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The Philippines is blessed with a long coastline; powdery, white sand beaches; and a diverse landscape. There’s plenty to see, do, and experience regardless of which province you visit in Luzon, Visayas, or Mindanao. You can go beach bumming in El Nido, climb the rice terraces in Batad, and/or experience the history of Vigan.
If you’re planning to explore the country, here’s a list of places you might want to include, in no order.
- Kayangan Lake – Palawan will have a number of places on this bucket list because of its sheer beauty. One of the destinations you shouldn’t miss is Kayangan Lake. The latter has some of the clearest waters I’ve seen. It’s so clear you can see the rock formations beneath the surface. It’s also unique because it has a mix of fresh and saltwater. Don’t forget to take a photo (or several photos) of the stunning rock formation before reaching the lake.
- Malcapuya Island – You’ll visit this island when you go on an island hopping escapade while in Coron. Its bone-white and powdery sand along with its clear, cerulean waters make for a relaxing day out.
- Cadlao Lagoon – El Nido is known for its stunning limestone formations, beaches, and lagoons. Whenever you visit, make sure to add Cadlao Lagoon to your itinerary. This destination provides visitors with a secluded ambiance (depending on the time you visit). Its limestone formations and clear waters will entice you to go swimming and snorkeling.
- Big Lagoon – Here’s another lagoon in El Nido to add to your list. This famous destination is known for its clear waters, snorkeling spots, and towering limestone. Explore the area on a kayak or just wade in the waters until you leave for your next destination.
- Paradise Beach – This beach in El Nido is succinctly described by its name. Its powdery, white sand and turquoise waters are what you’d imagine paradise would be. Soak in the water or just laze around.
- San Vicente Long Beach – This beach destination in Palawan is said to be the longest in the country. It spans more than 14km and offers a rustic and idyllic vibe for visitors. Lounge around one section of the beach, go swimming, or take long, leisurely walks.
- Calle Crisologo – Located in Vigan, Calle Crisologo is a must-visit for history lovers. This short street is home to many ancestral and old houses. Some of these are now shops and restaurants. It provides visitors with a glimpse of colonial times. You can ride a kalesa as you explore the area to get the full traditional experience.
- Paoay Church – Ilocos has a few historic destinations you might want to add to your bucket list. Paoay Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s part of the cluster of Baroque churches in the Philippines. One of its unique features is its huge buttresses.
- Miagao Church – If you like visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, make your way to Iloilo to see Miagao Church. The latter is also part of the cluster of Baroque churches in the Philippines. It has a long history dating to the 18th century.
- Kapurpurawan Rock Formation – Located in Ilocos, this unique white rock formation is often included in itineraries when heading up north. Its striking appearance will make you want to take multiple pictures.
- Sibang Cove – This beach destination is as remote as it gets. Located in Calayan, Sibang Cove is an unspoilt beach with fine, white sand, and clear waters. Its picturesque beachscape will make you feel like you’re on a deserted island. The waters can get rough, so don’t swim too far from the shore.
- Nagudungan Hill – Also located in Calayan, this hill provides stunning views of the surroundings. You’ll see massive, wave-like rock formations, the sea, and the coast as you explore the hill. Calayan might be difficult to visit, but its remoteness is part of its allure.
- Vayang Rolling Hills – Batanes is a picturesque destination. One of the places to add to your itinerary while exploring the province is the Vayang Rolling Hills. The trails are easy to walk on while the views of the verdant hills are beautiful.
- Chamantad Viewpoint – Here’s another destination worth visiting in Batanes. Chamantad Viewpoint is my personal favorite. A walk around this area provides you with a bit of everything: rock formations, views of the sea, and the province’s beautiful hills.
- Valugan Boulder Beach – This destination in Batanes will grab your attention because the shore isn’t like other beaches. As its name suggests, this beach is full of boulders and rocks. Valugan Boulder Beach makes for a fetching landscape along with the cliffs and hills.
- Chocolate Hills – If you’re visiting Bohol, one of the places you should definitely visit is the Chocolate Hills. This destination is often splashed on magazines, newspapers, and websites whenever they refer to the province. It deserves the attention it gets. Once you get to the viewpoint, you’ll see numerous hills spread out all over the landscape.
- Boracay White Beach – Boracay is probably the most well-known and touristy destination in the Philippines. However, don’t let this deter you from visiting. It’s still one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Boracay’s magical sunsets can make even the most cynical visitor stand in awe.
- Batad Rice Terraces – This destination showcases the ingenuity of the locals that built these rice terraces. It’s also possible to hike up the terraces to get spectacular overlooking views of the surroundings.
- Calaguas Island – Located in Camarines Norte province, this island has gained popularity over the years. This comes as no surprise because of its long, powdery, and white sand shore. It might take effort and time to reach this destination, but it’s worth the adventure.
- Kalanggaman Island – This island is part of Leyte province and is one of its most popular tourist destinations. It has a sandbar that stretches from its main white sand beach during low tide. Swim in its clear waters, sunbathe, play beach volleyball, or do whatever water/beach activity you want to do during your visit.
