I started traveling in my early 20’s when the Piso Fare promo was first introduced. My twin sister and I (and few of our friends) were pioneer avid customers who availed of such promo. That was the main reason why we got the travel bug early on. At that time, traveling by plane was considered expensive and there was no budget airline yet in the Philippines until Cebu Pacific Air started introducing cheap flights, hence, we grabbed any chance we get to buy a plane ticket every time there’s a Piso Fare promo.
Nowadays almost everyone wants to travel, but some are still having second thoughts of going anywhere primarily because they don’t have any idea where to go, what to do and how much it would cost.
Hopefully, this list would give you an idea of where to go when you start planning to travel around the Philippines. If you are a first-time traveler, I suggest you begin exploring the Philippines. After all, it is more fun in the Philippines and I could honestly say that we have the best beaches in Asia, if not the world.
The factors I considered in choosing the places where first-time travelers could go are the destination’s accessibility, tourist-friendly community and environment, number of attractions to go to, how easy it is to acquire and research online travel information that you will need about the place and its affordability or being budget friendly.
1. Baguio City
Baguio has a very special place in my heart because this is where my family had our first family vacation after my older brother, my twin sister and I left home and started working at Manila, but sadly it is also our last family vacation with my little bro, Jojo, before he passed away.
It’s called the Summer Capital of the Philippines because of its cool climate and it is one of the popular destinations to go to since there are plenty of daily buses going to Baguio and you could easily drive a car to get there. The travel time is around 6 hours.
There are many places that you could visit in Baguio like the Mines View Park, Baguio Cathedral, Burnham Park, Camp John Hay, BenCab Museum, Tam-Awan Village, Philippine Military Academy and a lot more. You could also do activities like picking strawberries at a farm or tree top adventure and shop at ukay-ukay or night market. Plus, the food is cheap and delicious!
2. Legazpi City, Albay
Since I am from Bicol, one of the places I bring my friends who visit me is Legazpi City (that is aside from my home city of Naga) for them to see the world famous Mayon Volcano, the only volcano with a perfect cone and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
You can reach Legazpi either by a 10-hour bus (from Manila) or by plane (via Manila or Cebu). There are several flights available from Manila and two flights from Cebu and the cost of the plane fare is affordable.
Aside from viewing the Mayon Volcano from Cagsawa Ruins, you could also go to Sumlang Lake, Daraga Church, Ligñon Hill, Legazpi Boulevard and ride the ATV going to the Black Lava Wall. I also recommend you try sili ice cream at Colonial Grill and eat dishes cooked with coconut milk like pinangat, laing, and Bicol express.
3. Cebu Province
Cebu is a gateway to lots of beautiful islands and beaches in the Visayas plus they have an international airport making the place very accessible.
Most foreign tourists, who don’t want to go to Manila, fly directly to Cebu. I have been to Cebu a couple of times, but I still haven’t explored all of its neighboring islands like Dumaguete and Siquijor.
There are multitude of places you could visit in the city of Cebu like Sto. Niño Basilica, Temple of Leah, Sirao Garden, Taoist Temple, Tops Lookout, and you could also go around its nearby cities or municipalities like Mactan, Malapascua, Bantayan, Carcar, Moalboal, and a lot more. Cebu is also famous for its lechon and dried mangoes.
4. Bohol or Boracay
I listed Bohol and Boracay together because I feel like they have similar vibes and I honestly can’t choose one over the other. Expect that you will need a higher budget if you want to visit either places because these are famous tourist destinations to the point that sometimes I feel like I am an alien in my own country since you could see more foreigners than Filipinos when you’re there. But because they are quite popular among foreigners, you could find all the amenities and conveniences of a city there.
There are plenty of travel agencies and hotels or resorts that offer tour packages; but if you want to take the DIY travel route, searching information from the internet is quite easy.
Bohol is famous for its Chocolate Hills and tarsiers, while Boracay is popular for its long white sand beach and amazing sunset.
5. Davao City
The first time I went to Davao in 2007, I fell in love with the place and, that same year, I asked my twin sister and older brother to join me for a Mindanao backpacking trip after Christmas. Davao also have an international airport.
The people there are honest, warm and helpful. The entire city is clean and you feel safe despite Davao being bigger than Metro Manila.
The places you could visit in Davao are the Eden Nature Park, Philippine Eagle Centre, The Peak, and Samal Island. You should also eat durian and pomelo from Davao and buy local products like malong and sarong.
P.S. I arranged the places from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.