Ah, the Philippines—Islands that beckon with its pristine beaches, verdant landscapes, and a rich tapestry of history and culture. For expatriates searching for a blend of the exotic and familiar, this Southeast Asian nation offers a vibrant setting in which to live, work, or retire. With its hospitable locals, delectable cuisine, and affordable living, it’s no wonder the Philippines has become a top destination for expats.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the top 10 cities in the Philippines that have earned rave reviews from the international community.

1. Makati City

Best for: Urban Sophisticates & Business Professionals

Makati is often dubbed the financial hub of the Philippines. With its glittering skyscrapers, luxury malls, and bustling streets, this city is a microcosm of modernity amidst the traditional Philippine landscape. Expats who thrive in cosmopolitan environments will find Makati to their liking.


  • Wide range of international cuisines
  • Numerous entertainment options
  • Strong expat community


  • Heavy traffic during rush hours
  • Higher cost of living compared to other cities

2. Cebu City

Best for: Cultural Enthusiasts & Beach Lovers

As the oldest city in the Philippines, Cebu boasts a rich history and vibrant culture. Its strategic location makes it a gateway to stunning beaches and dive sites. Moreover, the city offers a balance between urban living and proximity to nature.


  • Access to nearby tourist destinations
  • Rich cultural experiences
  • Growing business opportunities


  • Traffic congestion can be an issue
  • Occasional flooding during the rainy season

3. Davao City

Best for: Those Seeking Safety & Nature

Touted as one of the safest cities in the Philippines, Davao is the crown jewel of Mindanao. It’s surrounded by lush mountains and is in close proximity to the country’s highest peak, Mount Apo.


  • Strict city regulations ensuring safety
  • Fresh fruits and produce
  • Less crowded than Manila or Cebu


  • Distant from other major islands
  • Limited international flights

4. Baguio City

Best for: Cool Climate Seekers & Artists

Known as the “Summer Capital” of the Philippines, Baguio offers respite from the tropical heat. Its cool climate, panoramic views, and thriving arts scene make it a favorite among expats looking for a laid-back environment.


  • Pleasurable weather year-round
  • Rich arts and crafts culture
  • Proximity to nature spots


  • Traffic congestion, especially during holidays
  • Rapid urban development

5. Tagaytay City

Best for: Those Looking for Weekend Retreats

Just a few hours from Manila, Tagaytay offers a panoramic view of the Taal Volcano surrounded by a scenic lake. The cool breeze, combined with a plethora of dining options, makes it a favorite weekend spot.


  • Stunning natural views
  • Cool climate
  • Numerous dining and relaxation options


  • Can get crowded during weekends
  • Limited public transportation options

6. Iloilo City

Best for: Culinary Adventurers & History Buffs

With its well-preserved Spanish-era churches and delectable local dishes, Iloilo is a haven for those keen on immersing themselves in Filipino heritage and cuisine.


  • Rich cultural heritage
  • Delicious local dishes
  • Growing business opportunities


  • Developing public transportation system
  • Less international accessibility

7. Dumaguete City

Best for: Retirees & Dive Enthusiasts

Dumaguete, known as the “City of Gentle People,” boasts a serene coastal ambiance. Its proximity to world-class dive sites and laid-back vibe makes it a favorite among retirees.


  • Friendly and welcoming locals
  • Close to renowned dive spots
  • Affordable cost of living


  • Limited urban amenities
  • Potential for typhoons

8. Subic Bay

Best for: Sea Sports Enthusiasts & Families

Once a US naval base, Subic Bay has transformed into a commercial hub with beaches, diving spots, and adventure parks. It’s also renowned for its well-organized infrastructure.


  • Adventure and water sports opportunities
  • Structured urban planning
  • Growing business district


  • Expensive real estate prices
  • Occasional congestion during peak seasons

9. Bacolod City

Best for: Those Craving Sweet Delights & Festivals

Known as the “City of Smiles”, Bacolod is famous for its MassKara Festival and sweet delicacies. It offers a blend of urban comforts and countryside charm.


  • Lively festivals and events
  • Warm and friendly locals
  • Accessible natural attractions


  • Limited nightlife options
  • Developing infrastructure

10. Puerto Princesa City

Best for: Eco-Tourists & Nature Lovers

Situated in Palawan, Puerto Princesa is a gateway to the world-famous Underground River. Its commitment to eco-tourism and conservation is evident in its pristine landscapes and clear waters.


  • Rich biodiversity and natural wonders
  • Eco-friendly policies
  • Access to stunning beaches and islands


  • Limited urban amenities
  • Remote location for some services

The Philippines, with its diverse landscapes and cultures, offers a plethora of options for expatriates. Whether you’re looking for bustling city life, serene beaches, or cultural immersion, this archipelago has something for everyone. The key is to identify what aligns with your preferences and lifestyle, ensuring your expatriate journey in the Philippines is nothing short of enriching.

Regardless of your choice, one thing remains constant: the warm hospitality of the Filipino people. Their genuine smiles, coupled with the nation’s natural beauty, make the Philippines a truly captivating place to call home.

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Hello! I'm Wise, a Filipina with a deep love for my country and a passion for sharing its beauty with the world. As a writer, blogger, and videographer, I capture the essence of the Philippines through my eyes, hoping to give foreign visitors a true taste of what makes these islands so special.

From the vibrant streets of Manila to the tranquil beaches of Palawan, my journey is about uncovering the hidden gems and everyday wonders that define the Filipino spirit. My articles and blogs are not just travel guides; they are invitations to explore, to feel, and to fall in love with the Philippines, just as I have.

Through my videos, I strive to bring the sights, sounds, and stories of my homeland to life. Whether it's the local cuisine, the colorful festivals, or the warm smiles of the people, I aim to prepare visitors for an authentic experience.

For those seeking more than just a vacation, the Philippines can be a place of discovery and, perhaps, even love. My goal is to be your guide, not just to the places you'll visit, but to the experiences and connections that await in this beautiful corner of the world. Welcome to the Philippines, through my eyes. Let's explore together!

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