The Philippine volcano Mayon is rightly considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Unlike other volcanoes in the Philippines, Mayon has a regular cone-shaped, on top of which you can almost always see smoke escaping into the sky.
Boracay’s White Beach
Fans of perfect bounty-style beaches will love Boracay’s White Beach. It is located on the west coast of the island and is over 4km long and 100m wide. This is where the main hotel, entertainment and shopping infrastructure is concentrated.
Many world capitals have a Chinatown – a kind of “city in the city”, usually not a small area populated mostly by Chinese. This is a place with its own subculture, traditions, way of life and unwritten laws.
Villa Escudero is literally a half-hour drive from San Pablo and about two hours from the Philippine capital, Manila. Many tourists want to come here to see with their own eyes the life of the Filipino people of past centuries.
Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila is a striking representative of Spanish colonial architecture. Its appearance harmoniously combines the elegance of the Baroque and the restraint of the later Neoclassical style.
Intramuros is the historic core of Manila, an area where families of the Spanish conquistadors were settled since the 16th century. The location was chosen so as to provide protection from the Chinese pirates who regularly tested the defenses of Manila Bay.
The current Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary is the 6th cathedral in the capital of the Philippines. The first church was erected in Manila in 1571 and a few years later the pope established an archdiocese attached to it.
When Pope John Paul II decided to grace the Philippines with his visit, the local authorities were so flattered that they decided to erect a special building for him, worthy of his high dignity and status as pontiff.
The Manila Ocean Park is a full-fledged recreational and educational complex built in 2008 by a big Chinese company in the capital of the Philippines. It hosts an incredible variety of species from the warm seas of the Asia-Pacific region.
National Museum of the Philippines
The Philippines has many unique natural attractions, but many tourists don’t leave the country without visiting the National Museum which is located in the Philippine capital, Manila. In the museum, you can simultaneously explore the works of famous artists and sculptors of the Philippines.
Strolling through the alleys of Paco Park among the lush greenery, it is difficult to imagine that the now popular recreation area is a former necropolis and military depot. In the 19th century, the Spaniards who lived outside the walls of Intramuros were buried here, and later those who died of a cholera epidemic were brought in.
Bulabog Beach is one of the world’s most popular spots for kiting and surfing. The winds that blow most of the year and the shallow seabed contribute to this. International competitions are held here, which attract athletes from all over the world.
Fans of white sand, turquoise waves and solitude are sure to love the beach Dinivided. It is located just north of the White Beach, but in contrast to it there are no crowds of tourists, beggars and beggars. Admittedly, the level of hotels here is quite high, which affects the prices.
Manok Manok Beach
Manok Manok beach can’t be called the best beach on Boracay. First, it is very small – two parts only 100m long; second, there are the piers for the boats, where everyone who wants to see the island arrives; third, it is located in the very south, in the strait, bordering Panay Island.
This beach has a second funny name, Puka Shell. Shell means “seashell” in English. Indeed, the sand on this beach is not like other beaches in Boracay – it consists of tiny particles of shells.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
The underground Puerto Princesa River is considered one of the most visited natural attractions. It is also officially recognized as the longest underground river in the world. Despite the fact that the way to this attraction of the Philippines is not at all close, tourists still go here in droves.
For every Filipino, Luneta National Park, commonly known as Risal Park, has a special meaning – it is not just another attraction or recreation area, but an important symbol of victory in the struggle for freedom from the oppression of colonizers and independence, obtained at the cost of many bloody sacrifices.
Immediately after the Philippines came under U.S. control in 1898, the U.S. administration began to think of ways to fortify Manila Bay, so easy to attack enemy ships. Thus came the idea of erecting the “concrete battleship” Fort Drum, a mighty fortress.
The Philippines is famous not only for its paradisiacal beaches, but also for its amazing historical sites. One of them is the church of Miagao. Its full name is the Church of St. Thomas of Villanueva. It is located in the town of the same name – Miagao.
San Sebastian Church in Manila
According to many tourists, the Church of San Sebastian can be confidently assigned the title of one of the most unusual and amazing architectural sights of the Philippines. There is nothing like it in Southeast Asia (perhaps in the whole world) – it is truly unique.
What else to see in the Philippines
To make your vacation in the Philippines truly successful, and to have more than just pictures from the beach, you should make at least a couple of excursions to Philippine sights. Believe me, there is much to see on the islands, except for the beautiful sunsets and white beaches. Don’t linger at a resort, because it’s easy to travel between islands: enterprising Philippine people vied with one another to offer water and air transfers.
