Filipino Travellers Reveal Their Secret Happy Places in the Philippines

Island Bliss: Filipino Travellers Reveal Their Secret Happy Places in the Philippines

These locals will take you to the best spots!

What better way to discover the Pearl of the Orient Seas than through the eyes of local travellers? When it comes to exploring the Philippines, the best travel tips often come from the locals who know the hidden gems and must-see spots that truly capture the essence of the homeland.

In this guide, we tapped Filipino travellers to share their favourite places in the Philippines that keep them coming back for more. It’s no secret that the island is filled with views that will surely take your breath away. From the gorgeous view in Mount Pulag to adventurous whale shark watching in Donsol, locals share their happy places in the Philippines!

Note: The quotes below have been edited for grammar, clarity, and flow.

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Locals share the best places in the Philippines to wind down

1. Sumilon Island – Agatha Mendoza

Agatha takes pride in the local craftsmanship of her hometown in Marikina. She’s also a beach babe who would do anything to get that perfect bikini photo. She would tag her friends along her sunshine-filled trips.

How to get there: From Singapore, you can catch a direct flight to Mactan–Cebu International Airport. Take a bus going to Bato Oslob then a boat ride to Sumilon Island.

“I fell in love with Sumilon Island in Cebu the moment I laid my eyes on the crystal-clear water. It felt like a slice of heaven whenever I visited the place. Since Sumilon Island is quite far from where we were staying, we would have breakfast in the karinderia to keep us full. Of all the places in the Philippines that I visited, Sumilon Island was really one of a kind because of how stunning it was. You can definitely snag a bunch of photos here since it’s not too crowded.

We went to the island via a boat and the trip was quite short. I recommend bringing some snacks along since the food on the island is quite expensive. We ended our trip by eating kamayan style and enjoyed some fresh seafood which were caught by the locals. I’d say you should visit Sumilon Island once in your life.”


2. Coron – Jas Tampolino

Jas is a solo female traveller. She wasn’t just collecting souvenirs; she was collecting experiences, friendships, and a deeper understanding of her beloved country. Armed with a sense of adventure and a well-worn backpack, Jas embraced the freedom of exploring at her own pace.

How to get there: From Singapore, you can book a flight to Busuanga where you’ll have a layover in Cebu. Once you have arrived, you can then book a ferry going to Coron Island.

“My Coron adventure as a solo traveller started at the perfect place – my home away from home! The friendly hostel had such a homey vibe and amazing staff that I made friends right upon check-in. Coron quickly stole my heart. While El Nido might be known as “Heaven on Earth,” Coron felt even more special. Travelling solo, I never felt unsafe. The locals were incredibly welcoming, and I ended up making friends with both Filipinos and foreigners. The city itself was charming, and the island hopping tours were perfectly organised.

I’ll share my perfect itinerary! Fuel up for the day with a delicious brunch of Angus Tapa at Epic Café — their all-day breakfast is a lifesaver! Next, head to Coron Town Proper for some souvenir shopping. For the adventurous eaters, Kawayanan Grilling Station offers a unique Palawan experience: Crocodile Sisig! If you are feeling bold, you can head on over to Tribu Kuridas Bar and Tattoo and party with the locals. What a way to end a trip!”


3. Sorsogon – Keith F.

Keith isn’t your typical dentist. While she possesses the steady hand and keen eye required for her profession, her true passion lies in exploring the world, both within the Philippines and beyond its borders.

How to get there: From Singapore, you can book a flight to Cebu and then a flight to Daraga. Once there you have the option to go to Sorsogon via a bus or taxi.

“The first time I visited Sorsogon, I knew I would keep coming back. Last November 2021, my cousins, who live nearby, whisked me away to this secret paradise. Pristine white sand stretched as far as the eye could see, lapped by gentle waves. Unlike the usual tourist beaches, this one offered a serene escape, free from the throngs of crowds. It was love at first sight!

The last time I visited, hostels and even a cafe had popped up, offering more convenience for travellers. Here’s the beauty: “Chill, coffee, swim, repeat” perfectly captures the vibe. It’s the ideal place to unwind with a loved one. For those seeking a little more adventure, consider an overnight stay and island hopping to Subic Beach, another hidden gem nearby.”


