Top 15 Philippines Bucket List Destinations + Best Tourist Spots
The Philippines is a country that is home to some of the most stunning natural wonders and cultural experiences in the world. With over 7,461 islands, there’s no shortage of breathtaking destinations to explore.
In this blog post, we’ve curated a list of 15 bucket list destinations in the Philippines that should be on every traveler’s must-visit list.
The Sardine Run in Moalboal
Moalboal is a popular diving destination in the Philippines, known for its sardine run. During the Sardine Run, millions of sardines form massive schools that can be seen from the surface of the water. This attracts a variety of predators, including dolphins, sharks, and tuna, which feed on the sardines.
Thousands of sardines swim in unison, creating a stunning spectacle that is a must-see for any traveler. It’s also an excellent place for diving enthusiasts to explore the vibrant marine life in the area.
Visit the Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces are one of the most incredible sights in the Philippines. These terraces are a testament to the ingenuity of the Ifugao people, who built them over 2,000 years ago. Visitors can hike through the terraces and marvel at the intricate irrigation system that still functions today, providing sustenance to the local communities.
To get to the Banaue Rice Terraces, you can take a bus from Manila or other major cities to Banaue town. From there, you can hire a guide to trek through the terraces and surrounding villages. There are also several guesthouses and hotels in Banaue where you can stay and explore the area at your leisure.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is a natural wonder that should not be missed. The Puerto Princesa Underground River is a popular tourist destination located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the island of Palawan. It is a protected area recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The underground river is a navigable river that flows through a limestone cave system over 24 kilometers long. The river winds through spectacular rock formations and flows out to the west Philippine Sea. The cave is also home to various endemic wildlife, including the Palawan peacock-pheasant and the Palawan hornbill.
To visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River, you can fly to Puerto Princesa City and take a van or bus to the Sabang Port. From there, you can take a boat to the cave system’s entrance. Visitors are required to take a guided tour of the cave, which lasts about 45 minutes to an hour.
Explore the Beautiful Balabac Islands
The Beautiful Balabac Islands in Palawan are a true gem of the Philippines. The Balabac Islands are a group of islands located in the southernmost part of Palawan. The islands boast stunning white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and diverse marine life, making it a perfect destination for beach lovers and adventurers.
The journey starts from Puerto Princesa to Rio Tuba via van rental or public transport. To get to Balabac, you can take a ferry from Rio Tuba, located in the south of Palawan. The boat ride takes about four hours; once you arrive, you can hire a boat to take you around the islands. The main islands to visit are Candaraman Island, Onuk Island, and Bugsuk Island.
The Balabac Islands are known for their unique flora and fauna, such as the Philippine mouse deer and the Palawan bearded pig. The islands are also home to various bird species, including the Palawan hornbill and the Philippine cockatoo.
The Hanging Coffins in Sagada
The Hanging Coffins of Sagada are a unique cultural attraction in the Cordillera Mountains of northern Luzon. The coffins are believed to be over 2,000 years old and are hung on the sides of cliffs and rock faces.
The Igorot people, indigenous to the region, believed that by hanging the coffins in high places, the deceased would be closer to the gods and have a better chance of reaching the afterlife. The coffins are made from hollowed-out logs and are placed on the cliffs using ropes and vines.
To visit the Hanging Coffins of Sagada, you can take a bus from Manila or other major cities to the town of Sagada. From there, you can take a short hike to Echo Valley, where you can see the coffins hanging from the cliffs.
Sagada is also known for its scenic hikes and waterfalls, making it a popular destination for adventure-seekers. You can visit the Bomod-ok Falls or hike the Sagada Rice Terraces to experience the area’s natural beauty.
Hike Taraw Cliff of El Nido
El Nido is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Philippines, and the Taraw Cliff hike offers visitors a chance to take in the stunning panoramic views of the town and the beautiful Bacuit Bay.
To hike Taraw Cliff, you must be physically fit and prepared for a steep and strenuous climb. The hike starts at the base of the cliff, and you will need to climb up sharp limestone rocks using ropes and ladders. The ascent takes about an hour, but the views from the top are well worth the effort.