Because the islands have many volcanoes, including active ones, local guides are eager to surprise tourists with these. To make no mistake, come see the most unpredictable and perhaps most beautiful volcano, Mayon. It is located on the island of Luzon, 50 km from Legazpi town. This fire-breathing mountain has under its belt more than 50 eruptions! Its violent temperament is evidenced by the clouds of smoke, which now and again rises in the sky, as if to hint that Mayon is dormant, but can wake up at any time.
The underground Puerto Princesa River is located in a huge cave on Palawan Island, and one of the activities offered to tourists is rafting in its waters. On a tour of Puerto Princesa take a camera with a good flash. You will have to take pictures in a dark cave, but what you will see there is breathtaking!
Museums and Architecture of the Philippines
The Philippine capital Manila has as many sights as the other islands. A must-see is the National Museum of the Philippines as well as the Villa Escudero. The museum offers a fascinating tour of the art gallery, natural history exhibits, and even a visit to the main Philippine planetarium. At the famous Villa Escudero (located 80 km from Manila), tourists are treated to a waterfall restaurant, and the most romantic travelers can even help to play a wedding in the best Philippine traditions.
For religious sites in the Philippines, be sure to schedule a trip to Miagao Church. The temple has an unusual architecture and combines the functions of a spiritual cloister and a defensive fortress.
27 Best Sights of the Philippines
The Philippines are a scattering of picturesque islands that offer a wealth of vacation options. Snow-white beaches, diving, national parks, architecture and spicy cuisine lure tourists here.
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Things to do in the Philippines
Attractions in the Philippines are aimed at people with different interests.
Fans of outdoor activities will want to visit nature reserves, coral reefs and climb the most real volcano. And snow-white beaches will charm fans of contemplative rest and relaxation.
The urban areas, a mixture of colonial architecture and local traditions, will appeal to those who want to experience a new culture.
In 1981 the Philippine authorities were preparing for the arrival of Pope John Paul II. A palace in the national style was built especially for the dear guest. Coconut palm was used as the raw material for the construction: trunk, bark, leaves, fruits and even flowers. The latter became the decor of the interior rooms. But the pontiff refused to live in such a pompous palace and chose a more modest abode.
Today the Cocoanut Palace is used as the residence of the Vice-President of the country. The surrounding gardens and some of the halls are open to tourists.
The presidential palace in Manila is a symbiosis of two styles: luxurious baroque and restrained neoclassical. The complex of buildings appeared in 1750. Local aristocrats, then Spanish viceroys and governors lived there. In 1946, on completion of a major restoration, the palace was inhabited by the President of the Philippines.
During a series of uprisings and armed conflicts in the mid-twentieth century, Malacanang was severely damaged. To find money to rebuild, part of the architectural complex was turned into a museum. Tourists are invited to tour the library, ceremonial and reception halls, music room, dining room, and stroll through the palace gardens.
The Church of Saint Thomas of Villanueva is more commonly referred to as the Miagao Church. It is located in the town of the same name on the island of Panay. This religious building was consecrated in the 18th century. Today it is considered one of the oldest in the country, attracting tourists not only by its age and preservation, but also by its exterior.
The Baroque facade is decorated with elaborate bas-reliefs. Contrary to expectations, it depicts not saints or scenes from the Bible, but sprawling palm trees.
In front of the entrance is a monument to the patron saint, St. Thomas of Villanueva. The temple is flanked by watchtowers with loopholes. It is believed to have been used as a citadel to repel attacks by pirates and local warlike tribes.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in its present form in 1958. The previous structures died in fires, earthquakes, and bombings of World War II. The temple combines the restrained austerity of the Romanesque style with the asceticism of the Gothic.
The facade is decorated with sculptures of saints made of travertine and bronze. Large stained-glass windows let in maximum natural light. Above the main aisle is a rose window resembling a blooming flower.
To the left is a bell tower. Its only functional ornament is a clock. Interior decoration is laconic as nothing should distract believers from their thoughts about God. The main point of attraction is the sculpture of the Virgin Mary on the altar.
Church of San Sebastian
This is the most unusual church not only in Manila but in the entire Philippines. It was erected in 1891 on the site of a 17th century temple. Neither it nor other religious buildings have stood the test of time and natural disasters.
There is an opinion that Gustave Eiffel himself had a hand in the creation of the temple. In favor of this version speaks the metal skeleton of the building. It was made in Belgium and delivered to Manila on eight ships. The weight of the construction is over 53 tons. The stained-glass windows were made by skilled craftsmen from Germany.
The main relic is the sculpture of the Virgin Mary. It was made by Carmelite nuns from Mexico in 1617. The statue is the only surviving shrine left from the previous structures of the temple.
