- Best Time to Go to the Philippines
- January to March | Ideal Months to Travel in the Philippines
- April to June | Summer and Peak Season in the Philippines
- July to October | Rainy and Off-Peak Season in the Philippines
- November to December | Holiday Season in the Philippines
- Geography of the Philippines
- Arriving at Manila Airport: What You Need to Know
- How to Get Around the Philippines
- Hotels in the Philippines
- Best hotels and resorts in Luzon
- Best hotels and resorts in Visayas
- Best hotels and resorts in Mindanao
- Best theme hotels and resorts in the Philippines
- Must-Visit Tourist Spots in the Philippines
- Manila | The Capital of the Philippines
- Palawan | Gateway to the Best Islands in the Philippines
- Boracay Island | Tropical Paradise
- Cebu | Islands, Diving, Historical Sites, and More
- Bohol | Countryside and Island Tours
- What to Eat in the Philippines
- Suggested 2-Week Itinerary in the Philippines
- Frequently Asked Questions about Traveling to the Philippines
Discover the treasures of the Philippines from beaches and islands, highlands, historical spots, and must-try food and fun activities. Find out the best time to visit and the best tourist spots. Learn how to get around from the Manila airport. Discover the best places to eat. Take inspiration from a 2-week itinerary that will take you around the best destinations in the country. Read this article for an introduction to traveling around the Philippines.
It can be difficult to decide where to travel first in the Philippines. There are so many beautiful, postcard-worthy white sand beaches and pristine islands all over the Philippines, complete with crystal clear waters and rich and diverse marine life.
- Explore the widest collection of Philippine tours for your vacation
- Check out flights to the Philippines
Travelers who love swimming would find it hard to leave, as idyllic beach trips, exciting island-hopping adventures, and incredible diving tours are abundant here. The Philippines' beaches are among the best in the world as well, whether it's white sand, black volcanic sand, or even pink sand in some places.
Aside from its famed island and beach destinations, the country offers other natural wonders and activities too. You can try mountain hiking and trekking adventures with stunning views of a sea of clouds. There are also waterfalls trips and sightseeing escapades to man-made rice terraces, centuries-old historical landmarks, and architecture.
- Find the best Philippines vacation packages for a hassle-free trip
- See destinations for solo travel in the Philippines
If you're traveling to the Philippines soon, this ultimate guide has everything you need to know to plan your trip.
Best Time to Go to the Philippines
The Philippines has two distinct seasons, wet and dry. The dry season starts from November until June. These months are considered the best time to travel to most destinations in the Philippines.
The wet season, on the other hand, is from July to October. During this time, an average of nine typhoons hit the Philippines and may cause flooding and landslides in some areas. While not all typhoons make landfall, the heavy rains may still affect your trip, so make sure to check weather forecasts.
- Check out our 2-week Philippine itinerary packages
Note, though, that it doesn’t rain every day, nor does it rain the whole day during the wet season, unless there is a typhoon. It's still best to check the weather forecast for your Philippine destinations when planning a trip. Weather-wise, here’s what you can expect when traveling in the Philippines and where to go.
January to March | Ideal Months to Travel in the Philippines
January to March is usually the ideal period to travel to the Philippines. Even if there are bigger chances of precipitation, these are the months of the year when the temperature is cooler. The month of March also signals the upcoming festivals and the long weekend of Holy Week (Easter).
These months also highlight some of the biggest and grandest festivities:
The province of Aklan, where Boracay Island is located, commemorates the Ati-Atihan Festival in the second week of January. Check Boracay tours and Boracay tour packages with hotel and airfare for your island getaway.
Millions of devotees gather in Quiapo in Manila City to join the procession during the Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9.
The Summer Capital, Baguio City, parades beautifully-adorned floats with flowers during the Panagbenga Festival in February. Check Baguio tours and Baguio package deals with hotel to make your trip more fun.
There are weeklong religious activities during Holy Week (Easter) in March or early April all over the country, but more specifically in Pampanga. Check Pampanga experiences to make the most of your vacation.
April to June | Summer and Peak Season in the Philippines
During this time, the temperature and humidity levels are highest. This marks the summer season in the Philippines, which is also a school break for Filipino students. Locals plan beach getaways or vacations in their hometowns. Expect that beach resorts will most likely be fully booked and have higher rates.
The sun is the strongest from April to June, so precautions are needed when spending most of the time under the sun. Lather sunblock every two hours to avoid sunburn.
Some popular summer destinations in the Philippines include:
The white beaches, crystal clear waters, and extreme water sports of Boracay.
