If you’re ready for an adventure that encompasses vibrant cities, powdery white pristine beaches, a fascinating cultural heritage, and mouth-watering cuisines, the Philippines is truly a dream destination.   Located in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific ocean, the Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands, making it the second-largest archipelago in the world and offering a wealth of enchanting places and attractions, just waiting to be explored.

From the bustling capital of Manila to the idyllic shores of Cebu, from the subterranean wonders of Puerto Princesa to the awe-inspiring landscapes of El Nido, from the pristine beauty of Bohol to the exhilarating surf of Siargao, and from the legendary shores of Boracay to the hidden treasures of Busuanga—we’ll uncover the must-see attractions and places to visit that will ensure an unforgettable adventure to the Philippines.

If this travel guide whets your appetite and you’d love to explore the Philippines, simply get in touch with our travel experts who would love to help you plan your perfect multi centre holiday to the Philippines escape!


Manila: A Marvel of History and Modernity ­

Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, offers a fascinating blend of history and contemporary vibes. Located on the eastern shore of Manila Bay, this vibrant city has everything you’d expect from a South Asian capital and more.

One of the major must-see attractions is Intramuros, the historic walled city that dates back to Spanish colonial times. Walk along the cobblestone streets and visit Fort Santiago, a 16th century fortress built in the late 16th century that served as a defensive structure.  Also, don’t miss the San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its stunning Baroque architecture. You can explore the site on your own, or for a more in-depth understanding, we recommend getting a local tour guide.  For a break from the hustle and bustle, head to Rizal Park for a leisurely stroll around its beautifully landscaped gardens or take a relaxing boat ride on the park’s lagoon. The park also houses various museums, including the National Museum of Anthropology and the National Museum of Natural History.

Whilst in Manila, make sure you visit the area of Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown. It’s truly a sight to be seen, with its narrow streets filled with traditional Chinese shops, temples and numerous restaurants serving up fabulous Chinese cuisine.   Outside of Binondo you’ll find a wide array of traditional Filipino restaurants and local street food vendors where you can try local favourites such as adobo (marinated meat) and lechon (roast pig).  When the sun goes down, the city most definitely doesn’t sleep.  You’ll find a whole range of nightlife options in Manila, including the area of Makati which is known for its lively bars and rooftop hangouts. Or head to the high-end Resorts World Manila Complex for casinos, shopping and live performances.


Cebu: Culture and Coastal Charms

Cebu, an island in the Visayas region of the Philippines is one of the country’s top tourist destinations and it’s easy to see why, with its numerous coves, stunning beaches and picture-perfect paradise islands located just offshore.  There are various ways that you can reach the islands whether that be via ferry, boat, private charter or a pump boat (a traditional Filipino boat).  Bantayan Island is renowned for its dazzling white beaches, refreshing sea breezes, and friendly locals. Camotes Island not only boasts beautiful beaches, particularly around Mangodlong and Santiago Bay, but also offers activities such as visiting Danao Lake and exploring Bukilat Cave. For a breath-taking view of the island, take a scenic walk to Altavista Viewpoint for a breath-taking view and to soak up Camotes’ stunning landscape.

Diving enthusiasts will be in their element exploring the dive sites around Cebu. Nalusuan Island, with its protected marine garden, offers a vibrant underwater world teeming with colourful fish and neon coral. Malapascua Island is known as one of the best places globally to spot thresher sharks, while Moalboal has steep underwater walls and the chance to see sea turtles, hammerhead, and white tip sharks.

Cebu is also home to lush rainforests and wonderful waterfalls, and Kawasan Falls is one of our favourites, with its bright blue pool, perfect for the jumping and canyoning. Also, Tumalog Falls offers a wonderfully peaceful setting with natural alcoves that give you a soothing water massage.


Puerto Princesa: A Pristine Palawan Paradise

Known as the gateway to the stunning Palawan province, Puerto Princesa offers a perfect blend of natural wonders and warm hospitality. With pristine beaches, sparkling blue waters and fascinating sites such as its underground river, visitors are promised an unforgettable experience in nature.

The underground river in the Subterranean River National Park is one of the area’s top attractions and has the esteemed title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The river system is best explored on a guided boat tour which will take you through its stunning limestone formations, vast chambers, and diverse ecosystem where you’ll see bats, swiftlets, and other fascinating creatures.  A short distance from Puerto Princesa is the island paradise of Honda Bay, a group of pristine islands including Pandan Island, Snake Island, and Starfish Island. Here you can swim in crystal clear waters, snorkel among vibrant coral reefs, and relax on pristine white sandy beaches, topped off with amazing sunset views over the bay.  The city of Puerto Princesa itself offers a treasure trove of cultural and historic attractions, including the fascinating Plaza Cuartel, which was originally built as a military barracks by the Spanish colonial government.  For some downtime in the city, take a stroll along the Puerto Princesa Baywalk where you can enjoy the bars, restaurants and stunning sunset views.

Puerto Princesa is home to some unique wildlife and conservation efforts. Visit the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Centre, also known as the Crocodile Farm, to learn about the conservation of endangered crocodile species or visit the Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden to explore its colourful butterflies and exotic flora.


El Nido: Exquisite escapes

Nestled in the northern part of Palawan, El Nido is a tropical paradise famed for its stunning limestone formations and towering cliffs, breath-taking landscapes and flawless turquoise waters.

