The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in the Philippines

Boracay offers some of the most remote, idyllic seascapes in the Philippines
Boracay offers some of the most remote, idyllic seascapes in the Philippines | © Mario Babiera / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Katrina Escalona
3 June 2021

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.

El Nido, Philippines

Natural Feature
Map View
Traditional hammock in the shade on a tropical island
© Radu Rad / Alamy Stock Photo

With its gorgeous rock formations, pristine beaches and clear aquamarine waters, El Nido is a place that makes Filipinos beam with pride. Located on the northern tip of mainland Palawan, the municipality of El Nido has been increasingly drawing tourists in 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.

Coron, Philippines

Natural Feature
Map View
Palawan, Coron Island, Kayangan Lake, elevated view from one of the limestone cliffs
Palawan, Coron Island, Kayangan Lake, elevated view from one of the limestone cliffs | © Michele Falzone / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Tubbataha Reefs

Natural Feature, Park
Map View
Four divers swimming with a turtle, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Philippines
© RooM the Agency / Alamy Stock Photo
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 in making the trip, 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.

Banaue Rice Terraces

Natural Feature
Map View
Banaue Rice Terraces
© Tommy Brtek / Shutterstock
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.

Chocolate Hills

Natural Feature
Map View
Chocolate hills, Bohol, Philippines
© ostill / Shutterstock

The pride of Bohol Province, 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.

Intramuros

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View

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.

Boracay

Natural Feature
Map View
Island Boracay, Philippines, view from above. White beach with palm trees and turquoise lagoon with boats. Buildings and hotels on the big island.
© Tatiana Kornylyeva / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Mount Mayon

Natural Feature
Map View
Mount Mayon Volcano in the province of Bicol, Philippines. Clouds Timelapse.
© Davidovich Mikhail / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Hinatuan Enchanted River

Natural Feature
Map View

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.

Batanes

Natural Feature
Map View
Sep 22, 2017 Honesty Cafe in Batan Island, Batanes, Philippines
© NAMHWI KIM / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

These recommendations were updated on June 3, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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