Uniquely Interesting Places to Visit in the Philippines

Places to visit in Philippines
The Philippines, an island nation in Southeast Asia, is known for its numerous "natural wonders." Here are some of the most interesting places to visit in the country.
"Tourism is a crucial industry that could employ millions of Filipinos, skilled and unskilled alike, cross those 7,107 islands of the Philippines. From the current projection of 3.3 million tourist arrivals in 2010, our aim is to eventually attract 6 million tourists."
― Benigno Aquino III
A nation comprising more than 7,000 islands and almost cast away geographically from its neighbors, the Philippines has, by far, been one of the oddest children of Southeast Asia. Being an island nation, the Philippines does not share terrestrial boundaries with any other nation. Apart from being geographically aloof, this country has also been culturally aloof, even from its closest neighbors, viz. Malaysia, Indonesia, and China. Owing to this, it might seem to be an enigmatic place for first-time visitors; however, when one sets foot on the land, he is definitely in for a lot of pleasant surprises. For one, the natural beauty of this country with its countless serene beaches, mountains, and islands is awe-inspiring. Added to these, there are numerous, "supposedly real" ghost stories that one might get to hear from this country's happy-go-lucky people, and of course, the marvelous cuisine that leaves visitors completely enchanted.
Must-see Places in the Philippines
No matter whether you are a domestic or foreign tourist, the beauty and hospitality of this country will never ever disappoint you. We, at Buzzle, have compiled a list of places, which you should never miss on your visit to this beautiful nation.
Boracay Island
Boracay island
Location: Western Visayas region, 315 km south of Manila
Best time to visit: All year round
Declared in 2012 as the best island in the world by Travel + Leisure, an international travel publication, the Boracay Island is doubtlessly the most popular beach destination in the Philippines. Known for its white sands and absolutely clear, turquoise waters, this island seems like a pleasant and serene place to sit back and relax. Plus, it is also becoming increasingly famous for its fine nightlife. Tourists can indulge in a lot of breathtaking adventures, such as jet skiing and wind surfing, alongside trekking and hiking. Added to this, there are many luxurious resorts and spas, making this island all the more welcoming and fun. Tourists visit the Boracay Island throughout the year, and take home a one-of-its-kind Bohemian experience.
Mayon Volcano
Mayon volcano
Location: Albay Province, Luzon
Best time to visit: Between March and May, when the temperature is moderate, and it is not raining
Also known as Mount Mayon, it is an active volcano that is famous for its perfectly symmetric conical shape. Since 1938, the volcano and its surroundings have been a part of a protected landscape, and in the year 2000, the region was reclassified and renamed as the Mayon Volcano Natural Park. Apart from being a favorite spot for climbers and hikers, the forest surrounding the volcano is full of wonderful and rare animals and birds, owing to which, the place also attracts a large number of sightseers, bird watchers, and photography enthusiasts.
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Puerto Princesa Subterranean river national park
Location: Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Best time to visit: Between October and May, when the climate is dry
Also known as St. Paul's Subterranean River National Park, it is famous around the world for an obvious reason―the underground river. Officially enlisted as one of the New7Wonders of Nature in 2011, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this national park is one of the must-visit places in the country. One can actually navigate his way into a cave that is formed in the mountain, and see the several small waterfalls and rock formations, which are formed underground, by the constant flowing activity of the river. However, the deeper areas of the cave, in which the river flows, are deprived of oxygen, and hence, it is not possible to explore them. Located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range, this park is also an important habitat for biodiversity conservation, containing numerous species of plants and animals.
Donsol
Sorsogon bicol region
Location: Sorsogon, Bicol Region
Best time to visit: From December to May
Donsol is the Whale Shark Capital of the World and one of the best tourist destinations for viewing curious creatures. The local Department of Tourism regulates the interaction of humans with sharks; however, people are allowed to scuba dive into the waters, and see the sharks from a maximum distance of three meters. Donsol, because of its location in a hilly terrain, is also considered to be a great place for trekking and biking. Plus, the various firefly tours conducted at night for the tourists are interesting. Donsol is a rural municipality, where tourism is still in its developing stage. However, it is definitely worth a visit, owing to its natural beauty and hospitality offered by the commoners.
Tubbataha Reef
Tubbataha reef
Location: Sulu Sea
Best time to visit: Mid-March to mid-June
