toilets and cottages for rent, so choosing to spend the night wouldn’t be too rough. Kalanggaman might not be the easiest to get to but its picturesque sandbar alone makes it a must for anyone travelling around the Visayas.

13. Malapascua Island

Natural Feature

Malapascua Island, Philippines
Theo Java / Unsplash

Like Apo, the island of Malapascua, north of mainland Cebu, is also famous for its excellent dive sites. As Apo boasts regular turtle sightings, Malapascua boasts that of majestic manta rays and thresher sharks. And while this island’s allure extends far beyond its coast, its beaches don’t make coming back to shore seem too bad either. Peaceful beaches like Guimbitayan and Langob are inviting havens after long days out at sea.

14. Malcapuya Island

Natural Feature

With El Nido and Coron crowning the island province, northern Palawan is any beach lover’s utopia. Another of its islands worth a trip is Malcapuya, sitting between the municipalities of Coron and Culion. As you approach, it won’t seem like much but, as you’ll quickly find out, it’s only because you’ll be docking at its backside. This gives its exquisite powdery white sand beach unobstructed views and keeps its shores swimmer-friendly and free of boats. Not only does this island have an immaculate, virgin beach, but its clear waters are also great for snorkelling. Interesting rock formations adorn one end, while the other has a viewing point from which to revel in all its natural beauty.

15. Camiguin Island

Natural Feature

Camiguin Island, Camiguin, Philippines
ronatory / Unsplash

The island province of Camiguin is another one of the country’s more underrated tourist destinations. While nearby White Island and Mantigue Island are great spots, mainland Camiguin is not to be overlooked. Majestic waterfalls, hot and cold springs, volcanoes and the famous sunken cemetery – this island presents a long list of sights and activities to fill out an exciting itinerary. And while travellers would come in more moderate numbers in the past, the province is currently working on expanding and promoting their tourism industry, so an influx of visitors is expected in the near future.

16. Siquijor Island

Natural Feature

Just east of Camiguin is the mystical island of Siquijor. Despite being wrapped in folklore and tales of witchcraft, this island is much more than its age-old legends. White sand beaches and marine sanctuaries with splendid diving spots abound but the star of the island is Cambugahay Falls, a series of gently cascading waterfalls that form a number of enchanting turquoise pools. Surrounded by lush green rainforest and dotted with wooden rafts, it looks like it could have been designed for a luxury waterpark – we’re talking honeymoon-photos gorgeous. Of course, Cambugahay Falls is popular, so for a quieter and more rugged waterfall to wallow in, try Lugnason Falls which is usually much less crowded.

17. Palaui Island

Natural Feature

Palaui Island, Santa Ana, Philippines
Michael Rivera / Unsplash

The famous TV franchise Survivor set four seasons of the show in the Philippines. The first two were filmed in Caramoan, with the other two in remote Palaui. Located in the north of the country, off the coast of Luzon, Palaui is an adventurer’s playground. Because of distance, it isn’t frequented by most travellers, which also keeps the island’s rustic character intact. In and around lush terrain are beaches, mangrove forests, hiking trails and waterfalls to explore. The island also houses a historic lighthouse from the Spanish occupation which is now considered a national cultural treasure. Its lone residential village of Punta Verde serves as a camping ground for visitors who wish to rough it out and stay a while.


Strictly speaking, Calaguas is a group of islands, east of Manila in the province of Camarines Norte. While a handful of islands make up the area, Tinaga is the best known and most frequented for its pristine 3km (2mi) stretch called Mahabang Buhangin. Not nearly as distinguished as Boracay or Palawan, the islands of Calaguas remain unadulterated. Fancy accommodations are also not an option in Mahabang Buhangin, so it has become a popular camping ground for the adventurous islander. Surrounding rolling terrain and hiking trails also present a more active alternative to lying on the beach.

