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Top Destinations in the Philippines for First Timers

The Philippines has many destinations from Luzon to Mindanao that will keep visitors coming back for more. Beaches with fine, bone, white sand and glistening cerulean waters, an underwater ecosystem with colorful corals in various shapes, cities with a mix of eastern and western culture and a mountainous region that has verdant, rolling hills. You have several options when you decide to visit and explore the country.

This is a condensed list of the places you can visit and things you can do while in the Philippines.


If you ask other travelers about the Philippines, they will likely have fond memories of one of the best islands in the world --- Palawan. The latter is almost always on the list of beautiful places to visit in the country. It comes as no surprise, because it has lagoons, beaches, and towering rock formations.

One of the places to add to your itinerary is Coron; the latter is home to many picture-perfect attractions. The iconic photo that appears on search results is the huge rock just outside Kayangan Lake. After taking photos and selfies, go for a swim in the lake surrounded by giant limestone. Other attractions of interest are Twin Lagoon, Barracuda Lake, Siete Pecados and Malcapuya Island just to name a few. If you want to go diving, Coron is the place to visit, it has noteworthy shipwrecks and dive spots.

Read my posts about Coron here: Coron

If we’re talking about one of the best places in the Philippines, El Nido is always in the conversation. The town is just like in any other province in the country. However, once you go on the island hopping tours, you will see what the fuss is all about. The tours (A, B, C and D) take you to beautiful destinations; the white sand beaches, clear, glass-like waters and eye-catching limestone formations.

Read my posts about El Nido here: El Nido

After exploring the islands of Coron and El Nido, visit Puerto Princesa to explore the UNESCO-listed Underground River. You’ll get to see stalactites and stalagmites, and rock formations that take on different shapes and sizes.

Read my posts about Puerto Pincesa here: Puerto Princesa


Bohol is a popular destination for both locals and foreigners alike; picturesque powdery sand beaches and clear waters are the main draws. Alona and Dumuluan Beach are the places to go to, to eat, unwind, relax and enjoy the afternoons swimming, lazing around and/or sunbathing. If you want to go island hopping, book a joining tour with the operators looking for clients in Alona. The tour will take you to Virgin Island, dolphin spotting and snorkeling in Balicasag Island. I personally liked the latter the most during the trip. The island has many beautiful and colorful corals, and several fish swimming around.

After exploring the islands and beaches, there are other places of interest in Bohol. Go on a countryside tour to see what else the province has to offer. Visit the famous Chocolate Hills, see the cute, little tarsiers, walk around the butterfly farm and relax at Bohol Bee Farm.

Read my posts about Bohol Here: Bohol


If Indonesia has Bali and Thailand has Phuket, the Philippines has Boracay. Despite its fast modernization and commercialization, this island is still a popular destination. Its iconic sunset, characterized by the sky transforming into a fiery red and the silhouettes of boats, is one of the main draws of the island. People flock to this part of the country to enjoy the fine, white sand beach and crystal clear waters. It is also a great place to meet people and enjoy beach night life, with its many bars and restaurants and the well-known pub crawls.

Other than partying and beach bumming, there are plenty of activities in Boracay. Some of the things you can do include windsurfing at Bulabog Beach, helmet diving, cliff jumping at Ariel’s Point, island hopping and climbing up Mt. Luho just to name a few.

Read about my Boracay posts here: Boracay


Cebu is a great place to visit because it has a little bit of everything. The city has one of the oldest streets in the country and it also has a handful of historical monuments worth a look. There are beautiful beach destinations worth visiting during your trip some of which include Malapascua and Camotes Island. You can also experience eco-adventures such as canyoneering and cliff jumping in Kawasan Falls.

Read about my Cebu posts here: Cebu


Siargao is an up-and-coming destination that is fast gaining popularity, not just for surfing, but also as a beach destination. The three islands of Guyam, Naked and Daku have all what you are looking for in a tropical getaway; they have fine, white sand beaches, cerulean waters and a picture-perfect appeal. These are the ideal places to just sit back, relax, do nothing and just enjoy the view. Other than these beaches, you can also go swim and jump off rocks at Magpupungko Rock Pool. Siargao is a noteworthy place to visit and still has many more activities and attractions to discover.

Read my posts about Siargao here: Siargao


The Ilocos region is one of the places to add to your itinerary because it combines history and nature. When you visit include the UNESCO-listed Paoay Church; the latter is centuries old and has a unique and beautiful fa├žade, which may even remind one of the temples in Central Java. Another attraction of interest is the historical walk and street of Vigan. The latter lets you travel back in time with its old houses turned accommodation, restaurants or shops. Walking on the cobblestone street will make you feel like you’re in another epoch.

The province is also a popular beach destination such as those in Saud and Blue Lagoon. Other noteworthy attractions to include in your itinerary are the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, the Bangui Windmills, Baluarte and the sand dunes. The latter is my favorite I got to ride a 4x4 and experience sand boarding during the trip.

Read about my Ilocos posts here: Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur

These are only some of the places to consider adding to your itinerary during your trip around the country. The Philippines has many to offer for those who like the beach, the mountainous region, diving, surfing and other places and activities. There’s plenty to see, do and experience, so why not come visit?

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