Having been born and raised in the Philippines, I’d like to share a short glimpse of a few places from the many beautiful ones you may visit should you find yourself wandering in the small island, the Pearl of the Orient as its commonly known. The PHILIPPINES is an archipelago that is known as the “Pearl of Oriental Beauty and Enchantment” because of its extraordinary scenic views and tourist attractions. It consists of more than 7,000 islands and islets located off the southeast coast of the Asian continent.
Perhaps some of you have had been to the Philippines already. And I knew some of you haven’t yet. From the hurl-burly in the capital city Manila to the true white sand beaches, maiden forests, alluring beauty of its culture and lifestyle coupled with tropical climate, a place that provides something that tailors to everyone’s longing.
Palawan is blessed with rich marine life and thriving ecotourism making Palawan a great destination for relaxation and adventure with diving and nature experiences. You can visit Puerto Princesa, Coron, El Nido or Port Barton. A paradise, a sliver of an island that goes with exotic wildlife, quaint fishing villages, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There’s the endangered animals at the Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary and an exploration of the Japanese shipwrecks of Coron Island. It’s regarded as one of the best dive sites in the world. A guided boat tour of the Puerto Princesa Underground River will take your breath away.
2. BORACAY ISLAND
Boracay – the Most Amazing Beaches in the World. Boracay is like no other island – the world’s most beautiful beaches, all ready to be explored, on foot or underwater! Known as an island paradise because of its powder white beaches and crystal blue water, tropical palms and flowering plants, and a healthy marine life under the seas. You can go Scuba Diving (diving lessons taught in German, French and other languages), Glass Bottom Boat Trip, Banana Riding, Water Skiing, Parasailing, Snorkeling, Skimboarding, Paraw Sailing, Kitesurfing, Windsurfing, Fishing, Horseback Riding, Tennis, Massage, and Golf (the island offers an 18-hole golf course. You have choices from more than 12 beaches from Boracay Island.
3. HUNDRED ISLANDS
A trip to Hundred Islands National Park and its home, Alaminos City, is a great diversion from the hustle and bustle of the busy, urban life. It’s a National Park in the Republic of the Philippines. The protected area is located in the city of Alaminos, in the province of Pangasinan in northern Philippines. The 124 islands at low tide and 123 at high tide, are scattered in Lingayen Gulf covering an area of 16.76 square kilometres (6.47 sq mi). Only three of them have been developed for tourism: Governor Island, Quezon Island, and Children’s Island. The Lucap wharf in Alaminos, the entrance to the National Park, is about 240 kilometres (150 mi) north of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. You can go island hopping with a boat ( goes with a fee) and its excellent with clear water.
4. CHOCOLATE HILLS
The Chocolate Hills is a geological formation in Bohol Province, Philippines. There are at least 1,260 hills but there may be as many as 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres (20 sq mi). They are covered in green grass that turns brown (like chocolate) during the dry season, hence the name. The Chocolate Hills are conical karst hills similar to those seen in the limestone regions of Slovenia, Croatia, northern Puerto Rico, and Pinar del Río Province, Cuba. These hills consist of Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene, thin to medium bedded, sandy to rubbly marine limestones. These limestones contain the abundant fossils of shallow marine foraminifera, coral, mollusks, and algae. For sometime it was ranked the 7th Natural Wonders of the World until recently more nominations came that pushed its place to another spot.
5. BANAUE RICE TERRACES
The Banaue Rice Terraces (Tagalog: Hagdan-hagdang Palayan ng Banawe) are 2,000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to and described as the Eighth Wonder of the World. It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand and primitive tools mainly stones and wood. The terraces are located approximately 1500 metres (5000 ft) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometres (about 6000 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.
Banaue rice terraces was carved out of the hillside by Ifugao tribes people 2000 to 3000 years ago without the aid of machinery to provide level steps where the natives plant rice. Banaue rice terraces stretch like stepping stones to the sky – some reaching an altitude of 1500m (4920ft). It is considered as one of mankind’s greatest engineering feat. If the terraces were laid end to end, they would stretch half way around the world.
One of the major appeal of Banaue Rice Terraces to the local and international tourist are the many hiking trails in the area. There are many young locals, mostly college students who serve as guides. But with or without a guide, you will find the friendliness and warmth of the Ifugao people endearing.
