TOP 10 World Renowned and Must-See Places in the Philippines!

Whether you are a local traveler or foreign tourist just starting to discover the beauty of the Philippines, here’s a list of places you shouldn’t dare miss:


Mouth of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

1. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the must-visit places among the World Heritage Sites of the Philippines. Its natural 8.2 km navigable underground river is believed to be the world’s longest. The river can be found beneath a beautiful limestone karst mountain called St. Paul (named after one of its peaks that resembles the dome of St. Paul Cathedral in Italy). 

This national park is one of the centers of biodiversity conservation in Palawan. In fact, you can see monkeys and large monitor lizards greeting you on your way to the mouth of the cave. Currently, it is one of the strongest contenders (out of the top 28 world finalists) for the 7 New Natural Wonders of the World Competition.

The Town of Vigan

2. The Historic Town of Vigan is one of the best examples of a well-preserved Spanish Colonial Town established in the 16th century. It is famous for its authentic Spanish-era homes lining the restored cobblestone streets. Thankfully, this heritage gem has survived World War II and the onslaught of natural calamities.

During World War II, as story has it, the Japanese Military commander Captain Fujiro Takahashi asked the help of Fr. Joseph Kleikamp to take care of his Filipina wife and child in exchange for not burning the town when the Japanese forces retreated. When the Japanese left, the people of Vigan spread an oversized American flag in the plaza to avoid being bombed by the Americans.

San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte

3. The Baroque Churches of the Philippines are among the few remnants of Spanish colonial architecture from the late 16th century, which was an interpretation of the European Baroque style by Chinese and Filipino craftsmen. These churches are interesting particularly because of their unique Earthquake Baroque architecture, which put emphasis on the massive, carved buttresses for support during earthquakes.

Nuestra Senora Church in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur

The nearest one in Manila is the Immaculate Conception Church located in Intramuros. The most impressive buttress design can be seen in the San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. On the way to Ilocos Norte, you will see the Nuestra Senora Church in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur. Lastly, the Santo Tomas Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo has the most impressive façade with its impressively detailed carvings.

Santo Tomas Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo

4. The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is one of the best diving spots in the Philippines (and the world) because of its pristine coral reef with a 100-m perpendicular wall, lagoons, and coral islands. It covers 130,028 hectares, including the North and South Reefs, with the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles.

To get to Tubbataha, you can join live-aboard diving trips to explore the vast area for 5-7 days. There are also organized tours for people who just want to snorkel, but diving is highly recommended to see the wide variety of colorful marine life. There is only a small window of time to visit this World Heritage site – during the summer (from late March to early June) because of the stability of the weather.


Batad, Banaue Rice Terraces

5. The Banaue Rice Terraces should be on every Filipino’s must-visit list. The Ifugaos learned how to use the contours of the mountains to cultivate rice paddies, using the force of gravity for natural water irrigation. This knowledge was passed down from generation to generation for 2,000 years. It is highly recommended to experience this great example of harmony between man and nature.

Tapiya Falls in Batad

There are many rice terraces in Banaue, and you should see the three most-visited ones: (a) the Grand Rice Terraces in Banaue (b) the Rice Terraces in Batad, which are among the most visited because you can swim in the natural Tapia waterfalls; and (c) the Rice Terraces of Mayoyao are the most preserved because it is difficult to get there.

The Banaue Rice Terraces are also included in the book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, which was written and popularized by Patricia Schultz.

Taal Volcano Crater

6. Taal Volcano, of “A Lake within a Volcano within a Lake Within an Island” fame, is one of the world’s lowest and smallest volcanoes. It is very popular because it is only a day trip away from Manila. To get there, you’ll pass through Tagaytay, the garden restaurant capital of the Philippines — the home of Sonya’s Garden and Antonio’s romantic restaurant.

An adventure-filled day awaits you as you journey to the volcano’s crater. First, you drive down the mountain along a steep, winding path. Then, you take a boat ride to cross Taal Lake to get to the foot of the volcano. You have the option of trekking or riding on horseback to go up to the crater, and then hiking down its slopes as smoke  emanates out of the earth to release its steam.


7. Amanpulo Resort is the holy grail and ultimate destination of any local traveler and beach lover in the Philippines. It is a secluded private beach resort by Aman Resorts, located in Pamalican Island in Palawan. You have an entire footprint-free, talcum-powder beach all to yourselves.

A price tag of P100,000+ for a weekend escape is not much for wealthy foreigners or celebrities looking for a private place to rest and be by themselves. But for local travelers, an Amanpulo visit is equal to the Ultimate Luxury Resort experience.



8. Donsol, Sorsogon. Donsol is known as the “Whale Shark Capital of the World” because it has the largest number of recorded sightings of whale sharks anywhere on earth from December to May. Donsol is the feeding ground for these gentle creatures because of the high concentration of plankton in the area.

Once you encounter these whale sharks up close, you’ll realize how relatively small we are in this world, and you’ll appreciate just how beautiful and blessed our marine biodiversity is in the Philippines.

