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10 Local & International Holiday Destinations For Filipinos, Including Visa-Free Countries

Local and international holiday destinations

Families and friend groups often find the time to embark on new adventures during extended breaks such as Christmas and Holy Week. But with a plethora of destinations worldwide, choosing the perfect vacation spot can be a challenge.

To help you decide which place you should explore next, we’ve compiled a list of local and international holiday destinations. This includes popular options as well as underrated gems, all within a short plane ride away.

– Local holiday destinations –

1. Ilocos Norte – surf or ride an ATV on sand dunes

Paoay Sand Dunes
Paoay Sand Dunes.
Image adapted from: @thearosacia via Instagram, @johndayego via Instagram

Ilocos Norte is often an overlooked holiday destination because of how far it is from the metro. However, it’s also accessible byplane via the Laoag International Airport.

Holiday Destination Filipinos - Ilocos Norte
Kapurpurawan Rock Formations.

Image credit: @andoodles via Instagram

In this northern Philippine province, you can explore places that offer a unique experience compared to the rest of the country. Where else can you surf or ride an ATV on sand dunes in the Philippines but in Paoay?

Besides Paoay Sand Dunes, other must-visit attractions in Ilocos Norte include the Kapurpurawan Rock Formations and the Bangui Windmills.

2. Bohol – explore breathtaking bodies of water

Bohol Balicasag Island
Balicasag Island.
Image credit: 맨블 MANVEL via Google Maps

Beyond the iconic Chocolate Hills, Bohol also boasts breathtaking bodies of water that are home to a variety of colorful marine life.

Holiday Destination Filipinos - Bohol
Balicasag Island Marine Sanctuary.
Image credit: @october_1989 via Instagram

In Panglao, you can find spots where dolphins and whales can be spotted. Balicasag Island, in particular, has white sand beaches and shallow waters creating a marine sanctuary that allows you to admire corals and swim with sea turtles.

When in Bohol, you should also explore the crystal clear waters inside Hinagdanan Cave and walk along Virgin Island‘s famous, picturesque sandbar.

3. Bukidnon – hike mountains and discover magical forests and majestic waterfalls

Holiday Destination Filipinos - Bukidnon
Mt. Dulang-Dulang.
Image credit: @e.vermicularis via Instagram.

Meanwhile, the province of Bukidnon is for adventure-seekers. It’s a 5-hour drive from the Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro, but the journey is well worth the effort.

Communal Ranch Bukidnon
Communal Ranch.

Image credit: @jennyyyaaahhh via Instagram

Hiking will lead you through the enchanting, mossy forest of Mt. Dulang-Dulang and bring you face-to-face with majestic waterfalls, including the two-tiered Limunsudan Falls.

The province also offers more scenic landscapes, such as Mt. Impasugong and its nearby Communal Ranch which is dubbed the “New Zealand of Bukidnon” for its tranquil scenery.

4. Iloilo – try local noodle recipes and snacks from homegrown brands

La Paz Batchoy
La Paz batchoy.
Image credit: @_tn.cstr via Instagram

Iloilo is a foodie’s paradise, known for its delicious noodle soups like molo and La Paz batchoy. It’s also home to popular homegrown food businesses such as Roberto’s Siopao and Biscocho Haus.

Holiday Destination Filipinos - Iloilo Tangke Lagoon
Tangke Lagoon.

Image credit: @stevonderlust via Instagram

Besides food, there are plenty of attractions to check out. One of them is the historic Molo Mansion which once accommodated 2 former Philippine presidents and now houses Ilonggo art.

If going swimming is a non-negotiable part of your every trip, Iloilo also boasts beautiful beaches. But for a touch of magic, don’t miss the whimsical Tangke Lagoon in Gigantes Islands.

5. Batanes – explore the northern tip of the country

Vayang Rolling Hills
Vayang Rolling Hills.
Image credit: @vibaljr via Instagram

If you want to be away as far away as you can to the city’s hustle and bustle, Batanes is the perfect holiday destination. Nestled in the northern tip of the country, this tranquil island group remains largely untouched and serene.

Lunis Batanes
Image credit: @_thefoodpirate_ via Instagram

Explore picturesque cliffs, rock formations, and lagoons. Let the lush, rolling hills of Vayang captivate you, and venture to the “end of the Philippine road”.

And while you’re there, learn more about the unique Ivatan culture and cuisine, which largely consists of seafood and root crops. Don’t miss trying lunis, their dry version of adobo, and blue rice that’s infused with butterfly pea flowers.

