Many tourist destinations, hotels, and resorts in the country are unfortunately closed at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Flights for leisure purposes are currently not permitted either. This is leaving many of us with legs just itching to travel, but this time indoors is the perfect time to plan out for our future travel itineraries as well. No doubt attractions around the country are experiencing a downturn in visitations and sales right now, so visiting them once the pandemic is over is an excellent boost to the Philippine tourism industry and the economy in general!
There are lots of beautiful places in the Philippines to consider on your next trip – no matter if you like beach hopping, shopping, historical attractions; you’re sure to find something suiting your needs. You can even visit from location to location, each just a drive or a short plane ride away from each other.
Cebu isn’t dubbed the “Queen City of the South” for nothing – it’s an epitome of Philippine roots, culture, and landmarks. You can see many historical locations that are markers of the country’s colonial history, such as the Basilica del Sto. Nino, Magellan’s Cross, and the Mactan Shrine.
One thing you’ll find in Cebu which you can’t find anywhere else is the month-long Sinulog Festival every January, a religious festival so grand that it attracts international visitors and photographers to capture the colourful displays and parades.
Also, Cebu is undoubtedly one of, if not the best place to eat delicious Filipino food. Many popular restaurants in Manila have their roots in Cebuano cuisine. One of the most highly recommended dishes is their Cebu Lechon, juicy and filled to the brim with spices and veggies to bring out the flavour of the meat all the more.
Bohol is just a two-hour ferry ride away from Cebu, making it very easy to visit after a sightseeing venture in the Queen City of the South! Of course, if you’re coming in from Manila, you can get to Bohol via plane or ship.
Bohol is most well known for its stunning natural sceneries you won’t find anywhere else in the Philippines. One of the most prominent examples includes the Chocolate Hills, which turn a beautiful chocolate brown colour during the Philippines’ dry seasons. Another must-visit location is the Man-made Forest of Bilar and Loboc. It’s a commonly taken route for visitors heading to the Chocolate Hills so that you can hit two birds with one stone. A drive through the roads is magnificent, bordered by nothing but bright green verdant trees as far as the eye can see. Are you looking for a refreshing getaway in Bohol’s waters? Then head to Balicasag Island for swimming, snorkelling, and dolphin-watching galore.
3.) El Nido
El Nido is a stunning sight, sure to provide a relaxing view and experience even for the tensest of characters. El Nido is a protected area with strictly regulated and planned tour packages of the city to ensure the quality and beauty of the beaches and rock formations. There are five different tour packages – Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour E.
Tour A is a fantastic choice for first-time visitors to El Nido, featuring the picturesque Big Lagoon, Hidden Lagoon, and many more.
Tour B is perfect for those who want to see more islands and caves. You’ll see sandy white beaches with crystal clear waters at the Snake Island, and marvel at the Cathedral and Cudugnon cave formations.
Tour C is truly for beach enthusiasts. You’ll get to see the most beautiful beaches in El Nido, some only accessible through a hidden passage. This option is the tour to pick if the weather is clear – not so much during rainy seasons as the water can get pretty rough.
Tour D is a mishmash of different tours. You’ll see lagoons, beaches, coves and caves – a great pick if you want a little bit of everything all at once during your stay.
Tour E is a more laid-back option, taking you to the Nacpan Beach and Nagkalit-kalit falls for some nice swimming and rest and relaxation in the cool waters.
Coron is a relatively fast 4-hour boat ride from El Nido. It’s a jewel of north Palawan, a little enclave town that tourists be they local or International just can’t get enough of. What Coron is most known for is the absolute clarity and beauty of its turquoise waters that look almost like jewelry when seen from afar. Therefore, you’ll find that the best places to visit are the ones near the water. Some of these include the Kayangan Lake and View, Barracuda Lake, Twin Lagoon, and Siete Picados. If you want a more relaxing destination, feel free to stop by at the rejuvenating waters of the Maquinit Hot Springs.
For more nature tours, you can see international wildlife at the Calauit Safari Park Tour, as well as historical sites at the Culion Historical Tour.
5.) Puerto Princesa
Another gem of Palawan, Puerto Princesa boasts of the Philippine pride – the Puerto Princesa Underground River. If you’re booking a tour, seeing the underground river is a fantastic choice if you haven’t yet. Its beauty has marked it a UNESCO World Heritage site with its unique biodiversity and limestone rock formations. Aside from the underground river, you can book other great tours that show you what else the city has to offer, such as the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Plaza Cuartel, and the exciting Kamia Bay Inflatable Island – the biggest inflatable water park in the entirety of Asia!
When in Manila, there are two things that you have to do in the capital – see the historical sites, and see the museum! Manila, being the capital of the Philippines, has been host to many of the historically relevant events in the country, especially in matters concerning the Spanish and American colonization.
The heart of the city is undoubtedly Intramuros, one of the oldest still-standing areas in the metropolitan which has survived through multiple wars in the country – though walking through its streets and ruins you definitely will see that the history has taken a toll on the walled enclave. You can book walking tours and bicycle tours depending on your preference – no matter what, however, you’re sure to gain more in-depth insight on the history of not just Manila, but of the country as a whole. Museums in the area that are a must-visit include the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Natural History, and the newly upgraded Planetarium.
For a food trip, head over to Binondo Chinatown – the first Chinatown in the world which also serves up affordable and delicious Chinese-Filipino cuisine.
Batangas is a popular getaway location, especially for those coming from the capital city. Batangas is frequented due to its abundance of spacious resorts and farms, an excellent way to get in touch with nature without having to travel too far away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan. But one of the things that set Batangas apart from other spots in the vicinity is its brimming amount of historical locations. Many schoolchildren have Batangas towns and monuments as a part of their field trip curriculums, fully underscoring the importance of the spots in Philippine culture and history.
In Batangas, you’ll find handfuls of old buildings and towns, best visited with a tour guide who can explain the significance of each location. Some prominent examples include the Taal Heritage Town, Balayan Town, Taal Basilica, Our Lady of Casaysay Shrine, Lipa Cathedral, and many more.
Baguio is known as the summer capital of the Philippines thanks to the low temperatures of the city even during the most blistering summer heats ravaging the country. Of course, the cold isn’t the only thing that makes the city such a sought-after vacation destination.
Pine trees are a rare sight in the Philippines. Still, you can find an abundance of them at the Camp John Hay, a beautiful rest and recreation site with a nearby hotel, as well as various activities including rides at the Treetop Adventures, the Butterfly Garden, and the Yellow Trail hiking path for nature-lovers. If it’s Baguio’s famous strawberries you’re after, then strawberry-picking at the La Trinidad Strawberry Farm is a must. Be sure to snack on some of the local stalls selling strawberry taho, breads, and ice cream after your picking session!
Other stunning Baguio attractions include the Colors of Stobosa, brightly-coloured hillside houses that appear like a mural painting from afar; the Bell Church, Bencab Museum (a must-see for art enthusiasts!) and Burnham Park.
And those are 8 of some of the best destinations to visit in the Philippines – it isn’t a good idea to go out and see all the fantastic sights the country has to offer during the pandemic. Still, it’s never a bad idea to plan ahead and look forward to future adventures! You can go out and make new memories all while helping the country’s tourism-based economy get back on its feet.