38 Things To Do and See In The Philippines
- 38 Things To Do and See In The Philippines
- Places to Visit in the Philippines
- Northern Luzon
- Central Luzon
- Southern Luzon
- Activities To Do While You’re in the Philippines
- Festivals in the Philippines
- All About Filipino Cuisine: Different and Unique Foods That You Should Definitely Try
Visiting the Philippines is something that every traveler should do at least once in their lifetime.
This Southeast Asian country is an absolute treat for every type of tourist and travelers out there.
From their perfect beaches and a wide range of activities that you won’t run off to their amazing food and local culture, there are just so many things to do in the Philippines.
Whenever tourists from America and Europe would visit Asia, specifically the Southeast part, people are hesitant to go out of the tourist comfort zone of Thailand-Laos-Cambodia-Vietnam route.
But the thing is if you don’t branch out to other countries, your experience in Southeast Asia will be repetitive.
Certainly, a lot of tourists seem to have gained an insight into Asia as the temple niche of the world but in the Philippines, you’ll be met with a whole lot of varieties that could encompass the entire region of Southeast Asia.
Just like when you visit the US where each of their states offers completely different experiences, each region and provinces in the Philippines will give you a unique take of what the country could be for a foreigner.
With over 7,600 islands, this archipelago is more than just your typical Asian vacation.
Don’t know where to start?
We’ve made you a HUGE list of things to do in the Philippines ranging from the places that you should visit, must-do activities, culinary adventure, and a whole lot more.
Here are 38 things to do in the Philippines:
Places to Visit in the Philippines
The Philippines is divided into three main island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Each island groups have their own things to be proud of and if you’ve been to the Philippines before, you’d notice that it’s almost going to a completely different country when you switched on to any of the islands.
Here are some places that you should definitely visit when you’re in the Philippines.
They’re also arranged by their region so it’s easier when you plan your own trip!
Northern Luzon is where Filipinos would go for a good summer vacation.
Whether it’s because of their beautiful beaches, mountains that are perfect for hiking, or because of the low climate that some provinces have, if you’ll spend your entire Philippine trip on this region, you won’t be disappointed.
1. San Juan, La Union
The Philippines is a tropical country, so it makes sense to start off with the place that is an embodiment of every surfer’s dream.
About five hours from the country’s capital Manila, San Juan, La Union is the Surfing Capital of the Northern Philippines.
With great beaches and amazing waves perfect for beginners and surfers, you best bet that a couple of extra hours on the road are worth it.
The town is generally laidback and quiet but every day, especially during the summer season, the shores of San Juan never dies down.
You’ll come across lots of beachside bars, barbecues, café (for your hangover needs), and restaurants to try all the local food that this city offers.
2. Sagada, Mountain Province
Sagada is one of the Philippines’ not-so-hidden jewels.
Tucked in the Cordillera Mountains shrouded by mist and fog, this place is not frequently visited by normal tourists but is always on the travel list of an adventurer.
This tiny and peaceful town is famous for retaining its indigenous culture. In the Philippines, there are about 134 ethnic groups and the majority of those are indigenous.
While some of their cultures disappeared through time, the indigenous group in Sagada managed to preserve it in this beautiful town.
Sagada is famous for the Sugong Hanging Coffins. This is an ancient traditional practice that some people still do today.
Coffins are suspended high up on limestone cliffs because it’s their belief that the higher their deceased coffins are placed, the closer their souls will be to heaven.
You can see these coffins everywhere around Mountain Province and even some on other provinces in Northern Luzon. If you want to see them up close, there are groups in Sagada that offer a hiking tour.
Aside from the hanging coffins, Sagada is a nature’s delight with lots of options for your eco-travel.
3. Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
If you want a quiet getaway, then Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte should be on top of your destination’s list. This place is absolutely picture-perfect with beautiful beaches lined with palm trees and glittering turquoise waters.
This is a remote location in Ilocos Norte which will take you about nine hours on the road from Manila, but local airlines offer selected flights to this region.
It’s absolutely worth it and its surrounding areas have huge arrays of coves, caves, waterfalls, and cliffs that you could explore.
If you want your own slice of paradise without having to deal with tourists, then taking some time in Pagudpud is definitely worth it.
4. Baguio, Cordillera
Dubbed as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio City is where tourists and locals visit to escape the sweltering heat of the country.
