These are the best trips in the Philippines according to Filipino travel bloggers
I strongly feel that journeying backwards is a great thing. Almost a decade traveling outside my home country and I never, not once, thought of visiting my own backyard. We, so often, take for granted the things that are right in front of us because we are always looking for something ‘different’; something more exotic.
It’s so refreshing to be home – to explore the place where I first learned to dream. This year, I vowed to myself that I will travel the Philippines more and the best way to do it is to ask the experts.
In this post, you will discover a whole new set of trips in the Philippines apart from Palawan and Boracay. If we did miss something, let us know in the comment box below! I am waiting for your suggestions!
1. Climb Mt Ulap
Photo: @pointandshootwanderlust / Instagram
Contributed by Dada Madrid, Point and Shoot + Wanderlust
Mt Ulap in Itogon, Benguet is a relatively easy hike and a destination quite close to Baguio. You can do a reverse hike or a traverse depending on your preference and ability. I say relatively easy because, for someone who isn’t used to climbing mountains, I found the hike short and not too difficult even with the steepness of some areas. Going early in the morning is recommended, as it is less crowded and the sun won’t be as harsh as in late in the day.
The mountain became popular thanks to social media, with climbers posting their photo taken on the iconic Gungal Rock. A piece of slanted horizontal rock jutting out into the cliffs below, getting to the edge of Gungal Rock isn’t as easy as it looks. However, the views are worth it, not just from the famous rock, but from almost all sides and peaks of the mountain. You will even encounter cows grazing in some areas.
2. Downhill riding on a ligiron
Photo: @iamtravelinglight / Instagram
Contributed by Claire Madarang, I Am Traveling Light
While it’s fun to ride a bike, I found out that it’s refreshing – and exhilarating – to ride other contraptions similar to a bike, too. Downhill riding on a ligiron, which is similar to a wooden bike but is on four wheels and with no pedals, has been one of my adventurous rides so far.
A new friend who is a local brought me to a community in Valencia where I saw kids blissfully riding ligirons. I watched them in amazement as they effortlessly rode down again on again on what looked to me like a steep, daunting hill.
When it was my turn, the kids cheered me on. I stopped abruptly in frustration a few times as my borrowed ligiron hit snags on the trail.
When I finally got it right, it felt like flying. Gravity easily brought me down the hill.
The kids cheered in glee.
And, like the kids, I did it again. And again.
3. The hot springs of Irosin
Photo: @mariarona12 / Instagram
Contributed by Maria Rona Beltran, Mariaronabeltran.com
Irosin is a landlocked municipality belonging to the province of Sorsogon in Bicol region. This hometown of mine is located at the foot of Bulusan volcano, one of the most active volcanos in the Philippines. The basal soil of Irosin is made of lava dome and pyroclastic deposits because of eruptions that took place millions of years ago. If we are to talk about hydrology, Irosin is believed to have a vast aquifer that’s why natural hot springs are abundant here. Some of the land owners of these springs have made a business out of these. San Mateo Hot & Cold Spring Resort and Tropical Paradise Resort are two of the most famous and longest-running resorts in Irosin.
If you want to hang out with the locals and where entrance is free, go to Mapaso (means hot in local dialect) river. The water here is equally warm because its source are numerous underground hot springs that dot the area. The best time to dip is morning when sunlight hits the water, smokes come out thus making the temperature much warmer. Like the kawa hot bath in Antique, soaking in a hot spring cures sore muscles and creaking joints too.
4. Experience the Aeta culture in Zambales
Photo: @dannapena / Instagram
Contributed by Danna Peña, dannapena.com
The tribes & treks tour in San Felipe, Zambales allows you to experience a day in the life of an Aeta in Yangil Village while helping them live sustainably though a reforestation project and cultural preservation. Some of the activities include trekking, swimming, tree-planting, archery lessons, singing, dancing and eating homegrown organic food. In just a day or two (they offer day tours and overnight tours), you can help the Aeta community, gain new perspectives, make new friends, and be surrounded by the breathtaking bucolic setting of San Felipe, Zambales.
