Consisting of over 7000 islands, the Philippines in Southeast Asia is one of the world’s largest archipelago nations and has a population of more than 118 million.
This country is a blend of many cultures although predominantly Malaysian and Indonesian. This, along with a history of American rule and contact with traders, has culminated in a blend of East and West and a people that are incredibly warm and welcoming.
Blessed with an extensive coastline and a tropical climate it makes for the perfect holiday destination. With lots of paradise-like island beaches and an abundance of marine life and corals to discover.
However, the Philippines offer more than just beautiful beaches. You can also explore mountainous areas, dense forests and lush plains in a country that is rich in biodiversity as well as cultural diversity.
Here’s a list of our favourite things to do in the Philippines.
1. Island Hopping In El Nido
One of THE very best things to do in the Philippines is island hopping in El Nido.
Firstly you need to know that there are four types of El Nido island hopping tours, A, B, C & D. Each are similar in trip length and inclusions, but they visit different locations including hidden beaches, caves and lagoons.
Prices vary from 1,200 – 1,400 PHP per person and you can book your El Nido Island Hopping Tours in advance.
For your island hopping tour our recommendation is to get a group together (minimum 4 people) and negotiate a deal with one of the operators in town for your own private boat.
We ended up paying 1,700 PHP per person to do both tours A & C in one day, plus had a huge vegetarian lunch thrown in.
Moreover, every place we visited on our tour was insanely beautiful. So, island hopping in El Nido was by far the highlight of our whole month, a big Philippines bucket list tick!
2. Sunset At Las Cabanas Beach
There are many different bars and restaurants scattered along the beach. Most of them accompanied by bean bags or outside seating, where you can relax, grab a bite to eat or even splurge on a cocktail.
However, the main purpose people visit Las Cabanas Beach is because of its unique sunsets. Honestly, they’re some of the best we’ve seen in Asia! So be sure to head down early and grab a spot.
All in all, it’s a super chilled vibe with an unforgettable sunset and definitely one of the top things to do in the Philippines.
3. Chase Waterfalls In Bohol
From Ingkumhan Falls, to Dimiao Twin Falls and Mag-Aso, the island of Bohol is full of awesome watering holes.
Our favourite waterfall on the island had to be Ingkumhan Falls. It’s an ‘off the beaten track’ destination with a beautiful, scenic walk down.
The waters are crystal clear, so you might even spot some fish swimming around your feet, and there’s also a swing and a jumping spot which obviously kept Charlie entertained!
Ingkumhan Falls and Dimiao Twin Falls are located within 15 minutes of each other. However, Mag-Aso is a little out of the way, just 30 minutes north of Tagbilaran City.
We’re not sure if you can call them Bohol tourist spots, but the waterfalls on the island are definitely one of the top things to do in the Philippines.
4. Visit The Chocolate Hills
The Chocolate Hills are a collection of natural sandstone hills located in the centre of the island of Bohol.
Possibly the most popular of the things to do in Bohol, there are said to be as many as 1,776 of these hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres.
The reason these natural sandstone hills are called ‘Chocolate Hills’ is because during the dry season, these graphic landmarks are mainly brown in colour. Luckily we visited in perfect conditions and the scenery was green hills for miles.
If you’re feeling energetic, the best viewpoint is a 214 step climb up to the panoramic observation lookout.
Simply head to the main entrance, pay 50 pesos to visit the platform and grab your postcard shot! Another big Philippines bucket list tick.
5. Learn To Surf In Siargao
If you’re looking to learn to surf, then visiting Cloud 9 on the island of Siargao is going to one of the best things to do in the Philippines.
Cloud 9 relates to the whole surrounding area. However, the easiest way to determine if you have arrived at the right place, is by heading to the huge surfing tower!
Plenty of instructors will be lined up waiting on the beach. They generally charge 500 Pesos for one hour sessions, which includes necessary equipment and boards.
Surfing is one of the most popular things to do in Siargao and this area is swamped with cool restaurants as well as some unique local shops.
So, a great place to spend the day learning how to surf, relaxing down at the beach and ending the day with a Siargao sunset.
6. Magpopongko Rock Pools
A famous cliff jumping spot, as well as one of the top things to do in Siargao, these luminous blue rock pools are an awesome spot to add to your Philippines itinerary.
Magpupungko Rock Pools are tidal pools, which means they are only visible (and fully enjoyable) at low tide. You can check the daily tides on Tides Chart, which is the region where the rock pools are located.