4. Negros Oriental – Chaz Capilla

Chaz is a well-seasoned traveller. While he enjoys the camaraderie of group travel on occasion, Chaz thrives on solo adventures.

How to get there: From Singapore, fly directly to Manila and book a flight to Dumaguete. You can then take a jeepney going to Siaton.

Negros Oriental is one of my go-to places in the Philippines. I venture down south to the laid-back charm of Siaton and Amlan, two coastal towns offering a slower pace and a chance to truly unwind.

Stretch out on Siaton’s long stretch of pristine white sand. Gentle waves lap at the shore, perfect for a refreshing dip or a leisurely swim. It’s the perfect place to eat sinuglaw with a side of heaping white rice. I recommend visiting Cafe Margarita in Amlan too where you can savour meals with a fantastic view. ”

5. Batangas – Yara Palacay

Yara is a free-diver who’s been a competitive swimmer during her younger days. Some say she’s a real life mermaid as she finds tranquillity in the waters. Coffee, cycling and anything under the sun is her idea of fun!

How to get there: From Singapore, catch a direct flight to Manila. From there, you can ride a bus at PITX bound for Batangas. There’s plenty of tricycles going to the town proper.

Batangas holds a special place in my heart. It all started back in 2018 when I discovered the magic of freediving. With a group of friends equally excited to explore the underwater world, we enrolled in a formal beginner’s course. Contrary to most people who are afraid of the open water, freediving gives me the quiet and calm. The vastness of the ocean, both above and below the surface, offers breathtaking views and a serene escape from the daily grind.

For anyone considering a freediving adventure in Batangas, I highly recommend starting with a certified course. Learning proper techniques and safety protocols is crucial — one of which is to never dive alone! Imagine waking up to a refreshing breakfast, gearing up with your freediving essentials, and spending hours immersed in the underwater world. 

Between dives, delicious meals await, either freshly caught seafood or local delicacies from nearby restaurants. Afternoon naps are encouraged, followed by optional afternoon dives and breathtaking Batangas sunsets.  Evenings are for bonfires, shared meals, and stargazing under the vast night sky.”

6. Mt. Pulag – Chanel Santos

places in the philippines

Backpacking her way to the world, Chanel enjoys her view from the top! She is an avid fan of hiking and conquers one mountain at a time. She loves dragging friends along her steep adventures.

How to get there: From Singapore, book a flight to Manila and go to Cubao where you’ll need to ride a bus going to Mt. Pulag. This ride takes around 6 hours.

“I found my happy place in the mountains! It all began in 2019 when I conquered Mt. Ulap in Benguet. That climb became my “mother mountain,” the gateway to my hiking obsession. Since then, I’ve pushed my limits on taller peaks, eventually falling head over heels for Mt. Pulag, also in Benguet. Well, for starters, it’s Luzon’s highest peak and the Philippines’ third! The views are simply jaw-dropping, especially during sunrise with the iconic “sea of clouds” making you feel like you’re on top of the world. 

But Mt. Pulag is more than just a scenic escape. It’s one of the places in the Philippines where you feel so connected with everything. Connecting with nature, with the awesome hiking community, and even with my own body. The familiar lung burn on steep climbs reminds me of my body’s strength and the amazing places it can take me. Plus, the camaraderie among hikers is unreal! Sharing stories around campfires or encouraging each other on the trail creates unforgettable memories.”

7. Lingsat – Erlyn Louisa

places in the philippines

Erlyn is a beach bum who finds relaxation basking under the sun with a book in her hand. She’s well-travelled in and out of the country and always makes friends with the lovely locals anywhere she goes.

How to get there: From Singapore, hop on a direct flight to Manila. Ride a cab going to Pasay and book a bus ride going to La Union. You can ride a jeepney going to Lingsat or hire a tricycle.

“Between the places in the Philippines that I’ve visited, there’s something about Lingsat in La Union that draws me in. Away from the crowd in San Juan, it’s a quaint little town that feels less crowded and serene. Lingsat has the perfect amount of waves that still lets you surf and dip without being engulfed in the water. Luckily my cousin owns a beach-front resort that I can go to anytime I want. I usually bring along work with me and I have the best view during my meetings. 

