Lakes in the Philippines

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There’s something very peaceful and serene about lakes. Though they’re not as popular as beaches and waterfalls, lakes have a quiet understated charm about them. The Philippines is home to many beautiful lakes. Natural lakes are closely related to volcanic and tectonic activity and smaller lakes occupy the craters of extinct volcanoes. Artificial lakes or reservoirs have resulted from the damming of rivers for hydroelectric activity. Aside from their recreational and aesthetic qualities, many lakes are important habitats for marine life and food sources. Other lakes play a part in water-supply, hydro-electric power or flood control. As the saying goes, “still waters run deep.”

photo by angel copy

Though some lakes are not really suitable for swimming, some are ideal for for low-impact activities like fishing, boating, rafting, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Here are just a few of the scenic lakes and reservoirs in the Philippines that I’ve personally visited (arranged by distance/accessibility from Manila).
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Travel Guide: Sabtang Island, Batanes

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Sabtang Island is one of three inhabited islands of Batanes, the northernmost province in the Philippines. With its well-preserved culture, beautiful natural landscapes, and friendly people, this remote island is such a refreshing escape. It’s one of the most laid-back and peaceful places I’ve been to in the country. Most people who travel to Batanes visit Sabtang Island on a day trip just to see the main tourist spots. During my last trip here, I got to spend three days on the island, while covering a local festival. If you want to experience how it is to live off-the-grid, I recommend you stay here a few days.

sabtang island batanes chamantad tinyan viewpoint travelup
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A Fiesta in Sabtang Island, Batanes

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Sabtang Island is one of three inhabited islands of Batanes, the northernmost province in the Philippines. It is here where you can see traditional stone houses that Batanes is known for. It is also here where you can find the finest weavers of Batanes known for making the vakul, a traditional headdress worn by farmers in the fields to protect them from the sun and rain. While women traditionally wear the vakul, men wear vests known as kanayi and talugong, a traditional wide-brimmed farmer’s hat.

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Masungi Georeserve in Rizal

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Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area and karst rock garden hidden in the rainforests of Rizal. Its name comes from the local term “masungki” which translates to “spiked” – describing the jagged limestone landscape found here. The discovery trail offers a unique outdoor experience where visitors get to hike through karst landscape, with limestone formations, sinkholes, caves and natural trails and forests. The geological park has eco-friendly conservation areas, rest stations and obstacles including hanging bridges, rope ladder descents, view decks, and a giant hammock where you can enjoy views of the amazing natural landscape.

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Motorcycling around Batanes: North Batan

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The first time I traveled solo to Batanes, I rented a motorcycle to visit all the attractions in a day. That motorcycle ride around South Batan remains one of the most memorable rides I have ever done in the country. The distance may not have been that long, but in terms of coastal roads and just pure awesomeness of the landscape, Batanes is pretty hard to beat.

motorcycle batanes lighthouse travelup

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Ride to Angat Rainforest and Eco Park, Bulacan

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Bulacan is a province in the Philippines known mostly for its old churches, heritage sites and heroes. Though it’s home to some historic caves, it isn’t really considered a top destination for adventure-seekers. So last weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself driving through forested mountain roads and twisties with scenic views of lakes and rivers.

angat rainforest and ecopark bulacan travelup motorcycle

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Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls, Cebu

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Canyoneering seems to be one of the most popular activities to do in South Cebu these days. While the naturally beautiful Kawasan Falls has drawing tourists for years, the whole area has become even more popular ever since canyoneering tours were introduced. The extreme sport also known as canyoning involves walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, rappelling and swimming through a river either upstream or downstream. It’s one of the most fun and unique outdoor activities you can do in Cebu.

kawasan canyoneering cebu group shot travelup
Group photo with Angela, Ivy, Pax, Apple and Heizel. Thanks for the photos and for letting me join your group! :)

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The Long and Winding Road to Bicol

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I’ve gone to Naga City from Manila and back countless times. I lived there growing up and still go back home several times a year. Most times I just hop on an overnight bus without a second thought. I rode the PNR Bicol Express train when it was still running. I’ve gone there by plane. My family and I used to take long car trips there and back several times for holidays.

But last Christmas was different. It was my first time to drive a motorcycle all the way there.

