When you think of tourist destinations in the Philippines, Abra is not often at the top of most traveler’s bucketlists. In fact, it remains one of the least visited provinces in the country. For outsiders, there’s still an air of mystery surrounding the place. Like a lot of provinces in Mindanao, Abra has a reputation for being “unsafe” mostly because of political wars and election-related violence in the past.
Rizal is an adventurer’s playground often frequented by mountain bikers and motorcycle riders. The Sierra Madre mountain range east of Manila offers numerous off-road trails where you can ride through forests, beside river trails, or visit scenic spots with overlooking views. I’ve written a lot about places to visit in Rizal since it’s my favorite weekend destination near the metro. It’s hard to believe that some of these places exist so near Manila.
The province of Pangasinan has a lot to offer. Located on the western area of the island of Luzon along the Lingayen Gulf and South China Sea, it’s best known as being the home of the Hundred Islands National Park. But that’s not all it has. As the biggest province of the Ilocos Region in terms of land area, Pangasinan has lots of natural attractions that will appeal adventure-seekers looking for a getaway relatively near Manila. Here are 10 exciting activities you can do here.
Cover of North Bound Magazine Issue 15. Photo by Martin San Diego.
For riders, travel is usually more about the journey than the destination. Sometimes it doesn’t matter where you go. Just hitting the open road, soaking in the beautiful scenery as you drive off into the sunset is an epic adventure in itself.
Whenever I travel to a different province, I try to rent a motorcycle. Usually, it’s just whatever run-down model I can get my hands on. I’ve ridden solo in many beautiful island destinations like Batanes, Bohol, Siargao, Siquijor and Cebu. On my own faithful Yamaha Mio Fino, the farthest I’ve driven is from Manila to Bicol.
But it’s not everyday that you get to ride on the expressway up to Baguio on a Harley Davidson. Oh yeah, baby! Achievement unlocked! Seriously, just sitting on this bike gives you instant 1000+ Astig Points.
There’s something I really like about lakes. Though they’re not as popular as beaches and waterfalls, lakes often have this quiet understated charm about them. The Philippines is home to many natural lakes which are closely related to volcanic and tectonic activity as well as artificial lakes or reservoirs that 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.”
Though some lakes are not really suitable for swimming, these serene bodies of water 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).
My hometown Naga City, the capital of Camarines Sur in the Bicol Region is commonly associated with religious pilgrimage sites. Most people who stop by Naga usually do a Visita Iglesia tour of the historic churches or come to witness the festivities in September during the Penafrancia Fiesta, one of the biggest and most popular religious events in the Philippines.
But for adventure-seekers, it’s good to know that there’s a lot more to do any time of the year. From scaling down waterfalls to biking down mountain trails, adventure-packed activities await. Here’s a look at some of the fun and exciting activities that you can do around Naga City and the rest of Camarines Sur. Continue reading
Located just a couple of hours from Metro Manila, Pampanga is a great choice for those looking for a unique food trip destination relatively near the metro. This province in Central Luzon is known as the “Culinary Capital of the Philippines,” known for being the birthplace of chefs who learned cooking techniques from Spaniards during the colonial period and passed down family secrets through generations.
It’s always difficult to come up with a list of “where to eat” in a destination, and more so when you’re writing about a place that’s known for their great cuisine. Like all food trip guides, this list is by no means definitive. It’s based on places that I have personally tried during media tours & from recommendations of friends who live in the area. If you only have a limited time, these are just some suggestions where to eat. WARNING: Putok-Batok post ahead.
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.
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.
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.