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A culturally diverse country with a long and interesting history, the Philippines is home to hundreds of awe-inspiring destinations that see millions of tourists every year. Manila, the capital city, is a bustling metropolis filled with historic sites worth exploring. To its north is the tranquil Paoay Lake, the pine trees of Sagada, and the cobblestone streets of Vigan, while to the south of the capital are natural landmarks like the magnificent Kawasan Falls in Cebu and Palawan’s underground river. Whether you want to relax on a beach, go island-hopping or conquer the mighty Cordillera Central, you are sure to head home with fond memories of the country.
There is a wealth of cultures and adventures to be experienced in the Philippines. A short, four-day stay should be enough for anyone who wishes to experience a city or two, but spending at least two weeks is highly recommended. Most tourists head over to the world-class beaches of Palawan and Boracay and stay nearby for the whole duration of their vacations. Others prefer the thrill of island-hopping in Cebu and Bohol.
As a small-ish country, many provinces in the Philippines are just about an hour and a half away from Manila by flight. However, some destinations are only accessible via land or by boat. There are 12 international airports in the Philippines, so booking a ticket to and from the airport nearest to the cities you wish to visit would save a lot of time.
If you are planning a 4-day Philippines itinerary, you might want to spend the first two days touring a city. Allot one or two days in Manila to explore its busy streets before spending the rest of your vacation outside the city. From Manila, you can head on to the beaches of Batangas, chase waterfalls in Laguna, or enjoy surfing in Baler or La Union.
Of course, you can also skip the capital altogether and head straight to any other city of your choice. Cebu, for example, is popular among beach bums and nature lovers. From here you can go sardine run diving in Moalboal, canyoning in Kawasan Falls, and swimming with whale sharks in Oslob.
A ten-day Philippines itinerary would allow you a more holistic travel experience, offering you ample time to immerse in the country’s beautiful landscapes, vibrant cultures, and rich history. Drive north from Manila to explore the hidden gems of Mountain Province. See the Banaue Rice Terraces, a UNESCO natural heritage site. More than relaxing sights of lush greenery, a tour to the country’s Cordillera gives you the chance to observe first hand and immerse yourself in the culture of the Ifugaos, an indigenous group of mountain folks. Visit the unique Sagada hanging coffins, go spelunking in Samaguing Cave, and watch sunrise from above the clouds in Mount Kiltepan.
Head for the southern Philippines if beaches are more your cup of tea. Having explored Cebu, you can either board a ferry or book a flight to the neighboring island of Bohol. Known for the unique Chocolate Hills, a tarsier sanctuary, enchanting cave pools, and at least a dozen of fine white sand beaches, Bohol is an ecological paradise that you should not miss out on.
You can combine the northern highlands with a full-blown island-hopping in the south with a two-week Philippines itinerary. Spend a couple of days in Cebu and Bohol, then hop on a plane for a quick flight to Palawan. Consistently voted by travel publications as one of the best islands in the world, Palawan boasts of powdery white sand beaches, breathtaking limestone formations, and crystal clear blue waters that would put the Maldives to shame.
While there, do not miss out on visiting Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a complete mountain-to-sea ecosystem with diverse flora and fauna. Experience a breathtaking shipwreck dive in Coron and kick back in El Nido.
Explore the spiny Cordillera after you are done with the beaches. Brave chilly weather conditions on your way to the top of Mount Pulag and see the hanging coffins of Echo Valley. Soak up the quaint colonial architecture of Vigan and explore the rice terraces that adorn the hills in northern Luzon.
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