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Award-winning tourist attractions to visit in PH this 2024 

by Joshua Gerona

IF award-winning crystal-clear waters and one-of-a-kind sceneries are on your bucket list, look no further, as the Pearl of the Orient Seas has it all. 

With 7,641 islands, the Philippines is packed with heavenly landscapes, unique cultures, and welcoming locals that will definitely make your travel experience memorable and special.

Last year, the Philippines snatched the World’s Leading Beach and Dive Destinations at the 30th World Travel Awards, a proof that the country remains one of the top tourist destinations in the entire world. 

This 2024, it is never too late to explore the Philippines and experience a trip full of exciting adventures and breathtaking sights. Whether you are residing in Luzon, Visayas, or Mindanao, worry not, as you will never run out of places to visit and explore. 

Here are the award-winning top cities and places to visit for your 2024 travel journey: 

Vigan, Ilocos Sur – Best Practice in World Heritage Management Award

Ilocos Sur is often known as the historical and cultural center in Northern Philippines. The province is home to two UNESCO World Historical Sites—the Baroque church of Santa Maria and the famous Heritage City of Vigan

As the capital of the province, Vigan is considered the most well-preserved colonial town in the country. A simple trip to the city will make you feel like you are being transported back to the Spanish period. 

In 2015, Vigan was declared one of the new seven wonder cities of the world. 

UNESCO also awarded the city the Best Practice in World Heritage Management Award for its good conservation practice of its historical sites and its overall development as a tourist destination. 

The Vigan tour often begins by visiting the well-known Calle Crisilogo. The pavements are made of cobblestones, with old Spanish houses lining up on both sides, giving you an old vintage ambiance when walking along the street. 

Photo courtesy: Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines

At day, the street is a commercial place where various delicacies, antiques, and pieces of furniture are sold. But at night, it transforms into a big alfresco dining area that serves a variety of drinks and Filipino cuisines. 

Photo courtesy: Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines

Kalesa is the only available transportation in Calle Crisologo. When you decide to ride one, it can transport you to Vigan Cathedral

Photo courtesy: Department of Tourism Region 1 | Facebook

The cathedral is an appealing sight to many tourists due to its detailed Baroque architecture. 

It is also situated right in front of the Plaza Salcedo, perfect for taking Instagramable pictures. At night, the plaza turns into a festive place with its colorful ‘dancing fountain’ show. 

Named after Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo, Plaza Salcedo is the city’s town center surrounded by important edifices—Archbishop’s Palace, the Vigan City Hall and the Ilocos Sur Capitol. 

The plaza is also the site where Filipina hero Gabriela Silang was executed in 1763. Silang was the first woman leader of the Philippine revolution during the Spanish period. 

Photo courtesy: Department of Tourism Region 1 | Facebook

Another plaza called Plaza Burgos is also quite well-known in the city. The plaza is named after Padre Jose Burgos to commemorate the priest’s martyrdom against the Spanish abuses. 

Photo courtesy: Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines

The plaza serves both as a resting place and a tourist spot attraction for tourists. It is best to visit Plaza Burgos in the late afternoon to avoid hot direct sunlight. 

More than just a historical hub, the city of Vigan is also popular for being a food destination in the North. 

Tourists visiting the place must taste the famous Vigan Empanada, a half moon-shaped snack made up of eggs, grated green papayas, and skinless Vigan Longganisa, the city’s native sausages bursting with salty-spicy-garlicky flavor.  

You should not also miss the healthy and flavorful pakbet composed of different vegetables one can harvest from their backyard. Also, Vigan is not Vigan if not for its symbolic delicacy, the ever-famous bagnet

Made from pork, bagnet is traditionally dried under the sun before marinating and deep-frying for better flavor and crispiness. 

Of course, going to Vigan will not be complete without visiting its various historical mansions. 

First on the list is the Crisologo Mansion and Museum, the ancestral house of Ilocano statesman Floro Crisologo, featuring his life as a congressman and patriarch of a political family in Vigan. The site is open for public viewing for free. 

Next is the Arce Mansion. Owned by the family of Dr. Alejandro Arce, the mansion is open to everyone who wants to experience what it feels like living in a Spanish colonial era. 

Its grand living room serves as a photo studio for pictorial purposes, where you can wear different Spanish outfits. 

Last is the Syquia Mansion, the ancestral house of former President Elpidio Quirino’s wife, Doña Alicia Quirino. Some presidential events and gatherings were held at the mansion during the Quirino Administration. 

The mansion is also surrounded by various antiques from Europe and China. 

Intramuros, Manila – World’s Leading Destination

Manila has been the country’s center of commerce and is considered one of the world’s most densely populated cities. 

In 2023, the city was named as the World’s Leading Destination for the very first time by the prestigious World Travel Awards, beating out well-known cities in the world, such as Paris, Sydney, and London. 

In the middle of the towering commercial buildings in the metropolis, one historical tourist spot attraction is situated: the famous walled city of Intramuros. 

Photo courtesy: Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines

Intramuros is the oldest place in the capital. With its thick, stone walls surrounding the entire place, it resembles a castle-like ambience of the old period. 

The famous walled city was nominated last year for the ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’, the same title it bagged in 2020 and 2022. It was the sixth consecutive time that the place was nominated by the World Travel Awards, dubbed as the Oscars of the travel industry. 

Intramuros also won the ‘Asia’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ three times (2016, 2020, 2022) by the same award body, no wonder why it is considered as one of the most important tourist spots in the world. 

What makes the historical place an appealing sight to the tourists? The answer lies in the century-old sites hiding within the walled city. 

Intramuros is currently housing two of the most beautifully built churches in the Philippines. 

