In some ways, the Philippines is a country like no other. It’s a relatively small nation, and yet it’s comprised of over 7,000 individual islands, which can make it seem like many different places in one. The country has a questionable reputation in parts of the world right now due to some controversial politics, but for the most part it remains a fascinating place to visit that is full of beautiful and entertaining destinations of all kinds.
It’s difficult to narrow down sights and attractions in a country made up of several thousand islands. But broadly speaking, here are some of the things you won’t want to miss if you make the journey.
Banaue Rice Terraces
In a country full to bursting with outdoor beauty, it’s only right to point to the Banaue Rice Terraces before anything else. They’re rated as the top tourist attraction in the Philippines by at least one publication, and are commonly singled out as an attraction that shouldn’t be missed. Supposedly these incredible terraces, built into the mountains north of Luzon, were structured more than 2,000 years ago. That’s absolutely remarkable when you look at them and wonder how much effort must have gone into the job. They’re used less frequently for farming these days (though rice and vegetables do still grow there), but they’re some of the more stunning natural (or at least semi-natural) attractions you can find in all of Southeast Asia.
You’re undoubtedly aware that the Philippines is home to some of the world’s best beaches. Well, most people contend that the best of the bunch throughout the country are at Boracay, a tiny island marked by long stretches of stunning white sand. White Beach is the main draw. It’s managed to be built up a little bit (with hotels, restaurants, and more) without sacrificing any of its natural beauty or tranquility.
Nowadays, we typically think of casinos getting smaller. They first moved from real life venues to online sites, and from there to mobile platforms. Now, casino games are optimized for smart devices, which means they can be played most anywhere you can get an internet connection. This makes it almost surprising when you do see big, glamorous, real life casinos—but that’s exactly what you can find in Manila. The city is arguably the best casino hub outside of Las Vegas (although Macau certainly has an argument as well), and you’ll find a couple of incredible venues. City Of Dreams and Resorts World Manila are both world class venues with gaming options, in-house entertainment, and fine dining all on hand.
Apo Island Diving
Apo Island Diving
If you’re into scuba diving, or even if you’d like to learn how it’s done, the Philippines is about as good a place for you as any country in the world (with the possible exception of Australia). There are loads of incredible diving spots dotted around the country, and just singling out one is almost a shame. But in the interest of making this simple, we settled on Apo Island in the Negros Oriental province. Some view it as the best diving spot in the country, and diving tourism accounts for a good amount of job growth in the province. Underwater you’ll be treated to some of the best-protected marine life in the region.
If you’re looking for an adventurous destination, you can’t do much better anywhere in the world than Vulcan Point. Atlas Obscura did a wonderful job summing up how unique this place is by describing it as being like nesting dolls. Vulcan Point is essentially an island inside a lake, inside a volcano crater, within a lake, on the island of Luzon. If that was hard to follow, think of it this way. The Taal Volcano is in the middle of Lake Taal on Luzon. And within the Taal Volcano (which, incidentally, is active), there’s another lake with a tiny island on it. As long as the conditions are safe, it’s a pretty incredible place to journey to.