5. The secluded Lamanoc Island
Photo: @travel_moment / Instagram
Contributed by Anj Ibarra, Travel Moments
Bohol is famous for its diverse marine life, white pristine beaches and the Chocolate Hills. However, for people who want a different take on the island, the mystic island of Lamanoc is a destination that should be on your radar. Located on the east side of Bohol, roughly 110 kilometres from Tagbilaran City, this island has mystery written all over the place. Once you arrive at the island, a long bamboo dock welcomes the guests into the mangrove forest. Walking further brings you to a burial cave where you can find skeletal remains and relics of wooden “lungon” or boat coffins. They are called such because they were made from dug-out logs, similar to the way boats were made and earthenware jars used for primary and multiple secondary burials. On the other side, up into the rock shelter, you can see some prehistoric graffiti made from hematite (red iron oxide) found in the hills of the area. People painted the walls with their fingers. They were simple hand paintings, unrecognizable today but might be profound witnesses to the birth and probably the death of an era.
6. Overnight Camping in Sambawan Island
Photo: @rjdexplorer / Instagram
Contributed by Arjay Abellera, RJ D Explorer
Biliran is an independent province since 1992 but until now, most people still consider it as part of Leyte province. This island-province in Eastern Visayas boasts its natural attractions such as waterfalls, caves, and islands. The province made its first mark on the Philippine tourism map because of its majestic waterfalls.
The province is again taking the limelight because of its islands. An hour boat ride from Kawayan Port can bring you to Sambawan Island, blessed with sweeping views of the sea and sky. Unfortunately, the beach is pebbly and coral-y but the clear waters crashing on the shore makes the trip really worth it. But there’s more to that. A short hike will bring you to the island’s viewpoint where you could see the boundless view of the Visayan Sea and Maripipi Island.
A day trip is fine but you need to consider the tiring travel time especially if you’re coming from Naval, Biliran. On one summer weekend, our group decided to spend an overnight beach camping on Sambawan Island. You can bring and pitch your tents or rent open cottages on your stay.
7. Pinipisakan Falls and Sulpan Cave: The Realm of Fairies
Photo: @adrenaline_romance / Instagram
Contributed by Gian and Sheila, Adrenaline Romance
We used to imagine fantastic places when we read fairy tales. Places so enchanting they can’t possibly exist. Well, Mother Nature proved us wrong. Deep in the middle of Samar, hidden in lofty mountains is Pinipisakan Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls we’ve ever seen. It is a mighty multi-tiered waterfall surrounded by ancient sentinel-like trees. The cold water is pure turquoise, which turn frothy white as it cascades down each tier. The water curtain looks like an ethereal wall, a gateway to the realm of fairies.
At the topmost tier is the dark maw of Sulpan Cave, a huge opening in the middle of a vine-covered limestone cliff that soars hundreds of feet into the air. Inside Sulpan Cave are fast rapids, magnificent rock formations, petrified remains of trees, and creepy crawlies. It’s another world in there!
Getting to this fairy-tale realm is an adventure! You need to ride a dugout canoe up the Blanca Aurora River for two hours. After docking on a small sandbar in the middle of nowhere, you need to trek through a thick jungle for two hours. Only then will Nature deem you worthy to witness Pinipisakan Falls and Sulpan Cave.
8. Island hopping in Balabac
Photo: Hali Navarro Stills
Contributed by Katherine Cortes, Tara Lets Anywhere
Palawan is one of the most visited places in the country, but 2018’s next best trip isn’t in El Nido or Coron but in the islands of Balabac, at the southern edge of this province.
Balabac is essentially a municipality composed of 30+ islands. As far as tourism goes, it’s still on the non-commercial side. Lack of exposure to mainstream media and political issues from recent years kept this gem from tourists’ radar, except for a few daring backpackers.
The main activity in Balabac is island hopping. You can go see the polvoron-like sands of Punta Sebaring, the pinkish sand of Camiaran Island, Angela’s sandbar, and the clear beaches in Onuk Island and Candaraman Island. You can even snorkel and free dive in some spots to see giant clams and, if lucky, sea turtles.