This city sits at 1,500 meters above sea level so, during the summer season, it’s cold in this area.
During the rainy season, there are a lot of instances where chunks of ice rained down on this city.
That’s something that you don’t see in a tropical country.
There are a lot of things that you could do in Baguio.
You can explore the city while horseback riding, get unbelievable deals at their night market where you could score branded shirts for PhP10 (which is less than a cent in US dollars), and even go higher in the city to explore small towns and great hiking routes.
Central Luzon is home to diverse landscapes where nature and the hustle-bustle of civilization meets.
Located just to the north of Manila, each of the provinces in Central Luzon has its own unique look, feel, and identity mixed with artistic old colonial-era architecture.
5. Magalawa Island
This place is not that known for tourists and locals alike, but this island is a perfect spot for anyone who’s a nature lover and isn’t shy to actually leave the comforts of their hotels and resort.
Magalawa Island is just a couple of minutes off the west coast of Central Luzon.
This island is still undeveloped, so you’ll experience the barest form of the Philippines. Locals offer rafting and snorkeling around the island.
Lying on the sand under the shades of palm and coconut trees while admiring the beauty of the sea isn’t that bad either.
6. Corregidor Island
If you want to know the long colonial history of the Philippines, then a trip to Corregidor Island is a great way to spend your day.
With lots of interesting and historical sights, this island is well worth visiting.
This island is located just at the entrance of Manila bay which became crucial in Manila’s defense during World War II against the Japanese.
This island was fortified and with coastal artillery and the largest of the islands that formed the harbor defenses of Manila Bay.
Corregidor was heavily bombed during the war and now, the ruins serve as a military memorial.
7. Botolan, Zambales
Since you’re already at Central Luzon, spend a day at Botolan, Zambales to see Mt. Pinatubo.
This is just unbelievable to look at with the mountains covering the landscape and the volcano still in its glory.
The shimmer of its crater lake is definitely the start of the show.
Mt. Pinatubo is infamous for its eruption on June 15, 1991, which is considered at the second-largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century.
When this volcano erupted violently, there was an ongoing typhoon in the Philippines which brought a mixture of ash and rain to the towns and cities surrounding the volcano.
The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide. It released minerals and toxic metals to the environment more than the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.
The ozone layer depleted faster, and the temperature dropped by 0.5°C because of sulfuric acid haze.
But that catastrophe led to the creation of majestic landscapes. Lots of mountaineers come to Mt. Pinatubo to climb its various peaks.
Southern Luzon has a lot of things to offer with its plethora of great things you can explore.
From mountains, volcanoes, and great beaches, the provinces in Southern Luzon is an amazing mixture of nature and suburban living without the congestion and slight pollution you might encounter in the capital.
8. Tagaytay, Cavite
Tagaytay City is one of the most popular cities to visit in the Philippines.
Normally, Baguio City is a vacation kind of location for locals since going there will likely take you five to seven hours and its miles away from their home.
But, Tagaytay City is a great place to escape the summer’s heat because it’s generally more accessible with only an hour of travel.
Its cool mountain climate is similar to Baguio.
The views of Taal Volcano are perfect too.
It’s a large caldera filled by Taal Lake so just imagine the beauty of the pristine waters with the mouth of the volcano ever so slightly raised up.
You can even schedule a trip to the crater to explore the volcano itself.
Aside from this natural beauty, there are a lot of things to explore in this city from its numerous hikes and trails, the People’s Park in the Sky, a number of historical and cultural landmarks, and Sky Ranch which is a famous amusement park.
9. Donsol, Sorsogon
This place is proper south of Luzon. Donsol used to be a sleepy, laidback village but its coastal town is now traveled by scuba divers and snorkelers.
Its amazing blue waters will definitely take off that heat and of course, the star of the town is the numerous whale sharks just found offshores.
Swimming with these gentle giants is definitely the selling point of this town.
12-meter whale sharks are normally seen in the waters of Donsol so seeing them up close and have them swim with you is absolutely a one-of-a-kind experience.
We head on to the next main island group in the Philippines which is the Visayas.
It’s one of the visited islands in the Philippines because of its gorgeous islands and amazing beaches.
If the waters in the Northern part of Luzon hasn’t amazed you yet, then the beaches in the Visayas will definitely hit that mark.
