18 Things to Do in the Philippines Even Some Locals Don’t Know

18 Things to Do in the Philippines That Even Some Locals Don’t Know About

Discover the best-kept secrets around this archipelago.

When it comes to finding your ideal tourist spot in the Philippines, the usual suspects are white-sand beaches, heritage sites from the Spanish era, and sky-high mountains. It’s no secret this archipelago has various destinations that cater to pretty much all kinds of travellers. But for those who have explored most (if not all) of the crowd favourites, you’re probably wondering what else is out there. Well, good news: There’s still plenty more — and you came to the right place (or article, rather)!

Whether you’re a first-time tourist or a born-and-raised local, we’ve rounded up some of the coolest underrated things to do in the Philippines, winner of the TripZilla Excellence Awards 2023 for Destination of the Year.

In the Philippines, you can enjoy summer weather all year long, and the locals are nothing but warm, and friendly. On top of that, trips here are budget-friendly, and will have you relaxing on some of the most beautiful beaches and islands in the world! It doesn’t end there though. From natural wonders to delicious cuisine, the wonders of the Philippines never cease.

Also read: These Airbnbs in the Philippines Will Inspire You to Travel Local

Underrated things to do in the Philippines for both locals and foreigners

1. Rent a private island in the middle of a lake

Private islands are often a financially daunting idea for many, but wait — hear us out. Did you know that you can rent one (with a house, of course) for just ~US$100 a night? Case in point: Sundang Island is a small, secluded isle in the middle of Lumot Mahipon Lake (otherwise called Sierra Lake). You can find this in the town of Cavinti, Laguna, which is about a three-hour drive from Metro Manila

Apart from this, there are plenty of other private islands to choose from, with varying prices. Check out the rest of our top picks here.


2. Wade in fascinating swimming holes

tourist spot in the Philippines

Image credit (L-R): Richard Ballon; Jose Nilbert Lamata

No need to go all the way to Mexico to experience swimming in a cenote. By definition, cenotes are deep sinkholes in limestone with a pool at the bottom. In the Philippines, you can find a similar one in Anda, Bohol: the Cabagnow Cave Pool. Doesn’t it look a lot like the ones in the Yucatán Peninsula? Surely, one of those things to do in the Philippines that you shouldn’t miss out on!

Image credit: daiane

There’s also one on Siargao Island. This tourist spot in the Philippines is obviously better known for surf spots and clear lagoons. But believe us, the Tayangban Cave Pool is also worth a visit! The water is mostly shallow, so swimming there is definitely a lot easier. 

Also read: 15 Airbnbs in Siargao to Complete Your Island Experience

3. Spend the night at the ledge of a cliff

Image credit: Gerdjaie Mebato

Live on the edge — literally! — at the Kiokong White Rock Wall in Quezon, Bukidnon. After rock climbing, you can camp inside an opening on the cliff that’s 400 feet above the ground! And instead of a tent, you’ll have a rope attached to keep you safe. (We can already hear most of you thinking, welp!)

tourist spot in the Philippines

Image credit: Jon Chavez

For the adrenaline junkie, this tourist spot in the Philippines is definitely a must-visit! The view when you wake up in the morning is every bit breathtaking — making that über-extreme climb worth it.

4. See real-life mummies!

Image credit: Onin Galano

Did you know that there’s an indigenous tribe in the Philippines that practised mummification since pre-colonial times? Up in the mountain town of Kabayan, Benguet, you’ll find man-made burial caves made by the Ibaloi tribe. The most famous of these is the Timbac Caves: a tourist spot in the Philippines known for housing the Kabayan Mummies.

Image credit: Somos Dos

Up to this day, locals still pay respects to these mummies with food offerings! This is part of a centuries-old tradition that ensures the dead are having a good, comfy time in the afterlife.

Also read: 13 Notable Sites in the Philippines Every History Buff Must Visit

5. Shop around a floating market

Image credit: Brahma C. Foz

When it comes to Southeast Asian floating markets, it’s countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam that often come to mind. But there’s also one in Tawi-Tawi aka the country’s southernmost province! Head over to the sword-shaped island of Sitangkai, where a wide canal serves as a main gateway to the municipality. 

As you go further, you’ll see a floating market where you’ll find an abundance of dried seaweed, freshly caught fish, and even rare fruits! There are also fewer crowds, compared to its foreign counterparts, so this is definitely one of the best underrated things to do in the Philippines

6. Visit some of the “other Chocolate Hills”

tourist spot in the Philippines

Quitinday Hills in Albay | Image credit: Dan Diaz

Many a traveller would know that the Chocolate Hills in Carmen is one of the top things to do in the Philippines. But did you know that you can find similar ones in Albay and in Coron, Palawan that are just as picturesque? 