- Check out our article on the Best Beaches to Visit in the Philippines
Aside from beaches and island hopping tours in the Philippines, here are other summer season activities you can try:
Taste the freshest catch in Dagupan City during Bangus Festival every April.
Head to Quezon Province and witness the colorful Pahiyas Festival, a thanksgiving festival held every 15th of May.
Witness the festivities and watch the beautiful women of the country all dressed up during Flores De Mayo.
Take part during the different pistang bayan (town fiestas) in the provinces of Batangas and Bulacan.
In June, take part in the combined Pintados-Kasadyaan festivals of Tacloban City that features a sailboat race, the Subiran Regatta, and the religious rite Balyuan. Join a Tacloban city tour to get the full experience.
Join the celebration of St. John the Baptist's feast day, where locals get doused with water on June 24th. It’s officially called the Wattah Wattah Festival or Basaan Festival in Filipino. It's usually celebrated in Batangas, Bataan, and Nueva Ecija, to name a few.
July to October | Rainy and Off-Peak Season in the Philippines
The volume of rainfall in the Philippines increases from July to August. These months are considered the wettest months, although it does not necessarily mean that it will rain all day long.
When typhoons hit, most of the islands in the country are affected, making trips around the country (depending on where the typhoon hits) difficult. Expect flight delays and even cancellations in some cases.
Flights to different islands and beach resorts are cheaper during these months. Go to the beach, enjoy a food trip, or visit museums and historical places. Here are some other rainy season activities in the Philippines that you can try:
Catch the colorful Pagoda Festival in Bulacan.
Observe the Fluvial Parade of the Nuestra Señora Peñafrancia in Naga City.
For Filipinos, Christmas or the holiday season starts as early as September or the beginning of the -ber months. Some establishments start to decorate their stores with Christmas ornaments as early as September 1st.
November to December | Holiday Season in the Philippines
November marks not only the beginning of the dry season but also the start of the long holiday celebration in the Philippines. These are the best months to visit Philippine cities because of the night markets, light and sound shows, and Christmas bazaars.
- Read our article on the Top Philippine Christmas holiday destinations
November to December are the best months to do your holiday shopping, as most malls are on sale and extended operating hours. However, there are other things you can do too:
Watch the Higantes Festival (giant paper effigies) in Rizal.
Appreciate a grand Christmas experience in San Fernando, Pampanga, and its Giant Lantern Festival.
Enjoy the cold weather and admire the views of Banaue Rice Terraces while sipping a hot cup of tea or coffee in Benguet.
Choosing the best time to visit the Philippines depends on what kind of activity you want to do. Come at different times to appreciate everything the country has to offer.
Geography of the Philippines
The Philippines' geography is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Before planning a trip to the Philippines, it's important to know where your chosen destinations are. Your transportation, schedule, and budget will depend on the distances between each place. You can also book all-inclusive Philippines vacation packages that will take you around the top tourist spots in the country.
If you're outside the Philippines, your first destination will most likely be Manila, the Philippine capital located in Luzon. Most connecting flights to other destinations in the countries continue from Manila.
The Luzon island group also includes other big islands and island groups like Palawan, Batanes, Baguio, and Vigan. Top Luzon activities include city sightseeing, beach adventures, and some island-hopping trips. Check out the top Luzon tourist spots that you should visit.
- Read about the top Batanes tourist spots
Visayas is located in the central part of the Philippines. Cebu is the main gateway to other Visayas destinations. Visayas is home to destinations like Boracay, Bohol, Iloilo, Negros Region, Leyte, and Siquijor. The top activities and best tourist spots in Visayas include idyllic beaches, island-hopping, outdoor adventures, and food tours.
Mindanao is located in the southern part of the Philippines. Davao City is the main gateway to other destinations in this island group, which includes Siargao, Camiguin, Zamboanga, and Cagayan de Oro, to name a few. Top things to do and best tourist spots in Mindanao include outdoor adventures, beach escapades, and island-hopping. Check out our Davao tourist spots itinerary if you're exploring Davao City and Samal Island.
- Not sure where to start? Check out our guide to the Top 15 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in the Philippines
Given the number and variety of things to do here, filling your itinerary for a week or so when traveling in the Philippines won’t be a problem.
Arriving at Manila Airport: What You Need to Know
Like any metropolitan city, Manila can be confusing for first-time visitors with flights to Manila, starting with arriving at the airport. Manila international airport, officially known as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) or Manila Airport, has four terminals, which are not connected via airport rail link. Consider this when booking your flights, as inter-airline transfers may be complicated.