Kayaking in Big Lagoon, El Nido

9. El Nido Resorts in El Nido, Palawan is a source of pride for the Philippines. It was recognized by Wild Asia with the 2009 Responsible Tourism Award and it was one of Travel + Leisure’s Favorite Green Hotels in 2008. Its environmental, sustainable tourism program is very inspiring, and you can’t help but be influenced by it once you stay at the resort.

You can choose to be based in either the Miniloc or Lagen Resort. We like Miniloc because of its rustic feel. Plus, it is kayaking distance from the Big and Small Lagoons.

Entalula Island, El Nido

Don’t leave El Nido without having experienced the best white-sand beach island there – Entalula Island. It is owned by El Nido Resorts, so you can reserve it for private romantic dates or family escapes. You can arrange to have your breakfast or lunch there, and have the beach all to yourselves.

Boracay White Beach

10. Boracay Island is consistently on the list of the best beach destinations in Asia because of its white, fine, sugar-like sands along the famous White Beach. Boracay is known for having delicious gourmet food, the hottest nightlife, the coolest adventure sports, pampering spas, luxurious resorts and the bohemian lifestyle all rolled into one fun island experience.

Paraw Sunset Sailing

But if the hectic beach lifestyle isn’t your thing, you’ll also find another part of Boracay catering to your whims. After all, it is also famous for the simple things in life, like walking while holding hands with your significant other along the beach…or eating chori burger and drinking Jonas Milkshakes…or riding the Paraw as the sun sets on the horizon.

Live an Awesome Life,

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Full Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. I’m not related to, connected with or compensated in any way by any of the establishments featured in this blog post.

P.S. The only two places that I’ve yet to conquer on this list are Tubbataha Reef and Amanpulo. How many have you been to already?

P.P.S. This article is one of the awesome articles in  My Awesome Life Book in 2011 (a Travel Log Planner). Since only 1,000 OAP friends will get a copy, I decided to share the article with all the loyal subscribers of OAP. 🙂 

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60 thoughts on “TOP 10 World Renowned and Must-See Places in the Philippines!

  1. cool. i’ve been to all except donsol, banaue rice terraces and amanpulo. although i think there is batanes, bohol, calaguas islands.. maybe runner ups 🙂

  2. Ya I thought Batanes would be good.
    Aman pulo i dont think should be on the list, its just a high end resort island, there should be better places in terms of must-see in the country

  3. I was expecting Bohol or Panglao Island. Anyway, it’s a good thing Palawan is on the list because we are about to visit the place maybe next month.
    Taal volcano is just cute but not that amazing.

  4. Iv been to 7 out of the 10 – banaue, amanpulo and tubataha reef. I would love to go to banaue, but the travel time is waaaayyyy too long.

  5. Wow 5 out of 10 for me ain’t so bad!!!
    Would love to visit Iloilo, Tubataha, El Nido someday.
    How about the Sumaging Cave in Sagada? that’s one unique experience as well!

  6. nothing can beat what’s inside those hidden mountains-hills agricultural farms-gorges it is unbelievably beautiful a magical paradise lagoons rivers streams green fields aerial views a well naturally beautiful landscaped island of mindoro sea deep ocean-sea waters is ‘crystal clear’ more than a thousand feet above sea level dinings golfings campings tree climbings fruit pickings hand glidings swimmings trekkings & all others just way up above more than 1,000,00 feet above sea level pure adrenalin rush sports adventures…..more beautiful is laguna’s tree plantations and quezon provinces ‘seasides’ adventures besides bohol garden paradises also palanan isabela’s mountainous jungles besides 7 waterfalls not far from province where tinuy an falls/enchanted river rides can be found montalban dam/hilltops mountain views-look outs if taken cared-clean up well{landscaped}is not ordinary at all but always ‘neglected’ sayang at atalways ‘ignored’ anyway maybe filipinos do not want anymore extra income that critical thinking is ignored lol!

  7. filipinos need a grand BINGO BUFFET NIGHT ballroom festival one sunday a month but in style to encouraged older people-couples-adult families to dine buffett then play bingo later but in high end styles which means hot-cold sweet-not sweet TEA are served all night long to keep adults fresh healthy & active besides an all white ‘attire'{top to bottom} picnic buffett in some of these places initiated by executive branch or the lagislative branch of phils. govt. if not by yout tourism branches must be cool & pleasant lol

  8. the palawan underground river is overrated… batanes might be good replacement for amanpulo since it is only a resort.
    the view of pinatubo might be better than taal
    sorsogon is the way to go! butandings are amazing!
    bohol should have been included too..
    anyway, everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion.
    btw, you have clear sharp nice shots.

  9. The islands of El Nido and Coron in Palawan are on top of my personal list of awesome locations in the PH. These are simply paradise on earth. Batanes is unique and unforgettable. Climbing the peaks of our majestic mountains like Mt. Pulag or Mt. Apo is also an awesome experience. Amanpulo and Tubbataha Reefs may only be accessed by those with deep pockets. Boracay sadly had become a poster child for environmental exploitation and commercialization.

