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20 Essential Philippine Tours to Check Off Your Bucket List

by Dyan Zarzuela
August 21, 2019

While your Instagram algorithm or your friends’ travel stories abroad may make you look to farther shores for your next adventure, traveling local should be high up on your list, too. Aside from the practical perks, it gives you a greater appreciation of the beauty and complexity of our own country. Tourists from all over the world travel to the Philippines—why not see and experience the best of our own? These 20 iconic Philippine tours from north to south will show you that we have greener pastures right in our own backyard.

1. Batanes

INSTAGRAM: batanes_bisumi_tours

“Otherworldly” is how most people who visit Batanes describe the northernmost province in the country. Comprising a group of islands, Batanes is famous for its rolling hills, impossibly blue waters, and picturesque rock formations. It’s a treat to witness the vibrant culture of the Ivatans, especially during one of their many fiestas throughout the year.

Bisumi Tours offers tour packages in popular spots North Batan, South Batan, and Sabtang Island. Their tricycle tours start at ₱3,500 for two-day packages with lunches, while multi-day packages with accommodations, tours, and meals start at ₱5,399. (TIP: Round up as many friends as you can so you can avail of cheaper rates!)

2. Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur

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The north remembers: Traditional structures, practices, and cuisine take center stage in the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. From the colonial architecture of Vigan to the historical sites and restaurants of Laoag to the windmills and beaches of Pagudpud, there’s plenty to discover in these provinces. While celebrating its roots, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur also keep up with the present with thrilling adventures like the sand dunes 4x4 ride, sand boarding, and zip lining.

Primero Tours and Travel’s two-day tours in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur start at ₱1,899. It includes roundtrip land transfers from Manila, accommodations, entrance fees, and breakfast on the second day. You can opt for add-ons like the 4x4 off-road adventure, sand boarding, and zip lining.

3. La Union

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While the surf town serves up some of the most awesome waves this side of the country, La Union has more to offer—perfect for flat days on the water or for those who aren’t into surfing. Go on a one-hour trek to Tangadan Falls, soak in the sights of the Taoist Ma-Cho Temple 70 feet above sea level, and visit the moss-covered ruins of a church in Pindangan Ruins.

e-Philippines’ packages start at ₱2,430 and cover accommodations, roundtrip van transfers from Manila, and countryside tours. For additional fees, you can get surfing lessons or book a tour guide at Tangadan Falls. Another package that starts at ₱3,849 includes accommodations, van transfers, and countryside tours, plus zip line rides at Pugo Adventure Park.

4. Baguio

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Baguio is that vacation spot that will never go out of style. Escape the city heat in the summer or crank up the cuddle weather of the rainy season and head north to the famous city. Breathe in the fresh pine scent, fill up on Baguio’s famous strawberries and jams, and go sightseeing at Camp John Hay, Mines View Park, and Wright Park.

8 Wonders Travel offers tours starting at ₱1,290, with day tours including roundtrip van service from Manila and overnight packages including van service and accommodations.

5. Baler

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Touted as the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines, Baler’s famous waves attract droves of surfers from all over the world. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a beginner, a pro, or simply a spectator. The beginner-friendly Sabang Beach is lined with surf schools, while the Cobra Reef in Cemento Beach is a wonderland for pro surfers. Not into surfing? Go snorkeling at Dicasalarin Bay, learn about Baler’s history at Museo de Baler, and conquer your fear of heights at the Baler Hanging Bridge.

Travel Ventours offers private and scheduled group packages starting at ₱2,099, which includes van transfers, accommodations, and tours. For additional fees, you can take surfing lessons and enter the Dicasalarin Lighthouse.

6. Zambales

INSTAGRAM: anawangincoveph

If you love trekking as much as island hopping, Zambales combines the best of both worlds that you can cover in as little as two days. Go on an adventure trek at Mount Pinatubo with a 4x4 ride where you’ll see the lahar field from the violent 1991 eruption of the volcano that was once thought to be dormant. Then, soak up the sun and go island hopping at Anawangin Island, Capones Island, and Camara Island.

e-Philippines offers an overnight package including these tourist spots starting at ₱4,997. It covers accommodations, van transfers, meals on day two, a mountain guide, and permits and fees.

7. Pampanga

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Dubbed the culinary capital of the Philippines, Pampanga is best experienced one delicious plate after another. Enjoy the robust flavors of Kapampangan food like morcon (beef roll), betute (stuffed frogs), kamaru (fried mole crickets), tapang kalabaw, and buro’t mustasa (catfish with fermented rice and mustard leaves). In between bites, check out the province’s famous wood-carved furniture in Betis and explore the San Guillermo Church, which is half-buried in lahar and was restored after the 1991 Pinatubo eruption.