Since you’re most likely coming from overseas, chances are, you’ll land at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which is in Manila, Luzon.
Booking a domestic flight to any of the airports in the Visayas is the most recommended way to go but you can also try a cruise trip if you have the time.
You can embark on a long drive, but it will take you a minimum of 36 hours and you’ll need to ride a car ferry.
10. Boracay Island, Western Visayas
Tourists will likely hear about the Philippines from this tourist destination.
Boracay Island is the most iconic beach in the country.
Known for its perfect white sand beach, this island just recently went a 6-month rehabilitation which they closed the whole area for visitors until the environment recovered from years of being a tourism headliner.
There are a lot of beaches to choose from on this island but wherever you go, you’ll be greeted by Boracay’s unparalleled beauty.
Walk along the White Beach in Station 1, book a day trip to Puka Shell beach or even snorkel near the Crocodile Island.
The nightlife in Boracay is amazing too. Filipinos would travel to this beach for “LaBoracay” (pronounced as /lay-bor-akhai/).
This weekend closest to the Labor Day on May 1 is the country’s hottest beach party.
It’s the summer party to top all of the summer parties in the country.
During this event, the whole island gets filled up with college students and young professionals who want the taste of Boracay’s near-unhinged revelry.
Everyone is geared up for a riot of dancing, music, and free-flowing liquor from the many beachside bars along the coastal lines.
11. Guimaras Island, Western Visayas
If you want to get a taste of the tropical fruits that the Philippines has to offer, then consider traveling to Guimaras Island.
You really haven’t tried mangoes until you’ve tried Philippine mangoes from Guimaras.
It’s insanely sweet and it’s something that you’ll definitely crave for.
But there’s more to this island than just mangoes.
They have their own slice of paradise with its perfect beaches and lush forests.
If you want a private beach to yourself without breaking the bank, then a trip to Natago Beach is definitely the way to go. “Natago” means hidden in Filipino and on this beach, it’s absolutely hidden from all the business of everything.
Plus, this is Visayas’ own hidden gem so definitely go check it out.
You don’t even need to go to the Caribbean for your own overwater accommodation and certainly, you won’t need a thousand dollars for just a night’s stay.
Here at Natago Beach, simple overwater villas are also available.
You can also rent an entire bamboo house standing on top of limestone rocks if you want to spend an entire day in this secluded area.
12. Bohol Province
When you’re in the Visayas, staying at Bohol Province for at least two days should be somewhere on your itinerary.
You really can’t just miss this iconic province and its iconic destinations and attractions.
Check out the world-famous Chocolate Hills.
These are a group of hills that perfectly looks like a mound of Hershey’s Kisses especially during the summer season where the grass starts to dry, and the hills will start looking like decadent pieces of chocolate.
While you’re there, why not have a staring contest with the cute Tarsiers.
They’re small, leaping primates found only in certain areas in Southeast Asia and you can find these animals at Bohol.
They’re basically an animal between a lemur and a monkey but with an attitude of a koala.
Bohol is also a great destination for beaches like in Panglao Island or Alona Beach.
13. Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
This city in the Visayas is widely known as the City of Smiles because of the warm welcome you’ll receive when you get to this city.
Known for its rich local history, incredible tourist attractions, and vibrant food culture, Bacolod city is definitely a must-visit if you’re in this region of the Philippines.
If you’re looking to get your adrenaline pumping, visit the Campuestohan Highlands.
There’s a lot of activities to do at this site like zip line, rope course, cable hamster wheel, four-lane sky bicycle track, and more.
While you’re there, take a visit at the Balaring Mangrove which serves as a home to more than 20,000 mangroves and the longest bamboo bridge in the Visayas that stretches for a kilometer and is three stories high.
Want some unusual and interesting places to visit? Why not explore the Church of the Angry Christ in Victorias City?
This church created a controversy among the conservative Church circles for portraying Jesus Christ as an Angry God.
The idea of this church is to show the violent colonization of Spaniards when they used Catholicism as a weapon to get rid of the natives’ rich cultures.
It rebels the idea of the holy Spanish Churches of the Philippines that follow singular decorum and architecture to complement the religion’s holiness.
The murals of the Church of the Angry Christ stand distinctively in terms of sacred iconography and architectural design.
It’s definitely a church that you won’t see anywhere else.
