a deserted island surrounded by reefs and a couple of boats

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.  

  • Explore the historic walled city of Intramuros and visit Fort Santiago.
  • Pay homage at the iconic Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church.

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. 

view overlooking city scape at night from the rooftop pool at City Garden Grand Hotel

A quality centrally located hotel in vibrant Makati district without the big price tag. Magnificent city views from the rooftop pool and bar. 

Aerial view of a beachfront resort with lagoon style pool and palm trees

Located in Pasay City. For those who want a little luxury and to be by the coast but still have access to the city.  

 Things to do in Manila: 

3 travellers sitting at wooden table eating local food

Manila Food Tour: Introduction to Philippine Street Food

Old spanish archetiture portal through the fort walls.

Manila Old & New: Sightseeing tour including Intramuros & Fort Santiago

View overlooking green valleys, a village and the sea in the distance

Tagaytay Full Day Sightseeing Tour with transfers

Cebu – An island adventure awaits 

Getting there

Flying from Manila to Cebu is definitely the fastest and most convenient way, taking 1.5 hours. If you want the scenic route or have loads of time, you can take a 22-hour ferry ride! With cheap airfares by AirAsia and Cebu Pacific, you won't really save much money taking the ferry. 

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.  

a female sitting on a large hand momument overlooking the valley, one of the places to visit in the philippines

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. 

aerial view of white 2 storey accommodation overlooking light blue coloured lagoon

Avoid the city centre and stay on Mactan Island. A village nestled around large lagoons, you will immediately feel the calmness. 

white sandy beach with thatched cabanas and palm trees

Stay on the other side of the island and immerse yourself in water activities such as snorkelling and diving. 

 Best things to do in Cebu: 

female snorkeller swimming beside a whale shark

Whale Shark Encounter and Sumilon Sandbar with Kawasan Falls

a group of people wading through waist high water in a canyon

Canyoneering Experience in Kawasan Falls with lunch included

aerial view of white sandy beach, colourful umbrellas and light blue waters

Cebu Moalboal Beach, Sardine Run, Sea Turtle viewing + Canyoneering

Bohol – Landscapes and primates 

Getting there

There are several ferries per day from Cebu, operated by OceanJet or SuperCat Ferry.  
Duration – 2 hours 
Departs from – Pier 1 of Cebu Pier Area 
Prices – start from 880 pesos 

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. 

a tarsier monkey clinging to a tree

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. 

aerial view over beachfront resort, pool and palm trees

Avoid high rises and blend in with nature with single story ‘cabin-style’ rooms. And relax by its stunning private beach. 

infinity pool overlooking green vegetation and the sea beyond

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: 

View of conical shaped hills in the distance

Chocolate Hills Bohol Nature Tour 

A line of ATVs with the Chocolate Hills in the background

Bohol ATV tour, via Chocolate Hills

people in 3 canoes watching the glow of the fireflys above them

Bohol Firefly Watching (privae tour)

Palawan – Natures paradise 

Getting there

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: 

  1. 1
    El Nido – located north end of main island, known for its stunning beaches and islands.
  2. 2
    Coron – northernmost island, famous for its shipwreck and crystal-clear lagoons - Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake.
  3. 3
    Puerto Princesa – a popular destination known for its Underground River.
  4. 4
    San Vicentean 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: 

Cane chairs placed on a wooden balcony overlooking the sea and neighbouring islands.

Perfect location for an El Nido stay. It's situated right next to the beach. Plus, within walking distance to nice bars and restaurants along Corong Corong Beach. 

Aerial view of a small island surrounded by pristine white beaches and light blue waters.

Select a secluded island getaway in the Coron area. Pristine beaches for relaxing and crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkelling. 

Best things to do in Palawan: 

3 people in a canoe in an underground cave

Underground River Day Trip from Puerto Princesa

view of rocky mountaineous isles surrounded by green and blue waters

Coron Ulitmate Tour (shared tour)

two people in a yellow canoe surrounded by green waters, rocks and islands

El Nido Tour D - lagoons & beaches

Boracay – Water sports haven 

Getting there

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.

Aerial view of hotel surrounding the pool, overlooking the palm trees and sea in the distance.

This beachfront property is located along the western side of the island. Relax by the beach in a cabana or in the Al Fresco Bar and Restaurant. 

Multi storey hotel overlooking two long shaped pools

Stay on the eastern side of the island in the Bulabog area. A beach right on your doorstep. And a ten minute walk to the mall. 

 Best things to do in Boracay: 

a group of people dressed in scuba gear standing in crystal clear waters

Watercolors - Discover Scuba Diving in Boracay

two people hanging from a parachute with the boat nearby

Boracay Parasailing Experience

traditional paraw boats sailing on the seas during sunset

Boracay Paraw Sailing - choose your time

Davao - For hiking adventurers 

Getting there

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. 

a group of hikers standing on top of mountain overlooking valley and clouds below

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

A-framed villas overlooking a pool

Centrally located in Davao City, with a 5 minute walk to the main hub of Matina Town Square. Definitely a more low key stay than staying in a high rise. 

Two long boats at an island wooden jetty with thatched accommodation on stilts in the background

For a bit of luxury on Samal Island. The unique property is designed with traditional and local materials. Relax by the infinity pool or its private pristine beach. 

Siargao - A Surfer's Paradise  

Getting there

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. 

a wooden jetty leading out to a multi storey lookout

Cloud 9 pier

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.

small 3 storey block of hotel rooms overlooking a pool

Centrally located for surfers – in between General Luna and Cloud 9. Has an excellent swimming pool to chill inbetween surfing or trips around the island. 

two traditional bungalow style accommodation nestled amongst lush green gardens

A quiet and tranquil oasis stay. Totally relax in these cottage styled accommodation, with access to the beach via their sister property. 

 Best things to do in Siargao: 

two people swimming in front of a small tropical island

Siargao Island Hopping and land tour

aerial view of a desolate tiny island surrounded by light blue waters

Siargao Island Hopping only tour

aerial view overlooking a wooden hut in a lagoon surrounded by lush jungles

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. 

AVOID BEING CAUGHT OUT
Book your own holiday online using the most trusted travel websites.
 Download the "Best Travel Websites Guide" today.

About the author

Lisa is a travel gypsy by heart, having already been to over 70 countries and still counting. Founder of Travel Groove, to share travel tips, tricks and knowledge with other travellers.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
front cover of a guide book on how to find cheap flights with a photo of a plane wing and tip in the sky

Get this Free E-Book

Discover now the 13 different ways to find cheap flights online.

>