Like passengers in a jeepney, the past, present and future sit shoulder to shoulder, flying down Manila’s streets. Get on the same ride. You can sit back, safe, as the city flashes past you. Or you can put your head out, let your hair fly in the wind and see where the city takes you.
Here in the Philippines, the beach is only half of your island vacation. The water is just as inviting too.
From the gentle, clear water of Boracay to the gigantic surf breaks of Siargao; you’ll find the island, the beach, the shore that’s just perfect for you.
Go from beginner to advanced as you go from La Union to Aurora, chasing surf breaks. Or take a side trip for some wakeboarding, kitesurfing, parasailing or sailing.
We have so much water, it’s an aquatic playground for any water sport.
Love the mysteries of this planet’s underwater kingdom? You’ve come to the right place.
Those who choose to snorkel can enjoy simply hovering above glistening corals, inches from the hull of World War II shipwrecks.
Pros may prefer to dive directly into the darker caverns of these sunken vessels and uncover history hatch by hatch.
“Tubbataha Reef should be on the bucket list of every serious diver,” says author and underwater photographer Robert Yin. To get there, you would have to book a live-aboard trip. Worth it, for hundreds of feet of visibility, and sharks and other pelagics at every turn.
Some amazing reefs though —like those in Anilao, Calamianes and Cebu islands—are just a shore entry away. Sit down to lunch as soon as you strip off your wetsuit!
Just a dip proves that our seas are hometothe planet’s most diverse marine life—from the largest to the tiniest — and some of the strangest ocean species known to man.
NIGHTLIFE AND GAMING
NIGHTLIFE. Whether you’re in a party-packed street or shoreline, refreshments here are served almost everywhere. DJs come from all over the world to party with us. And it’s probably because of our sunny weather and good nature that we know how to have a good time. Challenge a local to some karaoke and you’ll be singing till sunrise!
Manila’s nightlife is one of the most vibrant in Asia. Get a taste of it at the different hotspots around the metro: Malate, Manila; Greenbelt, Glorietta, and Rockwell Center, Makati City; The Fort at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; Resorts World Manila, Pasay City; Timog and Tomas Morato Avenues, and Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City; Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
Clubs, bars, music lounges, pubs and sing-along bars feature Filipino bands and singers known for their exceptional musical talents. De luxe hotels offer a variety of live musical entertainment. And there’s always a concert or stage play to score tickets to.
GAMING. For visitors who want to try their luck at the gaming tables, there are the large casino complexes at the Bay area or near NAIA Terminal 3. Apart from Metro Manila, you can try your luck in the cities of Angeles, Olongapo, Tagaytay, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, and Laoag.
Never underestimate the rejuvenating power of art. Yes, there are yoga retreats, organic cleanses, and spa weekends, but nothing can awaken the spirit or rouse the soul quite like a moving symphony, a gorgeous painting, or a powerful film.
Perhaps no one knows this better than celebrated violinist Coke Bolipata, whose family has long been prominent in the music world (his late grandfather, Ramon L. Corpus, was a violinist and composer; brothers Ramon and Jaime play the cello and piano). It was Bolipata’s many visits to festivals abroad that served as the inspiration for Casa San Miguel, the family’s seaside mango orchard in San Antonio, Zambales.
An arts, music, and culture haven, the 93-year-old ancestral farm has also housed the annual Pundaquit Festival for 19 seasons. The artist-run, nonprofit initiative provides creative programs in classical music, visual arts, creative writing, and theater, as well as parallel livelihood programs to support the surrounding areas. The Pundaquit Festival, which lasts for four months between February and May, showcases concerts, exhibits, film showings, and special events where some of the best talents in the country perform alongside promising up-and-comers and visiting artists from Europe and the United States. To wit, internationally renowned pianist Cecile Licad and folk icon Joey Ayala have both performed as guest soloists in concerts with the Pundaquit Virtuosi, a children’s ensemble made up of the most outstanding performers from the local community.
The ancestral farm itself is a sight to behold—the brick exteriors and lush, tranquil gardens offer an idyllic, relaxing rural escape. Stay at the bed and breakfast or enjoy a meal at the café-cum-artisan bakery, which serves brick oven-baked breads. Vegetarian treats, such as Bolipata’s personal favorites -- samosas and hummus -- are also available. And after you’ve had your fill of the arts scene, you can take off and see the many other things that Zambales has to offer: picturesque lighthouses, old churches, and Mount Pinatubo. Anawangin Cove is just a 20-minute boat ride away, while the nearby Capones Islands are also becoming popular as a great diving spot.
