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. 🦓

A post shared by ᴄʜᴇʀʀʏ ʟᴏᴜ ᴅᴏʀɪᴏ (@cheessly) on

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!

Philippine Travel Trends for 2019

Philippine Travel Trends for 2019

It’s 2019, and we’ve got a bit of juicy travel bits for year straight from people who have been in the travel industry for several decadesthe Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA)that might just surprise you.

Travel, now a way of life

You might just see more people visiting Batanes. Photo by Ferdz Decena

Or for most people, it will be. PTAA president Marlene Dado Jante sees more people embracing travel as a way of life rather than a luxury, thanks in large part to how affordable trips are becoming and how accessible information have become.

“Travel expos are the best place not only to get the most affordable deals out there, but also to know more about a destination.” Her tip: talk to travel agencies who frequent travel expos. Chances are they’ll [the exhibitors] know more about a destination and can explain it to you in 20 minutes better than you can do with online research

DIY is still a thing

DIY trips are also becoming more and more popular, with blogs, vlogs, and books (e and tangible) that let you do your trip your way. Couple that with hostels and Airbnbs and you have a recipe that supports traveling as a way of life.

Vlogs, in particular, are perfect sources of itineraries, travel budgets, and travel hacks that equip anyone to travel. A simple search on YouTube and you’ll find budget itineraries complete with the actual experience you’ll get from people like Christian LeBlanc (Lost LeBlanc), Patrice Averilla (Avelovinit), and a lot more.

Sustainability is the way to go

Locals and adoptive locals like Luke Landrigan are all out in promoting sustainability and care for their beloved Siargao Island. By Daniel Soriano

Rehab is apparently a new buzzword for the local tourism industry. It’s only been months since the island of Boracay was opened. El Nido is already being worked on, and everyone from your mother to that nosy neighbor you sometimes talk to is talking about how clean the shoreline of Manila Bay has become.

From speaking with Marlene, you can tell there’s good that’s going to come out of all the rehabilitation going on, but she wants to go further than simply sprucing up our best destinations. “Rehab is good and all, but what we really need is for both the locals and the tourists to be more responsible in looking out [after the tourist destinations]. This will lead to destinations being more sustainable.”

Camping and Glamping

Camping at FarmPlate in Albay will also let you have a bit of farm life with their activities in store for guests like carabao riding and vegetable picking. By Monica De Leon

Camping is, well, camping. You get a sleeping bag or a tent, bring your own food, and find a place to sleep. It’s very sustainable albeit tough because you need to find a place where it’s okay to do that.

Glamping, on the other hand, is camping leveled up. It’s like staying in a hotel, but you’re in a tent. You’re outside and “exposed to the elements” but with all the creature comforts: a comfy bed, cooked food, “indoor” plumbing, and the like.

Crystal Beach in Zambales offers camping and glamping; Pass Island in Coron offers camping; Tagaytay has a number of hotels offering glamping.

Farm Tourism is a thing

There’s one type of tourism that’s been popping up since 2016, yet no one seems to be taking a hint: farm tourism.

You don’t (technically) even have to fly! Here’s a farm you can visit in Albay: Farm Plate. By Monica De Leon

It’s young, but it’s not that difficult to understand. What you do is you visit a farm, you learn what it’s about, what the farmers do, and what-not. It’s a great way of promoting what has sustained our country prior to the many warsa way for us to go back to our roots. The souvenirs at the end aren’t half bad, and they let you buy their goods at affordable prices.

Check out FarmPlate if you’re planning for a farm tour. For info, click here.

Pilgrimage

The Philippines is home to incredible-looking churches including this one in Batanes. By Monica De Leon

The Philippines is predominantly Catholic ergo its handful of centuries-old churches, basilicas, and cathedrals that have stood the test of time both in the big city and distant islands. This fact brings about tons of people poking interest in the Philippines as a pilgrimage site. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that travel agencies often include trips to churches.

Words by Andrew Del Rosario

Unique Holy Week holidays for 2019

Unique Holy Week holidays for 2019

Make your Holy Week vacation more interesting by actually engaging in Holy Week activities. *wink wink*

Going on a social media purge as your penitensya (penance) or beach bumming in places like Boracay or Palawan for the Semana Santa is well and good, but don’t you ever get tired of the same trend every single year? Why not go on a simple summer holiday where you can enjoy your vacation AND still experience something relevant to Holy Week festivities? We have rounded up ideas for your Semana Santa escape.

