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25 Top Tourist Attractions in the USA

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As one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world, The United States boast an amazing amount of tourist destinations ranging from the skyscrapers of New York and Chicago, the natural wonders of Yellowstone and Alaska to the sunny beaches of California , Florida and Hawaii.

With so many tourist attractions in the USA it’s tempting to list entire cities or even states, but in this top 25 I have tried to focus on specific attractions.

25. Mount Rushmore [SEE MAP]

Mount Rushmore

Perhaps the most unmistakably American landmark is Mount Rushmore, a national memorial located in South Dakota. Constructed in the early 20th century, Mount Rushmore depicts the faces of four former American presidents, each of which is carved and blasted from the side of a rock face.

Visitors can admire the larger-than-life faces of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The short Presidential Trail at the base of Mount Rushmore provides better views and an interesting perspective on the landmark.

24. Pike Place Market in Seattle [SEE MAP]

Pike Place Market

Overlooking the waterfront of Elliott Bay in Seattle, Washington, is the Pike Place Market. Opened in 1907, the market is now a historic, iconic part of the city. Pike Place Market is the ultimate place to shop in Seattle, because it is full of the oldest establishments in the region.

There are markets where fresh fish straight from the Puget Sound gets tossed dramatically, cheesemongers who offer tastings of locally made brie and camembert and then there is the site of the original Starbucks coffee shop.

23. Venice Beach in Los Angeles [SEE MAP]

Venice Beach

No visit to Los Angeles is complete without a trip to Venice Beach. Its canals and beaches are spectacular, but the biggest hit is undeniably the Venice Beach Boardwalk. This is a truly entertaining spot where street performers juggle, dance, sculpt and sing for passersby.

Shop for souvenirs, grab a refreshing drink and bring some small bills for a stroll on the boardwalk. After stopping to admire a live performer, many visitors tip a dollar or two to show appreciation.

See also: Where to Stay in Los Angeles

22. Mesa Verde [SEE MAP]

Mesa Verde

The Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado is home to the preserved homes of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Many of these homes, which are carved right from caves and rock faces, date back to the early 13th century.

Today, it is possible to walk beneath the overhanging cliffs and tour these ancient abodes. The Balcony House is especially well preserved, and it boasts 40 rooms that are accessible exclusively by ladder. The nearby Cliff Palace is even bigger, and it is believed to have housed more than 100 people in its 150 original rooms.

21. Faneuil Hall in Boston [SEE MAP]

Faneuil Hall

One of the most historic destinations in Boston, a city already full of heritage, is Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Also known as the Cradle of Liberty, this early 18th century structure served as a space where early leaders gathered to fight against oppression in the years before and during the American Revolutionary War.

Today, touring Faneuil Hall Marketplace means lots of opportunity to shop for local produce and desserts in the indoor and outdoor marketplace.

20. Kennedy Space Center [SEE MAP]

Kennedy Space Center

Cape Canaveral, located on the coast of Florida, boasts a lot of space-related attractions. One of the best is the Kennedy Space Center, which has been the launch site for every US human space flight since 1968 and currently operates as a launch site for unmanned rockets.

Visitors can learn more about the early pioneers into space, and they can also experience the tension and excitement over the rush to the moon. There is even the chance to participate in the Shuttle Launch Experience, which replicates the experience of space travel.

19. Navy Pier in Chicago [SEE MAP]

Navy Pier

Extending over the waters of Lake Michigan is Navy Pier, an enormous pier in the heart of Chicago’s coastal Streeterville neighborhood. Within the pier, there are countless attractions suited to the whole family.

Beautifully manicured gardens are the ideal place for a scenic stroll, and lots of souvenir shops are a wonderful way to snag gifts on a vacation to Chicago. The pier is also home to the Chicago Children’s Museum, two theaters and an abundance of excellent restaurants.

18. Great Smoky Mountains National Park [SEE MAP]

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park is the most visited in the entire country, thanks in large part to its enormous size and its incredible scenery.

Visitors can hike through old growth forest, spot hundreds of species of birds and check out the two visitor centers. Hikes can also wind through trails that lead to the waterfalls of Laurel Falls and the vistas of Clingman’s Dome.

17. River Walk in San Antonio [SEE MAP]

River Walk

In the city of San Antonio, Texas , there are few attractions more appealing than the River Walk. Also known as the Paseo del Rio, the River Walk is a network of walkways lining the San Antonio River.

Reserved for pedestrians, the revitalized area is packed with fascinating architecture, lush greenery and water views. The River Walk is a hub for dining and culinary exploration in this Texan city. It is possible to dig into Tex-Mex cuisine, upscale French fare and everything in between in this one easily navigable destination.

16. Carlsbad Caverns [SEE MAP]

Carlsbad Caverns

As the name suggests, Carlsbad Caverns is a collection of over 115 caves. Located in southern New Mexico, these caverns are carved from limestone, and it is possible for visitors to descend more than 900 feet (275 meters) below the surface of the earth on a guided tour.

The largest single cave chamber in all of North America is found here and is known as the Big Room. Within the room itself, visitors can set off on a 90-minute walk exploring the incredible underground environment.

15. Bryce Canyon National Park [SEE MAP]

Bryce Canyon National Park

Located in Southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is a breathtaking display of rock formations. Technically, Bryce Canyon isn’t a canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters. Mormon settlers once called the canyon home, but now most visitors come for the awe-inspiring views and the magnificent hiking opportunities.

Sunset Point is one of the most popular vantage points, offering panoramic views of the red, yellow and orange rock formations. Queen’s Garden Trail is another favorite, because it offers green trees among the red rocks for a brilliant juxtaposition.

14. French Quarter in New Orleans [SEE MAP]

French Quarter

New Orleans, Louisiana, is made up of several unique districts, but none is so famous as the French Quarter. Also known as the Vieux Carre, the French Quarter truly explores the rich French colonial influences on the city of New Orleans . Incredible architecture abounds, with the St. Louis Cathedral being the main attraction.

The French Quarter boasts the Moon Walk, a paved walkway next to the Mississippi River, as well as Bourbon Street, the undeniable hub of nightlife, drinking and entertainment in the city.

13. Sedona Red Rock Country [SEE MAP]

Sedona Red Rock Country

A two-hour drive north of Phoenix is Sedona, Arizona. Sedona isn’t a big city, but it is a major tourist attraction in the USA thanks to its gorgeous red rock landscape. Known as Red Rock Country, this region is an outdoor lover’s dream. Countless canyons, creeks and paths encourage outdoor activity, with Cathedral Rock Trail being one of the local favorite hiking spots.

One of the most interesting spots in Sedona combines the new with the old, with the contemporary Chapel of the Holy Cross built right into the side of the red rocks themselves.

12. Walt Disney World in Orlando [SEE MAP]

Walt Disney World

Orlando, Florida , is a hub of amusement parks, but none is so popular as Walt Disney World. Many travelers don’t realize that Walt Disney World is actually made up of several distinct theme parks, including the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and the Blizzard Beach Water Park.

Visitors will be able to enjoy thrill rides, watch Broadway-quality shows and explore the nightlife, cuisine, shopping and entertainment at Disney Springs.

11. Yosemite National Park [SEE MAP]

Yosemite National Park

In the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, there is Yosemite National Park. This extraordinary destination is known the world over for its amazing scenery. Within this single park, visitors can peer off spectacular granite cliffs, admire clear waterfalls and see sequoia trees that are hundreds of years old.

Yosemite Valley is a top spot to explore in the park, because it boasts the enormous Yosemite Falls as well as the granite monolith called Half Dome.

10. White House in Washington D.C. [SEE MAP]

White House

The White House in Washington DC is the official residence and office of the President of the United States. It was built between 1792 and 1800 and first used by President John Adams.

After the 9/11 attacks it has become more difficult to visit the White House and today tours are available only for groups of 10 or more and must be requested up to six months in advance through your member of Congress or your country’s US Ambassador.

9. Denali National Park [SEE MAP]

Denali National Park

The Denali National Park and Preserve is located in Interior Alaska and contains Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. The word “Denali” means “the high one” in the native Athabaskan language and refers to Mount McKinley. In addition, the park protects an incredible wilderness area that contains grizzly bears, caribou, moose, wolves, and numerous other creatures.

8. Las Vegas Strip [SEE MAP]

Las Vegas Strip

The gambling mecca of the world, Las Vegas is situated in the midst of the southern Nevada desert landscape. Casinos can be found throughout Las Vegas, but the strip, a stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South, contains the most of them.

It features giant mega-casino hotels, decorated with lavish care and attention to detail to create a fantasy-like atmosphere. The casinos often have names and themes that evoke romance, mystery, and far-away destination.

See also: Where to Stay in Las Vegas

7. Florida Keys [SEE MAP]

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a 120 mile long chain of tropical islands curving around the base of the Florida peninsula, connected to the mainland by a series of bridges.

The most spectacular bridge, the Seven Mile Bridge in the Lower Keys, has been frequently used as a location for films including True Lies and Fast 2 Furious. US Highway 1, the “Overseas Highway” runs from Key Largo , Islamadora, Marathon, Lower Keys and finally to Key West, the most distant and most famous island.

6. Kilauea [SEE MAP]

Kilauea

Kilauea is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that have created the Hawaiian Archipelago. It is a very low, flat shield volcano, vastly different in profile from the high, sharply sloping peaks of stratovolcanoes.

Kilauea is one of the most active volcano on the Earth, an invaluable resource for volcanologists. Thirty-three eruptions have taken place since 1952, not including the current eruption which started on January 3, 1983 and is still ongoing.

5. Niagara Falls [SEE MAP]

Niagara Falls

Situated between the state of New York and the province of Ontario, Niagara Falls is one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the North American continent. Niagara Falls is actually three different falls, the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls.

Horseshoe Falls is located on the Canadian side while the other are located in New York. With more than 14 million visitors each year it is one of the most visited tourist attraction in the world.

4. Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco [SEE MAP]

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north.

The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and California . The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge.

3. Yellowstone [SEE MAP]

Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first national park, set aside in 1872 to preserve the vast number of geysers, hot springs, and other thermal areas, as well as to protect the incredible wildlife and rugged beauty of the area. Yellowstone lies on top of a gigantic hotspot where light, hot, molten mantle rock rises towards the surface.

Subsequently, the park contains half of all the world’s known geothermal features, with more than 10,000 examples of geysers and hot springs. In addition, black bears, grizzly bears, deer, elk, bison and wolves can all be found within the park borders.

2. Manhattan [SEE MAP]

Manhattan

Manhattan is one of New York’s five boroughs and is what people most often think of when they picture New York City . It’s familiar skyline and sights have been featured a thousand times on screen. Walk in the shadow of the skyscrapers, picture the Statue of Liberty, see a Broadway show , climb the Empire State building, stroll Central Park, window shop on 5th Avenue or stagger around a museum.

1. Grand Canyon [SEE MAP]

#1 of Tourist Attractions In The Usa

The Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona and is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States. Carved over several million years by the Colorado River, the canyon attains a depth of over 1.6 km (1 mile) and 446 km (277 miles) long.

The Grand Canyon is not the deepest or the longest canyon in the world but the overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape offers visitor spectacular vistas that are unmatched throughout the world.

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Reader interactions.

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November 12, 2020 at 8:34 pm

I’ve been to almost all of these. HANDS DOWN Grand Canyon- Bryce-Tetons- Yellowstone-Glacier is the most amazing trip. I’ve been all over the world, and Yellowstone’s wildlife and the view at the Grand Canyon are by far the most epic. I love Washington State as well: Mt. Ranier, Seattle, Olympic and the anitoles- you can see a variety in a small distance.

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July 26, 2019 at 10:32 am

You should have included the historic triangle in Virginia. It includes Williamsburg (Colonial Williamsburg) Jamestown (America’s first settlement) & Yorktown (the site of Cornwallis’ surrender, effectively ending the Revolutionary War) it is literally the birth place of this great nation and is a huge tourist destination.

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May 24, 2019 at 10:31 pm

Nice article, but may I make one correction regarding Pike Place Market? As a local tour guide, it bugs me when people tell our visitors that the Starbucks at the market is the original. It isn’t, and I try to set this myth straight every chance I get. The original Starbucks was on Western Ave., and burned down in the 70s. The original owner and team moved to the present location at the market, which is how they get away with calling it original, but in reality, it is misleading the public.

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October 31, 2018 at 10:15 am

Hello!? Savannah GA is amazing. It’s like stepping back in time.

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August 17, 2017 at 7:54 pm

oh my gaawwwd. these photos are amazing and I cant wait to go back to the us so I can visit vegas. I didn’t get to last time so im really looking forward to it!!!

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September 1, 2016 at 11:10 am

I am excited to see Niagra falls soon and its my dream to see New York specially Statue of Liberty, Central park and Brooklyn Bridge. I hope that soon i shall be there.

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February 9, 2015 at 8:09 am

It makes you dream and want to go there. I’ve learned a lot on the USA thanks to your site and the like. Your publications perfectly reflect the wonderful side of the USA.

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January 30, 2015 at 12:36 am

Christina Rusia! You are right America is fabulous and offer amazing sights to see there. I have explored its major attractions and Niagara Falls and Grand Canyon are one of those places which are my ever best spots to enjoy the natural beauty. Recently I went to have some fun with friends in Nagara Falls after my pedestrian streets trip.

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October 14, 2014 at 6:04 pm

I think that america is fabulous, The sights and also the view is amazing to see and visit. I am currently in New York.

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July 24, 2014 at 11:32 pm

I visited Yellowstone National Park. This is an awesome place in USA.

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December 12, 2013 at 4:46 am

I have been very lucky myself to have visited most of these places. One of my main reasons why I love America (USA) is because of the diversity the country has to offer in terms of landscapes e.g. countryside, deserts, mountains ect. Out of the above Yellowstone and Vegas are my favourites. Niagara Falls was an sight I will never forget – waking up each morning and opening my hotel room curtains to see the falls directly below….breathtaking.

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November 30, 2013 at 7:03 am

these are great places

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September 14, 2013 at 6:17 am

Las Vegas is my final destination …….thankew. informative website

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August 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I think that Niagara Falls needs to be higher on the list. Who agrees?

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March 27, 2013 at 6:44 am

Niagara Falls & Manhattan is my dream….I have no word to express the beauty

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February 19, 2013 at 1:03 am

great feed back about us visitor Sp like me who is going to visit USA first time and with family it was quite difficult for me to decide where to go but after visiting this page i am clear about my trip thanks alot

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November 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I can say that I have been very fortunate to have visited all but one of these tourist attractions. (Alaska being the only one) Visiting Alcatraz and seeing the Golden Gate was interesting, along with watching the Geysers in Yellowstone. I live in NY (15 minutes from Niagara Falls and an easy drive to NYC) so those don’t interest me as much but after driving cross country in my early twenties, I have realized just what a beautiful country we live in. I now have three children and make it a point to travel with them. Each child gets a surprise birthday trip every year and it has proved to be not only memorable but also educational. My 11 year old has been many places, in and out of the U.S. and now is starting to understand the value of travel. Great site! 🙂

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September 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Manhattan: “… stagger around a museum”… you have you never lied. I recently visited New York, and a friend of mine and I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our initial plan was to try and see if we could make it through that one and the American Museum of Natural History. After a good 7 hours in the Met, we ended up taking a taxi to Penn Station, and slept our way back on the train to Long Island. I will say, however the exhaustion was worth it.

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August 6, 2012 at 8:52 am

A great page, I’ve been to the USA many times – Cities such as New York and San Francisco are really worth a visit – For natural wonder Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are a must.

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August 28, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Very good collection of tourist places. I have bookmarked this page, and i will follow this blog at the time of my usa tour. Thanks.

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April 26, 2011 at 3:47 am

Fabulous photos of places to visit in the US. I have been very lucky to visit Vegas, and to have flown over the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. Over the page you have photos of Alaska and Denali National Park which I plan to visit next year. When I see those photos I can hardly wait. Thanks great post.

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The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2022

From far-flung destinations to hometown favorites, 2022 is the year to get back out there and turn your dream trips into reality.

Since 1971, Travel + Leisure editors have followed one mission: to inform, inspire, and guide travelers to have deeper, more meaningful experiences. T+L's editors have traveled to countries all over the world, having flown, sailed, road tripped, and taken the train countless miles. They've visited small towns and big cities, hidden gems and popular destinations, beaches and mountains, and everything in between. With a breadth of knowledge about destinations around the globe, air travel, cruises, hotels, food and drinks, outdoor adventure, and more, they are able to take their real-world experience and provide readers with tried-and-tested trip ideas, in-depth intel, and inspiration at every point of a journey.

Planning new adventures as a new year approaches is always a thrill, but finding the best places to visit in 2022 is unique. After two years of border closures, cruise cancellations, and travel restrictions galore , 2022 is the year we hope to get back out there, uninhibited (albeit vaccinated and COVID tested ), return to our favorite destinations, and cross new ones off our lists.

Though the hospitality industry was hit hard by the pandemic, many properties used the forced downtime to renovate rooms, add new amenities, and expand outdoor spaces to offer even more once guests return. 2022 is when many travelers will venture further from home, and even overseas, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, finally reaping the benefits of these valiant efforts.

Although COVID variants remain, regulations are still evolving, and precautions must still be taken, many of the destinations we chose for 2022 offer what we believe travelers are looking for in a post-pandemic world, from hotels with private accommodations to destinations teeming with fresh-air activities . Others, like Las Vegas, are for those who are ready and raring to make up for all the social time they missed — with a few splashy headliners, including Adele and the Raiders, thrown in for good measure.

As cruising makes its comeback , we included unforgettable places to see by water, from Antarctica to the Nile, and as hard-hit destinations like Italy and Asia recover, we found the buzziest reasons to return. Of course we didn't forget about all the stateside gems we got to know while domestic travel was surging, from Alaska and California to Florida and Michigan.

Our 2022 list, organized alphabetically, doesn't hold back, with aspirational trips as far away as India, Mozambique, Qatar, and even space — but we're also including hometown favorites, like Walt Disney World and its new Star Wars hotel ; the wellness retreats of beautiful Sedona; and the simple pleasures of small-town, farm-to-table living in Franklin, Tennessee. Because no matter what type of trip you've been dreaming of, we want to help you turn 2022 into the year you get back out there and make it a reality.

— Edited by Nina Ruggiero and Scott Bay

1. Abruzzo, Italy

Stretching from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea on the peninsula's southeastern side, Abruzzo, Italy has long been one of the country's most overlooked destinations despite its unspoiled villages, picturesque Trabocchi Coast, and stunning natural escapes. Over the past few years, however, it has gone from a sleepy underdog to an ambitious harbinger of slow travel, sustainable gastronomy, and conscious hospitality. Villa Corallo , a 19th-century mansion near Civitella del Tronto was transformed into a five-star hotel in 2019. Dimore Montane , an eco-lodge opened in 2020 in Majella National Park, marries glamping with environmentally-friendly facilities with a zero waste policy. Meanwhile, restaurants like Bottega Culinaria in San Vito Chietino and Materia Prima in Castel di Sangro are redefining the region as one of Italy's most exciting food hotspots for their innovative and sustainable takes on local produce and traditional dishes (in case Niko Romito's three-Michelin-starred Reale wasn't enough). And completing construction this Spring is Via Verde dei Trabocchi: a cycling and pedestrian path along the Adriatic sea that's being built on a disused railway route. — Marianna Cerini

With many international borders closed over the last two years, many eager U.S. travelers' eyes turned to Alaska. The vast state, famous for its towering, snow-capped peaks, pristine wilderness, massive national parks, and colorful locals, made for a dynamic destination with no passport required. But as borders reopen, interest in the 49th state is showing no signs of slowing down. Alaska's tourism board said early forecasts are projecting that more than 1.57 million cruise ship passengers could visit southeast Alaska in summer 2022. That's an 18% jump from 2019, the previous record year. Many perennial favorite cruise lines , like Holland America, will be returning to full strength after a non-existent 2020 and abbreviated 2021. Others, like Windstar Cruises, UnCruise, and Hurtigruten are rolling out fresh itineraries or are launching new ships. On dry land, Alaska is set to see myriad new offerings and events. In Juneau, the Sealaska Heritage Institute will open their Arts Campus (where visitors will be able to learn about Alaska Native art and culture) and will host Celebration , one of the largest gatherings of Indigenous peoples. In Anchorage, Fur Rendezvous , Alaska's oldest and largest winter festival, will be back from Feb. 25 to March 6 (which also happens to be peak aurora season ). The event hosts activities like the Running of the Reindeer and the Outhouse Races, before culminating with the 50th running of the iconic Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race . — Bailey Berg

3. Anguilla

This easy-going Caribbean gem is simpler than ever to get to with American Airlines launching the first-ever nonstop, direct flight from Miami on Dec. 11. Private charter flights by Tradewind Aviation have also resumed service to the island. And the just-opened Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club has a fleet of jets to ferry guests from key U.S. cities. The sprawling luxury resort will include a few restaurants overseen by chef Abram Bissell, formerly of Eleven Madison Park, The NoMad, and The Modern. Quintessence , a boutique luxury resort with perks like butler service and a 4:1 staff-to-guest ratio, is opening a more affordable annex of suites called Quinn that will debut in 2022 (along with a Champagne cellar tasting room and Art Bar). New Restaurant Uchu at Belmond Cap Juluca is taking inspiration from Belmond's collection of properties in Peru. Named after the Quechuan word for spice, the menu will feature contemporary Peruvian cuisine inspired by three of the country's regions: the coast, the jungle, and the highlands. — Scott Bay

4. Antarctica

The pandemic shutdown created a compelling reason to visit Antarctica in 2022: See how the whales, seals, and penguins react after nearly two years without seeing humans. New polar-class expedition ships and new ways to get to the White Continent are reasons to pack your boots too. Viking Expeditions will be in Antarctica for the first time in 2022 with new, twin 378-passenger expedition ships. Ponant's new 270-passenger Le Commandant Charcot introduces eco-friendlier sailing, as the first hybrid-electric ship fueled by liquified natural gas (rather than heavy fuel). Quark Expeditions' long-awaited 199-passenger Ultramarine delivers exciting heli-hiking adventures via two eight-seat twin-engine helicopters. Hit a craps table in between icy exploration on the luxurious new all-suite 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor . Silversea Cruises' posh, 144-passenger, all-suite Silver Explorer returns with a debut travel option: Skip the notorious (for rough water) Drake Passage and catch a private flight directly from Chile to Antarctica to board the ship. — Fran Golden

American travelers have long loved the Bahamas for its crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and sunshine just about 50 miles off the coast of Florida, but there are even more reasons to visit the island nation in 2022. Baha Mar on the Island of New Providence has a brand new water park equipped with everything from a lazy river to a surf simulator, and day passes are available for purchase to those who aren't resort guests. For more rest and relaxation, journey to the outer islands of the Bahamas. While charter flights will get you exactly where you need to go, Crystal Cruises is offering a Bahamas-centric cruise that brings guests to some of the quieter and more remote islands. On its mid-July cruise, guests will embark and disembark from Nassau and then be whisked away via "6-star" service to the islands of Bimini, Great Exuma, San Salvador, and Long Island. Beyond the beach, don't forget to indulge in some local food and culture. The Island archipelago is famous for its conch, stew fish, and rock lobster. From late April through early May, Carnival is celebrated in Nassau and back after a pandemic hiatus. Keep an eye out for the famous sound and dance of the junkanoo. — Jamie Aranoff

6. Barbados

Whether you want a relaxing all-inclusive stay or a vibrant vacation filled with dining and nightlife, Barbados has you covered. Nowhere is that more evident than the pedestrian-friendly South Coast, which is teeming with new resorts and restaurants. The O2 Beach Club & Spa is an all-inclusive resort set on the white sands of Dover Beach, with three pools, six dining options, seven bars, and the Acqua spa, featuring the only hammam treatment room on the island. It joins other luxurious South Coast hotels, including Sandals and Sea Breeze Beach House . If you can pull yourself away from the resort pools, head along the coast to Worthing Square Food Garden, an outdoor food hall with 20 vendors serving dishes from around the Caribbean. Or stroll down the mile-long boardwalk for easy access to ocean-front food and drinks at local favorites like Champers, Salt Café, Tiki Bar, and Chill Café & Bar. — Kevin Gray

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

A favorite of adventure travelers for its rainforests and divers who explore the Great Blue Hole and expansive barrier reef, Belize offers an abundance of casual spots and a handful of luxe resorts. The latest arrival is Alaia Belize, an Autograph Collection Hotel , in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, opened mid-2021 with plans to add to its already extensive guest room, suite, and oceanfront villa accommodations. Major airlines are also recognizing the destination's potential with nonstop flights and convenient connections from most U.S. cities. In addition to United and Delta's nonstop flights from Houston and Atlanta, respectively, Alaska Airlines added nonstop service from Los Angeles and Seattle to Belize City in November, and Frontier Airlines will start weekly nonstop flights from Denver and Orlando. — Patricia Doherty

8. Budapest, Hungary

Very few places in the world capture both old-world charm and elegant modernity like Hungary's capital city, and Budapest's latest 130-room luxury hotel, Matild Palace , is a shining example. The neo-baroque palace-turned-hotel, which opened last summer in the city's District V, is a UNESCO-protected site that once housed the city's royalty. The hotel is now home to Wolfgang Punk's famed restaurant, Spago , the first of its kind in central Europe. It also hosts the Duchess bar — a rooftop "liquor library" that mixes craft cocktails using local wines and pálinka, Hungarian fruit brandy, which can be enjoyed alongside panoramic views of the Danube river. Surrounded by 22 wine regions, Budapest is a city for oenophiles. Enjoy a glass of Kékfrankos or Kadarka in the Castle District's newly opened wine bar, Takler Borbár Buda , founded by one of the country's renowned winemaking families. Don't leave the city without visiting Marlou , a biodynamic wine bar near the Hungarian State Opera, and Portobello , an unassuming coffee and natural wine bar around the corner from Matild Palace. — Stephanie Andrews

9. Burgundy, France

The region of Burgundy is known for — you guessed it — its Burgundy wine, but French wine isn't the only reason Burgundy is a must-visit in 2022. In the spring, the region's capital city of Dijon will welcome the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin (International City of Gastronomy and Wine), an expansive complex with a cooking school, a new hotel, a handful of restaurants, and a wine cellar with over 250 by-the-glass offerings. The new project is perfectly situated at the starting point of Burgundy's famed wine route — Route des Grands Crus — which runs from Dijon to Santenay and produces some of the country's most well-regarded wines, including pinot noir, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc. — Evie Carrick

10. British Virgin Islands

Within the Caribbean, the 60 islands that comprise the British Virgin Islands have long held the reputation of luxury draped in relaxation. And now it's doubling down on that brand of island spirit with Richard Branson's second private island, the 125-acre Moskito Island that opened in October and sits right across from his first BVI paradise, Necker Island (which received a serious upgrade when it reopened last year after a two-year closure). The new destination will eventually have 10 private estates that can be rented through Virgin Limited Edition , but among the ones already available are Point Estate, starting at $17,500 a night, and Oasis Estate for $19,000. But Moskito isn't the only shiny new reason to visit BVI. Proving the area's resilience following the devastation after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Saba Rock , the private island long known for its diving, went through a complete reconstruction before reopening in October; the Bitter End Yacht Club reopened in December with BVI's first over-the-water bungalows; and Oil Nut Bay will expand in early 2022 with new villas, a watersports center, and spa. Also on tap for 2022, the solar-powered White Bay Villas and new hilltop suites at Long Bay Beach Resort . And with the Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival returning in the spring of 2022 after being canceled for two years, BVI is proving it's truly back and stronger than ever. — Rachel Chang

11. Costa Smeralda, Sardinia

You're likely to glimpse Europe's pro athlete and yachting crowds at Marriott's four hotels on the Costa Smeralda, the glitzy Italian destination known for its Caribbean-like beaches and luxury resorts. Its glamorous Hotel Cala di Volpe has gradually been unveiling room renovations alongside new dining options, including its Harrods Suite, with a roof terrace and sea-facing plunge pool, and BeefBar 's first Italian outpost. The entire area is one big " Billionaire Experience ," but Formula One and entertainment mogul Flavio Briatore snagged the term for his new dining and nightlife venue in designer shopping destination Porto Cervo. For more of a low-key, family-friendly escape, the Baglioni Resort Sardinia opened an hour south in San Teodoro in June, overlooking the stunning Tavolara Marine Reserve . — Nina Ruggiero

12. Crete, Greece

The Greek Islands have long been a perennial favorite vacation destination for discerning travelers, and Crete, the largest of the 227 islands in the archipelago, deserves a spot atop your must-see list. Yes, it's a place where you can find the white-washed buildings and blue roofs you've lusted after on Instagram for years, and a spot where you can dive into the cerulean blue waters of the Mediterranean at every turn. And of course you can dig deep into both history and mythology as humans have lived on the island since the 7th millennium B.C ., not to mention the fact that Crete is the birthplace of Zeus . It's little surprise then, with all this beauty and history, that Crete continues to harbor a rich creative community, mostly centered in the neighborhood of Chania. There, visitors can peruse works in museums like the Mediterranean Architecture Center , or seek out unique pieces in galleries like the Municipal Art Gallery or the Redd Gallery . To visit Crete, hop aboard a sailing with Silversea , which takes guests to Crete and several other stellar islands, or book a stay at the Blue Palace Elounda, a Luxury Collection Resort , named one of the Top 10 Greece Resort Hotels in Travel + Leisure 's World's Best Awards, 2021. — Stacey Leasca

13. Walt Disney World

The " World's Most Magical Celebration " — Walt Disney World's 18-month-long 50th anniversary event that kicked off on Oct. 1 — continues through 2022 with enchanting touches and highly anticipated ride and hotel openings. Star Wars : Galactic Starcruiser will begin offering its immersive, two-night adventures in a galaxy far, far away on March 1. The interactive, choose-your-own-adventure experience will have guests wielding lightsabers, sleeping on the ship, brushing shoulders with Star Wars characters, eating intergalactic cuisine, and maybe even going on a secret mission, making this a truly unique experience that you can't find anywhere else in the world. Other 2022 openings include the Guardians of the Galaxy : Cosmic Rewind indoor coaster at Epcot, slated for summer. — Elizabeth Rhodes

14. Doha, Qatar

As we ask ourselves what cities of the future should look like, we naturally look around for examples. Places like Shanghai, Tokyo, and New York City seem to fit the description on paper, but I'd argue that no city better encapsulates that definition than Doha, the capital of Qatar. There is so much to discover — from East-West/West-East , a series of four steel monoliths created by sculptor Richard Serra to the Museum of Islamic Art , the massive 560,000-square-foot gallery. Eat at Syrian comfort food spot Damasca One, Em Sherif a rooftop spot that serves up authentic regional dishes, and the lively corner restaurant Nourlaya Contemporary for Sri Lankan cuisine. Stay at the Mandarin Oriental Doha or Banyan Tree Doha . (Read Robinson's full dispatch on Doha in the July 2021 edition of Travel + Leisure) — Whitney Robinson

15. Edinburgh, Scotland

The Auld Reekie is buzzing with new energy. The highly anticipated Hotel W , designed by Jestico and Whiles in conjunction with Allan Murray Architects, is opening next winter. And several other hotels have recently opened in and around the city — Marine North Berwick , the Market Street hotel , Rusacks St. Andrews , and ship-turned-luxury-hotel Fingal . Gleneagles Townhouse , a first-ever city outpost from the famed Gleneagles estate, is opening in the spring. St James Quarter, a developing area of the city, and where Hotel W is being built, is opening next year with 85 shops, 30 restaurants, and a cinema. New in whisky is the September christening of Johnnie Walker Princes Street . And promising to shake up the scotch scene in the capital city is Leith Distillery , opening in the summer. — Scott Bay

16. Finger Lakes, New York

The Finger Lakes have bolstered their wellness and culinary offerings in recent years, carving out a name for themselves in the luxury travel realm. Inns of Aurora , comprising five historic mansions, debuted a holistic wellness facility in 2021 — set on 350 acres overlooking Cayuga Lake, complete with hydrotherapy pools, meditation areas, and a farm fresh cafe. Forty miles west of Cayuga, The Lakehouse on Canandaigua — situated on, yes, Canandaigua Lake — recently unveiled the Willowbrook Spa, which boasts lakeside barrel sauna sessions among other innovative treatments. Sandwiched between Cayuga and Canandaigua lakes is Seneca Lake, home to the largest of the Finger Lakes wine trails (this might be riesling country, but don't knock the lighter-bodied reds till you try 'em) and foodie draws like the 14-seat F.L.X. Table . Travelers visiting in the coming year will also see the Finger Lakes festival roster return in full force, including Rochester's Lilac Festival in May and International Jazz Festival in July, as well as attractions for the historically inclined road tripper, like Cayuga County's celebration of Harriet Tubman's birth through a number of walking tours and activations rolled out through 2022. — Maya Kachroo-Levine

17. Franklin, Tennessee

Despite its count of more than 80,000 year-round residents, the very walkable Franklin firmly grasps onto its small-town charms , starting with a quintessentially quaint downtown chock-full of shops and restaurants finding shelter in brick storefronts lining the sidewalks. The uninitiated might know this place for its past — Civil War museums, battleground sites, and historical markers telling the stories of a slave market, race riots, and Black soldiers in the U.S. Colored Troop division of the army all offer points of education and reflection. But the southern city has many modern-day draws as well — for starters, an exciting food and drink scene that includes the Tennessee Whiskey Trail and Arrington Vineyards , the largest winery in the region. Musical events and venues abound, too: The Pilgrimage Music Festival is one of the biggest in the state, and the 7,500-seat FirstBank Amphitheater , newly opened inside a former rock quarry, has welcomed the likes of the Jonas Brothers and Santana to its stage. There's also Leiper's Fork , a quirky-cool enclave filled with antique shops and art galleries. Even more brand-new to the scene is Southall , a 325-acre farm and inn with 62 rooms and suites and 16 cottages opening this June. The lush setting amid rolling hills makes active adventures (hiking, biking, kayaking), wellness pursuits (a spa, meditation, yoga, and two outdoor pools), and nourishing food (the restaurant uses ingredients grown, raised, and foraged on the property) easy to find. All of this and more lie just a short, 30-minute drive from bustling Nashville, making it tempting to tack onto a visit to the capital city. — Alisha Prakash

18. Galápagos Islands

The world's largest marine biosphere reserve will expand more than 20,000 square miles next year thanks to a recent presidential decree . The conservation measure seeks to combat illegal fishing by offering increased protection to the thousands of species that populate the archipelago's waters as well as a migration corridor stretching up to Costa Rica used by sharks, whales and other sea life. Come January, travelers can cruise this UNESCO-protected region on new nine-day adventures from Hurtigruten Expeditions and outfitter Metropolitan Touring aboard the 90-guest carbon-neutral MS Santa Cruz II. For a more intimate experience, passengers can book Aqua Expeditions ' seven-suite 164-foot superyacht, Aqua Mare, when it debuts in May. At the end of the year, eco-enthusiasts can sail to lesser-explored islands to spot giant tortoises, sea lions, flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, and marine iguanas on Quasar Expeditions ' new sustainable yacht — the 18-passenger M/Y Conservation featuring biodegradable amenities, renewable energy and a carbon-neutral footprint. Those with timid sea legs should check into the locally owned and run Montemar in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. — Nora Walsh

19. Greater Palm Springs, California

Greater Palm Springs is kicking its signature self-care into high gear in the coming year. Taking a cue from its sister property, Sensei Lanai , the new Sensei Porcupine Creek is converting a 230-acre private estate into a luxury wellness experience in Rancho Mirage in 2022. In Palm Springs proper, Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza will celebrate Indigenous art and history alongside the new Spa at Séc-he , where visitors will soak in approximately 12,000-year-old hot springs. Nearby, Fleur Noire Hotel just opened its adults-only casitas and bungalows, with a speakeasy Champagne bar to follow. Unexpectedly, the desert has a budding surf scene — the former Wet 'n Wild waterpark is becoming Palm Springs Surf Club , with a state-of-the-art wave pool, spa, restaurant, and bar; DSRT Surf is set to open a 5.5-acre wave lagoon in Palm Desert; and Kelly Slater himself is bringing a green energy–powered wave basin to Coral Mountain , a proposed new wellness resort with a hotel and residences, set to open in La Quinta by 2023 pending city approvals. And for entertainment outside the splash zone, the $250-million Coachella Valley Arena will host hockey, concerts, and more live events by the end of the year. — Nina Ruggiero

20. Greenville, South Carolina

Once in the shadow of Charleston and Asheville, Greenville has emerged in recent years as a go-to destination in its own right — and it keeps giving travelers more reasons to visit. In 2022, the city of just over 70,000 people will welcome a luxury boutique hotel, unveil a new public gathering place, and build on its well-earned reputation as a culinary and craft beer hotspot. The long-awaited, 187-room Grand Bohemian hotel is expected to open its doors this spring, complete with a two-story restaurant and bar, art gallery, and spa. The 60-acre Unity Park will feature plenty of greenspace, an observation tower, baseball fields, playgrounds, and walking and biking trails. And recently opened restaurants, including French Laundry alum Drew Erickson's Camp , Urban Wren, Coral, and an outpost of Nashville's famous Prince's Hot Chicken located inside Yee-Haw Brewing will ensure you're well-fed while in town. — Kevin Gray

21. Ilha Caldeira, Mozambique

While South Africa and Uganda grab headlines for African wildlife, Mozambique has been quietly making strides protecting 17 percent of its land — including beaches, coral reefs, and islands — showcasing its dedication to its natural beauty both on land and underwater. Ever since the country's 16-year civil war ended in 1992, the southeastern African nation has been aiming to build back in the right ways. Case in point: the private island of Ilha Caldeira, less than seven miles off the coast as part of the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago, located within the marine-protected area with 20 percent of the country's intact living coral. It's here that the eco-luxury Banyan Tree resort chain has developed one of its most ambitious projects yet, a five-star property — accessible by jetty or helicopter — with 40 private pool villas that will be completely solar powered. Add to that a fish market restaurant with a 270-degree ocean view, the brand's trademark Banyan Tree Spa, and world-class diving, all in a too-pristine-to-believe beach setting, and this island escape is sure to draw attention away from its Indian Ocean neighbors when it opens at the end of 2022. — Rachel Chang

22. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Those wary of traveling internationally in 2022 will find solace in Jackson Hole, a mountain town with endless open space (Wyoming is the least populated state in the U.S.) and plenty to do. In the winter, life revolves around Jackson Hole Mountain Resort , home to some of the nation's best skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, plan your trip around the Jackson Hole Food & Wine Summer Festival (June 23-25) or head to the nearby Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. For easy access to the mountain town, travelers can hop on one of Aero's high-end, seasonal flights and stay at The Cloudveil off the Town Square or the Caldera House at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. — Evie Carrick

23. Kafue National Park, Zambia

Straddling three regions of Zambia, Kafue National Park is the largest (and oldest) in the country, measuring 8,648 miles. In the wildlife-rich Busanga plains — located in the secluded northern side of the park — spend the night at newly opened Chisa Busanga Camp in their bird's nest shaped rooms. Enjoy a silent safari, thanks to e-cruisers or an e-bike safari provided by the property. See wildlife from above with a hot air balloon safari from Shumba Camp or Busanga Bush Camp . Other accommodation offerings in the park include riverfront Ila Safari Lodge and Mukambi Safari Lodge . Both properties offer fishing, walking safaris, boat cruises, and have Instagram worthy pools (perfect for a soak and the traditional safari sundowner: a gin and tonic). — Mazuba Kapambwe

24. Kaunas, Lithuania

Kaunas, Lithuania has a lofty New Year's resolution. After a century of wars, Soviet rule, and, since the 1990s, independence, this UNESCO Creative City of Design is ready to cultivate a new identity — and it's doing so as one of two European Capitals of Culture for 2022 (alongside Novi Sad, Serbia). The festivities commence in January, with thousands of concerts, festivals, exhibitions, and events throughout the year to celebrate Kaunas' history while cementing its path forward . Also this year, Kaunas will welcome the highly anticipated $30 million Science Island, Lithuania's first national science and innovation center designed by UK firm Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC). By May, the city's former Magnus Hotel will reopen with sparkly new digs and a posh rooftop under the ibis Styles umbrella . This lively city is also a main stop on the recently unveiled 1,330-mile Forest Trail across the Baltics. And, a host of just-announced Ryanair flight routes, including Madrid to Kaunas, will make visiting this capital of culture a breeze. — Stephanie Vermillion

25. Kyushu, Japan

Kyushu may be less than two hours from Tokyo by plane, but it feels far from Honshū's well-beaten tourist circuit. The southwesternmost Japanese main island is still largely unexplored, providing those willing to venture off the beaten path with a much different Japan than the one they'll find in its cities. As a warm, subtropical island, Kyushu is home to long, golden beaches and some of Japan's best snorkeling and scuba diving. Inland, the country's most active volcano, Mt. Aso, feeds the island's myriad natural hot springs — many of which offer sea views. And while the island has accommodations that include both hot spring resorts and luxury beachfront villas , nothing tops a stay at Hirado Castle , which was recently restored and renovated to welcome visitors overnight . — Evie Carrick

26. Lanai, Hawaii

Wellness opportunities and cultural awareness are showcased along with luxury at Lanai's two Four Seasons resorts. At Sensei Lāna'i, A Four Seasons Resort , guests can now choose the Discover Sensei Experience , offering the ability to enjoy the retreat's amenities without joining the more comprehensive programs. New "Optimal Wellbeing" programs focus on improving performance in tennis and golf along with overall wellness. Four Seasons Resort Lanai is adding an observatory as part of "Love Lanai," featuring cultural experiences designed to share the island's rich heritage. The observatory program will center around the history of Pacific voyaging, native traditions, and astronomy. — Patricia Doherty

27. Las Vegas, Nevada

Never bet against the house: The pandemic may have put a damper on Las Vegas, but the ever-on-the-move city is back in a big way for 2022. A massive new development on the Strip, Resorts World Las Vegas, opened in June, has three distinct Hilton properties under one enormous roof, not to mention more than 40 restaurants and bars, plus pools (plural), and a handful of $15,000-a-night villas . Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, the Cromwell , and downtown's Circa Resort & Casino are also giving visitors fresh options on where to stay. The city's pro sports teams — also now plural — are drawing in fans. And off-Strip "immersive experiences," like the Omega Mart by Meow Wolf and the Illuminarium, both at Area15 , are lending an additional layer of things to do beyond the expected. Not that there's anything wrong with splashing out on dinner and a show after the past two years. Live acts — like Adele's just-announced residency at The Colosseum — are once again hot tickets, as is a table at chic new supper club Delilah , at the Wynn Las Vegas. Some things, thankfully, never change. — Paul Brady

