Top 7 Ways to Explore the Philippines

Are you planning an unforgettable island experience? Visit the Philippines and enjoy picturesque views, pristine beaches, sumptuous gastronomic delights and more.

You cannot claim to be a global traveler without experiencing a Southeast Asian island adventure. Most of the top-rated locations in the region are in the beautiful archipelago of the Philippines. These are the essential activities to do when traveling to the Philippines.


1. Take selfies in front of cinematographic views.

Photo Courtesy of Hani_Han

Watching the Philippines’s magical sunset should be on every traveler’s itinerary. Locals and tourists flock to the baywalk along Manila Bay, considered to be one of the best natural harbors in Southeast Asia. This historical landmark is a recommended spot to enjoy sundown and socialize with the locals.

The Philippines has a long list of natural destinations from mountain trails to beaches. Each location is a picturesque beauty, accentuated by colorful shades of sunsets and sunrises. Be sure to bring your camera and selfie stick as there is no way to take a bad photo here!

2. Visit world-class island destinations.

Photo Courtesy of Eesti

Conde Nast Traveler included three Philippines destinations in its 20 Best Islands in the World list for 2015. The annual survey involved more than 128,000 global travelers. Palawan topped the list with Boracay and Cebu at 15 and 19 respectively.

Palawan, an island province, is the Philippines’s “Last Frontier” as it is among the least developed tourist destinations in the country. CNN Travel describes the coastal town of El Nido as “the gateway to wild adventure”. Aside from swimming, Palawan’s El Nido is a perfect spot for diving and sightseeing.

Boracay, located at the northwest part of Panay Island, was chosen as the Best Overall Island by Travel+Leisure magazine in 2012. This major destination is well-known for its white and powdery sands, beachfront restaurants and nightlife spots.

Island-hopping is one of my favorite activities in the Philippines. This brings me closer to nature and the wonderful people on the islands. Most tour companies include watersports such as snorkeling diving and water skiing in their island-hopping packages. It is almost a sin not to experience island adventures on Boracay.

3. Climb, swim and fall in love.

Photo Courtesy of Ilocos Norte

Traveling around the Philippines requires a lot of energy as the sights and outdoor activities can be overwhelming. I make it a point to list the activities in the Philippines that I would like to do before I book a hotel. The Philippines has more than 7,100 islands and hundreds of cities and provinces, so I do meticulous planning to make sure I maximize my money and time.

As a serial traveler, one of the first things I consider in choosing my next destination is the variety of outdoor activities. I go to the Cordilleras in northern Luzon for mountain trekking and camping. The Cordillera Conservation Trust organizes an annual mountain bike event that brings riders to the most scenic parts of the mountainous region. Many foreign bikers confess that this is one of their most memorable activities in the Philippines.

A two-hour drive from the Cordilleras leads to the beaches of San Juan, La Union. San Juan is the unofficial surfing capital of the Philippines. This northern destination is not as commercially developed as Boracay, which adds to its charm. From Luzon, I usually travel back to the capital Manila before booking a flight to Boracay where my island-hopping activities begin.

4. Pray, eat and party!

The Philippines was governed by the Spanish crown for more than 300 years. Fiestas or feasts for patron saints were introduced by Spanish missionaries in the mid-1600s as a convenient way of teaching the Roman Catholic faith to the natives.

Today, fiestas bring together family and friends over food and activities. A paper published by Calvin Theological Seminary in Michigan describes town fiestas as a tradition with many faces. “They usually feature a mass and a procession. Long after the religious ritual is completed, people eat, drink and enjoy the rest of the day.” Joining these fiestas is among the many fun-filled activities that you can experience only in the Philippines.

Filipinos from the northern provinces to the southern regions observe a list of feasts. Kalibo, Aklan celebrates the annual Ati-Atihan festival, a week-long street party for the patron Sto. Nino. People in Bacolod City have the mardi-gras style Masskara Festival while the Cordillerans in the north have the flower festival Panagbenga. Make sure you have an appetite for food, booze and fun before joining a fiesta!

5. Shop ‘til you drop.

Photo Courtesy of Roberto Verzo

Retail is big business in the Philippines. According to the Philippines Retailers Association, the sector accounted for 13% of the gross domestic product (GDP). This rate is expected to grow to 20% in the next 10 years.

Shopping is among the essential activities in the Philippines whether you are a local or a tourist. Filipinos are fond of going to shopping malls, bazaars and even neighborhood garage sales. The country is home to chains of malls, including Asia’s largest, the SM Mall of Asia. Enjoy international luxury brands and local products at discounted prices!

6. Eat the Philippines.

Photo Courtesy of BurgerMac

English writer Virginia Woolf once said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”. This has been my guiding principle in life, and, as a traveler, I always make sure I discover a new cuisine in every place I visit.

Indeed, the best way to understand a culture is through its food. Filipino cuisine is a fusion of other cuisines, reflecting its many foreign influences. There is a prominent Spanish influence in favorite meat recipes such as caldereta and mechado while East Asian foods have become staples over centuries of relationships with the Chinese and Japanese. The Korean wave has also reached Philippine shores as seen in the establishment of new Korean restaurants, pubs and even food stalls.

7. Bond with the locals.

Meet the locals

Filipinos are a friendly lot. The tourism campaign “It’s More Fun In The Philippines” is in fact centered on the country’s top asset: its hospitable people.

I have never had a hard time finding a hotel, a church or a convenient store as locals are always ready to act as a personal map. There were instances when I did not even need to ask for help. Locals could easily read my confused expression and asked me if I needed help with directions.

The soul of the Philippines is in its people. I make it a point to bond with the locals no matter how brief my visit is. Sharing a story with the people I meet on the road, usually over a cold San Miguel beer, is one of my favorite activities in the Philippines.

Have you had any Philippines travel experience? Let us know your awesome experience in the Philippines.

About the author

Jason Garcia

I am a manager of a family enterprise and a consultant for DMCI Leasing. I have a niche blog for property leasing and real estate investment. I write articles, giving advice to readers on how to secure homes and businesses.

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