- Check out international flights to Manila:
However, there are now Point-to-Point (P2P) shuttle buses that you can board to transfer airports in the Philippines, or you can book a taxi or Grab car via the Grab App (like Uber) if you have connecting flights. You can also book rent a car in Manila services. These transport options take public roads, so allot sufficient transfer time if you plan to transit between airlines. Here's a rundown of these four airport terminals:
NAIA Terminal 1
Terminal 1 serves all the international flights from and to Manila except for the ones operated by airlines in NAIA Terminal 2 and NAIA Terminal 3.
NAIA Terminal 2
Terminal 2 houses the domestic and international flights of the country's flag carrier, Philippine Airlines, and its affiliate PAL express. This terminal is also known as the Centennial Terminal to commemorate the centennial declaration of Philippine independence.
NAIA Terminal 3
Terminal 3 caters to international flights operated by Cathay Pacific Air, AirAsia, Emirates Airline, Cebu Pacific Air, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Delta Air Lines, All Nippon Air, and Singapore Airlines, as well as all domestic flights of Cebu Pacific Air. It has a transit lounge (airport hotel) and a massage place.
NAIA Terminal 4
Terminal 4, the smallest of the four, serves domestic flights from CebGo, AirSwift, and SkyJet. Some AirAsia flights depart from here as well, so check your tickets closely.
- Check out domestic flights to Manila:
Outside Manila: Clark International Airport
A secondary international airport nearest to Manila is Clark International Airport. It takes two to three hours to travel from Manila to Clark, which is 93 kilometers away. One transport option is through the Premium point-to-point (P2P) Bus Service. This bus service has a station at NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City, which is ideal if you come from the southern part of Metro Manila. If you're coming from the northern part of Metro Manila, take the P2P bus from its North EDSA MRT / Trinoma Station in Quezon City.
- Learn more about the capital city of the Philippines. Read our Ultimate Travel Guide to Manila
Currency Exchange and ATMs
All airport terminals have money changers open 24/7 in both the arrivals and departure areas. There are ATMs as well that accept foreign-issued cards though fees may apply.
Free SIM Card
Once you arrive in Manila airports, take advantage of the free SIM cards given by the Philippines' major telecommunications companies: Globe and Smart. You can top up your credit in convenience stores like 7-Eleven all over the country.
Transportation to and from the Manila airports
All Manila airports have taxi stands. You can get a coupon taxi (white) that’s dispatched by airport personnel and charged a fixed price or a yellow taxi that’s metered. Both are more expensive than regular white taxis but relatively safer to use.
There are also shuttle buses that will take you to the nearest metro station. However, if it’s your first time in the Philippines, taking this route is not as comfortable as taking either an airport taxi or booking an accredited taxi/cab, hire Manila car rental services, or carpool through the Grab App. If you are traveling in a big group and have a lot of luggage, booking a van rental in the Philippines or a budget car rental in the Philippines may be advisable.
How to Get Around the Philippines
The primary way of getting around the Philippines is by buses, planes, and ships/ferries. Boat rides are great for inter-island trips with short distances; for everywhere else, flights are recommended.
Depending on when you visit, you can find a lot of cheap flights in the Philippines. In fact, sometimes it’s cheaper to book a flight than a ferry. The biggest flight carriers are Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, and AirAsia.
Within small towns and cities, the primary modes of transport are bus, jeepney, or tricycle (like Thailand’s tuk-tuk or India’s auto-rickshaw, but smaller). In addition, major cities have taxi cabs and the Grab app. Only Manila has the metro system. If you want to go around the country in style, you may book an SUV rental in the Philippines or luxury car rental in the Philippines.
You can also book self-drive car rentals in the Philippines if you want to explore on your own. Read our article on the best cars to rent for a road trip in the Philippines.
Hotels in the Philippines
It is not hard to find accommodations in the Philippines. In top destinations, you would find various options, from 1- to 5-star hotels, ranging in price from budget to luxury.
For budget travelers, there are numerous hostels, guesthouses, and homestays all over the country. Note that budget places are less likely to have a hot shower available, and in some places, there would be no Wifi.
It's highly recommended to book at least one night (or more) in advance, especially in popular destinations like Boracay, Palawan, and Puerto Galera during peak season (e.g., summer and holidays).