28. Louisville, Kentucky

Your cowboy boots were made for walking the streets of Louisville. Nicknamed "The Bourbon City," an official gateway to Kentucky's bourbon trail, the city is expanding its bourbon footprint in 2022. In October, the Urban Bourbon Trail welcomed the first and only African American–owned distillery in the state, Brough Brothers . Meanwhile, its trailmate, Angel's Envy , will wrap its $8.2-million expansion project complete with a new event space and five tasting rooms in the spring. The city is most well known for hosting the annual Kentucky Derby every spring at the historic Churchill Downs racetrack, and the Downs will open the first installment of its multi-year expansion plan, the Homestretch Club , just in time for the 2022 Derby. There, attendees will be able to enjoy the race with an all-new trackside lounge experience. — Hannah Streck

29. Malaysia

Malaysia is home to a beautiful medley of cultures (Chinese, Indian, and Malay) and a diverse smattering of terrain: bustling cities with towering buildings, verdant rain forests with incredible wildlife, and idyllic islands with dreamy beaches. But all of this and more has been closed to the world for much of the pandemic. Now that the island of Langkawi is open via a travel bubble, with the rest of the country expected to follow suit in 2022, travelers can once again experience Malaysia's many gifts. Langkawi, a beach lover's paradise, blends unspoiled nature (UNESCO-listed Kilim Karst Geoforest Park ) and unparalleled luxury ( Four Seasons Resort , Datai Langkawi ), while cosmopolitan capital Kuala Lumpur draws visitors with its gleaming Petronas Towers, delicious hawker food stalls, and shopping. Then there's Borneo, complete with wildlife-packed jungles and a rich Indigenous culture, as well as Desaru Coast, a 3,900-acre area that's home to coveted resorts like the One&Only Desaru Coast , a tropical oasis that opened in early September 2020 (the brand's first in Asia). — Alisha Prakash

30. Maldives

The Maldives' 1,000+ islands sit in the Indian Ocean like a string of turquoise pearls. The tropical nirvana has 166 accommodation options, including the new Joali Being nature retreat, which leads guests on a transformative wellness journey. Alila Kothaifaru Maldives debuts in February with 80 beach and overwater villas on the Raa Atoll. Coming to the same atoll in May, also with 80 luxury villas, is Emerald Faarufushi Resort & Spa on a massive lagoon primed for snorkeling. The ever-innovative Soneva Fushi has a new experience that includes zip-lining to a six-course meal 30 feet about the sand. Along with Soneva Jani, they've debuted Soneva Soul , a new spa complex melding ancient and modern techniques. Other vacation favorites are unveiling new digs like the sleek, contemporary renovation of Naladhu Private Island and the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island , debuting in February. — Katie Lockhart

31. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is considered one of the sailing capitals of the world. It is home to the largest fleet of America's Cup 12 Meter yachts , most of which are available for charter. In May, the coastal town is welcoming a Sailing Museum that is sure to solidify that title. Over the past few years, a slew of hotel openings have closed a much-needed gap for luxury accommodations, including Hammett's Hotel , Brenton Hotel , and The Wayfinder Hotel . The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection is debuting the property's highly anticipated transformation conceived by Dallas-based design collective Swoon — the lobby, dining room, and shared areas are now complete with guest rooms finishing early next year. Renowned beverage executive Maxwell Britten has joined the team as chief cocktail curator alongside an amazing chef who cooks up a selection of elevated pub-inspired dishes. And don't miss Giusto , at Hammett's Hotel, which serves up excellent Italian with a Rhode Island twist. — Scott Bay

32. Nile Cruise, Egypt

There is no trip that will convert you to a life of river cruising quite like a sail down (well, technically, up) the Nile. In fact, the world's first river cruises sailed in Egypt, a country designed around the central waterway, where it makes sense that the Nile would act as your home base. A typical Egyptian river cruise sets sail from Cairo to Luxor and then Aswan, with the occasional stop to visit an island temple along the way — complete with sights like the Pyramids, Valley of Kings and Queens, Nefertari's tomb, and the Temple of Kom Ombo. In 2022, there's more than one new river cruise to choose from, between Uniworld's newly launched S.S. Sphinx and AmaWaterways' Amadahlia , both of which sailed their inaugural voyages in fall 2021. — Maya Kachroo-Levine

In late 2021, Panama launched a tourism platform along with the coolest tagline in travel: " Live for More ." With a booming coffee scene and a renewed focus on its culture, history, and biodiversity , the Central American nation is ready for its moment in the spotlight. It's an attractive place for those looking to get out of resort mode and into a world open for exploration and adventure. Immersive environmental experiences abound here, including trekking through the rainforest on its suspended hanging bridges and walking to the top of the Volcán Barú, an active volcano with both Pacific and Atlantic Ocean views from the top. There is also abundant opportunity to learn from Panama's seven Indigenous communities, each of whom offer their own personalized experiences and are happy to share their craftsmanship and traditions. Panama offers plenty of luxury, too. In its capital city, check into the American Trade Hotel , centrally located in Panama's Casco Viejo district, a historic neighborhood which happens to also be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. — Stacey Leasca

34. Phuket, Thailand

Before the pandemic, Phuket was beautiful but crowded, full of beach bars and tourists chasing all-nighters. It's still full of energy and surrounded by the same pristine sea glass–colored water, but its luxurious side is finally getting the attention it deserves, from its high-end coffee shops to its cocktail bars. Hide from the world in paradise with a stay in one of the private pool residences at Trisara , featuring kitchens, a private chef, butler service, and breathtaking views over the sea, as well as access to the resort's PRU restaurant , which has earned both a Michelin star and a Michelin green star. Or book a stay at the brand-new V Villas Phuket , which offers a curated selection of 19 private-pool, 1-, 3-, and 4-bedroom villas. Later, party the night away in Phuket Old Town with inventive cocktails at Club No. 43 (think: rum with grilled pineapple juice and espuma), or settle in for a great dinner and a night of daring performances at the Junkyard Theatre , which just launched a weekly Saturday night show. — Alison Fox

35. Pico, Portugal

The islands of the Azores — a Portuguese archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean some 900 miles west of Lisbon — are more popular than ever, and for 2022, travelers will want to fix their eyes firmly on the second-largest isle: Pico, an alluring, otherworldly locale covered with black, volcanic rocks. Conquering Portugal's highest peak, the cloud-shrouded, 7,713-foot-high Mount Pico, used to be the island's main draw, but a recent uptick in hospitality infrastructure has allowed for more opportunity to partake of Pico's most important agricultural output: wine. Renowned Portuguese winemaker Antonio Maçanita just opened a new winery that comes with bookable design-forward apartments adjacent to the island's unique vineyards. On Pico, grapes are planted on volcanic terroir that are then protected from Atlantic winds with rock walls. Maçanita's ​​ Azores Wine Company 's mineral, sometimes slightly salty wines could be the perfect celebratory drink after a grueling hike.The crashing waves around Pico are beginning to seduce surfers, too. And there are also ample opportunities to watch for marine life thanks to 20 species of dolphins and whales (including humpbacks and orcas) that can be spotted in these waters. But if you'd rather eat what's in the water: Try lapas, a local shellfish delicacy best served grilled with butter and garlic and finished with a squeeze of lemon. Thankfully, getting to experience all of this has never been easier: Starting July 1, United Airlines will for the first time connect Newark to the island of São Miguel (the Azores' largest island), and from there, it's a quick hop over to Pico. Or you could always get there via direct flights from Lisbon or Porto with Tap Air Portugal's stopover program. — Chadner Navarro

36. Quebec, Canada

After over a year of tight pandemic restrictions, Canada reopened to American tourists in 2021, so now might finally be time to plan that trip to the Great White North, starting with the province of Quebec. From the charming, French-influenced cities of Montreal and Quebec City to the region's snow-capped mountains, there's something new to explore every season. In December 2021, the first Club Med mountain resort in Canada, Club Med Quebec Charlevoix , opened, offering all-inclusive ski vacations just a short flight from several major U.S. cities. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering a foliage-packed autumn cruise from New York to Montreal in October. No matter what time of year you visit, Le Capitole Hotel in Quebec City and Humaniti Hotel Montreal are top picks for places to stay in the major cities. — Elizabeth Rhodes

37. Queensland, Australia

Australia's highly anticipated international border reopening will be well worth the wait, especially as more travelers seek nuanced cultural experiences and sustainable stays. The northeastern state has long been the gateway for visits to the rightly beloved Great Barrier Reef, and beginning in 2022, visitors can learn about conservation efforts and the ecosystem directly from the area's Traditional Land Owners and Indigenous guides during day trips from Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel . Aboriginal elders and Traditional Land Owners are also working with local operator Gudjuda Tours on a daylong excursion to tag and rescue one of the reef's most beloved creatures: sea turtles. Those who want to take a more extended trip to the Whitsunday Islands can look to Elysian Retreat , recently certified as the area's first fully solar-powered resort, or its carbon-negative sister property Pumpkin Island . Back on the mainland, within the verdant Daintree Rainforest UNESCO World Heritage Site, eco-luxury hideaway Silky Oaks Lodge will finally welcome guests back after its $15-million overhaul. — Sarah Bruning

38. Santa Ynez Valley, California

Two hours from L.A., the Santa Ynez Valley is rural, unassuming, and coming into its own. The region has grown grapes for decades and has even made a Hollywood cameo in the movie Sideways. The arrival of newer tasting rooms, restaurants, and hotels in recent years has firmly put the area on oenophiles' and travelers' radars. Start with a private olive oil tasting at Global Gardens and hard cider at Tin City Cider in Los Olivos. Follow with pizza pies at Full of Life Flatbread and vino at nearby female-owned A Tribute to Grace and Casa Dumetz . Detour to Firestone Walker 's outpost in Buellton for a few limited edition craft brews and finish with dishes such as roasted tomato and fennel risotto at the Ballard Inn's Gathering Table . Though it's technically just beyond the boundaries of the valley in Lompoc, The Hilt Estate , is too good to miss. And once it opens this year as an Auberge property, The Inn at Mattei's Tavern will make for the perfect base from which to explore it all. — Tanvi Chheda

39. São Paulo, Brazil

Known for its dynamic combination of luxury, design, and fashion influence, São Paulo is an international metropolitan hub of arts and culture. It's the largest city in South America, hosting an array of entertainment opportunities such as fabulous hotels, decadent restaurants, high-class museums, and iconic mid-century architecture. With airlines including American adding flights throughout Brazil in 2022 and a flourishing hospitality renaissance throughout the city, São Paulo is well prepared for its anticipated influx of new travelers. A must-visit destination for 2022 is the Rosewood São Paulo , located in the heart of São Paulo's Cidade Matarazzo and housed in a historic landmark building. Here, visitors will encounter 200-plus luxurious guest rooms, suites, and residences, plus six restaurants and bars and two pools. — Molly O'Brien

40. Savannah, Georgia

This coastal Georgia city is rightly famous for its atmospheric, moss-draped streets and squares, not to mention its hundreds of years of history. But lately Savannah has been boosted by creativity and innovation outside the sometimes frozen-in-amber Old Town, which means now is a particularly compelling time to visit. Make home base the brand-new Thompson Savannah , a slick 13-story tower with interiors by Studio 11 Design that anchors the still-developing Eastern Wharf neighborhood. Phase one of the 54-acre development, which aims to turn a once-industrial waterfront into a contemporary mixed-use destination, includes hundreds of apartments, fitness trails, access to the Savannah River, and multiple bars and restaurants, including Fleeting , a seasonally driven spot inside the Thompson. At the same time, Savannah's other major waterfront destination has also come into its own. The Plant Riverside District, a stone's throw from Old Town, marked its official grand opening in November 2021, putting a bow on a bustling JW Marriott hotel , countless restaurants and bars, and multiple live performance venues all along a rebuilt waterfront. Not that all the action is along the river: The ever-evolving Starland District, a short drive from Johnson Square, has its share of hangouts including Starland Yard , a food truck park that's also home to the excellent Pizzeria Vittoria Napoletana ; Two Tides Brewing Company , which pours hazy ales and delicious sours in a super-cool taproom; and Troupial , a Venezuelan cafe. You'll also want to pack Wildsam Savannah , a newly released field guide that helps visitors understand the layers of history (and the contemporary politics) that are fueling the latest renaissance in Savannah. — Paul Brady

41. Seattle, Washington

Few places offer both an urban and a natural escape in one destination — and the Emerald City might be one of the best. The city center is world-class with top hotel accommodations ( Four Seasons Hotel Seattle and Thompson Seattle ), locally focused fine dining, and countless cultural sites. Then, just minutes away from all of that is some of the most stunning outdoor recreation out there. Adding to the city's luster is the newly opened Lotte Hotel Seattle . The 189-room tower is bringing high design and refined service to the area. Charlotte , the hotel's restaurant on the 18th floor, serves up an inventive menu that is sure to become an all-time favorite dining experience. The landmark Fairmont Olympic Hotel recently completed a $25-million historic restoration of its public spaces, quickly becoming one of the most Instagrammable spots in town. Plus, its buzzy new culinary showpiece will debut in the months to come. Before leaving Seattle, don't miss a meal at celebrated pasta specialist Brian Clevenger's new restaurant, Autumn . — Scott Bay

42. Sedona, Arizona

Makito Umekita/Travel + Leisure

With tourism already surging thanks to the Instagram fame of attractions like Devil's Bridge, Sedona garnered even more of a following during the pandemic among cooped-up city dwellers enthralled by the destination's red rocks and energy vortexes. In 2022, set your sights on North America's first landscape hotel, Ambiente , home to 40 standalone accommodations (called "atriums"), most with private rooftop decks perfect for stargazing. Opening in May, the sustainability-focused retreat will offer on-site trailhead access — further immersing guests in the Sedona landscape while combating traffic along the city's main highway — and reactivate an ancient waterway to populate a stream running throughout the hotel. Experience Sedona's culinary clout right on property at Ambiente's restaurant, Forty1, housed in a refurbished airstream, or venture next door to Mariposa , the city's must-visit restaurant by chef Lisa Dahl, who pioneered fine dining in this town. — Maya Kachroo-Levine

43. Singapore

Singapore reopened to vaccinated American travelers in October 2021 with the introduction of the country's Vaccinated Travel Lane . Travelers can fly from the U.S. on Singapore Airlines' vaccine-mandatory flights ; the World's Best airline 26 years running launched Vaccinated Travel Lane flights this fall, and United Airlines plans to follow suit by January 2022. Even in the early stages of reopening to foreign travelers, the city-state is already unveiling new culinary ventures. Recently, chef Julien Royer, behind three-Michelin-star Odette, opened Claudine , and Raffles Singapore unveiled Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse, while Marina Bay Sands plans to debut chef Tetsuya Wakuda's second restaurant within the hotel in the new year. Of course, there's just as much flavor to be found at Singapore's famed hawker centers, now on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage. As tourists return to Singapore, new cultural attractions follow — from the return of Singapore Art Week, beginning Jan. 14, to the recent unveiling of SkyHelix Sentosa , an open-air ride towering 300 feet above sea level, for anyone still in need of thrills after a 17-hour flight over the Pacific. — Maya Kachroo-Levine

44. Southwest Michigan

Beaches with ocean-like views were once the main draw to Michigan's southwest coast, but new high-style accommodations and hyper-local experiences are giving us more reasons to go. Where to stay with so many options? Consider the cool new motel-turned-boutique Lake Shore Resort in Saugatuck; The Fields glamping retreat with new spa tents in South Haven; the revamped, modern Harbor Grand Hotel in New Buffalo; or anywhere along the coast with high-touch Bluefish Vacation Rentals , which has killer lakefront homes now stocked with handmade local goods. Hop on the new pedestrian/bike trail in Union Pier, and definitely shop two new woman-owned standouts: the beautifully curated Haven and Ariane Prewitt's AP Cottage, scheduled to open this spring. Women are showing off the culinary scene, too, with everything from a special saison ale — winner of the 2021 Great American Beer Festival — at woman-owned Waypost Brewing Co. , to new herb-inspired cocktails at James Beard-winning chef Melissa Corey's Penny Royal Café & Provisions , to James Beard nominee Abra Beherns' Granor Farm , where dinners return this year in a new glass-enclosed barn. — Nina Kokotas Hahn

45. St. Moritz, Switzerland

If you're on the hunt for glitz, glamour, and powder for days, look no further than St. Moritz, Switzerland. The Alpine ski town has long been considered the birthplace of winter vacationing. Tourists first flocked to the mountain town in 1864 , when hotelier Johannes Badrutt took a few British travelers to the community, promising them bluebird days all winter. It wasn't long until others learned about this hidden winter oasis. Skiers and winter sports enthusiasts flocked to the mountain, which has now hosted the Winter Olympic Games not once, but twice. It's an ideal place for ski bunnies too, thanks to its luxury shopping, and its numerous Michelin-starred restaurants . This winter, head to St. Moritz for its fantastic events like White Surf (Feb. 6, 13, and 20, 2022), an international horse race that takes place across the frozen Lake St. Moritz, and the Snow Polo World Cup (Jan. 28-30, 2022), which happens to be the world's only high-goal tournament on snow. Book a stay at the Badrutt's Palace Hotel , which officially reopened on Dec. 3 for the 2021/2022 season and offers guests the chance to try their hand at high-octane winter sports like skijöring, snowkiting, tobogganing, and even private helicopter tours to the peaks of Piz Bernina and Piz Palü. — Stacey Leasca

46. St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida

The beaches of St. Petersburg and nearby Clearwater are consistently ranked among the best in the U.S. and even the world , but there's more to this destination than white sand, pristine waters, and 361 days of sunshine per year. St. Pete/Clearwater offers more than 30 museums and galleries featuring world-renowned artists like Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso, as well as the largest collection of Salvador Dalí's work outside of Spain. One could say brewing the perfect beer is also an artform that St. Pete/Clearwater has mastered, with its trail of 35+ locally owned craft breweries. Playfully nicknamed the " Gulp Coast ," complete your experience with a digital passport that tracks your beer-sampling progress. These year-round offerings mean you can visit any time, but head over in June 2022 to revel in the 20th anniversary of St. Pete Pride , the largest Pride event in Florida, hosting events for everyone from friends and families to couples and solo travelers. — Jessica Poitevien

47. Todos Santos, Mexico

Todos Santos is one of Mexico's pueblo mágicos, or "magic towns," and locals are working to retain its history and culture while embracing the steady stream of travelers who have begun venturing an hour north of Cabo San Lucas to discover its charm. The area saw a handful of new boutique resorts pop up in 2021 that provide luxury amenities while keeping the rugged land and local flora the centerpiece. Wellness-focused Paradero describes itself as a "landscaping project" that just so happens to have luxurious suites, and El Perdido , an all-villa resort less than five miles south, provides all-terrain vehicles so visitors can get to Los Cerritos beach, the local surf break of choice. Oceanfront Rancho Pescadero 's multimillion-dollar transformation will be complete in the spring. Bookings for its oceanfront villas and penthouse rooms — some with private rooftops and plunge pools — open in January. Todos Santos has fully embraced farm-to-table dining, with Javier Plascencia's orchard-adjacent Jazamango leading the way, and Santa Terra , a cosmopolitan oyster bar meets arts and entertainment venue concept, is in the process of adding multiple bars and restaurants, plus a glamping site and amphitheater, according to its developer, "without chopping down a single tree." — Nina Ruggiero

48. Udaipur, India

After an extremely challenging 20-month closure, India reopened to vaccinated travelers on Nov. 15, 2021. Those looking toward South Asia in the new year, perhaps to see the Taj Mahal in Agra or hit the Goan beaches, should make sure Udaipur is on the itinerary. The city of lakes in southern Rajasthan is thought of as the most romantic Indian destination (even called the "Venice of the East") — but it's not just for honeymooners. From the vibrance of Hathi Pol bazaar and Shilpgram , an artisanal compound on the outskirts of the city with a festival set to return on Jan. 22, to the serenity of Lake Pichola, the artificial lake made in the 14th century, Udaipur is a city where you can fully immerse in Rajasthani culture. A hub of Indian luxury, Udaipur is now home to the country's first Raffles hotel, which opened in October. This private island hotel on Udai Sagar Lake is accessible only by boat — something of a trademark for the over-the-top hotels of Udaipur. Meant to be a flagship hotel in the Raffles portfolio, complete with brand staples (think: bars, both Long and Writers), 101 lavish suites, Rasoi cooking school, and lakeside open-air restaurant Belvedere Point. — Maya Kachroo-Levine

49. Wales, United Kingdom

The only path in the world to follow the whole of a country's coastline, the Wales Coastal Path celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2022. Walking its 870 miles would take three months, but its most spectacular stretches can be seen in one visit — and in style. St David's in Pembrokeshire, west Wales, is Britain's smallest city with a mere population of 1,600 and is home to a Medieval cathedral , a luxury hotel inside Roch Castle , some excellent pubs, and the upscale St David's Gin & Kitchen . Hiking paths with unbeatable coastal vistas are within easy reach (try the St David's Head loop ) and pass neolithic tombs and hillforts. — Jamie Carter

50. Yucatán, Mexico

Mérida, the capital of the state of Yucatán, has emerged as one of Mexico's most popular cities thanks to its lively restaurant scene, a busy calendar of cultural events, and a relaxed tropical atmosphere. Increasingly, however, travelers are venturing beyond the city to explore the state's unspoiled nature reserves, ancient Maya sites, and sprawling haciendas — a number now converted into hotels. Among the destinations that are drawing travelers to Yucatán are El Cuyo, a quiet beach town that was long a closely guarded secret of windsurfers. Now visitors can also enjoy gourmet Mexican fare at the El Chile Gordo restaurant and boho-chic lodgings at the new Casa Mate . In Espita, a charming colonial town near Valladolid, is the Casona los Cedros hotel which opened in summer 2021. Sisal, a historic port in the western part of the state, has attracted new interest since being named a Pueblo Mágico at the end of 2020. A new highway completed in April now connects Sisal to Hunucmá (and then beyond to Mérida) making it easier for beachcombers to visit, and perhaps spend the night at the cool Club de Patos . — John Newton

51. Bonus: Space

This was a monumental year for human spaceflight — not only did NASA and SpaceX achieve a regular cadence of astronaut launches for the first time since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011, but space tourism has also lifted off in a major way, making space a top destination to visit in 2022. And it's a realistic trip, too, so long as you have the budget for it. Both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic succeeded in taking passengers to space on short suborbital hops this year, and each company plans to ramp up those flights in 2022 — Virgin Galactic already has more than 600 bookings. The price for a quick jaunt to space? A few hundred thousand dollars . If you have an even bigger budget (say, a couple hundred million dollars), you could charter your own orbital flight in a SpaceX Dragon Capsule, as did entrepreneur Jared Issacman with his Inspiration4 mission in September. There are also tourism trips to the International Space Station in the works; Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa launches on his multi-day journey in December, courtesy of space travel agency Space Adventures and Russia's Roscosmos space agency, which plans to take even more " citizen space explorers " to the orbiting laboratory in the near future. Of course, not everyone has pockets deep enough to cover space travel, but more affordable journeys are on the horizon. Startup Space Perspective plans to launch high-altitude balloon rides to the edge of space in 2024 , for the relatively low price of $125,000. Potential dealbreaker, though — the balloons don't actually reach space, maxing out at 100,000 feet in altitude, while space is considered to begin somewhere between 264,000 feet (50 miles) and 327,360 feet ​​(62 miles). But hey, at least there's a bar on board. — Stefanie Waldek

World’s 30 Best Travel Destinations, Ranked

Best places to visit in the world.

Bali, one of the best travel destinations

The ultimate ranking of travel destinations aims to solve a serious problem: so many places to visit, so little time.

But even in a world with a trillion destinations, some manage to stand out and rise to the top. From the sleek skyscrapers of Dubai to the emerald-green waters of the Bora Bora lagoon, you’re sure to find at least one vacation that piques your interest (and likely several!).

These are the 30 best places to visit in the world. Which ones have you already been to? And which ones stoke your wanderlust most?

30. Argentine Patagonia

Traveler in Argentine Patagonia

In this region of the Andes, you’ll find glaciers, evergreen trees, deep blue lakes and clear skies everywhere you look. For a trip full of adventure and discovery, there are few better destinations on the planet.

No trip is complete without a visit to the craggy Mount Fitz Roy, the historic (and mysterious) Cave of the Hands, the Punta Tombo wildlife preserve, the Peninsula Valdes marine wildlife refuge and the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier. Be sure to bring your camera and your sense of wonder.

* Rankings are based on U.S. News & World Report's " World's Best Places to Visit ," traveler ratings as well as our own editorial input.

What to Know Before You Go to Argentine Patagonia

Argentine Patagonia Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Cyan Soho Neuquen Hotel

Hot tip: Since springtime occurs in the southern hemisphere in October and November, those months are your best bet when planning a trip.

Fun fact: The largest dinosaur fossils ever unearthed were found in Argentine Patagonia. They belong to the largest-known titanosaur, believed to have weighed about 83 tons. 

Note: We may earn money from affiliate partners if you buy through links on our site.

29. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Campania, Amalfi Coast

Set in the Sorrentina Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast has long been renowned for its natural beauty and idyllic coastal towns. During the golden age of Hollywood, it was a preferred vacation spot for glamorous movie stars.

Days here are spent eating Italian food, drinking wine and walking around colorful cobblestone streets. You can also expect to drink copious amounts of wine as you look out into the Mediterranean Sea.

The best way to see the coast is to rent a car and then drive to different towns each day.

What to Know Before You Go to the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast road

Where to stay: Hotel Marina Riviera

Hot tip:  If you're planning on using a beach chair to work on your tan, make sure you wake up early, as they are usually first come, first served.

Fun fact:  The Amalfi Coast is featured in Sofia Loren's 1995 Film, "Scandal in Sorrento."

28. Cancun, Mexico

Beach sunset in Cancun

For years, Cancun has been the preferred getaway for East Coast Americans (particularly Floridians) who want an international getaway that's still close to home. But despite the droves of tourists, the area has managed to keep the charm that attracted people in the first place.

The city is known mostly for its luxury hotels, wild nightlife and warm beaches. Definitely indulge in all of these — as well as the Mexican food! — but also consider other activities like visiting Mayan ruins, swimming in cenotes and snorkeling. One thing is certain: You won't run out of things to do in Cancun .

What to Know Before You Go to Cancun

Cenote Zaci, Mexico

Where to stay: Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hot tip:  While you're in Cancun, make a plan to visit one of Grupo Xcaret's six eco-tourism parks, with the best ones being Xcaret and Xelha. The Mexican-owned company is credited with starting the eco-tourism trend in the Yucatan Peninsula, and the parks offer incredible and varied local experiences.

Fun fact:  The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, was the cultural, political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. Many locals have Mayan ancestry and Mayan continues to be widely spoken in the area.

27. San Francisco, California

Close up of Golden Gate Bridge

Everyone should visit San Francisco at least once in their lives. Though tech companies grab all the headlines these days, it remains down-to-earth, diverse and packed with things to do.

Where to start? No matter your style, you’ll want to check out the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, see the sunbathing sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, take a tour of the historic prison Alcatraz and relax in one of the city’s many parks, especially Dolores Park for its epic people-watching on the weekends. 

For dinner, treat your tastebuds and make a reservation at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in the Bay Area .

What to Know Before You Go to San Francisco

San Francisco houses

Where to stay: The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

Hot tip: Want similarly beautiful landscapes and rich cultural attractions, but at lower prices and with (slightly) fewer crowds? Head to Oakland just across the Bay Bridge, named one of the most exciting places on earth to travel by National Geographic. 

Fun fact: The fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco by a Japanese resident. Random!

26. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in autumn Canadian side

Niagara Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world . The power with which water storms down cliffs on the border between the United States and Canada has captivated the imagination of humans for centuries. 

This natural wonder is comprised of three awe-inspiring falls. One of the best ways to experience them is on a boat tour.

What to Know Before You Go to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls boat tour

Where to stay: Sheraton Niagara Falls

Hot tip: There is some debate about which side of the falls is better, but the general verdict is that the Canadian side offers better views. This is because you can (ironically) get a better view of the American Falls as well as get up close to Horseshoe Falls. 

Fun fact:  Established in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S.

25. Yellowstone National Park

Bison at the Great Prismatic Spring

Located mostly in Wyoming as well as Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone is America’s first national park and remains one of the most popular in the country, welcoming more than around 3.3 million people in 2022. With unpredictable geysers, rainbow-colored hot springs, craggy peaks, shimmering lakes and tons of wildlife — from elk to boars to bison — it’s easy to see why so many people flock here. 

The park makes for an awesome family trip and is well-suited to budget travelers since it offers so many campsites ( over 2,000! ). 

What to Know Before You Go to Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geiser erupting, Yellowstone

Where to stay: Stage Coach Inn

Hot tip: You’ll never fully beat the crowds at this wildly popular park, but April, May, September and November are your best bets for finding some solitude.  

Fun fact: Yellowstone is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.  

24. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

snorkle Destinations: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

As the largest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of marine species. This makes it a paradise for scuba diving or snorkeling. 

The reef system is truly gigantic, with over 600 islands and about 2,900 individual reefs. This is one of Australia's greatest prides, but it's also a planetary national treasure. Seeing it with your own two eyes is an experience that is incredible beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef from above

Where to stay: Crystalbrook Flynn

Hot tip: Though going underwater to see the reef is a must, we also recommend booking a helicopter tour to experience the magic of it from above.

Fun fact:  Made of corals, which are animals that live in collectives, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet.

23. Santorini, Greece

White washed houses in Santorini

With its picturesque blue-domed churches, whitewashed buildings and colorful beaches, the island of Santorini is a photographer’s paradise. If you want to snap photos to post to Instagram and make everyone back home jealous, this is the place to go. 

Also make sure to experience some of Santorini’s archaeologically significant sites, like Ancient Akrotiri (an ancient city preserved by volcanic ash) and Ancient Thera (where humans lived as early as the 9th century BC). And don’t forget to visit the smaller islands that surround it, including Thirassia, Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. 

What to Know Before You Go to Santorini

Santorini houses

Where to stay: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Santorini

Hot tip: To optimize your vacation, visit in September and October or April and May — when the weather is still warm, but there aren’t as many other tourists milling around.

Fun fact: While it’s difficult to prove, locals like to say there’s more wine than water on this island where it hardly rains (and vino abounds).

22. Florence, Italy

Florience center, Italy

For art and history buffs (and anyone who appreciates delicious Italian food), Florence is a must-visit city. 

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, it’s home to some of the most iconic artworks by the world’s premier artists throughout history — Michaelangelo, Brunelleschi and Donatello, just to name a few. In addition to art museums and architectural wonders, Florence is also home to chic shops, quaint cafes and spectacular gardens. 

What to Know Before You Go to Florence

Il Duomo, Florence

Where to stay:  NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa

Hot tip: Keep Florence in mind if you want to spend your honeymoon in Europe without spending a fortune, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Fun fact: The city’s famed “El Duomo” cathedral took over 140 years to build .

21. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite, one of the most-visited national parks in America with more than 4 million annual guests, encompasses 750,000 acres of wilderness just waiting to be explored.

It’s home to scenic waterfalls, like the 317-foot Vernal Fall and the 617-foot Bridalveil Fall, as well as iconic rock formations like El Capitan and Half Dome, two popular spots for the world’s best rock climbers to test their mettle.

Not surprisingly, the wildlife here also impresses. Dozens of species of butterflies, marmots, bobcats and mule deer are just some of the animals that call Yosemite home. And keep your eyes peeled for black bears; some 300 to 500 roam the park . 

What to Know Before You Go to Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

Where to stay:  The Ahwahnee

Hot tip: Summer can get really busy here, so if you want to camp, be sure to book a spot early. Want to beat Yosemite’s notoriously bad traffic? Ditch the car and take advantage of the park’s extensive free bus system.

Fun fact: This is one of the only places in the country where you can catch a moonbow — like a rainbow, but created by the light of the moon instead of the sun. 

20. St. Lucia

St. Lucia Les Pitons

Whether you’re visiting on a cruise ship or just relaxing at an all-inclusive resort or boutique hotel, stunning St. Lucia is a clear winner. This Caribbean island offers diverse terrain for vacationers, from its pristine beaches to its lush rainforests to its volcanic peaks, the Pitons, that loom over the landscape. 

Adrenaline-junkies love hiking, climbing and zip-lining, while newlyweds (and soon-to-be-married couples) enjoy the romantic mix of fine dining, adults-only resorts and exotic activities. 

What to Know Before You Go to St. Lucia

St. Lucia boats

Where to stay: Rabot Hotel From Hotel Chocolat

Hot tip: Visit when temperatures are moderate, which is typically in May and June.

Fun fact: St. Lucia is the only country named after a woman: Christian martyr Saint Lucia of Syracuse.

19. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai skyscrappers

Everything is bigger and better in Dubai, home to one of the world’s largest shopping malls, tallest towers, largest man-made marinas — and the list goes on. 

This Las Vegas-like urban center in the United Arab Emirates has an eclectic mix of activities for visitors to enjoy, including beaches, waterparks, tons of shopping and even an indoor ski resort. Outside the skyscraper-filled city, the vast desert awaits, best enjoyed via quad-biking or sandboarding.

What to Know Before You Go to Dubai

Dubai beach

Where to stay:  Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai

Hot tip: Though you’re likely to pay a pretty penny for a trip to Dubai no matter when you visit, you can save a little cash by visiting during the scalding-hot summer months and by booking your hotel room two to three months in advance.

Fun fact: Dubai’s man-made Palm Islands were constructed using enough imported sand to fill up 2.5 Empire State Buildings . 

18. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Many travelers describe their visit to Machu Picchu as life-changing. Why? It’s an archaeological wonder, the remains of an ancient Incan city dating back more than 600 years. No wonder this is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most-visited attraction in all of Peru. 

Be sure to visit significant sites like Funerary Rock, where it’s believed Incan nobility were mummified, and Temple of the Condor, a rock temple sculpted to look like the impressive bird in its name.  

What to Know Before You Go to Machu Picchu

Llamas in Machu Picchu

Where to stay: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Hot tip: If you’re planning a trip, be sure to get your ticket in advance, as only 2,500 people can visit Machu Picchu each day. (And a lot of people have this destination on their bucket list.)

Fun fact: The site contains more than 100 separate flights of stairs . 

17. Sydney, Australia

Sydney Harbor with boats

With its iconic Opera House and lively Bondi Beach, Sydney is the perfect spot to vacation if you’re looking for a blend of culture, arts, nightlife and relaxation. 

Spend the day on the water at Darling Harbour, then head to the Royal Botanic garden for even more fresh air. Want to travel like a local? Get a ticket to a rugby match and order a Tim Tam, a popular chocolate-covered cookie that pairs well with coffee. 

What to Know Before You Go to Sydney

Sydney Opera House in the evening

Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Hot tip: You can make your trip more affordable by visiting during Sydney’s shoulder seasons, which are typically September through November and March through May.

Fun fact: In 2007, Bondi Beach was the site of the largest ever swimsuit photoshoot ; 1,010 bikini-clad women participated, enough to earn it a spot in the Guinness World Records book.

16. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon from observation point

The Grand Canyon is truly massive (277 river miles long and up to 18 miles wide!), which helps explain why so many people feel the urge to see it in person. 

In 2022, 4.7 million people visited, making the Grand Canyon the second-most popular national park in the country (behind Great Smoky Mountain Nationals Park). Established in 1919, the park offers activities for all ability levels, whether you want to do an intense hike down into the canyon and sleep under the stars (with a backcountry permit, of course) or simply want to saunter along the South Rim Trail, an easy walking path with views that wow.

What to Know Before You Go to the Grand Canyon

Family in the Grand Canyon

Where to stay:  The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

Hot tip: If you’ve wanted to visit the Grand Canyon for a while now, this is the year to do it. The park is celebrating its 100th birthday with musical performances, lectures, screenings and other special events.

Fun fact: The most remote community in the continental U.S. can be found in the Grand Canyon. At the base of the canyon, Supai Village — part of the Havasupi Indian Reservation — has a population of 208. It’s inaccessible by road, and mail is delivered by pack mule. Want to see it for yourself? The village houses a collection of campsites , accessible via a hiking trail.

15. Bali, Indonesia

Landmark Temple Gates in Bali

In recent years, Bali has become a popular expat destination, where groups of "digital nomads" work and play. 

But the island hasn't lost its original charm to this added tourism and continues to be an incredible destination. Divide your time between swimming in the beach, hiking active volcanoes, visiting temples and enjoying views of tiered rice terraces.

What to Know Before You Go to Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali

Where to stay: Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach

Hot tip:  Though shoulder season (January to April and October to November) means fewer crowds and cheaper prices, it also means rain. Tons of it. We'd recommend avoiding the rainy season if possible.

Fun fact: On the Saka New Year, Balinese people celebrate Nyepi. This Hindu celebration is a day of silence when everything on the island shuts down and no noise is allowed.

14. New York, New York

New York City Manhattan

As the saying goes, New York City is “the city that never sleeps” — and you won’t want to either when you visit, lest you run out of time to take it all in. 

Be sure to check out newer attractions, like the High Line (an elevated park) and Hudson Yards (a mega-mall along the Hudson River), but also make time for some New York City classics, like catching a Broadway show or standing under the lights of Times Square. 

Foodies will have a hard time choosing where to eat (the city is home to almost 100 Michelin stars !), which is why an extended trip is always a good idea.

What to Know Before You Go to New York City

New York City Broadway

Where to stay: The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel

Hot tip: Yes, January and February get cold here, but this is also the best time to lock in relatively reasonable hotel rates. You can spend your time eating in the city’s restaurants, exploring its fabulous museums and catching its world-class theater shows without needing to spend much time in the chilly outdoors. 

Fun fact: There’s a birth in New York City about every 4.4 minutes — and a death every 9.1 minutes. 

13. Banff National Park, Canada

Banff Lake Louise

Some of the world’s most stunning mountain scenery and vistas are located in Banff, the tiny Canadian town located at 4,537 feet above sea level inside the national park by the same name. Banff is the highest town in Canada, and Banff National Park was Canada’s first, established in 1885.

Shred some powder at Banff’s three ski resorts in the winter, then come back in the summer for activities like hiking, biking, fishing and scrambling (scaling steep terrain using nothing but your hands).

What to Know Before You Go to Banff

Kayaking in Banff National Park

Where to stay: Fairmont Banff Springs

Hot tip: June to August and December to March are the best times to visit if you want to take advantage of summer and winter activities. 

Fun fact: Banff National Park has more than 1,000 glaciers.

12. Maldives

Sunset in the Maldives

You can look at picture after picture, but you still really need to visit the Maldives to believe its beauty. If rich sunsets, flour-like beaches and vibrant blue waters are your style, this is the destination for you. 

Though it’s somewhat difficult to get to this small island nation southwest of Sri Lanka, that also means it’s incredibly private and secluded, which makes it the perfect spot for a honeymoon or romantic beach getaway. 

And don’t worry about getting bored, either — explore the water by snorkeling or scuba diving, relax in the spa or wander around the bustling Male’ Fish Market.

What to Know Before You Go to Maldives

Maldives overwater bungalows

Where to stay: Velassaru Maldives

Hot tip: May to October is the island-nation’s rainy season — but that also means it’s the best time to go for fewer crowds and better rates.

Fun fact: In 1153 AD, the nation’s people converted to Islam. Today, the Maldives remains the most heavily Muslim country on earth.

11. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Sagrada Familia

Soccer, architecture, shopping, nightlife, world-class food and wine, arts and culture — is there anything Barcelona doesn’t have? If there is, we honestly can't think what it would be. 

This cosmopolitan Spanish city is home to some awe-inspiring architecture, including several buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, so be sure to book tours of his whimsical creations like Park Guell and the yet-to-be-finished Church of the Sacred Family (La Sagrada Familia). 

For nightlife and shopping, Las Ramblas is always bustling; for an enriching arts experience, follow the progression of famed artist Pablo Picasso at Museo Picasso.

What to Know Before You Go to Barcelona

Barcelona Park Guell

Where to stay:  Hotel Bagues

Hot tip: It can get really humid here, so it's best to plan your trip in May and June before things really heat up.

Fun fact: In preparation for its 1992 hosting of the Olympics, the city flew in sand from as far away as Egypt to make Barceloneta Beach a place where people would want to go. Though largely man-made, the beach remains a wonderful spot for seaside R&R. 

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park in the winter

The crown jewel of beautiful Montana, Glacier National Park is every outdoors traveler's dream.

Of course, the most defining natural feature of the park are its glaciers, which provide spectacular views as well as a number of pristine lakes. There are hundreds of trails that will take you up peaks, down through valleys and across some of the most beautiful landscapes you'll ever see.

What to Know Before You Go to Glacier National Park

Mountain goats at Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Firebrand Hotel

Hot tip:  Plan to spend a day or two in the nearby town of Whitefish. This gateway to Glacier National Park is one of the best small towns in America and a destination in its own right. 

Fun fact: During your visit, you're very likely to run into mountain goats, which are the official symbols of the park.

9. Tokyo, Japan

Akihabara Tokyo

The Japanese capital is one of the most exciting cities on the entire planet. It is notoriously fast-paced, with neon lights illuminating the multitudes that are constantly rushing to their next destination. 

But Tokyo is also a city of temples, of taking time to picnic under the cherry blossoms and of making sure you enjoy the abundance of delicious food that can be found on basically every corner.

What to Know Before You Go to Tokyo

Sensoji temple , Tokyo

Where to stay: The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Hot tip: Visit between the months of March and April or September and November for more comfortable temperatures. Of course, spring is when the city's cherry blossoms are famously in full bloom.

Fun fact: Tokyo happens to be the largest metropolitan area in the world, with more than 40 million people calling the greater metro area home.

8. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket boats

If you’re looking for a vacation destination that feels luxurious but won’t break the bank, start searching for flights to Phuket now. 

This island in southern Thailand, which is just an hour flight from Bangkok, is surrounded by the Andaman Sea, so white sandy beaches abound. If a stunning sunset is what you’re after, head to Promthep Cape, the southernmost point on the island and a popular spot for photo-ops. For views of the island and beyond, climb to the top of the massive alabaster statue called Big Buddha.

You can even learn something during your vacation by visiting the Soi Dog Foundation, an innovative animal shelter that’s fighting the meat trade and taking care of the thousands of stray cats and dogs in the area.

What to Know Before You Go to Phuket

Phuket temple

Where to stay: InterContinental Phuket Resort

Hot tip: Visit between November and April for the best weather — and ideal conditions for beach activities like swimming and boating. 

Fun fact: The island is not pronounced in the rather colorful way it appears to be. The correct way to say it is “poo-ket” or “poo-get.”

7. Rome, Italy

Rome, Colosseum

Though Rome’s historic significance cannot be overstated, don’t assume that this Italian city is stuck in the past. On the contrary, you’ll find posh storefronts and luxurious hotels not far from iconic structures like the Pantheon (built in 120 AD) and the Colosseum (built in 80 AD).