This is a ring-shaped coral reef and yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Philippines. This reef is considered as one of the best diving spots in the country, and so, divers flock to this place in large numbers. The northern islet that adjoins the reef is a breeding ground of marine turtles. Several snorkeling tours are organized for tourists in this region; however, people wanting to closely see the reef and marine animals are often advised to join a deep water diving group.
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Chocolate Hills
Chocolate hills
Location: Bohol Province, Central Visayas
Best time to visit: All year round
The Chocolate Hills are probably Bohol's and the Philippines' most famous tourist attraction. With some 1,268 mounds spread across a compelling landscape, this place never ever disappoints the visitors. These medium-sized mounds, which are otherwise always covered in green grass, take on a dark brown shade during the dry season―hence the name. Chocolate hills were among the first spots to be included in the Philippines' tourism brochure, and it is a favorite spot, not only for nature enthusiasts, but also for honeymooners.
Historic Town of Vigan
Historic town of vigan
Location: Ilocos Sur, Luzon
Best time to visit: Between November and April
Vigan is probably the best preserved Spanish colonial town in the Philippines. This 16th-century town forms a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, and it is famous the world over for its beautiful, well-preserved, Spanish-style houses and pebbled streets. The town features a perfect blend of local cultural elements with those of China and Europe, thus, creating a unique cultural ambiance, unparalleled in the whole of Southeast and East Asia. Plus, the various churches and cathedrals that further adorn the town are of special interest.
Malapascua Island
Malapascua island
Location: Daanbantayan Municipality, Cebu Province
Best time to visit: All year round
This is a fairly recent addition to the list of popular tourist attractions in the Philippines, and now, tourism has become one of the major industries on this island. Malapascua is known, not only for its white, sandy beaches, but also as a diving hub. Tourists also engage in snorkeling and scuba diving, in order to see the spectacular underwater flora and fauna. Thresher shark, pygmy seahorse, and the mandarin fish are the main attractions, alongside others. The lighthouse at Malapascua also attracts a lot of visitors.
Taal Volcano
Taal volcano
Location: Batangas Province, Luzon
Best time to visit: All year round
The second-most active volcano in the Philippines after Mount Mayon, this is a complex volcano located in the middle of the Taal Lake. It is one of the lowest volcanoes in the world. Owing to its proximity to Manila, this volcano is very popular among tourists, both domestic and foreign. One has to take a boat across the Taal Lake to reach the volcano, after which he can either trek to the crater or hire a horse.
Banaue Rice Terraces
Banaue rice terraces
Location: Ifugao Province, Luzon
Best time to visit: Between April and May, which is the harvest season for rice
No visitor to the Philippines should miss the awe-inspiring sight of the 2,000-year-old rice terraces at Banaue. Amazingly carved into the mountains in a stepped pattern, these terraces testify the excellent understanding of these indigenous people, with regards to agriculture and sustainable use of resources. Tourism is a thriving industry in this region, wherein tourists also visit traditional witch doctors for spiritual healing, apart from sightseeing.
Baroque Churches of the Philippines
San Agustin church, Paoay
San Agustin Church, Paoay Ilocos Norte
San Agustin church, Manila
San Agustin Church, Manila
Location: Various
In 2003, four Baroque churches, which were important centers responsible for the spread of Christianity in the Philippines, were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These included:
  1. San Agustin Church, Paoay Ilocos Norte
  2. San Agustin Church, Manila
  3. Santa Maria Church, Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur
  4. Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church, Miag-ao, Iloilo

All these churches belong to the Spanish colonial period and are known for their massive buttresses, built specially to support the structures in the event of an earthquake. There are also beautiful European-style carvings within the churches, which make them popular tourist spots, apart from them being religious centers. The best time to visit these churches depends largely on their location. One may contact the local tourism office for details.
Rizal Park
Rizal park fountain
Rizal Park Fountain
Rizal monument
Rizal Monument
Location: Roxas Boulevard, City of Manila
Best time to visit: All year round

Also known as the Luneta Park, this urban park is a major popular tourist attraction in the city of Manila. This park has been in existence since colonial times, and has always been one of the favorite leisure spots in the city. The park has been divided into different sections, which contain, alongside the famous Rizal Monument, a museum, library, planetarium, and gardens, apart from other buildings.
Besides the ones mentioned above, the picturesque landscape of the Philippines boasts of numerous other interesting places, definitely worth a visit. Whether you are a first-time visitor, domestic traveler, or veteran observer, the Philippines is bound to have something or the other in store for you. But, more importantly, it is the Bahala na―the "what will be will be" attitude of the Filipinos―which captivates visitors, such that they tend to return to the country again and again.
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