Consisting of more than 7,000 islands, there are some wonderful places in The Philippines. It’s a richly diverse country that although demonstrating many of the features of other lands in South East Asia is also something very different. Whereas the French and the English have had great influence elsewhere in the region, The Philippines’ ruler for 300 years was Spain, then the Americans moved in, leaving an indelible stamp. This leaves places in the Philippines a magnificent and unique hybrid of colonial catholic and all things modern. Here are 8 Must Visit Places in The Philippines:
Table of contents:
- tubbataha reefs natural park
- puerto princesa sunterranean river national park
- banaue rice terraces
- hundred islands national park
Established in the 16th century, Vigan is a lovingly preserved example of a Spanish colonial town that wouldn’t seem out of place in the wilds of Andalucia. It survived WWII intact and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vigan is among those places in The Philippines quite like no other. Take a horse drawn carriage ride through cobblestone streets between beautiful Spanish style mansions to enjoy a calm serene ambience, uncharacteristic of most Filipino towns. Visit wide plazas and the street market, and the hidden garden. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Vigan Empanadaan or escape the streets to Mindoro Beach.
2 Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
As an island nation, it’s no surprise that some of the idyllic places in The Philippines are on/off the coast. Tubbataha Reef has been designated one of The Seven Wonders of Nature and is one of the best diving attractions in The Philippines. The reef is massive, covering an area of 130,000+ hectares in the Sulu Sea, with its 100m high wall providing home to a mass of colorful marine life. Over 1,000 species live in the reef, many endangered.
Beautiful, beautiful Boracay – the beach that never sleeps. There’s a ton of beaches in The Philippines, and Boracay is considered the best. Despite the mass of tourist development going on around it, Boracay has managed to remain pristine and stunning with cashmere soft sand and crystal clear waters, winning a host of accolades from tourist and travel organizations. Whether you’re heading out to flop in the sands to top up your tan, have a banana boat ride or dance till you drop at the all night beach parties, Boracay is a wondrous place to do it.
The province of Bohol is absolutely one of the best places in The Philippines to visit. One of its favorite attractions is the Chocolate Hills. These are conical shaped limestone mounds covered in green grass that turns brown in the dry season – hence the name. There is somewhere between 1200 and 1700 of the hills in an area of 20 square miles, making for an amazing and unique panorama. Other notable places to visit in Bohol, are some of the world’s best dive sites at Panglao Island (and not to forget its white sand beaches) and the provincial capital, Tagbilaran City next to the Luboc River. Take a slow riverboat cruise to enjoy a traditional Filipino dinner and try and spot the world’s smallest mammal, native to Bohol, the tarsier.
Fruit plays an important part in the Filipino diet (including the overwhelmingly smelly durian!) and one of the best places in the Philippines for fruit is Camiguin Island. The local delicacy is a lychee like fruit called lanzone. Each year there’s a festival celebrating the lanzone and you can gorge yourself on it for free. But, Camiguin isn’t just about the lanzone. Thanks to a large number of volcanoes, Camiguin is also known as Fire Island giving rise to a beautiful landscape. One of the most visited beaches of The Philippines is also here. White Island is a small gorgeous strip of white sand that only appears during the daytime – the tide covers it at night.
6 Puerto Princesa Sunterranean River National Park
Another of the World Heritage Sites in The Philippines, the main attraction in Palawan is the underground river that is believed to be the world’s longest. The river stretches for 8.2km under a beautiful limestone mountain that is called St. Paul because its shape is reminiscent of the St. Paul’s Cathedral dome in Italy. As well as being able to navigate the river on a boat trip, visitors should watch out for the monkeys and monitor lizards that live in the area. This location too, has become one of the 7 Wonders of Nature.
7 Banaue Rice Terraces
Although not uncommon in South East Asia, the rice terraces at Banaue are indeed one of the great sights of The Philippines. As old as 2000 years the terraces follow the contours of the mountains using the natural water for irrigation. Patricia Schultz included the Banaue Rice Terraces in her book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and a visit there will confirm why. The most spectacular are the Grand Rice Terrace – for their size, the Batad Terraces – where you can swim in the Tapia waterfalls, and The Mayoyao Terraces – beautifully preserved because of their inaccessibility.
8 Hundred Islands National Park
Well, the name says it all doesn’t it? The islands are actually coral islands that have been exposed by falling sea levels over the last 2 million years. Only three of them are populated – Quezon Island, Governor Island and Children’s Island but they are well developed for tourism, being one of the most popular places in The Philippines. Visitors arrive to see the amazing view across the bay (one of the best viewpoints is on Governor Island), to laze on the beaches and enjoy the abundance that Mother Nature has blessed them islands with. Although uninhabited, there are plenty of boat trips available to explore the sometimes tiny mushroom shaped coral islets.
As you can see, there are really some tremendous must visit places in The Philippines. When are you going?
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