And then, of course, there’s the city’s art. Stroll through Rome, and you’ll stumble upon some of the greatest treasures the world has ever seen — an astonishing collection of frescoes, paintings, ceilings and fountains created by icons like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini.

After all that exploration, take advantage of ample opportunities to eat and drink, including at several Michelin-starred restaurants. City staples include suppli (deep-fried balls of risotto, mozzarella and ragu meat sauce) and cacio e pepe (a deceptively simple mix of al-dente pasta, pecorino romano and fresh black pepper). 

What to Know Before You Go to Rome

Rome Spanish Plaza at dawn

Where to stay: Radisson Blu Ghr Hotel

Hot tip: Tourists congregate here in the summer when temperatures are also sweltering. Go instead between October and April, when there are thinner crowds, better rates and cooler temps. Just make sure to bring a light jacket.

Fun fact: Each year, travelers throw about $1.7 million worth of coins into the Trevi Fountain. The money is donated to Caritas, a Catholic nonprofit that supports charities focused on health, disaster relief, poverty and migration.

6. London, England

Modern bridge London

English writer Samual Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” 

From live performances of Shakespeare to truly world-class (and free!) museums like the National Gallery, London will enrich your mind and enliven your senses. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop at Buckingham Palace to see the famous stone-faced guards outside and the 19 lavish State Rooms inside (though, unfortunately, you can’t see the queen’s private quarters). Another must-see landmark is the Tower of London, the historic castle on the north side of the River Thames.

What to Know Before You Go to London

London in the spring

Where to stay: Vintry & Mercer

Hot tip: Many U.S. cities now offer direct flights to London, so set a price alert and act fast when you see fares drop.

Fun fact: London’s pubs are worth a visit for their names alone; fanciful monikers include The Case is Altered, The Pyrotechnists Arms, John the Unicorn and The Job Centre. 

5. Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti, French Polynesia

Flavorful French cuisine, top-notch resorts, warm waters — need we say more? Though Tahiti can be pricey, travelers say it’s so worth it. 

The largest of the 118 French Polynesian islands, Tahiti is split into two main regions (connected by a land bridge). Tahiti Nui, the larger region, is home to the island’s capital Papeete and surfing hotspot Papenoo Beach, while Tahiti Iti, the smaller region, offers more seclusion and the bright white sands of La Plage de Maui.

What to Know Before You Go to Tahiti

Tahiti bungalows during sunset

Where to stay: Hilton Hotel Tahiti

Hot tip: Visit between May and October, Tahiti’s winter, when there are less humidity and rain. 

Fun fact: Overcrowding is not a concern here; Hawaii gets more visitors in 10 days than all of French Polynesia does in a year.

4. Maui, Hawaii

Rocky beach in Maui

If you’re short on time or you just can’t decide which Hawaiian island to visit, Maui is right in the sweet spot: not too big, not too small, but just right.

There are five regions to explore on Maui, including the popular West Maui and South Maui, home to some of the island’s best-known attractions and beaches (Wailea Beach is in South Maui, for example). But don’t overlook East Maui, where you can travel along the Road to Hana, or the Upcountry, where you can explore the world’s largest dormant volcano, Haleakala. 

What to Know Before You Go to Maui

Maui cave

Where to stay:  Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Hot tip: This is Hawaii we’re talking about, so your trip will be on the pricey side. Be sure to budget for add-ons if you need them (think gym access and WiFi at your hotel), and do some research on insurance before you head to the car-rental counter.

Fun fact: How’s this for a selling point? Maui has more beach than any other Hawaiian island — 60 miles of it, with red, white and black sand.

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora overwater bungalows

Don’t write off the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora just because of its size. Though it’s a little more than 2 miles wide and just 6 miles long, Bora Bora packs in an abundance of natural beauty. To start, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the island’s turquoise lagoon surrounded by lush jungle.

If you’re looking for more than relaxation on your trip, consider hiking or booking a 4X4 tour of Mount Otemanu, part of an extinct volcano that rises 2,400 feet above the lagoon. You can also snorkel among the coral reef of Coral Gardens, where you might catch a glimpse of reef sharks, eels and stingrays.

Because of its remoteness, flying into Bora Bora Airport will be quite a journey, no matter where you're departing from. But you'll forget everything as soon as you see this Polynesian paradise that is beautiful beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to Bora Bora

Bora Bora Island

Where to stay: Conrad Bora Bora Nui

Hot tip: Though Bora Bora can be wildly expensive to visit, you can cut costs by visiting between December and March (though you should avoid the Christmas holiday) and by bringing your own alcohol and sunscreen with you.

Fun fact: Bora Bora is one of the countries that no longer exists . The Kingdom of Bora Bora was an independent state until it was forcefully overtaken and annexed by France in 1888.

2. Paris, France

Paris from the Arc de Triumph

Paris has it all — incredible cuisine, legendary landmarks and centuries of history. Those are just some of the reasons it’s the second-best place to visit in the world.

Though you’ll want to spend your time hitting up popular tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower and the Musee d’Orsay, you should also carve out time to explore other parts of Paris — the city’s 20 diverse neighborhoods, called arrondissements, for instance. Standouts include the 2nd arrondissement, which touts covered passages and some of the city’s hippest restaurants, and the romantic 18th arrondissement, with charming squares, cafes and bars, set apart from the city’s more tourist-packed areas.

What to Know Before You Go to Paris

Paris Montmartre at dawn

Where to stay: Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal

Hot tip: Yes, summer in Paris is busy, but the weather is also ideal — average highs are in the 70s.

Fun fact: Built for the 1889 World Fair, the Eiffel Tower was originally meant to be temporary , and was almost torn down in 1909. Luckily, local officials saw its value as a radiotelegraph station, preserving the future tourist icon for generations to come. 

1. South Island, New Zealand

Milford Sound

South Island, the larger but less populated of the two islands that make up New Zealand, earn this top-spot honor for its gorgeous scenery, adrenelin-pumping experiences and affordability.

The 33.5-mile hike on Milford Sound, which is limited to 90 people at a time, is considered one of the world’s best treks, with stops at Lake Te Anau, suspension bridges, a mountain pass and the tallest waterfall in the country, Sutherland Falls.

For a heart-pumping experience, you can jump out of a helicopter while flying over the Harris Mountains with skis on your feet. Still not satisfied? Roam Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage area, and explore the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, two of the most accessible glaciers in the world.

What to Know Before You Go to New Zealand

South Island, New Zealand

Where to stay: QT Queenstown

Hot tip: Book your trip for the fall, when South Island is temperate, not overcrowded and offers great rates. Bonus: This is also when the island is at its most stunning.

Fun fact: New Zealand natives, called Kiwis, are among the most hospitable you’ll ever meet. The local saying “He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” translates , appropriately, to “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people.”

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RISENY

The 85 best New York attractions that should be on your list

Discover the New York attractions locals love including historical landmarks, stunning NYC parks and more.

Our definitive guide to the best New York attractions is a great place to start whether you're entertaining out-of-town guests or simply want to channel your inner tourist. The list is a compilation of our favorite sights and spots in the city, including everything from great  parks  and  art museums , to food markets and historical venues. The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are obviously must-see attractions, but we’ve also highlighted a few of our favorite hidden gems, such as one of NYC's greatest flea markets , Hudson Yard's Vessel , and foodie haven Smorgasburg .

Thirsty for more?  🗽Discover the 50 very best things to do in NYC 🏡Take your pick of  the coolest Airbnbs in NYC 🛥Stay in  the best boat rentals in NYC   ⛴Or how about  the best boat tours in NYC ?

How do we know it's the best of the best? Our lists are expertly curated by our local experts far and wide to offer you the lowdown on where to go, what to eat and what to see. Btw, t his article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click  here .  

An email you’ll actually love

Top New York attractions

One World Observatory

1.  One World Observatory

  • Towers and viewpoints
  • Financial District

Although the One World Observatory occupies floors 100 to 102 of the tallest building of the Western Hemisphere, this observation deck can be reached in just 60 seconds via a set of visually immersive 'Sky Pod' elevators. During the interactive tour experience, guests walk through some of the bedrock on which the building is built before entering the elevators, which are fitted with floor-to-ceiling LED screens showing a video of the city and building's history. Once at the top, the video concludes as the screen lifts up to reveal stunning 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline. Folks typically spend a couple of hours here including queuing time. 

Time Out tip: After soaking up the sights, head to One Café for casual fare, One Mix for small plates and cocktails or, the gem, One Dine for a full dining experience with large windows looking onto the horizon (reservations required). —Dan Q. Dao

Madame Tussauds New York

2.  Madame Tussauds New York

  • Sightseeing
  • Midtown West
  • price 4 of 4

When Madame Tussaud first started creating wax figures in Europe in the late 18th century, she immortalized figures from the bloody French Revolution, and later, in her first museum space on Baker Street, London she presented persons involved in sensational crimes. Now, over a 150 years after her death, Tussaud’s legacy lives on with museums in several major cities around the world. Yet, few can compare in either size or popularity with the five-story Times Square, New York edition. Folks hoping to take a memento home with them should splurge for the tickets that include your very own wax hand sculpture–you certainly can’t get something like that at every tourist attraction.

Legoland New York

3.  Legoland New York

You know what we all need more of in our lives? Lego. Because, well, play is fun. And you’ll sure find a lot of Lego at this incredible New York attraction that is dedicated to the stuff. Well, kind of, because really it’s a very family-friendly amusement park that leans nicely on those little plastic bricks and all the pleasing vibes they bring. Plus, the rides are a lot of fun. Take the kids in your life and watch their smiles. Good times.

Helicopter Tours

4.  Helicopter Tours

Fancy coasting around the Big Apple in a chopper? Well, now's your chance. There's arguably no better way to see New York City than flying high in the skies, right? Grab your camera – and your safety belt – sit back and relax as your pilot takes you over one of the most iconic skylines in the world. Not sure which one's the right one for you? Take a look at our top picks of the best helicopter tours in NYC to help you decide. 

See a show on Broadway

5.  See a show on Broadway

Is it possible to visit New York City without catching a show on Broadway? We're not sure it is. It's one of the best ways to experience NYC in all of its live(ly) authenticity and as there are so many wonderful shows to catch, we rate you'll be pretty spoiled for choice. From emotional dramas to belly-laughing comedies, there's a show on broadway for everyone. Get your glad rags on and head on down to the theater district. The lights are calling your name. 

New York Aquarium

6.  New York Aquarium

  • Zoo and aquariums
  • Coney Island
  • price 2 of 4

Seen all you can on the streets of NYC and looking for an ocean-oriented activity? It's time to head to the New York Aquarium. Whether it's visiting the penguin habitat or working up your own appetite at feeding time, the  oldest aquarium in the US  has so much for you to discover. Be sure to check out the sea lion pool, the recreated reef, and the shark exploration tank – only if you dare.

Westfield World Trade Center Oculus

7.  Westfield World Trade Center Oculus

  • Shopping centers

The world’s most expensive train station , the Oculus serves the PATH train and 12 subway lines, and houses a beautiful mall inside of it. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the exterior resembles the skeleton of a whale, has white metal-clad steel ribs that reach up and out, which symbolize a hand releasing a dove. The structure is a lasting reminder of the attacks of September 11, 2001. It is in alignment with the sun’s solar angles on each September 11, from 8:46 am, when the first plane struck, until 10:28 am, when the second tower collapsed. Its central skylight fits this alignment and washes the Oculus floor with a beam of light. The new shopping center inside has stores like the Apple Store, Aesop, Kate Spade, John Varvatos and others. Dining includes Eataly, Gansevoort Market, Wasabi Sushi & Bento and more.

Summit One Vanderbilt

8.  Summit One Vanderbilt

  • Midtown East

Summit One Vanderbilt sits atop the new 67-floor One Vanderbilt super-tall—a 1,401-foot-high—skyscraper. As the city's fourth-tallest building after One World Trade Center, Central Park Tower and 111 West 57th Street, it is just west of Grand Central Terminal, where you first enter the experience underground. After a trip through a mirrored hallway with its own immersive elements, visitors take an elevator up to the 91st floor, where they're 1,000 feet over the streets and sidewalks of NYC. Kenzo Digital has created a totally mirrored infinity room called "Air" that reflects the sky and city views over and over, making you feel like you're walking in the sky or on another plane of existence. Looking above you and below you in this two-story space, you see your reflection repeating forever. After you ascend to the third level of this experience, guests are introduced to "Levitation," a series of transparent glass sky-boxes that jut out of the building at 1,063 feet above Madison Avenue. Here, you can stand over the street with just glass between you and the ground. It's certainly not for the faint of heart.

Frick Madison

9.  Frick Madison

The Frick Madison  is now at 945 Madison Avenue—the former home of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Met Breuer—while Henry Clay Frick's mansion undergoes a massive renovation. This new stint will last two years, and while the Brutalist building by Marcel Breuer is a huge departure from the Gilded Age mansion, the space is offering a much different and rare look at the collection, according to museum officials. Unlike at the Frick Mansion, the Breuer building is a clean slate—stark in contrast, which actually helps to attract the viewer's attention to individual works. Eyes aren't busy looking at ornate furniture here. It's all about seeing the smaller details in the artwork that you might have overlooked at the mansion. According to  Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director  Ian Wardropper, "It's a different Frick than you’ve ever known."

RISENY

10.  RISENY

RISENY places thrill-seekers inside a 180-degree, 40-foot projection dome that plays 8K aerial footage to create the sensation of flight. (The ride is similar to Disneyland's "Soarin’ Over California" experience.)  The experience begins with a film by documentarians Ric Burns and James Sanders—narrated by everyone's fave actor Jeff Goldblum—that touches on NYC’s history, specifically Times Square and its global impact. Then visitors are taken to a re-creation of the city’s first subway station at City Hall circa 1904, which transforms into a fully immersive theater with visual and special effects. Eventually, a present-day subway car virtually transports guests to the galleries. While on the subway car, riders see NYC’s vibrant pop-cultural evolution through seven themed galleries— "Finance," "Skyline," "TV/Radio," "Fashion," "Music," "Broadway" and "Film"—that show off historic artifacts, star-studded memorabilia. Once they get through the galleries, visitors are finally whisked into the air, where they'll "soar" around NYC's landmarks (a rendering shows the Statue of Liberty) to a soundtrack with songs like Taylor Swift’s "Welcome to New York" and Frank Sinatra’s "Theme From New York." The full-motion seats will dip, turn and soar while wind, mist and scents are blown at riders' faces.

Edge Observation Deck

11.  Edge Observation Deck

The highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere has landed at Hudson Yards. Sadly, the bird's-eye attraction dubbed Edge won't be open to the public until 2020. But judging by the rendering, it appears to be worth the wait—that is, if you’re not afraid of heights. The building’s outdoor terrace takes you 65-feet into the sky making it the highest public balcony in NYC. The deck not only features panoramic views of our city’s skyline but a killer vantage point below. Brave souls can stand on a large, see-through glass floor and wave to passerby 1,100 feet beneath. Much like the Top of the Rock concept at Rockefeller Center, there’s a 10,000-square-foot bar, restaurant and event space on the 101st floor.

Citi Field

12.  Citi Field

  • Sports and fitness
  • price 3 of 4

While they haven’t been as successful as their Bronx rivals in recent years, the Mets can certainly be happy about their stadium, which opened in 2009. With great sightlines, fun activities for kids and a prodigious selection of food and booze (including Shake Shack and Blue Smoke outposts), even those with the barest interest in the game will enjoy themselves at the park, which in recent years has also doubled as a concert venue with appearances by mega-stars like Paul McCartney and Nas.

Little Island

13.  Little Island

  • West Village

New York City’s hottest new attraction, Little Island, opened to the public in May 2021 and has since brought in plenty of visitors who flocked to see Manhattan’s newest “floating” greenspace. Open from 6am to 1am, the park is filled with open lawns, colorful shrubs and trees and a secret garden. While entry is free to the park throughout the day, entering between noon and close requires a reservation. For those feeling peckish, there are affordable food and drink options offered by Savory Hospitality. The park’s amphitheaters, The Glade and The Amph, offer a spectacular view of the Hudson River, with a majority of the events being free throughout the summer. Every Monday night at 6pm, the theater hosts Savory Talks & Performances, a free dialogue around food sustainability and industry trends. The lineup includes local farms and sustainable meat and fish companies, discussing the future of food production, including "elements of storytelling and dance" from Perform in the Park artists.

Queens County Farm Museum

14.  Queens County Farm Museum

  • Special interest

Though not as easily accessible by public transit as most NYC museums, this Queens County treasure is well worth the bus trek or car ride. As the city’s longest continually farmed site in the city (it’s been in operation since 1697), the 47 acres feels like an entirely different world compared to Manhattan. Feed and pet the barnyard animals, including sheep, ponies and goats, hop aboard a hayride and come back during the fall harvest season when you can go pumpkin picking and attempt to find your way through the Amazing Maize Maze (yes, that’s a corn maze ). Don’t forget to stop by the store on your way out for fresh fruits and veggies grown on the premises!

TWA Hotel

15.  TWA Hotel

  • Things to do

You can actually look forward to going to JFK International Airport because of this gorgeous, completely renovated TWA Terminal , which serves as a hotel, food and drink, and convention destination. The i nterior of Eero Saarinen’s landmark 1962 building exudes 1960s chic with 512 guest rooms that offer views of JFK’s runways, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, a rooftop pool, and an observation deck. 

Empire State Building

16.  Empire State Building

  • Monuments and memorials

It's practically impossible to imagine the sparkling New York skyline without the iconic Empire State Building. A famed piece of Art Deco architecture that took over 400 days to structurally complete, the skyscraper reaches an astonishing height of 1,454-feet—and while it's no longer the tallest building in New York, it held that title for several decades following its 1931 completion date. Visiting this illustrious landmark? Keep your eyes peeled for some of the finer details in the lobby (lovingly restored in 2009), as well as the incredibly impressive benefits from a $165m investment completed in 2019 (the second- and 80th-floor galleries really are something). Enjoy visions of the t opper’s three tiers of lights, which illuminate up to nine  colors  at a time and don't miss the rod at the top of the building, which is frequently hit by lightning—yep, you might see sparks (literally) fly.  Oh, and (of course) spend some time on the observation deck—the cityscape is ace, and the slick reservation system makes things seamless. Besides, the Empire State is open 365-days a year, so there's no reason to pass this one by.

Brooklyn Bridge

17.  Brooklyn Bridge

  • Historic buildings and sites

No mere river crossing, this span is an elegant reminder of New York’s history of architectural innovation. When it opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was a feat of engineering: It was the first structure to cross the East River and, at the time, the longest suspension bridge in the world. (It also made use of steel-wire cables, invented by the bridge’s original designer, John A. Roebling.) Now it attracts thousands of tourists and locals, who enjoy spectacular views of lower Manhattan and other city landmarks (such as the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island) as they stroll its more-than-mile-long expanse. Heads up, though: You may run into the occasional cyclist trying to navigate through the crowds on the pedestrian walkway.  —Amy Plitt

Central Park

18.  Central Park

  • Parks and gardens
  • Central Park

To feel truly out of the city, head to the 38-acre wilderness area on the west side of the park known as the Ramble. The area has a storied history (as a gay cruising spot dating back to the turn of the last century, among other things), and it was even proposed as a recreational area in the mid-'50s. Thankfully, the winding trails, rocks and streams remain, seemingly waiting to be discovered. If you want plenty of sunshine and more of a social vibe, spread out a blanket at Sheep's Meadow, where groups playing guitar and frisbee and tanning topless are sprawled out as far as the eye can see.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center

19.  Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Let the world believe the Empire State Building has the best view of New York City–it keeps the crowds slightly more manageable at 30 Rockefeller Center’s spectacular open air observation deck. The bird’s eye view of Gotham from 70 stories up allows visitors to not only see other landmark skyscrapers around midtown–including the aforementioned Empire State building–but also to see the full sprawl of Central Park. Not quite as expensive as that other observation deck (Adults $38, seniors $36, children 6-12 $32), and for those who don't want to wait in line, there's a VIP ticket ($75) that gives guests the chance to skip lines and get priority elevator access. If you’re willing to splurge don’t forget to dress up and stop by the Rainbow Room–the historic lounge on the 65th floor–for exceptional cocktails, fine dining, live music and spectacular sightlines that rival the deck’s, albeit a few stories lower.

The Statue of Liberty

20.  The Statue of Liberty

  • Liberty Island

Lady Liberty—or Liberty Enlightening the World, as she’s officially known—was a gift from France on America’s 100th birthday. A universal symbol of freedom that welcomed over 10 million immigrants sailing past to Ellis Island during the turn of the 20th century, the copper-plated sentinel stands 305 feet tall from the bottom of her base to the tip of her torch. Reserve well in advance—three weeks or more—to see New York’s skyline from Liberty Island with access to the statue’s crown, and go earlier in the day if you want to also take the ferry to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Vessel

21.  Vessel

  • 3 out of 5 stars

New York’s ever-changing skyline has acquired another sky-high attraction for Gothamites to climb: Vessel. The 60-ton sculpture, located at sleek cultural destination Hudson Yards, resembles a honeycomb, although some New Yorkers joke it looks like a waste can. Others say the larger-than-life art installation designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick is New York’s version of the Eiffel Tour. We say it looks like a good excuse to exercise and Instagram. Visitors will climb the spiral staircase made up of 154 interconnecting staircases, almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings, and while the current sight of construction is less than ideal (the attraction just opened to the public on March 15), the various outlook points offer sweeping views of the Hudson River that will appear mighty dreamy at sunset.  Know before you go visiting and climbing Hudson Yards’ new jungle gym is free, but you must reserve a time slot and get tickets in advance. Every morning at 8am same-day tickets are up for grabs, if you cant get a reservation in advance.

Note: The Vessel is currently closed. Check its website for reopening plans. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

22.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sprawling doesn’t even begin to describe this Manhattan institution: It’s one of the few spots in the city where you could spend literally an entire day and see only a fraction of the holdings. Behind the doors of its iconic neoclassical facade lie 17 curatorial collections spanning countless eras and cultural perspectives, from prehistoric Egyptian artifacts to contemporary photography. Those seeking to satisfy their anthropological curiosity can explore the extensive assemblage of musical instruments, weapons and armor or the Costume Institute’s centuries of wearable art. And for committed museumgoers who have made their way through the permanent collections—an admirable feat—special exhibitions merit return visits year after year. Recent blockbusters have examined the career of the late designer Alexander McQueen and featured the works of Pablo Picasso.  —Carolyn Stanley

Chrysler Building

23.  Chrysler Building

  • Civic buildings

We won’t argue if you want to call this glimmering pinnacle of Art Deco architecture NYC’s most eye-popping skyscraper. Triangle-shaped windows in its crown are lined with lights, creating a beautiful effect come nighttime. Oozing a moneyed sophistication oft identified with old New York, the structure pays homage to its namesake with giant eagles (replicas of ones added to Chrysler automobiles in the 1920s) in lieu of traditional gargoyles and a brickwork relief sculpture of racing cars, complete with chrome hubcaps. During the famed three-way race to construct Manhattan’s tallest building, the Chrysler added a needle-sharp stainless-steel spire to best 40 Wall Street—but was outdone shortly after its completion in 1930 by the Empire State Building.  —Tim Lowery

The High Line

24.  The High Line

When the weather is pleasant, there’s nothing quite like walking the High Line. NYC’s elevated park is certainly one of more popular New York attractions everyone needs to check off their list. To give you a bit of history, the High Line was once a railway line, in use until 1980. In 2009, the 1.45-mile-long strip was transformed into what is now considered one of the most unique parks in NYC. Featuring wildflowers, greenery and outdoor art installations in addition to killer views of New York’s skyline. — Evelyn Derico

Rockefeller Center

25.  Rockefeller Center

You’ll find a  smorgasbord of  New York sites in this distinctive, multi-block complex—in fact, the ground level alone is home to the tourist-packed ice-skating rink, the bronze Atlas statue and the ‘Today Show’ plaza. Higher up, Top of the Rock rivals the Empire State Building in panoramic city views. You may not be able to access the five private rooftop gardens if you’re not a Saturday Night Live cast member, but you can still peek at the spaces from Saks Fifth Avenue’s eighth-floor shoe department if you can't help but be curious. Special credentials are not required, however, to inspect the Art Deco murals that appear in several buildings. Don’t miss the triptych above the outdoor entrance to 5 Rockefeller Center or the rinkside Prometheus statue; both purportedly contain secret Freemason symbols.  —Allison Williams

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Grand Central Terminal

26.  Grand Central Terminal

For over a hundred years, this transit hub has funneled thousands of daily commuters (over 700,000 a day) through its expansive halls and concourses. Though technically a passageway for those looking to go elsewhere, the building is certainly a destination in it's own right. With its grandiose Beaux Arts framework, the terminal is a spectacle of both form and function. Familiar features include the vaulted, constellation-adorned ceiling and the four-faced opal clock topping the main information booth, both located in the Grand Concourse. Above the 42nd Street entrance find symbolism of Mercury, the god of travel (naturally), and an ornate Tiffany-glass timepiece.  — Dan Q. Dao

Prospect Park

27.  Prospect Park

Urban visionaries Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who most famously designed Central Park, also put their stamp on bucolic, 526-acre Prospect Park. Amenities like the Long Meadow and Nethermead offer plenty of space to pull up on a patch of grass and indulge in some people-watching, and the woodland expanse of the Ravine is a towering forest within bustling Brooklyn. But we also have to give props to Robert Moses: The controversial city planner was behind some of the park’s kid-friendly offerings, including the zoo and LeFrak Center at Lakeside, where roller skating and ice skating goes down.

Brooklyn Museum

28.  Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn’s premier institution is a less-crowded alternative to Manhattan’s bigger-name spaces, though the innovative and impactful items found inside are just as important as anything you'll find in the city. The museum, found on the edge of the sprawling Prospect Park, has a large holding of Egyptian art as well as the famous feminist piece, The Dinner Party, by Judy Chicago. Works by such Impressionists masters as Cézanne, Monet and Degas are also included in the collection along with with prime examples of Early American Art, period rooms and so much more.

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Whitney Museum of American Art

29.  Whitney Museum of American Art

When Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a sculptor and art patron, opened the museum in 1931, she dedicated it to living American artists. Today, the Whitney holds about 19,000 pieces by nearly 2,900 artists, including Alexander Calder, Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Georgia O’Keeffe and Claes Oldenburg. Still, the museum’s reputation rests mainly on its temporary shows, particularly the Whitney Biennial. Held in even-numbered years, the Biennial is among the most prestigious (and controversial) assessments of contemporary art in America. The 2015 opening of the Renzo Piano-designed edifice near the High Line drew acclaim for its sleek and simplistic layout. —Andrew Frisicano

New-York Historical Society

30.  New-York Historical Society

  • Upper West Side

History buffs will love this Upper West Side institution. Built in 1804, it's the oldest museum in New York City. In a nod to the city’s heritage, the museum kept the hyphen in its name, which is how New York was known in the early 1800s. The collection features more than 1.6 million works that explore the history of the city and the country, including exhibits, art and historical artifacts. Don’t miss floor four, where you’ll find the center for Women’s History and a glowing gallery of 100 beautiful Tiffany lamps. — Cristina Gibson

Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society

31.  Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society

Located in the Bronx (obvs) this massive attraction is the largest metropolitan zoo in the country. Spanning 265 acres, it has numerous exhibits, forests, outdoor activities and restaurants. Oh, and don’t forget about the 5,000+ animals! There are lions and tigers and bears (both grizzly and polar), all residing in naturalistic habitats. You can easily spend hours walking the trails past themed exhibits, like the African Plains or World of Reptiles. The zoo also has premium exhibits for an additional fee, but the sea lion feeding is completely free and highly recommended. — Rebecca Fontana

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

32.  Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

New York’s Guggenheim is as famous for its landmark building—designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and restored on its 50th birthday in 2009—as it is for its impressive collection and daring temporary art shows. The museum owns Peggy Guggenheim’s trove of cubist, surrealist and abstract expressionist works, along with the Panza di Biumo Collection of American minimalist and conceptual art from the 1960s and ’70s. In addition to works by Manet, Picasso, Chagall and Bourgeois, the Guggenheim holds the largest collection of Kandinskys in the U.S. — Howard Halle

Times Square

33.  Times Square

Manhattan’s heart was once a hub for vice, teeming with sex shops and drug dealers. Over time that notorious reputation has eroded, and now the area can feel like a tourist-clogged shopping mall. Still, changes such as the stairs above the TKTS booth and a pedestrian plaza along Broadway have improved the sightseeing experience…sort of. If the thought of attending the annual glitzy New Year’s Eve celebration gives you hives, you can see the midnight countdown re-created on a smaller scale at the Times Square Visitor Center, thanks to one of the Waterford crystal balls used in years past.  —Allison Williams

New York Botanical Garden

34.  New York Botanical Garden

Every city park offers its own brand of verdant escapism, but this lush expanse goes beyond landscaped flora. In addition to housing swaths of vegetation—including the 50-acre forest, featuring some of the oldest trees in the city—the garden cultivates a rotating roster of shows that nod to the world’s most cherished green spaces, such as the regal grounds of Spain’s Alhambra palace and Monet’s alfresco sanctuary at Giverny.  —Sarah Bruning

Brooklyn Flea

35.  Brooklyn Flea

  • Markets and fairs

Attending an outdoor bazaar is certainly a must here in New York, and Brooklyn Flea is hands-down one of the top flea markets to hit. The market has everything, including an impressive selection of throwback wares and records, which you certainly wouldn’t find in any vintage clothing store or record store in the city. The food selection is also nothing to sneeze at, since the creators also operate one of the city’s best food festivals: Smorgasburg.

Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

36.  Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

Give the city’s fourth-biggest park a day and it’ll show you the world: Its most enduring icon is the Unisphere, the mammoth steel globe created for the 1964 World’s Fair. But there’s also first-rate culture and sports at the New York Hall of Science, Arthur Ashe Stadium and Citi Field (depending on how the Mets are doing). The rolling green fields also encompass a zoo, a boating lake, a skate park, a barbecue area, playfields, and a $66 million aquatic and hockey center. In 2011, wetland plants such as swamp azalea and swamp milkweed were added to better handle the park’s water runoff, improving the catch-and-release fishing in Meadow Lake.  —Allison Williams

Brookfield Place

37.  Brookfield Place

  • Battery Park City

This downtown luxury complex, originally dubbed the World Financial Center, is now home to a number of offices including Merrill Lynch and American Express. On the ground level, however, find a mecca of retail attractions ranging from fashion (Burberry, Hermes, Gucci) to dining (Amada, the food hall Le District). Beyond shopping, stroll around the space to enjoy installations of art in the glass-encased winter garden, or head outdoors for ice skating during cold-weather months. — Dan Q. Dao

See Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and Battery Park.

Chelsea Market

38.  Chelsea Market

Once home to a National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) factory, this Chelsea-set food court caters to locals and restaurant-savvy tourists alike. An ever-changing lineup of dining and drinking options range from all-star Philadelphia hummus slingers Dizengoff to the oyster-and-seafood bar Cull & Pistol and the master-sommelier–helmed Corkbuzz Wine Studio, while commercial vendors include Anthropologie, Posman Books and the locally-driven Artists & Fleas. A stone's throw away from High Line Park and the nightlife hub of the Meatpacking District, the market is a must-visit destination when in the area. — Dan Q. Dao

Apollo Theater

39.  Apollo Theater

This Harlem institution has been the site of more than a few historic moments: Ella Fitzgerald’s first performance happened here in 1934; Live at the Apollo, recorded in 1962, practically launched James Brown into the mainstream; and a young Jimi Hendrix won an Amateur Night contest in 1964. Despite its storied history and grand decor, this living link to the Harlem Renaissance feels rather cozy inside. As of late, the theater has attracted big-name comedians (Aziz Ansari, Tracy Morgan, Jim Gaffigan) and huge rock stars (Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen), while still welcoming under-the-radar talent to its famed Wednesday Amateur Night. —Tim Lowery

Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Promenade

40.  Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Promenade

  • Brooklyn Heights

For a great place to enjoy a panoramic view of everything the city has to offer, beeline for Brooklyn Promenade. Opened in 1950, this one-third-mile stretch of pavement along the East River has long been a favorite destination of residents, tourists and couples looking to make out next to an unforgettable span of NYC’s skyline. Breathtaking views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty are both visible from here. Follow the views with a stroll around the 19th-century row houses down Brooklyn Heights’ tree-lined side streets, or head down to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Macy’s Herald Square

41.  Macy’s Herald Square

  • Department stores

Holiday windows and enormous balloons may draw gawkers to Macy’s flagship during the winter, but the mammoth department store is a year-round destination for some 20 million shoppers. The $400 million renovation in 2015 outfitted the store with ostensibly Millennial-friendly gear like 3D printers, selfie-walls and laser-imaging tech, but restored the 34th St entrance and iconic rickety wooden escalators that have been at Herald Square since its opening in 1902. This department store is also home to the always stunning and annual Macy's Flower Show .  —Allison Williams

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

42.  Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  • Prospect Park

Those searching for a little peace and quiet would do well to spend a few hours at this verdant oasis. The garden—which abuts two other neighborhood gems: the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park—was founded in 1910 and features thousands of types of flora, laid out over 52 acres. Each spring, crowds descend on the space for the Sakura Matsuri Festival, during which many trees bloom along the Cherry Esplanade. But equally impressive are serene spots like the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the first Japanese-inspired garden displayed in the U.S., and the Shakespeare Garden, brimming with plants (such as primrose and crocuses) mentioned in the Bard’s works.  —Amy Plitt

Yankee Stadium

43.  Yankee Stadium

The Bombers’ current field opened in 2009 to much fanfare and stands opposite the now-flattened original. It may not be the House That Ruth Built, but many elements of the new arena—the limestone exterior, the gatelike frieze around the top—mimic the old, plus cup holders at every seat and a high-def scoreboard are noticeable improvements. A museum behind center field aims to hold signed baseballs from every living Yankees player, but the most potent relic wasn’t allowed to stay on site—in 2008 the construction staff jackhammered out a Red Sox jersey a rival fan tried to install in the structure’s foundation.  —Allison Williams

American Museum of Natural History

44.  American Museum of Natural History

  • Science and technology

Beyond the iconic, show-stopping displays–the grizzly bear in the Hall of North American Mammals, the 94-feet long blue whale, the prehistoric Barosaurus skeleton rearing up as if to scare the adjacent Allosaurus skeleton–is an expertly curated, 148-year-old museum that fills visitors of all ages with a curiosity about the universe. Whether you’re interested in the world below our feet, or the cultures of faraway lands or the stars light-years beyond our reach, your visit is bound to teach you a few things you never knew. — Tolly Wright

Union Square

45.  Union Square

  • Union Square

This gathering place was named for the union of two of Manhattan’s busiest thoroughfares: Broadway and Fourth Avenue (formerly Bowery Road). Political activism has played a large role in the site’s history; the square has hosted rallies, protests and assemblies from the Civil War through Occupy Wall Street. Nowadays, its biggest draw might be the year-round Greenmarket—the city’s first, started by a handful of farmers in 1976—which brings locally grown goods to thousands of New Yorkers every week.  —Carolyn Stanley

Go on a customized walking tour.

Flatiron Building

46.  Flatiron Building

This 21-story Beaux Arts edifice once dominated midtown. Although it’s now dwarfed by other structures, when it debuted in 1902, the triangle-shaped monolith represented the threat and the thrill of modernity: Naysayers claimed it would never withstand the high winds plaguing 23rd Street, while revered photographer Alfred Stieglitz—who captured it in an iconic shot in 1903—wrote that it was “a picture of a new America still in the making.” Today, it’s possibly the least tourist-friendly New York landmark. The space above the ground-floor shops, occupied by publishing house Macmillan, is inaccessible to the public, but during office hours you can admire black-and-white photos and read a few panels on the history of the tower in its lobby. If you want to see the “point” offices (just over six feet wide at their narrowest), we suggest getting to work on the Great American Novel.  —Jonathan Shannon

Book a private walking tour of NYC.

The Cloisters

47.  The Cloisters

  • Art and design
  • Washington Heights

This Middle Ages museum may have been constructed in the ’30s, but it feels much older than that. Set in a bucolic park overlooking the Hudson River, the structure re-creates architectural details from five 15th-century monasteries and houses items from the Met’s medieval art and architecture collections. John D. Rockefeller, who donated the land for the museum, even purchased a tract across the river to preserve the pristine view. Make sure to inspect the tapestries, including the famous 16th-century Hunt of the Unicorn.  —Andrew Frisicano

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

48.  Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

  • Military and maritime
  • Hell's Kitchen

Get schooled on the glorious history of American aviation and the brave heroes who pioneered the world's last frontier at this non-profit, educational institution featuring the titular, legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid.  Founded in 1982, the museum also boasts an unparalleled collection of fighter jets, a Blackbird spy plane, a Concorde, the nuclear submarine USS Growler, a prototype space shuttle and a capsule that returned one of the first astrotourists to earth. Permanent exhibits include a harrowing 30-minute video with audiovisual effects about the kamikaze attacks the Intrepid suffered, while new, rotating programs range from a summer movie series (kicking off with Star Trek , fittingly) to an annual Space & Science Festival.  — Dan Q. Dao

Lincoln Center

49.  Lincoln Center

One of the world's largest campuses for the performing and visual arts, Lincoln Center began its construction in 1959 thanks in part to funding from John D. Rockefeller III. Today, the center houses 30 world-class venues—including the Metropolitan Opera House, the David H. Koch Theater and the Julliard School—as well as 11 resident organizations that collectively host thousands of events every year. At the heart of the complex is the well-recognized Josie Robertson Plaza whose fountain can be seen spouting white-lit jets of water with the golden glow of the Met lobby serving as an elegant backdrop.  — Dan Q. Dao

South Street Seaport

50.  South Street Seaport

Hurricane Sandy may have temporarily wounded the famed Lower Manhattan sightseeing draw in 2012, but with recent developments by the Howard Hughes Corporation—including a pop-up-friendly Culture District and a fancy dine-in movie theater iPic — prove that the iconic port is back and better than ever. — David Goldberg

National Museum of the American Indian

51.  National Museum of the American Indian

  • Natural history

The life and culture of Native Americans is presented in rotating exhibitions—from Navajo jewelry to ritual tribal-dance costumes—along with contemporary artwork. The Diker Pavilion for Native Arts & Culture, which opened in 2006, has already made its mark on the cultural life of the city by offering the only dedicated showcase for Native American visual and performing arts.

Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)

52.  Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)

Sure, you could spend a day getting lost in the permanent exhibits, which showcase all manner of priceless pieces from renowned artists. But just as essential are this museum’s other elements, including an attached cinema that combines art-house fare and more accessible offerings, a sculpture garden with works by Picasso and Rodin, and the Modern, a high-end restaurant and bar run by Danny Meyer. Free Fridays, an alluring prospect considering the sizable entry fee ($25 for adults), are best left to the tourists and penny-scraping students; visit the museum when you can hunker down for a while.

Queens Museum

53.  Queens Museum

Located on the grounds of two World’s Fairs, the QMA holds one of Gotham’s most amazing sights:  The Panorama of the City of New York , a 9,335-square-foot scale model of the five boroughs, created for the 1964 exposition and featuring Lilliputian models of landmarks. With an ambitious expansion project in 2009, the museum doubled in size when it reopened in 2013, featuring public events spaces, eight new artists studios and a glass façade featuring Grand Central Parkway. —Andrew Frisicano

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

54.  St. Patrick’s Cathedral

  • Religious buildings and sites

Even though it faces off against the imposing Art Deco Rockefeller Center, architect James Renwick's Gothic Revival building holds it own with intricate marble towers, a cavernous ribbed vault, pointed arches and buttresses. But the real treasures are inside this active house of worship, which is bursting with awe-inspiring works. With a $175 million restoration project completed in 2015, visitors can delight in a shimmering, bronzed and polished new interior. More than 200 saints are represented throughout the church, with many alters helpfully explaining their stories for those who cut Bible studies class. Seek out the alter of Saint Louis, just north of the Lady's Chapel, designed by the Tiffany workshop and donated by Jackie O's father Michael Bouvier. To the south of Saint Louis is an oversized copy of Michelangelo's Pieta, made by the same sculptor who fashioned the lions outside the New York Public Library on 42nd Street.  —Jonathan Shannon

MoMA PS1

55.  MoMA PS1

  • Long Island City

Fans of the Manhattan predecessor won't mind crossing the river to find this Long Island City offshoot, which is unique for its constantly evolving lineup of avant-garde artwork and new programs. And while there's no shortage of world-renowned artists supplying work here (Janet Cardiff, Olafur Eliasson), the venue also curates one of the city’s most popular music events, Warm Up, which pairs innovative installations with live music from up-and-coming acts to challenge visitors’ expectations of what art can be.  — Dan Q. Dao

Chinatown

56.  Chinatown

Take a walk in the area south of Broome Street and east of Lafayette, and you’ll feel as though you’ve entered not just a different country but a different continent. Mott and Grand Streets are lined with stands selling exotic foodstuffs such as live eels, square watermelons and hairy rambutans, while Canal Street glitters with jewelry stores and gift shops. Here you’ll find some of the best restaurants in NYC representing the cuisine of virtually every province of mainland China and Hong Kong, plus Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese eateries and shops. As Chinatown—NYC's largest Asian community—continues to grow, it merges with neighboring Little Italy and the Lower East Side. — Tazi Phillips

Washington Square Park arch

57.  Washington Square Park arch

  • Greenwich Village

The beatniks, folkies and hippies who famously flocked to this public space are still there, though sporting slightly different facial hair than their boundary-breaking predecessors. During warmer months, the park is one of the best people-watching spots in the city, as musicians and street artists perform in the shadow of the towering 1895 Washington Arch, a modest replica of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe designed by Stanford White (whose fingerprints are found on more than a few landmark NYC structures). From 2007–2014, the park underwent a controversial, multimillion-dollar renovation, which has yielded more benches, paths, lawn space and vegetation. —Tim Lowery

Go on a two-hour walking tour of Greenwich Village.

Madison Square Garden

58.  Madison Square Garden

  • Music venues

Big, beloved and not-so-beautiful MSG is perhaps the most famous sports arena in the world. Perched above Penn Station since 1968, the 20,000 seat venue is not only home to New York basketball and ice hockey teams the Knicks and the Rangers, but also is a favorite spot for college basketball tournaments (The Big East), professional boxing, MMA fighting and, as a destination for WWE. Non-sports fans, however, mainly know the Garden as the best spot in town to catch touring international sensations like Adele, Beyonce and Aziz Ansari and countless other amazing concerts.. To learn about the history of the arena, which existed in several other iterations at other locations for the past 130 years, and for a look at where the athletes get dressed, check out the all-access tour ($26.95, seniors and students $19.95, or with show ticket an additional $16, group rates available), which has stops in the locker rooms, the arena bowl and through exhibits featuring images and paraphernalia from iconic moments in sports and performance history. — Tolly Wright

Socrates Sculpture Park

59.  Socrates Sculpture Park

In 1986, artists and activists created this 4.5-acre city park over a landfill. Now, it hosts large-scale sculpture exhibits year-round, and is one of the few locations in the city specifically designated for artists to create outdoor works. The splendid Queens space looks out over the Manhattan skyline and is open 365 days a year, with a Greenmarket, free yoga and tai chi classes and more.