It’s impossible not to be swept up in the sweet island life once you get out here.
The sun shimmers on diamond reefs and local fishermen catch fresh crustaceans straight from the ocean. It’ll be quite easy to get addicted. Good thing, there are thousands of islands to satisfy your craving.
Our beaches are the perfect escape from those cold, icy, extra-long winters. See as many as you can in a day. Rent a kayak to paddle around the islands with, or get a guided boat tour, which usually includes a perfectly grilled lunch. Soon, you’ll be basking in your own tanned glow, enjoying a therapeutic massage by the sea shore.
Prefer to choose just one? Try Boracay. It’s rated by Travel + Leisure magazine as the “World’s Best Island”. The nightlife will get you partying hard with the crowds, while more secluded beaches bring you to more tranquil shores.
It’s no secret that The Bourne Legacy was shot in Palawan, the perfect setting for fantasy and adventure. Spoiler alert: the last we see of Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz, they’re planning on getting lost in this beautiful place. We’re not surprised.
These are just a few of our island gems. Come and spend winter in our warm islands instead. Or better yet, stay a while and enjoy 365 days of summer.
You’ll soon discover our love for color. You’ll see it in jeepneys, tricycles, bancas, and even our fiestas. While you’re here, you’re bound to see one – because they happen almost every day. There are a ton of festivals like the Masskara festival in Bacolod, the Pahiyas in Quezon, Sinulog in Cebu, Kadayawan in Davao and Panagbenga in Baguio.
Metro Manila is the center for entertainment and cultural activities. International acts are always flying in, while local acts are always on stage.
Visit museums in Metro Manila and other parts of the country to get a glimpse of Philippine history and culture.
At art galleries – in up-market neighborhoods, malls, urban hang-outs or heritage streets – you can feel the creative pulse of the country from leading and promising visual artists.
Check local event magazines given out free at restaurants, as well as online city guides, for the latest of these events, plus film festivals, dance parties, weekend classes, pop-up shopping venues and other fun things to do!
In the Philippines, both serious trekkers and lazy beach bums have a range of options. Why don’t we start from the top?
Hundreds of volcanoes dot the land — sizzling peaks to make you think that the gods must have been on edge. Steal a view from the top, soaring by private plane over the smoking mouth, or ascend these fiery mountains by foot, through lava-rock trails. You can visit volcanic Camiguin, or mystical Siquijor and experience the contrast of sandy shores and deserted coastlines, private islands, isolated coves, and quiet bays.
If defying the laws of nature isn’t your idea of fun, there’s sure to be something else to kick up your adrenaline.
Maybe you’d prefer scaling the World Heritage Site of the Banawe Rice Terraces, a natural wonder better seen up close. Or ziplining over seven stunning waterfalls in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
Looking for deluxe delights? Go glamping (glamorous camping) in one of Bohol’s top resorts, where activities include getting to know a tiny Tarsier.
Craving cooler climates? Drive up for the low temperatures of the highlands. Check out Baguio City and the place that time forgot — Sagada.
Watersports abound! Sailing in Subic Bay and Batangas; white-water rafting down Chico River; even the more extreme kitesurfing is growing more popular by the day in Bicol, Boracay, Coron, Cuyo, and windswept Pagudpud Peninsula — the country’s northernmost tip.
You’ve probably heard about the friendly butanding (whale sharks) of Donsol, and Palawan’s fascinating underground river. Travel down south for eco-adventures in Cagayan de Oro, and join the colorful regattas of Zamboanga.
There’s a reason this country was the setting of choice for several Survivor and Amazing Race escapades. From top to bottom, the easiest challenge to the most extreme, these great, green outdoors are an explorer’s dream.
A family with kids can still have modern comforts while still feeling that adventurous vibe, even in remote islands. With the locals’ warm hospitality, they’re always ready to lend a helping hand if you needed it.
The Philippines has so much to offer when it comes to wonderful places to go to. Take your wandering feet to amazing city tours, travel back in time to heritage sites, recharge your senses in nature parks and go backpacking in several islands (there are over 7,000 islands in the Philippines.)