Basilica of Santo Nino
The oldest Catholic church in the Philippines was built in 1565. The legend says that the basilica was erected exactly on the place where was found the figure of baby Jesus brought to the island of Cebu by Magellan.
The architect was the Augustinian monk Andrés de Urdanet. The original building could not withstand the hasty flight of time, so it was thoroughly rebuilt in the XVIII century, and so it survives to this day. The architecture is a whimsical combination of Romanesque and neoclassical styles. The facade is decorated with carved elements: a symbolic image of Christ and false columns.
Inside, there is a museum dedicated to the Christianization of the Philippines. Among the exhibits are religious works of art, church utensils, clergy clothes, ancient bibles, manuscripts and other artifacts.
The volcano has a perfect cone shape and gray smoke slowly rises from its summit. Such a picturesque picture attracts many tourists, wishing to see the giant nearly 2,500 meters high. They are not confused by the fact that Mayon is an active volcano. The last time it erupted last year.
Mayon is located on the island of Luzon about 60 km from Legazpi village. The volcano and the surrounding area is declared a national reserve.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
With a length of more than 8 km, the Puerto Princesa River is the longest underground river in the world. It is located on the island of Palawan, its source begins at the town of Sabang and the entrance to the cave, where you can make rafting, is near the settlement of Puerto Princesa, which gave its name to this wonder of nature.
Tourists are invited to make a voyage in complete silence, among stalactites and stalagmites. The distance of the swim is limited to 1 km – the reason is that there is little oxygen in the depth of the cave, which can have a negative effect on health.
The nature reserve is located in the province of Western Mindoro. Occupying an area of almost 34 square kilometers, Apo Reef is the largest in the country and the second largest in the world. The main influx of tourists is from December to May, when the weather is good and the sea is calm. Divers make fascinating dives to admire the rich coral forests that grow at depths of 20 to 800 meters.
In the northern part of the Philippines there are picturesque mountains called the Cordilleras. Their slopes are covered with neat rows of rice terraces, which look like giant steps. They were created by representatives of the Ifugao tribe about 2 thousand years ago.
The upper part of the threshold is a ploughed field sown with an agricultural crop. To create and cultivate such a terrace is a titanic effort and a vivid example of how one can adapt to the most difficult circumstances of life in any natural conditions.
Bohol is famous for its cone-shaped, perfectly formed hills. The height of geological formations is approximately 120 m. Their slopes are covered with grass, which burns out every year in the dry season. Because of this, the hills take on a beautiful brownish-beige hue.
Scientists cannot explain the origin of “chocolate” hills. According to one version, they appeared as a result of volcanic activity on the island, according to another – it is karstic deposits.
The reef is located in the waters of the island of Palawan and covers an area of about 10 thousand hectares. This vast aquatic area is home to 500 species of coral, more than 300 species of fish and shellfish. The most prominent inhabitants are turtles, whales, moray eels, rays and sharks.
The reef is 15 million years old, a record for our planet.
The picturesque 3-stage Kawasan Falls are located in the heart of Cebu Island and are surrounded by lush jungle. This gem can only be reached on foot.
The first cascade is particularly beautiful. The waterfall forms a pool of water with an unusual milky turquoise color. Bamboo pontoons are equipped for bathers.
Another active volcano, whose height before the eruption in 1991 was almost 1800 meters. After lava, rocks, and ash emissions, the colossus has shrunk to 1,400 meters. However, this fact has not diminished its popularity among tourists. They climb to admire the emerald lake formed after the eruption.
The impregnable citadel was built by the Spanish conquistadors in 1590 to protect the new territory from the encroachment of sea robbers and the wrath of the natives, who were not eager to see outsiders in their territory. During the British occupation the fort was reconstructed: its area was expanded, the length of the walls was increased, new defensive and watchtowers were built.
During World War II, the fortress, used as a prison, was severely damaged by raids. It remained in ruins until the mid-1980s, when the local government finally found the funds to rebuild it. Today the fort and its casemates are part of a historical reserve. The walls of Santiago offer a beautiful panoramic view.
The Tabón Caves
The limestone caves of Tabon, more than 25 million years old, are located on the island of Palawan. They became famous after a group of scientists in 1962 they discovered the remains of ancient people, stone tools, jewelry made of jade, utensils and other household items. The age of finds 22-24 thousand years.
A total of 29 caves in the complex, but only 3 of them are open for visits and only accompanied by guides, who are vigilantly watching to ensure that tourists do not damage the limestone walls. The Tabón Caves and the surrounding area are declared a national reserve.