AKC Museum of the Dog

60.  AKC Museum of the Dog

  • Exhibitions

Here’s a pawsh art musem for pups. On February 8, the AKC Museum of the Dog reopend in midtown, and New Yorkers have been panting in excitement ever since. The American Kennel Club moved the original exhibit, formerly doghoused in the New York Life Building, closer to its home turf and library. To be clear: This is not a relentlessly Instagrammable Museum of Ice Cream or Museum of Pizza situation. So, why dig up the 15 bones to enter? For the photo booth that reveals which dog breed you look most like. Have your pup-arazzi moment!

Snug Harbor Cultural Center

61.  Snug Harbor Cultural Center

  • Staten Island
  • price 1 of 4

Sitting just a ferry ride away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, this Staten Island gem, a former home for retired sailers, is still somewhat of a secret. Spread across 83 acres, the area boasts an enormous botanical garden and cultural center surrounded by cobblestone streets and tiny paths of Victorian and Tudor homes. One of the most popular attractions here is the Chinese Scholar’s Garden, fitted with magnificent rocks meant to resemble mountains inspired by the poetry and paintings of Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist monks, as well as a bamboo forest path and Koi-filled pond.

Bryant Park

62.  Bryant Park

Hitting up midtown's most beloved park? Situated behind the New York Public Library lies a a well-cultivated retreat that hosts a dizzying schedule of free entertainment during the summer, including the popular outdoor movies. In the winter, visit the Bank of America Winter Village for the free ice skating rink and pop-up shops for the holidays.

Smorgasburg

63.  Smorgasburg

  • Restaurants

New Yorkers love eating outside, whether it’s at one of the city’s best waterfront restaurants, elevated rooftop bars or open-air food flea markets like Brooklyn’s famed Smorgasburg. A favorite amongst locals and tourists alike, Smorg features nearly 100 vendors selling seriously delicious and graciously cheap snacks. It’s open from April to November (11am-6pm) at Williamsburg’s East River Park on Saturdays and at Prospect Park’s Breeze Hill on Sundays. — Christina Izzo

Museum of the Moving Image

64.  Museum of the Moving Image

  • Movies and TV

Only 15 minutes from midtown, the Museum of the Moving Image is one of the city’s most dynamic institutions. Rubbing elbows with Kaufman Astoria Studios, it includes a three-story extension that features a state-of-the-art 267-seat cinema and expanded gallery spaces. Meanwhile, the museum’s “Behind the Screen” exhibit examines every step of the filmmaking process, with artifacts from more than 1,000 different productions, and 14 classic (playable!) video games, including Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man and Space Invaders . And do not miss its fairly new Jim Henson exhibit, where you can "meet" all your favorite Muppets and Sesame Street characters.

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New Museum of Contemporary Art

65.  New Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Lower East Side

The New Museum takes its name from The New School, where it originally opened in 1977. After a move to Soho, where the it became a fixture througout the ’80s and ’90s, the New Museum moved into its current location in 2007. It houses three main gallery levels, a theater, a café operated by Hester Street Fair and roof terraces. The New Musem focuses it program on emerging—and important but under-recognized—artists. 

The Jewish Museum

66.  The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum, housed in the 1908 Warburg Mansion, mounts temporary exhibitions of contemproary and modern art and also has a substantial collection of artworks of art and Judaica. There is a permanent exhibit specifically for children, as well as a restuarant that includes an Uptown outpost of Russ & Daughters, the iconic Lower East Side purveyors of Kosher delicacies like lox, sable and whitefish.

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum

67.  The 9/11 Memorial and Museum

In the footprints of where the Twin Towers once stood are North America’s largest man-made waterfalls, the bottoms of which seem to be impossible to see. The twin reflecting pools, the 9/11 Memorial designed by Michael Arad, are a solemn reminder of all that was lost during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Lining the pools, each one acre in size, are bronze panels with the names of the 3,000 deceased victims from the attacks, including the rescue personnel who died helping the other victims. For those who wish to pay their respects to the tragedy and learn more about the events that transpired, the museum serves as the leading collection of artifacts and documentation of September 11. Inside, visitors can hear first-hand accounts of survivors, see picture and video footage of the attacks and see recovered objects such as wrecked recovery vehicles, large pieces of warped metal foundation and the 30-foot National 9/11 Flag. — Tolly Wright

Blue Note

68.  Blue Note

The Blue Note prides itself on being "the jazz capital of the world." Bona fide musical titans (Eddie Palmieri, Ron Carter) rub against hot young talents, while the close-set tables in the club get patrons rubbing up against each other. Arrive early to secure a good spot—and we recommend shelling out for a table seat.

Theater District

69.  Theater District

Each year, about 13 million locals and tourists take in Broadway shows at one of NYC's 40 Broadway theaters. Most of those venues are located in the theater district—roughly, 41st Street to 52nd Street and Sixth Ave to Eighth Ave. Each season brings a new wave of megamusicals, plays and star-driven revivals. Some boast gold from the Tony Awards. At the height of the fall and spring seasons, be sure to check our homepage for new critics picks, reviews and cheap broadway tickets. The savvy consumer can find discount tickets at most Broadway shows. NYC hurry—the curtain’s about to rise! — David Cote

The Noguchi Museum

70.  The Noguchi Museum

This 12 gallery space occupies a former photo-engraving plant, and the entire building was designed by the artist and sculpturer Isamu Noguchi to be a meditative oasis amid its gritty, industrial setting. As well as some of his most iconic sculptures, drawn, painted and collaged studies, architectural models, and stage and furniture designs, there is a garden populated with Noguchi’s work.

Coney Island Cyclone

71.  Coney Island Cyclone

  • Arcades and amusements

You can guarantee that the majority of New Yorkers have ridden the Cyclone. After all, it’s stood on the banks of the Coney Island Channel since 1927, which is a fair feat considering it’s constructed from wood. Thanks to a cash injection from Astroland, an organization that took over in the ’70s, this rollicking ride is still going strong, which will bring some comfort to remember when you’re being flung around the old thrill ride. — Danielle Goldstein

Experience the magic of New York City.

Queens Night Market

72.  Queens Night Market

Consider yourself a travel-loving foodie? Queens Night Market is your one-stop-shop in NYC to discover bites from 80 countries. Beginning in April through October, t ry a diverse range of grub that runs the gamut from Middle Eastern stews and Barbadian fishballs to Romanian-Hungarian chimney cake and tacos al pastor. The open-air bazaar operates from 5pm to midnight every Saturday, but the market has more to offer aside from fulfilling your late-night food cravings.  There’s always a great lineup of live music and performances such as Bollywood dancers, Indian electronica tunes, DJs and more. Check out  queensnightmarket.com  for the schedule. 

Radio City Music Hall

73.  Radio City Music Hall

New York City is full of legendary performance venues, but few match Radio City Music Hall in terms of sheer elegance. The Art Deco concert hall remains one of the prettiest in the city: Designed by Donald Deskey, its interior features opulent chandeliers and lush carpets, while the stage and proscenium are meant to resemble a setting sun. Although Radio City is probably best known as the home of the Rockettes, a plethora of noteworthy performers have graced its boards, including huge pop stars (Lady Gaga, the Jonas Brothers) and indie faves (Pulp, Grizzly Bear).  —Amy Plitt

New York Public Library, Stephen A Schwarzman Building

74.  New York Public Library, Stephen A Schwarzman Building

The century-old main branch of the NYPL is about as regal a setting for reading—either on your laptop or those old dusty things called books—as you’ll find in the city. Two massive Tennessee-marble lions, dubbed Patience and Fortitude, flank the main portal and have become the institution’s mascots. Once inside, check out the cavernous Rose Main Reading Room, spanning almost 300 feet and outfitted with chandeliers and stunning ceiling murals. Though it’s a classy setting in most instances, it’s also where Bill Murray uttered, “Are you, Alice, menstruating right now?” and “Back off, man, I’m a scientist” in Ghostbusters .  —Tim Lowery

Governors Island

75.  Governors Island

The Hills on Governors Island are alive but not necessarily with the sound of music. Instead, you can hear the hum of parkgoers and their bicycles as they tool around the island’s two-plus-mile promenade, the gleeful squeals of folks slithering down one of the four massive slides and the delighted gasps of visitors ogling perfect views of the New York Harbor and Lower Manhattan. While much of the green space’s landscape has changed (and, oh, is it hilly), preexisting features such as Hammock Grove and Picnic Point are still major focal points.  —Jennifer Sugnet

See lower and midtown Manhattan on a 90-minute cruise.

The Rubin Museum of Art

76.  The Rubin Museum of Art

Opened in 2004, this six-story museum (once home to Barneys New York) houses Donald and Shelley Rubin’s impressive collection of Himalayan art and artifacts, as well as large-scale temporary exhibitions.

Get a taste of the Lower East Side

77.  Get a taste of the Lower East Side

You know, the only real way to the heart of a city it's through its belly. So what better way to dive into the history of this cultural melting pot one mouthful at a time than by sampling the best food spots on the Lower East Side – all the while discovering the rich immigrant history that gives this concrete jungle its unique cosmopolitan flavor. The tour consists of four main food stops with several sites along the way like the African Burial Ground Monument and St Patrick's Old Cathedral – a significant landmark for the Irish Catholic community. You'll cut through Chinatown as well as Little Italy and taste the beloved knish – originating from the  Ashkenazi Jewish community –  for the first time. Perfect if you've got three hours to kill, and are looking for something fun for under 100 bucks. Steal. 

Village Vanguard

78.  Village Vanguard

After more than 80 years, this basement club’s stage still hosts the crème de la crème of mainstream jazz talent. Plenty of history has been made here—John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Bill Evans have grooved in this hallowed hall—and the 16-piece Vanguard Jazz Orchestra has been the Monday-night regular since 1966. Thanks to the venue's strict no cell phone policy, seeing a show here feels like stepping back and time. It's just you and the music. 

The Tenement Museum

79.  The Tenement Museum

This fascinating museum—actually a series of restored tenement apartments at 97 Orchard Street—is accessible only by guided tour. Costumed "residents" give glimpses into the daily lives of immigrant clans that called the building home over the decades, bringing to life the stories in an engaging and captivating way.

Fotografiska

80.  Fotografiska

  • Photography

The Fotografiska gallery in Stockholm, Sweden has opened a New York Branch in the heart of the  Flatiron   District that features three floors of exhibition space as well as Verōnika, a dining room and bar.  The gallery itself mounts temporary exhibits featuring photos from “grand masters and emerging talent” that range from “easily accessible to hardcore conceptual.”

Merchant's House Museum

81.  Merchant's House Museum

New York City’s only preserved 19th-century family home is an elegant, late Federal-Greek Revival house stocked with the same furnishings and decorations that filled its rooms when it was inhabited by hardware tycoon Seabury Treadwell and his descendants from 1835 to 1933.

The Morgan Library & Museum

82.  The Morgan Library & Museum

  • Murray Hill

This Madison Avenue institution began as the private library of financier J. Pierpont Morgan and is his artistic gift to the city. Building on the collection Morgan amassed in his lifetime, the space houses first-rate works, including drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Picasso; three Gutenberg Bibles; a copy of Frankenstein annotated by Mary Shelley; manuscripts by Dickens, Poe, Twain, Steinbeck and Wilde; sheet music handwritten by Beethoven and Mozart; and an original edition of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol that’s displayed every yuletide. This is certainly not your average library.

Neue Galerie New York

83.  Neue Galerie New York

  • Upper East Side

This elegant addition to the city’s museum scene is devoted entirely to late-19th- and early-20th-century German and Austrian fine and decorative arts. The brainchild of the late art dealer Serge Sabarsky and cosmetics mogul Ronald S. Lauder, it houses the largest concentration of works by Gustav Klimt (including his iconic Adele Bloch-Bauer I ) and Egon Schiele outside Vienna. You’ll also find a bookstore, a chic (and expensive) design shop and the Old World–inspired Café Sabarsky, serving updated Austrian cuisine and ravishing Viennese pastries.

Museum of Sex (MoSex)

84.  Museum of Sex (MoSex)

Situated in the former Tenderloin district, which bumped-and-grinded with dance halls and brothels in the 1800s, MoSex explores the subject within a cultural context—but that doesn’t mean some content won’t shock the more buttoned-up visitor. Highlights include a permanent collection ranging from a silicone Real Doll torso through to a nine-foot steel-framed love pen donated by a local dominatrix, to sex machines created by keen DIYers, such as the “Monkey Rocker,” constructed from a dildo and exercise equipment. Maybe not one to visit with your mom...

El Museo del Barrio

85.  El Museo del Barrio

  • East Harlem

Located in Spanish Harlem (a.k.a. El Barrio), El Museo del Barrio is dedicated to the work of Latino artists who reside in the U.S., as well as Latin American masters. The 6,500-piece permanent collection ranges from pre-Colombian artifacts to contemporary installations. The space also features updated galleries, an exposed courtyard for programming and events, and a Pan-Latino cafe that serves tacos, chili, and rice and beans.

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China's Top 15 Must-Visit Attractions: Historical, Cultural, Scenic & More

China's Top 15 Must-Visit Attractions: Historical, Cultural, Scenic & More

With a vast territory and a long history, China offers so much to see and explore. We have listed for you the top 15 must-visit attractions in China for any classic China tour.

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  • 1. The Great Wall
  • 2. Forbidden City
  • 3. Terracotta Army
  • 4. Giant Pandas
  • 5. Yellow Mountains
  • 6. Li River
  • 7. Potala Palace

8. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

  • 9. Mogao Caves
  • 10. The Bund
  • 11. West Lake
  • 12. Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve
  • 13. Victoria Harbor
  • 14. Lijiang Old Town
  • 15. Erhai Lake

1. The Great Wall of China in Beijing

In the eyes of most travelers, you haven't been to China if you haven't climbed the Great Wall .

One of the iconic symbols of China, the Great Wall is the longest wall in the world , an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture. Its winding path over a rugged country and steep mountains takes in some great scenery. It deserves its place among "the New Seven Wonders of the World" and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China.

T he most integrated and best-preserved sections are close to Beijing. Among them, the Jinshanling section has the most beautiful scenery and is very suitable for hiking.

The Mutianyu section has a better architecture with densely spaced watchtowers and easy to climb, which is suitable for families with the elderly and children. Which Sections of the Great Wall Should I Visit?

The Simatai section is good for a night tour of the Great Wall. See our 4-Day Beijing Highlights and Great Wall Night Tour

There is no better way to explore China's Great Wall than by hiking or walking along with it. Tread the centuries-old bricks and walk through watchtower ruins. Take your time and feel the history come to life. See 1-Day Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking Tour

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family 's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

2. The Forbidden City in Beijing — Imperial Palace for 24 Emperors

It was once a "palace" city where ordinary people were forbidden entry . An extravagant demonstration of ancient Chinese architecture, over 8,000 rooms with golden roofs are elegantly designed and painted in red and yellow.

The Forbidden City was the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties for 560 years till 1911. 24 emperors lived there. Listed as World Cultural Heritage, it also houses many Chinese cultural and historical relics and treasures . See 4-Day Beijing Private Tour with Visit to Forbidden City

It is recognized as one of the five most important palaces in the world (with the Palace of Versailles in France, Buckingham Palace in the UK, the White House in the US, and the Kremlin in Russia). Read on How to Visit the Forbidden City — for Discerning Travelers

3. The Terracotta Army in Xi'an — 2,000-Year-Old Underground Army

The Terracotta Army has been laid underground for more than 2,000 years . However, in 1974, farmers digging a well uncovered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. In 1987 it became World Cultural Heritage.

It is significant because the hundreds of detailed life-size models represent the army that triumphed over all other Chinese armies in the Warring States Period (475—221 BC), and who were the decisive factor in forming a united China.

It raises interesting questions about why it was made, which await your consideration when you come face-to-face with soldiers of the past. See our 3-Day Essence of Xi'an Tour including Terracotta Warriors

You could make your own warriors at a cave-dwelling where there are only a few craftsmen left who continue to work in a traditional way . Read more about How to Visit the Terracotta Army Hassle Free

All our tours are customized . Our travel consultants will create an itinerary based on your interests, group sizes, travel length, and other requirements.

4. Giant Pandas in Chengdu — China's "National Treasure"

The giant panda is not only deeply loved by the Chinese, but by many foreigners too, and not just children. Although there are many zoos in China and elsewhere, where you can see a giant panda, the best place to see them is Chengdu — the giant panda's "hometown" .

There are three places you can see pandas close up : Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center, Dujiangyan Panda Valley, and Bifengxia Panda Base.

  • Chengdu Panda Center is in the north of the city and is more established.
  • Dujiangyan and Bifengxia Panda Bases are 1-2 hours from Chengdu and you can see pandas in their natural habitat.
  • You can get even closer to the pandas by taking a volunteer program in Dujiangyan or Bifengxia Panda Valley . See our 1-Day Dujiangyan Panda Volunteer Program Tour

Read more about How to Plan a Panda Tour

5. The Yellow Mountains near Shanghai — Legendary Wonders

In east China, close to Shanghai and Hangzhou, the Yellow Mountain Scenic Area (Huangshan) woos travelers with its five wonders : sunrises , seas of clouds , oddly-shaped rocks , twisted pine trees , and hot springs . The Yellow Mountains are the most famous peaks in China.

The villages nearby such as Hongcun Village were once considered to be the utopia of ancient China . Villagers have diverted water into "house gardens" and "water yards", which exist only in this village. The village, in its breathing-taking setting, looks like a Chinese painting. Canola flowers in spring can be the icing on the cake.

Bishan Village is the best choice if you want to enjoy some quiet moments with your partner. Stay in a typical Hui-style inn, feel the freshness of the air on an early morning walk, and drink a coffee while enjoying nature in its unspoiled beauty. See our 3-Day Ancient Villages and Yellow Mountains Tour

6. The Li River in Guilin & Yangshuo — China's Most Celebrated Scenery

The karst landscape along the Li River has captured the heart of artists. Generations of Chinese painters and poets have been inspired by the beauty of nature there, using their pens and brushes to capture the breathtaking natural scenery. When Chinese travelers seek a place for natural beauty, they first think of Li River and Yangshuo .

The Li River was listed as one of the "World's Top Ten Watery Wonders" by America's National Geographic Magazine. Several world-famous figures have visited the Li River, including former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush (senior), and Bill Gates.

The 83-kilometer-long section of the Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo is the most beautiful. The river landscape is decorated with startling hills, steep cliffs, and farming villages, and is lined with bamboo groves.

Taking a leisurely cruise or a 3–4-hour family-friendly moderate hike (more on Li River hiking ) are good ways to enjoy the Li River's beauty.

Guilin & Yangshuo offer many interesting activities. You could challenge yourself to an SUP (stand-up paddleboard, i.e. a mini raft) on the Yulong River, take a bamboo raft , have a cycling tour into the countryside, or take an exciting drive with an all-terrain vehicle . See 5-Day Dynamic Guilin and Yangshuo Tour

7. The Potala Palace in Tibet — Heart of the Roof of the World

The Potala Palace is a symbol of Tibet . In 1994 it was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. It is a huge treasure house of materials and articles from Tibetan history, religion, culture, and art. The palace is widely known for its precious sculptures, murals, scriptures, Buddhist statues, antiques, and religious jewelry housed within it.

You could witness the architectural miracle containing the regal heritage of Tibet, listen to stories of Dalai Lamas who lived in the palace, and view the palace from the four best angles .

Tibet doesn't accept independent travelers . Traveling with a travel agency is required. Read more about Tibet Travel Restrictions or contact us to explore the main highlights from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp. See our 8-Day Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Private Tour

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park , the inspiration of Avatar, is a must-see place for its out-of-this-world scenery . It is huge with many different scenic areas. The "floating mountains and peaks" that inspired Avatar are concentrated in this park.

The top-rated scenic areas are Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain, and Gold Whip Stream. These three areas can be visited by tourists of any age.

Walking is not hard at the main attractions, where cable cars, elevators, a tram, and shuttle buses are available and concrete paths and steps have been built. See our 4 Days Essence of Zhangjiajie

9. The Mogao Caves in Dunhuang

"In the West, there is the Louvre; in the East, there are the Mogao Caves."

The Mogao Caves are famous for their exquisite murals and Buddhist statues . The Mogao Caves were included in UNESCO's world cultural heritage list in 1987.

Artists from different periods of the Middle Ages left their work there. All kinds of works spanning over one thousand years complement each other.

Standing out in the desert, the Mogao Caves are like a glittering pearl that adorns the Silk Road .

In addition to visiting these wonderful caves, you could get some hands-on archaeological experience. We can take you to the Dunhuang Research Academy. There, you can linger over copies of murals created by masters and can copy a sample mural on a mud slab with your own hands under the guidance of the teacher.

  • 5-Day Dunhuang In-Depth Private Tour including Visit to Mogao Caves
  • 13-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Dunhuang–Urumqi–Shanghai Tour - Silk Road Highlights and China's Gateway Cities

10. The Bund in Shanghai — Stunning Skyline, Colonial Architecture

The Bund is one of the most recognizable architectural symbols of Shanghai. It showcases the world with its colonial European buildings and skyscrapers on the other side of the Huangpu, housing one of the world's foremost business districts.

The Bund was Shanghai's most prosperous area in the late 19th century and early 20th century. When the first British company opened an office at the Bund in 1846, it became the epitome of elegance .

one of the best ways to explore the Bund is to take an in-depth cultural walk where you could step into some of the iconic old buildings and learn about the stories behind them. A night cruise on the Huang Pu Rover could also be a good choice.

11. West Lake in Hangzhou — Paradise on Earth

Hangzhou is renowned as China's "paradise on earth" owing to its beautifully crafted landscape . West Lake was created after the Chinese love for garden-style parks for recreation.

West Lake is a place of tranquility where urbanity becomes a silhouette on the northeast horizon and mountains near and far surround it on the other three sides. The occasional pagoda and Chinese-style arched bridge add atmosphere to the tree-lined walkways, verdant islands, and hills.

To admire the beauty of West Lake, you can leisurely bike around the lake, walk around the lake, or take a short cruise on the lake . We could also find a perfect location for you to enjoy afternoon tea while enjoying the beautiful view of West Lake. See 4-Day Shanghai & Hangzhou with Watertown Tour

12. Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve — Gemstone-Colored Lakes, Colorful Forests, Meadows

Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve is called "the last pure land on earth" and "the last Shangri-La" due to its breathtaking natural scenery.

"I want to go there with my sweetheart to see the clear blue sky, the snowcapped mountains, and the golden meadows, to experience an autumn fairy tale." A Chinese romantic drama movie, I Belonged to You , made Daocheng a desirable romantic place to visit.

As early as 1928, the Austrian-American explorer Joseph F. Rock visited Daocheng and captured its beauty, printing pictures of it in the National Geographic magazine and making it known to the world .

The Tibetan cultural experience is another highlight of this route . You can see many ancient monasteries and Tibetan-style houses during the trip.

  • 8-Day Chengdu to Shangri-La Adventure Tour - Chengdu, Xinduqiao, Daocheng, Riwa, Xiangcheng, and Shangri-La
  • 9-Day Panorama Western Sichuan Tour — Chengdu, Wolong (Baby Pandas), Rilong, Danba, Tagong, Litang, Riwa, Yajiang, and Moxi

All our tours can be customized. The itinerary can be adjusted according to your group size, time, interests, and other requirements. Just contact us .

13. Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong — Mighty Skyscraper Skyline

The view over Victoria Harbour from Victoria Peak is to Hong Kong as climbing the Great Wall is to China ; it offers the iconic outlook over Hong Kong's "high rise" to success and prosperity.

Victoria Peak is the best spot to have a bird's eye view of Hong Kong . Viewed from the peak, both day and night scenes are worth taking in. See high-rise buildings around the busy Victoria Harbour stretching out towards the Chinese mainland. At night the scenery is gorgeous when the Symphony of Lights of various buildings dances in unison .

14. Lijiang Old Town in Yunnan — Cobbled Pedestrian Streets, Small Waterways

Lijiang Old Town in Yunnan is characterized by ancient cobbled streets, stone bridges, and water-wheel-driven canals decorated with flowers. Shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, snack stalls, and hotels can be found everywhere .

The big waterwheels are a landmark of Lijiang Old Town. As you enter the old town, you will see them. The river flowing through the old town keeps them rotating. Bar Street is next to them, which is busy at night.

You could also go to Naxi Hieroglyphs and Painting Exhibition Hall to experience Naxi art . The Naxi are the only people who still use hieroglyphs to write in the world .

  • 8-Day Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Tour - Meet the Amazing Beauty of Yunnan
  • 9-Day Yunnan Family Tour - Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La

All our Yunnan tours can be customized. Contact us to create a trip for you according to your group size, time, budget, interests, and other requirements.

15. Erhai Lake in Dali — One of the Most Beautiful Lakes in China

Erhai Lake is the most beautiful place in Dali . It is a plateau lake. Erhai Lake is in the shape of an ear, hence its name Erhai ('Ear Sea'). This plateau lake is like a deep blue gem set in the green land. The water of the lake is calm and blue. The soft and gentle wind by the lake will make you feel relaxed.

Every December, flocks of black-headed gulls from Siberia fly in to spend the winter at Erhai Lake .

Biking is the best way to travel around the lake . Capturing the beauty of the landscape bathed in sunshine and breezes is a real pleasure. There are two cycle routes around Erhai Lake : Haixi (on Erhai's west shore) and Haidong (on Erhai's east shore). The Haixi route is more suitable for young or inexperienced riders. Haidong route is quiet and has panoramic views. Contact us to arrange mountain bikes with helmets for you.

  • 4-Day Dynamic Dali Tour - Hike and Bike
  • 6-Day Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang Tour - Yunnan Ethnic Minorities Tour
  • 7-Day Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Tour - A Feast of Landscapes and Ethnic Minority Culture

The Most Popular China Tour Itineraries

Our tour services are personalized . We will help you to maximize your travel experience by suggesting the optimal trip for the time you have and the places you want to see. Just contact us .

  • The Golden Triangle (8 days): Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai — the most popular destinations for a first trip
  • Classic Wonders (11 days): Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai — classic architecture, culture, and scenery
  • Find more ideas from our China tours .

Private China Tours

  • 2-Week Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Shanghai Educational Family Vacation
  • 9-Day Beyond the Golden Triangle
  • 13-Day A Broad Taste of China
  • 11-Day Family Happiness
  • 12-day Panda Keeper and Classic Wonders
  • 13-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Dunhuang–Urumqi–Shanghai Tour
  • 14-Day China Natural Wonders Discovery
  • 14-Day Classic China Photo Tour
  • 2-Week Riches of China
  • 3-Week Must-See Places China Tour Including Holy Tibet
  • How to Plan Your First Trip to China 2024/2025 — 7 Easy Steps
  • Best (& Worst) Times to Visit China, Travel Tips (2024/2025)
  • 15 Best Places to Visit in China (2024)
  • The 15 Most Beautiful Places in China (#7 Will Impress You)
  • One Week in China - 4 Time-Smart Itineraries
  • How to Plan a 10-Day Itinerary in China (Best 5 Options)
  • Top 4 China Itinerary Options in 12 Days (for First Timers) 2024/2025
  • 2-Week China Itineraries: Where to Go & Routes (2024)
  • 17-Day China Itineraries: 4 Unique Options
  • How to Spend 19 Days in China in 2024/2025 (Top 5 Options and Costs)
  • How to Plan a 3-Week Itinerary in China: Best 3 Options (2024)
  • China Itineraries from Hong Kong for 1 Week to 3 Weeks
  • China Weather in January 2024: Enjoy Less-Crowded Traveling
  • China Weather in February 2024: Places to Go, Costs, and Crowds
  • China Weather in March 2024: Destinations, Crowds, and Costs
  • China Weather in April 2024: Where to Go (Smart Pre-Season Pick)
  • China Weather in May 2024: Where to Go, Crowds, and Costs
  • China Weather in June 2024: How to Benefit from the Rainy Season
  • China Weather in July 2024: How to Avoid Heat and Crowds
  • China Weather in August: Tips for Family Travel
  • China Weather in September: a Quieter Month in the Peak Season
  • China Weather in October: Where to Go, Crowds, and Costs
  • China Weather in November: Places to Go, Costs, and Crowds
  • China Weather in December: Places to Go, Costs, and Crowds

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Where to Go in the Philippines 2024 | Best Tourist Spots

Where to Go in the Philippines 2024 | Best Tourist Spots

Grayson Yañez

15. Calle Crisologo, Vigan

14. nacpan beach, el nido, 13. tubbataha reef, palawan, 12. mayon volcano, albay, bicol, 11. intramuros and fort santiago, manila, 10. taal volcano and lake, tagaytay, and batangas, 9. kawasan falls, cebu, 8. kayangan lake, coron, palawan, 7. rizal park, manila, 6. banaue rice terraces, ifugao.

  • 5. Cebu’s Beaches and Diving Spots

4. Cloud 9, Siargao

3. puerto princesa underground river, palawan, 2. chocolate hills, bohol, 1. white beach, boracay.

Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan and Cloud 9 in Siargao

If tropical islands, beautiful landscapes, and unending adventures are on your bucket list for a holiday trip, then you have found a gem of a destination with the Philippines.

The Philippines has over 7,000 islands and is the perfect getaway to experience a mix of nature, culture, and fun. The geographical features of the Philippines ensure that there are natural attractions wherever you go. Whether you're headed to Luzon tourist spots , Visayas tourist spots , or  Mindanao tourist spots , expect beautiful sights, unique attractions, friendly locals, and memorable experiences.

The best beaches in the Philippines , idyllic islands in turquoise waters, the world’s most perfect cone volcano , the second smallest primate, world-class surfing spots, and centuries-old Spanish fortresses—these are but some of the attractions awaiting you on your Philippine holiday.

  • Explore a wide selection of island hopping in the Philippines and other  Philippine tours  for your trip
  • Read our guide on getting around the Philippines
  • See the requirements to rent a car in the Philippines

With all the destinations and experiences the Philippines offers, creating an itinerary may be daunting, especially for first-time visitors. 

To help out, we have listed down the best places to visit in the Philippines.

See our popular Best Philippines Itinerary Tour Packages

5-day nature & islands adventure package to puerto princesa and el nido palawan, 4-day fascinating culture & nature tour package to cebu & bohol with accommodations & transfers, scenic 1-week beaches & nature vacation package to cebu, puerto princesa & el nido palawan.

Read on to find out which top tourist destinations in the Philippines you should not miss on this trip of a lifetime!

Calle Crisologo in Vigan

Travel back in time as you stroll along the streets of Calle Crisologo in Vigan  as part of your Ilocos itinerary . This 16th-century town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site  and a popular tourist spot in the Philippines, quietly boasts old-world charm and Spanish colonial architecture and is the top attraction in Vigan, Ilocos tours  and one of the top  historical landmarks in the Philippines . 

The town famous for its Calle Crisologo tour has successfully managed to preserve the historic district where you can still find calesas (horse-drawn carriages). Sample the famous and delicious Ilocos empanada and walk along cobbled streets lined with souvenir shops selling pottery and Abel Iloko weaves. These are among the many  things to see and do when in Vigan .

  • Check out our list of the best hotels in Vigan  and the top Vigan tours

The best time to visit for  Calle Crisologo tours  is during the first week of May when the town celebrates the Vigan Festival of the Arts, one of the festivals in the Philippines . 

See our popular Vigan Tours and Activities

Nacpan Beach in El Nido, Palawan

El Nido in Palawan is most famous for its paradise-like islands and lagoons, but a 45-minute ride from its main town takes you to another idyllic destination: Nacpan Beach. 

Island hopping escapades in El Nido , including a visit to El Nido Big Lagoon and other top Palawan beaches should not be missed. But after a jam-packed day of visiting coves, white-sand beaches in El Nido , limestone cliffs, and other El Nido Palawan tourist spots , a trip to Nacpan Beach is highly recommended. 

The main attraction is its 4-kilometer shoreline with golden sand and endless palm trees lining up, perfect for just bumming around. Calitang Beach sits on the other side, and the two beaches form what is now popularly known as the Twin Beaches of El Nido.

  • Browse our list of the best hotels and resorts in El Nido  and  El Nido tour packages

Visitors are not advised to swim far away from shore in Nacpan as currents tend to become strong and rough with little warning.

If you're looking for budget-friendly accommodations in El Nido, check out our collection of El Nido hostels . 

See our popular El Nido Tours and Activities

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Tubbataha Reef in Palawan

Tubbataha Reef is regarded as one of the  top diving spots in the Philippines , and, perhaps, the world. Located at the heart of the Sulu Sea, it is considered a center of marine biodiversity and a haven not just for divers but marine conservationists as well. The only way to get to this marine sanctuary is through a liveaboard vessel from Puerto Princesa, Palawan. 

The access may be challenging, but it is probably what is keeping the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park teeming with some of the most unique underwater life in the world. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was nominated as part of the “New Seven Wonders of the Natural World.”

Among the species that call Tubbataha home are reef sharks, manta rays, Napoleon wrasses, and more than half of all the world's coral species. One of its islets is also a breeding site for birds and marine turtles.

Tubbataha reef diving requires months or even years of planning, but experiencing the staggering wealth underneath is more than worth it.

See our popular Philippine Scuba Diving Packages & Courses

Mayon Volcano in Legazpi

As soon as your flight lands at the airport in Bicol International Airport of Albay province, the world’s most perfect volcanic cone and the most active volcano in the Philippines greets you with its majesty. Mayon Volcano is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Philippines and is a top attraction in any  Bicol tour .

Its sheer beauty (the name Mayon comes from the Bicolano word ‘magayon,’ which means beautiful) hides a violent core, with past eruptions that flattened several towns.

  • Read our article on travel insurance in the Philippines

One of the top natural landmarks in the Philippines and one of the most-visited tourist spots in Albay , it is already a wonderful experience seeing the volcano from afar. But if you are an adrenaline junkie, you can soak up all its beauty while gliding through a zipline in Lignon Hill or going on a Mayon Volcano tour via a Mayon ATV ride in Bicol. Visit the Cagsawa Ruins for another unique and historic viewing point of the Mayon Volcano.

As a bonus, from Legazpi, you can take a side trip to Donsol, where you can enjoy swimming with whale sharks in their natural habitat.

See our popular Mayon Volcano Tours

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Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila

Take a stroll through history lane within the walled city of Intramuros in Manila , one of the top landmarks in the Philippines. This 64-hectare Spanish fortress was erected by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and was destroyed by the end of World War II.

  • Book Manila hotels  or serviced apartments in Metro Manila for your trip
  • Read our article on the best buffets in Manila

Another Intramuros attraction is Fort Santiago, a citadel that served as headquarters for armies and foreign powers. It is a historically significant site where the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was imprisoned before his execution. 

You can learn more about its history when you go on trips to Fort Santiago . You can also go on a  guided bamboo bike tour or ride a horse-drawn carriage to explore Intramuros' historic walls.

Cap off your trip with a meal or drink at some of the finest Filipino restaurants inside Intramuros. One popular establishment is Barbara’s, where you can enjoy traditional Filipino cuisine buffet-style while being treated to a cultural show.

See our popular Intramuros Tours

Taal Volcano and Lake in Tagaytay

Locals and foreign visitors from Manila often take a quick escape from the megacity and make their way south to  Tagaytay , a relaxing town famous for its cool weather, magnificent views, and many tourist spots . It's popular for being one of the best kid-friendly places near Manila .

The best Tagaytay hotels  have a view that faces Taal Volcano, one of the world’s smallest active volcanoes. The volcano sits on an island within a lake within an island. 

Since hikes to the crater are no longer allowed, head to  Tagaytay restaurants ,  Tagaytay cafes , or Tagaytay hotels with a view of Taal. While in Tagaytay and Batangas, heat up your trip with a delectable bowl of Bulalo, a clear broth with beef shanks, bone marrow, and corn.

  • Check out our list of the best Tagaytay hotels with Taal Volcano views
  • Experience a Tagaytay Taal Lake boat ride
  • Book a Tagaytay City tour from Manila
  • Check out our list of the best farm resorts near Manila ,  best beach resorts near Manila , and the top affordable resorts near Manila
  • Browse our list of resorts in Batangas

See our popular Tagaytay Tours and Activities

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Kawasan Falls in Cebu

If you like jumping into or swimming in cool cascading waters, Kawasan Falls in  Cebu hits the sweet spot. It is a multi-layered waterfall in the town of Badian and is best known for its turquoise waters.

With a height of 40 meters, the first cascade is where most visitors stay, swim, and enjoy a natural water massage on board a bamboo raft. A 10-minute trek takes you up to the quieter second cascade.

  • Find and book the best Cebu hotels
  • Check out other top Cebu tours you can try

Kawasan Falls is also the endpoint of the popular adventure activity,  Kawasan Falls canyoneering . This tour starts in Kanlaob River in the town of Alegria. You'll make your way to Kawasan, swimming along streams, rappelling through natural rock walls, and finally jumping off mini-waterfalls.

Nearby is the town of  Moalboal , famous for its  sardine run experience , where you swim with millions of sardines just offshore.

See our popular Kawasan Falls Tours

Kayangan Lake in Coron, Palawan

Undoubtedly one of the most photographed and iconic destinations in the Philippines is Kayangan Lake in  Coron , Palawan. Going on a Kayangan Lake Coron tour  will allow you to see its lagoon that is a dreamy mix of blues and greens glistening on a bright, sunny day. It should definitely be on your Coron Palawan itinerary .

  • Check out our Coron tour packages and other things to see and do in Coron
  • Read our guide on diving in Coron
  • Browse our list of the  best hotels and resorts in Coron

Kayangan Lake tours will take you to the jagged limestone cliffs and islets surrounding the lake. All these add up to a dramatic landscape, best seen from a 10-minute climb up a hill. Curiously, this view is not of the actual Kayangan Lake but the area where the tour boats park, but it is still breathtaking nonetheless.

As spectacular as the views are above ground, the real gem is hidden underneath the lake’s glass-like waters. Rock formations and schools of fish abound, making the area a favorite snorkeling and free-diving spot for visitors and one of the most popular Coron Palawan tourist spots .

The island destination is also famous for  island-hopping in Coron  and  C oron wreck diving , among many other must-try  Coron tours . It's also a romantic destination and is a popular location for vacation packages for couples .

See our popular Coron Tours and Activities

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Rizal Park in Manila

Many travelers skip  Manila and make their way to the Philippines' other islands, but a day or two in the country’s capital to go on  Manila tours is still highly recommended, especially for those looking for the best places in the Philippines for a family vacation .

  • Check out our list of the best  private resorts near Manila

This 60-hectare urban park is where you will see the Rizal Monument, marking the execution site of the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Manila Bay’s breeze keeps the Philippine flag waving from a 46-meter flagpole fronting his monument.

The park also features manicured gardens, ponds, and a wide water fountain that lights up and dances to Filipino tunes at sunset. The park area is also home to a network of  National Museums that you can visit .

  • Cebu to Manila flights
  • Davao to Manila flights
  • Tacloban to Manila flights
  • Iloilo to Manila flights
  • Bohol to Manila flights
  • Bacolod to Manila flights
  • Legazpi to Manila flights

See our popular Manila Tours & Activities

Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao

Hand-chiseled some 2,000 years ago, the Banaue Rice Terraces in  Banaue of Ifugao, North Luzon , is a remarkable destination and is truly one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines and regarded as one of the Philippines' iconic landmarks. 

Sit in a colorful jeepney as it cruises along winding roads in Banaue, and views of dramatic mud-walled rice terraces leave you in awe.

The Ifugao people were highly skilled in carving both wood and mountainsides. The Banaue Rice Terraces is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site . It offers spectacular views of emerald hues during the rice-growing seasons of April-May and October-November.

  • Check out our list of things to do in Baguio  and our Baguio tour packages
  • See  Baguio hotels that you can book for your trip 

Banaue and its many natural attractions may pack a lot of tourists so you can make your way further to quieter Batad Rice Terraces and take a quick dip at its mighty Tappiya waterfalls. You can also explore nearby  Baguio City or  pick fresh strawberries in La Trinidad, Benguet .

Where to Go in the Philippines 2024 | Best Tourist Spots

See our popular North Luzon Tour Packages

5. cebu’s beaches and diving spots.

Malapascua Island in Cebu

Cebu has been declared part of UNESCO’s Network of Creative Cities, but its main treasure lies deep down. The island draws over two million foreign travelers every year, who are greeted by rich waters teeming with abundant marine life. There are also many Cebu hotels that you can book for your trip. 

Diving in Cebu is also a great experience as the island boasts many beautiful  Cebu diving spots , featuring underwater caves, shallow shipwrecks, and marine sanctuaries.

  • Browse our list of the best beachfront resorts in Cebu  and the top Cebu tourist spots
  • Check out our Cebu tour packages with airfare  and our Mactan Island tours
  • Explore other islands in the Visayas region. Check out our Bacolod-Iloilo-Guimaras itinerary
  • See other  Cebu tours you can add to your itinerary

Cebu island hopping tours are popular, thanks to the  beaches of Cebu ,  Mactan , Camotes, and  Bantayan Island . Moalboal island hopping tours are also available for those who want to explore more of Cebu. Off the northernmost tip of Cebu, tiny  Malapascua Island packs many surprises, including diving with thresher sharks. Apart from diving in Malapascua , you can also go on a sardine run tour . For a hassle-free experience, book Malapascua diving packages .

See our popular Cebu Diving Courses and Packages

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Cloud 9 in Siargao

Siargao ’s rise as a top tourist destination in the Philippines is nothing short of meteoric. Once a sleepy island in Surigao del Norte, it has become one of the favorite destinations and playgrounds for travelers, and it is primarily because of one activity: surfing.

It is now known as the Philippines'  surfing capital , and some even regard it as the surfing mecca of Asia.

  • See our list of  Siargao private tours
  • Read our article on the best resorts in Siargao
  • Check out other rainy season activities in the Philippines
  • Find other  Siargao experiences  and Siargao tour packages

Surfers are drawn to Cloud 9, the most famous surfing spot in the entire country and a must in any visitor's Siargao itinerary . From November until April, all is well with Cloud 9’s thick tubes, making it a perfect place to get stoked (note: it is recommended for advanced surfers only).

But you do not need to go surfing in Siargao  to enjoy this island destination as there are also other  Siargao tourist spots  to visit, like rock pools, waterfalls, and the nearby Sohoton Lagoon, where you can swim with thousands of non-sting jellyfish. You can go island hopping in Siargao to visit some of its natural attractions, including Sugba Lagoon , Naked Island , Daku Island , and Guyam Island .