We visited between 2.30pm – 3.30pm and the tides were on their way back in. Meaning we only just made it before it was unsafe for swimmers.
If planned correctly, the crystal clear waters, the rock pools, and white powdered beach is beautiful! Not to mention it is all extremely clean and well looked after by the locals.
7. Island Hopping In Siargao
Siargao Island Hopping Tours are one of the most popular things to do in Siargao and another one for the best things to do in the Philippines bucket list.
We bartered with locals and paid 1500 Pesos for a boat that seated up to 8 people. So, although there were only 6 of us, it still worked out at just 250 Pesos per person. A real bargain!
Siargao Island Hopping Tours are an all day thing, and most of them do not include lunch. So be sure to grab something to take with you, and of course stock up on plenty of water!
As for the islands themselves, we’ll leave you to experience the beauty. Just be prepared for a full day of floating around tropical paradise, crystal blue waters and sipping coconuts on secluded beaches!
8. Go Diving In Moalboal
Moalbaol is the heart of marine bio-diversity in the Philippines. Its healthy reefs support a wealth of marine life and offer easy access to some great dive sites.
We went out diving with the guys at Blue Orchid Dive Resort, however there are plenty of great options in and around Moalboal.
Being complete novices to diving, and having no idea what to expect, the guys at Blue Orchid couldn’t have been more helpful at putting us at ease.
Honestly, diving in Moalboal is one of those things that we never really thought about until arriving in the Philippines. Everybody was talking about it so we figured we had to give it a go.
It completely opened our eyes to a whole other world. We saw everything from turtles to seahorses on their house reef and out in the ocean!
Diving in Moalboal not only put a tick on our Philippines bucket list, it also created some incredible memories.
9. Snorkel The Sardine Run
Moalboal is also famous for being home to one of the largest sardine runs in the world. Seeing this awesome display of nature has to be one of the best things to do in the Philippines.
The sardine run, also known as a bait ball, is a large group of fish that stick together for protection against larger prey. They form an almost wall-looking shape to stay safe in the ocean.
As soon as we jumped into the ocean and popped our heads underwater, we could see the incredible sight of hundreds of thousands of little sardines.
They are completely harmless and swim around in gigantic schools. You can swim in and out of the schools and they will disperse and then gather back together again.
If you like to get booked up in advance the Deep-Sea Diving at Moalboal and Pescador Island is highly recommended.
10. Canyoneer At Kawasan Falls
For a full-on day of adventure, canyoneering at Kawasan Falls is definitely one of the best thing to do in the Philippines. We would however recommend taking a tour.
We took the Kawasan Falls Canyoneering & Cliff Jump Private Tour and from the high energy, to the tasty BBQ lunch and the excellent safety procedures, it was perfect.
From the get-go, we were jumping from cliffs and literally rolling down waterfalls into the insanely beautiful turquoise waters.
It’s a day of jumping, swimming and climbing through countless waterfalls in clear blue water and stunning nature.
At certain points we just had to stop, look around and take in and appreciate where we were and what we were doing.
If you’re looking for a day of incredible adventure and are keen to get stuck in. Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls will put a big tick on the Philippines bucket list.
11. Rope Swing At Cambugahay Falls
Cambugahay Falls on the island of Siquijor are a really popular tourist attraction and on everyones Philippines bucket list. Probably due to the size of the pools and the three different tiers! Oh, and the multiple rope swings.
We paid 50 Pesos for unlimited swings on the rope and spent a good couple of hours hanging out and enjoying ourselves at Cambugahay Falls.
The locals were super friendly and enthusiastic and if you’re lucky, they might even grab your GoPro and take a selfie!
There are actually a couple of swings, rubber rings and rafts, as well as plenty of chill spots/photo opportunities.
So take your time and definitely don’t miss one of the best things to do in the Philippines!
12. Cliff Jump At Salagdoong Beach
Salagdoong Beach is located on the Eastern point of Siquijor, and is actually owned and operated by Hotel Agripino (the Salagdoong Beach Resort).
Aside from the beautiful beach and resort that can be found at Salagdoong Beach Siquijor, the majority of tourists head to this iconic location to fling themselves off cliffs up to 35 feet high!
There are two concrete ledges to jump from. The smaller a modest 20 foot jump and the larger nearly double, standing at 35 foot high.
The jumps are relatively fool proof, just stay as safe as possible by holding a pencil like position. Also, make sure to check for anyone below before jumping and do not risk jumping at low tide.
For those a little less keen on flinging themselves off giant concrete slabs into the ocean, there’s also an awesome slide that drops you straight into the water from a much lower height.
