Best places to visit in the Philippines (with flight options)

The Philippines, an archipelago nation famed for its pristine beaches, breathtaking landscapes, and warm, welcoming people, beckons adventure seekers and laid-back travelers alike.

But with over 7,000 islands, where do you start? Worry not, wanderlust-stricken souls, for this guide spotlights the top tourist destinations in the Philippines, complete with travel tips and flight options to get you there in no time!

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El Nido, Palawan

El Nido, Palawan. Photo by choypictures via Wikimedia Commons.

El Nido is a paradise on earth, known for its crystal-clear waters, limestone cliffs, and diverse marine life.

How to get there: Fly with AirSWIFT, the only airline that operates direct flights to El Nido Airport (ENI) from Busuanga, Caticlan, Cebu, Clark, Manila, and Bohol.

Alternatively, you may access more flight options via Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS) but with an added 5-hour land travel.

Cebu City, Cebu

Magellan's Cross in Cebu. Photo by Kingphoto23, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Cebu City, often referred to as the “Queen City of the South”, is a bustling metropolis rich in history and culture. The city is known for its vibrant festivals, warm people, and mouth-watering cuisine.

Magellan’s Cross is a significant historical landmark in Cebu City. It is believed to be a Christian cross planted by the Portuguese and Spanish explorers headed by Ferdinand Magellan upon their arrival in Cebu on March 15, 1521. Today, the cross is housed in an octagonal pavilion called the “kiosk” and is one of the main attractions for tourists because it is a part of the country’s history.

Another must-visit destination is the Minor Basilica of the Holy Child. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country, allegedly built on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebú was found during the expedition of Miguel López de Legazpi.

How to get there: Cebu City is accessible via international and domestic flights through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Chocolate Hills, Bohol

Overview of the famous Chocolate Hills in Bohol. P199, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Chocolate Hills are a geological wonder, with over 1,200 perfectly cone-shaped hills spread across the landscape.

How to get there: Take a flight to Bohol-Panglao International Airport (TAG), then take a 2-hour car ride to Carmen. As an international gateway, there are a variety of flight options from the airport.

It is connected to Seoul-Incheon via Air Busan, Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, and Royal Air Philippines. Jeju Air also operates Busan-Bohol flights.

Mayon Volcano, Albay

Scenic view of the "near-perfect cone" Mayon Volcano. Photo by Marisa Mercado, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Mayon Volcano is famous for its near-perfect cone shape. It’s a favorite among hikers and nature lovers.

How to get there: Fly into Bicol International Airport (DRP) with Cebgo, Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. From there, it’s a short drive to the volcano.

Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao

Banaue Rice Terraces. Photo by User:Ori~, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Banaue Rice Terraces are a testament to the ingenuity of the Ifugao people. These 2,000-year-old terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

How to get there: From Manila, take a 9-hour bus ride to Banaue. For an aviation twist, charter a helicopter with PhilJets for a scenic flight over the terraces.

Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna

Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna. Photo by Kathleen Mae Tugano, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pagsanjan Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the Philippines. The journey to the falls is an adventure in itself.

How to get there: From Manila, it’s a 2 to 3-hour drive to Pagsanjan.

Taal Volcano, Batangas

Aerial view of the Taal Volcano taken aboard a commercial flight. Photo by TheCoffee (Mike Gonzalez), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Taal Volcano is one of the smallest active volcanoes in the world. It’s located in the middle of Taal Lake.

How to get there: From Manila, it’s a 2-hour drive to the town of Talisay, Batangas, where you can rent a boat to the volcano. For an aerial view, consider a helicopter tour with PhilJets.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Palawan

Coral reef ecosystems at the Tubbataha Reef. Photo by Tet Lara via Marine Conservation Institute.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a marine sanctuary and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a paradise for divers.

How to get there: From Puerto Princesa, you can join a liveaboard dive trip to Tubbataha. The three major Philippine carriers all operate flights to Puerto Princesa from various locations.

Rizal Park, Manila

Monument of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal at the Rizal Park. Photo by Kathlenhitosis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is one of the largest urban parks in Asia. It’s a great place to learn about Philippine history and culture.

How to get there: Rizal Park is located in the heart of Manila and is easily accessible by public transportation. It’s a short drive from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Siargao Island

Cloud 9 surfing area in Siargao. Photo by Billy Palatino, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Siargao Island is known as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”. But it’s not just for surfers - the island also offers beautiful beaches, rock pools, and mangrove forests.

How to get there: Fly into Sayak Airport on Siargao Island with Cebgo or Philippine Airlines from Cebu, Davao, and Manila.

Intramuros, Manila

The main gate to the historic Fort Santiago in Intramuros. Photo by © Vyacheslav Argenberg / http://www.vascoplanet.com/, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Intramuros, also known as the “Walled City”, is a historic district in Manila. It’s a must-visit for history buffs.

How to get there: Intramuros is located in Manila and is easily accessible by public transportation. It’s a short drive from Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

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Bonus Tip: Consider purchasing a multi-city flight ticket or exploring inter-island flights for cost-effective travel between destinations. Don't forget to check travel requirements and travel advisories before booking your trip.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, book your flight, and get ready to discover the magic of the Philippines!