5 destinations that look like they’re not in the Philippines

5 destinations that look like they’re not in the Philippines

We tell you: You can go overseas without having to leave the country. Read how.

The Philippines may be a tiny archipelago but it’s so beautiful and blessed—thanks to its 7,000++ islands making it almost have a bit of or something similar to what another country has to offer.

Here are five places in the Philippines that transport you to places outside the Philippines.

The rolling hills of “New Zealand” (Batanes)

By Ferdz Decena

This one’s no secret. Every time we see someone post about one of the ultimate #travelgoals, it almost always involves a sense of awe.

The northernmost province of the country, Batanes, is home to rolling green hills dotted with livestock that resembles the home of the Kiwis. You may not see fluffy flocks of sheep, but you will see herds of cattle and/or cows grazing among all that beauty, a rare combination in the country. There’s also the clear skies that add to the whole “this shouldn’t be in the Philippines” vibe.

There’s a particularly good spot that will make you say “Am I REALLY in the Philippines?”: Rakuh-a-Payaman in Mahatao.

“African safari” (Calauit Safari Park in Palawan)

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Blending in. 🦓

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It’s safe to say you’re not really going to find wild zebras and giraffes running around in open fields ANYWHERE in the country; they’re usually seen in enclosures inside zoos. Not that we’re complaining, but we’d like to see them in their element, similar to their brothers and sisters in Africa.

Luckily, there is a place just like the African safari that’s within 35 minutes of Metro Manila: the Calauit Safari Park. It’s home to reticulated giraffes and Grévy’s zebra that get to run around and play alongside local species, some of which are endemic to the Calamianes Islands where the park resides.

Experience the rolling hills of Batanes by booking #DashHolidays!
Tel: +63917 840 6853, +639917 627 6179
Solar Century Tower, 100 Tordesillas cor. HV Dela Costa Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati City

Time travel to “old Spain” (Vigan, Ilocos Sur)

Vigan itself looks like an old Spanish colonial town, but this street is what transports you to Spain. Photo by Ray in Manila

UNESCO calls it the “best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia,” and it’s not hard to see why.

Vigan, Ilocos Sur is a remarkably well-preserved Spanish colonial town thanks in large part to the people taking pride in their heritage. One street, in particular, gives this city that true “old Spanish town” feel: Calle Crisologo. This cobblestone street is at the heart of Vigan’s very best when it comes to preserving old Spanish architecture. That, coupled with local laws that prevent extensive modifications to heritage houses, make this sight unique to Vigan.

“Japanese Bamboo” Forest (Man-made forest in Bilar, Bohol)

It’s not bamboo, but it is just as quiet and as peaceful. Photo by R294

This is not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, but the way the Bilar Man-Made Forest looks really gives you that feeling of being inside the Sagano Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan.

You won’t see a single bamboo tree standing here (nor will mahogany make the same soothing sound when they get hit by a breeze), but you have to admit that the tree tunnel it creates is eerily similar. It’s like going through a wormhole that will transport you to somewhere completely different.

Going “Dutch” with flowers (Sirao Flower Farm, Cebu)

You can’t grow tulips in the Philippines without a truckload of struggle. Does this mean Amsterdam’s flower gardens are a far-fetched dream reserved for those lucky enough to get a Schengen visa? No.

A trip to Cebu is all you need to see sights similar to those in Amsterdam. The Sirao Flower Farm started making rounds in social media before the 10,000 Roses Cafe was even a thing. It looks spectacularly like the flower gardens in Amsterdam even without the tulips thanks to a more Philippine-friendly flower that’s just as colorful: the celiosa flower or cock’s comb.

Do you know of other destinations that you feel are similar to those overseas? Let us know and we’ll do a second set!

10 affordable & charming resorts for couples

10 affordable & charming resorts for couples

Some of our favorite holidaymakers Levy Amosin, Carla Araniego, Christian Sangoyo, Celine Murillo, and Darwin Cayetano, pick the most gorgeous resorts they’ve been to that don’t break the bank and are perfect for you and your love.