So, if you are looking to try out a cliff jump on your travels, Salagdoong Beach is a great choice.
13. Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is located in the town of Sabang in the Palawan area of the Philippines.
The best option is to book a Puerto Princesa: Underground River Full-Day Trip in advance. This way everything from pick up, to lunch and fees are included. With most tours ranging from 1,500 – 2,500 pesos per person.
The actual Underground River part of the tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and takes you into the first 1.5 kilometres of the underground river cave.
You will also experience the beauty of stalagmites and stalactites, which took thousands of years to form, whilst also mixing with the thousands of bats that inhabit the cave.
On the outside the water is clear and the surroundings are beautiful. Whilst on the inside the dark cave creates an eerie yet interesting atmosphere.
Definitely a spot to add to your Philippines bucket list!
14. Taraw Cliff Walk
A visit to the Philippines wouldn’t be complete without hiking the famous Taraw Cliff and doing the canopy walk.
The giant limestone cliff is a famous attraction on the island of El Nido. It offers a steady rock climbing experience and spectacular views of the Bacuit Bay.
Geared more towards inexperienced climbers, yet ones who still want to snap a photo from the birds-eye view of the bay, we found it to be perfect for us.
The company we used for the Taraw Cliff El Nido Canopy Walk is called ‘El Nido Taraw Via Ferrata’. Entrance was 400 pesos per person, including helmet, harness and guide.
From the top you can enjoy a stunning vista of the coastline all the way up to twin beach. Another one for the bucket list of best things to do in the Philippines.
15. Visit The Ruins In Bacolod
The majestic mansion was built in 1920 by a wealthy sugar baron named Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson. He had it built as a testament of his love for his Portuguese wife, Cora Maria Osorio Rosa-Braga.
During World War II, the building was burned for 3 days straight by Filipino Guerrillas to prevent the Japanese forces from claiming it as their own and using it as a headquarters.
The Ruins Bacolod are now open to the public as a tourist destination and you will find a wealth of history to discover during your visit.
The grounds surrounding The Ruins are beautifully decorated with lanes, gardens and arches, making it a perfect and popular venue for weddings.
We recommend putting this on your Philippines bucket list and visiting around sunset hour to see The Ruins Bacolod at their most beautiful.
16. Day Trip To Lakawon Island
Lakawon Island is a 13 hectare (32 acre) banana shaped island off the coast of Cadiz. It consists of pristine white sand, turquoise waters and a family run beach resort. Not forgetting Asia’s largest floating bar.
Having travelled from the hustle and bustle of Bacolod, this hint of paradise is the contrast that everybody needs to take a break from their busy lifestyles.
Standard entrance is 350 Pesos per person. This excludes the Tawhai Floating Bar which is an additional 285 Pesos if you’d like to visit it.
After visiting many beaches in the Philippines, including those of Palawan and Cebu, we can honestly say that Lakawon Island is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen.
The fact that it’s not presently so mainstream or well known by tourists makes it extra special. Definitely one for the list of best things to do in the Philippines.
16. Enjoy Breakfast At Duyan Cafe
Duyan Cafe was one of our favourite spots on our tour of Bacolod. It’s perfect for foodies, photographers and nature lovers.
‘Duyan’ translates to cradle or hammock in English, from the native Filipino language Tagalog.
So, what better setting than to sit in a hammock and look over the surrounding mountains whilst enjoying your breakfast.
Serving up fresh cakes, sandwiches and of course local rice dishes, Duyan Cafe is a definite favourite amongst both locals and tourists.
Another of our favourite things to do in the Philippines and an ‘up-and-coming’ on the Bacolod tourist hot spots list.
17. Bathe At Red Rock Hot Spring
Red Rock Hot Spring is the ultimate place to relax and unwind in the Valencia region.
It gets its source of warm water, ranging from 37.5 – 39.5 degrees celsius, from a naturally occurring spring that comes from the sulphur mountain beside it.
Around 5 minutes before you hit the springs you’ll cross a bridge with steam rising from underneath the rocks. In case you’re unsure if you’re in the right spot, you’ll be hit with a strong eggy smell which is the sulphur.
Inside Red Rock Hot Spring though there are no bad smells, just smiling faces. The owners were super friendly and welcomed us with open arms to their popular spot.
There are two pools to dip into with one being a little more shallow. This is the perfect place to take a break and soak any sore and tired muscles.
When it starts getting dark, the area lights up and makes for an even more special and relaxing ambience.