Culture Shock PH offers a food and sightseeing day tour for ₱2,600. The package includes roundtrip van transpo, guides, and food (lunch, merienda, and merienda cena).

8. Bataan

INSTAGRAM: lascasasfilipinasdeacuazar

Bataan is a place steeped in history, and one of the best ways to get to know the province is by exploring Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. The sprawling estate hosts a collection of Spanish colonial era houses, each one with a unique story. A lot of the houses were carefully transported from various parts of the Philippines, so it’s like touring the whole country circa 19th century. With its cobblestone streets and working tram, Las Casas will truly make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time.

Walking tours start at ₱1,500 and you can opt to add the Balsa Tour on Umangol River starting at ₱300.

9. Manila City

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If you live in Metro Manila and don’t have the time to go out of town, you can enjoy a quick getaway within the metro. Manila, one of the oldest cities in the world inhabited to this day, is teeming with experiences and discoveries for the city tourist. With a quick online search, you’ll find a number of walking and eating tours in Manila.

Take a different route and travel back to the 1800s to what was known as the Millionaires’ District in San Miguel. Along with four beautiful churches, pre-war mansions that exist to this day paint a picture of the district’s heyday as the elite’s getaway destination. Culture Shock PH offers the San Miguel de Manila walking tour for ₱1,200 inclusive of entrance fees, tour guide, and merienda.

10. Tagaytay

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Just a couple of hours or less away from Metro Manila by car, Tagaytay is one of the go-to destinations of city dwellers. Its cool climate makes exploring the city that much more enjoyable, whether you’re trekking up Taal Volcano, going on rides at amusement park Sky Ranch, or taking in the sites of People’s Park in the Sky atop Mount Gonzales.

If you want to focus on Taal adventures, go with Taal Volcano and Taal Lake Direct Tours. The trek tour starts at ₱458 inclusive of fees, roundtrip boat ride, and use of the nipa cottage at the main crater of the volcano. You can go horseback riding to the main crater for an additional ₱500.

11. Batangas

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As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, the Philippines is home to a wide variety of plants and animal species. Go diving—get diving certification if you don’t have one yet—and see the thriving marine life of Anilao, Batangas. At Twin Rocks, a popular dive site, you’ll spot sea turtles, triggerfish, and moray eels, not to mention the beautiful coral reefs that make life underwater possible.

Enjoy four boat dives and two shore dives at Twin Rocks with Uncharted Philippines, which offers the overnight package at USD 480 (about ₱25,000). It includes transportation, accommodations, four meals, air tanks, weight belt, a dive professional, and a dive boat. Make sure you bring your diving certification card.

12. Puerto Galera

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The coastal municipality of Puerto Galera is another diving hot spot. You’ll find dozens of dive spots suitable for different skill levels, from the beginner-friendly Manila Channel to the more advanced Turtle Rock. If you’d rather take it easy and lounge around the beach, check out White Beach, Sabang Beach, and Talipanan Beach.

Action Divers offers a variety of diving courses. If you want to get a PADI Open Water Diver certification, enroll in the Open Water Diver course (USD 440 or about ₱23,000). If you’re already certified, check out advanced courses like the Master Scuba Diver (USD 150 to 270 or about ₱7,800 to ₱14,000 per specialty course). They also offer packages inclusive of dives, accommodations, and breakfast starting at USD 82 or about ₱4,200.

13. Albay

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When you think of Albay, the first thing that comes to mind is Mayon Volcano, our world-famous perfect cone. It’s the headliner of the Bicol province’s many natural wonders and man-made attractions. At Sumlang Lake, you’ll find peace and quiet, not to mention an amazing view of Mayon Volcano. At Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave, see the stalagmites and stalactites of the cave that has served as a natural sanctuary since 3,000 BC to 4,000 BC. At Cagsawa Ruins, visit the remains of Cagsawa Church, which was destroyed in the violent eruption of Mayon Volcano in 1814.

Mayon ATV Tour offers a unique way to experience Mayon Volcano and other significant places in Albay. Drive an ATV up to the volcano’s lava front (starting at ₱1,800) and all the way to the summit (starting at ₱6,500). They also offer city and provincial packages inclusive of tours, accommodations, and land transfers starting at ₱3,999.

14. Boracay

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With Boracay now open to tourists after being closed for redevelopment for a few months, it’s the perfect time to visit its world-famous white sand beaches. On the island, there’s something for everyone. There’s paddle boarding, kite surfing, parasailing, jet skiing, and riding the banana boat for adrenaline junkies. There’s scuba diving and helmet diving for dive enthusiasts. And there’s the helicopter tour and Hacienda Maria tour for those looking for something out of the box.

Boracay Adventures Travel and Tours offers all these activities and more, perfect for those who want a taste of everything. Island hopping tours start at ₱2,500, helicopter tours at ₱5,200, kite boarding at ₱3,500, parasailing at ₱2,500, and scuba diving at ₱3,800.