Barotac Viejo, Iloilo

Iloilo isn’t the first place that pops into people’s heads when it comes to answering the question “Where should I be this Holy Week?” It’s not as popular a destination especially that crowd favorite Boracay is merely on the northwest part of the island. But the sleep town of Barotac Viejo may just give you something new.

The little town is known for having a community that is takes their Holy Week seriously by mimicking the Passion of Christ. The townspeople themselves have been performing the Passion play, with “passion” Hiligaynon every Good Friday for almost half a century in their annual Taltal sa Barotac Viejoand it’s a delight to watch.

Places to see: Bucas Grande, Old Iloilo City, Miagao Church, River Esplanande, “Little Baguio” (Bucari)
Things to do: Party at Smallville, Walk along Iloilo River Esplanande, Island hopping at Concepcion

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Bantayan Island
This small island north of Cebu isn’t just a hit for its white sand beaches; it’s also a good place to be if you want to see lifesize replicas of religious images this Holy Week. Photo by Roderick Eime

It’s an island north of the Cebu mainland that’s become popular for its stretches of fine-sand beaches that is expected to see an influx of tourists this Holy Week. What people shouldn’t miss while in the island paradise is the annual Pasko sa Kasakit, a simple celebration of the stations of the cross, but with a twist where the images in the Station of the Cross are supersized and paraded around.

Places to see: Alice Beach, Camp Sawi, Kota Beach (all in Santa Fe), Malapascua Island, Virgin Island, Hilantagaan Island, Kota Park
Things to do: Biking, snorkel, freedive/scuba, beach bumming, tour the town of Bantayan for heritage houses

Siquijor

This island is starting to blow up more for the views you’ll get than what happens here during Semana Santa.

Siquijor, known across the country as a home to witchcraft and mysticism, but locals have since shed that image and now proudly celebrate their folk healing expertise with the annual Folk Healing Festival, taking place during the last few days of Holy Week. Get yourself treated by local healers or witness how they make various concoctions with the promise of curing almost anything you can think of—yes, including heartaches.

Places to see: Century-old balete tree, Salagdoong Beach, Paliton Beach, Kagusuan Beach (extremely hidden, possible that not even the locals know about it)
Things to do: Go around the island on a scooter, visit a ranch, hit the island’s peaks on a mountain bike, snorkeling, beach hopping

Marinduque

If there’s a Holy Week destination that’s never left off any list, it’s Marinduque. Known as the geographical heart of the Philippines, it’s basically an island that’s made itself known for a festival that celebrates a Roman soldier who became a believer in Jesus Christ: the Moriones Festival.

Moriones Festival
He’s not really angry, but he is the first thing you’ll see when you look up information on the Moriones Festival, the tale of a Roman soldier who became a believer in Jesus Christ. Photo by Richard Reynoso for travelingmorion.com.

Most of you will know what this festival centers on commemorating Roman soldier Longinus, who stabs Jesus on the side, witnesses His resurrection, tells the Romans about it, and (gruesomely) gets his head chopped off. This part is often depicted in their version of The Passion play, which talks about Christ’s last moments before He eventually passes on.

Places to see: Tres Reyes islands, Mt. Mataas, Boac, Palad Sandbar, Ungab Rock Formations, Bathala Python Cave
Things to do: Visita Iglesia, Beach hopping

Pampanga

It’s the piece de resistance of a list of Holy Week destinations, and something that’s also been a source of controversy as to whether or not it should be considered a tourist attraction. We’re talking, of course, about the Maleldo Festival in San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga.

struck
Yes. This is a very REAL crucifixion. In San Pedro Cutud. And it happens nearly every year. Photo by istolethetv on Flickr.

The Maleldo Festival is the full (and very real) re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion. Yes, it’s the whole 10 miles: the garb, the Crown of Thorns, crying depiction of Mary Magdalene, people marching on the streets whacking their backs with things that make them bleed, and someone actually getting nailed to a cross that they’ve been carrying for several miles.

Places to see: Mt. Pinatubo, Subic Bay, Sandbox at Porac, El Kabayo, Skyranch Pampanga, Nayong Pilipino
Things to do: go on a food trip, adventure activities, Visita Iglesia

Poblacion, Makati

Yes, you read that right. It’s an option for those who don’t want to go out of the city yet still want to witness something that only happens once a year. The citizens of Makati, particularly those who live in the restaurant-and-bar hub that is Poblacion, stage a parade commemorating Lent.