The country made it to the list of most avid backpackers and tourists as one of the “must-visit” destinations not only because of patches of paradise here and there, but also because planning itineraries in the Philippines, even with your kids tagging along, is a breeze.
If you still think travelling with kids might be complicated, think again and go over this list of family friendly destinations in these beautiful Philippine islands.
Here are some of the best family friendly destinations in the Philippines
1. Boracay – Paradise Island
Why it’s one of the best family friendly destinations in the Philippines:
Boracay, world-renowned for its powdery, talcum-fine white sand, palm-fringed shores and scenic crystal blue seascape, remains one of the flag beach destinations of the Philippines. Boracay attracts people from all walks of life- the adventurers, the party-goers, the solo travelers, backpackers and families with kids in tow – mainly because it offers something for everyone – and that includes the little ones. It is popularly known for its touristy and beach party vibe, but there are hotels and accommodations in Boracay that are located away from the beach crowd for those who just want a quieter ambience – exactly what you need from family friendly destinations in the Philippines.
You’ll never run out of enjoyable activities like cliff-diving, parasailing, scuba-diving, island-hopping and zip-lining for the adventurous tourists. You can do practically every activity you can think of doing in a beach – and did I mention mermaid-swimming? It’s all that and more. If you bring your kids with you, there are malls, restaurants, hotels and guesthouse accommodations that can meet your needs as a traveling family. White Beach, the main beach, has the finest sand. It is divided in 3 stations- Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3. Stations 1 and 2 are lined with bars and restaurants that turn the tranquil scenery into a beach party scene at night. Station 3 is recommended for family friendly vacations, as it is located at the tranquil, quiet end of the beach.
2. Bohol – Heart of Visayas
Why it’s one of the best family friendly destinations in the Philippines:
Bohol, located at the heart of the Visayas region, lured nature-loving tourists from all parts of the globe. Touted as one of the island jewels of the Philippines, its white sand beaches and mysterious islands are one of the best in the world. This is the tenth largest island in the Philippines, and one of my favorite family friendly destinations in the Philippines.
family friendly destinations in the Philippines
Chocolate Hills, its most famous landmark, is a favorite tourist spot located at Chocolate Hills Adventure Park in Carmen, Bohol. They look like hundreds of giant mounds of chocolate when they turn brown in dry season. The island is dotted with waterfalls, caves and other natural attractions like butterfly sanctuary and the Tarsier Conservation Area, home of the world’s smallest primate.
Your family will love the countryside tour in the main island of Bohol, usually offered as a package tour by travel agencies where you travel around town in a private van. Your kids will gape in awe at the man-made forest of mahogany trees lining up a 2 kilometer road. Take a refreshing dip during the tour and delight in the beauty of Mag-Aso Falls (one of the many falls in Bohol).
Your family will never forget a unique cruising experience at Loboc River. Loboc River Cruise tour is usually done at midday. This is where you can enjoy a sumptuous eat-all-you-can lunch buffet. You’ll be serenaded by local musicians as the boat cruises along the length of the river.
Ride a boat and go island hopping to nearby islands like the Virgin Island or locally known as Pungtud Island, Balicasag Island (dolphin-watching and snorkeling), and Panglao Island. Virgin Island has a long, snake-like stretch of a beautiful, powdery white sandbar. Alona Beach is located at Panglao Island. This place is a good option for a family to stay in Bohol as it has modern infrastructures. It is definitely not a party beach, making it a perfect family friendly destination in the Philippines.
3. Cebu – Oldest City of the Philippines
Why it’s one of the best family friendly destinations in the Philippines:
Cebu is an island province located in Visayas, and touted as the oldest city of the Philippines. It is home to heritage sites owing to its historical background being the first Spanish settlement in the country. A city tour will take you back in time when the Spaniards first set foot in Philippine soil, commemorated by Magellan’s Cross, one of the popular heritage sites in Cebu. Other heritage sites include the oldest religious relic of the Sto. Nino, dating back to 1521, housed at Basilica del Santo Nino.
While in the city and if you’re not much of a history buff, take your kids to Crown Regency Hotel for a taste of urban adventure. Try the Edge Coaster, a two- seater coaster plying around the edge of the hotel’s rooftop. It can incline up to almost 90 degrees from a height of 130 meters off the ground. You can control the degree of incline or just remain in a sitting position.
