The Philippines is defined by its emerald rice fields, teeming megacities, graffiti-splashed jeepneys, smouldering volcanoes, bug-eyed tarsiers, fuzzy water buffalo and smiling, happy-go-lucky people. With breathtakingly beautiful beaches and exceptional flora and fauna, Philippines becomes a traveller’s paradise. Here are the top attractions of the country.
Coron Island, Coron Town
This island, only a 20-minute bangka ride from Coron, has an imposing, mysterious skyline that wouldn’t be out of place in a King Kong film. The entire island is the ancestral domain of the Tagbanua indigenous group, who are primarily fishermen and gatherers of the very lucrative balinsasayaw (birds’ nests).
Nacpan Beach, El Nido
For an easy day trip out of El Nido, head north by tricycle or motorbike to this incredible, golden-hued, 3km beach. Development is limited to a few snack shacks and some basic lodging, but change is imminent so enjoy the mellow atmosphere while it lasts.
Mestizo District, Vigan
The Mestizo District is a grid of streets where you can wander in a daze among ancestral homes and colonial-era architecture. The mansions here are beautiful and architecturally unique, marrying two great aesthetic styles: Chinese and Spanish.
Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, Loboc
In Canapnapan, a barangay of Corella, you can see saucer-eyed tarsiers in the wild at the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary. Over 100 of these territorial primates hang out in the immediate vicinity of the centre, though only eight are in the viewing area.
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Fort Santiago, Manila
Guarding the entrance to the Pasig River is Intramuros’ premier tourist attraction: Fort Santiago. Within the fort grounds is an oasis of lovely manicured gardens, plazas and fountains leading to an arched gate and a pretty lily pond.
Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Cebu City
Cebu’s holiest church houses a revered Flemish statuette of the Christ child (Santo Niño) that dates to Magellan’s time. The church is no stranger to hardship: established in 1565 (the first church in the Philippines), three earlier structures were destroyed by fire, before the existing baroque structure was built in 1737. Its facade and belfry were badly damaged by the 2013 earthquake but have been restored.
Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Olango Island
Just 20 minutes from Mactan by public bangka, Olango Island is home to this important wildlife reserve. Taking in 1030 hectares of sand flats and mangroves on Olango’s southern shores, the sanctuary supports the largest concentration of migratory birds found in the Philippines – 48 species.
Limasawa Island, Padre Burgos
Tranquil Limasawa Island, a place of historical and religious significance, is well worth a visit. The island is where the Spanish first celebrated Mass on 31st March 1521, thereby starting the Christianisation of the country.
Chinese Cemetery, Manila
As in life, so it is in death for Manila’s wealthy Chinese citizens, who are buried with every modern convenience in the huge Chinese Cemetery. It’s far from any ordinary cemetery and instead feels like a residential suburb with streets lined with mausoleums.
Rock Formations, Biri Island
Some of the most renowned rock formations are 2 km to 3 km from Biri town. Continue to the rocks via a vast tidal area where some prime swimming holes have formed; a few are deep enough to snorkel in.
Kuyawyaw Falls, Taytay
This is a series of three falls cascading into fresh pools 27 km north of Taytay. Cliff jumping at the second falls, also the highest falls, is a fun experience.
Head to our online shop and grab a copy of ‘Philippines’ guide book for more information about the country.