Some of the islands in Balabac are uninhabited and may take 2-3 hours to reach. Most stay overnight in the mainland after a day of touring; camping is also an option, but be wary that sand flies may turn up at night. As for the food during your stay, you can buy freshly caught seafood including squid and shrimps from the local market, as well as request to have fresh coconuts in selected islands.
Island hopping in Balabac is a great experience especially for those looking for new or untouched locations in the Philippines.
9. Kawa Bath, Antique
Photo: @kennethsurat / Instagram
Contributed by Kenneth Surat, Kennethsurat.com
The province of Antique offers so many things for adventure junkies out there. During the time that we were invited to experience the province we went island hopping, kayaking, water tubing, caving and even hiking at a newly discovered rice terraces, but among all of these, one of the most memorable experiences I had was trying the famous “Kawa Bath”.
If you google Antique or click on the official provincial tourism hash #ExperienceAntique, probably you will encounter an image showing someone (what seems to be) being cooked in a big saucepan, don’t worry they are not going to be eaten afterwards haha. Kawa Bath is a warm bath developed in the province using old sugar saucepan from the sugar factories around the province.
Yes, it looks weird (and scary) but it is similar to soaking yourself in a tub.
I had my first kawa bath experience in Kayak Inn in the town called Tibiao. A warm bath was indeed needed after our kayaking stint along the Tibiao River. After the initial “wait, will my butt get burned here” thought, you will find the experience relaxing while you enjoy the view of the river and paddy fields surrounding you.
10. Christmas in Catanduanes with a local family
Photo: @followyouroad / Instagram
Contributed by Samantha Isabel Coronado, Follow You Road
There’s nothing like going to a friend’s hometown for Christmas. Catanduanes, located on the Eastmost side of Luzon in the Bicol Region, is known as the Land of the Howling Winds, being usually the first to experience incoming typhoons in the Philippines.
Flights can be unreliable during the holiday season, so we took the arduous 14-hour bus and 4-hour ship ride to their ancestral home. Her family allowed us to sleep in their own quarters and toured us with their decades-old tricycle. Some of the best remote spots we visited are Balacay Point, the hilly edge that kisses the Pacific Ocean and overlooks the Puraran surfing beach!
To experience local festivities, we heard Simbang Gabi (called “Rooster’s Mass”, nine mornings before Christmas) at Virac Cathedral even though we didn’t understand a word in the Catandunganon language. We also witnessed kagharong, a door-to-door musical performance and caroling imitating the nativity scene. Finally, we gathered for the Christmas Cheers performances, a tradition universally experienced by Catandunganon students, like a rite of passage. We met more of the younger breed of Catandunganons reuniting over beer, catching up, and reminiscing about how their hometown flourished through the years.
11. Gobingon and Langun Cave Connection: A 3-spelunking in Calbiga
Contributed by Ian Limpangog, Freedom Wall
Calbiga’s Gobingob and Langun Caves are the Philippines’ largest cave system and third in Asia. To explore it, you need at least three days.
The tour starts with an hour trek from the jump off. And then, you’ll pass the view deck, which gives you a stunning view of the mouth of Gobingob Cave. Before you can get in, you will undergo safety orientation, so pay attention.
The first camp is a two-hour trek from the mouth of the cave. It is located at the “football field”, Gobingob’s largest chamber. It measures 340 by 140 meters on its widest points with a height that spans up to 15 meters. From the camp, you will head to Perno, the farthest mapped section of Gobingob Cave. That is three to four hours trek. Along the way, you will meet interesting stalactites, stalagmites, tower cones, flowstones, and other interesting formations. Make sure that you follow your guide, so won’t accidentally break any of them.
Expect a lot of visitor’s when you sleep. The cave crickets are pretty curious.
On your second day, you’ll trek to your next camp in Langun Cave. To get there, you will have to pass the 30-meter, rope-assisted vertical descent, 2-hour trek on boulders and mud, and walk on deep guano deposits.