– International holiday destinations –

6. Japan – discover beautiful cities beyond Tokyo

Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto.
Image credit: @vanisjacob via Instagram

Tokyo is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Filipinos in recent years, with its neon-lit shopping malls and pop culture spots.

Holiday Destination Filipinos - Beppu Japan
Umi Jigoku in Beppu.

Image credit: @james_wanderlust via Instagram

However, Japan offers a plethora of cities beyond Tokyo to explore. So, even if you’ve visited the country before, there are still plenty of places waiting to be discovered.

For a cultural excursion, head to Kyoto and explore its shrines, or indulge in a food trip in Osaka. If you desperately need to relieve tired muscles during your holiday, take a train to Beppu to bask in one of its relaxing onsens or hot springs.

7. Malaysia – explore natural attractions in Sabah

Holiday Destination Filipinos - Sabah Mt Kinabalu
Mt. Kinabalu’s peak.
Image credit: Zahirin Md via Google Maps

Venture beyond Kuala Lumpur’s bustling cityscape and discover the wonders of Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia. These regions are a haven for adventure-seekers and nature enthusiasts.

Gunung Mulu National Park
The pinnacles at Gunung Mulu National Park.

Image credit: Google Maps

Embark on a climb on Mt. Kinabalu, standing at an impressive 4,095 meters, and relish the breathtaking views from its rocky peak. Marvel at the gigantic pinnacles at Gunung Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s also home to several enchanting caves.

Beyond these natural attractions, East Malaysia also has beautiful beaches and a rich biodiversity that includes orangutans and toucans.

8. South Korea – have a taste of South Korea in visa-free Jeju Island

Holiday Destination Filipinos - Jeju Island
Black pork barbecue.
Image credit: 테린이smilehush via Google Maps

South Korea is a dream destination for many Filipinos, thanks to its vibrant K-pop culture. But recently, getting a visa to Seoul can be quite a challenge. Thankfully, there are cities in South Korea that are visa-free for Filipinos, such as Jeju Island.

Snoopy Garden Jeju
Snoopy Garden.

Image credit: @look_hee_bboy via Instagram

Jeju Island’s charming cafes rival those in Seoul, offering delightful views of tangerine orchards and beaches. But make sure you also sample the regional delights such as black pork barbecue and abalone.

While Jeju is more serene than Seoul, it also offers exciting attractions. These include the Peanuts comic book-themed Snoopy Garden, and Arte Museum which is home to the largest immersive media art exhibit in South Korea.

9. Cambodia – visit the ruins of ancient temples

Holiday Destination Filipinos - Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat.
Image credit: Carlos Alberto do Amaral via Google amps.

History buffs will surely love Cambodia‘s rich history and breathtaking architecture.

Koh Ker Cambodia
Koh Ker.

Image credit: @taxi.d44 via Instagram

Undoubtedly, the UNESCO Heritage Site Angkor Wat stands out as a must-visit attraction in the country. This majestic temple complex, over 900 years old, holds the title of the largest religious structure globally.

In addition to Angkor Wat, there are also other temple ruins worth exploring. For enchanting sight, venture to Koh Ker, a pyramid-shaped structure from the 10th century now adorned with moss.

10. Vietnam – uncover the rich Vietnamese culture and cuisine

Bò lá lốt
Bò lá lốt (beef in wild betel leaf).
Image credit: Klook

We all know Vietnam for its vibrant coffee culture. But booking a motorbike tour in one of its cities will help you uncover more of the country’s exquisite dishes. Alternatively, you can enjoy Vietnamese delights with a view on the Saigon River Cruise.

Holiday Destination Filipinos - Hoi An Vietnam
An old riverfront town in Hoi An.

Image credit: Supanut Arunoprayote via Wikimedia Commons

The country also offers a feast for the eyes, with Chinese shophouses and French colonial architecture peppered across the country.

For nature attractions, Da Nang boasts magnificent limestone rock formations crowned with pagodas, and hidden caves housing Buddhist shrines.

Travel destinations for Filipinos

It’s these end of the year and all we’re thinking about is the long holiday to come. Why not fill those days with these breathtaking local and international travel destinations?

These holiday destinations above are not only a quick trip away but also offer a variety of exciting activities and marvelous sights. But of course, even more holiday destinations await you beyond the Philippines and Asia!

For a trip the entire barkada will enjoy, check out our guide to Hong Kong tourist spots. Or read up on tips for Filipinos on how to make the most of your Singapore holiday trip!

Cover image adapted from: Zahirin Md via Google Maps, @andoodles via Instagram, Supanut Arunoprayote via Wikimedia Commons, @october_1989 via Instagram