The San Agustin Church, originally built in 1571, is the country’s oldest standing stone church to date. Its Baroque-style architecture makes it one of the most beautiful top stops in Intramuros. 

Photo courtesy: Republicasia

Beside the church resides the San Agustin Museum, boasting a proud collection of artifacts, statues, sculptures, and monuments that showcase the history and legacy of Catholicism in the country. 

Photo courtesy: Republicasia

San Agustin Church is designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 

A quick walk through the narrow streets of Cabildo and Beaterio, the majestic Manila Cathedral will greet you. It is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Manila showcasing a Romanesque revival of the Neo-Romanesque style.

Photo courtesy: Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines

A few meters away from the Manila Cathedral stands the famous Fort Santiago, a defense fortress built during the rule of the Spanish Government in the Philippines. Philippine national hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned here before his execution in 1896.

Photo courtesy: Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines

Fort Santiago today is now part of the historical park, which includes Plaza Moriones. Tourists visiting the place will see several old Spanish buildings and the Rizal Shrine

Bohol Island – Philippines’ first UNESCO Global Geopark

Last year, the islands of Bohol made history as the Philippines’ first ‘UNESCO Global Geopark’ due to its tantalizing geological treasures. 

The agency cited the Danajon Double Barrier Reef and Can-umantad waterfalls, the highest waterfall in Bohol, as some of the one-of-a-kind geological wonders in the world. 

Photo courtesy: Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines

More than just being known for tarsiers and chocolate hills, little do many people know that Bohol also proudly boasts various beaches. 

If you are done exploring historical sites in Vigan and Intramuros and looking for something refreshing, the island of Panglao in Bohol is perfect for you. The beaches in this island are so near to each other that you can explore all of them in one day. 

Visit Alona Beach and experience one of the most famous white sand beaches in the country. The beach offers water activities, including sailing, banana boat, and diving. 

Photo courtesy: Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines

The beach is also surrounded by beautiful resorts and restaurants, offering luxurious room accommodations and mouthwatering food. 

Danao Beach is also well-known for its first-class resorts near the shore and crystal-clear waters. Professional and novice divers will definitely enjoy this beach due to its rich and diverse marine environment. 

Tourists can also explore Dumaluan and Bagobo beaches if they are looking for a place with less crowded people. Both offer water activities, such as snorkeling and swimming and are perfect for a picnic date or family trip. 

Cebu City – Best Island in Asia

Regarded as the ‘Queen City of the South,’ Cebu is a vibrant island destination in Asia and the Pacific. It offers everything about the arts—from various colorful festivals to world-class monuments and handcrafts. 

Cebu was recently nominated as Asia’s Leading Wedding Destination in the 30th World Travel Awards. It has been consecutively nominated in the same award category since 2019. 

International travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler’s (CNT) also named Cebu and the Visayas as the Best Island in Asia for its coveted 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards. Siargao, Palawan, and Boracay were also part of the Top 10 Asia list. 

At the heart of the province lies its ever-productive capital, Cebu City, the oldest city in the country and the birthplace of Christianity in the Far East. 

If you are fond of learning and exploring Catholic history and relics, Magellan’s Cross is the best starting point for you. 

Photo courtesy: Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu

Located in front of the Cebu City Hall, Magellan’s Cross is proof of the first entry of Catholicism in the country when Ferdinand Magellan reached the island in 1521 and planted the crucifix, converting many natives to the new religion.  

The Cross is sheltered within the Spanish-style octagonal pavilion, adorned with Christian paintings on the ceiling above the wooden cross. 

Right beside the famous cross stands the oldest Roman Catholic church in the Philippines—Santo Niño Basilica

Photo courtesy: Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu

If the Sinulog Festival is what makes you go to Cebu, you cannot miss out on visiting the site housing the famous Child Jesus, which the festival honors. 

The church is famous for Christian devotees and was designated by the Holy See of Rome as the “Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines.’ 

If Manila has Fort Santiago, the city of Cebu also has its own fortress named Fort San Pedro

Photo courtesy: Department of Tourism – Philippines | Facebook

Located at the pier area of the city, the fort was built under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi as a military defense structure. 

The fort was originally made of wood but was later replaced with stone to repel the Muslim raiders in the 17th century. 

Today, Fort San Pedro is now part of the Plaza Independencia and is considered the oldest triangular bastion fort in the Philippines. It also houses historical legacies of the 300-year Spanish rule, including Spanish documents, statues, and paintings. 

Davao  – Tourism Hub Award

Davao is home to many beautiful places in the region of Mindanao. Davao City earned the ‘Tourism Hub Award’ for attracting tourists and making them feel safe. The award signaled effective law enforcement and tourism projects in the city. 

Photo courtesy: Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines

It is where the highest peak in the country is located, Mt. Apo. But the difficulty of climbing the mountain only allows professional climbers to trek its summit, preferably in March, April, and October. 

The city is also home to People’s Park, one of the cleanest parks in the country, and the Eden Nature Park, named after the Biblical Garden due to its godly beauty. 

Durian is almost synonymous with the city as the fruit can be seen everywhere in Davao. 

A few kilometers away from the city, a paradise boasting the wonders of nature is situated. A perfect getaway from the city noise, Samal Island, one of the hidden gem islands in Davao, is a go-to destination for people who love island hopping. 

Its surroundings are packed with crystal-clear beaches and wonderful diving sites. But what makes it more interesting is the various colorful festivals the island celebrates from March to August. This makes Samal the ‘Island of Festivals.’ 

In addition to this, the island is also considered the biggest resort city in the Philippines, with more than 30 resorts and 1,000 rooms available for tourists.

Photo courtesy: Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines

Convenience is indeed at the heart of the island, as tourists can avail of accommodation and beautiful sceneries with ease. 

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