Whenever people ask me what the best destination I’ve been to in the Philippines is, it’s easy for me to say Batanes. In terms of raw landscapes, the northernmost province of the Philippines is really a dream destination. Though I love a lot of places I’ve been to around the country, Batanes is really special. It offers a unique blend of breathtaking scenery, natural attractions and well-preserved culture. Plus the locals here are just the most hospitable and kind people I’ve ever met. Everyone and everything here just feels so pure and good.
Tarak Ridge. The name alone (a combination of the words “tarik” which means steep and “tabak” or hunting knife) should have given me a clue of what to expect. Standing 1,130 meters above sea level, this mountain in Mariveles, Bataan offers a scenic view of Bataan, Corregidor and neighboring islands. On clear days, you can see Manila Bay all the way up to Cavite. But to enjoy the stunning view, you first have to go through a moderately challenging hike through dense grasslands and steep trails that involves clambering over roots and holding on to branches for support.
The province of Bataan is best known for its historical and cultural attractions. The Battle of Bataan is famous for being one of the last stands of American and Filipino soldiers before they were overwhelmed by the Japanese forces during World War II. The Bataan Death March, where the infamous march started, was also named after the province.
But aside from its historical sites, Bataan is a rising eco-tourism destination with beaches, mountains, turtle sanctuaries, bird-watching sites, springs and waterfalls. Bataan lies within two major peaks, Mount Natib and Mount Mariveles, which are ideal destinations for adventure-seekers. If you’re a mountain biker or hiker, you’ll want to check out the natural trails that Bataan has to offer. Continue reading
The province of Isabela in the Cagayan Valley is usually overlooked as a tourist destination. While it’s second largest province of the Philippines and the largest in Luzon in terms of land area, not many tourists would go out of their way to spend a vacation here.
The island province of Bohol is one of the most popular and tourist-friendly destinations in the Philippines. This small island is packed with beautiful white beaches, stunning landscape filled with exotic animals and different fun adventures and activities. I’ve been to Bohol several times for family vacations, work and personal trips. As a solo traveler, I enjoyed motorcycling around Bohol to visit the various sites last year.
The more I travel, the more my bucket list grows. I tick off one place only to add two more. There’s just so much to see in the world, and so little time. But before I explore outside the country, I want to see as much of the Philippines as possible.
I just got back from a six-day-five-night cruise aboard Star Cruises SuperStar Virgo, the first cruise ship to homeport in Manila. Compared to my usual DIY backpacking trips, this was an amazing hassle-free vacation that I got to enjoy with my mom and nephew. Going on a luxury cruise is something I’d never thought I’d get to do. It’s a unique type of travel experience worth saving up for and ticking off your bucketlist!
Mention Pagadian and one thing comes to mind: the iconic inclined tricycle. Tricycles, three-wheeled public form of transportation, can be found all around the Philippines, but the ones here are pretty unique. Designed to adapt to the city’s hilly terrain, Pagadian’s tricycle is inclined at about 25-40° angle. Sure, it’s a unique photo op, but apart from riding the tricycle, little else comes to mind when you mention Pagadian. What else can you do there?
For travelers, backpackers and province-based tourists, Manila is often just thought of as a stopover between flights on the way to another destination. The big city can be overwhelming with the heavy traffic and crowded streets. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much to do except eat out, go shopping in the malls, visit museums or churches. There’s also the gritty and chaotic areas of Quiapo and Divisoria, which have become synonymous with Manila.
I often take the tourist sights in Manila for granted because this is where I live and work. But if I were a first-time tourist in the Philippines, or if I had to take around foreign tourists, balikbayans, expats or province-based friends, what would I do and where would I go? Here are some suggestions of unique and fun activities you can do while in Manila.
When it comes to weekend destinations, Laguna is one of the most accessible provinces near Metro Manila. Most people driving cars usually approach the province from SLEX on the way to urbanized cities like Santa Rosa, Los Banos and Calamba. But from the Manila East Road, you can avoid traffic and traverse easily through the more laid-back towns on the Eastern side of the province.