The hotel also offers the Sky Walk, where you walk around on clear fiberglass pathway without rails around the edge at the same height of 130 meters off the ground – strapped with harnesses and safety ropes. It’s activities like these, hidden in otherwise unexciting places that make Cebu one of the best family friendly destinations in the Philippines. Last but not the least – don’t forget to taste the famous Cebu lechon, the most delicious roasted pig in the world, according to Anthony Bourdain.
Cebu City is the major jump-off to most islands in the Visayas, and smaller islands like the Bantayan Island, Malapascua Island and Camotes Islands, also forming the Cebu group of islands. All of them boast of white sand, tranquil beaches that offer quiet sand and sea retreats for the whole family. You can get to these island beaches surrounding Cebu city via public ferry transport. From the Cebu City North Terminal, catch a bus going to Hagnaya Port, San Remigio. Bus travel time is 3 hours. From Hagnaya Port, board a ferry going to Santa Fe, which takes an hour of travel. Bantayan Island offers budget and high-end beach resorts for tourists, and from there you can visit other islands like Malapascua Island.
4. Puerto Princesa, Palawan – The “City in a Forest”
Why it’s one of the best family friendly destinations in the Philippines:
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Puerto Princesa city owes its title to its natural wonders. Kids will definitely enjoy travelling here with all the adventures and biodiversity the place has to offer. Anyone would lose track of time once you set foot in the cleanest and greenest city as well as the longest, navigable underground river in the world. This is truly one of the best family friendly destinations in the Philippines.
Allow your kids to witness the beauty of nature’s wonders within the national park where the underground river is located. Go island-hopping, as the city is also the jump-off to commercial and secluded fine white sand beaches nearby. From Honda Bay, boats can take you to snorkeling sites and nearby islands where you can have family picnics and snorkeling activities. Indeed, it is touted as a “city in a forest” for good reason. This is truly an adventurous vacation for your kids at the country’s “last frontier” without worrying about losing modern conveniences. Everything in it seems to have a modern, rustic appeal.
Food is a huge part of Filipino culture—in fact, the local word for ‘Hello,’ is ‘Have you eaten?’ And though little-known, you’ll find our cuisine as beautiful and surprising as the country. Esquire UK described dinner in Manila as a ‘growing flirtation that was turning into true love’.
Filipino food is an exotic, tasteful fusion of Oriental, European, and American culinary influences with a wide variety of fresh seafood and delectable fruits. These influences have been adapted to local ingredients and the Filipino palate to create distinctly Filipino dishes.
Take “kare-kare” — what started as a Filipino take on curry. Instead of curry paste, some ancient, resourceful cook ground peanuts to make a thick stew, then paired it with “bagoong” (fish paste). The dish now is so far from its inspiration, but has become its own kind of good.
As the city center of the Philippines, Manila is a dense stew of urban development and historic sentiment.
Hills that looks like perfect mounds of chocolate. Primates so small, they fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. Restaurants that float gently down a river.
Out of all the islands in the world, Travel+Leisure Magazine chose to name Boracay as its Best Overall Island of 2012. Located in Malay, Aklan, Western Visayas, Boracay is just seven kilometers long, and less than a kilometer wide at its narrowest point – a postcard-sized tropical paradise.
Baguio is one of the most famous cities in the Philippines and has been celebrated as the Summer Capital of the country for the past 99 years.
In a round-up of the Philippines’ stunning destinations, Cagayan will most likely go unmentioned. Yet this beautiful province is home to picturesque beaches, volcanic islands and historically significant natural and man-made sites. It may be devoid of luxury trappings, true, but it is rich in natural, rugged beauty. The traveler who strikes out for it (he won’t have to go very far, really) takes its richest rewards.
Cagayan de Oro
Cagayan de Oro may very well be the happiest place in the country. The “City of Golden Friendship,” as it is sometimes called, is home to especially friendly and warm Filipinos. Their ready smiles are a fitting welcome, with Cagayan de Oro’s accessible location also making it the “Gateway to Northern Mindanao.”
Barely 240 square kilometers in land area, Camiguin is the second smallest island of the Philippines in both area and population. It is just 23 kilometers at its longest and just a bit more than 14 kilometers at its widest. Within this small area lie seven volcanoes. Lovely little Camiguin is the island “born of fire.”
The city of Cebu is known as the “Queen City of the South” —and rightly so.