18. Chase Waterfalls In Valencia
If, like us, you love chasing waterfalls then we can recommend a couple of beauties in Valencia.
Pulangbato Falls, located around a 30 minute drive from Dumaguete City, took us by surprise due to its many pools, its community feel and sheer beauty.
There are other smaller falls at this cute tourist destination, but the big Pulangbato Falls is hard to miss.
So, with two small cafes, one being really local and another more bistro – Pulangbato Falls is the perfect place to chill for an afternoon.
Casaroro Falls, also about a 30 minute drive from Dumaguete City, completely took our breath away.
Although you’ll be able to hear the power of Casaroro Falls all around you as you approach, the beauty of it will pop up out of nowhere. We peeked around the corner and suddenly, there it was.
So don’t forget to add chasing waterfalls in Valencia to your things to do in the Philippines.
19. Try A Silvanna At Sans Rival
Sans Rival Dumaguete is possibly the most famous dessert shop in the Philippines and makes it on to the Philippines bucket list of many travellers.
With the title of the shop translating to ‘Without Rival’, it’s fair to say we can firmly back up the name choice of this unique cake and pastry store.
Widely known for its Sans Rival cakes and Silvannas, a frozen cookie version of the Sans Rival, the original store opened in the 1970s.
We popped in to grab a box of of 10 Silvannas that cost 165 Pesos and it was the best decision of the trip. The cafe is cute and covered in blue, and the desserts are to die for!
20. Swim With Turtles At Apo Island
Apo Island is one of the top destinations in the Negros region and is a tourists favourite for turtle spotting.
It is around a 45 minute catamaran ride from Dauin and, when booked as a tour, should include transfers to and from the port, lunch, time to explore Apo Island and of course snorkelling with the turtles.
You are pretty much guaranteed to see turtles when you venture out on an Apo Island tour and the guides are just as excited as the tourists.
As well as turtles, this tiny Island is also well known for its beautiful coral beds and plentiful marine life, making it the perfect place to enjoy some snorkelling.
Having swum with turtles in Gili Trawangan and Moalboal, we both agreed this was the best experience we’d had! This was a massive Philippines bucket list tick for us.
21. Watch Dolphins At Manjuyod Sandbar
Manjuyod Sandbar is located just off the coast of Bais in Negros Oriental.
It is possible to stay in Bais and arrange a tour yourself. However, most tourists choose to stay in the larger towns of Dumaguete or Dauin and book a Dolphin Watching & Manjuyod Sandbar Private Tour.
On our Manjuyod Sandbar trip, we ventured out early in the direction of Cebu to find some dolphins before the Sandbar stop. And dolphins were what we found!
After around an hour of watching the waves, convincing ourselves we had seen a dolphin fin pop out of the water, you can only imagine how excited we were to finally find an actual pod of wild dolphins.
They leapt in and out of the ocean playfully, as we’d imagined, and followed the boat for a good ten minutes. They were definitely showing off and it was amazing to see.
Yet another big tick on the Philippines bucket list!
22. Get Adventurous At Aguinid Falls
Aguinid Falls is located on the South West coast of Cebu Island. It’s around a 40 minute drive from Oslob and 1 hour from Moalboal.
It is not a waterfall for sightseeing, like most in the Philippines, however, it is a must for the bucket list. It’s one you have to climb, jump and fully emerge yourself into.
There Are A Few Rules:
1. Taking a guide is a must! – They show you exactly where is safe to walk and climb. (200 pesos per guide is recommended.)
2. Wet shoes and a dry bag are a must! – It is impossible to climb without them. Belongings can also be left at the front. (Rental Of Wet Shoes: 50 Pesos/Rental Of Dry Bag: 50 Pesos)
Our guides Nat Nat and Richie really made it a day to remember and were full of enthusiasm from the get-go. We chucked on our wet shoes and grabbed our dry bags before heading off into the jungle.
The tour takes roughly 30-60 minutes depending on how many photos you take. It’s a mixture of climbing, jumping and wading your way through the natural beauty of Aguinid Falls.
If you’re a keen waterfall hunter, travelling the South of Cebu, then we can’t recommend Aguinid Falls enough!
A solid day trip and a full-on adventure that has to be on the list of best things to do in the Philippines.
Where To Stay In The Philippines
For pre-booking accommodation when travelling, we always recommend Booking.com!
From 5 star hotels, to budget backpacker hostels, it’s got everything and the site is super easy to use.
So to compare deals, and pre-book all of your Philippines accommodation, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.