Top Philippines Tours & Vacations 2024/2025 [reviews &...

Philippines Tours & Travel Packages 2024/2025

8 Philippines trips. Compare tour itineraries from 5 tour companies. 75 reviews. 4.7/5 avg rating.

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Top Philippines Attractions & Experiences

Top Philippines Experiences

    • The Island of Boracay
    • Scuba diving the reefs
    • The island of Palawan
    • Mingling with the friendly people
    • Singing karaoke with locals
    • Trying the 'special egg'
    • Snorkeling the tropical sea
    • Sailing the hundreds of islands
    • Watching Mayon Volcano erupt

Philippines Tours & Travel Guide

Philippines Attractions & Landmarks Guide

The Philippines, made up of over 7,000 islands, is a very diverse country. From the bustling metropolis of Manila to the laid-back, palm fringed beaches of Boracay and Palawan, this Spanish-influenced nation has something for all travel tastes. Friendly, English-speaking locals, make the Philippines a unique Southeast Asian destination.

Crystal clear waters, undersea wonders, white sand beaches, and lush jungles are the hallmarks of this colorful tropical paradise. 

Beyond the beaches lie towering volcanoes that can be experienced by hiking trail or 4x4 tour.

The cities in the Philippines boast beautiful architecture, diverse museums, annual festivals, and opportunities to explore the region’s rich cultural history.

Whether you want to relax in an all-inclusive beach resort with a coconut cocktail, adventure into the jungle to splash under a waterfall, or snorkel amongst the islands’ vibrant fish and wildlife, the Philippines is sure to overwhelm you with its beauty.

Islands in the Philippines

There are more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines, sprinkled amongst the waters of the Phillipine Sea, South China Sea, and Celebes Sea off the east coast of Asia. Only about 2,000 of the islands in the Philippines are inhabited, and among those, Philippines travel and tourism is popular on less than two dozen islands. 

The islands are grouped into three national regions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. 

1. Northern Luzon Region

Luzon is the group of northern islands, including Luzon itself, Palawan, Mindoro, Marinduque, Masbate, Romblon, Catanduanes, Batanes, and Polilio. 

The largest and most populated island of them all, Luzon is home to many of the Philippines’ most iconic destinations. Walk through the Batad rice terraces of Banaue, where rice farms have been expertly carved into steep hillsides, stopping at local cafes along the way for rest and refreshment.

Hike to Taal Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Mount Pulag as you explore mountains in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Gaze up at towering cathedrals and historic churches along the urban streets of Manila, one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Palawan is a long, skinny island south of Luzon with a diverse array of popular tourist activities. Taste local Philippine fare and sip on cold beers in Puerto Princesa, explore the world’s longest navigable underground river, or relax on one of the Philippines’ most beautiful beaches.

On the island of Mindoro, splash into some of the Philippines’ most famous waterfalls, including Tamaraw and Talipanan Falls, or grab your snorkel to explore the undersea wildlife in Apo Reef, off the island’s western coast.

2. Central Visayas Region

The Visayas region includes the central islands of Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Leyte, Samar, Biliran, and Guimaras. 

Panay is the home of Iloilo City, a perfect jumping-off point for exploring the island’s dreamscape beaches and for feasting on delicious seafood.

Nearby Negros boasts mountains for climbing, waterfalls for splashing, historic buildings and ruins for exploration, and of course, more lovely beaches to relax, swim, paddle a kayak, or snorkel. Snorkelers and divers won’t want to miss Apo, a tiny island near the southern tip of Negros. Famous for its sharks, sea turtles, and colorful fish, Apo is home to a marine reserve that makes the long journey to the island well worth the trip.

Cebu City is a hotspot for arts, culture, and regional cuisine, and Cebu Island’s beaches offer a relaxing getaway from the urban areas.

