You want to know where are the best places to visit in the Philippines. You’ve been dreaming about embarking on an unforgettable journey to the enchanting Philippines. A country brimming with natural wonders, vibrant cultures, and warm hospitality. Unfortunately, it also has the reputation of having the highest crime rate in Asia.
As safety is paramount while venturing into new lands, I’ve gathered insider tips from a local expert to present you with the safest places to visit in this tropical paradise. In fact, I work with this expert. Although she lives in Australia now, she frequently visits and travels within her homeland. She is passionate about foreigners exploring the best of her beautiful country. And to be safe at the same time.
Join us as we delve into the safest and most captivating destinations the Philippines has to offer. From vibrant cities, to pristine islands and breathtaking landscapes.
Best time to visit the Philippines
You can expect a warm tropical climate all year round.
However, the best time to visit the Philippines is in the dry summer season, from November to May. The warmest months are from March to April. Consequently, this means it's also the peak season.
The wet season lasts from July to September, with most of the rainfall occurring in the month of September.
Manila - A Vibrant Metropolis
Most travellers introduction to the Philippines is when their plane lands in the bustling capital of Manila.
My friend recommends to spend a maximum of two days here, to immerse yourself in the city's vibrant energy and rich history. Visit historic churches and witness the Spanish influence that still resonates in this dynamic city.
Or it’s the perfect place for shop-a-holics. Experience the city's excellent shopping scene, especially the country’s largest mall SM Mall of Asia. If you’re short on time or have no interest in city stays, don’t worry as Cebu also offers excellent shopping malls.
However, be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas and always stay vigilant.
TG Tip: Tip from my friend - you must indulge in the local cuisine, including the famous lechon (roast pig) and mouthwatering BBQ.
Best places to stay in Manila:
Its hard to pinpoint the exact city centre, as its comprised of 14 cities! However, the Makati district is popular due to its selection of restaurants, bars, lounges and malls.
Things to do in Manila:
Manila Food Tour: Introduction to Philippine Street Food
Manila Old & New: Sightseeing tour including Intramuros & Fort Santiago
Tagaytay Full Day Sightseeing Tour with transfers
Cebu – An island adventure awaits
Cebu is a vibrant and tourist-friendly destination known for its pristine beaches and cultural heritage. Although it is touristy, you have many options to venture out further afield.
In Cebu city visit historic sites such as Fort San Pedro and Magellan's Cross. It’s also home to the island’s largest shopping mall SM Seaside City, offering a haven for shopaholics. My Filipino friend assures me you’ll find good quality clothes here.
If beaches are more your thing, my friend recommends the scenic ferry ride north east to the Camotes Island. Here you can bask in the sun and revel in the island's many tranquil beaches. Or swim in a magical cave such as Timubo Cave or Bukilat Cave.
Alternatively, you can explore the abundant marine life in the southern part of Cebu Island. Dive into the marine life around Moalboal and swim with millions of sardines (known as the sardine run). Another highlight would be swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob. I swam with the whale sharks in Exmouth and it was the most amazing experience. I highly recommend it.
For the adventurers, take a bamboo rafting adventure to the breathtaking Kawasan Falls and relish in the refreshing waters cascading down three levels. The higher you go, the less tourists! For a similar waterfall but without the crowds, visit the Inambakan Waterfalls.
And don't miss the Instagramable ‘hand’ moment. A giant hand-shaped platform overlooking the picturesque valleys, a perfect spot for breathtaking views.
Best places to stay in Cebu:
In Cebu city you have the option to book a city stay in downtown Cebu. Or stay in a resort on the adjacent island of Mactan, which is where the airport is located.
Best things to do in Cebu:
Whale Shark Encounter and Sumilon Sandbar with Kawasan Falls
Canyoneering Experience in Kawasan Falls with lunch included
Cebu Moalboal Beach, Sardine Run, Sea Turtle viewing + Canyoneering
Bohol – Landscapes and primates
A short ferry trip east from Cebu, Bohol beckons with its unusual but surreal landscapes and intriguing attractions.