See our popular Siargao Tours and Activities

Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan

The gateway to the Philippines’ Last Frontier,  Palawan , is its capital  Puerto Princesa . It is here that you can find the world’s longest navigable underground river and a UNESCO World Heritage Site , the  Puerto Princesa Underground River or the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. To explore this world-famous attraction and one of the best Philippine caves , book a Puerto Princesa underground river tour. 

Paddleboats of the  Puerto Princesa underground river tours  cruise through scenic limestone cliffs as they make their way through the accessible area (1.5 km) of the underground river cave.

  • Find the best Puerto Princesa hotels for your trip
  • See other things to do in Puerto Princesa
  • Check out other  Puerto Princesa activities that you can do
  • Read our article on Port Barton resorts

The park is also teeming with wildlife like crab-eating monkeys, monitor lizards, and bats.  Island hopping escapades in Honda Bay and a visit to the Crocodile Farm are also highly recommended among the many  things to do in Puerto Princesa .

See our popular Puerto Princesa Underground River Tours

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Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines

Included in the UNESCO World Heritage Natural Monuments list, the Chocolate Hills of  Bohol are a geomorphic wonder and truly a sight to behold. It is one of the amazing tourist spots in the Philippines to offer a unique landscape, with its 1,268 cone-shaped hills that turn chocolatey brown during the dry season, hence its name.

The limestone hills in this iconic Philippine landmark vary in size but almost look similar in shape and range from 30 to 120 meters in height. It’s a must-add to any itinerary for  Bohol trips .

Make your way to the town of Carmen, where the Chocolate Hills Main Viewpoint can be found. You can also see the hills via Chocolate Hills tours or  Bohol countryside tours . Aside from the Chocolate Hills, there is also a treasure chest of natural wonders and other fun  things to do in Bohol , including a relaxing Loboc river cruise  and exploring Balicasag Island, a popular Bohol diving spot . You can also go on  Panglao Island tours , and  Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary visits , where you can see the world’s second-smallest primate. At night you can visit Abatan River and see some of the rarest fireflies in the Philippines .

  • Read our article on the best  resorts in Bohol , including Bohol beachfront resorts
  • Check out our Bohol tour packages
  • Book Panglao resorts in Bohol for your trip
  • See our Cebu-Bohol tour packages
  • Secure your Philippines ferry ticket booking

See our popular Chocolate Hills Tours

White Beach in Boracay

Long hailed as one of the best white sand beaches in the Philippines and the entire world,  Boracay ’s claim to fame is its 4-kilometer stretch of pure white, powdery sand called White Beach .

Cliche as it sounds, White Beach is truly postcard-perfect, with tall coconut trees lining it and crystal-clear calm waters rounding up its unmatched beauty, making it the top attraction in  Boracay tours  and the best tourist destination in the Philippines.

Those who want to indulge during their holiday can also do so, as Boracay is home to some of the best 5-star hotels in the Philippines , as well as several honeymoon resorts and some of the best beach resorts in the Philippines . You can also have a workation here

Its prominence in global publications has drawn in an influx of tourists over the last decades, and there is no shortage of hotels , restaurants , and Boracay bars on the entire island.

Typical view of White Beach, Boracay

  • Check out our lists of the best beachfront resorts in Boracay Island  and hotels in Boracay for family
  • Browse our Boracay tour packages  and Malay hotels
  • Read our article on the best golf courses in the Philippines , including one in Boracay

There are plenty of things to do in Boracay , and you can add other spots to your Boracay itinerary , including Puka Beach and Diniwid Beach, both of which offer a quiet respite and some of the best relaxing vibes during the daytime. Other things you can do in Boracay include  White Beach tours and activities like  Boracay banana boat riding, Boracay jetskiing , paddleboarding,  paraw sailing in Boracay,  snorkeling in Boracay,  helmet diving in Boracay , and parasailing in Boracay .

See our popular Boracay Tours and Activities

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Plan Your Ultimate Escape to the Philippines

Nacpan Beach in El Nido, Palawan

It is impossible to visit all the best tourist spots in the Philippines in one go unless you have all the time in the world. But carefully planning out your Philippines itinerary will surely take you to some of the most unforgettable landscapes and fun-filled adventures you will ever see and experience. If you want a pampered experience, book a stay at one of the luxury resorts in the Philippines  or the best  wellness resorts in the Philippines , or try glamping in the Philippines .

  • Cheap flights to Manila
  • Dubai to Manila flights
  • Singapore to Manila flights
  • LAX to Manila flights
  • Read our guide on airports in the Philippines

Aside from its spectacular views, the Philippines is also home to one of the most hospitable, warm, and free-spirited people you will ever meet. Before you finalize your online trip booking  or your Philippines holiday packages , read more of our Philippines travel guides to help you plan the ultimate escape and learn the reasons why you should visit the Philippines . 

See our popular Top Tours in the Philippines

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Catch the snow at these spots in the San Gabriel Mountains — while supplies last

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Since moving to Los Angeles in 2018, I’ve kept up an important annual tradition: getting my feet into snow. Fortunately, I’ve never had to travel far to do it. When winter and early spring rains come to the Southland, the San Gabriel Mountains above L.A. get plastered with powder (cue incredible vistas ). They say in Los Angeles that you can catch some waves at the beach in the morning and then hit the ski slopes in the afternoon. Unlike many things people say about our city, this one is actually true — and absolutely worth doing.

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I recently made my winter pilgrimage to the San Gabriels, and it was a classic sun and snow experience. I woke up to a mild and sunny L.A. spring morning, took my dog for a walk and then packed up my snowshoes, snow pants and backpack. After a quick stop for breakfast at Bub and Grandma’s in Glassell Park and an hour or so of driving up Angeles Crest Highway, I found the snow.

Snowshoes keep a hiker atop a snow hiking path

It emerged gradually, first in small patches along the road and then in glimpses of white peaks catching the morning light. When I pulled off the pavement near Waterman Mountain, I was in a different world. All around me, the slopes were blanketed in snow. Thick gray clouds scudded overhead, dumping flakes and dusting everything with a fresh coat of powder. Breaks in the clouds created roving patches of sunlight that lit up the frosty ground and cast long shadows from the towering pine trees.

I pulled on my gear — in addition to snowshoes, snow pants and a backpack with water and snacks, I always pack boots, gloves, a warm hat and an insulated jacket — and headed out on the Waterman Mountain trail, one of my favorite routes for wintertime exploring. Although I’ve hiked and snowshoed here several times before, it’s always interesting to see how winter transforms the landscape. The trail was barely visible under the snow (good thing I had a map on my fully charged phone), and I passed several creeks roaring with snowmelt. When I’m snowshoeing, I don’t have any goal in mind — instead of aiming for a summit, I slow down and take my time. I try to soak in my surroundings, knowing that in a month or so this snowy scene will likely be gone.

The sun casts long shadows from trees along a snow-covered path

Although we’re now officially into spring, there’s still time to get your wintertime fix in the San Gabriels. If you go, check the weather first, as conditions in the mountains are very different from what’s happening in the city. Fill up your car’s gas tank, and be aware that Angeles Crest Highway is partly closed, so you’ll need to detour around the closure to get to higher elevations.

When I ventured into the mountains in mid-March, the snow coverage started around 7,000 feet. For the latest info, the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center has a great interactive map that shows the snow depth in the San Gabriels.

I began my snowshoe trip at the Waterman trailhead , though you can also drive farther on Angeles Crest Highway and park at the Kratka Ridge parking area or at Islip Saddle (the road is closed past that). Bring an Adventure Pass ; it’s required to park at Waterman and Islip Saddle.

Three photos: a coniferous tree with its needles covered in snow; a large rock covered in bright lichen; a snow covered path

Prefer to ski or snowboard? You’re in luck. The Mt. Waterman ski area opened this month (call 818-790-2002 to check if they’re running before visiting) and Mt. Baldy and Mountain High are also reliable destinations for skiing in the San Gabriels. Make sure to check their websites before heading up, as their operating hours can change depending on the weather.

3 things to do

A group of folks gather around a dusty path Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve

1. Learn the secrets of our local ecosystem in Van Nuys Friends of the L.A. River will guide you through the winding paths and hidden groves of the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, a flood control basin that’s teeming with local wildlife and plants. As you wander through the trails on the 1½-hour walk, an educator will recount interesting stories behind each creature and plant that crosses your path. Occasionally, they’ll also pause to lead mindfulness practices along the way. Attendees should bring a water bottle, insect repellent and attire that takes into account the rainy weekend forecast. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. Friday. The event is free, but you’ll have to reserve a spot, and take note of the event’s detailed navigation tips at eventbrite.com .

2. Meditate among plants in Santa Monica Get centered among the lush greenery of Merrihew’s Sunset Gardens, a nursery full of California natives and many other beautiful plants that’s been part of the Westside community for more than 75 years. Yoga teacher and plant lover Jess Mack will be leading a one-hour meditation that weaves in “plant facts and revelations.” The event starts 9 a.m. Satuday. Tickets are $15 each, and you can buy them at eventbrite.com .

3. Gaze at the partial solar eclipse in Thousand Oaks For those of us who haven’t booked a weekend in Mexico at a beachfront resort to witness the total solar eclipse, there’s still an opportunity to celebrate the rare phenomenon here in California. Irene Shabazi Rowland — a former elementary school teacher who practices nature-informed acupuncture and forest therapy — will be hosting a wellness walk at Wildwood Regional Park during the approximate two-hour window in which the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and casts a shadow onto the big blue marble we call home. Though Southern California won’t be in the so-called path of totality, you’ll still be able to see a partial eclipse. Rowland will lead you on a two-mile hike with the goal of relaxing, recharging and connecting with nature, and end the outing with a tea ceremony. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own sun protection gear, including a hat, sunscreen and those dorky eclipse glasses — as well as a lawn chair to maximize comfort. The event is free and kicks off in the Wildwood Park parking lot at 10 a.m. April 8. You can sign up at eventbrite.com .

The must-read

Buds are returning on some of the charred vegetation in Mojave National Preserve

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Alex Wigglesworth’s story on wildfires and their effect on the Mojave Desert. The desert has seen an unusual amount of fire in the last few years, and with climate change bringing drought and erratic precipitation patterns, experts predict flames will become even more prevalent. But fire wasn’t always so rare here. Before the arrival of white settlers, the Mojave was covered in native grasses, and the region experienced fires on a regular basis. Check out the article for a deeper look at how researchers and land managers are trying to understand fire’s natural role in a desert landscape that has changed drastically — and continues to evolve with each passing year.

Happy adventuring,

Signature for Michael Charboneau

In the spring, wildflowers get all the attention , but this is a great time of year for clouds too. Rain showers and even rare coastal thunderstorms are creating all kinds of interesting shapes in the sky. As you’re going about your day, make sure to look up.

For more insider tips on Southern California’s beaches, trails and parks, check out past editions of The Wild . And to view this newsletter in your browser, click here .

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your tourist spot

Michael Charboneau is a freelance writer covering gear and the outdoors, and he’ll be writing The Wild newsletter for the next few months. He has written for a variety of publications, including Men’s Journal, Runner’s World and InsideHook, and he lives in West L.A. When he’s not writing, he can be found running, hiking and biking around Los Angeles and its mountains.

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12 Ways to Spot an American Tourist Abroad

Posted: February 7, 2024 | Last updated: February 7, 2024

<p>Traveling abroad reveals interesting quirks that scream 'American tourist.' From fashion choices to dining habits, certain behaviors can make Americans stand out in foreign countries. These 12 signs amusingly highlight the common traits and practices that often give away an American traveler.</p>

Spotting an American tourist abroad isn't tough. They've got a few giveaways that make them stand out, from fashion choices to social habits. Whether it's a love for sneakers or a loud chat, there are some surefire signs. Let's check out the 12 ways you can spot an American tourist from a mile away.

<p>Only Americans eat and drink while walking, says an American participant who previously lived in Europe. They continue, "I'd be eating a bagel or something on the way to work or class, and multiple people asked if I was American, lol." In Europe, it's customary to sit down and take the time to enjoy your food and beverages instead of walking while eating and drinking.</p>

1. Eating While Walking

Only Americans eat and drink while walking, says an American participant who previously lived in Europe. They continue, "I'd be eating a bagel or something on the way to work or class, and multiple people asked if I was American, lol." In Europe, it's customary to sit down and take the time to enjoy your food and beverages instead of walking while eating and drinking.

<p>The friendliness of Americans, especially the habit of greeting strangers with phrases like "Hello" and "How are you?" is an obvious tell. Friendly greetings and pleasantries seemingly aren't a custom in many places outside of the U.S.</p>

2. Greetings and Salutations

The friendliness of Americans, especially the habit of greeting strangers with phrases like "Hello" and "How are you?" is an obvious tell. Friendly greetings and pleasantries seemingly aren't a custom in many places outside of the U.S.

<p>According to several responders, wearing certain accessories makes it easy to tell if someone is from the U.S. One says they looked American because they wore their baseball cap backward. Another one remarks that it was because they rested their sunglasses on top of their head when they weren't wearing them. A third one claims that wearing tactical sunglasses is a uniquely American trait.</p>

3. The Accessories

According to several responders, wearing certain accessories makes it easy to tell if someone is from the U.S. One says they looked American because they wore their baseball cap backward. Another one remarks that it was because they rested their sunglasses on top of their head when they weren't wearing them. A third one claims that wearing tactical sunglasses is a uniquely American trait.

<p>Numerous participants in the discussion point out how much louder Americans are compared to their global neighbors, with a person admitting their European friends and fellow travelers saying Americans do not have anything resembling an indoor voice and always sound like they are talking to someone far away.</p>

4. Voices That Carry

Numerous participants in the discussion point out how much louder Americans are compared to their global neighbors, with a person admitting their European friends and fellow travelers saying Americans do not have anything resembling an indoor voice and always sound like they are talking to someone far away.

<p>While much of the world uses the metric system of measurement, America is one of the few countries using the imperial system. A commenter on the thread acknowledges that Americans give themselves away because "they measure things in inches and yards and talk about the weather in Fahrenheit." The metric system isn't widely taught in American schools, making measurements challenging when traveling overseas.</p>

5. Imperial System of Measurement

While much of the world uses the metric system of measurement, America is one of the few countries using the imperial system. A commenter on the thread acknowledges that Americans give themselves away because "they measure things in inches and yards and talk about the weather in Fahrenheit." The metric system isn't widely taught in American schools, making measurements challenging when traveling overseas.

<p>A rather unusual way of identifying someone as an American is to look at their teeth. According to a few contributors, people from the United States either have exceedingly white teeth due to bleaching or are perfectly straight because of braces.</p>

6. Good Teeth

A rather unusual way of identifying someone as an American is to look at their teeth. According to a few contributors, people from the United States either have exceedingly white teeth due to bleaching or are perfectly straight because of braces.

<p>An American traveler admits, "While visiting Turkey, I was told I looked American because I was sitting with one leg across the other, and the bottom of my shoe was exposed." While sitting with one leg crossing the other is commonplace in the U.S., in many cultures in that part of the world, displaying the soles of your shoes or feet is considered disrespectful.</p>

7. Leg Cross

An American traveler admits, "While visiting Turkey, I was told I looked American because I was sitting with one leg across the other, and the bottom of my shoe was exposed." While sitting with one leg crossing the other is commonplace in the U.S., in many cultures in that part of the world, displaying the soles of your shoes or feet is considered disrespectful.

<p>If you had to identify the most all-American condiment, it must be ranch dressing. One American from the discussion board recounts discovering that ranch isn't a universally known condiment: They went to a Burger King in Norway, asked for ranch dressing, and the worker had never heard of it.</p>

8. Ranch Dressing

If you had to identify the most all-American condiment, it must be ranch dressing. One American from the discussion board recounts discovering that ranch isn't a universally known condiment: They went to a Burger King in Norway, asked for ranch dressing, and the worker had never heard of it.

<p>An individual from Asia shares their appreciation for Americans' sense of humor, writing, "I've talked to a lot of Americans, and one thing I've noticed about them is their sense of humor. I also watch many American movies and have seen many humorous videos and memes." Americans do love a good laugh!</p>

9. Sense of Humor

An individual from Asia shares their appreciation for Americans' sense of humor, writing, "I've talked to a lot of Americans, and one thing I've noticed about them is their sense of humor. I also watch many American movies and have seen many humorous videos and memes." Americans do love a good laugh!

<p>The typical swimwear worn by European and American men is as different as night and day. Speedos that leave little to the imagination are the conventional swimwear worn by European men. American men wear more modest swim trunks unless they compete in a swim meet. Someone on the thread thanks American men for their swimwear preferences.</p> <p>This <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/zz3pfm/whats_an_obvious_sign_someones_american/?sort=top" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">thread</a> inspired this post.</p>

10. Swimwear

The typical swimwear worn by European and American men is as different as night and day. Speedos that leave little to the imagination are the conventional swimwear worn by European men. American men wear more modest swim trunks unless they compete in a swim meet. Someone on the thread thanks American men for their swimwear preferences.

<p>One clear sign of being an American tourist is assuming that public toilets are free everywhere. In many countries, using public restrooms often comes with a small fee. So, if you find yourself searching for that elusive free restroom or feeling surprised by the entrance fee, you might just be giving away your American roots.</p>

11. Public Toilets

One clear sign of being an American tourist is assuming that public toilets are free everywhere. In many countries, using public restrooms often comes with a small fee. So, if you find yourself searching for that elusive free restroom or feeling surprised by the entrance fee, you might just be giving away your American roots.

<p>In America, it's common to hold the knife in the right hand while cutting food and then switch to the right hand to eat. However, in many other countries, it's customary to hold the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left hand throughout the entire meal. Using a knife in the right hand while eating might reveal your American dining habits to observant locals.</p><p>This <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/zz3pfm/whats_an_obvious_sign_someones_american/?sort=top" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">thread</a> inspired this post.</p>

12. Table Manners

In America, it's common to hold the knife in the right hand while cutting food and then switch to the right hand to eat. However, in many other countries, it's customary to hold the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left hand throughout the entire meal. Using a knife in the right hand while eating might reveal your American dining habits to observant locals.

This thread inspired this post.

<p>Listening to people who are 70 years old gives us some amazing tips on how to live a good life. They've been through a lot and know what's really important. These 12 secrets they share can help us enjoy life more, stress less, and take care of what truly matters. Let's hear what wisdom they have to offer.</p> <p>AUTHOR: Chris Phelan</p>

12 Priceless Life Secrets From 70-Year-Olds

These 12 secrets they share can help us enjoy life more, stress less, and take care of what truly matters.

Click Here For 12 Priceless Life Secrets From 70-Year-Olds

<p>Looking back, lots of products used to be the best and everyone wanted them. But things change fast, especially with new stuff coming out all the time.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.corriecooks.com/12-items-that-were-once-the-best-but-arent-anymore/">Click Here For 12 Items That Were Once The Best But Aren't Anymore</a></strong></p>

12 Items That Were Once The Best But Aren't Anymore

Looking back, lots of products used to be the best and everyone wanted them. But things change fast, especially with new stuff coming out all the time.

Click Here For 12 Items That Were Once The Best But Aren't Anymore

<p>American cuisine is a melting pot of flavors, but some dishes can be quite surprising to outsiders. From unusual combinations to unique ingredients, here are 12 American foods that often raise eyebrows abroad. They're staples in the U.S., yet might be seen as odd or even gross in other parts of the world.</p>

12 American Foods That Gross Out The Rest Of The World

From unusual combinations to unique ingredients, here are 12 American foods that often raise eyebrows abroad.

Click Here For 12 American Foods That Gross Out The Rest Of The World

<p>Some foods have a humble charm that stays with us, no matter where life takes us. They remind us of simpler times and heartwarming moments. Here are 12 'poor people' foods that remain favorites, rich or not. These dishes are about tradition, comfort, and the unpretentious joy of eating something truly satisfying.</p>

12 Poor People Foods We Will Enjoy No Matter How Rich We Get

Some foods have a humble charm that stays with us, no matter where life takes us. They remind us of simpler times and heartwarming moments.

Click Here For 12 Poor People Foods We Will Enjoy No Matter How Rich We Get

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Top 20 Philippine Tourist Spots for Your Travel Bucket List

The Philippines is home to so many world wonders and one-of-a-kind attractions, from the unique natural formations to pristine beaches and historical landmarks you won’t find anywhere else. Surely, there’s no shortage of Philippine tourist spots and things to do in our country.

With over 7,600 islands, you’ll probably have a hard time picking the places to add to your Philippine travel bucket list. So, we’ll make it easy for you with this rundown of the must-visit tourist spots in the Philippines depending on your interests.

Welcome to our home!

Famous Philippine tourist spots for nature lovers

1. puerto princesa subterranean river national park.

Puerto Princesa Underground River is one of the top Philippine tourist spots

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and became one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. This complex cave system features an 8.2km stretch of underground river that slithers into the sea.

Part of the Underground River Tour is riding a small boat to see the enigmatic limestone karst formations and chambers while the guide shares some interesting tidbits as you cruise along.

When we entered the cave, it felt like we were transported to an underworld full of mystery and wonder. You should definitely check this off your travel bucket list.

JOIN UNDERGROUND RIVER TOUR

2. Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces is one of the famous Philippine tourist spots

Often tagged as the 8th Wonder of the World, the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Ifugao Province is a breathtaking masterpiece carved and built by hand by the Ifugao people. Believed to have existed more than 2,000 years ago, it is considered the oldest and most extensive rice terrace in the world.

Seeing this wonder up close was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences we’ve had. This is one of the top Philippine tourist spots you have to see in your lifetime.

3. Hundred Islands

Hundred Islands is one of the popular Philippine tourist spots

We’ve been to Hundred Islands in Pangasinan on two different occasions, and each visit was uniquely incredible. A Hundred Islands island hopping tour will take you to the many islands dotting the Lingayen Gulf, although only a few islands were developed for tourism.

JOIN 100 ISLANDS TOUR

On top of island hopping, you can actually do ziplining, kayaking, parasailing, and many more water sports activities here. If you want, you can even stay for a night or two by camping or renting one of the guest houses here including the Pinoy Big Brother House. You may read our Hundred Island guide to plan your trip to this national park.

4. Chocolate Hills

Chocolate Hills is one of the best Philippine tourist spots for nature lovers

You don’t have to be a chocolate lover to appreciate the beauty of Chocolate Hills , one of the top Bohol attractions . The name came from its color that changes from grassy green to chocolate brown during the dry season.

More than a thousand hills are sprawling over a 50 sq km area in Carmen, Bohol. After seeing this geological formation right before our eyes, we can’t help but wonder how on Earth did they exist here? It is a postcard-worthy attraction you have to see for yourself.

And while you’re here, level up your experience by riding the Bike Zip, Tony Hawk, or Wave Runner at the Bohol Chocolate Hills Adventure Park .

5. Kayangan Lake

Kayangan Lake is one of the top Philippine tourist spots

Kayangan Lake is probably the most photographed and well-loved tourist spot in Coron, and we can easily see why. With its crystal-clear brackish water (a combination of saline and freshwater), majestic karst landscapes, and rich ecosystem, it is a slice of paradise on Earth. Not to mention its reputation as the “cleanest and clearest lake” in the Philippines and the whole of Asia.

Kayangan Lake is usually part of the Coron Tour A where you’ll get the chance to snorkel in Coron’s clear turquoise waters and enjoy breathtaking nature views.

BOOK CORON TOUR

6. Hinatuan Enchanted River

Hinatuan Enchanted River is one of the top Philippine tourist spots for nature lovers

Hinatuan Enchanted River in the Province of Surigao del Sur is the clearest river we’ve ever seen! We initially thought that eye-catching photos we saw online were highly edited, but we were surprised that it was really enchanting to see in real life.

Legend has it that this deep spring river is enchanted by deities who added jade and sapphire colors to the water. Urban legend aside, we absolutely enjoyed swimming in its clear waters and witnessing the fish-feeding session at 12pm.

Top Philippine tourist spots for adventure-seekers

7. kawasan falls.

Kawasan Falls is one of the top Philippine tourist spots for adventure

Kawasan Falls is one of the top tourist spots in Cebu where you can have a picnic and take a dip in its ice-cold waters. You can kick your adventure up a notch by going on a thrilling canyoneering adventure .

TRY CANYONEERING

We did it and we must say that it was indeed bucket-list worthy. We screamed our hearts out as we jumped off cliffs and splashed on natural pools. Our trail ended with a sumptuous feast in Kawasan Falls.

8. Mount Pinatubo

Mount Pinatubo Crater Lake

Mount Pinatubo is an active volcano in the mountains of Zambales. It is called a “beautiful disaster” because even though its tragic eruption in 1991 destroyed so many lives and livelihoods, it has now become one of the top tourist spots in the Philippines, especially for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

We joined a Mt. Pinatubo tour where we hopped on a 4×4 vehicle across a vast lahar field before hiking up the scenic crater lake. You may read our Mount Pinatubo guide if you want to do this beginner-friendly hike.

JOIN MT. PINATUBO TOUR

9. Mayon Volcano

Mayon Volcano is one of the top tourist spots in the Philippines

Mayon Volcano or Mount Mayon in Albay in the Bicol region is an iconic volcano famous for its perfect cone shape. Although it is an active volcano, it is greatly considered one of the top Philippine tourist spots.

Make your experience even more exciting by riding an ATV around the area. And while exploring Bicol region, why not pick up some Bicolano words and phrases ?

RIDE MT. MAYON ATV

10. Paoay Sand Dunes

Paoay Sand Dunes

Paoay Sand Dunes is one of the top Ilocos Norte attractions where you can hop on a 4×4 vehicle and go sandboarding . It is also a popular filming location for several films like Panday, Himala, Born on the Fourth of July, and Mad Max.

RIDE PAOAY SAND DUNES ATV

When we made our way here, we immediately felt like we were in a desert in the Middle East. It’s a rare sight you won’t normally encounter in our country so we cannot not include it in our list of top Philippine tourist spots.

While exploring Ilocos, it pays to learn some useful Ilocano words and phrases to help you interact with the locals and navigate the region.

11. Cloud 9, Siargao Island

Cloud 9, Siargao Island

If you love surfing, there’s no other place to go than Siargao, the surfing capital of the Philippines. One particular Siargao attraction that draws many travelers and surfing enthusiasts from around the world is Cloud 9 . It is touted as the best surf break in the country with its classic right-hand waves breaking over a reef.

Not to worry if you’re a surfing newbie — you can always join surfing lessons in Siargao with professional instructors to guide you. Surf’s up!

Best Philippine tourist destinations for beach bums

12. el nido, palawan.

Pinagbuyutan Island in El Nido

We’ve been to many beach destinations in the Philippines but there’s nothing quite like El Nido in Palawan. The beaches and lagoons here are truly unparalleled. You have to join island hopping tours categorized as Tour A , Tour B , Tour C , Tour D , to reach specific islands where you can dive, swim, snorkel, kayak, or frolic at the beach.

The top El Nido attractions include the Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Secret Beach, Paradise Beach, Hidden Beach, 7 Commando Beach, Nacpan Beach, Shimizu Island, and Snake Island. But our favorite has to be Pinagbuyutan Island a.k.a The Survivor Island, which was one of the filming locations of the Survivor reality show.

13. Boracay Island

White Beach Boracay is one of the best Philippine tourist spots

Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan is consistently included in the list of the world’s best islands and one of the famous Philippine tourist spots. We aren’t even surprised. With its long stretch of white sand beaches, clear waters, and sunny vibe, you can easily fall in love with this tropical paradise.

It’s an all-in-one destination for all types of travelers. As foodies, our taste buds were pleased with the range of food choices here. Of course, we had to try the famous calamansi muffin and Jonah’s fruit shake.

Adventure-seekers will also enjoy water sports activities like parasailing , paraw sailing , jet skiing , and helmet diving . And, if you simply want to relax, stay in one of the luxurious Boracay resorts . There’s always something for everyone in Boracay!

14. Bantayan Island, Cebu

Sandira Beach in Bantayan Island

As Cebuano locals, we always regard Bantayan Island as a world-class beach destination that can rival Boracay. The four-hour road trip up north is definitely worth it, and we would always recommend it to friends who visit Cebu.

Bantayan Island features white sand beaches like Kota Beach and Sandira Beach and other unique natural attractions such as caves and mangroves. If you’re looking for a more laid-back island life, Bantayan is the place to go. We compiled a list of the best Bantayan resorts and hotels for you to call home.

15. Alona Beach, Panglao, Bohol

Alona Beach, Panglao Island

We can say that Alona Beach in Bohol’s Panglao Island is a smaller, less crowded version of Boracay Island. It’s our go-to beach destination outside of Cebu as it is just a two-hour ferry ride away. Read our Cebu to Bohol ferry guide for everything you need to know about riding a ferry to Bohol from Cebu.

BOOK FERRY TO BOHOL

We always enjoy the simple pleasures of walking on the beach and going on a food trip here. Bohol Bee Farm’s ice cream is a must-try — we particularly love their avocado and durian flavors.

16. Pink Beach, Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga City

Pink Beach, Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga City

The Pink Beach of the Great Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga City continues to be on our travel bucket list. We haven’t been there but some of our friends and relatives who are locals of Zamboanga City and Basilan recommend visiting so we can see its beauty ourselves.

We can’t wait to actually dip our toes in the pink coralline sand and swim in its crystal-clear waters. We’ll brush up on our Chavacano language , too, before going there.

Must-visit Philippine tourist attractions for history buffs

17. calle crisologo, vigan city.

Calle Crisologo, Vigan City is one of the top historical attractions in the Philippines

Calle Crisologo is one of the top Vigan City tourist spots . In fact, it is almost always the starting point of every Vigan City tour . Strolling around the area felt like we were living in the Spanish colonial era with its cobblestone street, ancestral homes, and old shophouses.

JOIN VIGAN CITY TOUR

From Calle Crisologo, you can visit the rest of the attractions in the Historic City of Vigan — it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New7Wonders Cities , after all.

18. Intramuros, Manila

Intramuros is one of the historical attractions in the Philippines

Another place that transports you back to the Spanish colonial times is Intramuros in Manila. Intramuros literally means “inside the walls” in Latin, hence the name “Walled City of Manila”, which defended the city from invaders in the late 16th century. Today, it houses the Fort San Santiago and Jose Rizal shrine.

We learned so much about Philippine history just by exploring Intramuros and entering the museum dedicated to Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero.

To make your trip even more magical, ride a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) for ₱350-500 per 30 minutes. And maybe practice your Filipino language before you go.

19. Magellan’s Cross, Cebu

Magellan’s Cross is one of the top historical attractions in the Philippines

Magellan’s Cross is one of the top historical attractions in Cebu where Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his troops planted the cross to signify the birth of Christianity in Cebu. Look up and you’ll see ceiling murals depicting the baptism ceremony.

To maximize your heritage tour in our hometown, why not join this Cebu City private day tour ? It already includes transfers and admission to Magellan’s Cross and other landmarks including Sto. Niño Church, Simala Shrine , Temple of Leah, and more!

JOIN CEBU CITY TOUR

And oh, while exploring Cebu, Central Visayas, and some parts of Mindanao, be sure to learn some basic Bisaya words and phrases to interact better with the locals.

20. Rizal Park and Shrine, Dapitan City

Rizal Park and Shrine, Dapitan City

Aside from Rizal Park (Luneta) and Rizal Museum in Intramuros, another historical place to learn more about our national hero is Rizal Park and Shrine in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte. This 16-hectare protected landscape was where Jose Rizal was exiled for four years.

The native casas (houses) originally built by Rizal that served as his residence, clinic, and other quarters were reconstructed and preserved. When we came here, we were so amazed at how Rizal lived a meaningful life full of talent, passion, and love for the country. This is really a great place to relive the life of our national hero and get inspired by him.

These 20 tourist spots in the Philippines are just the icing on the cake. There’s still so much more that awaits you in our beloved country.

So, which of these Philippine tourist spots will you add to your travel bucket list?

Want to have more fun in the Philippines? Join in the celebrations of these Philippine festivals and fiestas .

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A wall surrounds a rectangle of raked gravel, with some rocks standing in various spots.

Gardens of Stone, Moss, Sand: 4 Moments of Zen in Kyoto

The city’s dry gardens seem timeless, but as these relatively new versions show, their design is still evolving. They offer spots for quiet contemplation in an increasingly overtouristed city.

Kyoto’s dry gardens forgo plants and flowers and instead use elements like gravel, rocks and moss to create contemplative environments. Credit... Andrew Faulk for The New York Times

Supported by

Paula Deitz

By Paula Deitz

  • March 26, 2024

Once, when the Buddha was asked to preach about a flower he was presented, he instead “gazed at it in silence,” according to the British garden designer Sophie Walker in her book “The Japanese Garden.” In this spiritual moment Zen Buddhism was born, inspiring the serene and eternal dry or rock gardens called karesansui.

Unlike a garden designed for strolling, which directs visitors along a defined path to take in scenic views and teahouses, a dry garden is viewed while seated on a veranda above, offering the heightened experience of traveling through it in the imagination, revealing its essence in meditation.

With rocks artfully placed along expanses of fine gravel raked by monks into ripples representing water, they are sources for contemplation, whether they refer to a specific landscape or are serenely abstract. Ryoan-ji, which dates to about 1500, is the supreme example of the latter among Kyoto temples, with its 15 low rocks in five clusters set in pools of moss within an enclosed rectangle of raked gravel. The puzzle is that only 14 are visible at any one time, no matter where you sit to view it.

People sit in a row underneath an overhanging roof. In front of them a corner of a rectangular space filled with gravel and isolated rocks can be seen.

Change in Kyoto, Japan’s major city of temple gardens, is a quiet evolution. But a tour of several dry gardens designed within the last century — and even within the last few years — demonstrates that the Zen tradition is timeless when it comes to landscape design, and that moments of contemplation are still possible, even as the crowds grow bigger.

Upon arrival at the Zen monastery complex Daitoku-ji, in northern Kyoto, I headed to Zuiho-in, one of its 22 subtemples. The temple was founded in 1319, and then in 1546, the powerful feudal lord Sorin Otomo dedicated it to his family. This was during the period of Spanish and Portuguese missionaries in Japan. Like others, Otomo converted to Christianity but remained inspired by Zen Buddhism.

I entered along angled walkways until I arrived at Zuiho-in’s temple veranda to view the main dry garden. Though the style may at first appear traditional, this garden was designed in the 1960s by Mirei Shigemori, a landscape architect whose training was in the Japanese cultural arts: conducting the tea ceremony, flower arranging, and landscape ink and wash painting. As the Western Modernist movement entered Japan, he adopted it in combination with traditional arts and became determined to revolutionize a garden aesthetic that had remained fixed for hundreds of years. He succeeded in designing more than 200 gardens in Japan and even worked with the Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi on a UNESCO garden, collecting stones in Japan that Noguchi set in the garden at the organization’s Paris headquarters.

In the Zuiho-in garden, the gravel swirls are raked into high peaks as if far out at sea, with a chain of jagged pointed rocks like islands leading to a mossy peninsula crested by a massive stone representing Mount Horai, where, according to Taoist mythology, the heroes called the Eight Immortals, who fought for justice, reside. Referring to Otomo’s Christianity, rocks in a second garden define a cross, and three rows of squarish stones embedded in sand elsewhere in the garden could be seen as Shigemori’s Modernist signature.

Across town, in the Higashiyama district, the Philosopher’s Walk is a pedestrian path along the picturesque Lake Biwa Canal. First opened in 1890, it is believed to be named for a Kyoto University philosophy professor who strolled there while meditating. As you walk along it, depending on the season, the swift current below carries brilliant autumnal leaves or delicate cherry blossoms shed from trees lining the banks.

Honen-in, one of several Buddhist temples along the Philosopher’s Walk, is particularly popular in autumn, with its grand staircase and entry gate framed by vast canopies of fiery red Japanese maple trees. Two large, rectangular white-sand mounds along the central path are periodically raked by monks into new designs; last fall, a maple leaf was outlined on one and a ginkgo leaf on the other against backgrounds of ridges.

The high priest, Kajita Shinsho, who lives there with his family, had a private courtyard with a veranda that needed a garden, and last March he engaged Marc Peter Keane, an American landscape architect now living in Kyoto, to design it. A graduate of Cornell University, Mr. Keane has lived in Japan for almost 20 years and specializes in Japanese garden design. Like Shigemori, he has immersed himself in Japanese culture. His home and studio are now permanently in Kyoto.

Only three old, gnarled camellia trees remained on the rectangular site, with blossoms in season ranging from dark rose to pale pink and white. Mr. Keane’s idea was to represent the constant flux of nature, exemplified for him by the carbon cycle — the process by which carbon travels from the air into organisms and back into air. His garden, titled “Empty River,” creates what he described as “a physical expression of this invisible cycle through a river of pure carbon charcoal.”

He traced by foot a narrow serpentine “river” that winds around the roots and trunks of the camellias, and with the short charcoal sticks he placed in the long groove, it cuts a strong black line through a blend of fine brown and white gravel. There are no rocks, only small stones framing the courtyard and plantings, with Andromeda ferns in the corners. Its starkness is its beauty, softened only when camellia petals are strewed across the gravel in April.

Mr. Keane compares this distillation of design and materials to a haiku, the Japanese three-lined poem. But like the gardens of old, it also expresses the Buddhist concept of emptiness.

At Tofuku-ji , a temple, in the city’s southeastern district, Shigemori designed the garden of the Hojo, the Abbot’s Hall, as early as 1939, using materials found on site. His avant-garde vocabulary of straight lines and grids may have seemed sensational then, but it is beloved now for its harmonious vitality.

From the first veranda, you overlook the southern garden, with clusters of mostly jagged vertical rocks and ripples of raked gravel radiating out, terminating at the far end with five mossy mounds like sacred mountains in the sea. In the western garden, squarely trimmed azaleas alternate with square fields of white gravel, reflecting ancient land-division customs. Azaleas in Japan are closely clipped, so these bloom in gorgeous flat surfaces of deep pink.

Next, a vast checkerboard field of leftover square paving stones embedded in a carpet of moss seems to dwindle off to infinity in the northern garden. And finally, to the east, a pattern of stone pillar foundations recreates the Big Dipper constellation, with gravel raked in concentric circles around each pillar to emphasize its individuality.

Ukifune Garden

Mr. Keane’s 2022 Ukifune Garden (Drifting Boat Garden) is an allegorical interpretation of the chapter by the same name from “The Tale of Genji,” Murasaki Shikibu’s 11th-century novel about Prince Hikaru or “Shining” Genji, and his tempestuous romantic and political life at court.

Mr. Keane designed it as the Zen courtyard garden of the Genji Kyoto hotel, opened in April 2022, on the banks of the Kamo River, near where Genji builds his own grand estate and gardens in the book. Designed by the American architect Geoffrey P. Moussas, who also lives in Kyoto, the hotel’s plan incorporates the indoor-outdoor characteristics of Kyoto’s old merchant houses.

Mr. Keane was inspired by the “Genji” scene in which one of two powerful dignitaries vying for the favor of Ukifune, a woman of 22, travels through a snowstorm and absconds with her by boat on the Uji River. As they pass the Isle of Orange Trees, she recites a poem in which she likens herself to the drifting boat: “The enduring hue of the Isle of Orange Trees may well never change,/ yet there is no knowing now where the drifting boat is bound.”

Mr. Keane consulted with John Carpenter, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s curator of Japanese art, who told him of the late-16th-century “Genji” screen painting by Tosa Mitsuyoshi in the museum’s collection illustrating this famous scene. A copy of the panel now hangs in Kyoto next to the garden.

Mr. Keane installed a swerving “river” with gray river stones set ingeniously on edge rather than flat, giving the flow a greater sense of direction. The garden is set between two wings of the hotel, and the “water” appears to tumble down like a waterfall from one building into the next with a wide, flat steel bridge above, a viewing platform bringing the design to life. The banks on either side are densely planted with maple trees, lady palms, ferns and ground-cover moss. And a boat-shaped stone carries a large patch of moss, which Mr. Keane interprets as Earth drifting through the galaxy.

The gardens at Zuiho-in and the Tofuku-ji Abbot’s Hall garden require tickets. The entrance fee at both is 400 Japanese yen for adults (about $2.65) and 300 yen for children (about $2).

General admission to Honen-in is free, except for during the spring and fall opening weeks, which usually fall during the first week of April and the third week of November and cost 500 yen for spring and 800 yen for fall. The Empty River garden can be visited during those weeks.

The Genji Kyoto hotel garden is free to visit.

If you get hungry while touring gardens, Izusen , a restaurant in the Daiji-in subtemple of the Daitoku-ji monastery complex, offers multiple local specialties in set menus beautifully presented in mostly lacquered red bowls, which nest when empty. Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. by reservation; 4,370 to 8,050 yen. It is near Zuiho-in.

Also by reservation, Yudofu Kisaki, a restaurant between the entrance to Honen-in and the Philosopher’s Walk, has vegetarian and tofu specialties. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., last order at 6 p.m.; 4,370 to 8,050 yen.

For a companionable book to read on your tour, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Yasunari Kawabata’s post-World War II novel “The Rainbow” is newly available in English. Several chapters take place in Kyoto, and it can feel as though you are traveling together, often in the same gardens. Kawabata’s knowledge of plants was formidable, and the simplicity of his descriptions both natural and direct: “On the lawn in front of the gate, in the shadows of the pine trees, dandelions and lotuses were in bloom. A double-flowered camellia had blossomed in front of the bamboo fence.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

Italy :  Spend 36 hours in Florence , seeking out its lesser-known pockets.

Southern California :  Skip the freeways to explore the back roads between Los Angeles and Los Olivos , a 100-mile route that meanders through mountains, canyons and star-studded enclaves.

Mongolia : Some young people, searching for less curated travel experiences, are flocking to the open spaces of this East Asian nation .

Romania :  Timisoara  may be the most noteworthy city you’ve probably never heard of , offering just enough for visitors to fill two or three days.

India: A writer fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Darjeeling, in the Himalayan foothills , taking in the tea gardens and riding a train through the hills.

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

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50 Most Beautiful Tourist Spots in the Philippines

50 Most Beautiful Tourist Spots in the Philippines

No words can accurately describe how beautiful the Philippines is. Not to mention that it’s a cheap country to visit. 

But with more than 7,000 islands to choose from, even globe-trotters would be hard-pressed to pick the tourist spots in the Philippines they should explore first.

This guide makes travel planning easier by recommending the best places to visit in the Philippines , what to expect, must-try food and activities, and other vital information to help you decide which tourist spots to include in your travel bucket list.

Disclosure : Some of the links you’ll encounter below are affiliate links. We’ll earn a small commission if you book a hotel or purchase a travel package using any of these links at no additional cost.

Table of Contents

Top 25 best tourist spots in the philippines.