14. Cebu City
As the center of trade, commerce, and tourist in the Philippines, you can only imagine that there’s a lot to be seen and done in Cebu.
The energy, the people, the architecture, the food, and a whole lot more — if Cebu isn’t already on your travel plans, then you should definitely put it there.
Cebu is famous for its water activities and the biggest fish in the world are right off the coast of the Philippines so you’d only imagine what the locals could offer in terms of tourism.
If you want to swim with the whale sharks, this is one of the top places to go.
Tour companies guarantee you with 99% certainty that you’ll witness and have the opportunity to swim with them because the shores of Cebu are certainly the whale sharks’ territory.
See the whole city from a bird’s eye view at Tops Lookout.
This is a popular destination in Cebu because this is the only place that you’ll get the most spectacular 360-degree view of the city where you’ll see the lush greenery, bustling city, and winding waterways.
15. Palompon, Leyte
Palompon is known for the famous Kalanggaman Island which is a sandbar surrounded by clear blue waters with perfect white powdery sand.
This island is just 753 meters and is still uninhabited.
There are no big resorts located on the island but a single resort in the area offers Tipi Huts for those who want a place to rest for a bit.
If you want to spend a night here on this island, you’re free to pitch a tent.
While on this island, you’ll get to enjoy activities like swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving.
The local tourism office only allows a maximum of 500 tourists per day so definitely book a trip once you get on Palompon.
Aside from going to Kalanggaman Island, you can also go on an adventure at Liberty Eco-Tourism Park or hike the Masaba Falls.
On the last group of islands in the Philippines, Mindanao is probably the least traveled part of the country.
This is due to terrorist attacks, possible combats between the military and the rebels, and kidnaps for ransom where tourists and missionaries are usually involved.
The latest terrorism attack happened back in 2017 where it lasted for five months.
The Battle of Marawi was a consequence of the country’s long struggle against terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11.
This siege led to 978 militants killed where 13 are foreigners, 12 militants captured, 168 government forces killed, more than 1,400 government forces wounded, and 87 civilians died.
Even Filipinos are wary about visiting this part of the Philippines, but Mindanao is such a huge group of islands that there’s really a portion of them that you should avoid because it’s ruined from the past terrorist attacks or there are currently encounters with rebels.
Nevertheless, Mindanao became much safer for tourists and visitors because of strict security protocols.
You’ll always be checked for identification when traveling from a region to another.
Plus, most of the tourist destinations that are in Mindanao are located in provinces and cities that have little to no history of any violent attacks.
After all, Mindanao is the Land of Promise and this part of the Philippines will surely offer you a vacation that no other tourists, even the locals, sometimes experience.
16. Zamboanga City
Zamboanga City is the third-largest city in the Philippines bustling with businesses, shops, and markets.
Dubbed as “Asia’s Latin City”, the Spanish influence in Zamboanga is hard to miss.
For a while, Spanish was even the official language of this place.
Exercise a bit of caution when you go here because this city is located near a state of conflict.
If ever you’ll go here, make sure that you stick to the city part and avoid any off-trail traveling in the mountains or forests.
If ever you’ve decided to come here, there’s a certain beauty that this place holds.
Visit the Merloquet Falls for one of the most amazing and majestic falls in the country.
This natural beauty looks more like an ancient ruin where a waterfall has magically decided to cascade down.
This place is unbelievable breathtaking.
There are a couple of platforms under the biggest section of the waterfall where you can give yourself a nice waterfall massage.
Don’t miss out on a trip to the Great Santa Cruz Island. It’s a small inhabited island is famous for its pink coralline sand.
To go here, you need to ride a boat for twenty minutes.
On the island, you’ll transfer again to another boat which will serve as your tour guide around the island.
You’ll navigate through the dense mangroves and onto the blue lagoon to check out the amazing corals, jellyfishes, and lush water vegetation.
Your last stop is the Pink Beach where the contrast of pink sands to the blue waters is absolutely phenomenal.
17. Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte
Siargao Island is one of the Philippines’ hidden gems and it’s just resurfacing to the tourists’ travel list.
This teardrop-shaped island has steadily become the country’s surfing capital that rivals San Juan, La Union.
The most popular attraction on Siargao Island is the Cloud 9 surfing area.
This place is absolutely an amazing surfing spot because of the right-breaking reef that creates a barreling wave known for its thick, hollow tubes.
