We all could use some holidays right now, that’s for sure. Some of us are able to do that already, while the rest of us are still stuck or just not ready. Well, here are some places in Philippines you should see soon or later.
On the island of Panay, Iloilo is a great alternative if you don’t really like the bigger, busier Manila. Here, you can see a wonderful combination of natural attractions and human-made tourism spots.
There are quite a lot of historic sites here, including old churches like Miagao Church and a famous historic home, Nelly Garden. To learn more about the indigenous culture of this area, you can check out Museo Iloilo.
For the nature part, you can walk along the Iloilo River Esplanade. A perfect place if you’re taking a stroll during the sunset or sunrise.
Speaking of sun, you can enjoy it more in Miagao, Guimbal, Tigbauan, or Oton where you’ll see plenty of sun as well as the beaches’ grey sand. To swim and snorkel, there’s also the Kuliatan marine sanctuary in San Joaquin.
The island province is famous for its cone-shaped Chocolate Hills. It’s beautifully golden in dry season and green most of the year. There are grass-covered limestone domes that will please your eyes and mind (and maybe your social media feed too).
As for the wildlife, you can catch a glimpse of the adorable, tiny Philippine tarsier. These nocturnal primates weigh only up to 140 grams (5 ounces) and they’ve got gigantic, amber eyes. Kinda remind me of furby, not gonna lie. Anyways, you can see them at the Tarseir Conservation Area.
Beach lovers will find the gorgeous white-sand ones as well as coral reefs on Panglao Island. Here, you can also do dolphin and whale-watching tours and dive trips in Balicasag Island Marine Sanctuary. If marine sightseeing is your jam, you’ll find coral gardens and steep submarine cliffs around.
On Bohol’s main island, there are mangrove tunnels that you can kayak through or plunge into cave pools. Jungle waterways are available too, and you can wind along on a stand-up paddle board.
You can also cross Sipatan River through the Sipatan Twin hanging bridge and look at the turquoise water (color may change depending on the season).
As with all Bohol tourism establishments that have reopened, the bridge has earned the Ultimate Bohol Experience Seal of Excellence. Meaning, the bridge has strict adherence to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Many beaches in Philippines are breathtaking. However, that’s not all to see in this country. There are cold spots as well, like Baguio City that you can find in the Cordillera mountains. Imagine being 4,500 feet above sea level in northern Luzon (largest island in the country).
In the early 1900s, this place became a favorite summer getaway. You can see it from the lofts here.
Not only cold, this city is historic and cultural as well. This region is the ancestral homeland of indigenous people known as Igorots or “people of the mountain.” To preserve, support, and showcase the traditions and other weaving or crafts, UNESCO has named Baguio a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art.
Baguio regularly hosts festivals and exhibits celebrating the region’s multicultural artisan traditions. If you want one of the original hand-crafted works like colorful textiles, silver jewelry, and wooden figurines, go to the Baguio public market and/or Maharlika Livelihood Center.
Otherwise, enjoy what this region has to offer. If you’re from the tropical area where most of the time it’s hot and humid, experience the comfortable temperatures and misty conditions of Baguio. Or, hike through the woods on the winding Camp John Hay Eco Trail to soak up the pine-scented mountain air.
No need to worry that much about safety. Use the new Visitor Information and Travel Assistance (VISITA) platform to get coronavirus-related information, read QR coupons, and make contactless payments.
Natural beauty meets delicious local cuisines. Did this sentence intrigue you? Well, you should definitely go to Bicol.
Bicol is the home to Mayon Volcano, a gorgeous active volcano famous for it perfectly symmetrical cone in the world. No wonder this place is on many people’s top destinations.
Start your days here with an ATV ride traversing the rugged terrain and shallow rivers towards the lava wall of Mayon Volcano.
Like whale sharks? Me too. And you should swim with them (known as Butanding here) or swim among the majestic manta rays and sea turtles in the waters of Ticao Island. If you can’t see them, well the different species of fish and the colorful corals will still be an unforgettable view.
Mild adrenaline junkies should try downhill biking in Camarines Sur or water tubing down the challenging rapids of Malinao. Looking for something more challenging? Go rock climbing, bouldering, rappelling, cliff diving, and slacklining on the islands of Caramoan.
I mentioned local cuisines earlier. In Bicol, you’ll find many things from fresh sea urchin and lato in Pilar to a sweet and spicy chili ice cream in Legazpi. The food is definitely unique, and you can try them all.
The souvenir here includes traditional ceramic and rattan wares and local delicacies like suman latik (rice cake).
There are three ways of getting here; by plane (an hour flight), bus rides that take 8 to 14 hours (only for the truly adventurous), or through ferry from Samar.
Finding a hidden gem is a treat. Well I mean, since it’s more well-known now it’s not really a hidden gem. But this place, in the Central Cordillera Mountains, is quite pristine for a tourism area.
During the Spanish colonial era, the colonials didn’t really touch this place. Therefore, Sagada still has a well-preserved indigenous culture and natural beauty. It’s also possible to do sustainable vacation or activities here. Here are the options:
Stay in homestays. Without a doubt, one of the very best ways to explore a local culture is to stay with someone who actually lives there. Be sure to firstly check out Department of Tourism (DOT) accredited homestay.
Moreover, the rates tend to be reasonable, and you’ll be helping sustain the local economy while getting to know the people of Sagada first-hand.
Hike and swim. Visit the Bomod-OK Waterfalls, known locally as “the Big Falls”. Hike for about an hour each way to get to this waterfall. If you need any help, hire a local guide at the Bangaan Information Center.
And remember, if you’re putting on a sunscreen and plan to swim, make sure that it’s environment-friendly (the sunscreen itself I mean).
Mountain bike. Visitors who want an eco-friendly adventure with amazing views can rent a bike locally and explore the area. Mountainous terrain of Sagada is wonderful for mountain biking—it’s healthy both for your body and soul.
Zipline. Be anti-mainstream by choosing to zipline in Sagada instead of Boracay. This zero-impact activity offers great, “grass carpet” views of the local scenery. Try ziplining over Sagada’s Kapay-aw Rice Terraces or near Echo Valley.
Travel the way you want
Let me be clear: I think it’s totally okay if you choose the more popular destinations in this country, especially if it’s your first time. After all, we don’t go to this country all the time, do we?
Nonetheless, I also think that it’s also wise to remain sustainable and really experience the country. Learning about the locals, new cultures, and exciting adventure for our own self-discovery is, in my opinion, a truer holiday experience.
Maybe what you can do is spend a number of days in the popular spots while spend the rest in the places I mentioned. Remember to stay environmentally friendly in whatever ways you prefer!