The Philippines is a country of extraordinary beauty and rich culture, a gem that many Filipinos are rediscovering through domestic travel. From the beaches of Palawan to the historical sites of Bacolod City, the nation offers a breadth of experiences that make exploring one’s own backyard an adventure in itself.
One thing many domestic travelers in the Philippines may not realize is that this journey of discovery can begin as soon as the plane touches down. The country’s airports, often seen just as gateways to somewhere else, have been increasingly catching the public eye for their own aesthetic merits. Gone are the days of purely functional, drab terminals; several airports in the Philippines are setting the bar high on a national level with airport designs that are both innovative and visually stunning.
This article aims to spotlight some of these architectural marvels. There’s no need to travel internationally to experience an airport worth talking about; some of the most beautifully designed terminals are right here in the Philippines, serving as the perfect introduction to the diverse and enriching travel experiences that the country has to offer.
Let’s discover some of the country’s most beautiful airport terminals now.
Mactan-Cebu International Airport
Designed by the Hong Kong design firm Integrated Design Associates (IDA) led by Principal Architect Winston Shu, Mactan-Cebu International Airport is particularly renowned for its Terminal 2, which focuses on both beauty and functionality. The terminal features undulating wooden arches that invoke the warm embrace of Filipino hospitality, a striking visual feature as passengers enter the space. Additionally, the design employs the use of locally sourced materials, such as timber and natural fibers, creating a harmonious connection with its tropical environment.
Mactan-Cebu International Airport doesn’t just stop at aesthetic appeal. It also focuses on the passenger experience, ensuring that the terminal is a memorable part of the journey rather than a simple transitional space. Well-designed waiting lounges, art installations, and extensive retail and dining options provide a comfortable and enriching experience for passengers. The airport has also adopted green initiatives, like energy-efficient lighting and optimized natural ventilation, that align with its beautiful design.
The airport is also anticipated to grow and improve even further now that Aboitiz InfraCapital (AIC) has taken over its management, in collaboration with the GMR Group and Megawide Construction Corporation. Known for their expertise in infrastructure development, AIC is set to provide top-notch airport operations services that will align the airport’s functional aspects with its stunning design. Their experience in managing large-scale projects is expected to enhance the streamlined passenger experience and introduce potential expansions.
Bohol-Panglao International Airport
A testament to modern architecture with a tropical flair, Bohol-Panglao International Airport is Philippines’ first eco-friendly airport. Located on Panglao Island in Bohol Province, this PHP8.9 billion (USD 169 million) facility replaced Tagbilaran Airport, providing a much-needed upgrade to handle increasing passenger traffic to and from the island. The airport is ten times the size of its predecessor, sprawling over an area of 216 hectares and boasting a passenger terminal that can accommodate one million travelers annually.
But what truly sets this airport apart is its commitment to blending aesthetic beauty with eco-conscious design. The terminal building is a single-level structure that takes inspiration from Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, resulting in a multi-curved roof that appears to be floating over the building. Further enhancing its aesthetic appeal is extensive landscaping that includes a 1,958-square-meter covered area in front of the terminal building, dedicated to welcoming passengers and their relatives. Overall, Bohol-Panglao International Airport offers a beautiful blend of aesthetics and functionality, serving as an inviting prelude to the natural wonders that await on Bohol Island.
Iloilo International Airport
The passenger terminal at Iloilo International Airport is another marvel that has captured the hearts of travelers. The terminal is flooded with natural light thanks to its large windows, making for a warm, inviting atmosphere. Its extensive use of glass allows passengers to take in the views of the lush scenery outside, bringing the tranquility of nature into an otherwise bustling environment. Adding to this are two pocket gardens, strategically placed in both the departure and arrival halls, lending a touch of verdant charm to the terminal.
Francisco Bangoy International Airport
Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao also deserves a special mention for its ability to blend local culture and modernity. The terminal itself is a work of art, displaying pieces by Mindanaoan artists on its walls. A particularly striking feature is an iconic durian statue by local artist Kublai Millan, which greets travelers at the entrance of the airport. These cultural elements speak volumes about the peace and progress that have been hard-earned in Mindanao, making the airport a symbolic gateway to the region.
El Nido Airport
Nestled amidst the idyllic surroundings of Palawan, El Nido Airport serves as a charming entry point to one of the world’s most beautiful archipelagos. Small yet significant, the airport’s passenger terminal reflects the local aesthetic, complete with bamboo architecture that fits seamlessly into the lush natural backdrop. In fact, it could almost be mistaken for a resort rather than an airport terminal, being situated amidst the stunning backdrops of Palawan’s karst cliffs and turquoise waters. The airport’s open-air design lets passengers soak in the natural beauty of the surrounding area, connecting travelers immediately to the paradise that is El Nido.
Many of the Philippines’ airports serve as stunning gateways to the nation’s wonders, elevating the travel experience right from the moment of arrival or departure. If you’re looking to rediscover the country through domestic travel, don’t miss the chance to appreciate these architectural marvels as you go about your adventures.