Read our selection of the best hotels and resorts in top destinations in the Philippines:
Best hotels and resorts in Luzon
- Best hotels in Manila
- Best serviced apartments in Metro Manila
- Best beach resorts near Manila
- Best hotels near Manila Airport
- Best glamping resorts near Manila
- Best hotels in BGC Taguig Metro Manila
- Best hotels in Makati City
- Best hotels and resorts in Puerto Princesa, Palawan
- Best hotels and resorts in El Nido, Palawan
- Best hotels and resorts in Coron, Palawan
- Best hotels and resorts in San Vicente, Palawan
- Best hotels and resorts in Port Barton, Palawan
- Best hotels and resorts in Antipolo
- Best hotels in Baguio
- Best resorts in Baler
- Best resorts in Batangas
- Best affordable Batangas resorts
- Best pet-friendly resorts in Batangas
- Best Batangas resorts with pool
- Best resorts in Bataan
- Best resorts in Bulacan
- Best resorts in Cavite
- Best resorts in Laguna
- Best hotels in Laoag Ilocos Norte
- Best resorts in La Union
- Best hotels in Legazpi City Albay
- Best resorts in Palawan
- Best hotels and resorts in Pampanga
- Best resorts in Pangasinan
- Best resorts in Puerto Galera
- Best resorts in Quezon Province
- Best hotels and resorts in Sorsogon
- Best hotels and resorts in Subic
- Best hotels in Tagaytay
- Best Tagaytay hotels with a view of Taal Lake
- Best hotels in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
- Best resorts in Zambales
Best hotels and resorts in Visayas
- Best resorts and hotels in Boracay
- Best beachfront resorts in Boracay
- Best budget-friendly resorts in Boracay
- Best Boracay Station 1 resorts
- Best Boracay Station 2 resorts
- Best Boracay Station 3 resorts
- Best Boracay hotels and resorts for families
- Best Boracay workation resorts
- Best resorts in Bohol
- Best beachfront resorts in Bohol
- Best hotels in Bacolod City
- Best hotels and resorts in Cebu
- Best beachfront resorts in Cebu
- Best luxury hotels and resorts in Cebu
- Best budget-friendly hotels in Cebu City
- Best hotels near Cebu airport
- Best hotels in Iloilo City
Best theme hotels and resorts in the Philippines
- Best beach resorts in the Philippines
- Best spa and wellness resorts in the Philippines
- Best glamping resorts in the Philippines
- Best farm stays & resorts in the Philippines
- Best treehouse resorts in the Philippines
- Best pet-friendly hotels and resorts near Manila
- Best mountain resorts near Manila
- Best budget-friendly quality resorts near Manila
- Best private resorts near Manila
- Best teambuilding resorts near Manila
- Best hot spring resorts in Laguna
- Best Bali-like resorts in the Philippines
- Best Maldives-like resorts in the Philippines
- Best Santorini-like resorts in the Philippines
- Most unique hotels and resorts in the Philippines
- Best natural hot spring resorts in the Philippines
- Best historic hotels and houses in the Philippines
- Best honeymoon resorts in the Philippines
- Best luxury resorts and hotels in the Philippines
- Best eco-friendly resorts in the Philippines
- Best PWD-friendly hotels and resorts in the Philippines
Must-Visit Tourist Spots in the Philippines
With over 7000 islands, you will definitely need to prioritize when deciding on the places to visit in the Philippines. Much depends, of course, on how long you will have in the country and what you are interested in doing. For starters, you can check out our article on the top tours in the Philippines.
Here are some of the most popular destinations in the Philippines that you shouldn't miss out on:
Manila | The Capital of the Philippines
Many visitors skip the capital city of Manila and only go here as a jump-off point for their forward destination in the country. Like any metropolis, it’s big and populated. However, this bustling city has many interesting attractions and activities that you shouldn't miss.
It has, for example, the old Spanish fortress in Intramuros that provides you with a glimpse of what the city used to be under over three centuries of Spanish rule. Nowhere is the Spanish influence seen more clearly than in the Walled City, from the cobbled streets to the restored houses. Make sure to join Intramuros tours to get the full experience.
- Check Manila activities that you can add to your itinerary
Highlights in Intramuros include the old churches of San Agustin, built in 1587, and the Manila Cathedral, originally built in 1571 and governed by the Archdiocese of Mexico. Outside Intramuros, there’s also the historic Quiapo Church, whose annual Feast of the Black Nazarene every January attracts millions of devotees.
You can also try some of the trips around Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world. You can also watch one of the best sunsets in the Philippines along the Manila Bay at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex.
When booking a hotel, we recommend booking accommodations either in Manila City or in Makati City. Both of these destinations have plush hotels, high-end shopping malls, and various bars and restaurants that offer a range of local and international cuisines.
Palawan | Gateway to the Best Islands in the Philippines
The island province of Palawan definitely deserves its title as one of the world’s most beautiful islands and one of the best places to visit in the Philippines. You will see it for yourself once you go island hopping in Palawan.