The former is called Quitinday Hills, or the “Pili Nut Hills” — as pili nuts are one of the top produce in the Bicol Region. Situated in the town of Camalig, what makes this spot even lovelier is the view of the famous Mayon Volcano on the horizon. 

Smaller Chocolate Hills in Coron | Image credit: Joser Ferreras

Meanwhile, in Coron, you’ll find many mini-Chocolate Hills lookalikes. If you want a more panoramic view, we recommend hiking up Mount Tapyas, where you’ll see some hilly islands along Coron Bay.

7. Explore the lesser-known rice terraces

As with many other Asian countries, rice terraces (i.e., beautifully arranged paddies) are also a thing in the Philippines. Most of you probably already know about the ones in Ifugao Province — namely, Batad Rice Terraces and Banaue Rice Terraces. (The latter was even featured in Avengers: Infinity War). But lo and behold, there are plenty of others worth discovering! 

One of these also happens to be in Northern Luzon: the Kapay-aw Rice Terraces. Located just a few minutes from Sagada town proper, one can easily hike around here and take in the lush agricultural scenery surrounded by pine trees. At the bottom of the rice terraces, there’s a set of tiny waterfalls (collectively called Pongas Falls) where you can take a dip afterwards. 

Another option would be the Jaybanga Rice Terraces in Lobo, Batangas. This one is a bit closer to Metro Manila, approximately a three-hour drive. Here, you’ll find paddies spanning 30 acres and dotted with coconut trees. We recommend seeing this underrated tourist spot in the Philippines via a horseback ride! For the full experience, you might also want to join the community-led planting activities.  

Both of these rice terraces might not be as massive as their more famous counterparts, but we’re certain you’ll appreciate the advantages of visiting such hidden gems. After all, fewer fellow tourists mean being able to take photos more easily! The best time to visit these would be during the rice harvest season from late September to October. 

8. Relax in a cauldron hot tub

Image credit: Mike Raquel 

Looking for unusual things to do in the Philippines, especially during rainy season? Here’s something you might not have heard of yet: a kawa hot bath. These are commonly found in Tibiao, Antique. In fact, it’s only about a three-hour trip from the world-famous Boracay, making it a cool day tour idea! 

But first things first — what exactly is a kawa? Traditionally, it’s a cauldron that sugar mills formerly used to process molasses to produce sugar. But since these cauldrons have long been replaced by more advanced methods, the locals decided to repurpose these into giant makeshift hot tubs. 

Now, here’s how it works: The bath is heated by lighting a fire underneath the kawa. Once the water temperature is ideal, locals would then add therapeutic herbs and flowers. Feel your senses rejuvenated and your tired muscles relax from the moment you take a dip!

9. Sleep inside a treehouse

tourist spot in the Philippines

Treehouse stay in Busuanga, Palawan | Image credit: Airbnb

From beach glamping to farm resorts, such notable accommodations have become fast-rising tourist spots in the Philippines. But how about an actual treehouse? For sure, most of us found these fascinating, especially when we were kids. (Personally, I credit my treehouse obsession to Barney & Friends!)

Image credit: Airbnb

If you know where to look, there’s actually a handful of treehouse accommodations scattered around the country. But for now, let’s limit it to our top three picks! Up north in Baguio — aka the City of Pines — there’s this cool glass treehouse in the middle of a pine forest. Doesn’t it look like the perfect blend of contemporary and cottagecore?


For something that feels more local, head over to Stilts Calatagan Beach Resort in Batangas. There, you’ll find treehouses nestled on the branches of giant native trees. They’re even designed to resemble traditional nipa huts! 

Another choice would be Sanctuaria Treehouses in Busuanga, Palawan. It offers a mostly secluded experience, as it’s located on a hilltop surrounded by a rainforest. The place even has hanging nest-like baskets, which make for awesome napping spots!


10. Have a photo op and pretend you’re in Bali

There’s a reason why Villa Jovita in Agoncillo is dubbed the “Bali of Batangas.” This home-turned-resort has its very own Bali Corner, where you can probably spend half the day snapping IG-worthy photos. It features lookalikes of famous attractions from the Bali Swing theme park: a giant swing facing the rice paddies, hanging nest-like pods, and a human-sized flat nest. 

Also read: 7 Tropical Attractions in the Philippines That Will Remind You of Bali

11. Zipline over six waterfalls!

Image credit: I Travel Philippines

You read that right — six waterfalls! The 7 Falls Zipline in Lake Sebu offers a bird’s-eye view of the town’s majestic waterfalls. Though there are really seven, as the name suggests, only six of these can be seen from up top! Enjoy the adrenaline rush as you swing through the jungle à la Tarzan. Clearly, this is one of the most thrilling things to do in the Philippines. And if you could only try one zipline in the country, then you should definitely choose this!