On the island of Bohol, explore a unique geological site called the Chocolate Hills, where 1200 otherworldly mounds punctuate the lush landscape. Meet Tarsiers, the world’s smallest primates, measuring just four to five inches tall! Snorkel among coral and colorful fish at Alona Beach, where craggy cliffs tower over the white sand beaches.

The locals know Siquijor as a somewhat spooky place where mystical traditions still reign and witch doctors practice magic. For visitors, the island’s waterfalls, mangrove jungles, beach bars, and turquoise sea waters are the major draws.

3. Southern Mindanao Region

The southern part of the country includes the islands of Mindanao itself, Dinagat, Siargao, Camiguin, Samal, plus the Sulu Archipelago, composed primarily of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

This part of the country has less tourist infrastructure than the other two regions, and tourism is discouraged in the southwest part of the Mindanao region due to safety concerns.

Davao City, however, is one of the safest cities in the world. Parks and preserves in the city showcase local wildlife. Gaze up at the summit of the tallest peak in the Philippines, Mount Apo, or hike through the forests in the foothills below.

Splash through a whitewater river on a raft near the city of Cagayan de Oro, known as the “City of Golden Friendship.”

Surfers flock to Siargao, known worldwide as one of the best surf spots in the Pacific.

The larger islands in the Philippines can all be reached by airplanes, and inter-island flights are frequent. Ferries, usually fashioned from old fishing boats, are required to explore the smaller, more remote islands...some of which have no roads at all! These passenger vessels feature nice decks to enjoy the views during your passage.

Top Activities in the Philippines

If you like to relax or adventure in warm, tropical climates, you’ll love the Philippines. While there are a few things to do indoors (like restaurants and museums), most travelers experience the beauty and the wonder of this island paradise through time spent outside.

Swimming, Snorkeling, Diving, and Boating

The crystal clear turquoise waters of the Philippines’ seas can be explored in myriad ways. Grab a snorkel and a pair of flippers to swim amongst tropical fish and coral reefs. Take diving course to sink to new depths, swim with sharks, and float alongside sea turtles.

Rent a kayak to paddle through calm waters between tiny, rugged islands. Charter a guided fishing boat to experience the islands through the eyes of a local expert, and cook up your fresh catch for dinner.

Hiking

With 53 active volcanoes, the Philippines is a prominent region in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Many of these majestic mountains can be explored by hiking trail or 4x4 guided tours. Views from the top span out across the islands and into the sea. Even if you choose to explore just the foothills, the rushing rivers and vibrant jungles below the peaks are worthy of their own adventure.

Photography

A quick online image search for the Philippines likely yields some of the most beautiful pictures you’ve ever seen. The striking color palette and impressive biodiversity of the area make the Philippines a hotspot for professional and amateur photographers alike. Local photography tours can lead you to some of the country’s most iconic destinations and help you capture them perfectly with your camera.

Cultural Tours

If you fancy the art and culture side of things, sign up for a walking tour or a bus tour of one of the Philippines’ vibrant urban centers to learn about the nation’s unique history: from ancient traditions, through colonization to today’s independence.

Many cities in the Philippines host annual festivals or celebrations, like the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, which some describe as a week-long local version of Mardis Gras. Plan your visit to overlap with one of these festivals to see the extravagant costumes, hear the singing, watch the dancing and parades, and taste the scrumptious delicacies.

What to See and Do in the Philippines

  • Explore five miles of underground river at Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
  • Hike on some of the world’s most iconic Pacific volcanoes, including Mount Pulag, Mayon Volcano, and Mount Pinatubo
  • Swim with sea turtles, sharks, sardines, and hundreds of other marine creatures in pristine saltwater lagoons and bays
  • Marvel at the ornate architecture of historic Spanish-Catholic cathedrals, built as early as the 17th century
  • Relax on smooth, white sand beaches beneath towering palm trees
  • Take an island-hopping tour to breathtakingly beautiful lagoons, coves, and beaches
  • Splash underneath waterfalls in lush, tropical jungles
  • Celebrate with the locals during one of the Philippines annual festivals, which include delicious food, elaborate costumes, and parades

Philippine Culture

Meeting the local residents is a highlight of Philippines travel, as Filipinos are known as being some of the friendliest and welcoming people on the planet! 