They hold a grand procession every Holy Wednesday (closed roads, of course) and put up booths with life-size depictions of The Passion of Christ. Another plus: some establishments stay open even during Holy Week!

Places to see: Sts. Peter and Paul Parish (one of the oldest churches in the country), Circuit Makati (but hold off on that after Holy Wednesday), art galleries in Poblacion
Things to do: staycation at one of the many hotels in the area, food trip, pub crawl

5 places in Manila to ‘brighten up’ your sunset game in IG

5 places in Manila to ‘brighten up’ your sunset game in IG

You don’t need to leave Manila to add reds, tangerines, yellows, or even salmon in your Instagram feed. We’ve headed for that best-sunsets-in-Manila hunt just for you.

Spending one late afternoon in Manila Manila Bay got us thinking: ‘are there other places in the Metro where you can see the kind of a sunset you get from here?’ The first thing that popped into our heads was on the rooftop of Makati’s skyscrapers but they’re not exactly open-access.

Today, we list down five places in Metro Manila where you can capture a sunset as stunning as Manila Bay’s without the need to worry about being caught for trespassing.

An all-too-common photo since that weekend rehab: a sunset shot of Manila Bay, either from the bay walk or at the SM Mall of Asia

Sofitel’s Sunset Bar, Pasay City

It’s exactly the same body of water as the one along Roxas Boulevard, but there’s a bit of a twist. Visit Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Sunset Bar just before sundown and you’ll enjoy a clearer view of the world-class Manila Bay sunset by the pool and a glass of margarita in hand.

Make your sunset extra special and drop by on a Friday or Saturday night when the hotel offer their famous grilled barbecue specialties on the menu definitely worth the traffic you’ll possibly encounter along the way.

CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd, Pasay City
Sofitelmanila.com/restaurants-bars/sunset-bar/

University of the Philippines, Diliman

Feb20: Lovers in the light
If you’re there on a weekend, you might just catch people playing ultimate Frisbee. Photo by Daniel Ansel Tingcungco from Flickr

The University of the Philippines’ main campus in Diliman, Quezon City isn’t only home to some of the country’s brightest minds. It’s also home to places that you can take stunning photos of things like The Oblation or the Sunken Garden.

Good olOble is a bit shy since he faces away from the sunset, but get it right and you’ll have a non-risque silhouette. The Sunken Garden is an open field in the middle of the campus with benches at road level and people scurrying about in the middle of the field. Point your camera towards the sun and you’ll get a shot of both the field, the UP Main Library, and the mini forest that act as shade for the weary.

University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

Libingan ng mga Bayani, Taguig City

This one is a bit eerie, but it’s worth the trip. The Libingan ng mga Bayani or Heroes’ Cemetery in Taguig is home to row upon row of crosses marking the graves of those who have served the country.

You won’t just see a sunset that’s both eerie and serene thanks to the white crosses; you’ll also come across graves of some of the most notable names in Philippine History, including National Artists and former Presidents.

Bayani Road, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City

Hole in the Wall, Century City Mall, Makati City

Couldn’t catch those wonderful reds and oranges, but sunset shots here are always a treat. Photo by Andronico Del Rosario

Yes, there are a lot of places in Makati for you to catch a beautiful sunset. It’s full of skyscrapers, after all. But not all are accessible to anyone out to see a sunset on a whim. Good thing there are places in Makati like Hole in the Wall at Century City Mall.

It’s an easy enough “climb” to the top (Century City only has four floors, and it’s on the fourth floor). The way Hole in the Wall is designed makes it easy to look out onto the citya perfect backdrop without the risk of being sent to the police station.

4/F, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City
FB:
@HoleintheWallPH

Antipolo City

Okay, this one’s admittedly a bit of a cheat, but Antipolo, Rizal is only one ride away from Metro Manila. That’s the same amount of time it will take you to move from one city of Metro Manila to another in today’s world of traffic congestion.

Being on top of a plateau, it’s easy to get a sunset shot of most of Ortigas, especially from places like Cloud 9 or any of the restaurants on its side of Sumulong Highway.

Sumulong Highway, Antipolo, Rizal

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