Fort San Pedro
An architectural monument built during the Spanish colonization, it is located in Cebu City. The citadel appeared in 1565 and since then has been continually rebuilt and altered.
Despite its relatively modest size (the area of the fort is just over 2 thousand square kilometers), it has played an important role in the fate of the country. Its walls and towers became an insuperable barrier for the Muslim invaders.
Over time, the fortress lost its strategic importance. It was used as a storehouse, a prison and a military training camp. Nowadays the fort is a historical open-air museum.
Museums and Entertainment
The National Museum has several divisions and offers tourists a variety of cultural and educational experiences.
- The Art Gallery exhibits works by Filipino artists from the 18th century to the present.
- The Natural History Museum invites you to see archaeological finds, national costumes, jewelry and herbaria of rare plants.
- The planetarium gives lectures and shows films about distant planets and galaxies.
Located near the town of San Pablo, the ethnographic villa grew out of a private estate. The descendants of the Escudero couple did not want to farm like their ancestors, but turned the house and the vast surrounding area into an amusement park.
There is a museum in the main building. On display are the household items of the colonial era, banknotes and coins that were once paid for on the islands, jewelry and cutlery. Costume ethnographic shows are regularly held in the villa.
Bamboo rafts are at guests’ disposal. You can rent them and make a fascinating voyage on the river. The main gem is the restaurant at the waterfall. Tables are placed right by the water wall, flowing down.
The Manila Oceanarium is an educational and entertainment center for the whole family. Covering an area of about 8,000 square meters, it features a rich variety of fish fauna from all over the world, from the warm seas of Asia to the rugged Arctic Ocean.
The complex is divided into 35 thematic zones, imitating various ecosystems of the Earth. The main point of attraction – the tunnel “The Living Ocean”. Its length is 25 m, height is 35 m, and the walls bend 220 degrees.
Places to walk
Intramuros is a historical district of Manila, established in the late 16th century. It was inhabited by Spanish families, which left its mark on the local architecture and way of life. The iconic buildings were erected in the period of XVII-XVIII centuries. Alas, little has remained of them since the bombing of World War II.
The few remaining buildings are exemplary examples of the colonial style and are worth seeing. Other area landmarks include Fort Santiago and the Cathedral.
It’s hard to imagine that the picturesque Paco Park, buried in tropical greenery, was once a cemetery and ammunition depot. Spaniards were buried there until 1912, then those who died of a cholera epidemic. During the Great Patriotic War, the Japanese set up a weapons depot here.
In the dawn of the 1960s, authorities gradually began to put the long-suffering piece of land in order, cleared it and created a park with shady alleys, benches and fountains. The main architectural landmark in Paco is the small Catholic chapel of St. Pancratius.
At the western tip of the island of Luzon is the town of Vigan. It appeared in the 16th century with the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. Vigan’s architecture is a surprising mix of colonial and Filipino buildings. The look of the streets has changed little since ancient times.
For a taste of a bygone era, take a stroll down Mena Crisologo Street, visit the colorful Pagburnaian neighborhood, and take breathtaking photos in Burgos and Salcedo squares.
Islands and Beaches
The island of Borocay is famous for its snow-white beach, which is often depicted on posters and postcards as a model of an ideal vacation spot. The beach is almost 5 kilometers long and about 100 meters wide. The resort is designed for respectable ladies and gentlemen who are ready to splurge on luxurious vacation.
Conventionally, the coastline is divided into 3 parts by the number of boat stations. The first is designed for lovers of comfortable recreation, the second – more democratic (there are popular bars and restaurants), the third awaits the fans of “wild” recreation.
The island of Palawan – it’s emerald jungle, bizarre mangrove forests, steep mountains and quiet beaches. The emphasis here is on eco-recreation. Hotels and guest houses offer a harmonious coexistence with the natural environment with minimal harmful effects on the environment.
The main entertainment – snorkeling, diving, hiking in the jungle and long walks on the beach. It is in Palawan that the ancient Tabong caves are located.
Bulabog Beach is just over 1 km long and is a haven for windsurfers and kite surfers. The wind blows here most of the year, so there are hardly any bad days for action sports. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.
A visit to the “dead forest” is a must. Once there was a freshwater lake with a mango forest in the northern part of the island. The water has dried up and the remains of the dead trees have become a natural landmark.
This paradise beach is for fans of white sand and turquoise sea. Unlike the popular White Beach on Borokai, there are no crowds of tourists here – the privacy of a comfortable holiday is not disturbed. The shallow bottom is ideal for recreation with children. There are expensive hotels on the coastline.