You’ll be greeted by the calls of fishermen who are bargaining their freshly caught seafood nearby. Grilled fish paired with pako and tomatoes sounds simple but feels like luxury to me. Did I mention that the sunset here is picture-perfect? As the sun goes down, everyone else also mellows out. When you hear La Union, the first thing that pops into your mind is San Juan. For a truly local experience, you might want to check out Lingsat. They are a couple of minutes away from each other which is great if you’re looking into experiencing the nightlife in San Juan since most of the crowd is there.”

8. Mt. Arayat – Chucky Gojar

places in the philippines

Chucky loves going on spontaneous trips with his friends. You would find him partying his heart out and waking up by the beach the next day. He was born and raised in Pampanga but currently resides in Baguio as a pastry chef.

How to get there: From Singapore, you’ll ride a direct flight to Manila. Catch a bus going to Pampanga and you can then ride a jeepney going to Mt. Arayat.

“Ever since I was a kid, we would always visit Mt. Arayat. It’s our family’s go-to outing spot as far as I can remember ‘cause it’s near our town. Every time someone asks which places in the Philippines I would recommend, I always say anywhere in my hometown is a no-fail. Becoming a pastry chef wasn’t just a career choice, it felt like a natural extension of my Pampanga roots. Who wouldn’t have a sweet tooth when you grew up munching on pastillas de leche, puto seco, and sans rival

The resort where we stay is very calming as you are surrounded by nature. Lush greenery with the background noise of running water is the perfect weekend getaway. My cousins and I would help our Tito, who’s in charge of the food, to prepare our after-swim meal. Who else would feel so hungry after a day of swimming? I know we were — it’s one of my fondest memories as a child. My family would gather around sunset and have cases of beer ready for their karaoke session. Mt. Arayat may be a popular hiking spot but I feel like they have preserved its natural beauty.”

9. Bicol – Guila

places in the philippines

Guila comes from a family of people who love travelling — hence her mom’s fridge full of souvenir magnets. Her Lola also introduced her to photography which is why she’s the go-to photographer for any Instagram pics!

How to get there: From Singapore, you’ll arrive in Manila and you’ll be taking a bus ride going to Bicol. Once there, you can ride jeepneys or tricycles going into the town.

Bicol will always feel like home to me. It all started with a week-long work assignment for my dad, which turned into an unforgettable family trip. We spent our days reconnecting with relatives, and I fell in love with Bicol’s undeniable charm. For a laid-back day, I’d embark on a city tour, witnessing the majestic Mayon Volcano from a thrilling ATV ride. Stepping back in time at the Cagsawa Ruins adds a touch of history to the experience.

For a dose of adventure, Donsol offers a truly unforgettable experience: whale shark watching.  It may be tiring, but witnessing these gentle giants in their natural habitat is an incredibly fulfilling experience. The responsible practices employed in Donsol ensure minimal disruption to their environment, making it a sustainable and ethical adventure. It’s one of the places in the Philippines that I could visit over and over again.”

10. Ilocos Sur – Scott Aquitania

places in the philippines

Scott is always up for an adventurous ride! He grew up in La Union which means catching waves has been part of his daily routine. Lucky that he found a partner who also loves travelling as much as him.

How to get there: From Singapore, you will be arriving in Manila. From there, you can hop on a bus ride going to Laoag where you will be dropped off on a highway in Santiago. Don’t worry though as tricycles are available in the area.

“Visiting the Santiago Project by Aluminak is a whole different experience. I really admire the craftsmanship of the woodworkers and how they now have a platform to showcase their talent. Aluminak supports local communities and tourism in Ilocos Sur

To avoid crowds and capture great photos, visit the museum first thing in the morning. There’s a delightful cafe inside worth checking out. After your museum adventure, relax on the stunning white sand beach. Local vendors selling unique crafts often set up shop there, offering a chance to support the community. What’s an Ilocos trip without trying bagnet, the famous empanada, and Vigan longganisa?”

Also read: From the Mountains to the Sea, the Philippines Beckons With Epic Sun-Soaked Adventures

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About Author

Anne Mercado
Anne Mercado

Anne is your go-to girl if you want to talk about all things beauty, fashion and adventure. Her creative expression would be through writing and curating photos. Exploring different places and immersing herself in diverse cultures is her idea of fun. If you ask her to describe what her perfect day is, her answer would be by the beach with a book on her hand enjoying a nice margarita.