Urban Sands Resort, Iloilo

Mixing modern urban sophistication and beachside ambience, the Urban Sands Resort at the heart of iloilo brings the sea closer to the city. Levy Amosin of Hugging Horizons describes it as “a paradise within the heart of the city.” Using real sand and pebbles in the landscaping, the focal point is the pool, which, according to Levy, brings a “coastal feel to it.”

From Php3,250 (USD60++); Urbansandsiloilo.com

Loboc River Resort, Bohol

Imagine staying in this room with a view of the Loboc River. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

Away from the usual island resorts in Bohol, Carla Araniego of Blissfulguro recommends the Loboc River Resort in Tagbilaran as an alternative place to stay while in the land of the Chocolate Hills. situated right beside the Loboc River, their cottages replicate the feel of traditional nipa houses. “Having coffee on the balcony with a view of Loboc River was the most memorable part of my stay. Away from the beach crowd of Bohol, its seclusion is perfect for those who are looking for tranquility amid the busy goings-on of city life.”

From Php2,500; Lobocriverresort.com

Casa San Miguel, Zambales

A hidden gem in the town of San Antonio in Zambales, Casa San Miguel is a rustic retreat intertwined with art and culture. Besides hosting guests, the casa is actually a local school for music. Carla recalls her stay, “waking up to the charming voices of kids having their weekly voice and violin lessons truly separate this resort from the rest.”

From Php4,000; Facebook.com/casa.sanmiguel.zambales

Crosswinds Resort Suites, Tagaytay

It’s not really a stay in chilly Tagaytay without the sight of pine trees and beautifully-colored houses. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

The Crosswinds Resort combines the feel of charming swiss-inspired chalets with the mildly chilly environs of Tagaytay. Carla says “walking along its winding roads, the scent of pine in the air, and passing colorful chalets, transport you to another place.”

From Php3,700; Crosswindsresortsuites.com

Casa San Pablo, Laguna

It looks old, but we’re willing to bet you’d find more than gold here. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

Brightly painted walls mixed with vintage furniture and on point accessories are the charm of Casa San Pablo, a bed and breakfast near Sampaloc Lake. Each nook and cranny has a surprise. Somehow, the craziness of the place works with the peaceful ambiance of its location.

From Php2,900; Casasanpablo.com

Moon Garden, Tagaytay

Remember what we said about colorful settings in Tagaytay? Photo by Christian Sangoyo

Best for a romantic weekend in Tagaytay. situated on the quieter side of the city, its rustic stone casitas are overgrown with vines and has open hut lounges surrounded by ponds. Overall, the place has the vibe of a secret garden and forgotten places.

From Php2,600; Facebook.com/Moongardentagaytay

Coco Grove Beach Resort, Siquijor

Imagine having a drink or dining here. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

With almost a kilometer-long shoreline, three swimming pools, three restaurants, and garden and pool bars, Coco Grove Beach Resort is one of the bang-for-the-buck luxury places in Siquijor.

From Php3,500; Cocogrovebeachresort.com

Luljetta’s Place Garden Suites, Antipolo City

A scenic eight-hectare property is carved along the ridges of a cliff and overlooks Antipolo, Laguna de Bay, and Metro Manila with a very relaxing infinity pool with views.

From Php4,000; Luljettas.com

Sophia’s Garden Resort, Coron, Palawan

Celine Murillo of Celenism.com recommends the Spanish-style villas of Sophia’s Garden Resort, an actual garden with a wonderful El Comidor restaurant that looks like it’s straight out of historic novel Noli Me Tangere.

From Php3,300; Facebook.com/sophiasgardenresort
SkyJet Airlines flies from Manila to Coron

Sand and Stars Beach Resort, Baler, Aurora

See the sand and stars at night, enjoy the beach in the day. Photo by Darwin Cayetano

For convenient beach camping, Darwin Cayetano of Tracking Treasure says Baler’s sand and stars Resort has huge tents. “Other than the convenience of having actual beds, the floor is carpeted􀈀 it has a sitting area􀈀 and every corner is Instagramable,” adds Darwin.

From Php2,500; Facebook.com/sandandstarsdinadiawan

Our Dash Sources

Words by Christian Sangoyo

10 weird and adventurous things to try now

10 weird and adventurous things to try now

Not-your-usual adventures of real travelers, rounded up.