Matukad Island

Once hidden jewels, the islands around the Caramoan peninsula in Camarines Sur were brought into the limelight after being featured on several seasons of the long-running reality competition, Survivor. The show’s typical setting is remote and isolated, a look very much had by the Caramoan islands. One of these islands is Matukad, which boasts a gorgeous fine-sand beach, lush forest backdrop and hidden lagoon. The lagoon is obscured by a tall limestone cliff, that, when climbed, presents a superb view of the natural pool below. The waters are calm and clear, perfect for swimming, but pack some courage for the climb as the rock wall is steep and jagged, which many contend is also worth the view.

Lahos Island

Another impressive Caramoan island is Lahos. A striking image, the island is characterized by two major rock formations opposite each other, allowing a small beach to stretch between them, creating shorelines on either end of the island. This untainted piece of paradise makes for a great place to simply lay back and bask in its raw beauty. It also goes without saying that Lahos is a perfect location for stunning new photos to add to your social media feeds.

White Island

This bare island just off the coast of Camiguin’s capital is a favourite for more than just its accessibility. More a sandbar than an island, it is free of any trees or structures, save for a meagre shack that sells snacks and rents out umbrellas. What surrounds it, however, are exquisite views of the horizon and Mt Hibok-Hibok on the province’s main island. Because there is not much shade, it’s best to come early in the morning or late into the afternoon to avoid the day’s scorching hours. Try to chance upon either sunrise or sunset for an even more remarkable scene.

Apo Island

Apo is a unique one on the list because perhaps even more famous than the island itself are its surrounding waters. A protected marine reserve, the waters around Apo Island hold magnificent coral gardens and bustling marine life. Turtle sightings are especially commonplace even close to shore, making it an exciting site for both snorkelling and diving. There are also accommodation options on the island for those who want more time exploring its marine reserve than a day trip allows.

Mantigue Island

Mantigue Island, also known as Magsaysay Island, sits just off the eastern coast of Camiguin. It’s usually much less crowded than the accessible White Island and offers more activity than the picturesque bare sandbar. More than just a beautiful beach, the island is rich in vegetation and even has a little forest trail for visitors to explore. It is also known for its marine sanctuary, a fantastic spot to do some diving or snorkelling.

Sabtang Island

Journey an hour southwest of Batan and you reach the island of Sabtang. Here, Batanes showcases even more masterpieces of nature, like the Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint and Nakabuang stone arch on Morong Beach. But an impressive man-made treasure that also renders this island worth a visit is the traditional Ivatan house, built to withstand the tempestuous weather the province sees, due to its geographic location. Made of limestone and coral walls and thatched cogon grass roofs, these sturdy houses line the local villages of Savidug and Chavayan, which are wonders to stroll through.

Cresta de Gallo Island

Near the centre of the Philippine archipelago is a small untouched paradise that still flies below the tourist radar, leaving it in its pure, spotless state. It also helps that it isn’t the easiest to get to and that there is virtually nothing on the island except for whatever nature bestowed. Anyone who decides to make the trip must have all necessities in tow, from water and food to camping gear. But for the trouble, they’ll also very likely have this precious island all to themselves.

Islas de Gigantes

And finally, rounding off this list are a group of lesser known islands in the province of Iloilo. Collectively known as Islas de Gigantes, some 10 islands sit unspoilt and uncrowded at the country’s centre. A basic tour around the islands makes stops at Cabugao Gamay, a picture-perfect islet with a vegetated rock hill at one end and a prime viewing point over Bantigue Island, Bakwitan Cave and Antonia Beach at the other. Seafood, especially scallops, are also abundant, so seafood lovers can feast to their heart’s content. This is one for your list of places to hurry to before it’s reached by commercial development.

The Most Beautiful Towns in The Philippines

The following recommendations are from Jessica Dawdy.

18. Vigan

Natural Feature

Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Philippines
Rhea Claire Gomez / Unsplash

A Unesco World Heritage Site, Vigan is one of the oldest towns in the Philippines. Calle Crisologo, the town’s historic center, is closed to vehicular traffic. This beautifully-preserved cobbled street is lined with colonial-era merchant houses and Baroque churches. Horse-drawn carriages, called kalesa, add to the beguiling atmosphere. Most of these elegant buildings are private homes, but a few have been converted into B&Bs and museums, allowing visitors the opportunity to see their equally-stunning interiors. Established in the 16th-century, the town’s unique architecture brings together elements of local, Chinese, and European architecture. It’s considered to be Asia’s finest example of a planned Spanish colonial town.