Once you reach the top, you can take in the breathtaking views of Bacuit Bay and the surrounding islands. You can also see the entire El Nido town and nearby beaches.
Hiding a guide to hike Taraw Cliff is recommended, as the trail can be challenging and steep in some parts. They can also ensure that you have the proper equipment and safety precautions.
Learn how to surf in Siargao.
Siargao is the surfing capital of the Philippines and offers world-class waves for both beginner and advanced surfers.
Siargao offers a variety of surf breaks for all levels of surfers, making it an excellent destination to learn how to surf. You can enroll in a surf school or hire a surf instructor to learn how to surf in Siargao. Many surf schools offer beginner lessons, typically including a brief introduction to surfing equipment, techniques, and safety procedures.
The surf schools usually provide surfboards and other necessary equipment. It’s also important to wear proper surfing attire, such as rash guards, board shorts, and reef shoes.
Aside from surfing, Siargao also offers a laid-back island vibe, with white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and delicious seafood. It’s an excellent destination for travelers looking for a tropical paradise with a vibrant surfing culture.
Explore Coron, Palawan
Coron is home to some of the most beautiful lagoons and beaches in the Philippines. Visitors can go island hopping and discover hidden coves and lakes or go diving and explore the numerous shipwrecks in the area.
One of the most popular activities in Coron is island hopping. You can hire a boat to take you around the islands, which will take you to famous destinations such as the Twin Lagoons, Kayangan Lake, and Siete Pecados Marine Park. The lagoons and lakes are perfect for swimming and snorkeling, while the marine park offers excellent diving opportunities.
Aside from island hopping, you can also explore the island’s World War II wrecks, which have become popular diving spots. Coron is home to several sunken Japanese warships, including the Akitsushima and the Okikawa Maru.
If you prefer to stay on land, you can visit the Maquinit Hot Springs, the only saltwater hot spring in the Philippines. You can soak in the natural hot water and take in the views of the ocean.
Coron town also offers a variety of restaurants and bars that serve fresh seafood and local delicacies. You can also find souvenir shops and local markets to buy handmade crafts and souvenirs.
Swim with whale sharks in Oslob Cebu.
Oslob is a small coastal town located in the southern part of Cebu Island and is known for its whale shark-watching tours.
The whale sharks, locally known as “tuki,” are usually found in the shallow waters off the coast of Oslob. Visitors can observe and swim alongside these gentle giants with the help of trained guides and boatmen.
The whale shark watching tours in Oslob typically start early in the morning, and visitors must attend a brief orientation session before the tour. The orientation covers the rules and regulations of swimming with whale sharks, including maintaining a safe distance and avoiding touching or feeding them.
During the tour, visitors will board a small boat and be taken to the area where they can watch and swim with the whale sharks. The tour usually lasts around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the number of visitors.
Aside from swimming with whale sharks, Oslob offers other activities such as snorkeling, diving, and beach-hopping. You can visit nearby attractions such as Tumalog Falls or the historic Cuartel ruins.
Get a traditional tattoo in Kalinga.
Getting a traditional hand-tapped tattoo from Apo Whang-od, a famous Kalinga tattoo artist, is a popular activity for travelers visiting the province of Kalinga. Apo Whang-od is a 103-year-old mambabatok (traditional tattoo artist) from the Kalinga province in the northern Philippines. Her hand-tapped tattoos have gained international recognition, making her one of the most sought-after tattoo artists in the country.
To get a tattoo from Apo Whang-od, you must travel to her village in Kalinga province. The village is in the mountains and can be reached by hiking. Once you arrive, you must register with the village council and wait for your turn to get a tattoo.
To create her tattoos, Apo Whang-od uses traditional tools such as a “thorn” needle and a bamboo stick. The tattoos usually feature Kalinga tribal designs. Each tattoo is unique and reflects the individual’s personal story.
Getting a traditional hand-tapped tattoo from Apo Whang-od is an authentic cultural experience that offers a glimpse into the rich traditions and history of the Kalinga people. It is an opportunity to connect with a living legend and honor the art of traditional tattooing.
