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Things to Do in Philippines

An enchanting archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines serves up mist-shrouded mountains, white-sand beaches, and jewel-toned water in Southeast Asia. Often lesser-known than its Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai neighbors, the Philippines attracts travelers looking to stray from the beaten path. Both cities and less populated areas beckon: Get a healthy dose of colonial history and metropolitan chaos on a tour of Manila; hike amid staggering natural scenery on guided trips to the Taal volcano and Tagaytay Ridge; marvel at Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; or escape from the madness of modern life in Palawan, where Coron Island and Kayangan Lake provide a serene retreat on an ecotour. The caves of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park provide ample wildlife watching opportunities; while Cebu City, the thriving port capital of the Cebu province, serves as an excellent jumping-off point for Moalboal, where backpackers flock to dive, drink, and dine. From Manila, tours of Fort Santiago (built by a Spanish conquistador) and Corregidor Island (long fortified against attack) reveal the Philippines’ rich history. From Oslob, strong swimmers can snorkel alongside whale sharks in crystal-clear waters. And from Malay, sun-worshippers can spend the day hopping between the islets surrounding Boracay island, the epitome of a coastal paradise.
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Chocolate Hills
69 Tours and Activities

Arguably the most famous tourist attraction in all of Bohol, the Chocolate Hills are featured on the provincial flag and draw thousands of travelers to their unique and breathtaking wonder each year. An estimated 1,300 individual hills cover a span of some 50 square kilometers in what is, without a doubt, one of the most stunning natural landscapes in the nation. These rolling green wonders change to brown in drier months, and appear like chocolate kisses, giving them their namesake. Several local legends seek to explain the creation of this geological formation, including stories of feuding giants and star-crossed lovers. But experts say these hills were formed by coral deposits and underwater reefs that shifted with erosion and ancient seismic activity, creating one of the Philippines most incredible natural landscapes.

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Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
59 Tours and Activities
A new Seven Wonders of Nature, the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Puerto Princesa Underground River flows through a limestone cave system before spilling into the South China Sea. A paddle through this eerie ecosystem, filled with otherworldly cave formations and chattering bats, is one of the Philippines’ most unforgettable experiences.
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Blood Compact Monument
46 Tours and Activities
A bronze statue on a hilltop fronting the sea commemorates The Sandugo, a traditional tribal trust ceremony shared by regional chief Datu Skiatuna and Captain General Miguel López de Legazpi of Spain shortly after his arrival in Bohol in 1565. The symbolic gesture formed the foundation for lasting peace between the Spaniards and the Island residents.
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Fort San Pedro
43 Tours and Activities
The first Spanish settlements in the Philippines were in Cebu City, called the Queen City of the South. After Magellan first landed in Cebu, the Spanish under orders from Miguel Lopez de Legazpi erected Fort San Pedro on what is now Cebu's pier. The first, smallest and oldest fort in the Philippines was originally built as an army garrison to defend against Muslim pirates.
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Magellan's Cross
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In April 1521, Catholic explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived on the shores of Cebu and ordered a wooden cross planted there. According to local legend, the very same cross still resides in Cebu today, housed within an eight-sided stone chapel built over 300 years later near Cebu City Hall. A large mural on the ceiling of the building depicts Magellan in the act of planting the cross. You'll see a similar painting at Fort San Pedro.
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Fort Santiago
33 Tours and Activities

One of the most important historical sites in Manila, Fort Santiago was built by the Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi as a defensive fortress designed to protect the newly formed city of Manila. It is a key feature of the famous Walled City of Manila, which is referred to as Intramuros.

José Rizal, considered a national hero in the Philippines, was imprisoned at Fort Santiago before his execution in 1896, as were countless others. It played a role in the city’s penal and defense system all the way up to World War II, and has been occupied by: the Spanish, free Filipinos, the US (the Stars and Stripes were raised there in 1898), and the Japanese Imperial Army.

Today, this beautiful, 16th century structure is home to a shrine dedicated to Rizal, which includes an eerie set of footprints painted onto the street outlining the great man’s final steps as he was led to his death.

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Cebu Heritage Monument
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Conceptualized by local award-winning sculptor Eduardo Castillo and unveiled in 2000, Cebu Heritage Monument is a brass, bronze, and steel monolith that showcases the country’s history in giant form. Telling a story of colonization and occupation, visit the monument to learn about the Philippines’ centuries-long struggle for freedom.
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Bamboo Hanging Bridge Sevilla
26 Tours and Activities
This thin and wobbly bridge made of woven bamboo is a great thrill, especially for those conquering a fear of heights. Suspended some 131 feet (40 meters) across the murky, green Loboc River in southwestern Bohol, the flexible bridge creaks, bounces and sways with every step as you make your way across. Add a whole family and it’s an experience you’re not soon to forget.
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Intramuros
27 Tours and Activities

The historic heart of Manila, Intramuros (literally meaning "within the walls") is the oldest district in the capital city. The three-mile-long stone wall completely surrounds the district (with the exception of a small stretch near the River Pasig) and despite the fact that the district was nearly entirely obliterated by US bombers, it remains for visitors a rich cultural experience.

Historical attractions within Intramuros include Fort Santiago, Postigo del Palacio, Baluarte de San Diego, Puerta de Isabel II, Plaza de Roma, San Agustin Church, and Ayuntamiento. The church, which was the sole structure left unmarred by the bombers, has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site There are also multiple museums and other points of cultural interest, many ruins, and a few tasty eateries. Intramuros is also a great locus for buying souvenirs and local wares. There are also a few choices for overnight stays.