Surfing competitions are held here every year.
When you come here at low tide, you get to see the beauty of most of the reefs and at mid to high tide, the sea is at the perfect surfing condition.
You could also talk a stroll along the boardwalk which is 100% picture-perfect.
Extending far into the sea, the boardwalk leads to a three-story viewing platform where you can watch the surfers and photograph the grandiosity of the ocean.
Activities To Do While You’re in the Philippines
The list still goes on! Now we’ve tackled the places that you could go to, that could serve as your starting point into planning your activities once you’re here.
But we’ve made you a continuation of must-do activities to do in the Philippines to make sure that you won’t miss out on anything.
Here are some of the best activities that you should experience while you’re in this amazing country:
18. Take a Few Days to Swim
This is the most obvious thing to do when you’re in the Philippines.
This country just doesn’t run out of natural beaches and resorts!
There’s no such thing as a bad beach in the Philippines because this country is just blessed with amazing waters.
Plus, it’s an archipelago so chances are, wherever province you might go to, there’s always a waterscape nearby.
If you want to experience world-class beaches that every tourist rave about when they visit the Philippines, check out the beaches in Boracay, La Union, Batangas, Cebu, and Siargao.
19. Participate in Extreme Water Adventure Activities
Swimming is just the most basic thing that you could do on a beach and that’s perfectly fine if that’s your type of vacation.
But, if you’re looking for something new and exciting, then you should absolutely try at least one of the many extreme adventure water activities that the Philippines has to offer.
Perhaps the most unique one is the Moalboal Sardine Run Adventure that you could try in Cebu.
Because sometimes, a normal swim or dive doesn’t satisfy our needs to get that adrenaline pumping.
This activity is literally what it is. It’s an opportunity to swim through huge schools of sardines only 20 meters from the shore.
To put it into perspective, there are over a million sardines in each school.
The Moalboal Sardine Run Adventure is definitely one of the weirdest and most fun things that you could do ever.
You can swim through the schools as they surround you and block out the light with their overwhelming number.
Don’t worry though, they won’t attack you or anything.
They’re harmless and the only thing that they do is scoot around you in coordination.
The school won’t even touch you so you’ll feel like you’re part of a synchronization dance that whenever you go, the fish will move away and follow you simultaneously.
20. Plan Your Own Island Hopping Trip
Did we mention already that the Philippines has over 7, 600 islands?
Because if so, then you should already know that there’s no better place on Earth to plan your own island hopping trip.
Unlike many other countries where their island-hopping destination is the same for every tourist and traveler, in the Philippines, it’s totally possible to make your own route for your own customized island-hopping destination.
There’s a lot of places in this country to start. You can start your trip to Palawan, Tawi-Tawi, Romblon, Once Islas in Zamboanga City, Camiguin Island, and Mactan in Cebu.
21. Hike to the Summit
The Philippines is not only well-known for its natural waters.
Beyond the breathtaking seascapes, the mountains are all for you to explore.
There are several mountains in the Philippines that make great destinations for hiking tours suiting to outdoor enthusiasts of any level.
Your mountain of choice will depend on your own physical and mental capabilities, but you won’t run out of landscapes to hike.
Whatever trail class you’re in, you’ll find a suitable mountain to explore.
Check out Daranak Falls in Rizal or Taytay Falls in Laguna for minor hikes and trails with paved pathways. Mt. Pulag via Ambangeg, Mt. Ulap, Mt. Maculot, and Mt. Matarem have hike trails that you could take if you want a more challenging one but still beginner-friendly.
But if you’re up to the challenge and take the hardest hiking routes, then Mt. Guiting-Guiting, Mt. Halcon, and Mt. Mantalingajan should be right up your alley.
22. Try Other Extreme Land Sports
Since you’ve probably had an extreme water sport or two planned on your itinerary, why not include extreme land sports too?
Try out sandboarding in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. The sand dunes in this location are absolutely the best for sandboarding, ATV, and 4×4 riding.
Take it into the skies with paragliding. If skydiving is a bit too extreme for you, then this extreme adventure is your next best choice.
It uses a lightweight and free-flying glider aircraft and a licensed pilot will accompany you to operate it.
Bohol’s Canyon Swing should be on your bucket list too. The Plunge in Danao Adventure Park in Bohol will have you hang by your feet and dropped over 200 meters above the river.
