The Philippines has 80 provinces categorized into 17 regions with over 120 cities. Our guide divides it into 3 major island groups:
|Luzon (Metro Manila, Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol)|
The northernmost island group, center of government, history and economy and home to the capital
|Visayas (Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas)|
The central island group, heart of the country’s antiquity, nature and biodiversity and the best beaches in the Philippines
|Mindanao (Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, Caraga Region, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao)|
the southernmost island group, which showcases the Philippines’ indigenous and rich cultures
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With seven thousand islands, the Philippines has many cities. Listed below are the nine most important cities for visitors, some of which are provincial capitals and centres of commerce and finance, as well as culture and history.
- Manila – the national capital, is one of the most densely populated cities in the world – with all of that implies in terms of pollution, crime, urban poverty and traffic jams – with few parks. However, the smiling, stoical and resourceful people themselves are its saving grace, rather than the relatively few surviving monuments, historical landmarks and sights widely scattered around the city and its surrounding metropolitan area of Metro Manila!
- Bacolod – known as the “City of Smiles” because of the MassKara Festival (Máscara in Spanish), a festival held annually on October 19, it is the gateway to Negros Island and the home of the famous Bacolod Chicken Inasal.
- Baguio – the country’s summer capital because of its cool weather, it boasts well-maintained parks and scenic areas, as well as being the home of the “Igorot”, the indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras.
- Cebu – the “Queen City of the South”, it is the first city founded by the West in the Philippines and is a major center for commerce, industry, culture and tourism.
- Cagayan de Oro – known as the “City of Golden Friendship”, it is popular for whitewater rafting and is the gateway to Northern Mindanao.
- Davao – one of the largest cities in the world in terms of land area, it is known for its durian and for being the home of Mount Apo, the Philippines’ tallest mountain.
- Tagbilaran – known as the site of the Sandugo (blood compact) between Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi and Rajah Sikatuna representing the people of Bohol.
- Vigan – the capital of Ilocos Sur and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its well-preserved city center is the finest example of Spanish colonial architecture in the Philippines. Declared as one of the new 7 wonders (cities)
- Zamboanga– known as “La Ciudad Latina de Asia” (Asia’s Latin City), it is the melting pot between the Philippines’ Christian and Muslim cultures, boasting old mosques, grand churches and historic colonial structures.
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- Banaue, home to the 2000 year old Rice terraces. People are fascinated at how the Igorots have made this, hence the Filipinos calling it as the 8th wonder of the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Batangas, home to the birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines boasting of world class dive sites and famous for its beaches. It’s accessibility by land about 2 hours from the Manila airport makes it a popular destination. It is home to Taal Volcano and the Taal heritage town.
- Boracay is 10km island featuring white sands.
- Camarines Sur has beautiful coral reefs, and shorelines of Black and white sands. Visit the Camarines Sur Watersport complex and go water skiing.
- Coron is the place for wreck diving in the Philippines. Several Japanese ships were sunk here during World War II. Other dive attractions include nice reefs, good macro life, and a very unique geothermal lake dive. Island hopping is another popular activity here.
- Donsol is the Whale Shark Capital of the world, dive and see whale sharks.
- Malapascua Island just like other islands in the Philippines, the island features a beautiful white sand shoreline and coral gardens.
- Palawan offers beautiful beaches that are often inhabited and waters which have coral reefs that are home to a large variety of fishes, not only coral reefs but also animals such as dugongs and manta rays. Not only white beaches and tranquil water but see the Puerto Princesa Subterranean Park, a cave with beautiful rock formations as well as an underground river.
- Puerto Galera, a favourite getaway for people during Holy Week because of its white sand shorelines and it’s amazing flora.
- Sabang is a municipality in Puerto Galera, dive its beautiful waters and be amazed at the fauna that you will see.
- Sagada is a small town in the mountain province of Luzon in the Philippines, famed for its cool and refreshing climate, beautiful caves, hanging coffins, and serene mountains.
- Tagaytay, tired of the old scene of the noisy metropolis of Manila? or missing the cool weather? Head to Tagaytay, it provides a view of Taal Volcano, the weather is cool and often a getaway for Filipinos tired of warm tropical weather during the Holy Week.
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