Here are 25 of the most popular Philippine destinations frequently visited by foreign and domestic tourists:

tourist spots in the philippines 1

Ideal for: Couples, families, beach bums, adventure seekers

Tourists worldwide flock to the Philippines’ famous beach destination for its powdery white sand, crystal-clear blue water, and majestic sunset. Boracay has never failed to live up to its reputation every year, consistently making it to the list of the world’s most ‘Instagrammable’ places 1 .

After Boracay’s rehabilitation in 2018, beach regulations have become stricter to protect the island. Upon entering Boracay, visitors must present booking confirmation from any Department of Tourism-accredited hotels .

Top things to do in Boracay

  • Watch the picturesque sunset at White Beach and Willy’s Rock
  • Join a half-day tour around Boracay’s different beaches and snorkeling sites
  • Experience parasailing to enjoy a breathtaking view of the island
  • Jump off a cliff at Ariel’s Point
  • Buy fresh seafood at D’Talipapa and have it cooked in a nearby restaurant

Where to stay in Boracay

Boracay resorts cater to every budget. Luxury hotels are located in Station 1, mid-range hotels in Station 2, and budget hotels in Station 3.

  • Best Boracay luxury hotel: Henann Crystal Sands Resort
  • Best Boracay mid-range hotel: Sundown Beach Studios
  • Best Boracay budget hotel: Chill Out Hostel

How to get there

  • The faster but more expensive way to travel to Boracay from Manila is to fly to Caticlan Airport. Then, ride a tricycle to Caticlan Jetty Port, where you’ll board a ferry to Cagban Jetty Port. From Cagban, ride a tricycle and get off at the drop-off point nearest your hotel.
  • The cheaper but slower option is to fly to Kalibo Airport. From there, ride a van or bus to Caticlan Jetty Port and follow the same steps.

tourist spots in the philippines 2

Ideal for: Couples, beach bums, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Palawan has so much captivating natural beauty, from towering limestone cliffs and beaches with turquoise water to caves and rich marine life. No wonder travel magazines like Conde Nast 2 and CNN Travel 3 lists Palawan as one of the world’s most beautiful islands.

Palawan’s most popular tourist destinations are Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron. Interestingly, El Nido won a spot in HuffPost’s list of the “50 Awesome Solo Travel Destinations to Visit 4 “ for its beautiful beaches and a wide array of boutique hotels and hostels offering excellent opportunities to meet other solo travelers.

Many other hidden beaches on the island are also worth exploring.

Top things to do in Palawan

  • Explore the Puerto Princesa Underground River , the world’s longest navigable underground river and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature
  • Enjoy different water activities (snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, etc.) at El Nido’s beaches and lagoons 
  • Dive at Coron Bay to discover diverse marine life and World War II Japanese shipwrecks
  • Eat tamilok , a slimy delicacy from branches of mangrove trees
  • Join an island-hopping adventure at Honda Bay
  • Go scuba diving at Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO Heritage Site and home to incredible marine biodiversity

Where to stay in Palawan

  • Best hotel in Puerto Princesa: Casa Belina Bed & Breakfast
  • Best hotel in El Nido: Duli Beach Resort
  • Best hotel in Coron: The Funny Lion
  • To get to Puerto Princesa, fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa International Airport. 
  • To get to Coron, fly from Manila to Busuanga and ride a van to Coron.
  • To get to El Nido, fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa. From the airport, ride a van and drop off at the Corong-Corong bus terminal. Then, ride a tricycle that will take you to your hotel. The faster but more expensive way to get to El Nido from Manila is to take a 1.5-hour direct flight via AirSWIFT.

tourist spots in the philippines 3

Ideal for: History buffs, foodies, beach bums, adventure seekers

Cebu is home to the Philippines’ oldest city, famous historical places, pristine beaches, and mouth-watering dishes. The island province is foreigner-friendly because locals speak fluent English, and its bustling city teems with hotels, shopping malls, and entertainment halls.

Top things to do in Cebu

  • Enjoy an island-hopping tour around Cebu’s nearby islands
  • Swim with whale sharks in Oslob
  • Experience trekking and canyoneering in Badian
  • Witness Sinulog Festival, Cebu’s largest festivity held every third Sunday of January
  • Sample famous Cebu delicacies: lechon (roasted pig), danggit (salted dried fish), puso (steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves), and dried mangoes
  • Visit Cebu’s historical sites : Colon Street, Mactan Shrine, Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, and Basilica del Santo Niño.

Where to stay in Cebu

  • Best hotel in Cebu City: 18 Suites Cebu
  • Best hotel in Bantayan Island: Carl‘s Island Inn
  • Best hotel in Moalboal: Tongo Hill Cottages
  • From Manila, take a 1-hour flight to Cebu. To get to your hotel from the airport, take a taxi or book a Grab ride.
  • Visitors from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea , Taiwan, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, and Dubai may fly directly to Mactan Cebu International Airport.

tourist spots in the philippines 4

Ideal for: Solo travelers, couples, families, beach bums, nature lovers

Bohol is not your typical beach destination. Aside from its white-sand beaches, Bohol has some unique tourist spots in the Philippines, such as the famous Chocolate Hills and Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary. Its natural and man-made wonders are also worth exploring.

Thanks in part to the iconic Chocolate Hills, UNESCO has declared Bohol as the country’s first global geopark 5 , cementing its reputation among foreign tourists as one of the must-visit beautiful tourist spots in the Philippines.

Top things to do in Bohol

  • Visit Bohol’s top tourist spots on a countryside tour , with a lunch buffet at the Loboc River Cruise
  • Explore Balicasag and the Virgin Islands
  • Enjoy fresh organic greens and ice cream in a cassava cone at Bohol Bee Farm
  • Experience biking on a zipline and other thrilling adventures at Chocolate Hills Adventure Park
  • Swim, snorkel, dive, or relax at Alona Beach

Where to stay in Bohol

  • Best hotel in Tagbilaran: Sweet Home Boutique Hotel
  • Best hotel in Panglao: Henann Tawala Resort
  • From Manila, take a 1.5-hour flight to Tagbilaran Airport. To get to Panglao, ride a tricycle, van, or taxi.
  • From Cebu, take a 2-hour fast ferry ride to Tagbilaran.

tourist spots in the philippines 5

Ideal for: Couples, families, nature lovers, art enthusiasts

The Philippines is world-famous as a beach destination. But there’s more to the tropical islands than just seas and sand. Case in point: Baguio City.

The summer capital of the Philippines may be too commercialized and overcrowded nowadays, but it has not lost its charm. Baguio is still a romantic year-round destination with its cool breeze and lovely scenery of lush mountains and pine trees.

Related: The Fascinating History of Baguio’s Iconic Lion

Top things to do in Baguio

  • Stroll along Burnham Park, Baguio Botanical Garden, Wright Park, and Camp John Hay
  • Score local goods at bargain prices in Baguio Night Market
  • Shop for souvenirs and fresh produce in Baguio Public Market
  • Visit the BenCab museum in the nearby town of Tuba
  • Join the Panagbenga Festival, also known as Baguio’s Flower Festival, in February or March

Where to stay in Baguio

  • Best Baguio luxury hotel: The Manor at Camp John Hay
  • Best Baguio mid-range hotel: The Orchard Hotel
  • Best Baguio budget hotel: Starwood Hotel

Take a Victory Liner/Genesis Transport/Partas bus from Cubao to Baguio (travel time: 4 to 6 hours).

tourist spots in the philippines 6

Ideal for: Surf enthusiasts, beach bums, backpackers

Siargao’s huge and strong waves make it one of the world’s best surf spots 6 . Although the surfing capital of the Philippines appeals mostly to surfers, the island also has excellent tourist spots for beachgoers.

Top things to do in Siargao

  • Ride the waves at Siargao’s famous surf spots: Cloud 9, Jacking Horse, Quicksilver, etc.
  • Enjoy an epic island-hopping adventure on Siargao’s best islands : Naked Island, Daku Island, and Guyam Island
  • Explore, cliff jump, or swim at the Magpupungko Rock Pools
  • Swim, snorkel, or relax at Sugba Lagoon

Where to stay in Siargao

  • Best Siargao luxury hotel: Isla Cabana Resort
  • Best Siargao mid-range hotel: Harana Surf Resort
  • Best Siargao budget hotel: Mad Monkey Hostel

Fly from Manila to Sayak Airport. To get to General Luna town (where Siargao tourist spots are located), rent one of the vans, motorbikes, or multi-cabs parked outside the airport.

tourist spots in the philippines 7

Ideal for: Families, nature lovers, beach bums, foodies

Davao is home to the Philippine eagle (one of the world’s rarest birds), the country’s highest mountain, and the exotic fruit durian. There’s so much to see and explore—from stunning beaches to family-friendly parks—for every type of traveler. Tourists can even book a day tour around Davao City to visit President Rodrigo Duterte ‘s house.

Top things to do in Davao

  • Visit Davao’s top attractions, including Philippine Eagle Center , People’s Park, Davao Crocodile Park , and Eden Nature Park
  • Dine and enjoy a spectacular view of Davao in Jack’s Ridge Resort & Restaurant
  • Trek Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines
  • Sample Davao’s most popular fruits: durian, mangosteen, marang, and pomelo
  • Join Kadayawan sa Dabaw , Davao’s grandest annual festival in August
  • Swim, snorkel, and bask in the beauty of pristine beaches on Samal Island  

Related: 14 Bizarre And Fascinating Philippine Festivals

Where to stay in Davao

  • Best Davao luxury hotel: Seda Abreeza Davao
  • Best Davao mid-range hotel: Paradise Island Park & Beach Resort
  • Best Davao budget hotel: Villa Viva Belgica

Fly from Manila to Davao. Take a taxi or jeepney from the airport to Davao City.

8. Banaue Rice Terraces

tourist spots in the philippines 8

Ideal for: Backpackers, couples, nature lovers

Hundreds of years ago, indigenous people of the Ifugao tribe hand-carved thousands of rice paddies in the mountains of the Cordillera, now known as the Banaue Rice Terraces. It’s one of the most prominent tourist spots in the Philippines and is often called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

When you visit, it’s best to hire a local guide. Go to the Banaue viewpoint for the breathtaking scenery and Instagram-worthy snaps.

Top things to do in Banaue

Aside from Banaue Rice Terraces, there’s so much to do and see in and around Banaue:

  • Enjoy the breathtaking scenery at Batad Rice Terraces, Hapao Rice Terraces, Mayoyao Rice Terraces, or Bangaan Village Rice Terraces
  • Trek to Batad Village and Tappiya Waterfalls
  • Discover the Ifugao culture, history, and arts at Banaue Ethnic Village, Tam-an Village, and Banaue Museum
  • Shop for handicrafts, wood carvings, local coffee, and other souvenirs

Where to stay in Banaue

  • Banaue Homestay
  • Native Village Inn
  • Baleh Boble Guesthouse
  • Via plane: Take a 1.5-hour flight to Cauayan Airport in Isabela from Manila or Clark. From the airport, take a 3-hour van ride to Banaue.
  • Via bus: From Manila or Baguio, ride an Ohayami Trans bus to Banaue (travel time: 9 to 15 hours).

9. Intramuros

tourist spots in the philippines 9

Ideal for: Solo travelers, couples, barkadas , history buffs 

Discover and appreciate the Philippines’ rich history by touring Intramuros, one of the country’s best places to experience the Spanish colonial period. Intramuros is also a romantic setting for a date with its old-fashioned charm. After touring Intramuros, visitors may take a side trip to other equally popular places in Manila: Binondo and Escolta.

Related: The Lost Tunnels Buried Deep Beneath Intramuros

Top things to do in and around Intramuros

  • Join a bamboo bike tour of the different tourist spots within the walled city: Fort Santiago, Plaza San Luis, Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, etc.
  • Enjoy a food trip in Binondo
  • Visit Binondo Church
  • Marvel at the iconic landmarks along Escolta Street

Where to stay in Intramuros

  • Best Intramuros luxury hotel: Bayleaf Intramuros Hotel
  • Best Intramuros mid-range hotel: White Knight Hotel Intramuros
  • Best Intramuros budget hotel: RedDoorz
  • The most convenient way to get to Intramuros from anywhere in Metro Manila is to ride a taxi or Grab car.
  • Alternatively, take the MRT to Taft Station and the LRT1 to Carriedo Station . Ride a jeep going to Pier and get off at Intramuros.

tourist spots in the philippines 10

Ideal for: Solo travelers, couples, barkadas , history buffs, foodies

Be transported back in time when you visit Vigan City in Ilocos Sur. Be awed by the Spanish colonial period ancestral homes and structures that make Vigan a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of CNN’s most picturesque towns in Asia 7 .

Top things to do in Vigan

  • Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets around Calle Crisologo on foot or a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) ride
  • Try famous Vigan delicacies: empanada (pork-stuffed pastry), pakbet (vegetable dish), bagnet (deep-fried crispy pork belly), sinanglaw (beef innards stew), and Vigan longganisa (garlicky and spicy sausage)
  • Visit iconic ancestral homes such as Syquia Mansion and Father Burgos’ house
  • Join a cruise in Mestizo River to learn about Vigan’s history and marine biodiversity
  • Visit an Abel cloth shop to see weavers in action and buy traditional woven products

Where to stay in Vigan

  • Best Vigan luxury hotel: Hotel Luna
  • Best Vigan mid-range hotel: Paradores de Vigan
  • Best Vigan budget hotel: ZEN Rooms Guimod Transient Vigan
  • The fastest way to get to Vigan is to take a 1.5-hour flight from Manila to Laoag, Ilocos Norte. From the Laoag Airport, take a 2-hour bus ride to Vigan.
  • Alternatively, ride a bus from Cubao, Pasay, or Manila with a direct route to Vigan (travel time: 8 to 10 hours).

11. Mayon Volcano

tourist spots in the philippines 11

Ideal for: Backpackers, couples, families, adventure seekers, foodies

Mayon Volcano is one of the most popular tourist spots in the Philippines and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its distinct, perfect cone shape. Aside from admiring the natural wonder, visitors can also experience a unique food trip and adventure in Albay, where the volcano is located.

Top things to do near Mayon Volcano

  • Take a thrilling ATV tour around the base of Mayon Volcano
  • Visit the Cagsawa Ruins Park
  • Eat pili nuts, sili ice cream (made of chili and coconut milk), and spicy dishes cooked in coconut milk, such as Bicol express (pork stew), laing (vegetable dish), and pinangat (fish stew)
  • Enjoy street food and a sunset view of Mayon Volcano at Legazpi Boulevard
  • Hike up and zipline at Ligñon Hill Nature Park
  • Enjoy an unobstructed, enchanting view of Mayon Volcano from Sumlang Lake while riding a bamboo raft or kayak

Where to stay near Mayon Volcano

  • Mayon Lodging House
  • Balay de la Rama Bed and Breakfast

From Manila, take a 45-minute flight or a 9-hour bus ride to Legazpi City, Albay.

12. Tagaytay

tourist spots in the philippines 12

Ideal for: Couples, families, foodies

Tagaytay is a favorite road trip destination because of its proximity to Manila, cool weather, amazing views of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano, delicious food, and fun outdoor activities.

Top things to do in Tagaytay

  • Visit the top tourist spots in Tagaytay : People’s Park in the Sky, Picnic Grove, Caleruega Church, SkyRanch, etc.
  • Dine-in at Tagaytay’s popular restaurants: Breakfast at Antonio’s, Sonya’s Secret Garden, Bag of Beans, Josephine Restaurant, Mushroomburger, etc.
  • Visit Zoori to enjoy a wildlife experience and panoramic views of Taal Volcano
  • Have a fun-filled day with farm animals and flower gardens at Paradizoo
  • Buy delectable tarts and other pastries at Rowena’s Pasalubong shop

Where to stay in Tagaytay

  • Best Tagaytay luxury hotel: Anya Resort
  • Best Tagaytay mid-range hotel: Quest Hotel
  • Best Tagaytay budget hotel: RedDoorz

Ride a bus or shared van bound for Tagaytay/Nasugbu/Calatagan from Manila.

13. Mt. Pulag

tourist spots in the philippines 13 updated

Ideal for: Backpackers, adventure seekers, nature lovers

Standing at 2,926 meters above sea level, Mount Pulag is the third-highest peak in the Philippines. It’s also the highest mountain in Luzon. Because of its easy trail and the magnificent sea of clouds surrounding its top, Mt. Pulag is a favorite hiking destination for first-timers. 

Top things to do in Mt. Pulag

  • Trek to Mt. Pulag for about 3-4 hours using the Ambangeg trail (for beginners). Advanced hikers can take the Ambaguio or Akiki trail.
  • Witness the glorious sunrise and sea of clouds atop Mt. Pulag
  • Experience the simple life in the mountains without internet, signal, and electricity
  • Meet and interact with the locals
  • Buy fresh produce and pasalubong from stores at the ranger station

Where to stay near Mt. Pulag

  • Baban’s Homestay
  • Newtown Plaza Hotel
  • Dream Transient Rooms

From Manila, ride a bus to Baguio. From Baguio, charter a van or jeep bound for Bokod, Benguet, where the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office is located. Hikers must register, attend an orientation, and pay fees to the DENR before climbing Mt. Pulag.

Outside the DENR office, ride a habal-habal (motorcycle) to the Babadak Ranger Station, the jump-off point where you can book a local guide (required) and a porter (optional).

tourist spots in the philippines 14 updated

Ideal for: Solo travelers, backpackers, adventure seekers

Sagada’s tranquil charm and natural beauty make it one of the most popular tourist spots in the Philippines. There are many unique places to see and activities for adventure junkies.

Top things to do in Sagada

  • See the hanging coffins in Echo Valley
  • Explore Lumiang, Sumaguing, or Crystal Caves
  • Hike to Kiltepan Peak or Marlboro Hills, watch the sunrise, and bask in the dreamy sea of clouds
  • Swim at Bomod-Ok Falls and marvel at the rice terraces surrounding it
  • Visit the Sagada Weaving Cooperative to see weavers in action and buy woven products

Where to stay in Sagada

  • Isabelo’s Inn and Cafe
  • Kanip Aw Pines View Lodge
  • Kenlibed In n
  • From Manila, ride a Coda Lines bus going directly to Sagada (travel time: 12 hours).
  • From Baguio, go to GL Liner Terminal in Baguio Dangwa Terminal and ride a bus to Sagada (travel time: 6 hours).

15. Puerto Galera

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Ideal for: Beach bums, backpackers, families, barkadas

Puerto Galera is a favorite beach destination every summer because of its white-sand beaches. If you’re into scuba diving and snorkeling, you shouldn’t miss this tourist spot in the Philippines.

Top things to do in Puerto Galera

  • Swim and relax at Aninuan Beach
  • Snorkel or scuba dive at Coral Garden
  • Experience the vibrant nightlife at White Beach
  • Take a carabao ride to Tukuran Falls and enjoy the beauty of this hidden paradise
  • Immerse in the local culture at the Mangyan Village

Where to stay in Puerto Galera

  • Best Puerto Galera luxury hotel: Edgewater Dive & Spa Resort
  • Best Puerto Galera mid-range hotel: Tribal Hills Mountain Resort
  • Best Puerto Galera budget hotel: Bamboo House Beach Lodge & Restaurant

From Manila, ride a bus to Batangas Pier (travel time: 2 to 3 hours). Take a ferry boat ride from Batangas Pier to Balatero Port or Muelle Port (around 1 hour travel time). Ride a tricycle to your hotel.

tourist spots in the philippines 16 updated

Ideal for: Families, barkadas , beach bums, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Looking for a place to enjoy summer outdoor activities with family or friends? Subic—just a few hours away from Manila—is one of the must-visit tourist spots in the Philippines. Many fun activities and beautiful beaches are available for tourists to enjoy.

Top things to do in Subic

  • Explore the top tourist spots in Subic: Capones Lighthouse, Pundaquit Coves, Camara Island, etc.
  • See wild animals up close in Zoobic Safari , the only tiger safari in the Philippines
  • Enjoy thrilling water slides and attractions at Aqua Planet Waterpark
  • Spend a fun-filled day on Subic’s Inflatable Island , the largest and wildest floating playground in Asia
  • Cliff dive and swim at El Kabayo Waterfalls

Where to stay in Subic

  • Best Subic luxury hotel: Mangrove Resort Hotel
  • Best Subic mid-range hotel: Mango Valley Hotel 2
  • Best Subic budget hotel: The Circle Hostel

Ride a bus bound for Olongapo from Manila and get off at Subic Bay.

17. Batangas

tourist spots in the philippines 17 updated

Ideal for: Families, barkadas , beach bums, adventure seekers, foodies

Batangas has many affordable beach resorts two to three hours from Manila. This makes the province a go-to place for family or barkada summer outings and corporate team-building activities.

Top things to do in Batangas

  • Enjoy water activities in Batangas’ most popular beaches: Anilao, Laiya, Nasugbu, Calatagan, Isla Verde, etc.
  • Trek up Batangas’ famous mountains: Taal Volcano , Mt. Pico de Loro, Mt. Batulao , Mt. Gulugod Baboy, Mt. Maculot , etc.
  • Go scuba diving in Anilao to explore the famous diving spot’s spectacular underwater scenery
  • Sample Batangas’ local cuisine: lomi (egg noodle soup), bulalo (beef stew), lechon (roasted pig), sinaing na tulingan (braised fish), kapeng barako (Batangas coffee), etc.

Where to stay in Batangas

  • Best hotel in Anilao: Vivere Azure Resort
  • Best hotel in Calatagan: Crusoe Cabins Resort
  • Best hotel in Laiya: Acuaverde Beach Resort & Hotel
  • Best hotel in Nasugbu: Pico Sands Hotel

From Manila, ride a bus to Batangas City/Batangas Pier/Nasugbu. From the bus terminal, ride a tricycle to your Batangas beach destination.

tourist spots in the philippines 18 updated

Ideal for: Families, barkadas , foodies, beach bums, history buffs

With its stunning beaches, one-of-a-kind culinary experience, historical sites, and genuinely warm and friendly people, Iloilo is one of the tourist spots in the Philippines where visitors want to keep coming back.

Top things to do in Iloilo

  • Feast on Iloilo’s famous dishes and delicacies: La Paz batchoy (chicken and pork noodle soup), pancit molo (pork dumpling soup), fresh oysters, biscocho (twice-baked bread), barquillos (crunchy wafer roll), etc.
  • Stroll along Calle Real and see heritage buildings that exude Iloilo’s old-city charm 
  • Visit Iloilo’s famous centuries-old churches: Miag-ao Church, Jaro Cathedral, Molo Church, San Joaquin Church, etc.
  • Soak up the beauty of Islas de Gigantes and Sicogon Island
  • Join the Dinagyang Festival, a religious and cultural festivity in Iloilo City held every fourth Sunday of January

Where to stay in Iloilo

  • Best Iloilo luxury hotel: Richmonde Hotel Iloilo
  • Best Iloilo mid-range hotel: Urban Sands Iloilo Hotel Resort
  • Best Iloilo budget hotel: Figtree Hotel

From Manila/Clark/Cebu/Davao/Hong Kong/Singapore, take a direct flight to Iloilo International Airport. To get to the city, ride a taxi, jeep, or van from the airport.

19. Batanes

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Ideal for: Solo travelers, couples, backpackers, nature lovers

Batanes is every Filipino traveler’s ultimate dream destination. What’s not to love about the romantic island province? From its scenic landscapes and gorgeous beaches to unique cultures, Batanes is worth a visit.

Top things to do in Batanes

  • Tour the top Batanes attractions (Tukon Church, Basco Lighthouse, Honesty Coffee Shop, etc.) on Batan Island and Sabtang Island
  • Meet the Ivatan people and immerse yourself in their culture. Try wearing vakul , the traditional headgear made of abaca fiber, too!
  • Enjoy fresh seafood dishes: dibang (flying fish), payi (lobster), etc.
  • Climb Mt. Iraya in Basco, the highest mountain in Batanes

Where to stay in Batanes

  • Nathaniel’s Lodge
  • Baletin Hometel
  • Amboys Hometel

Fly from Manila (via SkyJet) or Clark (via Philippine Airlines) to Basco, Batanes. From the airport, walk to reach the Basco town proper. To get to Sabtang Island, ride a tricycle, jeep, or van to San Vicente port, where you’ll ride a ferry to Sabtang.

20. Camiguin

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Ideal for: Beach bums, adventure seekers

This serene and beautiful tropical paradise in Northern Mindanao will leave you in awe with its many natural wonders. Camiguin is among the world’s best dive spots and is recognized by the Department of Tourism as one of the top tourist spots in the Philippines.

Top things to do in Camiguin

  • Swim in the crystal-clear water of White Island
  • Dive or snorkel at Sunken Cemetery to see its underwater tombs
  • Snorkel around the Giant Clams Sanctuary 
  • Visit the old church ruins in Bonbon, Catarman
  • Hike up Mt. Hibok-hibok
  • Take a dip in one of Camiguin’s hot springs and cold springs
  • Eat lanzones, a fruit native to the island and is considered the best and sweetest in the Philippines

Where to stay in Camiguin

  • Mountain View Cottages
  • Balai sa Baibai Resort
  • Marianita’s Cottages

From Manila, fly directly to Camiguin via SkyJet. If you travel with a different airline, fly to Cebu first and then take a connecting flight to Camiguin Airport.

tourist spots in the philippines 21 updated

Ideal for: Families, history buffs, beach bums, nature lovers

Only a few hours away from Manila, Bataan is perfect for a quick weekend getaway. Although it’s not as touristy as the neighboring Subic Bay, people visit this province for its many historical and natural attractions.

Top things to do in Bataan

  • Visit historical landmarks in Bataan: Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor) at Mt. Samat, Death March Marker, Fall of Bataan Marker, Bataan World War II Museum, etc.
  • Join a walking tour at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar to learn what it was like to live during the Spanish colonial era
  • Visit the Pawikan Conservation Center to learn about sea turtles and release baby sea turtles into the sea
  • Admire the stunning rock formations and watch the sunset in Sisiman Bay

Where to stay in Bataan

  • Best Bataan luxury hotel: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Hotel
  • Best Bataan mid-range hotel: The Plaza Hotel – Balanga
  • Best Bataan budget hotel: Vista Venice Resort
  • Via bus: From Manila, ride a Victory Liner/Genesis/Bataan Transit bus to Balanga, the jump-off point to Morong and other parts of Bataan (travel time: 3-4 hours).
  • Via ferry: Go to the Esplanade Seaside Terminal behind SM Mall of Asia and take the ferry to Capinpin Port in Orion, Bataan (travel time: 1 hour). From Orion, ride a bus bound for Balanga.

22. Antipolo

tourist spots in the philippines 22

Ideal for: Art enthusiasts, nature lovers, foodies

Antipolo is the home of the famous Hinulugang Taktak. But there are many other reasons to visit this city near Manila, particularly its hidden gems that will delight art and nature aficionados.

Top things to do in Antipolo

  • Go on an off-roading adventure through an ATV ride on the slopes of Sierra Madre
  • Pamper yourself at Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens Spa
  • Be one with nature at Mount Purro Nature Reserve  
  • Visit the Pinto Art Museum and take Instagrammable snaps
  • Learn pottery or calligraphy at Crescent Moon Café

Where to stay in Antipolo

  • Date and Dine Resort
  • The Citywalk Suites Apartment
  • LeBlanc Hotel and Resort

Go to EDSA Shaw or Cubao and ride a van or jeepney to Antipolo. From the town proper, ride a tricycle to your destination in Antipolo.

23. Bacolod

tourist spots in the philippines 23

Ideal for: Families, barkadas , foodies, adventure seekers

Bacolod is where you’ll meet friendly, welcoming locals—you won’t be surprised to learn it’s called The City of Smiles . Apart from the people, Bacolod’s delicious food, rich history and culture, and natural attractions are the biggest reasons to visit this city. As a cherry on top, Bacolod’s hotel rooms cost an average of ₱2,650, making it the country’s cheapest tourist destination 8 .

Top things to do in and around Bacolod

  • Take a morning or late afternoon stroll along Capitol Park and Lagoon
  • Visit The Ruins, or the “Taj Mahal of Negros,” in Talisay and discover its exciting story
  • Enjoy snorkeling, kite surfing, or kayaking on Lakawon Island in Cadiz
  • Join in the fun at MassKara Festival, the happiest and most colorful Philippine festival, in October
  • Eat the famous inasal (Bacolod-style chicken barbecue)
  • Sample and bring home Bacolod delicacies: piaya (sweet flatbread), cansi (unique soup made up of bone marrow, batuan fruit, and beef shank), pinasugbo (deep-fried and caramelized banana slices), napoleones (layered puff pastry), etc.

Where to stay in Bacolod

  • Best Bacolod luxury hotel: Seda Capitol Central
  • Best Bacolod mid-range hotel: GT Hotel
  • Best Bacolod budget hotel: Mainstreet Pension House
  • From Manila, take a one-hour flight to Bacolod-Silay International Airport. Ride a van, taxi, or Grab car from the airport to Bacolod City.
  • From Cebu or Iloilo, board a ferry to Bacolod.

24. Dumaguete

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Ideal for: Nature lovers, adventure seekers

Known as the City of Gentle People , Dumaguete has been recently named the top retirement spot in the Philippines for foreigners 9 . Travel to Dumaguete and discover why the laid-back city attracts tourists and foreign retirees.

Top things to do in Dumaguete

  • Tour Dumaguete’s top tourist spots: Dumaguete Belfry, Rizal Boulevard, Silliman University, etc.
  • Visit the captivating Manjuyod Sandbar (the “Maldives of the Philippines”) and see dolphins swimming on your way to the sandbar
  • Trek around the twin crater lakes of Balinsasayao and Danao
  • Climb up Mt. Kanlaon, the highest mountain and largest active volcano in the Visayas
  • Eat silvanas and sans rival, Dumaguete’s famous pastries

Where to stay in Dumaguete

  • Best Dumaguete luxury hotel: Salaya Beach Houses
  • Best Dumaguete mid-range hotel: Acqua Dive Resort
  • Best Dumaguete budget hotel: The U Pension
  • From Manila, take a direct flight to Dumaguete. From the airport, ride a multi-cab or tricycle to the city proper. 
  • From Cebu, take a direct bus to Dumaguete City.

25. Cagayan de Oro

whitewater rafting in cagayan de oro

Ideal for:  Adventure seekers, barkadas , families

Up for a physically challenging, unforgettable experience? Travel to Cagayan de Oro City and satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie. Conquer the raging rapids of Cagayan de Oro River—that’s what the Whitewater Rafting Capital in the Philippines is for!

Top things to do in Cagayan de Oro

  • Experience whitewater rafting on the Cagayan de Oro River, or take it up a notch with the more intense whitewater kayaking adventure
  • Enjoy ziplining or canopy walking in Macahambus Cave, leading to a fantastic view of the Cagayan de Oro River 
  • Visit CDO’s historical landmarks: Plaza Divisoria, Plaza de Los Heroes, MacArthur Memorial Marker, etc.
  • Have fun rappelling, trekking, ziplining, horseback riding, or biking in Mapawa Nature Park
  • Trek from Mapawa Nature Park to Mintugsok Falls, a hidden gem in CDO

Where to stay in Cagayan de Oro

  • Best Cagayan de Oro luxury hotel: Seda Centrio
  • Best Cagayan de Oro mid-range hotel: Red Planet Hotel
  • Best Cagayan de Oro budget hotel: GC Suites

From Manila/Cebu/Davao/Iloilo/Zamboanga, fly to Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro. Take a shuttle or bus from the airport to various points in CDO.

Top 20 Hidden and Underrated Tourist Spots in the Philippines

Aside from its most popular destinations, the Philippines has many equally stunning places waiting to be discovered. 

These off-the-radar places aren’t visited as often because of their remote location or underdevelopment (no electricity, Wi-Fi, mobile signal, shopping malls, etc.). But for travelers who want to visit places off the beaten path, such underrated destinations are simply perfect.

Here are the best up-and-coming tourist spots in the Philippines you should check out:

tourist spots in the philippines 25

Ideal for: Backpackers, solo travelers, adventure seekers

Abra is not as famous as its neighboring tourist spots in the Philippines (Ilocos, Baguio, and Sagada). However, the landlocked province has a lot of natural attractions to offer.

Top things to do in Abra

  • Visit Kaparkan Falls, Piwek Rock Formation, and Apao Rolling Hills in Tineg
  • Trek Mt. Bullagao, the “Sleeping Beauty of Abra,” in Langiden
  • Taste the local fare: pancit miki (stir-fried noodles), lechon de Abra , cascaron (deep-fried glutinous rice), palileng (mullet or goby fish stew), abuos (ant egg dish), etc.
  • Visit the loom weaving community in La Paz

Where to stay in Abra

  • Strutz Art Garden Resort
  • Abra Valley Grand Hotel
  • Abrassi Hotel and Restaurant

From Manila/Baguio/Vigan, ride a Partas/Dominion/Viron bus to Bangued, Abra. Travel time takes 8 hours from Manila or 2 hours from Vigan. From Bangued, take a jeepney to your destination in Abra.

tourist spots in the philippines 26

Ideal for: Backpackers, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Bontoc is the gateway to Sagada and Banaue, two of the most popular tourist spots in the Philippines. If traveling there, why not make a side trip to Bontoc for a day or two? This small, quiet town is surprisingly blessed with incredible natural wonders.

Top things to do in Bontoc

  • Get a panoramic view of the town and mountains at the Bontoc View Deck
  • Trek Mt. Kofafey and witness the sunrise and sea of clouds
  • Be mesmerized by the beauty of Maligcong Rice Terraces
  • Take a dip at the enchanting Blue Lagoon

Where to stay in Bontoc

  • Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay
  • Vilma’s Home Stay
  • Ridgebrooke Hotel and Restaurant
  • From Manila, ride a Coda Lines bus bound for Bontoc or Sagada and get off at Bontoc (travel time: 11 hours).
  • From Baguio, ride a taxi to Dangwa Terminal or Slaughter House and ride a D’ Rising Sun bus to Bontoc (travel time: 6 hours).
  • From Sagada, ride a jeepney to Bontoc across the public market (travel time: 2 hours).

tourist spots in the philippines 27

Ideal for: Families, barkadas , backpackers, adventure seekers, nature lovers

Cagayan V alley’s smallest and youngest province is an emerging eco-adventure destination named after a former Philippine president . Quirino makes up for its lack of beaches through its breathtaking waterfalls, pristine rivers, limestone caves, verdant mountains, and other hidden natural attractions.

Top things to do in Quirino

  • Cruise the Cagayan River at Governor’s Rapids in Maddela or Siitan Park in Nagtipunan
  • Have an adrenaline-pumping wakeboard adventure at Quirino Watersports Complex in Cabarroguis
  • Trek to the different waterfalls in Quirino and take a dip in the clear water
  • Go spelunking at Aglipay Caves and other amazing caves in Quirino
  • Visit different ancestral villages to experience the cultures of various indigenous tribes 

Where to stay in Quirino

  • Capitol Plaza Hotel
  • Villa Caridad Hotel & Resort
  • Quirino Water Sports Complex Hostel
  • Via bus: From Manila, ride a Florida/Five Star/Solid North bus to Maddela, Quirino.
  • Via plane: Fly from Manila to Cauayan City, Isabela. From the Cauayan Airport, ride a van to Santiago City. From the terminal, ride a van or jeepney to Aglipay, Cabarroguis, Diffun, or Maddela in Quirino.

4. Jomalig Island

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Ideal for: Beach bums, nature lovers, solo travelers, couples, barkadas

Reaching this remote island in Quezon province is an adventure in itself. While that sounds difficult , you’d be glad you took the challenge. The golden sand beaches and turquoise water on secluded Jomalig Island are fantastic—the long trip will be worth it!

Top things to do on Jomalig Island

  • Explore Jomalig’s unspoiled beaches: Salibungot Beach, Kanaway Beach, Little Boracay, etc.
  • See and take a photo with the Puno ng Walang Forever , Jomalig’s most famous tree
  • Visit Lingayen Cove aka Little Batanes
  • Watch the breathtaking sunrise at the beach

Where to stay on Jomalig Island

  • JoJomalig Beach Resort
  • Apple Beach Resort

Take a Raymond Transportation bus from Manila to Infanta, Quezon (travel time: 4-5 hours). Get off at Ungos Port, where you’ll ride a boat to Jomalig Port (travel time: 4-6 hours). Upon arriving at the port, ride a motorbike or habal-habal to your resort.

5. Caramoan Islands

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Ideal for: Beach bums, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Caramoan is Bicol’s secret paradise, perfect for beach junkies who want to escape the stressful city life. Fall in love with its fine white-sand beaches, diverse marine life, and other natural wonders that rival the top tourist spots in the Philippines.

Top things to do in Caramoan

  • Enjoy island/beach hopping and water activities (kayaking, snorkeling, or scuba diving) at Sabitang Laya, Gota Beach, Hunongan Cove, etc.
  • Explore the caves of Caramoan: Omang Cave, Culapnit Cave, Manipis Cave, etc.
  • Hike up Mt. Caglago to get a panoramic view of the Caramoan Islands
  • Climb the sharp rock cliff on Matukad Island
  • Eat kinalas (noodles in thick brown broth) 

Where to stay in Caramoan

  • Tugawe Cove Resort
  • La Casa Roa Hostel
  • Casita Mia Bed & Breakfast

From Manila, fly to Naga City Airport in Pili, Camarines Sur. Ride a van or taxi from the airport to SM Naga. At the van terminal, ride a van called Filcab to Sabang Port. When you reach the port, take a boat to Guijalo Port. Ride a tricycle to Caramoan town center.

tourist spots in the philippines 30

The Department of Tourism recognizes Romblon as one of the emerging tourism destinations in the Philippines. Heading to Boracay soon? Consider taking a side trip to the secluded, laid-back beaches of Romblon for relaxation.

Top things to do in Romblon

  • Climb up the scenic Mt. Guiting-Guiting on Sibuyan Island
  • Tour Romblon’s hidden gems: Carabao Island (the “next Boracay” 10 ), Cresta de Gallo, Balabara Beach, Bonbon Beach, etc.
  • Explore different dive spots across Romblon
  • Buy marble products as souvenirs at Romblon Shopping Center

Where to stay in Romblon

  • The Beach House
  • Romblon Fun Divers & Inn
  • Sanctuary Garden Resort
  • From Manila, fly to Tugdan Airport in Tablas, Romblon.
  • From Boracay, walk to Bulabog Beach and hire a boat to Carabao Island.

tourist spots in the philippines 31

Ideal for: Beach bums, nature lovers

Masbate may not be the top-of-mind choice for traveling to the Bicol region, but it does offer a unique experience. For one, you can live like a cowboy in the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines—with its rolling hills, ranch life, and an annual festivity reminiscent of the Wild West.

For nature enthusiasts, Masbate offers unspoiled beaches, marvelous rock formations, stunning waterfalls, and other natural wonders. 

Top things to do in Masbate

  • Go scuba diving, swim with manta rays, and see other marine creatures at Manta Bowl shoal
  • Revel in the beauty of Masbate’s natural attractions: Buntod Sandbar and Marine Sanctuary, Burubancaso Rock Formation, Sese Brahman’s Ranch, Catandayagan Falls, etc.
  • Watch the dreamy sunset or camp out at Mayong Payong
  • Experience the Rodeo Masbateño Festival in April

Where to stay in Masbate

  • Ticao Island Resort
  • Ticao Altamar Boutique Resort
  • Sabine’s Place

Take a direct flight from Manila to Masbate City.

rice terraces in tibiao antique province

Ideal for: Beach bums, history buffs, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Travelers easily overlook Antique because it’s surrounded by top tourist spots in the Philippines (Boracay and Iloilo) . But this quaint province deserves more attention. Being groomed as the next eco-adventure destination, Antique has so much natural beauty and historical and cultural heritage worth visiting.

Top things to do in Antique

  • Visit Seco Island, a gorgeous white-sand beach with serene turquoise water and a sandbar
  • Enjoy an adrenaline-pumping river tubing activity at Malumpati Cold Spring
  • Indulge in a relaxing Kawa Hot Bath in Tibiao
  • Trek to Antique Rice Terraces and admire its majestic view
  • See Antique’s heritage sites: Anini-y Church, Patnongon Church, Ruins of San Pedro Church, Casa Azurin, etc.
  • Check out the Rafflesia , the world’s biggest flower, in Sibalom Natural Park

Where to stay in Antique

  • Bugang Riverside Inn
  • Phaidon Beach Resort
  • From Manila/Davao/Hong Kong/Singapore, take a direct flight to Iloilo International Airport. Ride a van from the airport to Molo Terminal. Then, take a van or jeepney ride to Antique.
  • From Clark, Pampanga, take a Philippine Airlines flight to Antique Airport.
  • From Boracay, ride a ferry to Caticlan Jetty Port (or a tricycle if you’re coming from Caticlan Airport). Take a Ceres bus to Antique. 

9. Guimaras

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Ideal for: Beach bums, history buffs, foodies

Guimaras is another underrated province overshadowed by its neighbors, Iloilo and Boracay. The small island province—famous for growing the sweetest mangoes in the Philippines—is being promoted as an alternative to Boracay because of its white-sand beaches and proximity to Iloilo City. Discover what Guimaras has to offer before it becomes a mainstream tourist destination.

Top things to do in Guimaras

  • Join an island-hopping tour of Guimaras’ best beaches: Nagtago Beach, Ave Maria Islet, etc.
  • Visit different historical landmarks: Guisi Lighthouse, MacArthur’s Wharf, Roca Encantada, etc.
  • See the Smallest Plaza, a Guinness Book of World Records holder for being the world’s smallest plaza
  • Feast on mango-based dishes: mango pizza, mango bulalo , mango bibingka , mango beer, etc.
  • Buy mango products (dried mangoes, jams, etc.) as pasalubongs

Where to stay in Guimaras

  • Czech Beach House
  • Jannah Glycel Beach House
  • Raymen Beach Resort

From Manila/Davao/Hong Kong/Singapore, fly to Iloilo International Airport. Ride a van from the airport to SM Iloilo, where you’ll hail a taxi or jeepney to Ortiz Wharf. Take a ferry ride to Jordan Port. From the port, ride a tricycle to your resort.

10. Danjugan Island

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Ideal for: Backpackers, nature lovers, adventure seekers, beach bums

Danjugan Island is a protected marine and wildlife reserve sanctuary in Cauayan, Negros Occidental. With its lush rainforest and unique biodiversity, Danjugan is indeed a paradise. 

This ecotourism destination won’t just wow you with its pure beauty but will also let you experience a rustic, back-to-basic lifestyle (no electricity and no cellphone signal). It is perfect if you’ll be on a digital detox. 

Most importantly, a short stay on the island will teach visitors the value of environmental conservation.