Explore the iconic Chocolate Hills, an otherworldly sight that will leave you in awe. Located near the town of Carmen, view the 1200 symmetrical mounds that turn cocoa-brown in colour during the dry season. It’s a striking contrast with the surrounding jungle greenery.
Take a leisurely scenic river cruise along Loboc River on a river boat. Indulge in a sumptuous buffet while being serenaded by local musicians.
Animal lovers can discover the world's smallest primate, the tarsier, in their natural habitat at the Tarsier Conservation Area.
For a well-rounded experience, my friend suggests to begin your journey in Bohol, and then relax in Cebu afterwards. A two-day stay is plenty of time. If you are short on time, you can visit Bohol from Cebu as a day trip.
Best places to stay in Bohol:
Where to stay in Bohol is a question many ask. The most popular area for tourists is Panglao. Mainly due to its close proximity to the ferry port and the airport. Plus, it has amazing crystal-clear beaches, as well as access to restaurants, bars and shops. But don’t be afraid to venture out to quieter areas on the main Bohol island.
Get away from touristy Panglao at these rustic styled cottages perched high in the hills overlooking the greenery and the blue seas. Perfect place to watch sunrises/sunsets from the infinity pool.
Best things to do in Bohol:
Chocolate Hills Bohol Nature Tour
Bohol ATV tour, via Chocolate Hills
Bohol Firefly Watching (privae tour)
Palawan – Natures paradise
Domestic and international flights arrive into Puerto Princesa. It’s a one-hour flight from Manila.
Some domestic flights fly directly to El Nido, Coron and San Vicente.
You can then continue onto other destinations with bus transfers. Take note that it’s a 5-hour journey from Puerto Princesa to El Nido by bus.
No trip to the Philippines is complete without venturing to Palawan, a group of 1700 islands blessed with breathtaking natural wonders. Renowned for its pristine beaches, crystalline waters, shipwreck sites, towering limestone cliffs and lush forests.
This tropical haven deserves a minimum of two weeks for exploration. From the mesmerizing underground river of Puerto Princesa to the enchanting lagoons of El Nido, Palawan offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation.
Basically, there are four main destinations you don’t want to miss:
- 1El Nido – located north end of main island, known for its stunning beaches and islands.
- 2Coron – northernmost island, famous for its shipwreck and crystal-clear lagoons - Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake.
- 3Puerto Princesa – a popular destination known for its Underground River.
- 4San Vicente – an emerging destination where you can find Philippines longest beach, aptly named Long Beach!
Then use the rest of your time to enjoy island-hopping tours, snorkeling/diving in the crystal-clear waters, and immerse yourself in the vibrant marine biodiversity. Palawan boasts protected marine reserves like Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, perfect for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
Best places to stay in Palawan:
Best things to do in Palawan:
Underground River Day Trip from Puerto Princesa
Coron Ulitmate Tour (shared tour)
El Nido Tour D - lagoons & beaches
Boracay – Water sports haven
There are no direct flights into Boracay. Instead, you'll need to fly into the closest airport in Caticlan. This airport receives domestic and international flights.
There is another airport 60km away called Kalibo but is favoured for its cheaper airfares. From both airports you'll need to make your way to Caticlan Jetty Port, for the 20-minute boat ride to Boracay.
This world-renowned island paradise offers pristine white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a vibrant water activity atmosphere that captivates visitors from around the globe. While it is a popular tourist destination, Boracay still maintains a high level of safety for its visitors.
There are two sides to this island. Along the west coast, the white beaches are backed by palm trees and lined with resorts, bars and restaurants. It’s the island’s main drawcard, with 17 beaches to choose from. Perfect for those who want to relax on powdery sandy beaches. Just check out Puka Shell Beach for tropical paradise! Watch breathtaking sunsets from the beaches or while sailing on a native paraw boat.
The east coast however contains strong winds, so it's no surprise it has become a hub for water sports. You are spoilt with choice – windsurfing, kitesurfing, parasailing and kayaking. Stand-up paddleboarding is available all around the island but is most popular at White Beach.