Have a Kawa Hot Bath in Antique

Carla enjoys a hot bath in a cauldron. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

If weird is your thing, the Kawa Hot Bath in Antique tops the bill for Carla Araniego of Blissfulguro.com. “It felt weird at first, thinking about the steaming water and an actual fire under the giant cauldron I was sitting in, like I was being cooked alive! But a few minutes after, I simply enjoyed the soothing effect of the water.”

Book at Katahum.com

Cliff Dive in Siquijor

Not quite a leap of faith, but close enough. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

Carla suggests a much more fun thing to do at Siquijor’s Salagdoong Beach: cliff-jumping! “The key to conquering the 35ft jump into the water is to not to think twice. I just went for it and jumped! It was exhilarating!”

Book a tour with Dennis Caspes, Tel: +63947 789 8337, +63936 110 7863

Do Lambaklad fishing in Antique

Gives a new meaning to “do as the locals do”. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

Try Lambaklad fishing in the town of Tibiao in Antique where fisher folks allow visitors to catch fish with them on a huge bamboo raft. Carla says “balancing skills is a must, but once you get into the groove, it’s actually an enjoyable and unique fishing experience. We even got to grill and eat our catch!”

Book at Katahum.com

Ride an ATV up Mayon Volcano

Hard to leave Albay without trying this. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

Ride a mini 4×4 along the slopes of the volcano, splashing through streams, lahar-laden landscapes and dense foliage until you reach the midpart of Mayon. The panoramic view of Albay from up high is breathtaking.

Book at Mayonatvtour.com

Climb the Taraw Peak in El Nido

El Nido’s not just about the big blue. Photo by Elal Jane Lasola

El Nido, Palawan’s Taraw Peak right at the town center offers a beautiful challenging climb. The limestone karsts rises to a height of more than seven hundred feet, and travel blogger Elal Jane Lasola recalls her grueling experience. “It took us an hour to climb all the way to the top of the Taraw Ridge. The view from above was so worth it—the town with the azure waters of Bacuit Bay and limestone karsts jutting out of the water.”

Book at northernhopetours.com

Zip bike over the Chocolate Hills

Test the limits of your fears with this bike. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

Try one of the more unique ziplines in the Philippines: zip bike in Bohol! However perfectly safe as you’re harnessed, pedaling a bicycle across a thin steel rope over the famous Chocolate Hills is a knee-weakening experience.

Book at Chocolatehillsadventurepark.com

Canyoneer Kawasan

It’s only relaxing AFTER you jump in. Photo by Shugah Gonzales

Not for the faint of heart, and more importantly, knees, John Marx Velasco of Marxtermind.com recommends canyoneering along the bluish waters of Kawasan in Cebu. “Our adventure started with a jump from a waterfall, traveling downstream along the canyon. We walked, we swam, and we jumped some more, eventually finishing the course in four hours.”

Book at Kawasancanyoneering.com.ph

See Caramoan’s sacred fish

Somewhere in here are the sacred fish of Caramoan. Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

A rock wall in Matukad Island in the Caramoan Peninsula in Camarines Sur presents a different kind of high. Scale the craggy rock wall and be rewarded with the lagoon’s hidden gems—two giant milkfish, which locals believe to be sacred.

Book at Kaddlangan outdoor adventure, Facebook.com/joseferdinand.villareal

Compete at the JEST Hunger Games

Will you volunteer as a tribute? Photo by Christian Lucas Sangoyo

Subic’s JEST Camp can let your Hunger Games fantasies come true. At the camp, you get to play in an actual forest, hiding and camouflaging, squirting water guns, and hurling water balloons in an intense match to snatch ribbons from other tributes.

Book at Jesthungergames.com

See the bioluminescent planktons in Coron

Darwin Cayetano of Tracking Treasure took the usual firefly tour in Coron and got more than what he paid for. “We started with a dinner on a floating restaurant while being serenaded by a local artist, then we rode a speedboat to the mangrove forest to see the fireflies. Our boatman got off the boat and started to stomp on the water and it lit up! The bioluminescent planktons were like pulsating brain neurons illustrated right on the water!”

Book at Coron-travel.com. Skyjet Airlines flies daily from Manila to Coron; book at flyskyjetair.com.

Our Dash Sources

Words by Christian Sangoyo

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