After a couple of seconds of free-falling, the momentum will swing you 100 meters wide around the canyon.
If you don’t like hanging by your feet (although it’s the ultimate experience), you can be dropped in a sitting position.
Festivals in the Philippines
The Philippines is known around the world not only for its unbelievable natural wonders but the country’s hospitality to visitors, whether they’re Filipinos or foreigners.
Perhaps the biggest proof of this is their love to get together and celebrate in the most entertaining way possible.
There are a lot of holidays and festivals in the Philippines that happen throughout the year.
While visiting this country is amazing to do year-round, if you could time your trip to one of the country’s local festivals, the better.
Here are some of the amazing festivals that you should definitely attend if you have the opportunity:
23. Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival
The Philippines mostly have traditional festivals and celebrations, but this festival is an extraordinary one.
This 3-day festivity is definitely something that you should look out for.
Aside from the giant, colorful hot air balloons, you could also participate in flying activities like skydiving, formation flying, paragliding, and aerobatic displays.
People all over the country gather to witness the International Hot Air Balloon Festival.
It normally happens in Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga, and celebrated during February. It’s definitely a great way to spend your Valentine’s day.
24. Giant Lantern Festival
There’s a popular saying among Filipinos: “Iba pa rin ang Pasko sa Pinas” which roughly translates to Christmas in the Philippines is just different.
While foreigners would probably love to travel during holiday seasons, Filipinos, especially those who are living and working overseas, would always go back to the Philippines during Christmas because the holidays here hit you completely differently.
People would put up their Christmas trees as soon as the “ber” months start.
This means you’ll probably see some Christmas decorations on the public and hear carols on the radio as early as September.
The most awaited Christmas festival in the country is the Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando City, Pampanga which is the Christmas Capital of the Philippines.
Participants would create gigantic and bright lanterns made from locally sourced materials and parade them to each barrio (or small towns) in Pampanga before the midnight mass of Christmas.
25. Maskara Festival
The Maskara Festival in Bacolod City is a giant masquerade party where everyone puts on the most colorful and biggest mask that they could wear.
When you’re in Bacolod during October, then make sure that you attend this festival to get the whole picture of what the province is like.
The streets are packed with people wearing festive costumes and masks while dancing to the beat of the loud music.
Definitely, a celebration to attend.
26. Pahiyas Festival
Pahiyas Festival is celebrated during May in Lucban, Quezon.
This festival is a celebration of the town’s yearly bountiful harvest.
Locals would decorate their homes in vibrant colors. Farm produce like handicrafts, fruits, arrays of vegetables, and rice wafers hang around their houses as decorations. It’s also a common practice for locals to bring their own baskets and pick any of the fresh harvests for free!
27. Moriones Festival
During the Holy Week in March or April, Filipinos would go to Marinduque to experience the weeklong celebration of St. Longinus: the Moriones Festival.
This festival combines the Catholic pageantry with fold mysticism. People would wear helmets and don in centurion costumes to reenact the beautiful and theatrical play of their culture.
One of the locals would play the role of St. Longinus and hide among the houses while the others search for him.
This is definitely a great way to spend some meaningful time in the province.
28. Panagbenga Festival
Panagbenga Festival is one of the longest Philippine festivals.
Celebrated during the whole month of February in Baguio City, this festival highlights the bountiful blooming of the flowers and pay tribute to the recovery and rising up of the city from the 1990 Luzon earthquake in which Baguio was greatly devastated.
During the festival, expect to see beautiful parades of floats made from different flowers parading throughout the city.
The big flower floats are followed by children and adults dressed up as the city’s flora and fauna dancing and celebrating.
All About Filipino Cuisine: Different and Unique Foods That You Should Definitely Try
While Filipino food might not be as famous as other Asian counterparts, but with the country’s long history of colonization and occupation, the Philippines has curated a melting pot of cuisines that are different within regions.
Blessed with an abundance of seafood, tropical fruits, and a lot of culinary techniques up their sleeves, here are some of the best Filipino food that you should definitely try:
No list of Filipino food would be complete without adobo.
This dish is a staple in every household in the Philippines.
Everyone has their own version and recipe for this but the basics of it are cooking any kind of meat in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, pepper, bay leaf, and salt.
It’s a completely hassle-free dish and it’s not easy to spoil.