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San Agustin Church and Museum
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26 Tours and Activities

Located in the historic Intramuros district of Manila (the oldest district and historic core of Manila, otherwise known as the "Walled City"), the Church of San Agustin was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site as an example of the Baroque architecture that was specific to the Philippines. A Roman Catholic Church, it was constructed by the Spanish in the sixteenth century, but was not consecrated until 1607. Its beautiful architecture is worth the visit all by itself, though it also houses the tombs of several historical figures, including several conquistadors, statesmen and artists.

The accompanying San Agustin Museum is housed in the adjacent San Agustin Monastery, and exhibits art and artifacts from the Philippines, Spain, Mexico and other cultural centers. The original Augustinians arrived in the Philippines in 1565 just a few decades after Magellan explored the islands, meaning that the aforementioned museum is no slouch.

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More Things to Do in Philippines

Casa Manila

Casa Manila

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Step back in time and see how upper-class Filipinos lived during the colonial era at Casa Manila, a beautifully reconstructed traditional Spanish colonial home within the walls of Intramuros, in the heart of Manila. Casa Manila is filled with period furniture, furnishings, decorative objects, and artwork from the colonial era.
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Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

22 Tours and Activities
Built in the 17th century by Chinese-Filipino merchant Don Juan Yap and his wife Doña Maria Florida, Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is one of the oldest preserved homes in the Philippines.
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Santo Niño Basilica (Basílica del Santo Niño)

Santo Niño Basilica (Basílica del Santo Niño)

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Cebu's Basilica del Santo Niño (Basilica of Santo Nino, Basilica Minore de Sto Nino) was literally born from fire. In 1565, the church was built on the site where one of conquistador Legazpi's men supposedly found a miraculous statue of Jesus in the burning ruins of a hostile native village. The statue -- considered the oldest religious artifact in the country -- was completely unharmed. The building still houses the statue, even after burning down three times since its initial construction.

The basilica you see today dates back to 1737, and you can see the miraculous "Santo Niño," or Holy Child, within the aptly named Santo Niño Chapel inside the basilica. Each year, the Basilica del Santo Niño celebrates Cebu's largest annual event, the Cebuano festival of Sinulog, centered on this small Flemish statue of Jesus. The festival features a street parade with performances by brightly costumed dancers from all over the Philippines.

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Big Lagoon

Big Lagoon

12 Tours and Activities
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Small Lagoon

Small Lagoon

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Casa Gorordo Museum

Casa Gorordo Museum

8 Tours and Activities

The Casa Gorordo Museum, located in downtown Cebu, was originally a private home built in the 1850s Alejandro Reynes Y Rosales and later owned by Juan Isidro de Gorordo, a wealthy Spanish Merchant. The residence was passed down through the Gorordo family, with a total of four generations living there, including the first Filipino bishop of Cebu, Juan Gorordo.

Today, the recently renovated house serves as a public museum and national historic landmark filled with antique furnishings, historic books and documents, decorative arts, household items, period costumes and memorabilia from the Spanish colonial period. As one of only three remaining houses from the colonial period, Casa Gorordo offers an insight into what life was like during Cebu’s early days.

The structure of the house itself is a fascinating study in architecture, as it draws from Spanish, native and Chinese influences.

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Crocodile Island

Crocodile Island

5 Tours and Activities
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Tops Lookout

Tops Lookout

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Situated 2,000 feet (610 meters) high at the peak of Mt Busay, Tops Lookout, or just Tops to locals, provides the best unobstructed views in Cebu, especially at sunrise or sunset when the city seems to glow. The steep, winding drive up to the top will take you 30 to 45 minutes, but you'll be well rewarded with stunning panoramic views from the modern fortress-style viewing platform. On a clear day, you can see past the city all the way to Mactan, Bohol and Olango Islands.
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Colon Street

Colon Street

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Chances are a tour of Cebu City will take you to Colon Street, named after Portuguese explorer Christopher Columbus. The former main street is thought to be the oldest and shortest national road in the country.
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National Museum of the Philippines

National Museum of the Philippines

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Established in 1901, the National Museum of the Philippines is a vast complex of museums and a planetarium located next to Rizal Park. Immerse yourself in the artistic, historical, and cultural heritage of the Philippines through the museum’s expansive collections covering fine art, ethnography, anthropology, archaeology, and natural history.
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Roxas Boulevard

Roxas Boulevard

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One of Manila’s best-known streets, Roxas Boulevard hugs the waterfront for most of its length and includes Rizal Park, the historic Manila Hotel, and the popular promenade Manila Baywalk. It’s backed by the lively Malate district, with its open-air bars and restaurants, while Manila Bay sunset views make it a popular early evening stop.
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Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

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With thick white walls built to withstand tropical typhoons, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral looks like a typical Philippine church. Decorated with griffins and floral motifs, the facade is the only original part of the chapel left, as the interior was destroyed during World War II. The restored cathedral has a gold altar and life-size statues of saints.
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Rizal Park and Shrine

Rizal Park and Shrine

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Covering several blocks near Manila Bay, the Rizal Park and Shrine is considered one of the best ways to relax in Manila. A shinning tribute to national hero and icon Dr. Jose Rizal, a patriot for reform during the Spanish Colonial Era, the park is a historical landmark as well as a beautiful stroll, with several well-manicured ponds, gardens and statues.

Scattered throughout the park are the affects and literature of Dr. Rizal, including one poem carved into a stone, called "Mi Ultimo Adios." It is a moving, yet tragic account of his feelings written in the moments leading up to his execution.

At the shrine itself, located on Santa Clara Street, are several pieces of memorabilia, including Dr. Rizal's collected artwork, his manuscripts, books and even seashells that he accumulated over the years. Rizal Park is also home to a number of great attractions including the national library, a butterfly pavilion, a museum of Philippine history, and a planetarium.

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