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Things Tourists FORGET to Do in the Philippines

A photo of the Philippine flag. Philippine tourism has been growing yearly due to the country’s natural beauty. | Photo by Krisia Vinzon on Pexels

The Philippines is well-known around the world as a fantastic beach resort destination.

The country’s warm climate, welcoming people, cheap hotels, and, of course, the white sand beaches and calm waters attract many foreign visitors all year round.

Besides all that, there are tons of fun things to do in the Philippines.

Sad to say, a lot of travelers’ itineraries circulate mostly around beach activities such as island hopping and water sports such as diving, parasailing, snorkeling, and surfing.

Try not to misinterpret us, beach adventures are exciting and fun. However, they’re too cliche, predictable, and quite basic.

Think of it this way: You spent thousands of dollars to travel overseas just to do things that are also possible to do back in your home country. Sounds like a rip-off. Why not explore and opt for unique things to do.

More Than Just White Sand and Clear Waters

While Philippine tourism is concentrated mostly in the country’s countless pristine beach resorts, there’s more to it than palm trees, stunning ocean views, and perfect sunsets.

It is also culturally rich. You’ll find diverse and mouth-watering flavors, colorful yearly festivities, one-of-a-kind unique modes of public transportation, massive yet intricate centuries-old temples, and fascinating historical landmarks.

In other words, when considering a trip to the Philippines, don’t limit yourself to the usual beach activities. Be open to expanding your travel experience. Explore non-touristy places and engage in unique activities.

That being said, check out this list of interesting things to do in the Philippines:

1. Tour Manila City.

People will tell you to skip the capital, but don’t listen to them! Behind the traffic, packed sidewalks, and the bustling metropolitan scene is an underestimated and often misunderstood city.

In fact, there are so many places to explore and things to do in Manila City. Visit the places below:

  • Explore Fort Santiago. Located in the walled city of Manila is a famous tourist spot in the Philippines. It was used as a defense fortress during the war. Inside, you’ll find a massive garden, green parks, a fountain, as well as a lily pond. There are also horse-drawn carriages called Kalesa.

  • Visit Manila Ocean Park. Located near Rizal Park is this world-class marine theme park. Its most admired exhibit is the oceanarium. There is over 14, 000 aquatic life inside this massive tank. Some are rare fish that can only be found in Philippine waters.

  • Lastly, stop by these famous Manila churches: Quiapo Church, San Augustine Church, and San Sebastian Church. They’re grand and full of history.

Further words: To gain a deeper understanding of Philippine culture, visit locations in Manila that are not regarded as tourist destinations.

2. Participate in a local festival.

Here are some of the most well-known festivals in the Philippines:

  • Cebu’s Sinulog Festival. A religious celebration commemorating Señor Sto. Niño. The highlight of this festival is the grandiose street parade where district representatives from different provinces show off their creativity through choreographed dancing.

  • Bacolod’s MassKara Festival. Also called “Philippine’s festival of smiles.” The festival’s trademark are the colorful masks and flamboyant outfits worn by street performers and participants. Anticipate street dancing, drinking, and partying until morning rises.

Davao’s Kadayawan Festival. A thanksgiving celebration known to have originated from lumads, indigenous people of the city’s mountain areas. Similar to the previous two festivals, there are also street performances and customs involved.

A photo of colorful masks. One of the many things to do in the Philippines is to join the local festivals. | Photo by Johanna Paula Perez - Vinluan on Unsplash

Come to the Philippines during festival season and experience the liveliness of one.

3. Get to know Philippine history.

Visiting museums is one way to learn about a country’s past. Fortunately, the Philippines has a plethora of intriguing ones. Ranging from prehistoric to modern, visit these museums to check out interesting exhibits.

  • The National Museum of the Philippines, established in 1901, is a government-owned and run museum. Here you’ll also find the National Museum of Anthropology, the National Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Planetarium.

  • Museo Sugbo in Cebu is a provincial museum. It was once used as a prison to keep and torture Katipuneros, a guerrilla group that fought for the country’s independence from Spanish colonizers. Here you’ll find tons of interesting exhibits that date back to the war period.

  • Other museums to check out: Museo Filipino Intramuros, Xavier museum, Presidential Museum and Library, Sto. Nino Heritage Museum, Bataan World War II Museum, and El Museo de Zamboanga.

4. Take a ride on a jeepney and tricycle.

Two unique things in the Philippines are the tricycle and the jeepney. They are the two most used vehicles for public transportation.

  • Jeepneys are four-wheeled vehicles that look like long vans and can carry 16 to 20 people. It is well-known for its colorful paint job, which features comics, female portraits, murals, graffiti paintings, and other photographs that reference Filipino pop culture.

  • A tricycle, on the other hand, is a three-wheeled vehicle comparable to Thailand’s tuk-tuks but significantly smaller. Depending on the size and design, it can handle 2 to 6 passengers.

Jeepneys are typically seen in city centers and highways, while tricycles are seen more often in suburbs and far-flung provincial areas.

5. Plan a street food crawl.

While you’re in the Philippines, why not try the local fare? Plan a gastronomic street food adventure. You’ll conveniently find multiple street vendors in almost every street in the country. These are the most popular street foods you are bound to find:

  • Tempura. Don’t get too excited, it’s not the same as the famous Japanese tempuras. In fact, it’s far from it, but equally good nonetheless. Similar to Korean fish cakes, it’s made using minced fish and other seafood, mixed with milk, flour, spring onions, and spices.

  • Kwek-kwek, or tokneneng. Deep-fried orange balls. It’s basically an egg, chicken or quail, that has been covered in orange batter then deep-fried. It comes with a sauce, you can choose between sweet and spicy.

Delicious Philippine street foods. You can find numerous street food stall at the back of Quiapo Church. | Photo by Hitoshi Namura on Unsplash
  • Taho. Soft tofu with tiny tapioca pearls and drizzled with simple brown sugar syrup. It’s commonly served in plastic cups.

  • Balut. Not a beginner-friendly dish. Some foreigners are even intimidated to give it a try. Though it’s just a hard-boiled egg of a duck, there’s a developing embryo inside which can range in different sizes depending on how long it’s been kept fertilized. If you’re adventurous enough, give it a try!

5. Go shopping for bargain deals.

One of the cheap things to do in the Philippines is exploring the many bargain stores.

Test your negotiating skills at one of the various street stalls that can be found in the downtown area of every city. Word of caution: the majority of the labeled things you’ll find in these stalls are most definitely fakes, which is why they’re so cheap.

It’s More Fun in the Philippines

You’ll never run out of things to do in the Philippines. Endless activities await you! Sign up for our singles vacation tour and we’ll help you create your travel itinerary. Explore the island like you’re a local, with a local.

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