You’ll see beautiful powdery, white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, towering limestones, hidden lagoons, and even a safari.
Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, is often the first place that travelers go to, as it has frequent and affordable flights to and from Manila and Cebu. It is home to the Underground River, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. The city is the jump-off point for Honda Bay island hopping, Underground River tour, and several Palawan destinations like El Nido and San Vicente.
- Learn more in our article on the top attractions and activities in Puerto Princesa
Coron is another popular destination in Palawan. There are direct flights and boats from Manila to Coron (via Busuanga Airport, an hour from Coron town proper), making it a possible first destination for the Palawan leg of your Philippine itinerary.
If you’re into water activities, Coron is the getaway you might be looking for. It is best known for wreck diving and snorkeling, island hopping to hidden lagoons surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, and the iconic Kayangan Lake. Check out our Coron tour packages with airfare.
Google Coron, Palawan, and the first photo you'll see is of the view going to the freshwater lake. It's why Coron island-hopping is popular with both locals and internationals.
Coron is the best place for wreck diving because it has a handful of sunken ships hidden beneath its waters, some of which are big enough to be explored inside, while some are shallow enough to be seen by snorkelers. If you're not a certified diver, dive shops in Coron have Discover Scuba activities too.
- Learn more in our article on the top activities and places to see in Coron
El Nido is another well-known destination in Palawan. Over the years, the town has transformed from one that doesn’t even have an ATM and 24-hour electricity into a popular holiday destination.
There are regular island-hopping trips in El Nido that take you to various islands and beaches such as the Hidden Beach, Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Hidden Lagoon, Paradise Beach, and Natnat Beach, among others.
- Read our guide on the top activities and attractions in El Nido
Boracay Island | Tropical Paradise
Boracay became a popular destination for local and international travelers because of its fine, white sandy beaches (led by the famous White Beach), its combination of Boracay nightlife scene and family-friendly atmosphere, and its many accommodations across budgets.
Watching sunsets may be cliché to some, but the sunset in Boracay is definitely one of the best you’ll see in the country. The silhouette of sailboats, the shadows of people walking along the shore, and the sky turning from blue to a fiery red and into a faint orange is an image you won’t quickly forget.
- Browse our Boracay tour packages with airfare
It's why a luxury sunset yacht cruise tour is a must-try on the island. You can also try other fun activities in Boracay's White Beach like wakeboarding, parasailing, paraw sailing, paddle boarding, helmet diving, speedboat riding, banana boat ride, and jet ski experience.
Most Boracay accommodations are lined up in White Beach grouped into Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3. However, you can easily visit the other beaches there during your stay. Puka Beach, for example, may not have sand as fine as White Beach, but if you go early enough, you can avoid the crowds and have a relaxing hour or two by the beach.
Bulabog Beach is becoming a popular destination for kitesurfers. The winds here are strong enough for those who want to try something new or improve their skill. There are several shops offering lessons and provide rental gear too.
You’ll have plenty of options in Boracay when it comes to food, as there are markets, budget restaurants, Western food, buffets, and bars that cater to different kinds of tastes. Read our article on the best restaurants in Boracay to learn more. There are fun activities like Boracay pub crawls too! Indeed, Boracay is the destination to be if you want a bit of everything in one place.
- Read our guide on the top things to see and do in Boracay
Cebu | Islands, Diving, Historical Sites, and More
The province of Cebu is another popular place to visit because of the range of natural, historical, and cultural attractions.
Bantayan Island and Malapascua Island in the north are famous beach destinations because of their pristine beaches and sky-blue waters. Visitors usually combine a trip to these two destinations. Both islands provide a laid-back atmosphere if you want to just spend the whole day relaxing.
Malapascua is best known for its thresher sharks. It's the only place in the world where this species is consistently seen almost every day.
Bantayan Island, on the other hand, is more for beach bumming and snorkeling. It has a healthy coral garden you can explore and a long coastline of white sandy beaches.
Make sure to go to the south of Cebu as well and include Moalboal in your Philippine itinerary. This is where you can experience the famous sardine run tour. Seeing the hundreds of thousands of sardines swimming beneath you (or above you if you choose to dive) is definitely an awesome experience unique to Cebu.
A must-try during your visit to Cebu is the fun canyoneering experience. It is an adrenaline-pumping activity where you jump into a pool of water from around 25 meters high. You’ll also get to trek and enjoy some moderate hiking activities and take the plunge at the azure waters of Kawasan Falls.
Other places of interest in Cebu province include hiking Osmeña Peak, trekking to Tumalog Falls, lounging in Tingko Beach, Lambug Beach, and Basdaku Beach, just to name a few.