15. Palawan

IMAGES: Carla Francisco and Leomer Paul Agcamaran

White beaches, limestone caves, and underwater rivers—an abundance of these natural wonders makes Palawan the postcard perfect destination that it is. Tourists from all over the world flock to the province made up of islands to go sightseeing, swimming, and spelunking. The most famous spots are El Nido, Coron, Puerto Princesa, and Port Barton.

Maambeng Travel Tours offers a variety of packages in El Nido, Coron, Puerto Princesa, and Port Barton for every type of adventure. Island-hopping tours start at ₱900, kayaking tours at ₱1,900, shipwreck tours at ₱1,300, underground river tours at ₱2,000, and town tours at ₱700.

16. Cebu, Bohol, Negros

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For diving enthusiasts, nothing could be better than spending days out in the ocean and hitting up world-class dive spots. Cebu, Bohol, and Negros are touted as a diving triangle teeming with biodiversity. In Cebu, check out sea turtles, whale sharks, and mandarin fish in Malapascua, Moalboal, and Pescador Island. In Negros, marvel at the colorful coral gardens in Apo Island and the gray muck dive sites in Dauin, where sea creatures interestingly camouflage themselves. In Bohol, spot a dizzying variety of marine life in Panglao and Balicasag Island.

Uncharted Philippines offers a nine-day diving tour featuring 19 dives, land and sea transpo for the duration of the trip (excludes airfare going to the region), accommodations, eight breakfasts and one lunch, and air tanks and weights for USD 1,400 or about ₱74,000. Make sure to bring your diving certification and personal scuba equipment.

17. Siargao

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You’ve seen it on your feed and even on the big screen—Siargao is a sweet slice of paradise for surfers. Cloud 9 is famous for its tubular rides that attract surfers around the world especially during the annual Siargao Cup. Not a pro surfer? Dako Reef and Little Pony are a couple of surf spots where you can learn how to ride the waves. If surfing isn’t your thing, you can always go island hopping; Naked Island, Guyam Island, and Daku Island are usually packaged together. Best visited during low tide, Magpupungko Pools is a nice spot for swimming while Sohoton Cove is great for cliff jumping.

My Siargao Guide offers island hopping packages starting at ₱1,200 inclusive of van and boat transfers, lunch, snacks, drinks, and snorkeling gear.

18. Camiguin

IMAGES: Leomer Paul Agcamaran

Known for its sweet lanzones, Camiguin has so much more to offer. There’s Mount Hibok-Hibok, the most famous of the seven volcanoes on the island, which offers a challenging trek and spectacular views. There’s the Sunken Cemetery, where a huge cross stands over the cemetery that sank because of the volcanic activity of Mount Vulcan in the 1870s. There’s White Island, the IG-famous white sandbar whose size and shape constantly change with the tide.

If you’re looking for something different from the usual tours and have budget to spare, Camiguin Aviation offers sightseeing tours by plane starting at ₱16,000. You’ll get to see an incredible view of Camiguin, and you can opt for additional video production.

19. Bukidnon

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No coastlines, no problem. In the landlocked province of Bukidnon, you can go horseback riding at Impasugong, camp out on a narrow ledge 440 feet above ground in Maramag, and climb the sacred Mount Dulang-Dulang on the Kitanglad Mountain Range.

For a unique experience, opt for a home stay with the indigenous Talaandig tribe on the slopes of Mount Kitanglad. Stay with a foster family, learn about the tribe’s traditions and artistry, and even get a chance to take part in their sacred rituals with the elders’ permission. For ₱6,800, Culture Shock PH offers a three-day home stay inclusive of meals, accommodations, workshops, and roundtrip van transportation from Cagayan de Oro.

20. Davao City

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The city of Davao is an ideal place for travelers looking for a little bit of everything. Hike up the nearby Mount Apo, an active volcano that has the highest peak in the country and is home to the rare Philippine eagle. Join the lively street celebrations every August at the annual Kadayawan Festival. At People’s Park, the iconic Durian Dome welcomes you to the urban sanctuary of more than a thousand plants and trees.

White water rafting on Tamugan River is another must-try in Davao. Davao WildWater Adventure offers packages for ₱1,700 per person (minimum of five per trip) inclusive of roundtrip transpo from Crocodile Park, lunch and bottled water, a guide, a souvenir shirt, and documentation. As a bonus, you’ll get a ticket to Butterfly House and Tribu K'Mindanawan Cultural Village.

*Rates of tours may change without prior notice.

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This article was last edited on September 26, 2019 by the DG Traveler team.

About Dyan
Dyan Zarzuela is a freelance writer, editor, and producer who dreams of living by the sea one day. You can find her on Instagram at @dyanzarzuela.

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