Top things to do on Danjugan Island

  • Appreciate Danjugan’s beauty through kayaking or sailing
  • Explore its rich marine life through snorkeling or scuba diving
  • Trek into limestone and mangrove forests, beaches, lagoons, and other natural attractions
  • See a variety of bird species at the birdwatching view deck
  • Watch the sunset at Turtle Beach

Where to stay on and near Danjugan Island

Tourists have two accommodation options when traveling to Danjugan: an overnight stay in an open-air cabana (Moray Lagoon Camp) or a private room (Typhoon Beach) on the island or book a resort outside Danjugan in Sipalay City.

Best Sipalay resorts near Danjugan:

  • Punta Bulata Resort & Spa
  • Artistic Diving Resort
  • Jamont Hotel

From Manila, fly to Bacolod-Silay International Airport. Ride a taxi or Grab car to the South Ceres Bus Terminal. Catch a bus to Hinoba-an from the terminal and get off at Crossing Remollos-Quadro de King. Take a 30-minute boat ride to Danjugan Island.

11. Biliran

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Biliran is relatively unheard of, even among Filipinos. Not many know it’s a province (Biliran used to be a sub-province of Leyte before becoming independent in 1992)—much less a tourist destination. 

This small province is brimming with natural and man-made wonders; a weekend getaway is not enough to experience everything it offers. Be in awe of its beautiful mountains, rice terraces, waterfalls, caves, and beaches.

Top things to do in Biliran

  • Trek to the photogenic Ulan-Ulan Falls, one of Biliran’s most beautiful waterfalls
  • Go island-hopping on Higatangan Island (famous for its sandbar that changes shape and color), Sambawan Island, Dalutan Island, Agta Beach, etc.
  • Visit Biliran’s historical and religious sites: Nasunugan Watchtower Ruins, Pilgrimage Site of Padre Gaspar, Almeria Church, etc.
  • Discover the mystery of Tingkasan Bat Cave
  • Bask in the majestic view of Iyusan Rice Terraces in Almeria

Where to stay in Biliran

  • Napo Beach Resort
  • GV Hotel Naval
  • Via Cebu: From Manila/China/Hong Kong/Singapore/South Korea/Taiwan/Kuala Lumpur/Tokyo/Dubai, take a flight to Mactan Cebu International Airport. Ride a taxi from the Mactan Airport to the port where you’ll take an overnight trip to Naval, Biliran.
  • Via Tacloban: From Manila, fly to Tacloban City Airport. Ride a jeepney from the airport to Tacloban downtown, then take a shuttle bus to Naval.

12. Kalanggaman Island

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You might have already seen breathtaking aerial shots of Kalanggaman Island online . But viewing such images pales in comparison to personally experiencing the uninhabited island’s white powdery sand beaches and pristine blue water .

Top things to do on Kalanggaman Island

  • Enjoy different water activities: swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, banana boat, etc.
  • Chill under the trees and mingle with the locals
  • Take a side trip to the top attractions in Palompon: Tabuk Marine Park and Bird Sanctuary, Masaba Falls, St. Francis Xavier Church, Lantaw Palompon, etc.

Where to stay near Kalanggaman Island

Kalanggaman has no beach resorts or hotels, but overnight camping is allowed. If you want to spend the night on the island, renting or bringing your tent is your only choice. 

If camping is not your thing, you may book a hotel in Palompon or Ormoc. Here are the best accommodation options for your Kalanggaman escapade:

  • Palompon Sugar’s Inn
  • Sergi’s Resort and Hotel
  • Ormoc Villa Hotel
  • From Manila, fly to Tacloban, Leyte. Take a taxi or tricycle from the airport to Vansvans or Duptours terminal. Take a five-hour van ride to Palompon and then a one-hour boat ride to Kalanggaman Island.
  • If you’re traveling from Cebu, the most convenient way to access and enjoy Kalanggaman is to join a day tour that will pick you up from your hotel in Cebu, take you to the island, and bring you back to the hotel.

13. Siquijor

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Siquijor is synonymous with witchcraft, sorcery, and mythical creatures . But fear not—the small, mystic province is not as scary as you imagine.  

It’s considered one of the emerging favorite tourist spots in the Visayas, welcoming an increasing number of visitors 11 lately. Why is that so? Unknown to many, Siquijor has spectacular beaches, caves, nature parks, and historical attractions.

Top things to do in Siquijo

  • Unwind, swim, or swing ala Tarzan into the water of Cambugahay Falls in Lazi
  • Explore Siquijor’s best beaches: Salagdoong Beach, Kagusuan Beach, and Paliton Beach
  • See the 400-year-old balete tree and have fun taking photos with it
  • Visit Siquijor’s historical landmarks: Lazi Church, Siquijor Church, etc.
  • Go spelunking at Cantabon Cave
  • Trek to Mt. Bandilaan National Park

Where to stay in Siquijor

  • RhenMart Inn
  • Infinity Heights Resort
  • Coco Grove Beach Resort
  • Fly from Manila to Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. From the airport, ride a jeepney or tricycle to Dumaguete Port. Then, take a ferry ride to Siquijor.
  • If you take a side trip to Siquijor from Dumaguete, you can easily book a day trip to the island . You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Dumaguete, toured around Siquijor’s best tourist spots, and bring you back to the hotel.

14. Bukidnon

tourist spots in the philippines 37

Ideal for: Families, barkadas , adventure seekers, nature lovers

Bukidnon is a favorite destination among hikers and adventure junkies; it’s perfect for enjoying Mindanao’s great outdoors and cool weather. The mountain province offers plenty of natural and man-made attractions.

Top things to do in Bukidnon

  • Challenge yourself and your travel buddies to extreme activities at Dahilayan Adventure Park: ziplining, free-fall ride, sky jumping, obstacle course, etc.
  • Hike up Panimahawa Ridge and revel in the view of mountain landscapes and a sea of clouds
  • Marvel at the Hobbit-inspired houses in Mt. Kitanglad Agro-Eco Farm
  • Visit Del Monte’s pineapple plantation, one of the largest in the world
  • Conquer Mt. Kitanglad, the fourth-highest mountain in the Philippines

Where to stay in Bukidnon

  • Eiffel Kubo
  • GV Hotel Valencia
  • Hotel Valencia
  • From Manila/Cebu/Davao/Iloilo/Zamboanga, fly to Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro. From the airport, ride a van to Agora Terminal and catch a bus to Valencia or Davao City, which also passes by Malaybalay City.
  • Alternatively, look for a transport service outside the Cagayan de Oro Airport, where you can rent a car or van that travels directly to Bukidnon.

15. Mati, Davao Oriental

tourist spots in the philippines 38

Ideal for: Backpackers, adventure seekers, beach bums

If you travel to Davao City, consider adding Mati to your itinerary. One of the oldest towns in the Davao region, Mati will surprise you with the beauty of its famed Dahican Beach—the skimboarding capital of Davao—that boasts of powdery white sand and a laid-back vibe. Some tourists even find it more beautiful than Boracay.

Top things to do in Mati

  • Enjoy a majestic view of the Sleeping Dinosaur or hike around the base of the hill
  • Take a leisurely walk, relax, and try the famous empanada at Mati Baywalk
  • Relax, swim, skimboard, or surf at Dahican Beach
  • Visit the Subangan Museum, which showcases Davao Oriental’s historical and cultural heritage

Where to stay in Mati

  • Senorita Suites
  • Dahican Surf Resort
  • Botona Dahican Beach Resort

From Manila, take a flight to Davao. Outside the Davao airport, ride a Bachelor Express bus to Mati. Or take a taxi to Gaisano Mall or Victoria Plaza and ride a van to Mati. Get off at Mati City Bus Terminal and charter a habal-habal or tricycle to your resort.

16. Maragusan, Compostela Valley

tourist spots in the philippines 39

Ideal for: Families, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Dubbed the “Summer Capital of Davao Region,” Maragusan is excellent for tourists looking for an alternative to Baguio and Tagaytay to escape the scorching heat in Manila. Aside from enjoying cool temperatures, you can also soak up the beauty of Maragusan’s waterfalls and mountain landscapes. 

Top things to do in Maragusan

  • Trek to and explore Maragusan’s majestic waterfalls: Tagbibinta Falls, Marangig Falls, and Pyalitan Falls
  • Climb up Mt. Candalaga, a favorite hiking spot in Mindanao, and be impressed with its flora and fauna and its sea of clouds view
  • Witness the P’yagsawitan Festival, a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of the Mansaka indigenous people 

Where to stay in Maragusan

  • Haven’s Peak Highland Resort
  • Aguakan Cold Spring Resort
  • Kanlawig Hot Spring Resort

Fly from Manila to Davao Airport. From Davao City, ride a bus or van to Maragusan.

17. General Santos

tourist spots in the philippines 40

Ideal for: Nature lovers, adventure seekers, foodies

General Santos City (GenSan) is known as Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao ‘s hometown and the gateway to other provinces in the SOCCSKSARGEN region. But these are not the only reasons to visit this city in South Cotabato. Traveling to GenSan is a must if you love nature and food-tripping. 

Top things to do in General Santos

  • Discover why GenSan is the country’s Tuna Capital—visit the Tuna Fish Port, buy fresh tuna, and have it cooked your way
  • Join a Pacman “Adventour” to see Pacquaio’s mansions, Wildcard Gym, Pacman Beach Resort, Pacman Farm, The Manny Pacquiao Hotel, etc.
  • Trek to Sanchez Peak and enjoy a panoramic view of GenSan
  • Have a satisfying culinary experience at different GenSan restaurants
  • Take in a stunning view of Sarangani Bay at Sarangani Highlands in GenSan

Where to stay in General Santos

  • Best General Santos luxury hotel: Greenleaf Hotel Gensan
  • Best General Santos mid-range hotel: Avior Hotel
  • Best General Santos budget hotel: Antonio’s Apartelle and Suites

From Manila, fly to General Santos International Airport in South Cotabato.

18. Glan, Sarangani

tourist spots in the philippines 41

Ideal for: Backpackers, families, beach bums, adventure seekers, culture enthusiasts

Craving a Boracay-like experience but hate the crowd? Head over to Sarangani Bay, where the quaint coastal town of Glan awaits visitors who will take in its unadulterated beauty. Its powdery white-sand beaches make Glan worthy of the moniker “The Small Boracay of Mindanao.”

Beyond the stunning beaches, there’s more to see and do in Glan and its neighboring towns. Experience Sarangani’s natural wonders, cultural diversity, colorful festivities, and more!

Top things to do in and around Glan

  • Chill out or enjoy water sports and activities (swimming, snorkeling, diving, volleyball, etc.) at Gumasa Beach and Isla Jardin del Mar
  • Experience Sarangani Bay Festival, the largest beach festival in the Philippines, held every May in Glan
  • Tour around Glan to see century-old, American colonial-period ancestral houses
  • Get wet and wild on a whitewater tubing adventure along the Pangi River in Maitum
  • Paraglide from the mountaintop in Maasim for a breathtaking view of Sarangani Bay
  • Take an immersion tour at the Lamlifew Tribal Village in Malungon and discover the weaving tradition of the B’laan tribe, one of Sarangani’s most prominent ethnic groups

Where to stay in Glan, Sarangani

  • Kamari Resort and Hotel
  • Juanita’s Inn
  • King James Hotel

From Manila, fly to General Santos. From the airport, ride a taxi to KCC Mall. Next to the mall is a terminal where you’ll ride a van to Glan. 

19. Sultan Kudarat

tourist spots in the philippines 42 updated

Ideal for: Backpackers, nature lovers, beach bums

Sultan Kudarat offers an exciting mix of natural attractions and cultural gems for travelers looking for a great side trip from Davao or South Cotabato. This little-known, underrated province is genuinely worth a visit.

Top things to do in Sultan Kudarat

  • See the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Capitol building in Isulan and be wowed by its luxurious, Moro-inspired architecture and interior design
  • Visit Baras Bird Sanctuary, home to a variety of bird species, in Tacurong
  • Have a unique cultural experience at Talakudong Festival (held every September) that highlights the indigenous tribes in Sultan Kudarat and nearby provinces
  • Explore the rich marine life and watch the golden sunset on Balet Island in Kalamansig
  • Take a relaxing dip at Margues Hot & Cold Spring in Esperanza, Lagandang Hot/Sulphur Spring in Isulan, or Nuling Hot Spring in Lebak

Where to stay in Sultan Kudarat

  • King Bayya Residences
  • WoodLand Tourist Inn
  • EDJIN Pension House  

From Manila, fly to General Santos and then ride a multi-cab or taxi to Bulaong Public Terminal. Ride a bus or van from the terminal to Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

20. Lake Sebu, South Cotabato

tourist spots in the philippines 43

Ideal for: Culture enthusiasts, nature lovers

Lake Sebu is South Cotabato’s summer capital and primary eco-cultural destination. Tourists visit the charming town for its Instagram-worthy natural scenery (including its enchanting lakes), cool weather, and vibrant indigenous culture. 

Top things to do in Lake Sebu

  • Join a cruise around Lake Sebu and immerse in the T’boli culture
  • Trek to the Seven Waterfalls of Lake Sebu and ride the zipline, which is the highest in Asia
  • Watch how T’nalak, the traditional T’boli fabric, is woven at Lang Dulay T’nalak Weaving Center
  • Wear a traditional T’nalak ethnic costume for a photo-op
  • Visit the T’boli School of Living Traditions and learn T’boli native dance and music
  • Sample different tilapia dishes (fried, grilled, steamed, kinilaw, etc.)

Where to stay in Lake Sebu

  • Sunrise Garden Lake Resort
  • Punta Isla Lake Resort
  • El Galong Waterpark Resort

Fly from Manila to General Santos, then ride a taxi or multi-cab to Bulaong Terminal. Ride a van that will take you straight to Lake Sebu terminal. From the terminal, ride a jeepney or rent a habal-habal to Lake Sebu.

Top 5 New Beautiful Tourist Spots in the Philippines to Watch Out for

More tourist destinations in the Philippines are propping up. President Rodrigo Duterte approved laws declaring several sites in the country as new tourist spots 12 . This means the new tourist destinations will be funded and developed to boost tourism in their respective areas.

Here are the five new attractions in the Philippines that travelers should explore:

1. Mount Bulaylay

Mt. Bulaylay has the longest and tallest zipline in Nueva Ecija , making it the primary tourist spot in Cuyapo town. The local government of Cuyapo plans to develop it into an eco-tourism park.

2. Candon City Ecotourism Zone

Here’s another reason to visit Ilocos Sur besides the historic city of Vigan: a new ecotourism destination in Candon City is in the works. The Ecotourism Zone in Candon houses a sprawling watershed, and the local government hopes to lure tourists by offering recreational activities nearby. 

With the recent opening of the newly built Heroes bypass road in Candon, the city’s tourist spots—including the new ecotourism zone—will be more accessible.

3. Santiago Cove

Ilocos Sur has its version of Boracay in Sabangan Cove (aka Santiago Cove). Like Bora, Santiago Cove boasts white sand and serene, crystal-clear water. Visitors can swim, dive, or unwind while appreciating the beauty of the beach.

4. Pinsal Falls

Another hidden treasure of Ilocos Sur, Pinsal Falls (aka Twin Falls) is an 85-foot cascading waterfall—the largest in the Ilocos region—located in Sta. Maria.

Trek to reach the top of Pinsal Falls. Small jacuzzi-like pools sit above the falls, where tourists can dip into the cold water and enjoy a stunning landscape view .

5. Hinatuan Enchanted River

The Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur isn’t exactly a new tourist attraction, though more tourists have recently discovered it. Still, up to this day, not many people know that this mesmerizing natural wonder exists.

The river is nothing less than magical, as its water changes from aquamarine to blue, depending on its shifting depth. Locals believe that fairies and other mythical spirits protect the river—this adds to the river’s mystical nature.

Tips and Warning

1. never lose your temper when dealing with locals.

Filipinos have a lot of admirable qualities—but punctuality is not one of them. Expect that your flights will be delayed, the food will be served late, the tour won’t start on time, and so on. We have a label for this tardiness habit: Filipino Time .

Lashing out at the flight attendants, waiters, or tour guides won’t improve the situation . You’ll end up wasting your time and energy. Worse, you might become the next viral sensation on social media, like the Chinese tourist who assaulted a cop 13 in a train station.

Be more patient, calm, and diplomatic when dealing with locals on your Philippine trip . You might get better service that way.

2. Pack light and loose clothing

In most tourist spots in the Philippines, the weather tends to be very hot and humid, especially during the summer. Make sure you’ll be comfortable on your trip by bringing clothes that won’t make you sweat buckets.

3. Respect local culture and tradition

Most Filipinos, especially in far-flung places, are conservative. So be careful with what you wear and what you do while vacationing in the Philippines.

Wearing skimpy clothing, skinny dipping, and kissing in public may be acceptable in your home country, but these things can offend the locals and make them uncomfortable. Learn a lesson from a Taiwanese tourist fined for wearing a string bikini 14 in Boracay.

Also, places (like mountains, churches, etc.) and religious rituals are sacred to the locals. This is why researching the destination before a trip is crucial . Be mindful and respectful of the customs in the places you visit in the Philippines. Don’t be noisy and rowdy in sacred places and during rituals.

4. Respect the environment

As a tourist, your role goes beyond just visiting a place. So you can enjoy the place as much as you did the first time you visited , do your share in preserving the environment. This couldn’t be more crucial in the Philippines, where natural resources abound. 

Simple practices—like not leaving trash on the beach, not stepping on corals, and not disturbing marine life and wildlife—prevent harming the environment. Know the guidelines before you go. If you aren’t sure about something, ask your tour guide.

5. Beware of tourist scams

Taxi scams, especially at the airport, often happen to foreign tourists in the Philippines. When hailing a taxi, ensure the driver agrees to use the meter. Otherwise, you might be charged a fixed and steep price.

If the driver refuses your request, wait for another taxi. Book a ride via an app like Grab, Micab, or Hirna.

Also, beware of pickpockets in crowded areas (like malls and markets), jeepneys, and buses. Don’t put your valuables in the back pocket of your pants or backpack. Store them safely in a belt bag or sling bag instead. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. is the philippines safe to visit.

Yes, it’s generally safe to travel to the Philippines. While there are valid concerns about violence due to terrorism and the nationwide campaign against illegal drugs, these are isolated cases that don’t happen in the entire country. 

For peace of mind, read up and follow any travel alert issued by your government. It also helps to research the peace and order situation in the place you plan to visit, not just in the Philippines but in other countries.

As for the Philippine tourist spots featured in this post, rest assured that these destinations are safe to visit. Of course, you also have to do your part in ensuring your safety anywhere you go.

2. Do I need a visa to visit the Philippines?

Tourists from most parts of the world can enter the Philippines without a visa for a temporary visit of up to 30 days. Holders of Hong Kong and Macau passports can stay in the Philippines visa-free for up to 14 days. Check the Department of Foreign Affairs website for the list of visa-free countries. However, a visa is required for passport holders of certain countries like China, North Korea, India, the majority of the Middle East, and a few parts of Africa and Europe.

3. When is the best time to visit the Philippines?

When traveling, the right time to visit the country depends on your purpose, preference, or priority. If you want good weather, especially in a beach destination, schedule your trip in the dry season from November to May. The wet season starts in June and ends in October, so avoid this period if you don’t want the rain to ruin your trip.

Looking to experience what it’s like to have “more fun in the Philippines”? Visit during the summer when most festivals and events are held and when beaches are most beautiful. For those who want to avoid the crowd and score cheaper travel deals, avoid the peak season. Christmas, Holy Week, and other holidays and the summer months from March to May are the busiest tourist season. 

The top tourist spots in the Philippines also get crowded with tourists on weekends. While it’s good to visit in the off-peak season, it’s better to schedule your visit in the shoulder months of May to June and October to November for a lesser chance of rain. The rainy season in the Philippines is an ideal time to visit for surfing (as waves are stronger) and visit waterfalls (as the water isn’t dried up). 

4. How many days are enough to visit the Philippines?

The ideal duration of your stay depends on the number and types of destinations you’ll visit. Two to three days are enough to explore a beach destination like Boracay and Bohol. If you visit Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron in Palawan, you should spend more than a week exploring the best tourist spots there.

Consider extending your stay for a week if you have side trips to nearby tourist spots (e.g., Iloilo-Guimaras/Antique trip). Your trip could be longer, lasting for about two weeks to a month, if you’re a backpacker hopping from one island or province to another (e.g., Palawan-Cebu-Bohol trip).

In destinations like Intramuros, Vigan, Tagaytay, Subic, and Bataan, a day trip, an overnight or weekend trip will cover all the best attractions. 

5. How do you get around in the Philippines?

The most popular and cheapest transport options are jeepneys and tricycles.  Habal-habal  (motorcycle ride) is common in the provinces, too. However, if you’re traveling with a group (especially with kids and the elderly), go for convenient modes of transport like taxis and ride-hailing services like Grab (available in certain areas only). These vehicles are typically used to get to the city or town proper from the airport.

You can explore places on foot for short distances and areas where public transportation is almost non-existent. Buses and vans are the common transport choices when traveling from one town or city to another, while boats are used for traveling to different islands or beaches.

To get to a province in the Philippines from your home country, the usual jump-off point is in Manila. For instance, you have to fly to Manila to reach Palawan or Davao.

6. How much money should I bring to the Philippines?

The average daily cost per traveler in the Philippines is around ₱1,500 or less, depending on the destination. Cash is the country’s most accepted mode of payment, so be sure to bring enough for your entire stay, especially if you travel to remote areas that don’t accept credit cards and have no ATMs.

Consider also that travelers can bring up to $10,000 (or its equivalent in another currency) into or out of the Philippines. You can carry a higher amount, though. But you’re required to declare it upon arrival at the Bureau of Customs Desk at the airport. If you don’t, you may be fined or jailed, or your money may be confiscated. 

7. How do I travel for cheap in the Philippines?

The Philippines is one of the cheapest countries to visit, luring budget travelers worldwide. But, of course, you can further save on your travel costs.

Here are some quick tips for cheaper travel to the Philippines:

a. Book flights, accommodations, and tour packages early. b. Fly with budget airlines (the most popular are Cebu Pacific and AirAsia) offering discounted airfare and wait for seat sales when prices drop significantly. c. Travel during weekdays and off-peak season when hotels and tour operators offer significant discounts and other great deals. d. Travel to cheaper destinations like Guimaras, Masbate, Bontoc, and other underrated tourist spots in the Philippines. e. If you can, go for DIY travel and plan your trip.  f. Visit free and cheap attractions like parks and museums. g. Eat at small eateries (locally called  carinderia ), fast-food restaurants (Jollibee and Mcdonald’s are the most popular), and mall food courts. 

8. Can I fly a drone in the Philippines?

Yes, flying a drone is allowed in the country, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). However, specific rules must be followed before and while operating your unit. 

Here are the most crucial drone regulations to keep in mind:

a. Secure a permit from the local government office to fly a drone. b. Fly only in the daytime and good weather. c. Get a Certificate of Authorization from the CAAP if you fly a drone that weighs at least 7 kg. or 15 lbs. or for commercial purposes. d. Don’t fly within 10-km. radius from an airport. e. Avoid flying in crowded areas like markets and schools. f. Fly only up to 400 ft. above ground level.

  • Boracay still among ‘most Instagrammable’ places in the world: travel website (2023) ABS-CBN News . Available at: https://news.abs-cbn.com/life/02/02/23/boracay-among-most-instagrammable-places-in-the-world (Accessed: 30 August 2023).
  • Talbot, L. (2016). Palawan, the Philippines: The Most Beautiful Island in the World. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-07-13/visiting-the-most-beautiful-island-in-the-world-palawan-philippines
  • Smith, J. (2019). 10 of the world’s most beautiful islands. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/worlds-most-beautiful-islands/index.html
  • Bologna, C. (2020). 50 Awesome Solo Travel Destinations To Visit In 2020. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/solo-travel-destinations-2020_l_5e13ccebe4b0843d361788c4
  • Adel, R. (2023) Bohol named the Philippines’ first UNESCO Global Geopark , philSTAR.com . Available at: https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/travel-and-tourism/2023/05/25/2268942/bohol-named-philippines-first-unesco-global-geopark (Accessed: 30 August 2023).
  • Bremner, J. (2013). World’s 50 best surf spots. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/50-surf-spots/index.html
  • Springer, K. (2019). 13 of Asia’s most picturesque towns. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/asia-beautiful-towns/index.html
  • Purnell, K. (2023) Bacolod ranked least expensive tourist destination in the Philippines — study , philSTAR.com . Available at: https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/travel-and-tourism/2023/04/05/2257110/bacolod-ranked-least-expensive-tourist-destination-philippines-study (Accessed: 30 August 2023).
  • ‘Very friendly’ Dumaguete named top retirement spot in PH. (2018). Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://news.abs-cbn.com/life/08/13/18/very-friendly-dumaguete-named-top-retirement-spot-in-ph
  • Fuentes, A. (2018). The search for the next Boracay: Carabao Island, Romblon. Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://news.abs-cbn.com/life/multimedia/slideshow/05/29/18/the-search-for-the-next-boracay-carabao-island-romblon
  • Dagooc, E. (2019). Siquijor tourist arrivals hit record high in 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://www.philstar.com/the-freeman/cebu-business/2019/05/10/1916636/siquijor-tourist-arrivals-hit-record-high-2018
  • Corrales, N. (2019). Duterte declares 4 new PH tourist destination sites. Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1158790/duterte-declares-4-new-ph-tourist-destination-sites
  • Perez, A., & Villaruel, J. (2019). Chinese woman to face charges over viral ‘taho’ tantrum at MRT. Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/09/19/chinese-woman-to-face-charges-over-viral-taho-tantrum-at-mrt
  • Burgos, N. (2019). Taiwanese tourist fined in Boracay for wearing just a ‘string’. Retrieved 7 November 2019, from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1176343/taiwanese-tourist-fined-in-boracay-for-wearing-just-a-s

Written by Venus Zoleta

in Juander How , Travel and Leisure

Last Updated August 30, 2023 05:43 PM

your tourist spot

Venus Zoleta

Venus Zoleta is an experienced writer and editor for over 10 years, covering topics on personal finance, travel, government services, and digital marketing. Her background is in journalism and corporate communications. In her early 20s, she started investing and purchased a home. Now, she advocates financial literacy for Filipinos and shares her knowledge online. When she's not working, Venus bonds with her pet cats and binges on Korean dramas and Pinoy rom-coms.

Browse all articles written by Venus Zoleta

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New York City   Travel Guide

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34 Best Things to Do in NYC

There are countless reasons to be mesmerized by New York, from its skyscrapers and monuments to its vibrant art, food, fashion and nightlife. Across the city, fresh perspectives are yours to be found; go for a stroll in Central Park or along the High

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Central Park Central Park free

This part-park, part-museum, part-concert hall swallows central Manhattan, and many of the city's most notable attractions are situated next to it or within its limits ( the Guggenheim , the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History , to name a few). But travelers insist that you shouldn't just pass through Central Park on your way to another place. This 843-acre green space is a favorite of New Yorkers and tourists; you can come here to exercise, dine, go to the zoo and more.

Almost everyone has a positive impression of the park, but no one has quite the same experience or recommends that you do quite the same thing. There's an almost impossible amount of sights to see here (hidden treasures, indeed), including more than 20 playgrounds, 48 fountains, monuments or sculptures, and 30 bridges. Here's a shortlist:

your tourist spot

National September 11 Memorial & Museum National September 11 Memorial & Museum

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum serves as the primary tribute to the nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as the six lost in the 1993 bombing. The memorial's twin reflecting pools and human-made waterfalls rest as eerie footprints where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood. The 1-acre pools are enclosed in bronze panels on which the names of every victim are inscribed. The museum spans across 110,000 square feet and relays the narrative of the attacks through a series of multimedia displays, real-time recordings, authentic artifacts and an interactive table.

Recent visitors cited the overall atmosphere of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum as sobering and moving. Many travelers say they were impressed with the site as a whole, noting its respectful and informational displays. Reviewers say you won't want to rush your time here, with some recommending that you budget three to four hours to see all of the exhibits.

your tourist spot

Empire State Building Empire State Building

U.S. News Insider Tip: Watch out for "sunset peak" pricing, which adds an extra $10 per ticket for two hours around sunset each evening. But on a clear day, it just might be worth it. – Elizabeth Von Tersch, Senior Editor

New York City Tourist 101 dictates that you must swing by this landmark structure in midtown Manhattan. And despite the hefty admission fees, the crowds and the long lines, recent visitors insist that you won't be sorry. In fact, taking a trip to the top of the Empire State Building is either the perfect way to begin or end your Big Apple excursion – on a clear day you'll be able to the see the city's major highlights some 1,250 feet beneath you. 

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Metropolitan Museum of Art Metropolitan Museum of Art

U.S. News Insider Tip: Come for the art, stay for the rooftop cocktails. A seasonal rooftop garden bar offers views over Central Park, which is especially coveted at sunset. The roof garden stays open into the evening on Friday and Saturday. – Jessica Colley Clarke

No museum in the United States is as celebrated as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Spilling over with masterpieces from all over the world, including notable collections from ancient Egypt and classical antiquity, "the Met" is an art experience unlike any other, and like much in New York, it's impossible to see all the museum has to offer in one day (or even two days, for that matter). 

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Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Statue of Liberty is at the top of many travelers’ must-see lists. A feat of 19th-century technical engineering and a beacon for immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, the statue can be admired from several different vantage points around Manhattan, including Battery Park and the High Line . But to truly appreciate its size and significance, you’ll want to visit the statue and Ellis Island while on your NYC vacation.

The only way to access the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is by using the official National Park Service ferry operator, Statue City Cruises. If you’re departing from the New York side, you’ll hop on a ferry at Battery Park in lower Manhattan. If you’re departing from the New Jersey side, you’ll depart from Liberty State Park in Jersey City. The ferry ride takes approximately 15 minutes.

your tourist spot

Brooklyn Bridge Brooklyn Bridge free

One of many signature landmarks of New York City, the Brooklyn Bridge is also one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country and a National Historic Landmark. Its six lanes (and one pedestrian and bicycle walkway) span the East River, connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. Walking across the bridge remains a tourist pastime.

Some visitors decide to skip the bridge in favor of other attractions, but if you're short on money, this truly is one of the best ways to experience the city and to get a unique view of either borough at no cost. Several reviewers warn that since there is no shade along the bridge, it can get quite hot in the summertime (though there are vendors selling bottles of water). Many also warned that it can get quite crowded, and advised visiting in the morning before 9 a.m. if you don't want to maneuver around crowds.

your tourist spot

The High Line The High Line free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Visit early in the morning or on a weekday to avoid crowds. If you walk from north to south, add on a visit to The Standard Biergarten or the vibrant Chelsea Market for great people-watching, food and drink. – Erin Evans, Managing Editor

Set on an abandoned rail track on Manhattan's West Side, this sprawling, nearly 1½-mile-long landscaped park stretches over three of the city's most lively neighborhoods: the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen. Standing 30 feet above street level, the High Line offers sweeping views of the Hudson River and Manhattan's cityscape. But the vista isn't the only reason visitors and Manhattanites flock to this manicured green space. Here, you'll find continually changing public art installations, a handful of food vendors and a sprawling picnic and sunbathing area (known as the 23rd Street Lawn).

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NYC Food Tours NYC Food Tours

Known for everything from cheap eats to authentic international fare to Michelin-starred restaurants, New York City is a culinary hot spot and undoubtedly one of the best foodie cities in America . However, chances are you won't have time to experience everything the city has to offer in just one trip. One way to get a taste of New York's excellent cuisine across a variety of neighborhoods is to take a food tour.

Whether you want to explore a particular borough or neighborhood, or even a specific cuisine or dish, you'll find a tour to appease your taste buds. Relying on traveler reviews and expert analysis, U.S. News rounded up the best food tours in New York City . Though tours vary in length and price, they all receive rave reviews from past travelers, who applauded the variety of food and the expert knowledge of the guides.

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Empire State Building Ticket

(4889 reviews)

from $ 47.91

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour: All Options

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(8703 reviews)

from $ 37.40

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Washington Square Park Washington Square Park free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Finding an empty bench in Washington Square Park after visiting one of the neighborhood's independent bookstores – from The Strand to Three Lives & Company to Left Bank Books – is a true lower Manhattan pleasure. – Jessica Colley Clarke

The central gathering place of Greenwich Village is Washington Square Park, an almost 10-acre green space known for its downtown buzz. Here, kids splash in the fountain, musicians perform to a crowd, artists sell sketches or photographs, and chess enthusiasts gather to challenge each other to a game. What was historically a cemetery and later a bohemian hot spot is now a neighborhood institution that draws locals and visitors alike with its kids' playground, sizable dog run and ample shady space for picnics. An arch dedicated to George Washington is the dominant architectural feature of the park. 

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Broadway Broadway

U.S. News Insider Tip: Start your day with a stop at the TKTS booth in Times Square or at the Lincoln Center location to snag discounted same-day tickets for an array of Broadway and off-Broadway shows. – Catriona Kendall, Associate Editor

Some out-of-towners spend their entire New York trip at one show or another on the Broadway circuit. And if you like plays and musicals, this is where you should be: "The Great White Way" represents the heart and soul of American theater. Considering that nearby Times Square is a dizzying maze of sights and sounds with no real starting point, some visitors suggest you can see all you need to of that neighborhood just by trundling back and forth between shows. 

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One World Observatory One World Observatory

Formerly known as Freedom Tower, One World Trade Center is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in lower Manhattan. This observatory sits atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the highest point in the city. You'll find it adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial . At more than 125,000 square feet, the three-level observatory is located on the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors of this office skyscraper. Travelers enjoy the panoramic, 360-degree views, up to 45 miles in every direction on clear days. 

Visitors reach the observatory by direct express elevators known as SkyPods. The trip upward includes a visual presentation showing how New York has changed over the decades, from open land to smaller buildings to skyscrapers. The trip takes less than a minute. Expect a multimedia presentation at the top before stunning views are revealed. A restaurant and bar on the 101st floor are open to guests who have purchased tickets to the observatory. 

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Grand Central Terminal Grand Central Terminal free

At this beautiful train station, you can eat some lunch or shop till you drop, but recent travelers most enjoyed just taking in the scenery. Before you enter, be sure to snap a few shots of the exterior's ornate beaux-arts neoclassical architecture. Inside the celebrated main concourse, you're treated to glimmering marble floors, gold and nickel-plated chandeliers and a sky-themed ceiling. Other must-sees include the Information Booth clock, the Whispering Gallery and Grand Central Market, a European-style food market that sells produce, gourmet ingredients and treats. Food options range from the upscale (Cipriani Dolci and The Campbell Bar) to the legendary (the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant) to the fast and easy (Shake Shack). As mentioned, there are also plenty of shopping options, though most travelers suggest you leave most of Grand Central's pricey merchandise in the store. If you want a train-themed souvenir, visit The New York Transit Museum Store in the shuttle passage.

Travelers call the train station "iconic" and say it's a beautiful space to walk through or to grab a meal and people-watch.

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Bryant Park Bryant Park free

U.S. News Insider Tip: This Midtown park draws crowds for two seasonal events: summer movie nights under the stars and a holiday market complete with ice skating. For summer picnics or winter shopping sprees, Bryant Park delivers year-round. – Jessica Colley Clarke

Sprawling across nearly 10 acres, Bryant Park sits just south of Times Square – though it feels a world away. Though its lush green space has existed for more than 150 years, Bryant Park was a revitalization project of the 1990s that made it a sanctuary for locals and tourists alike. This is the preferred place for midtown Manhattan professionals to eat lunch, for fashionistas to strut during fashion week and for performers to showcase their talents during annual events like Broadway in Bryant Park and Piano in Bryant Park. If you're interested in learning more about the park's history, consider joining one of its free tours. Tours, which last 45 minutes, are free and offered every other Wednesday, year-round. 

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New York Helicopter Tour: Ultimate Manhattan Sightseeing

(814 reviews)

from $ 319.00

The Manhattan Helicopter Tour of New York

The Manhattan Helicopter Tour of New York

(1650 reviews)

from $ 249.00

9/11 Memorial Museum Admission Ticket

9 / 11 Memorial Museum Admission Ticket

(4924 reviews)

from $ 33.00

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Staten Island Ferry Staten Island Ferry free

Perhaps the most famous ferry service in the United States, the Staten Island Ferry runs daily between the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan and St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. The city has been operating the ferry service since 1905 and transports some 70,000 passengers across New York Harbor every day. It’s one of the last remaining vestiges of an entire ferry system that served New York City residents before the construction of any bridges.  

But the Staten Island Ferry is more than a transportation service; it’s an attraction, drawing tens of thousands of out-of-town visitors a year for a free ride across the harbor (that’s right, no charge; the service is provided by the City of New York). The 5-mile ride lasts about 25 minutes. Passengers must disembark and then reboard to make the return trip to Manhattan. Travelers remark about the views of the Statue of Liberty , Ellis Island, Manhattan skyscrapers and the bridges of lower Manhattan. 

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Museum of Modern Art Museum of Modern Art

You don't have to be an art lover to appreciate the Museum of Modern Art; this airy midtown gallery also doubles as a shrine of pop culture and 20th century history. Some of the most significant contemporary pieces hang on its walls, including Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," Warhol's "Campbell's Soup Cans," Van Gogh's "Starry Night," Dalí's "The Persistence of Memory," Monet's "Water Lilies," and the list goes on and on. In October 2019, the museum reopened after completing an expansion project that added more than 40,000 square feet of gallery space, as well as a performance studio that features live programming.

Recent travelers were impressed by the extensive art collection and loved being able to see the museum's famous paintings. The $30 entry fee for adults ($17 for students; $22 for seniors; free for kids 16 and younger) can be hard to stomach for some, but reviewers insist you won't regret the money spent. A few travelers express disappointment with the crowds (which are most common on rainy days), but suggest getting some fresh air at the museum's Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden.

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New York Public Library New York Public Library free

U.S. News Insider Tip:  If you love all things book-related, consider visiting The Morgan Library & Museum nearby, which features J.P. Morgan's stunning 1906 library. The museum offers free admisson (and live jazz music) on Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m. – Elizabeth Von Tersch, Senior Editor

This main branch, officially called the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, attracts plenty of book lovers, history junkies and architecture aficionados. Most people swing by the Bryant Park landmark to say hello to Patience and Fortitude (the famous marble lions guarding the entrance) and to admire the lovely beaux-arts design.

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American Museum of Natural History American Museum of Natural History

Visitors love the American Museum of Natural History off Central Park West. Whether you're exploring the interactive exhibits on the land, the sea or outer space; user reviews take on a common theme. This museum is incredible. Even the cafeteria and gift shop are worth your notice.

There are more than 34 million artifacts inside, spread across four city blocks, 26 buildings and through 45 exhibition halls, so don't plan on seeing everything in one day. The Rose Center for Earth and Space is a particular favorite, but you should also plan on visiting the dinosaurs, the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe and the Butterfly Conservatory (accessible November through May), which houses nearly 500 butterflies. Local experts say the institution is one of the city's can't-miss museums , especially for families.

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Wander along Brooklyn's Washington Avenue, and you can't avoid stumbling upon this verdant 52-acre park. A main highlight here is the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, punctuated by wooden bridges and Japanese maples. And if you arrive at the end of April, you can't miss the Cherry Esplanade ( Sakura Matsuri ) when rosy cherry blossoms burst into bloom. Another standout: the Shakespeare Garden, which contains more than 80 plants described in the playwright's works.

Thanks to the garden's extensive collection, which includes 13 gardens and five conservatories, there's plenty of scenery to soak up here. Plus, you can take advantage of year-round exhibits and events, such as children's gardening workshops and Lightscape, the annual wintertime lights display. After you've taken respite in Brooklyn's cherished green space, recent visitors suggest moseying over to two staples located down the street: Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum.

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New York City Statue of Liberty Super Express Cruise

(1646 reviews)

from $ 29.00

New York Helicopter Tour: Manhattan Highlights

New York Helicopter Tour: Manhattan Highlights

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Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour

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from $ 54.99

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Brooklyn Bridge Park Brooklyn Bridge Park free

Located on the Brooklyn side of the East River, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre oasis at the foot of the famous bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. The park stretches 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s waterfront, connecting Columbia Heights and Dumbo, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, an eclectic neighborhood of boutiques, trendy cafes and restaurants. Travelers rave about the views of the lower Manhattan skyline, the New York Harbor and the bridge.

Among the city’s newest parks, Brooklyn Bridge Park was once an industrial district and home to a transportation terminal that served as an entry point for immigrants. Today, the park features rolling hills, promenades, playgrounds, basketball courts, sports fields, a roller skating rink, gardens, and more among six piers and the riverfront. What’s more, the park is home to more than 12,000 species of plants and wildlife. It also hosts a variety of events and programs throughout the year, such as sunset yoga and stargazing.

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The Guggenheim The Guggenheim

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, or simply, "The Guggenheim," is one of the most well-known art museums in the country, and it's just as renowned for its cutting-edge design as it is for its pieces. The coiled building (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) stands out on Fifth Avenue at 89th Street. Inside, the halls are chock full of works from the likes of Picasso, Cézanne, Degas, Manet and Van Gogh, among others.

Visitors loved the building's design and architecture, but offered more mixed reviews for the art on display. Some raved about the permanent collection and the special exhibitions, while others felt the cost of entrance tickets was overpriced for the amount of art displayed. Reviewers recommended the Museum of Modern Art over the Guggenheim if you're short on time. 

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Off-Broadway Shows Off-Broadway Shows

Off-Broadway may not have the glitter of the Great White Way , but these smaller theaters and their productions are often innovative and are no less engaging. Unlike Broadway, these theaters are not centered around Times Square , but scattered all over Manhattan and generally seat fewer people (between 100 to 499 audience members). Smaller venues provide a more intimate experience for plays, musicals and revues. Many of New York’s most famous productions found their start off-Broadway, such as “Hair,” “Rent” and “In the Heights.”

Tickets also are more affordable, generally between $20 and $75 per person. Look for innovative productions at places like the Public Theater, Cherry Lane Theatre or Playwrights Horizons. The Signature Theatre showcases revivals and new plays.

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Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock Observation Deck Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock Observation Deck

This iconic plaza has it all – beautiful sculptures, an enormous skating rink, a fishbowl view of NBC Studios, plus a plethora of stores and restaurants. Though undoubtedly there will be intense crowds, this is an experience that's worth having at least once. During the wintertime holidays, the plaza sparkles with an illuminated Christmas tree and skaters gliding across the ice rink. But don't fret if your New York adventure doesn't take place during the cold months. There's plenty to do year-round. If you plan ahead, you can spend a morning watching a taping of the "Today" show, an afternoon admiring the city from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck and an evening catching a performance at Radio City Music Hall .

Travelers say the Top of the Rock offers some of the best views of Manhattan and say the experience is worth every penny. Visitors recommend booking the Rock Pass ticket that includes a tour of the building and observation deck access.