19. Baclayon

Natural Feature

Baclayon was the first municipality to be founded on the island of Bohol, established by the Spanish in the late 16th century. This charming town’s main attraction is Baclayaon Church, which is a National Cultural Treasure as well as a National Historical Landmark. Although this historic church was severely damaged during an earthquake in 2013, its adjacent museum remains open to explore. Aside from the church, the town is home to dozens of lovely colonial Spanish homes, dating back as far as 1853. Baclayon is an ideal base for whale-and dolphin-watching excursions to nearby Pamilacan Island.

20. Sagada

Natural Feature

Sagada Rice Terraces, Sagada, Philippines
Sebastian Herrmann / Unsplash

Known as the ‘Philippine Shangri-La’, Sagada is a stunning town set 5,300 feet above sea level in north-central Philippines. The town’s landscape of caves, hiking trails, sculpted rice terraces, and lush karst mountains looks particularly stunning shrouded in the mists often present at its high altitude. According to traditional local culture, the spirits of the dead like to be close to the sky, and as a result, ancient coffins can be seen interspersed along the limestone cliffs. Established by Episcopal missionaries in the early 20th century, the town’s cooler climate is ideal for growing a variety of fruits that are challenging to grow elsewhere in the country, including lemons.

21. Silay

Natural Feature

Although Silay doesn’t initially look as lovely as the nearby provincial capital of Bacolod, it’s a city that quickly draws in those who linger long enough to discover its rich history. Once known as ‘the Paris of Negros’, Silay was at the heart of the island’s thriving sugar industry in the 19th century. During the industry’s Golden Age, the town was dotted with grand sugar mansions. A number of these historic mansions survive today, and some have been converted into interesting museums. The town is particularly wonderful to visit during the Charter-Day anniversary, which takes place each June. This colorful annual event features an exciting street dance competition.


Daraga is a quaint market town located in southeast Luzon. This rural town sits in the shadow of Mount Mayon, with Daraga Church perched dramatically on a hill overlooking the volcano. Constructed in 1773, the church was built using volcanic rock and features some intricately sculpted reliefs on its columns. Just northwest of town is Cagsawa Church, one of the region’s most iconic sites. In the early 19th century hundreds of people sought refuge in the church during a devastating eruption of Mount Mayon, but were killed when lava engulfed the building. The remains of the church look quite haunting against the backdrop of green fields and towering Mount Mayon.


Nicknamed the ‘Summer Capital of the Philippines’, Baguio was originally designed as a vacation destination for Americans in the early 20th century. Set 5,200 feet above sea level, Baguio’s climate is distinctly cooler than most other areas of the country, making it a favorite getaway spot of both tourists and locals. Dotted with pretty parks, pine trees, and heritage buildings, the town is a pleasant place for horseback riding and hiking. It’s also an excellent shopping destination, with dozens of thrift shops (called ukay-ukay) found along Session Road, as well as handcrafted goodies available at the downtown market.


Alaminos is home to the Hundred Islands, a group of 123 islands located off its coast. Each of the islands is distinct, with many known for their unusual mushroom-like appearance caused by tides eroding their bases over the years. Island hopping boat trips are a popular activity, with some islands home to pretty beaches, caves, and interesting bird-life. In addition to touring the islands, many visitors stop to hike the islands’ often-hilly terrain or camp overnight. Alaminos itself features a number of elegant heritage homes, and it is well-known for a special type of longganisa made with a flavorful type of local garlic.


With its cobblestone houses, craggy seaside cliffs and rolling hills, Basco looks more like part of the European countryside than the capital of the Philippine’s municipality of Batanes. Pretty Basco Lighthouse is located about 0.7 miles north of the town, and offers fantastic views over the coast. Basco is an excellent base for exploring the Batanes Islands, or you can simply stroll through its charming flower-filled streets. Basco is also a good starting point for hikes to the top of nearby Mount Iraya, a 4,977-foot dormant volcano which can be reached in a three-hour trek from the town.

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