- Check our article on the Top Tourist Spots in Cebu
Cebu City, the capital of Cebu province, is cosmopolitan and developed. You can join a historical tour in Cebu that will take you to sites like Magellan’s Cross, as well as old churches and museums, among others. There is a variety of restaurants offering local and international food, too.
If you’re a meat-eater, never miss the famous lechon (suckling pig) that Anthony Bourdain called “the best pig ever.” There are countless bars and shopping malls for entertainment as well.
The Queen City of the South has the second busiest airport in the Philippines located in Mactan, flying to 25 domestic and 22 international destinations. From here, the best beaches in Cebu are easily accessible by private transportation and public buses.
You also have several options for accommodation, whether you want to splurge or stick to a tight budget.
Bohol | Countryside and Island Tours
The island of Bohol is another must-include in your Philippine itinerary. There are endless tourist spots in Bohol that you can visit. You can do a countryside day tour of Bohol, but why spend only one day in one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Philippines?
Bohol has many beaches and activities for those who want to see more of the region. Make sure to explore Panglao Island to make your trip more fun and exciting! Start your trip by trying Alona Beach activities such as fly fish, UFO, parasailing, banana boat ride, and many more.
A trip to Bohol is incomplete without joining Chocolate Hills tours. These green hills that turn brown during the summer months will remind you of Hershey’s Kisses, hence the name. The viewpoint was affected by the major earthquake in 2015, but it has since been restored.
- See our guide on how to go to Chocolate Hills
Another must-see is the tarsier, a tiny primate (around 3.5 to 6 inches long) with huge eyes that can only be found in Southeast Asia. You can visit tarsier sanctuaries in Bohol, where you can see these tiny and cute creatures (do not hold or touch them, though).
While in Bohol, try the Loboc River Cruise experience. It provides you with a relaxing and scenic way to see the countryside while feasting on Filipino cuisine and being serenaded by local performers.
Bohol also has relics of Spanish colonial times; you’ll see several old churches that provide you with a glimpse of the province’s historical and cultural heritage. While some of these churches were destroyed during the 2015 earthquake, most of them have been restored, including Baclayon Church.
These destinations are only some of the best places to visit in the Philippines. The country has plenty more to offer travelers with various budgets and preferences for their trip.
What to Eat in the Philippines
Filipino food is one of the most underrated in Asia. Most international visitors know what to expect from Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese food but are usually totally clueless about the Philippines' local cuisine.
Filipino cuisine is actually one of the most diverse in the world. Because of its colonial past, it has influences from the west as much as it has oriental roots. Note, though, that the cuisine is meat-heavy. Vegetarian or vegan guests traveling outside major cities may find it hard to look for restaurants that provide vegetarian or vegan options.
If you are a first-time visitor in the Philippines and don’t know what Filipino food to try, here are some of the best food in the Philippines that you should keep on the lookout for in your culinary and food trips.
Adobo is a popular Filipino dish and a cooking process in Filipino cuisine. It involves meat or seafood cooked in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper. Some regions have their own version by adding more ingredients, but the base flavor remains the same.
The name adobo was given by the Spanish due to the similarity to adobo or adobar, a cooking practice that also uses vinegar and soy sauce indigenous to Iberia. It is considered the unofficial national dish of the Philippines due to its popularity across all regions.
Sisig is a favorite pulutan (food eaten with alcohol) accompanied by a local beer. The dish is made of chopped parts of a pig’s head and liver. Onions, chopped chili peppers, eggs, and calamansi are added. It is normally served in sizzling plates.
This appetizing dish originated from Pampanga, the culinary capital of the Philippines. Hundreds of sisig variations are available today, such as tuna, squid, tuna, milkfish, and mussels. If you are looking for a vegetarian version of Sisig, some restaurants serve mushrooms and tofu sisig. Read more about it on our travel guide to Pampanga.
A Filipino party is not complete without lechon. Lechon is a suckling pig roasted to perfection. The whole pig is skewered on a large bamboo stick and spit-roasted over burning charcoal.
The pig is roasted for hours with occasional basting. It is served with a local sauce in some regions. One of the most famous foods in the Philippines, lechon is a must-try for anyone coming to the country. The best lechon in the Philippines are from Cebu. Read our travel guide to Cebu to learn more about it.
Sinigang is a Filipino soup or stew characterized by its sour and savory broth. A classic Filipino dish, sinigang is what most Filipino kids ask their moms for if they are sick. The sour taste is from the use of tamarind to flavor the broth.