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Little Island Little Island free

New Yorkers have long needed to get creative to maximize space on the island of Manhattan, where space is limited. But with the opening of Little Island in 2021, that creativity stretched beyond the island's borders and into the water. Little Island is an artificial island located on the west side of Manhattan in the Hudson River. This public park, which is free to visit, offers a new space for locals and visitors alike to immerse themselves in nature, art, free events like concerts and one of the most memorable locations in New York City to catch the sunset.

Most recent visitors praised Little Island for its peaceful atmosphere, splash of greenery and views of the Hudson River and beyond. Some recent visitors recommend planning a visit on a weekday rather than a weekend, when this attraction can be crowded with people picnicking, especially during the golden sunset hours. Regardless of what time of day visitors stop by, almost everyone is left with a positive impression of the park and note its sculptures, family-friendly vibe, impressive variety of plants and free concerts.

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The Big Apple Helicopter Tour of New York City

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Big Bus New York Hop-On Hop-Off Open Top Tour

Big Bus New York Hop-On Hop-Off Open Top Tour

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Niagara Falls in One Day from New York City

Niagara Falls in One Day from New York City

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St. Patrick's Cathedral St. Patrick's Cathedral free

This sprawling cathedral sits amid the hustle and distinctively secular bustle of Rockefeller Center . But that doesn't take away from its otherworldly vibe. Whether you're religious or just making an architectural pilgrimage, you can't help but be impressed by St. Patrick's. Opened in 1879, the neo-Gothic cathedral spans the length of an entire city block and features 330-foot spires. Its interior is just as impressive thanks to its numerous altars, stained-glass windows, organs and imposing 9,000-pound bronze doors. The church welcomes more than 5 million visitors annually.  

Travelers love the historical church's beauty and stained-glass windows, but say you don't have to carve out too much time to see it. Previous vacationers also suggest visiting at Christmastime to really see the church in all its glory. 

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Little Italy Little Italy free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Taste the best of Little Italy at C. Di Palo Wine Bar. With connections to the fine foods store serving this neighborhood for more than a century, this wine bar serves Italian cheeses, meats and wines in a comfortable, modern environment. – Jessica Colley Clarke

Once a thriving enclave of Italian immigrants, Little Italy is now a popular tourist destination (though remnants of the past remain). Restaurants serving classic Italian dishes on red-and-white checkered tablecloths can still be found in the neighborhood. Among the neighborhood staples is Lombardi’s, a restaurant that has been tossing pizzas since 1905 and claims to be the first pizzeria in the United States. Ferrara Bakery & Cafe, another famous Little Italy eatery best known for its cannolis and espresso, has been around since 1892. 

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Times Square Times Square free

Some say that Times Square is like a five-block metaphor for New York City itself – it's exciting, colorful and always jumping. Others describe this area of midtown Manhattan as artless, overpriced and congested. Perhaps this commercial stretch from West 42nd to West 47th streets is a little of both, and though locals would advise you to avoid it, you should at least catch a glimpse of its neon lights. Most travelers recommend visiting the area after dark to see the marquee displays. Many add checking out Times Square before or after a Broadway show is the perfect time to fit it into your schedule. However, if you're not a fan of crowds, reviewers suggest you avoid this area altogether.

Times Square's biggest tourist draw is the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. Revelers crowd the area to see New York's famous Waterford crystal ball descend 77 feet from a pole on the One Times Square building. If you're feeling brave, take a trip to New York and Times Square at this time of year and watch the ball drop for free! Just plan on coming in the early morning and staying all day, and note that the area is super crowded, even by New York standards.

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Fifth Avenue Fifth Avenue free

It's fitting that St. Patrick's Cathedral would be on the same street as stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels. That's because for many people, shopping is a religious experience, and here between 34th and 59th streets you'll find the holy grail. 

Even if you're not planning to put your credit card to work at high-end stores, travelers say a stroll along Fifth Avenue is a must. It's one of the top places to shop in the city, according to local experts. Plus, during the winter holidays, the street is decked out in festive decor.

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Bronx Zoo Bronx Zoo

According to travelers, these 265 acres sheltering more than 10,000 animals should be near the top of every young family's itinerary in New York. And if you're an older visitor, the Bronx Zoo could be a great way to escape the nonstop activity in Manhattan. This zoo's claim to fame is that it's one of the largest metropolitan animal parks in the country. It's also one of the best zoos in the U.S . Originally opened at 1899, the zoo also houses several famous landmarks, including the Rainey Memorial Gates, the Rockefeller Fountain and the historic Zoo Center, which was constructed to look like a palace.

Among the zoo's popular exhibits is JungleWorld, which aims to recreate the jungles of Asia with animals like white-cheeked gibbons, gharials, tapirs, fruit bats and more. There's also the Wild Asia Monorail, a seasonal outdoor monorail that allows visitors to observe animals like rhinos, tigers and red pandas roaming freely in the outdoor habitat. Other star attractions include the Congo Gorilla Forest, the seasonal butterfly garden, Tiger Mountain and the Children's Zoo. Along with the animals, there are also several rides and experiences, such as a carousel and sea lion feedings.

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New York City One World Observatory Admission Ticket

(2304 reviews)

from $ 43.55

All-Access 9/11: Ground Zero Tour, Memorial and Museum, One World Observatory

All-Access 9 / 11: Ground Zero Tour, Memorial and Museum, One World Observatory

(2847 reviews)

from $ 92.65

Top of the Rock Observation Deck New York City

Top of the Rock Observation Deck New York City

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Apollo Theater Apollo Theater

U.S. News Insider Tip: Go to BLVD Bistro on 116th St. before or after your visit to the Apollo. They serve breakfast all day and literally have the best grits and pancakes I have ever had in my life. It is also Black-owned! – Lawrence Phillips, founder and CEO of Green Book Global

One of the most famous music halls in the United States, "the Apollo" started as a burlesque theater in 1914. By the 1930s, it transformed into a concert hall that helped launch the career of several black musicians. A then-unknown Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson (with the Jackson 5) and Stevie Wonder all performed on the Apollo stage during an Amateur Night competition. If you're in Harlem on a Wednesday you can still go to Amateur Night, an experience some previous travelers highly recommend.

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Metropolitan Opera House Metropolitan Opera House

Stroll through the courtyard of the Metropolitan Opera House even if you're not going inside for a performance. Every element of this opulent building – from the limestone architecture, to the lobby's glittering chandelier, to the acoustics in the concert hall – is gorgeous. Travelers call this opera house a feast for the eyes and ears. Tickets are notoriously expensive (as much as several hundred dollars for the best seats), but the sticker shock evaporates quickly if you're into performing arts. You can try to score a same-day ticket at a discounted rate, plus there are discounts for senior citizens.

The Metropolitan Opera House features spring performances by the American Ballet Theatre and fall and winter performances by the Met Opera Company. Showtimes and ticket prices vary by performance and seating, so check the Met Opera's website for additional details. You'll find the opera house at Lincoln Center Plaza on Manhattan's Upper West Side – take the 1 train to 66th Street.

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Radio City Music Hall Radio City Music Hall

It's where Ella Fitzgerald pined for the man she loved, the Rolling Stones couldn't get no satisfaction and Lady Gaga had a "Bad Romance." Among performers, there's no New York concert venue that's quite like Radio City Music Hall. Not only is it the largest indoor theater in the world, its marquee spans a full city block. Opened in 1932, the theater is a New York City Landmark. Today, the theater welcomes musical performers like Ben Platt and Lil Nas X, as well as comedians like Chris Rock.

If you're in town any dates between November and January, consider attending the famous Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which stars the Rockettes. According to recent visitors who attended a show, there's not a bad seat in the house. If you're not able to attend a performance, consider signing up for the hourlong Radio City Stage Door Tour. The guided tour includes stops at areas of the historic venue not typically seen by the public, such as Radio City’s secret apartment, The Roxy Suite. You'll also an enjoy an in-depth history lesson about the stage and its iconic art deco design. The tour concludes with a meet-and-greet with a Radio City Rockette. Tours are offered daily starting at 9:30 a.m.; tickets cost $42 per adult and $38 per kid 12 and younger.  

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The Battery The Battery free

Also known as The Battery, this 25-ace park sits at the very southern tip of Manhattan Island, and offers a green respite from the steel and concrete of lower Manhattan. The park, named after artillery batteries that protected the settlement in the 17th century, is popular with visitors because of its views of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty . 

The park is home to perennial gardens, bike paths, grand lawns, an urban farm and a unique carousel, known as the SeaGlass Carousel. On the carousel, riders sit within iridescent fish and glide through a 360-degree aquatic adventure. The carousel’s bioluminescent design honors the waterfront site as well as another landmark, the Castle Clinton, one of the country’s earliest aquariums. 

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Coney Island Coney Island

Known as the "the People's Playground," this famous amusement area in Brooklyn has witnessed an illustrious past. In the early 1900s, Coney Island enticed New Yorkers to visit with its bathing pavilions, seaside resorts and amusement park. The Great Depression took its toll on the fun-loving spot, causing many attractions to close. But after years of economic instability, Coney Island has reclaimed its place on the Brooklyn map, with a fresh roster of eateries and entertainment (including a July Fourth hot dog-eating contest and an annual Mermaid Parade ) found along the boardwalk. Coney Island now features several separate amusement parks, as well as a museum, which hosts a variety of exhibits and shows.

According to recent visitors, Coney Island is a worthwhile trip in the summer if you have the time and are traveling with young kids who would enjoy the rides. If you're not up for indulging your inner thrill-seeker, you can also walk along the beach, which spans nearly 3 miles and features several sports courts, as well as playgrounds. A walk along the iconic Riegelmann Boardwalk is just as memorable, according to recent visitors.

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Washington DC Day Trip from New York City

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from $ 179.00

NYC Food Tour: Chinatown and Little Italy

NYC Food Tour: Chinatown and Little Italy

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New York CityPASS®

New York CityPASS®

(2006 reviews)

from $ 146.00

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Chrysler Building Chrysler Building free

Technically, the Chrysler Building is an office building open Monday through Friday, but you don't need to go inside to appreciate its aesthetic appeal. Recent visitors praised the building's unique architectural style (though a few wished you could still go inside to admire its intricate lobby and elevators).

Built in 1930, the Chrysler had a short-lived run as the tallest building in the city, before it was usurped of its title by the Empire State Building . Nevertheless, this 1,046-foot-high skyscraper remains a favorite among New Yorkers for its classic art deco style. And unlike the Empire State, at this site you won't need an expensive entry ticket, a strong stomach to stand soaring heights or patience for long lines to see what all the fuss is about. You can behold the building's menacing gargoyles and triangular openings from many spots in Manhattan. Though the lobby is currently closed to visitors, there have been talks of building an observation deck, though none is available at this time.

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17 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam

Written by Jess Lee Updated Aug 30, 2023

Vietnam is an astonishing mix of natural highlights and cultural diversity.

The scenery ranges from jagged peaks seen from winding mountain passes down to verdant paddy fields painted every shade of green in the palette, while Vietnam's long history and multicultural population (with over 50 ethnic minority groups) make a trip here rich in heritage.

Outdoor lovers can get their teeth into the countryside within the numerous national parks, where hiking, biking, and kayaking are popular things to do, but Vietnam's most famous natural tourist attraction, the spectacular karst seascape of Halong Bay, is one natural sight that even the more slothful can experience up close on a cruise.

While the rural areas brim with lush panoramas, the big cities buzz with contemporary life and provide ample opportunities to get stuck into Vietnam's tasty culinary highlights.

This fascinating country is full of surprises and is one of Southeast Asia's most underrated destinations. Plan your sightseeing with our list of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

1. Halong Bay

2. ho chi minh city, 4. phong nha-ke bang national park, 7. sapa countryside, 9. nha trang, 10. cu chi tunnels, 11. ba be national park, 12. mekong delta, 13. cat ba island, 14. ha giang, 15. phu quoc island, 16. con dao islands, frequently asked questions, when is the best time to visit vietnam.

Halong Bay

The karst seascape of Halong Bay is one of the best places to visit in the world for spellbinding sea views and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thousands of limestone islands sit within this bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, eroded into jagged pinnacles by wind and water action over millennia.

With the bay's scenery best seen by boat, this is prime cruising territory. Opt for at least an overnight tour to see Halong Bay's iconic views as a day trip doesn't do it justice.

There are plenty of caves in the bay that can be entered including the Hang Sung Sot, with three mammoth caverns, and the Hang Dao Go, with superbly weird stalagmites and stalactites. For most people though, the highlight is simply cruising amid the karsts and soaking up the changing scenery of pinnacles as you pass by.

There are plenty of different cruise tours to choose from. Check the different itineraries offered before booking as many travelers have left Halong Bay underwhelmed by their cruise.

Author's Tip: If possible, book a tour that takes in neighboring Lan Ha Bay as well as Halong Bay. The karst scenery is just as dramatic here but fewer cruise trips visit. And check if your cruise offers included activities such as guided kayaking (which allows you to experience an up-close view of the scenery).

Ho Chi Minh City Hall

For big city fans, no visit to Vietnam is really complete without a visit to Ho Chi Minh City, the buzzing commercial hub of the country.

The streets are an insane clog of motorbikes and cars, the restaurant and café scene is incredibly cosmopolitan, and the shopping is the best in the country.

At its center is Dong Khoi, a relatively small and easily navigable central district, which holds most of the city's sights.

Here, you'll find the HCMC Museum, with a brilliant collection of artifacts that weaves together the story of the city, and the grand Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late 19th century.

Check out the old district of Da Kao nearby for some of the best surviving examples of the city's French colonial architecture and also to visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda with its dazzling array of Buddhist and Taoist religious iconography.

Afterwards, the History Museum is a must-do for history fans with stacks of relics on display from various archaeological sites.

For many visitors, the two big-hitter tourist attractions not to miss are just a little out of the center, along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street. The Reunification Palace, then known as Independence Palace, was the residence for South Vietnam's president. It's chiefly famous as the spot where North Vietnam's tanks stopped on 30 April 1975, officially ending the war. It's a completely fascinating place to visit complete with 1960s furnishings still in situ.

Nearby is the War Remnants Museum, which although very obviously biased, paints a disturbing picture of the brutality of war and the many atrocities committed by US Forces during their Vietnam campaign.

Hue

One of Vietnam's most historic towns, Hue is packed to the brim with relics from the reign of the 19th-century Nguyen emperors.

Sitting along the banks of the gorgeous Perfume River, the Imperial Enclosure is a huge site set within walls that sprawl for 2.5 kilometers.

While touring the grounds check out the gorgeous Ngo Mon Gate, the Thai Hoa Palace with its finely lacquered interior detailing, the Dien Tho Residence where the Queen Mothers would live, and the Halls of Mandarins with its preserved ceiling murals.

A dazzling number of historic sites lie outside the Imperial Enclosure walls as well.

One of the nicest ways of visiting a collection of outlying sites is by taking a riverboat cruise on the Perfume River. A day cruise can take you to visit several royal tombs along with some pagodas.

If you're short on time, the best tomb to visit is the Tomb of Tu Doc and the most important pagoda in the area is the Thien Mu Pagoda, with its tower that soars for 21 meters high.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

One of the best places to visit in Vietnam for caving, World Heritage-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a dramatic karst mountain formation honeycombed with huge caverns, which are home to superb stalactite and stalagmite displays.

It's best known for its caving activities , which range from multi-day hiking and caving tours for the more adventurous, to simpler half-day trips to caves with easy access provided by boat trips and modern boardwalks, but the national park also offers mountain biking and trekking activities.

The most popular destinations within the park are the Paradise Cave , which extends for a staggering 31 kilometers below ground, and the Phong Nha Cave, where the interior is accessed by boat. Half-day tours can be easily arranged once you're in the area.

The national park's most renowned caverns though are Son Doong Cave (the world's largest cave) , and the Tu Lan Cave with its cavern river system. Access to these, and to certain other caves in the park are restricted to organized tours (ranging from one-day to multi-day expeditions) which are all run by Phong Nha's expert adventure tour company Oxalis . It's well worth booking in advance to secure your spot.

To make the most of your time here, time your visit for outside the rainy season, which runs from October to December, when many of the national park's caves are closed to the public.

You can access Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park from Son Trach (also known as Phong Nha village).

Hindu temple ruins at My Son

Surrounded by lush jungle-covered mountains, My Son is a ruined Cham era temple city that dates from the 4th century.

This old Hindu religious center was still very much in use during the 7th to 10th centuries and only fell into complete decline and abandonment during the 13th century.

There are around 20 temple structures still standing here, all built of brick or sandstone blocks and showing interesting influences from various Asian empires, including Indian and Malay.

Note that the temples of Group B are the oldest, while Group A once contained the site's most important monument but was destroyed deliberately by US forces during the Vietnam War.

A good museum on-site houses plenty of information on the Cham.

Access to My Son is from Hoi An.

Hoi An

Beautiful Hoi An is the most atmospheric city in Vietnam, with bags of surviving historic architecture.

The old town quarter is a joy to explore, packed to the brim with well-preserved merchant houses that hark back to Hoi An's trading center heyday of the 15th century, when the town was a major meeting point for Japanese and Chinese merchants who flocked here for the local silks.

Plenty of the old merchant houses have been opened to the public, so you can get a taste of these times. The best is 17th-century Tan Ky House, with fascinating architectural and decorative elements.

Hoi An's major symbol is the delightful Japanese Bridge at the western end of Tran Phu Street, while nearby, the Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation is the old town's most highly decorated temple.

There are numerous small pagodas and museums dotted about town, but Hoi An's true charm is found in simply rambling the old town streets admiring the well-preserved facades.

Sapa Countryside

The verdant rice field countryside surrounding Sapa, bordered by the jagged peaks of the Hoang Lien Mountains (often still known by their French colonial era name of the Tonkinese Alps), are home to Vietnam's most beautiful rural vistas.

The deep valleys here are home to a diverse mix of the country's ethnic minorities, including the Hmong, Giay, and Red Dzao people, while the rippling hills are terraced with rice fields and overlooked by the country's tallest peak, Fansipan Mountain.

This is the top trekking destination in Vietnam with oodles of options to trek or day hike between tiny villages and experience the staggering mountain views.

Sapa itself is the main base here - an old hill station and now a bustling and forever growing tourist center that is a stark contrast to the sumptuous tranquil countryside right on its doorstep.

Author's Tip: Keen trekkers looking for more of northern Vietnam's lush mountain vistas may want to skip the busy Sapa scene completely and nudge further 95 kilometers northwest to Bac Ha , where the terraced hill views on hikes between hill villages are just as beautiful. Bac Ha's Sunday market is also a very popular day trip from Sapa.

Hanoi

Vietnam's capital is the frenetic heartbeat of the nation and a place that befuddles travelers as much as it charms them.

The motorbike frenzy, pollution, and constant clamor of street vendors can get too much for some travelers, but if you want to dive into Vietnamese city life, Hanoi is the place to do it.

The old town quarter has plenty of dilapidated charm on offer, while history fans should make a beeline here simply to see the bundle of excellent museums.

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and Vietnam Fine Art Museum are both brilliant introductions to the diverse artistry of the country, while the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an important tribute to the founder of modern Vietnam.

Author's Tip: It's well worth adding extra time into your itinerary to use Hanoi as a base for exploring the many sights within day tripping distance. In particular, the Tay Phuong and Thay Pagodas (30 kilometers west from the central city), Co Loa Citadel (24 kilometers northeast), and the Huong Pagoda (also known as the Perfume Pagoda; 60 kilometers southwest).

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Hanoi

Nha Trang

For sandy fun in Vietnam, Nha Trang is king. The well-maintained beach trundles for six kilometers along the shoreline of central Nha Trang city and during summer is jam-packed with local families on vacation, as well as foreign visitors.

There is excellent swimming here with designated swimming areas and manicured lounging areas that make this a great option for relaxing days soaking up the sun and sand.

If you do get bored of sunbathing, the ancient Po Nagar Cham Towers are just to the north across the Xom Bong Bridge and have been used as a place of worship here since at least the 7th century (with some historians saying the site itself has been a place of active worship since much earlier).

There is also an excellent museum dedicated to the work of Alexandre Yersin who discovered the cause of the bubonic plague and founded Nha Trang's Pasteur Institute (which still carries out vaccination programs in Vietnam today).

Cu Chi Tunnels

An absolutely fascinating experience for all travelers, not just those interested in Vietnam's modern military history, the Cu Chi Tunnels are an extensive tunnel network that during the war, stretched for more than 250 kilometers, allowing VC troops to operate and communicate in the area surrounding Ho Chi Minh City.

Two short sections of the network can be visited with a guide who'll take you down into the narrow unlit confines, which definitely are not for claustrophobia sufferers.

You will literally be crawling on your hands and knees and some points. You can access the tunnels at either Ben Dinh village (the more popular choice) or Ben Duoc village.

Ba Be National Park

Tranquil Ba Be National Park is absolutely stunning with the three interlinked Ba Be Lakes at its heart, rimmed by jagged karst peaks and thickly forested slopes.

Most visitors come here to take peaceful boat trips or kayak on the lake and explore the caves full of stalactites and stalagmites in the vicinity, but for the more active, there's also excellent hiking and trekking in the hills here between ethnic minority villages.

This is one of the most peaceful spots in Vietnam, and travelers who spend the night here sleep in traditional stilt-house homestay accommodation along the lakeshore, allowing an experience of simple rural life.

Mekong Delta

The far south of Vietnam is where the mighty Mekong River finally finds its way to the sea in a maze of waterways that crisscross the floodplain.

Incredibly lush, with paddy field vistas and mangroves, and full of local life, with chaotic floating markets to explore by boat, the delta is one of the most interesting regions for travelers to discover.

Can Tho is the most popular town to use as a base, as it's close to the floating markets of Phong Dien and Cai Rang, while boat trips from Ca Mau allow you to explore the U Minh Mangrove Forest and Cau Mau Nature Reserve.

This area of Vietnam is one of the best to visit for keen bird watchers and nature lovers , as it is home to both Tra Su Bird Sanctuary Forest and Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary.

View from the top of Cat Ba Island

One of Vietnam's major centers for activities and adventure travel attractions, Cat Ba Island sits on the western edge of Halong Bay.

This is the best place to visit if you want to organize cruises and kayaking trips in Lan Ha Bay, which lies off Cat Ba's southern coast. Lan Ha Bay is a less visited seascape of karst islets and outcrops that makes for a quieter alternative to Halong Bay.

Off the water, much of Cat Ba's dense jungle interior is part of Cat Ba National Park, where hikers can spot plentiful birdlife, as well as animals such as macaques.

For many visitors, though, Cat Ba is all about climbing opportunities. Climbing excursions here utilize both the island's limestone cliffs and Lan Ha Bay's outcrops, providing experiences to suit both complete climbing beginners and experienced climbers.

Scenery along the Mai Pi Leng Pass

The emerald-green karst mountain landscapes along Ha Giang's mountain passes make this far-north province prime territory for scenic road-tripping by either motorbike or car.

In particular, the twisty Quan Ba Pass between Ha Giang town and Tam Son provides panoramic vistas of the karst plateau and its jagged limestone outcrops, while the zigzagging Mai Pi Leng Pass between Dong Van and Meo Vac offers dizzying views of the lush mountain scenery and narrow valleys below.

Time your visit to coincide with one of the area's market days, when traders from the surrounding mountain villages pile into town. Dong Van's Sunday market is one of the best.

View of colorful fishing boats from the Phu Quoc cable-car

Sitting 45 kilometers off the southern coast of the country, in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is a densely forested island, speckled by sweeps of white-sand beach that attract plenty of sunseekers during the winter dry season.

Dry season (November to May) is also when the island's underwater and on-the-water tourism attractions spring into action, with plenty of dive sites in the waters just offshore, as well as opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking, and boat trips.

Many of the main boat excursions head to the An Thoi Islands, just to the south of Phu Quoc, which is home to the best snorkeling in the area.

Off the water, the Phu Quoc cable-car provides bird's-eye views for eight kilometers, soaring over the seascape and islands, all the way from Phu Quoc to the island of Hon Thom in the An Thoi Islands.

Phu Quac is accessed by plane or regular ferries from the mainland towns of Rach Gia and Ha Tien. As Ha Tien lies very close to the southern border crossing with Cambodia, the island is a popular first (or last) stop-off in Vietnam for overland travelers.

An Hai Beach on Con Son Island

This remote island group lies around 160 kilometers offshore in the South China Sea and is renowned among divers as one of the best places to visit in the country, both for the variety of sea life and for the coral reefs.

Much of the Con Dao Islands, and the surrounding water, is a protected wilderness area, with the island shores home to nesting turtles, and dense forest still covering the island interiors.

The main island, and prime base for visitors with all the accommodation and things to do, is Con Son Island, which has sweeps of sand strung out across its coast that attract beachgoers looking for a relaxed sun-soaked getaway, as well as divers.

Even if you're here mostly for the beach, make sure to explore the historic sites of Con Son Town (the island's only settlement) including Phu Hai Prison, Bao Tang Con Dao Museum, and the prison known as the Tiger Cages, which document the dark history of this isolated island group.

Con Son's remote position led to the island being used to incarcerate political prisoners during the era Vietnam was occupied by French colonial forces, and later by both the South Vietnamese government and the occupying American forces.

Preserved sites including Phu Hai Prison and the prison cages used by the US forces, known as the Tiger Cages, along with Con Son Town's Bao Tang Con Dao Museum, do an excellent job of documenting this history for visitors.

Access to Con Son Island is either by flight from Ho Chi Minh City or by ferry from the coastal city of Vung Tau.

Fishing boats on the beach in Mui Ne

Once a sleepy coastal fishing town, Mui Né has developed into a beautiful beach resort town and a prime destination for windsurfing, sailing, and kitesurfing.

Compared to other beach destinations in Vietnam , however, Mui Né remains relatively unknown - and this means pristine beaches and a quiet retreat for most of the year.

Red cliffs and river in Mui Ne

One of Mui Né's most unique attractions is the natural Red Sand Dunes just outside town, where visitors can practice sand-sledding or rent dune buggies for a more adrenaline-charged experience.

Tucked away between nearby fishing villages and towering orange limestone formations, there's the fairy stream, a slow-moving warm stream that almost feels like a walkway because it's so shallow - follow it to the end to reach a waterfall.

For those wishing to explore beyond the coastline, there are also the ruins of the Po Shanu Cham Towers - remnants of the Cham Empire that dominated the area many centuries ago.

Vietnam experiences strong monsoon seasons, where heavy rains hit the cities and the countryside, often causing floods and mudslides. If you're planning to travel around, the best time to visit Vietnam is during the dry season, which lasts from December to February – but there are some exceptions.

The south of Vietnam – where Ho Chi Minh city is located – experiences a more tropical climate, with high temperatures and high humidity year-round. Visiting these areas in the cooler months means less humidity and temperatures in the high 20s rather than the high 30s and 40s, which makes it more comfortable to walk around.

In the north, however, many areas experience an actual winter. Hanoi sees temperatures in the mid- to high teens in December and January – and in the mountains of Sapa in the north, you'll even get to see some snow during these months.

If you're visiting Danang for some beach time or to travel through the ancient town of Hoi An, it's best to arrive between February and May, when water and air temperature are in the 20s – perfect beach weather for enjoying the sand or a dip in the water. The rainy season, and especially the months of September and October, see very heavy rains and often very strong wind storms on the coast, so it's better to stay away from Danang during this time.

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Influencers — Japan’s secret weapon to promote niche tourism spots

Beijing-based Chinese influencer Chang Feifei has taken on many jobs to promote travel destinations in Japan, including from Universal Studios Japan and the Hankyu and Hanshin department stores.

South Korean influencer Chomad, with over a million followers on Instagram and nearly 780,000 on YouTube, is quite an influential figure when it comes to traveling.

In the video, which has garnered over 37,000 views on YouTube and more than 24,000 likes on Instagram, Chomad is seen visiting a small village where he grills fresh seafood with a group of ama — Japanese female divers who collect seafood from the ocean by free diving without the aid of modern equipment — at the eponymous Ama Hut, an outdoor seafood grill they operate in Mie Prefecture.

Many of his followers commented about how the village "seems peaceful” and had “an appeal that’s different from major cities such as Tokyo or Osaka.”

It seemed like a random destination — but it wasn't.

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) had specifically sought out the popular influencer to partner with in order to spotlight Ama Hut — as well as a kyūdō (Japanese archery) dojo in Shimane Prefecture — among his followers.

A 2022 survey by the Japan Tourism Agency revealed that relatives and friends (22.8%), social media (21.9%) and video-sharing sites (21.4%) were the top three sources of travel information for foreign tourists.

Having set a goal for 60 million inbound tourists in 2030, the government aims to attract more repeat travelers and are putting in efforts to promote less-visited places in the hopes of avoiding overtourism while helping to revitalize dwindling communities at the same time.

And with social media being one of the top sources of travel information among foreign tourists, government agencies are turning to influencers to get travelers to venture off the beaten track.

The potential

Hideki Tomioka, JNTO’s executive director on overseas promotion, said his department has been engaging with social media influencers to promote Japan overseas since around 2017.

“People look at official government campaigns, such as advertisements put out by JNTO, and they think 'of course they wouldn’t say bad things about this place ... that it is dangerous and so on,’” he said.

“But influencers are independent and post about things that they think are interesting from their own perspective. Even if people know JNTO is sponsoring the post, they tend to feel there is less bias in the content, which is the strength of influencer marketing that we are trying to utilize,” he said.

In a recent video, South Korean influencer Chomad featured Mie Prefecture's Ama Hut, an outdoor seafood grill operated by a group of ama, Japanese female freedivers who collect seafood from the ocean without the aid of modern equipment.

Tomioka struggles to say how many influencers that JNTO has invited to Japan over the years. This is because the agency's 26 overseas branches typically invite multiple influencers for every tour, which they organize independently to cater to their specific markets.

“It varies between countries that are geographically close to or far from Japan, or countries that already know a lot about Japan and those that don’t,” he said.

“Countries such as Singapore for example, where repeat visitors make up almost 70%, where everyone already knows a lot about Japan. With these markets, we would engage them in a deeper conversation, showing them a destination, saying, ‘I bet you’ve never seen this before — come see this!’”

Overtourism

Since Japan opened its borders in October 2022 after the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of foreign tourists has been consistently on the rise, even surpassing pre-COVID levels by last November.

Along with that trend, problems of overtourism — fully booked hotels and crowded buses and trains — and tourism-related pollution began to emerge in popular destinations such as Tokyo and Kyoto. The increased human traffic in those destinations also led to local residents feeling disgruntled.

With this in mind, JNTO adopts a strategy of steering tourists away from the popular, overcrowded regions to show them the charms of lesser-known destinations that are worth a visit. Tomioka sees influencers as being especially effective for this strategy, given the sway they have on their followers.

Among the attractions that Chang has promoted to her followers is Fuji-Q Highland, an amusement park near Mount Fuji.

“Most people tend to follow influencers because they are interested in the specific things that the influencer is interested in,” Tomioka explained.

If, for example, JNTO wanted to market ski resorts, having a famous skier show their followers how nice Japanese snow is can be a very targeted and effective way of bringing ski aficionados to Japan.

In addition to the project with Chomad, JNTO also recently invited Nariko Somboom, a popular TikToker in Thailand, to experience wadaiko (Japanese drums) in Miyagi Prefecture and visit Ouchijuku, a preserved townscape from the Edo Period (1601-1868) in Fukushima Prefecture.

The power of influencers

JNTO is not the only one taking advantage of the powerful reach of influencers. Many marketing firms are beginning to involve them when promoting Japanese products and tourism.

Carta Marketing Firm is one of such company. It offers services utilizing influencers for clients including local governments who are looking to target markets primarily in Asia, such as China, South Korea and Taiwan.

Ryosuke Sasaki, Carta Marketing’s strategy planner leading the firm's influencer-related services, said that even within the short time frame since it began offering such services last August, they have received an overwhelming reception among its clients.

Within the first three months, the company — which used to primarily take on domestic marketing projects — shifted its focus; now, almost 50% of its projects are ones that target international markets.

Since the lifting of border restrictions in October 2022, Japan has been facing issues associated with overtourism in popular areas such as Tokyo and Kyoto, a problem that the government is looking to alleviate.

When taking on jobs from the local governments, "we are always thinking of how we could revitalize rural regions through the power of social media — we are actively trying to incorporate the aspect of revitalization in our projects,” said Sasaki.

Even for a company looking to sell a product, he would suggest an in-person element to the campaign.

For example, instead of just sending a bottle of Japanese wine abroad for influencers to review, influencers could be invited over for a tour of a winery. By doing so, they would be able to market both the wine as well as the winery as a tourist destination.

“By inviting influencers (to Japan), there are more opportunities to get information out there to everyone's home country — we have an environment that's more conducive to better communicating how great (Japan is),” he said.

Hidden gems

One of the many influencers that Sasaki works with is award-winning beauty and lifestyle influencer Chang Feifei, who has over 4.26 million followers on Weibo, a popular social media platform in China; 1.8 million followers on TikTok; and 2 million followers on Xiaohongshu, dubbed China's answer to Instagram.

The 32-year-old influencer from Beijing has taken on many jobs to promote travel destinations in Japan, including from Universal Studios Japan, and Hankyu and Hanshin department stores.

As someone who frequents Japan between 20 to 30 times a year for both business and pleasure, Chang herself admitted she had become more interested in exploring lesser-known areas in the country. She said she still found herself discovering many new things in the country despite her frequent trips.

“A place I got to really like was Kumamoto Prefecture and another was Hida city (in Gifu Prefecture), a city known for its beef, that I got to know through working on (promoting) Hidagyu (Hida beef),” she recounted.

With overtourism come problems such as fully booked hotels and long lines to get on buses in popular cities such as Kyoto.

Whenever Chang posts about her visits to rural areas, regardless of whether for business or pleasure, the reception among followers is always very positive.

“There are a lot of comments that say, ‘I want to try visiting too,’ so I definitely think it's effective,” she said, adding that she feels many of her Chinese followers are keen to explore beyond the usual places such as Tokyo and Osaka.

The future of influencer marketing

Still, it’s hard to gauge how effective influencer projects are given that people usually decide to visit a place due to a combination of reasons, making it difficult to pinpoint the most important factor in deciding travel destinations.

Nevertheless, JNTO makes an effort to calculate the reach and engagement of influencers after inviting them for each tour.

“In most cases, (engagement) goes far and above what we’ve estimated, consistently showing us how powerful influencers are (in our current world),” the agency's Tomioka said.

Japan is seeing a huge potential for influencer marketing, he said, as more people — both young and old — are turning to social media as their primary source of information.

“I once saw on TV a street interview of a Spanish tourist who was visiting Yanaka,” Tomioka said, referring to the quaint neighborhood in Tokyo that is not often considered a tourist attraction.

“When asked why they came there, they said it was because they saw it on social media content that JNTO had put out in Spanish,” he said, laughing proudly.

Beijing-based Chinese influencer Chang Feifei has taken on many jobs to promote travel destinations in Japan, including from Universal Studios Japan and the Hankyu and Hanshin department stores. | Courtesy of Chang Feifei

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Fake eclipse glasses are hitting the market. Here's how to tell if you have a pair

As the total solar eclipse , occurring across Mexico, the United States and Canada on April 8, draws near, experts are reminding spectators to grab a pair of eclipse glasses to view the celestial event safely - and to make sure they aren't fake.

Counterfeit eclipse glasses are "polluting the marketplace," according to a release shared by the American Astronomical Society, or AAS.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, completely blocking the sun's face from view for a few moments. About 32 million people in the US live within the 115-mile-wide (185-kilometer-wide) path of totality, or locations where the moon will appear to completely cover the sun and the lunar shadow falls on the Earth's surface. People outside the path of totality will still be able to see a partial solar eclipse in which the moon only blocks part of the sun's face.

your tourist spot

The only time it's safe to view the sun without eye protection is during the totality of a total solar eclipse, or the brief period when the moon completely blocks the light of the sun, according to NASA.

Otherwise, experts say it's absolutely necessary to wear certified eclipse glasses or use handheld solar viewers that meet a specific safety standard, known as ISO 12312-2, when watching all other phases of a total or partial solar eclipse. The safety standard means that the lenses meet international requirements for direct solar viewing, according to the AAS.

The lenses of solar eclipse glasses are made of black polymer, or resin infused with carbon particles, that blocks nearly all visible, infrared and ultraviolet light, according to The Planetary Society. And sunglasses won't work in place of eclipse glasses or solar viewers.

MORE | How to make a pinhole projector with a cereal box to safely view an image of the solar eclipse

"Sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and polarizing filters are unsafe. Inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer before use - if torn, scratched, or otherwise damaged, discard the device," according to a release by the American Optometric Association.

Looking at the sun without properly made eclipse glasses can result in severe eye injury, from temporary vision impairment to permanent blindness. But the AAS has discovered the production of fraudulent eclipse glasses that won't provide the necessary protection needed to view the sun safely without incurring eye damage.

How to spot fake eclipse glasses

The counterfeit glasses might be hard to spot because they include information and even original artwork that suggest they were made by a known reputable manufacturer of the products, but different factories that have yet to be identified actually made them, according to the AAS.

"Until recently, the only counterfeit products we knew of were cardboard-frame eclipse glasses made by an unidentified factory in China but printed with 'Mfg. by: American Paper Optics' (APO) on them," the AAS shared in a news release. "APO is one of the major U.S. manufacturers of safe solar viewers and prints its name and address on its eclipse glasses, whereas the Chinese copycat products have APO's name but not its address. Thankfully, these particular counterfeits appear to be safe."

But close tracking by the AAS has revealed that more unidentified factories are producing counterfeit glasses printed with the name and address of a Chinese factory called Cangnan County Qiwei Craft Co., which creates safe products. Some of the fake glasses also include the name or logo of Solar Eclipse International, Canada, which is Qiwei's North American distributor.

MORE | Will weather spoil your eclipse view? Here's an early look

While it

While some of the glasses appear to be safe and are virtually indistinguishable from actual Qiwei products, others have lenses about as dark as sunglasses, which means they aren't safe to use, according to the AAS.

"Filters that provide safe, comfortable views of the Sun generally transmit between 1 part in 100,000 (0.001%) and 1 part in 2,000,000 (0.00005%) of its visible light," said Rick Fienberg, project manager of the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force, in a statement. "Solar filters are at least 1,000 times darker than even the darkest regular sunglasses."

The AAS has curated a list of safe manufacturers and resellers of eclipse glasses and filters for optical devices, including cameras and smartphones. The AAS task force for the eclipse has confirmed that solar viewers and glasses made by all known manufacturers of the products in the US and across Europe, as well as some Chinese manufacturers, have been tested in a lab.

"We now recommend that if you want to buy solar viewers online, buy only from sites you reach by clicking on the links from our list, or from a seller whose identity you can verify and whose name appears on our list," according to the AAS. "We recommend not buying eclipse glasses from random sellers in online marketplaces, even if they claim to get their products from a supplier on our list or to be approved by the AAS or NASA. The U.S. space agency doesn't approve or endorse commercial products, so any claim to the contrary is a warning sign that you're not dealing with a trustworthy seller. Similarly, if a vendor claims to be on the AAS suppliers list but you can't find it there, you shouldn't trust them."

Tips for safely viewing the eclipse and testing your glasses

For those who didn't purchase their glasses directly from a vetted vendor on the list, there are ways to test eclipse glasses before April 8.

"There's no way to tell just by looking at them whether eclipse glasses are genuinely safe," Fienberg said, "but it's easy to tell if they are not safe."

Try on the glasses indoors first. Nothing should be visible through the lenses, and even the brightest lights should only appear very faintly. If furnishings or wall decor are visible through the lenses, these glasses aren't safe to view the sun.

MORE | Are you in the path of totality? Total solar eclipse streaks across US on April 8

your tourist spot

But if the glasses pass the indoor test, the AAS recommends putting them on outside during a sunny day and looking around. Again, nothing should be visible through the lenses, unless the sun is reflecting off an exceptionally shiny surface, and even then the light will appear faint if the glasses are safe.

If the glasses pass that second test, try looking at the sun through them for less than a second. If the glasses are safe, the sun will appear comfortably bright and likely white, yellow, orange or bluish white.

On the day of the eclipse, stand still and cover your eyes with the glasses or solar viewer before looking up. And never remove the glasses while looking at the sun. For those who wear eyeglasses, wear eclipse glasses on top of them or hold up a handheld viewer in front of them.

And remember to outfit any camera lenses, binoculars or telescopes used to observe the eclipse with the proper solar filters. Never look through an unfiltered optical device of any kind in this situation, even while wearing eclipse glasses.

Avoid eclipse eye damage

It's only safe to view the eclipse without eye protection when the moon completely blocks the sun from view and no light is visible - and be sure to put your eclipse glasses back on before any light reappears.

Looking at the sun without proper eye protection can result in solar retinopathy, or retinal damage from exposure to solar radiation. While the highly specialized cells inside our eyes don't feel any pain, the rods and cones and photochemical reactors become inflamed and damaged when looking at the sun, said Ronald Benner, an optometrist and president of the American Optometric Association.

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It's a bit like the effect that occurs when we see a camera flash go off, which can distort our vision for a few minutes before it goes away. But the intensity of solar retinopathy causes permanent damage that won't be immediately apparent. Overnight, the cells can die, and they won't be replaced. There is no treatment for solar retinopathy. It can improve or worsen, but it is a permanent condition.

The changes in a person's vision depend on the type of damage that is done, and these can occur in one or both eyes.

"The retina is an extension of the brain, so it's actually neurological tissue, and when you damage that, it doesn't always come back," Benner said. "If you damage one cell, that cell may never be the same. But if you damage a group of cells, then you're going to end up with blotchy vision, like having someone dab oil on your windshield. If you just kind of damage them and they don't completely die, then color vision is going to be altered. What can you do about it? Absolutely nothing other than prevent it."

If the damage occurs in the center of someone's vision, it can affect the ability to read or recognize faces, Benner said.

If you experience vision issues or eye discomfort after viewing the eclipse, Benner recommends booking an appointment immediately using the American Optometric Association's doctor locator. Symptoms may take hours to a few days to manifest, and they include loss of central vision, altered color vision or distorted vision.

"For most people, it's an alteration of color vision," Benner said. "The next morning, colors just don't look right, or it may be bleached out it or just kind of hazy all the time. For others, it may be that they actually have holes in their vision."

And always keep an eye on children wearing eclipse glasses to make sure they don't take them off and look directly at the sun. Benner advises that parents talk to their children on how and when they can view the eclipse and when they can take their glasses on and off. And if parents worry that their kids may take off their glasses at the wrong moment, make plans to watch the eclipse on TV or use the pinhole projection method to view the eclipse indirectly.

"Make sure that you're protecting not just yourself, but more importantly your children," Benner said. "If your child experiences eye damage, they have to live with it the rest of their life. And they may not be able to tell you, 'I'm not seeing clearly out of one eye.'"

TUNE IN | ABC News, National Geographic announce live 'Eclipse Across America' special on April 8

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You can check out more eclipse coverage here.

The-CNN-Wire & 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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