12. Pray (or meditate) inside a cave

tourist spot in the Philippines

Image credit: Mara Huerto

A limestone cave is not exactly a rare tourist spot in the Philippines. But one with an actual chapel inside? Now that’s more interesting! Whether or not you’re the religious type, Callao Cave in Peñablanca, Cagayan is a sight to behold. It has seven chambers, and the first one was turned into a chapel by locals, what with its cathedral-like dimensions. But first, you need to climb 184 steps to get inside the cave!

13. Check out gorgeous pink beaches

Sila Island in Northern Samar | Image credit: Jet Santillan

Sure, the Philippines has more beaches than you could count. But if you’re looking for something more off the beaten path, then a pink-sand beach should do the trick. Picture the tropical sun giving the shore a saturated and almost magical rosey shade. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Well then, take your pick from some of the country’s pink beaches! There’s the one on Great Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga, which has caught the eye of the likes of National Geographic. Aside from the usual activities like swimming and snorkelling, you can also take a boat tour of the mangrove lagoon and spot stingless jellyfish! However, we recommend booking your visit in advance. Since it’s a protected eco-tourism site, only up to 500 visitors are allowed each day and only from 7am to 2pm.  

For something a bit lesser-known, Sila Island in Northern Samar also has its own pink beach. Unlike the previous one which doesn’t allow overnight stays, this island has a resort as well as several homestays. You may also opt to set up a tent if you want that fully laid-back island experience!

Also read: 10 Best Beach Airbnbs in the Philippines, From Luzon to Mindanao 

14. Bike around the city (without worrying for your life!)

tourist spot in the Philippines

Ask anyone who’s lived in the Philippines long enough, and they’ll probably tell you that it’s not exactly the most bike-friendly place. This is especially true in metropolises — with the exception of Iloilo City! Apart from heritage churches and mansions, it also boasts several protected and elevated bike lanes in different parts of the city. 

Though, if you had to pick just one, we recommend the seven-kilometre lane along Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Boulevard. It runs from the Jaro District all the way to the Iloilo Esplanade. Best to do this late in the afternoon, so that by sunset, you can unwind and stroll along the banks of the Iloilo River!

15. Stay in a Hobbit House

Calling all Lord of the Rings fans! You can fulfil your dream of seeing a real-life Hobbit House… without going all the way to New Zealand. El Patio Razon in Tanay, Rizal — about an hour’s drive from Metro Manila — has its own adorable rendition. And unlike the OG one in NZ, you can actually rent this overnight. While you’re there, don’t forget to have a second breakfast! (Why? Because Peregrin Took said so.) 

16. Get up close and personal with a giant crocodile

Image credit: Judgefloro

And not just any giant crocodile, mind you, but the world’s biggest crocodile in captivity! At the National Museum of Natural History, you’ll find the taxidermied body of Lolong: a saltwater crocodile who was captured in a creek in Agusan del Sur back in 2011. 

He was estimated to be at least 50 years old and over 20 feet long! Later in 2012, he was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Oh, and in case you were wondering — Lolong was named after a veteran crocodile hunter who led the search for this dangerous fella!

17. Embark on a wildlife safari

tourist spot in the Philippines

Image credit: Jordan Balintac 

While animal sanctuaries are quite common in Palawan, Calauit Safari Park stands out for its residents that aren’t really native to the Philippines. We’re talking about African animals, such as giraffes, zebras, elands, and gazelles! These foreign critters live alongside endemic species like the Calamian deer, Palawan peacock-pheasant, and the Palawan bearcat.

Also read: 18 Stunning Places in the Philippines That Look Like Foreign Destinations

18. Go paragliding!

When it comes to adrenaline-filled things to do in the Philippines, the common picks are surfing, ziplining, and rock climbing. But guess what — you can also try paragliding! (Just don’t expect to crash-land on a Captain Ri lookalike…) 

Head over to Carmona, Cavite between November and April, for optimal wind conditions. This paragliding site was founded in 2009, when paragliding enthusiasts observed the prevalence of northeast winds coming from Laguna Lake nearby. Each paraglider is assigned a professional tandem pilot, who will be manoeuvring the aircraft all throughout.

Also read: A First-Timer’s Guide to Travelling the Philippines + Local Tips!

Suffice to say, there’s never a shortage of exciting things to do in the Philippines! You’d know this to be quite true, especially if you’re a frequent tourist or a full-fledged local. That said, have you tried any of these underrated activities already? We’d love to hear all about it on our Facebook page.

Featured image credit: Villa Jovita | Official Facebook Page

About Author

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.