The Philippines’ history of colonization, as well as its unique geographic location and proximity to other countries in Asia and Oceania, have resulted in a diverse set of cultural traditions and values. There are more than 100 distinct ethno-linguistic groups throughout the islands—as communities developed on separate islands, their dialects and traditions evolved independently. Generally, families in the Philippines are close-knit, and children are taught from a young age to respect their elders. 

The Philippines is a deeply religious place. Evidence of the Spanish-Catholic colonization (1565-1898) is apparent in the Philippines’ architecture and infrastructure. Many Filipinos are practicing Catholics who go to church at least once a week, and on school days, children in Catholic school uniforms are out and about on the streets. In the southern Mindanao region, Islam is another common religion; it was introduced to the area in 1380 by an Arabian trader.

A great deal of historic cultural traditions and rituals exist alongside more modern religious practices, including city-specific annual celebrations with dancing, singing, drinks, and food. Speaking of food, Filipinos love to eat, and eating more than three meals a day is the norm! As a visitor, you’ll be encouraged to eat often, like the locals do.

Cities in the Philippines

Northern Luzon Region

1. Manila

Manila is the largest urban center in the Philippines, and Manila Metro is actually made up of 16 cities. Cultural monuments, ornate churches, and historic cathedrals are mixed among modern skyscrapers and landscaped parks. Jeepneys are the primary form of public transportation: colorful, crowded retired army vehicles covered in kitschy art and paint.

Be aware that a visit to Manila—one of the most densely-populated cities in the world—includes exposure to some not-so-desirable aspects for international travelers, including crime, bad traffic, and extreme poverty. If you’re seeking a restful beach vacation during your Philippine travel, you may want to skip Manila altogether and head straight for the beach on a smaller island.

2. Baguio

Known as the “City of Pines,” Baguio is a popular summer destination for both locals and tourists, as its high-elevation, forested location is far cooler weather in the summer months than most other populated areas.

Because it’s surrounded by mountains rather than beaches, Baguio is unique from other cities in the Philippines. With great parks, a laid-back vibe, and plenty of beautiful resorts, this city in the Cordillera Mountains is a worthy destination for international travelers visiting the Philippines. 

3. Sagada and Banaue 

The cities of of Sagada and Banaue lie north of Baguio in the Cordillera Mountains, where you can see two of the island’s most fascinating attractions: hanging coffins in the mountains near Sagada, and the agricultural wonders known as rice terraces, where rice fields and farms have been expertly carved into steep hillsides. Connect with a local guide to explore this not-so-touristy region.

4. Vigan City

Farther north on Luzon lies Vigan City, where some of the best examples of Spanish colonial architecture can be seen. This area, influenced by a mix of both Spanish and Chinese cultural traditions, is a must-see for history buffs. Ride in a horse-drawn “kalesa,” climb to the top of Bantay Bell Tower, gaze at the St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral, and stroll through the Calle Crisologo walkable district.

5. Puerto Princesa 

On the island of Palawan, Puerto Princesa is a gateway city to some of the Philippines’ most popular tourist attractions and activities: the limestone caves and five-mile underground river in Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, island-hopping tours between El Nido and Coron, snorkeling in Honda Bay, and ziplining at Ugong Rock. The city itself has nice accommodations, museums, and restaurants.

Central Visayas Region

1. On Negros Island, Bacolod is one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the Philippines. Home to the annual MassKara Festival, Bacolod is also known as the “City of Smiles” due to the friendly, helpful locals. Great food and delicious pastries are the culinary hallmarks of this city.

2. Cebu City on the island of Cebu has an international airport that many travelers find easier to navigate than the airport in Manila. This diverse city is known for great food and delicacies, nightly entertainment, its annual Sinulog festival, and myriad ways to explore the rich cultural influences of the area. Access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines is another reason to visit Cebu.