Clean. Progressive. Modern. If you’re searching for city that capitalizes on the outdoors, you might just find Davao City a pleasant surprise.
From tip to tip, the Philippines has all sorts of fun to offer. To make sure you cover everything, start right at the top!Ilocandia is the perfect beginning to an awesome Philippine adventure.
Dumaguete is known as “The City of Gentle People.” It’s easy to see why – this is a serene university town filled with genteel locals, and its atmosphere is conducive to artistic and scholarly pursuits.
Aptly nicknamed “the city in a forest,” Puerto Princesa city’s attractions have much to do with its natural wonders and commitment to the environment. In fact, it’s been named the Philippines’ cleanest and greenest city, and has been internationally recognized for environmental excellence.
Zambales is one of those places that pretty much has it all – untainted forest landscape, the Sierra Madre mountain range, communities that practice living traditions and 107 miles of pure beach. Plus a whole bunch of cool islands and shoals for day trips and quiet camping trips.
Five recommended restaurants around the Philippines where you can sample some of the best Filipino dishes.
369 Rizal Ave., Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
After a tour of the world-renowned Subterranean River, have lunch or early dinner at Puerto Princesa’s best-known grill restaurant. They serve tasty seafood fare while you lounge on throw pillows. And you can’t go wrong with their lobsters.
Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila
Famous restaurateur Larry Cruz named this place in honor of his father, whose memorabilia serve as the place’s decorative accents. They serve such innovative dishes like lamb adobo (stewed in vinegar and soy sauce) with popped garlic, binukadkad na (butterfly style) crispy pla-pla or tilapia, and bamboo rice with shrimp and mushroom.
Chocolate de Batirol
(cho-co-LAH-te de BAH-tirol)
Igorot Garden, Gate 2, Camp John Hay, Baguio City
Here, you’ll go on a picnic—at about 4,500 feet above sea level! Simple food is served on tables under the shade of fragrant pine trees. Try their cold batirol called chocolate banana, as well as their traditional blend.
Rizal St., Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
Known for the best-tasting Ilocano dishes, La Preciosa honors the recipes by the late Preciosa Ventura-Palma, carried on by her daughter Pamela. Try their bagnet (dried and deep-fried pork) and pinakbet(stewed vegetables seasoned with fish paste).
Unit WS-2 Burgos Circle, Forbestown Center, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Its festive atmosphere feels like walking into a party. Vibrant chandeliers are draped in tulle while glass beads hang over brightly set tables. The food is equally worth raving about. Bestsellers include their two-way adobo, kare-kare and bagnet.
Filipinos, you’ll find, are crazy about shopping. In fact, every capital of the country has a shopping center. So whether you find yourself in the city, in the middle of a beautiful island resort, or even relaxing in an outrigger boat, you can always go for some casual retail therapy.
If you’re a professional shopper though, willing to spend whole days of “finding something to buy”, our malls are sure to keep you occupied. Try SM Mall of Asia or SM North, two of the biggest in the world.
For the more adventurous, try the Divisoria area and its 168 mall. This area is the backbone of Manila’s buy & sell trade — blocks and blocks of no-frills bargain-shopping. You will definitely find it hard to leave empty-handed.
If you enjoy the bargain-hunting but would like to avoid the heat, try Greenhills shopping center in Mandaluyong City or Market Market mall in Taguig City.
WHAT TO BUY. There’s an exciting selection of great buys in a country known for export-quality items at reasonable prices: South Sea pearls, hand-woven cloths, embroidered fineries, terracotta and porcelain, coral and mother-of-pearl accessories. Pineapple fiber, prehistoric jars, native handicrafts, and handmade footwear are interesting items, too.
The Philippines also produces fine furniture, basketry, exquisitely crafted jewelry, and gift items made of shell, wood, and stone.
Shop for handicrafts, antiques and souvenirs in Manila’s Quiapo district: ilalim ng tulay (literally, “under the bridge”). The Ermita and Malate districts in Manila, Tiendesitas in Pasig City. Market Market in Taguig, The Kultura shop in SM malls, and most department stores also stock up on a wide selection of excellent, local handicrafts and souvenirs.
Of course, don’t forget to check out the souvenir center or central dry market of the particular province or town you’re in. Every region has its own particular craft, material or delicacy. And some, like our dried mangoes, are deservedly world-famous.