In the second camp, you’ll have to wait for the bats to leave their roost, so you can explore their home, the lower Langun Cave. You can access Lower Langun via a four meter pitch, which requires a knotted rope to descend, and a lot of squeezing. But before going down, your guide will check to make sure there are no cold-blooded crawlers inside the snake chamber, the only way to the main chamber of Lower Langun.
In Lower Langun, you will find water terraces, a river, a waterfall, and lots of speleothem formations. If you are lucky, you may spot albino crabs and blind gobi that is endemic to Samar Caves.
12. Tandem Paragliding in Carmona
Photo: @travelhabeat / Instagram
Contributed by Arrianne Guzman, Travel Habeat
For the adventure junkies out there, tandem paragliding in Carmina, Cavite is definitely a must try. Together with a pilot, you jump from an elevated spot wearing a special type of parachute. The parachute is attached to your body by means of a harness that enables you to glide through the air. Paragliding is highly dependent on the weather and is usually done in the morning when the wind is not too strong.
A bit nervous when my turn finally came, the takeoff was what freaked me out the most. But things happened fast and before I knew it, I was already flying. Screaming my heart away, everything just felt surreal. The beautiful Carmona landscape was indeed breathtaking – a city decorated with greens staged with the azure seascape as a backdrop. Who would have thought that such a sight exists in Cavite? It was undoubtedly one of the best moments of my life. Do it even once and I guarantee that you will see things in an entirely different perspective.
13. Camping in Sibang Cove
Photo: @karlaroundtheworld / Instagram
Contributed by Karla Ramos, Karla Around The World
One of my favorite experiences traveling around the Philippines was an adventure trip to Calayan, Babuyan Island. Getting there was a task itself and for some time, we asked ourselves if it was worth it. However, when we got there, words couldn’t express how we felt. It was definitely a wow moment. My friends and I decided to camp out in Sibang, Cove, a beach with a long stretch of white sand and turquoise waters. It was so virgin and we had almost the entire island to ourselves. Our boatman had to return to town and be able to bring us packed lunch and drinking water since camping out there was not part of the plan but it was a good decision to have done so. Late that night, we laid by the fine sand and stargazed. It was so serene, quiet and peaceful and the stars were shining so bright. Sunrise was even better. We were a group of ten that trip and all of us cherish the memories of that trip up until now. Pristine beaches, still untouched, with no internet signal are undoubtedly places where you can bond, reflect, or simply enjoy the beauty that the place has to offer.
14. Chasing Waterfalls in Iligan City’s Tourism Triangle
Photo: @foureyedlaagan / Instagram
Contributed by Christoeffer John Estrada, Four-Eyed Laagan
Iligan City, hailed as the “City of Majestic Waterfalls”, gives you numerous waterfalls for an adrenaline-pumping adventure. Furthermore, the city’s tourism triangle is widely known as this is composed of the grandest waterfalls in the city – Maria Cristina, Mimbalut and Tinago Falls – and are just near with each other. In fact, these water systems belong to one river system, the Agus River.
Usually, the route starts in Tinago Falls because this is the farthest from the city then to Mimbalut Falls which is just around 5.8 km apart. Next is then to the grandiose Maria Cristina Falls which is around 8.8 km away from Mimbalut.
When you visit Iligan City, make sure you don’t miss these out!
15. Finally, my personal recommendation this year is overnight camping in Nagsasa Cove, Zambales
I am probably one of those Filipino travel bloggers who traveled foreign lands first before exploring his own backyard. Nagsasa Cove in San Antonio, Zambales is just an hour away from where I grew up and I feel really privileged to live in a region close to beautiful waters like this.
I invited all my friends to come join me at the night of the blood moon (January 31st) where we spent the night watching the moon as it turns into different wonders.
It was a weekday so we (almost) had the place to ourselves. There were one group who also camped that night but it was fine to have a few people around. It didn’t bother me much. We brought our own food and rented tents for 100php per head. We spent a thousand pesos each including boats and campsite fees!
In the morning, we all went up the mountain (not a hard hike) where you can see the whole cove. Watch the video above and see how Nagsasa Cove is your best choice for a weekend getaway from Manila!
What are the trips you want to take in the Philippines?
Did we miss something? Anything you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!