Island hopping is one of the highlights of El Nido where you can take in the stunning destinations of Secret Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Seven Commandos Beach, Hidden Beach, Shimizu Island, Matinloc Shrine, and more. On the islands you can swim, snorkel and relax on the powder soft beaches.  Nacpan Beach is a must-visit for all beach lovers and presents a picture-perfect view of powder white sand flanked by coconut trees.  Another must-visit beach is Las Cabanas, especially at sunset when the sky becomes ablaze with colour as the sun disappears.  Nearby is the quieter Calitang beach, which is less busy but equally as stunning. For the more adventurous, the challenging trek to the summit of Taraw Cliff is well worth the effort, where you’ll be rewarded with wonderful views and a breath-taking vista of El Nido town and the surrounding islands – make sure your phone is charged as you’ll want to take lots of pictures! El Nido town itself is laid-back and friendly, with colourful streets lined with shops, restaurants and plenty of bars to explore.


Boracay: A Beach Lover’s Paradise

Boracay Island is synonymous with powdery white sand beaches and azure waters. Swim and relax on the iconic White Beach, lined with resorts, restaurants, and bars or head to Puka Shell Beach with its serene atmosphere and unique abundance of Puka shells which are small, round shells that usually have a hole in the middle – and are often used in jewellery and crafts.

Adrenaline seekers are well catered for here, with lots of opportunities for parasailing, jet-skiing, snorkelling and diving in vibrant coral reefs.  Those seeking nightlife will not be disappointed. Boracay offers a wide range of dining options, from beachfront restaurants and local delicacies. There’s also the opportunity to dance the night away at various bars, clubs and live music venues – or to take a more relaxed approach and head for a few cocktails on the beach.


Busuanga: Beauty and Bliss

History buffs will love visiting Busuanga Island, situated in Palawan, for the chance to dive or snorkel among the remnants of WWII shipwrecks: a truly fascinating experience.  The natural hot springs of Maquinit are also a must-visit, where you can relax and bathe in the soothing waters of the springs.

Located just off the eastern shores of Busuanga Island is the pristinely beautiful island of Coron, with its white sand beaches and dramatic limestone cliffs. Make sure you explore Twin Lagoon, where two lagoons are connected by a small passage, offering a unique swimming experience in the midst of stunning landscapes.  Also, immerse yourself in the tranquillity of Barracuda Lake, known for its crystal-clear waters and thermocline layers, where layers of the water have varying temperatures.


Bohol: Beaches and Biodiversity

Bohol, located in the Central Visaya region of the Philippines is a place of unique geological wonders and diverse wildlife.  For many, the number one attraction is Chocolate hills, a natural wonder of cone-shaped hills that turn a rich shade of brown during the dry season.  Make sure you climb to the top of the viewing deck for a panoramic view of this sensational geological formation.  Animal lovers will want to head to the Tarsier Sanctuary which is home to the world’s smallest primates, tarsiers, with their distinct large eyes and delicate features.  Here you can watch the animals in their natural habitat and learn about the centre’s conservation efforts.

For a spot of R&R in the Bohol area, the stunning beaches of Panglao Island, located just off the southwest coast of Bohol are a must-visit and make the perfect destination for relaxation, sunbathing on glorious beaches and taking part in various water sports.


Siargao: A Surfer’s Sanctuary

Siargao Island is a haven for surfers and beach lovers, where surfers can ride the famous Cloud 9 wave in the General Luna region, reportedly one of the best surf breaks in the world. Aside from its reputation as a surfer’s paradise, General Luna and its surrounding areas offer some stunning beaches, beautifully clear waters and the type of palm-fringed coastlines you’d expect to see on a postcard.  There are also opportunities for island hopping, exploring hidden lagoons, and experiencing the vibrant marine life while snorkelling or diving in the surrounding coral reefs.  As the sun falls, make sure you catch the mesmerising sunset at Magpupungko Rock Pools.


Banaue Rice Terraces: A Breath-taking Wonder of Ancient Engineering

The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao province are often referred to as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World.’ This fascinating place showcases the remarkable engineering skills of the ancient civilisation of indigenous Ifugao people who expertly carved rice terraces into the mountainsides thousands of years ago.

Here you can trek through the terraces, witness the cascading rice paddies, and learn about the traditional farming methods still practised by the locals to this day.  Nearby are the Batad Rice Terraces, another example of the intricate terraces of the region and also the Bangaan Rice Terraces which offer a different perspective on the engineering marvels of the Ifugao people.  To cool down, the Tappiyah Falls offers a refreshing escape where you can take a dip in the cool, natural pool at the base of the falls and enjoy the surrounding lush surrounding greenery.


If this ‘Best of the Philippines’ travel guide has ignited your imagination and you’d like to experience everything this country has to offer, our dedicated team of eShores travel experts are ready to help you plan your dream holiday to the Philippines. Simply get in touch and we’ll help to create your tailor-made multi-centre itinerary, taking in all of the places you’re itching to see and experience, ensuring an unforgettable experience in this tropical paradise.

Chris Eaves Personal Travel Consultant

Chris joined the eShores family in July 2019, however his knowledge of the industry goes back to 2007 when he worked for Etihad Airways. Chris is an active person, always going on adventures. He loves sports, airplanes and keeping up to date with all that's going on in the world of travel.