  10. Hi Anton! This is my first reading most of your blog posts. Really impressive. I am travel blogger but I occasionally do some food reviews when I can. I also haven’t been to Tubattaha and Amanpulo but hopefully I can visit Amanpulo this year. I’m not sure Amanpulo should be included here since world heritage sites should generally not be expensive. haha. Batanes could be part of this.
    anyway, please do visit my site ( a.k.a Grandeur Traveler). I’ve only started last year but I surprisingly already have a good following. more power to you!

  11. Another list to add to the bucket! Thanks for this. 🙂 I hope you can make a road trip itinerary for weekend getaways! 🙂 love reading your blog! Made me aware of great things just around the corner. More power! 🙂

  12. yes, i agree, the main selling point of amanpulo is the high end resort. the island/beach is just the same with the other nice islands/beaches we have around the country.

  13. “Full Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. I’m not related to, connected with or compensated in any way by any of the establishments featured in this blog post.”
    Anton, are you compensated by any PR firm for your blog posts, whether positive or negative?

  14. No I'm not compensated by any PR firms. I stay away from them… We don't even get advertising from restaurants or places that we review. Thanks for asking!

  15. Anton,
    With the few times I worked with you, it’s hard to believe that you’re BBB. These are just cruel speculation and in time, this too shall pass.

  16. Hi Anton,
    Nice and very informative post. I regularly read your blog. Although I must admit that it has gotten “too commercialized” lately and so full of….I don’t know the right word. But a little humility perhaps? Ex. waiting for other people to call you a maven instead of branding one yourself? I don’t know. =)
    I would love to continue reading your blog, but there is something I would like to know…. you may or may not answer :
    If you don’t get paid by any advertising firm, and you don’t get advertising from any of the restaurant you review, do you get free food, “gifts”, and freebies from these restaurants and establishments? ( i am assuming getting advertising is different from freebies).
    and why is it, you are top of mind of so many bloggers and readers when they speak of the Big Bad Blogger?

  17. I am surprised that you are being dragged in this BBB issue. I don’t know you personally but you did visit our shop sometime ago…
    Mr. Diaz and his family went to our shop on his own. I was there and he didn’t even introduce himself nor brag about his blog. He was there like a regular paying customer. I just found out it was him when a friend told me that we were in his blog. And since then, i became a silent follower/fan of his blog.
    All i want to say is that I believe in the integrity of Mr. Diaz.

  18. Wow, talk about implying that the person’s guilty– and on top of that, giving him the burden of proving his innocence!
    It’s funny how you’re questioning his credibility NOW, right after that article came out, and considering you’ve been reading this blog for years.
    I guess my point is, people should learn to think critically for themselves. If you have been reading his blog for years and yet question his credibility, what does that say about you?

  19. Please dont just ignore it Anton, Put out a post explaining your side and categorically denying that you are not in any way connected to the BBB and any PR firm.Many readers of your blog dont bother reading the comments section, so they might think you are staying silent about this issue and might misconstrue it as a sign of guilt.
    More power to you and your blog!

  20. IMHO.. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is really overrated.. been there two weeks ago and honestly it’s not as great as it was being described on papers, tv etc.. twas boring!

  21. Hi Anton! Great list! Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to visit 3 places on your list – the underground river, El Nido, and Boracay. Saving up for Tubbataha though! 😀
    Btw, just to clarify: El Nido Resorts doesn’t own Entalula Island. The resorts only lease a particular beach and cove so tourists coming from El Nido Town can stay in Entalula’s other beaches 🙂

  22. Hi, Anton! been a travel blogger like you for sometime and like you, I always share it through my blog >
    Proud to have conquered Ilocos, Boracay and Puerto Princesa Subterranean Park already. I’ve been to El Nido last 2009 on a DIY trip and so far nothing compares to it from the beaches that I’ve seen around the Philippines. it’s the best! i hope every Filipino could visit and experience this paradise real soon.
    more power!

  23. Cool… last month my friends and i just conquered Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park…It’s unforgettable experience. Next we’re planning a trip to Sagada, Mt. Province… Soon my new blog is going online i will be posting articles there about my travel experiences as well as photos

  24. for now I would say PP underground river is overrated but hey we are only shown the 1st km of the 8.2 length, we never know what lies deep into the cave… i hope soon the govt introduces an extended tour all the way to the midpoint of the cave… that’d be cool

  25. I always wanted to visit Donsol, it looks incredible. Ive been living in boracay for years now, its a beautiful island but places like donsol just look like they have so many magical little beaches that you could explore. Ill be visiting soon for sure, thanks for list.

  26. I have read so many blogs but your blog was really different. You have given all the information that I really need. I always want to visit Boracay Island if i get chance to visit because of it pleasant nature and sands.

  27. For diving or just relaxing, Puerto Galera is a good bet. Check out this post:

  28. Amazing list! Palawan is till very nice! Did you know that Palawan was awarded as the Best Island in the World by Travel Magazine Conde Nast Traveler? Yes its true! Philippines is gaining so much attention now.

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