This traditional food in the Philippines has evolved so much that several tamarind alternatives are being used these days. It includes guava, mango, kamias, santol, and even watermelon.
Caldereta is another classic Filipino dish and stew. This savory dish is cooked originally using goat meat, but beef, chicken, or pork can also be used these days.
Tomato sauce, liver spread, vegetables, bell peppers, and cheese are added to the meat. The name of the dish is derived from the Spanish word caldera or cauldron in English.
6. Crispy Pata
Crispy pata or pork knuckles is a famous Filipino pork dish among Filipino family dinners.
This dish is made by boiling the entire pork knuckles with seasonings for 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender. It is then frozen overnight with another batch of seasonings and then deep-fried until the skin is crispy.
7. Chicken Inasal
Chicken inasal is grilled chicken marinated in vinegar, calamansi, and annatto oil. This delicious dish came from Bacolod and was popularized by several restaurant chains around the Philippines. Check out our travel guide to Bacolod to find out where you can taste the best chicken inasal in the Philippines.
The name dinuguan derives from the word “dugo” or blood; hence the word dinuguan means “to be stewed with blood.” It is made of pig’s blood and offal.
Dinuguan is similar to the Irish black pudding except that it is a stew instead of sausage. Aside from being eaten with rice, Filipinos also pair it with puto (steamed rice cake).
9. Fish Kinilaw
Fish kinilaw is the ceviche of the Philippines. Made of raw fish, this appetizing dish is denatured using vinegar as a primary ingredient. Onions, ginger, chili peppers, black peppers, and calamansi are added for flavoring.
Popular fish used for kinilaw includes yellowfin tuna, mackerels, and marlins.
Halo-halo is a Filipino favorite snack or merienda. This cold snack and dessert consists of crushed ice, evaporated milk, and various ingredients such as beans, jellies, tapioca pearls, mixed fruits, leche flan, purple yam, and even ice cream.
Halo-halo is extremely popular, especially during the summer months, to cool off from the heat. You can find a lot of food stands selling halo-halo in the local neighborhoods.
Taho (soy pudding) is a popular street food in the Philippines. This healthy snack is made of soft tofu, caramelized brown sugar, and tapioca pearls. It is comfort food that you can buy from street peddlers, usually in the morning. In local neighborhoods, local peddlers walk or bike around houses. When you hear a deep voice shouting "taho," just shout back "taho" to call the peddler's attention to buy a cup.
Balut is a boiled fertilized egg embryo that is eaten from a shell. Don’t let it scare you, though; balut tastes like an ordinary egg with a tasty soup. It's usually sold in the streets at night, with some vendors going around local neighborhoods at night shouting "balot."
Suggested 2-Week Itinerary in the Philippines
Creating an itinerary for a trip to the Philippines can be difficult, especially for a first-time visitor. This 2-week itinerary in the Philippines will give you an idea of how to maximize your time in the country.
Day 1: Manila
If you only have 2 weeks, a day tour in the capital city Manila is enough. If you're spending more time here, check out our Ultimate Travel Guide to Manila.
Things to do in Manila for 1 day:
Explore Intramuros. It used to be the center of government during Spanish times.
Visit Rizal Park. It’s a favorite leisure spot for the locals.
Watch the Manila Bay sunset along Roxas Boulevard.
Ride a night bus going to Baguio and travel to Banaue.
Day 2-3: Banaue
The mountain province of Banaue is famous for its iconic rice terraces. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and often called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Located at around 1500 meters above sea level, it uses an ancient irrigation system where water comes from the rainforest above it.
Things to do in Banaue for 2 days:
Walk around the rice terraces.
Check out the local village and watch an Ifugao cultural show.
Trek to Batad and check out Tappiya Waterfalls. Depending on when you go, you can swim there, too.
Take a night bus going back to Manila so you can arrive early the following day.
Day 4: Layover in Manila + Fly to El Nido
If you have time to explore Manila before your flight, head to the bustling city of Makati, where you can explore shopping malls or parks, and treat yourself to a good meal or a bit of shopping. Make sure to withdraw enough cash for El Nido, Palawan.
The ATMs in El Nido don't always have enough cash. Many places don’t accept credit cards yet, so you might want to plan just in case.
Day 5-7: El Nido, Palawan
Most travelers go to El Nido by flying to Puerto Princesa and then traveling by land for 5-6 hours to El Nido. To save time, flying direct from Manila to El Nido is a good option. Only AirSwift flies direct, and the airfare may be more expensive. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, and AirAsia have daily flights to Puerto Princesa.