- Asik-Asik Falls – One of the most spectacular waterfalls I’ve seen is Asik-Asik Falls in North Cotabato. It will make you stop and stare the moment you see it. It takes a bumpy motorcycle ride to reach it, but the views more than make up for the challenge. Take numerous photos and dip into its ice-cold waters to refresh your body.
- Hinatuan Enchanted River – Located in the province of Surigao del Sur, the Hinatuan Enchanted River will captivate you with its clear, deep, blue water. The water is so clear you can see several meters into it. Visitors are no longer allowed to swim in the main lagoon, but there’s a designated swimming area not too far from it.
- Tinuy-an Falls – If you’re already in Surigao del Sur, add Tinuy-an Falls to your itinerary. Tinuy-an is 55m high and 95m wide. Its curtain-like cascade will grab your attention as you get it into view.
- Matukad Island – Caramoan gained acclaim because it was one of the shooting locations of the hit show Survivor. Its islands are a thing of beauty and worth the trouble of reaching. One such destination of note is Matukad Island. The highlight of a trip is the lagoon you can see when you climb up the rocks.
- Cambugahay Falls – Siquijor has gained popularity since the first time I visited. The island province deserves all the recognition it got with its beautiful beaches and its bucolic charm. One of the must-visit attractions in Siquijor is Cambugahay Falls. Take a break from beach bumming and jump into the cool waters of Cambugahay.
- Sambawan Island – This destination is part of the idyllic province of Biliran. It takes some effort to reach this island, but the trip is worth it. You’ll get a beautiful beach with azure waters and stunning overlooking views when you go up the hill. You can visit as a day trip or spend the night for the full experience.
- Halea Island Nature Park – This island destination is within the boundaries of Masbate province. This attraction has a beautiful white sand beach and alluring azure waters. It doesn’t get the same attention as many other beach destinations in the country. Other than swimming and beach bumming, you can go snorkeling (if you’re lucky enough, you might see baby sharks).
- Catandayagan Waterfalls – Located in Masbate province, this waterfall is unique because its cascade falls directly into the sea. Visitors can experience its cool water when their boats dock right under the waterfall.
- Cloud 9 – Wave riders unite in Siargao to test their mettle in surfing. Cloud 9 is the perfect place to learn how to surf or improve your skills. There’s plenty of surf shops and instructors where you can learn or rent a surfboard.
- Tangadan Falls – La Union is a famous surfing destination but there’s one attraction you shouldn’t miss during your road trip. Tangadan Falls is a picturesque spot where you can swim in one of its pools or simply take photos to capture its beauty.
- Mt. Mayon – Mt. Mayon towers over Albay province’s landscape. Its perfectly shaped cone reveals itself to visitors on a good day. For hikers, it’s possible to climb this active volcano. Other visitors can enjoy an ATV ride with the volcano as their backdrop.
- Bulusan Lake – This lake is part of the Bulusan Volcano National Park. You can go kayaking or if you have more time, take on the challenge of hiking up the mountain.
- Mt. Pinatubo – Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in the early ’90s devastated the communities and environment surrounding it. Fast forward to today, it has become a popular day trip destination. Its landscape along the trail and the crater lake are spectacular sights to behold.
- Mt. Ulap – Mt. Ulap is another mountain you’d want to climb while in Baguio. The trail is fit for all types of hikers. The ascents and descents are manageable with some steep parts. However, despite the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the mountains and hills.
- Mt. Pulag – If you’re a nature lover, you’d want to climb up Mt. Pulag to see and experience the famous sea of clouds. This national park provides trekkers with spectacular views and cool weather. One of the trails to the peak is easy even for beginners with rolling hills and steady ascents.
- Sohoton National Park – This national park in Samar provides visitors with activities such as caving and boating. You’ll pass through rock formations as you make your way through the river. The stalactites and stalagmites take on different formations depending on how far you stretch your imagination.
- Lake Sebu – Lake Sebu is a popular spot for eco-tourism. Its cool weather, bucolic setting, and beautiful landscapes make it an ideal summer getaway destination. Get an adrenaline rush by riding the zipline that flies you over Lake Sebu’s waterfalls. You can also go on short treks to experience nature.
- Aglicay Beach – Located in Romblon province, Aglicay Beach is a place to get away from it all. This quiet destination allows you to relax and unwind without the crowds. The beautiful beach and the stunning sunsets (and sunrises) provide you with plenty of photo opportunities.
- Sumaguing Cave – Adventure seekers make their way to Sagada to explore its caves and natural wonders. One such destination you shouldn’t miss is Sumaguing Cave. The latter has stalactites and stalagmites that take on various shapes and sizes.
- Biri Island – This island provides you with stunning views of rock formations and lagoons. Two of the striking formations include Magsapad and Bel-at. Experience the slow island life here after you see its spectacular landscapes.
I haven’t visited all the provinces in the country. There are other bucket list-worthy destinations in the Philippines. These are only some of the places you can add to your personal list. – Rappler.com
Joshua Berida is a writer that loves to travel. He blogs at www.thewanderingjuan.net.
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