As with all the other Philippine islands, you can explore the diverse marine life along coral reefs and around shipwrecks. Great snorkelling and scuba diving spots include Bulalog, Ilig-Iligan Beach and Tambisaan Beach. Island hopping is popular too, with a number of tropical islands that can be easily reached, such as Crocodile Island, Crystal Cove and Magic Island.
And don’t miss the panoramic views over the island from the Mount Luho deck.
Best places to stay in Boracay:
Choose to stay on either the west or east side of the long thin island.
Best things to do in Boracay:
Watercolors - Discover Scuba Diving in Boracay
Boracay Parasailing Experience
Boracay Paraw Sailing - choose your time
Davao - For hiking adventurers
The best and quickest way to get there is to fly into Davao’s Francisco Bangoy International Airport.
Venturing to the southernmost island, we arrive in Davao, the largest city in Mindanao. This cosmopolitan gem serves as a gateway to breathtaking landscapes and interaction with wildlife.
Mount Apo, is the country's highest peak at an elevation of 3140m (10,311 feet). Therefore, a hiker's mecca. There are various trails to choose from, depending upon the level of difficulty. Experienced mountain hikers should climb the summit during March, April or October. There are tour companies that organise mountain climbing in groups.
Discover the diverse flora and fauna at the Eden Nature Park or Malagos Garden Resort. Animal lovers wont be disappointed with choices such as reptiles at Crocodile Park, protecting the countrys national bird at Philippine Eagle Center or mingle with the butterflies at Davao Butterfly House.
Then end your stay by relaxing in the pristine Samal Island with its white sand beaches and abundant marine life.
Davao's stringent security measures ensure a peaceful and worry-free journey as you uncover the wonders of this captivating region. My Filippino friend does caution you to stay away from the southern part of the island. However, the northern part is safe. And the city of Davao is known as one of the safest cities in the Philippines.
Best places to stay in Davao
Siargao - A Surfer's Paradise
The easiest and quickest way is by a domestic flight from Manila or Cebu to Siargao’s only airport in Del Carmen.
Then it’s a 45-60 minutes drive by shuttle from the airport to General Luna (the main tourist hub).
Calling all wave riders and beach lovers—Siargao is your ultimate destination! Located on the eastern side of the archipelago.
Siargao is known as the surfing capital of the Philippines due to its world-class surf breaks, including the famous Cloud 9. Head down to Cloud 9 pier at the end of the main town of General Luna. The best months for surfing are from August to November.
Don’t worry if you’re a non-surfer, as there is more do than just surfing. Beyond the exhilarating swells, Siargao's lush mangrove forests and breathtaking lagoons provide an escape into serenity.
- Sugba Lagoon where you can sit in floating huts.
- Swing off a bent palm tree along the Maasin River.
- A highlight would be to visit the two cenotes at Tayangban Cave Pool – deep sinkholes where you can swim. There’s a mini canyoneering trip where you can wade through waist deep waters to see stalagmites/stalactites in a cave. Or swim in the emerald rock pools.
- Visit Magpupungko Rock Pools during low tide to view the exposed rocks.
- Siargao Island hopping tour is not to be missed either. It’s your chance to walk and swim around small deserted islands.
- Visit the only falls on the island at TakTak Falls.
Best places to stay in Siargao:
Either stay near to General Luna to be close to city centre and Cloud 9 pier. Or have a quieter stay by venturing around the coast.
Best things to do in Siargao:
Siargao Island Hopping and land tour
Siargao Island Hopping only tour
Sugba Lagoon + Kauhagan & Pamomo-an Islands
What's your favourite places to visit in the Philippines?
Although the Philippines sometimes gets a bad rap with regards to dangerous areas, crime and kidnappings but as my Filipino friends says ‘there are many safe places for tourist’s regardless’.
The above guide are her suggestions where tourists should go. Not only its generally safe (all places in the world have crime of some sort) but it also showcases the best of the archipelago's natural beauty.
Whether you want to relax on a tropical island or engage in some adventure activities, your choices are numerous. Have fun exploring the best places to visit in the Philippines.