A famous adobo version includes pineapple chunks which give it a sweet balance.
Pair it up with boiled egg and freshly chopped tomatoes and that’s basically the Philippines in a dish.
Filipinos would definitely say that lechon is the most invited party guest in any of the Filipino parties.
Lechon is an entire pig that is spit-roasted over charcoal. With its crisp, golden-brown skin and juicy, succulent meat — if any party is worth celebrating, then chances are, there’s a lechon or two laying as a centerpiece on the table.
Lechon Cebu is a famous variant of this dish.
They stuff the stomach of the pig with spring onions, laurel, star anise, peppercorns, and lemongrass which results in an extremely tasty lechon that doesn’t need any kind of sauce.
This dish is a perfect accompaniment to an ice-cold beer or over hot, steamed rice.
Nothing really goes to waste in Filipino food so, in Pampanga where this dish was invented, they would take the unused part of pork (which is the cheeks, head, and liver) and chop it up into a sizzling dish called Sisig.
Top it off with a little bit of mayonnaise and freshly cracked egg for that extra creaminess.
32. Chicken Inasal
The Philippines loved their grilled food and among them is chicken inasal.
In this dish, the chicken is marinated in lemongrass, calamansi, salt, pepper, garlic, and annatto oil.
Every part of the chicken can be grilled in this dish but the most famous version of chicken inasal that you’ll see is a whole quarter cut.
33. Pancit Palabok
As you can probably tell by now, Filipinos love celebrating, and that is reflected in their cuisine.
Plus, when Filipinos have guests, you could bet that they won’t skimp on anything.
Pancit palabok is served on most birthday parties and gathering.
It’s definitely a staple along with the normal pancit bihon and Filipino-style spaghetti.
Pancit palabok is a noodle dish layered with rice noodles, a rich orange sauce made from shrimp broth, pork, slices of hard-boiled eggs, shrimps, pork rinds, and even oysters and squid.
34. Arroz Caldo
Just like the Westerners would love a bowl of chicken soup when they’re sick or just for their comfort food, Filipinos love their arroz caldo.
It’s a thick chicken rice porridge similar to congee.
It’s cooked with ginger and garnished with a hard-boiled egg, toasted garlic, and green onions.
You’ll see this dish sold as street food and you’ll normally see Filipinos line up for this for a good afternoon snack.
Even with the heat, you can’t stop them from loving hot food.
Tapsilog is a breakfast staple for every Filipino. It’s tapa with sinangag (fried garlic rice) topped with itlog (egg, usually sunny side up); thus, tap-si-log.
Like any other Asian, Filipinos love their rice and no meal is complete without it.
Tapsilog is technically a breakfast meal but it’s perfectly acceptable to eat it anytime. Plus, “silog” meals are really famous in the Philippines because it’s usually cheap (less than a dollar) and it just hits the right spot of every Filipino stomach.
Other silog means are cornsilog (corned beef), hamsilog (sliced ham), bangsilog (a type of fish called bangus), and baconsilog (bacon).
If you want to be indulgent for a moment with your food and not have any health repercussions, then bagnet is a dish that you should be having along with lechon.
Bagnet is similar to dry-aged pork which is deep-fried to its sinful perfection.
It’s coveted for its irresistible crunchy skin and fatty meat.
Pair it up with chili vinegar to dip with and it’s absolute heaven that will make up for all that cholesterol.
37. Lumpiang Shanghai
It’s not a Filipino party without lumpiang shanghai.
This is the Philippines’ version of spring rolls.
These lumpia are filled with pork, shrimp, carrots, celery, and other spices that are rolled in spring roll wrapper and deep-fried.
It’s perfect finger food or serve it up with rice to make it a meal.
Everyone knows this iconic Filipino dessert that even foreigners are started to catch up on it.
Since Filipinos would normally tell you that the Philippines has two seasons of hot and hotter, halo-halo is your perfect cool off dessert.
This is basically shaved ice with a generous serving of leche flan (a type of custard), gulaman (jelly), ube (purple yam), sweetened banana, nata de coco, kaong, a generous pour of evaporated milk, and a scoop of ice cream.
Halo-halo literally means “mix-mix” so make sure that when you get one, you take your spoon and mix everything in the ice shaving.
You might think that it might ruin the aesthetic of the colors of the dish but you have to mix everything to get the ultimate flavor out of this dessert.