Nine Ways to Guarantee Fun in the Philippines
See sunrise on Mount Pulag
2,922 meters (9,600 feet) above sea level on the island on Luzon, Mount Pulag is nicknamed the “playground of the gods”. Through a “sea of clouds” from the peak, you can witness a diverse ecosystem that includes dwarf bamboo plants, grasses, mosses, orchids, and more. Best of all, Mount Pulag is easily accessible via four different trails, including the Ambangeg trail, which is suitable for beginners.
Feast on the Lanzones Festival
Travel to the island of Camiguin during the Lanzones Festival (usually the 3rd week in October) and you can taste the delicious, sweet lanzones — a type of fruit (also known as a langsat) native to the central and southern regions of the Philippines. The festival – this year’s will be the 40th annual one – features costumes, dancing, parades, crafts – and, of course, plenty of lanzones.
Immerse yourself in Intramuros
Located in Manila, Intramuros (Spanish for ”within the walls”) is a walled city-within-a-city with landmarks dating back to the Spanish Colonial era. Take a walking tour or ride on a Bamboo bike or Bambike to see sites like Casa Manila, the Manila Cathedral, and the San Agustin Church (built in 1571). Also worth a visit are Fort Santiago and Puerta de Santa Lucia (one of several gates in the walls of Intramuros; this one was built in 1603).
Explore in Caramoan
Caramoan Island is a secluded paradise with limestone cliffs, azure waters, and stunning beaches — including Gota Village beach (as seen on the TV show “Survivor”). Beyond the beach, explore Umang Cave or trek to the Tayak Lagoon. Caramoan is also a great jumping-off spot for visiting neighboring islands in the Camarines Sur province, including Lahuy, Lahus, Civitas, Sabitang Laya, Matukad, Minalahos, Pitogo, and Tinago.
A boat ride on the Abatan River
The Abatan River, in the Bohol province, is home to one of the most diverse mangrove forests in the Philippines, with more than 30 types of mangroves. One of the best ways to enjoy the river is to take an hour-long evening boat ride on it. The true stars of these evening cruises on the Abatan are the thousands of fireflies who put on a show each night.
Have a halo-halo
Delight your taste buds with some halo-halo (“mix-mix”), a mixture of shaved ice, condensed milk, ice cream, and other ingredients. Popular mix-ins include fruits (lychees, jackfruit, and others), plantains or bananas, sweetened beans, jellies, coconut, mashed purple yams (ube), and flan (caramel custard). Stir everything together and taste the way the seemingly incongruous ingredients complement each other, making for a tasty treat.
Take a dive in Tubbataha
Known as the Mecca of Philippine diving, Tubbataha is home to some of the most incredible coral reefs anywhere, with more than 350 species of coral. The area also hosts sharks, whales, dolphins, turtles, and more than 500 species of fish. Ranked among the top eight dive sites in the world, it’s sure to reward divers with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a tremendous array of marine life.
Make it to the MassKara festival
The MassKara Festival (the “Festival of Smiles”), is held every October (usually the fourth Sunday of October) in Bacolod. During the festival, people wear traditional smiling masks. The colorful event also includes live music, parades, fashion shows, and dance competitions. The festival gets its name from the Spanish word cara (face), with MassKara meaning “many faces.”
Savor some adobo
There are almost as many versions of adobo as there are islands in the Philippines — the dish can be made with chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, beans, or other forms of protein — but the main ingredient is always marinated in a delicious sauce and served over rice. Adobo sauce is typically made with soy sauce, vinegar, and seasonings like black pepper, onion, and garlic.