01. motorcycle manila to naga bicol bitukang manok diversion road travelup

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Travel Guide: Tanay, Rizal

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The town of Tanay in Rizal province is one of my favorite destinations near the metro for motorcycling road trips. Its proximity to Manila, refreshing mountain scenery, cooler climate and generally uncrowded destinations makes it a good alternative to Tagaytay on any given weekend. Parts of Tanay pass through portions of the Sierra Madre mountain range, making it a great motorcycling and biking destination.

tanay rizal masungi rock georeserve sierra madre mountains motorcycling travelup

For weekend warriors and families, Tanay has lots to offer in terms of natural attractions. The resorts and leisure camps in the area also make it a popular destination for team-building activities as well.

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Hiking to Mt. Pinatubo

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Mount Pinatubo’s eruption in 1991 is one of the most devastating natural calamities in Philippine History. After 600 years of dormancy, Mt. Pinatubo’s erupted. Said to be the second largest eruption of the 20th century, the effects of the eruption were felt worldwide.

hiking mt. pinatubo crater lake travelup

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Surf Spots in the Philippines

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Updated March 2016

Surfing is an extreme sport that involves riding the waves towards the shore while standing or lying on a surfboard. With more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is blessed with beach breaks along both the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea, as well as reef breaks throughout the archipelago. For surfers, this means that there are numerous surfing spots to check out.

surf spots in the philippines surfboards waves baler aurora

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Travel News: Wakay Air Flies to Batanes

There’s a new airline that now flies to Batanes, the country’s most sought after travel destination! Wakay Air Transport Services (Inc.) offers chartered flights from Manila to Basco, Batanes and vice versa in partnership with AirSWIFT. Launched last March 29, 2016, Wakay Air’s flights are serviced by a 48-seater ATR 42-600 turboprop plane. Flights depart from A. Soriano Terminal in Pasay City to Basco Airport in Batanes. Flights from Manila leave 5:15 am and arrive in Basco at 7:00 am. Return flights leave at 7:20 am and arrive in Manila at 9:00 am. Travel time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.

wakay air airswift batanes basco

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5 Places to Visit in Bandung, Indonesia

Bandung is the capital of West Java in Indonesia. Located 768 meters (2,520 ft) above sea level, roughly 140 kilometers south east of Jakarta, Bandung has generally cooler temperatures throughout the year compared to other Indonesian cities. Bandung lies on a river basin surrounded by volcanic mountains, offering stunning natural landscapes. Known for its stunning geological sights, Dutch Colonial architecture, and culinary delights, this rising tourist destination has captured the attention of local and international tourists in recent years.

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Kawah Putih from the bottom, Bandung Regency by Crisco 1492

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Merkanto: International Street Food Park in UP Village

There’s a new food park in the neighborhood! Merkanto, located inside 38 Autocare Car wash in UP Village, serves international street fare. I love sampling street food and eating in hawker centers when I travel to other countries. Judging from the ongoing World Street Food Congress, street food is really big in other countries and it looks like the trend is catching on in the Philippines. Though there are a lot of restaurants and food parks already in the Maginhawa area, I have to say the concepts here are pretty unique. The dishes are affordable, and so far from what we’ve tried, everything was pretty good.

01 merkanto international street food
Opened in April 2016, Merkanto is currently on soft opening with 5 stalls serving street eats from Vietnam, Morroco, Indonesia, Brazil and India. It’s fairly new, so it wasn’t as crowded as some of the other food parks on a Friday night. However, I’m sure once word gets around, people will start to flock here as well. Below are some sample dishes per stall and the price range so you can get an idea of the offerings. Continue reading

Hike to Osmeña Peak in Cebu

Osmeña Peak is the highest point in the island of Cebu, a province in the Philippines. Standing 1,013 meters above sea level, this stunning site offers a dramatic view of jagged cliffs with a view of the sea in the distance. Locals often liken the view to Bohol’s Chocolate Hills. But instead of rolling curved mounds, the hills here have sharp protruding peaks. Set amidst the limestone cliffs, the hills resemble a field of gigantic green Hershey’s Kisses. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen during previous hikes.

osmena peak dalaguete cebu summit travelup

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Plant Bistro: Cozy B & B and Cafe in Tagaytay

Tagaytay City is one of the nearest destinations to Manila for weekend getaways. While most people go here on day trips, it’s always nice to spend the night to have more time to check out all the different new sights. There are a lot of accommodations to choose from in the main city, from no-frills backpacker’s hotels, to hotel rooms with a view of Taal Lake, and villas and cottages for rents for bigger groups. For those looking for something a little more unique and cozy, Plant Bistro is a lovely little bed & breakfast and cafe. I found the place on Airbnb and thought it would make a great weekend getaway.

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