Things to do in El Nido for 3 days:
Join an El Nido island hopping trip which runs for a full day. Each tour has a different itinerary, so it’s up to you to select which sites you would like to visit. You can allot 1 tour a day.
Do the Taraw Cliff climb and see the stunning view of the town and the islands.
Drink beers or cocktails and watch the sunset of El Nido in Las Cabanas.
Day 8-9: Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan. It is home to the UNESCO Heritage site and the “New 7 Wonders of Nature,” the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Leave early for Puerto Princesa from El Nido on Day 8 since travel time is around 5-6 hours.
Things to do in Puerto Princesa for 1 day:
When you arrive, you can hire a tricycle or a tour van to take you around the tourist spots in Puerto Princesa.
Book a tour of the underground river for Day 9 (you should book this in advance). The whole tour will take 5-6 hours.
Day 10-12: Bohol
You can’t fly directly to Bohol from Puerto Princesa, but you can fly to Cebu and then take a ferry to Tagbilaran, Bohol. The flight takes about an hour while the fast ferry takes about 2 hours.
Several fast ferries travel between Cebu and Bohol, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding transport to Bohol.
No advance booking is necessary. Just go to the ferry terminal in Pier 4 North Reclamation Area.
Things to do in Bohol for 2 days:
Do the Bohol countryside tour where you can visit most top Bohol attractions like the Chocolate Hills, Loboc River, Bilar Man-Made Forest, Baclayon Church, and Blood Compact Shrine.
Explore Alona Beach in Panglao Island. There are several bars and restaurants there if you need a break from lounging in the beach.
For more adventurous activities, a trip to Danao Adventure Park is where you can experience the Plunge (canyon drop) as well as other exhilarating activities.
Day 12-14: Cebu
On Day 12, you can take a ferry to Cebu from Bohol. There are several trips during the day, and you won’t need to book your ticket in advance. Go to the pier in Tagbilaran and book the next trip.
Things to do in Cebu for 2 days:
When you arrive, go around Cebu City and check out its top attractions, including the Magellan’s Cross and Basilica del Santo Niño.
Alternatively, you can go directly to Moalboal, around 2 hours from the city, where you can go island hopping and swim with the sardines.
From Moalboal, head to Alegria and Badian for the canyoneering and the Kawasan Falls adventure.
There are several flights from Cebu to Manila, so going back to Manila on Day 14 won’t be a problem. Just make sure to check your flights and allot extra time for delays so you won’t miss your flight out of the country!
Frequently Asked Questions about Traveling to the Philippines
Now that you know which destinations you should add to your trip to the Philippines take note of these helpful tips:
Is it safe to visit the Philippines?
Generally, yes. But it's always best to be aware of your surroundings, keep your belongings secure at all times and be wary of strangers. If you're planning to do outdoor activities, check out our guide on travel insurance in the Philippines.
The national government has also implemented safety guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the country. All travelers are required to wear face masks and practice social distancing in public areas. Some local government units have additional guidelines and requirements for inbound travel including a negative COVID-19 test result and/or a vaccination card or certificate indicating the traveler’s fully vaccinated status. Check our article on the Philippines travel requirements for more details.
What are the Philippine citizens called?
We are called Filipinos (not Philippinos).
What languages are spoken in the Philippines?
The Philippines has two official languages: English and Filipino. This makes it easier for travelers to get around since English is widely understood and spoken.
While Spanish was the country's official language in the 19th and early 20th centuries, only a very small percentage of the population speak or understand it now.
A lot of words, however, derive their origin from Spanish. All over the Philippines, around 180 languages (and dialects) are spoken, 12 of which are used by at least one million people.
Do I need a visa to visit the Philippines?
Passports holders from any country except the following either don't need a visa or can pay for a visa on arrival:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Korea
- Sierra Leone
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
- Taiwan (have to apply for an ETA online)
If unsure, double-check with your embassy.
Is Wifi widely available all over the country?
Most hotels, hostels, and guesthouses in major cities would have Wifi connectivity, but the connection's quality varies widely, depending on location. You can use data but note that the signal can be weak to nonexistent in many islands.
Can I use my credit card?
Cash is still king in the Philippines. You can use credit cards in shopping malls and restaurants in major cities, but once you go out of the major cities, and especially in the islands, credit cards are not usually accepted.
Before leaving Manila or other major cities, make sure to acquire enough cash. A lot of destinations do have ATMs and money changers, but check before you leave.
Discover what the Philippines has to offer. With so many destinations to travel to, start planning your trip now! Read our travel guides to learn more and explore our collection of Philippine tours and activities for your trip.
Philippines Travel French ebook from Nanika.fr
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