With its endless stunning islands, the Philippines offers a variety of beautiful natural spots from white sand beaches, crystal blue water to spectacular mountains landscapes, waterfalls, rice terraces and more!
After travelling for 4 months around my motherland the Philippines , let me share with you the 10 must-go-NEW-places to visit in the Philippines in 2019!
If you are not a reader lover, you can watch my travel series videos #VISITPHILIPPINESWITHLEAH on my Youtube channel & Facebook page!
1. Ifugao Province: magnificent mountains & terraces
If you like hiking, bonding with nature and you are ready to disconnect from the Internet to immerse yourself into an authentic experience to learn about the origins of the native Filipino culture, you should explore the Cordillera of Ifugao! Go on a 2 to 5 days hiking to Banaue, Cambulo, Batad, Patpat, Mayoyao, Bangaan.
And in case if you were wondering, the rice terraces of Batad are the 8th wonder of the world and a UNESCO site. For those who are familiar with the rice terraces from Vietnam or China, these ones are far more impressive as they are perfectly built symmetrically into an amphitheater of rice fields with endless stairs (sensitive knees abstain). They have existed since 2000 despite the many challenges and natural disasters (typhoons, earthquakes, torrential rains …).
Magnificent, incredible, WOW these are the words that came to my mind.
2. Diving at Apo Island in Dumaguete & Maldives of the Philippines: Manjuyod
Dumaguete Island, the capital of Negros Oriental, in the province of VISAYAS, is famous for its diving spots. There you can go on a day trip snorkelling or scuba diving and get your license, and explore the rick marine life of the area: corals, fish of all kinds & sea turtles in Apo Island.
But Dumaguete has more to offer: it is a multicultural island that offers various hidden food gems: Chicken Jo’s Inasal, Sans Rival, Boulevard Street Food – to eat squid balls, tempura. And at night, locals and students coming from all around the world dance, sing and enjoy their time at the various bars and clubs such as Tiki Club or Hayahay Bar for live music bands.
The second highlight of my stay was watching Dolphins and chilling at the Maldives of the Philippines: Manjuyod. You can rent a private boat for the day to go see watching dolphins in the nature and then enjoy the sand bar beach in Manjuyod ! There, you can have fun and do water activities: banana boat, have some fresh grilled lunch, have some drinks a la pinoy and just enjoy! Oh and if you are craving for snacks, No worries, there are SARI-SARI boats floating around! Also, little tip: you can rent a cottage for 3k-3,5K only and stay over one night with your family and friends! It can welcome +15 people!
3. Fall under the spell of Siquijor
If you visit the VISAYAS, you should definitely stop by the mystical island of SIQUIJOR! Locals believe that there are witches, ghosts and mystical creatures that will either hurt you or put a magic love spell called the GAYUMA on you…But those are just stories and legends that gives the island a little bit of charm! Siquijor has a lot to offer to adventure-seekers such as waterfalls such as Cambugahay Falls where you can swim in natural water, jump from swings and cliffs, relax on white sand beaches such as Pilaton beach and have a taste of freedom as you ride your scooter around the island.
HEYOLEAH’s TIP: The nightlife is very little developed so enjoy your stop in Siquijor to relax! Stay 1 night and 2 days, for 1 day of rest and 1 day of exploration. If you want to avoid the crowds at Cambugahay Falls, wake up early, leave at 6am to arrive at the opening at 7am.
4. Sardines Run in Moalboal, South of Cebu
From Manila or Clark airport, the most sensible way to continue is by taking a flight to Cebu. Cebu City is the 2nd largest city in the Philippines and has a lot of resemblance with Manila – an urban city growing into the center trade, commerce and tourism of the Philippines with many old historic & religious monuments. Click here for more info!
While there’s a lot to do in Cebu island – whale shark watching, waterfalls, canyoneering and more – the one attraction which stands out as the most unique is undoubtedly Moalboal’s Sardine Run.
HEYOLEAH’s TIP: Great news! As the sardines at Moalboal don’t migrate, it’s available all year long.
5. The Chocolate Hills, Bohol vs Osmena Peak, Cebu
The Cholocate hills are one of the most famous places in the Philippines located in Bohol because of its homogenous shapes.
But Cebu, also has its own Chocolate Hills called the Osmena Peak! Indeed Cebu is a total package: you don’t only have beaches, waterfalls to jump and swim in but also mountains to climb and hike!
