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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Philippines (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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Palawan, Philippines

Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Philippines (Plus, Itineraries)

By Joshua Wood, LPC

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: If you're considering moving to Philippines and don't have a favorite city or town picked out, going on a look-see or exploratory trip to visit a number of popular expat destinations is really informative. Here are some recommendations for where to visit when exploring Philippines.

Embarking on a Look-See trip to the Philippines is an essential step for anyone considering relocation. This exploratory journey offers a firsthand experience of the diverse cultures, lifestyles, and environments across the archipelago. It allows potential expats, retirees, and digital nomads to gauge the suitability of various locales for their individual needs, from cost of living to community vibes, and to make informed decisions about their potential new home.

Recommended Itineraries

For a 10-day trip, focus on the major expat hubs: start in Manila for 2 days, then head to Angeles City for a day, followed by a couple of days in Tagaytay. Spend the next two days in Cebu City, and conclude with a visit to Davao City for the remaining days. For a 20-day trip, extend your stay to include Baguio City, Iloilo City, and Dumaguete, allotting 2-3 days in each location. Additionally, carve out time to explore the surrounding smaller towns and rural areas to get a comprehensive feel for each region.


Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines, is a sprawling metropolis that offers a vibrant urban lifestyle. With a population of over 12 million, it is the economic and cultural heart of the country. Expats and digital nomads are drawn to its diverse neighborhoods, ample amenities, and the convenience of city living. The cost of living can be higher here compared to other parts of the Philippines, but the opportunities for networking and business are unparalleled.

Travel Tip: While in Manila, visit Intramuros, the historic walled city, and dine at the iconic Barbara's Heritage Restaurant for a taste of traditional Filipino cuisine.

Angeles City

Angeles City, located in the province of Pampanga, is known for its rich culinary tradition and entertainment scene. It's a smaller urban area compared to Manila, with a growing community of expats attracted by its lower cost of living and proximity to Clark International Airport. The city offers a mix of urban conveniences and local charm, making it a comfortable place for foreigners to settle.

Travel Tip: Check out Aling Lucing's Sisig for an authentic taste of Pampanga's famous dish, sisig, a must-try for any food enthusiast.


Tagaytay is a popular highland town known for its cooler climate and stunning views of Taal Volcano. It's a favorite among expats and retirees who prefer a more laid-back lifestyle away from the heat and hustle of the lowland cities. The town offers a range of affordable housing options and has a growing community of foreign residents who enjoy the blend of local culture and natural beauty.

Travel Tip: Enjoy a meal with a view at Antonio's, one of Tagaytay's finest dining establishments, set amidst a beautiful garden setting.

Cebu City

Cebu City is the "Queen City of the South" and the second-largest city in the Philippines. It strikes a balance between urban development and historical charm, with a lower cost of living than Manila. Expats and digital nomads are attracted to its vibrant business environment, modern amenities, and close proximity to beautiful beaches and dive spots.

Travel Tip: Visit the historical Fort San Pedro and dine at the nearby La Vie Parisienne for a delightful French bakery and wine cellar experience.

Davao City

Davao City is known for its safety, cleanliness, and the warmth of its people. It's the largest city in Mindanao and offers a mix of urban life and natural attractions, including the famous Mount Apo. The cost of living is reasonable, and the city has a growing expat community that enjoys the laid-back lifestyle and abundant fresh fruits like durian and mangosteen.

Travel Tip: Explore the Eden Nature Park for a refreshing retreat into nature and sample the local cuisine at Jack's Ridge restaurant with its panoramic city views.

Baguio City

Baguio City, known as the "Summer Capital of the Philippines," is nestled in the Cordillera Central mountains. It's famous for its cool climate, pine trees, and rich cultural heritage. Expats and retirees appreciate the city's serene environment, arts scene, and the relatively low cost of living. The city is also a hub for education and a gateway to exploring the unique traditions of the Cordillera region.

Travel Tip: Visit the BenCab Museum to immerse yourself in the works of Benedicto Cabrera and other Filipino artists, and enjoy a meal at Café by the Ruins for a taste of local cuisine in a rustic setting.

Iloilo City

Iloilo City, located in the Visayas, is a growing economic center known for its Spanish colonial churches, old houses, and delicious local cuisine. It offers a relaxed urban environment with a lower cost of living, making it an attractive option for expats and retirees. The city is also a gateway to the stunning beaches of the nearby islands, such as Guimaras.

Travel Tip: Savor the famous La Paz Batchoy at Netong's Original Special La Paz Batchoy located in the La Paz Public Market.


Dumaguete, dubbed the "City of Gentle People," is a small city on the island of Negros. It's a favorite among expats and retirees for its university-town vibe, seaside boulevard, and easy access to diving spots and natural attractions. The cost of living is low, and the community is welcoming, making it an ideal place for those looking for a slower pace of life.

Travel Tip: Stroll along the Rizal Boulevard and dine at Lab-as Seafood Restaurant to enjoy fresh seafood with a view of the sea.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

Palawan, Philippines

SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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