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Five fun cities you must visit in the Philippines

Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila

The Philippines is home to world-class beaches and mountain vistas but the country’s city life offers travellers a unique experience.

Here are five cities that you can explore in a day. 

Vibrant Manila 

The country’s capital is a contrast of the old and the new, with a mix of skyscrapers and heritage houses, and where cars share the road with colourful jeepneys and horse-drawn calesas.  

Check out the Walled City of Intramuros, built by the Spanish colonisers 500 years ago. Its stone ramparts are still intact, along with the other defences such as its moats and cannons that protected the fort from both natural disasters and invaders.

Visit the Casa Manila Museum to get a feel of life during the Spanish era and take a walking tour to the centuries-old Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church.

Fort Santiago holds historic significance as the prison where the Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal was held before his execution in Bagumbayan. 

Other structures to check out are the Manila Central Post Office, a neoclassical building that has been declared as an ‘Important Cultural Property’, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which is home to world-class performances by Filipino artists.

Immerse yourself in art at the National Museum of the Philippines that houses the country’s largest and perhaps most iconic painting, the Spoliarium by Juan Luna.

The National Museum of Natural History showcases Philippine flora and fauna, and the National Museum of Anthropology houses artifacts from ancient Filipino cultures.     

For souvenir hunters, the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan is known for its South Sea Pearl jewellery while the Balikbayan Handicraft Center and Go Lokal Store in Makati City are great for textiles, food items and other artisan products made in the provinces. Those looking for Filipino-style home furnishings can browse through the stalls of Tiendesitas in Pasig City.  

Adventurous Ilocos 

In the north of the country Ilocandia is vibrant with local colour and culture. Amid the modern developments are agricultural and historical sites and natural attractions.

The largest dragon fruit farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, is an agri-tourist attraction that showcases how farming is a viable livelihood source in the province.

Check out the Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, the ancestral home of the Spoliarium painter and his brother, Antonio, who is known for his exploits during the Philippine-American War. 

The Kapurpurawan Rock Formation juts out against the sky with limestone that was carved through time by wind and waves, while the Paoay Sand Dunes are perfect for those looking for an adrenaline rush, with activities such as sandboarding and 4×4 rides.

Bangui Windmills

Cool Baguio City

Get a feel for the local Cordilleran culture at the Tam-Awan Village, which showcases the art and life of the upland tribes through their dwellings and their traditional crafts and rituals.

Baguio’s Burnham and Wright parks are perfect for a stroll while the Mines View Park overlooks the mountainous area of Itogon and its abandoned mines. Here, tourists can also have photos taken with locals in their native attire, or shop for silver souvenir items. 

The Baguio Public Market offers fresh produce, strawberry preserves, highland coffee, handwoven rugs and wood carvings.       

The BenCab Museum in Tuba, Benguet, combines modern art with traditional tribal pieces in its galleries.

Benguet Province is also known for its fresh produce and the strawberry farms in La Trinidad offer a pick-and-pay experience and the chance to try strawberry-infused products such as wine and taho, or silken tofu flavoured with strawberry syrup.

Minesview, Baguio

Beautiful Bohol

Bohol beckons with its natural wonders and infinite adventures. The Danao Adventure Park is an eco-tourism escape that offers rappelling, wall climbing, bungee jumping, ziplining and riding on a sky bike.

Take a ride through the mahogany trees at the Bilar Man-Made Forest or tour the Bohol Bee Farm and try homemade organic ice cream with flavours like coconut, nipa fruit and avocado. 

For a memorable meal that comes with music and scenic views book a Loboc River Cruise, where local musicians play as you enjoy the natural scenery.

Loboc River Cruise

Dynamic Cebu

Cebu province is a cultural centre with a rich heritage as the first landing point of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition and a focal point of the first circumnavigation of the world.

There are new circuits being developed to highlight the Cebuano attractions such as the Kulinarya sa Norte Culinary Tour that runs through the towns of Catmon-Tabogon- Bogo City-San Remegio.

The Southern Cebu Jubilee Churches tour takes travellers on a historic pilgrimage that begins at the Sto. Niño Basilica and also includes centuries-old structures in the towns of Argao, Dalaguete, Boljoon and Barili.

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Published: 31 January 2023

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