3. On Panay Island, Iloilo City (pronounced “Ee-loh ee-loh”) is a friendly, bustling city with fantastic seafood restaurants, historic architecture, and beautiful viewpoints to gaze out across the turquoise waters of Panay Gulf and the beachside cliffs on Guimaras Island.

Southern Mindanao Region

1. Davao City is a bustling urban area on the southeast side of Mindanao Island. Mount Apo, the tallest peak in the Philippines, towers above the city and can be explored via hiking trail or 4x4 tour. Parks, museums, and nature preserves within the city itself offer opportunities to experience the rich biodiversity and cultural heritage of this tropical paradise. 

1. On Mindanao’s northern coast, the city of Cagayan de Oro offers both outdoor adventure activities, like whitewater river rafting and hiking through the jungle, as well as shopping and urban architecture tours. Dubbed the “City of Golden Friendship,” this city is known for its plethora of tourist-friendly activities and its warm, welcoming residents.

Note: While Davao and Cagayan de Oro are both widely considered two of the safest cities in the Philippines, US residents should be aware that as of April 9, 2019, a level 3 travel advisory is in place for the greater Mindanao region.

Common Philippines Tour Routes

Perhaps the most popular tour route in the Philippines, an island-hopping tour between El Nido (Palawan Island) and Coron (Busuanga Island) showcases the very best of the country’s beaches.

Technically, the journey can be completed in half a day on a high-speed ferry, but many travelers opt for a multi-day exploration that visits numerous small islands along the way. Tasty local fare is included, as are daily cocktails, and overnight accommodations range from rustic to luxurious.

If you’re interested in seeing more than just beaches, a northern Luzon tour route from Manila to the Cordillera mountains may be just the ticket. Visits to the cities of Baguio, Sagada, and Banaue offer an in-depth look at the culture, history, and inland landscape of the Philippines.

Baguio is a cultural hub with universities, restaurants, shops, and colorful architecture. Batad and Banaue, nestled into lush mountainsides, are home to the country’s famous rice terraces and countless natural wonders.

The islands of Panay, Negros, Cebu, and Bohol are nestled together in the Visayas region and, depending on the length of your visit, it could be quite reasonable to visit all four. You may even be able to squeeze in a visit to Siquijor by taking a ferry from Negros! An itinerary for this region could include Iloilo City and Cebu City for urban explorations as well as the beaches, bays, and waterfalls these islands are famous for.

Food in the Philippines

Filipinos love to eat, and food is a central part of the Philippine travel experience! If you’re exploring the area on a guided Philippine tour, your guides will be excited to introduce you to the traditional cuisine of the islands—colorful tropical fruits, savory rice dishes with saucy meats, and decadent desserts—and if you’re interested, some Philippine tours offer opportunities to help prepare the meals and learn more about them.

Perhaps the most famous dish of the Philippines is Adobo: chicken or pork marinated and cooked in a hearty sauce of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper, then served with rice.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll definitely want to try Halo halo, a popular Filipino dessert made with shave ice, ice cream, condensed milk, and various sweet toppings.

While fresh fruit is plentiful, vegetarian meal options in the Philippines are limited. Most dishes are made with pork, chicken, fish, and/or eggs; even salads and vegetable dishes that appear meatless may contain fish sauce in the dressing or marinade. Vegetarians may want to plan to pack back-up snack options.

Top Beaches in the Philippines

A trip to the Philippines wouldn’t be complete without visits to at least a few of these beaches, famous for their stunning beauty, relaxing vibe, and opportunities to experience the biodiversity of this tropical utopia.

Northern Luzon Region

1. El Nido and Marimegmeg, Palawan

The coastline near El Nido is dotted with little inlets and lagoons, including popular Hidden Beach, which is nestled into a rocky cove of limestone cliffs. Travel to Marimegmeg Beach via tricycle, as it’s unreachable by road from the town of El Nido, to enjoy its relaxed vibe and comfy outdoor beach furniture.