Locals often compare the view to Bohol’s Chocolate Hills. But instead of rolling curved mounds, the hills have salient peaks.
Along the way, you can see farmers carrying large baskets of freshly harvested vegetables. The Mantalongan & Dalaguete Vegetable Market is the wholesaling station for cabbages, carrots, peppers and other vegetables. This is also the most popular starting point for hikes, if you do not want to hire a Habal-Habal driver to get to base camp.
HEYOLEAH’S TIP: Rent a scooter for the day to be free of your movements!
6. Malapascua Island, New Boracay North Cebu
From South Cebu to Cebu City, we highly hesitated to visit Bohol and explore the famous Chocolate Hills, but instead, we decided to have a complete tour of the Cebu Island by going up north to Malapascua Island.
From the North Bus Terminal in Cebu City, we took a 4hour bus to the Port in the North then a 30minutes boat ride to Malapascua Island. (TIP: there is a boat ride every 30minutes from 6am to 6PM)
And there, we found the most underrated island and beach in the Philippines! My first impression was that IT WAS VERY HOT! But right after, I thought that Malapascua looks like Boracay but 15 years ago: white sand beach, not crowded, yet enough developed to offer basic structures & amenities (resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs) to let tourists enjoy their stay.
Our program was simple: rest & chill by the beach for few hours then island hopping tour at 4PM to 1) dive near wrecked ship 2) jump off a cliff of +15meters (I didn’t jump) and watch the sunset on the boat.
HEYOLEAH’s TRIP: Being a small island, supermarkets and restaurants are very few and prices more or less high; so before heading to the island, buy basic products: water, fruits, snacks!
7. Kalanggaman Sand Bar in Leyte
One of my dreams was to go on a heavenly sand bar, and I finally realized it in the Philippines on Kalanggaman Island! The water there is crystal clear, clean and fresh – the beach is beautiful and breathtaking! You can either take a half-day tour from Malapascua or stay overnight in a tent and enjoy an unforgettable experience under the sparkling stars.
Do not worry, the island is not that empty! There are small shops called “sari-sari”, the municipal police, cabins, a medical team and even a resort!
9. Siargao or the island of Surfers
Time to get adventurous and live the surfing beach lifestyle! Siargao is one of the best surfing spots of the Philippines and in the world! You will enjoy surfing or watching the seasoned surfers tearing up the bigger waves out at Cloud 9 and in Pacifico.The waves are perfect for both pros and amateurs ! Many will compare Siargao as Bali but the main difference is that you will fall in love with the island but more especially with the locals who are warm and very welcoming. As visitors, let’s respect the environment and avoid plastic use as locals want to prevent any consequences of mass tourism.
There are different also various places to explore in Siargao Island! Click hERE to see the different activities to do!
HEYOLEAH’s TIP: The best way to go around? If you are an adventurer, by bike or motorcycle! But there are also private tours by vans or jeepneys!
9. Above the clouds in Sagada
Located in the mountains of North Luzon, Sagada doesn’t offer what most of you are used to hear of the Philippines- no crystal clear blue water nor white sand beaches – but instead – natural waterfalls, high pine trees forest, caves, hanging coffins… So take a break in the fresh air of nature and go on a hike to the Marlboro Hills to watch the sunrise above the clouds. Experience this unforgettable trip that awaits you.
Sagada is a touristic spot that attracts many local people and international ones especially adventure-seekers. FYI: it is expensive and you cannot visit the place on your own – DIY travel – you must be accompanied by a local guide – I recommend you to contact my friend Reynald, a young and professional local guide (09 954 177 696).
TRAVEL TIP: Visit Sagada as a group to have lower prices on activities and get a jeepney to tour you around! If you travel solo, you may easily join other groups at the Tourism Center.
10. Old & Modern Manila
Give Manila a chance!
Unbelievably known for its appalling traffic jams, polluted air and overcrowding, Manila may well be the most underrated capital of Southeast Asia. But Manila has proven to be one of the places you would really like to go. Why do you think there is traffic in the first place? It is growing, evolving and has a lot to offer tourists.
Staying in Manila can be an intense experience. But the beauty of this historic city, formerly known as the “Pearl of the Orient” in the 1950s, is based on its paradox: Manila is large but vibrant, dirty but full of historic, noisy and cumbersome places, but filled with life, music and music. entertainment.
So, despite the chaos, there is still something about Manila that will bring you back to the Philippines.
Written by HeyoLeah
For daily adventures, follow me on