6. PAGSANJAN FALLS
Pagsanjan Falls (indigenous name: Magdapio Falls) is one of the most famous waterfalls in the Philippines. Located in the province of Laguna, the falls is one of the major tourist attractions of the region. The three-drop waterfall is reached by a river trip on dugout canoe, known locally as Shooting the rapids, originating from the municipality of Pagsanjan. The falls can also be reached from the top by a short hike from Cavinti. The boat ride has been an attraction since the Spanish Colonial Era with the oldest written account in 1894.
Visitors are taken by a canoe up the river to the falls and go through strong and fearsome current of the river and as well as experience navigating away from bedrocks and whirlpool on the way . Tourist can take a ride on a bamboo raft under 91 meter high falls and explore the cave behind the falls, have a swim, take photographs or just enjoy the spectacular natural views. This is just one falls among the many falls in the Philippines that include Maria Cristina Falls, Kawasan Falls, Majestic Falls to name a few.
7. SAGADA CAVES AND LIMESTONE
In a peaceful spot in the mountains of the Cordilleras, a mountain range in the northern part of the Philippines, is Sagada, in Luzon. Luzon being the largest island in the country. The abundance of flowers and trees, fresh air due to altitude, amazing architecture, stunning limestone outcrops. A quaint and quiet town with laid back lifestyle tucked away in a marvelous place.
Scenic and culturally rich Sagada is famous for its caves, hanging coffins, magnificent rice terraces, pine forests and mossy forests. One can go from one cave to another as caves are literally interconnecting. Enjoy spelunking with stalactites and stalagmites formations such as the King’s Curtain, the Disappearing Turtle, The Crocodile, The Chocolate Cake, and the last 4 being The King, The Queen, The Prince and the Princess that literally looks like human genitalia.
About 135km north of San Fernando in La Union lies the old Spanish town of VIGAN, an essential stop on any swing through the Northern Provinces. It has become a bit of a cliché to describe Vigan as a living museum, but the town does really justify the description. Vigan is on the UNESCO World Heritage list for two reasons: first because it represents a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning; and secondly because it is one of the few reasonably intact European trading towns in Southeast Asia. Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia .
And have a little fun riding the calesa, a horse driven carriage to tour the historical sites of the city.
9. CITY OF BAGUIO
The City of Baguio (Ilokano: Ciudad ti Baguio; Filipino: Lungsod ng Baguio) is a highly urbanized city located in the province of Benguet in northern Luzon island of the Philippines. The city has become the Center of Business and Commerce as well as the Center of Education in the entire Northern Luzon thereby becoming the seat of government of the Cordillera Administrative Region (C.A.R.). Baguio City was established by the Americans in 1900. The city is at an altitude of approximately 1450 meters (4760 feet) in the Luzon tropical pine forests eco-region conducive to the growth of mossy plants and orchids. Because of its altitude, Baguio City was designated by the Philippine Commission as the Summer Capital of the Philippines on June 1, 1903. It’s location offers a subtropical climate which means 8 degrees Celsius compared to the average temperature of most part of the country. And you can visit by air or on land.
There’s so much to see and many things to do in the city. You can read more from here :
My most recommended is for you to be part of and witness the Grand Flower Festival in the city. This covers the opening parade, unique and applauded Street Dancing parade and competition, various magnificent floral arrangement called Float Parade, Trade Fair and Bazaar where people can buy all sorts of souvenirs, Session Road in Bloom where people can shop, enjoy a wide array of food delicacies, Band March and Competition, exhibitions and fireworks.
10. SM MALL OF ASIA (MOA)
SM Mall of Asia (MOA) is a huge shopping mall in Bay City, Pasay, Philippines, near the SM Central Business Park, the Manila Bay, and the southern end of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. Dubbed as the biggest mall in Asia and 11th biggest in the world. It is figuratively and literally an architectural eyecon. It has an exceptional and world-standard amenities.
The complex has a lot to offer from lots of food outlets to shopping store of international brands, an Olympic size Skating Rink for both recreational and competitive Ice Skating, Figure Skating and Ice Hockey. There’s also the world class and biggest in the world IMAX Theater along with Director’s Club Theater, Premiere Cinema and Center Stage Cinema in addition to the 6 special two-tiered movie theaters. It also has two E-Com Center, concert grounds, Esplanade, arena and a good view of the Manila Bay.
Disclaimer: All photos are courtesy of Travel Philippines.