2. Honda Bay, Palawan

Just north of Puerto Princesa, the islands and sandbars of Honda Bay make for picturesque day at the beach. If your island-hopping ferry departs from Honda Bay, arrive early to take advantage of Honda Bay’s recreation opportunities: swimming, boating, and fishing.

3. Kayangan Lake, Coron

Between the islands of Palawan and Mindoro lies Coron, where the underwater sights are just as alluring as the island’s beaches, cliffs, and lagoons. While Coron’s ocean beaches hold their own allure, Kayangan Lake draws visitors inland with its crystal clear waters and otherworldly underwater rock formations.

4. Saud Beach and Anguib Beach, Luzon

If you’re eager to escape from the busy tourist areas, make the journey all the way to the northern tip of Luzon. Saud Beach is a peaceful, quiet place to enjoy a well-kept, minimally developed stretch of sand. Anguib, a few hours east of Saud, is another place to escape the busyness of it all while taking in sweeping views of the Babuyan Islands on the northern horizon.

Central Visayas Region

1. Pink Beaches, Sila

Not all the best beaches in the Philippines are white. Visit one of Sila’s pink beaches (there are three) to see the vibrant contrast of smooth pink sand against turquoise sea waters. 

2. Moalboal and Panagsama, Cebu

If you’d like to add “swimming amongst a sardine storm” to your list of life experiences, a visit to Moalboal is a must during your Philippines travel. The beach strip at Panagsama is sprinkled with resorts, dive shops, beach bars, restaurants, seafood grills, and souvenir shops.

3. White Beach, Boracay

Consistently voted one of the top beaches in the Philippines, White Beach (and the entire island of Boracay) underwent an exhaustive rehabilitation effort between 2018 and 2019 due to the effects of irresponsible tourism.

What used to be a raging party locale is now a subdued, relaxing place where no alcohol is allowed on the beach. Rather than the thumping of dance music, expect to simply hear the sound of water lapping against the shore.

4. Paradise Beach, Bantayan

With fewer visitors than the popular beaches of Boracay, Paradise Beach is aptly named. Towering palm trees, grassy picnic areas, and smooth white sands make for a quintessential day in this tropical utopia.

5. Alona, Bohol

If you’re eager to see the Philippines famous coral reefs and vibrant undersea wildlife, look no further than the beach at Alona. No diving equipment or training is necessary; you’ll just want a snorkel.

Southern Mindanao Region

1. Cloud Nine, Siargao

Surfers (and surf spectators) won’t want to miss Cloud Nine Reef, famous internationally for its big waves. The island of Siargao, located on the far eastern edge of the Philippine archipelago, is also home to countless lagoons and oh-so-swimmable rock pools.

Philippines Reviews & Ratings

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D

Dale

Oct 2022

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This was a great getaway

I felt comfortable booking through CharlieTheTraveler. I could not find a single negative review of the company. They also offered an amazing Philippines vacation wi...

R

Russel

Oct 2022

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Emphasized the beauty of these island

I went with this company for many reasons, but the biggest reason was the reviews online. Everyone that has taken this tour to Bohol and Cebu, along with every other...

A

Alan

Oct 2022

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I loved that there were multiple attractions each day

There was so much to do on this Philippines trip to Bohol, Dumaguete, and Cebu! I loved that there were multiple attractions each day which kept my interest. The tim...

K

Kimberley

Oct 2022

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This trip had the right amount of relaxing and adventurous activities

My friend’s family is from Bohol and she was going to go visit them. She asked if I wanted to join, and of course I did! We planned to go for two weeks, but we wante...

K

Kathleen

Oct 2022

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This was a great value

This was a great value for everything that was included—the activities, meals, and other accommodations. CharlieTheTraveler definitely had a lot to offer on this tou...

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