Kawasan Falls in Cebu
Kawasan Falls is a multi-tiered waterfall located in the municipality of Badian, in the province of Cebu. It is a popular tourist destination known for its crystal-clear turquoise-blue water and lush green surroundings.
Visitors need to take a short hike through a well-maintained trail that winds through the jungle to get to the falls. The hike can take around 15 to 20 minutes; along the way, you will pass by small streams and cascading waterfalls.
Once you reach the falls, you can swim in the refreshing water, relax on the bamboo rafts, or ride to get closer to the waterfall. You can also climb up to the second and third tiers of the falls, where you can enjoy a more secluded and tranquil experience.
Aside from swimming and relaxing, Kawasan Falls also offers other activities, such as canyoneering, where visitors can jump off cliffs, swim through canyons, and slide down natural water slides. Canyoneering tours are provided by local guides and are an exciting way to experience the beauty of the falls and surrounding landscape.
The Pink Sand Beach of Zamboanga
Sta. Cruz Island is a small uninhabited island located off the coast of Zamboanga City. It is known for its pink sand beach, which results from the crushed red organ pipe coral that mixes with the white sand. The island is also surrounded by crystal-clear waters, making it a perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
The local government protects the island to preserve its natural beauty and marine life. Visitors are required to register and pay an environmental fee before entering the island. To reach the island, you can take a boat ride from Paseo del Mar in Zamboanga City, which takes about 20-30 minutes. It is recommended to visit the island during weekdays to avoid the crowd.
Discover breathtaking Batanes
Batanes is a breathtaking archipelagic province in the northernmost part of the Philippines, known for its stunning landscapes, rugged coastlines, and traditional stone houses. Visitors can explore the picturesque Vayang Rolling Hills, hike to Mt. Iraya for panoramic views, and visit the traditional Ivatan villages on Sabtang Island.
Other must-see attractions include the famous Basco Lighthouse, the idyllic Valugan Boulder Beach, and the unique Honesty Coffee Shop. The warm and friendly Ivatan people, rich culture, and delicious cuisine also add to the charm of this beautiful destination, making it a must-visit for anyone seeking an unforgettable travel experience.
Tubbataha Reef, Palawan
Tubbataha Reef is a protected marine park in the Sulu Sea, about 150 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It is home to some of the world’s most diverse and abundant marine life, with over 600 species of fish and 360 species of coral.
The Tubbataha Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular destination for diving enthusiasts worldwide. The crystal-clear waters provide excellent visibility, allowing divers to explore the vibrant coral reefs, underwater caves, and deep drop-offs teeming with marine life. Some species commonly spotted in the area include sharks, rays, sea turtles, and schools of colorful fish.
To visit Tubbataha Reef, tourists can join a liveaboard diving trip from Puerto Princesa or other nearby towns. The park is open from mid-March to mid-June each year, during which time diving is allowed. It is important to note that the area is a protected marine park, and visitors must follow strict rules and regulations to preserve this beautiful natural wonder.
Visit Boracay Island
Boracay Island is a small island paradise in the Western Visayas region. It is famous for its pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant nightlife. The island offers a range of activities, from lounging on the beach and swimming in the ocean to water sports like kiteboarding, windsurfing, and scuba diving.
Visitors can also explore the island’s natural beauty, such as the Bat Caves and the stunning Puka Beach. In the evenings, Boracay comes alive with music, dancing, and entertainment at its many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Despite its popularity as a tourist destination, Boracay has managed to maintain its natural charm and local character, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Philippines.
Overall, The Philippines is a remarkable destination with much to offer. From stunning beaches and lagoons to breathtaking landscapes and cultural traditions, the Philippines has something for everyone. The 15 bucket list destinations listed here are just a small taste of what the country has to offer. Whether you are a beach lover, an adventurer, or a culture enthusiast, there is no shortage of unique experiences to be had in the Philippines. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to explore the beauty and wonder of this incredible country.
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