Manila, Philippines - Top 4 Philippine travel itinerary possibilities
My country, the Philippines, is an archipelago, which means we have more than a dozen islands here. In fact, we have 7,107 islands, to be exact. And with that many islands, there are so many places to go to, so many activities happening within the three major island groups of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, so many cultural happenings taking place all year round, and so many new discoveries to find.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s a rundown of suggested itineraries depending on what you want to focus on when you travel here.
Beach bumming galore
A nation made up of islands has, of course, many coastal towns and notable beachside destinations. Each island group has its own famous tourist spot to be proud of, and there are also some lesser-known spots that are not so touristy but still worth visiting.
If you want a destination that’s just less than 2-3 hours away from the capital of Manila, you can research the beaches in the province of Batangas. High-end accommodations or mid-range beach resorts populate the place, which are usually accessible by one bus ride and perhaps 1-2 jeepney or tricycle rides going to the resorts. If you want to cross to the nearby island of Mindoro, you can get off Lipa City in Batangas and grab a 1.5-hour ferry ride towards Puerto Galera, known for its happening nightlife beach life.
Or if you have the money to spend, take a plane to any of the other great beach destinations in other provinces. Coron and Puerto Princesa in Palawan province are notable destinations for avowed nature lovers and scuba divers while the more commercial Boracay beach in Aklan is already familiar to famous beach bum globetrotters. Bohol is another great province accessible by plane, similar to Davao, Cebu or Dumaguete down south of the country. These provinces in the Visayas-Mindanao area have their own breathtaking beaches so there’s really a lot of time for quality beach bumming here.
Surf our turf
Would you believe that surfing was introduced in the Philippines during the 1970s when Hollywood filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola decided to explore the shores of a place called Baler in Aurora Province where he filmed part of his grand opus entitled Apocalypse Now? There was a scene there where American soldiers were surfing the waves of this then unknown place, and the locals got the hang of the new sport. Right now, Baler is one of the most popular tourist destinations for surfing. Around 5-6 hours from Manila, it can be reached by one bumpy bus ride.
Another surfing destination here where they also hold surf competitions is San Juan in La Union province. Around 5 hours from Manila going north of the country, the place is also reachable via one bus ride. And it’s hard to miss since you alight right at the shores of the town of Urbiztondo, San Juan as the highway is lined up with the surfing beach resorts, and you go down there as soon as you see them.
Not a water person? Then the country can also inspire you to take a hike -- up our mountains, that is. There are famous tourist spots in the country that are also open to hikers such as the famous perfectly shaped cone of Mount Mayon in Albay province about 8-9 hours away from Manila. The once notorious Mount Pinatubo, which affected the world when it erupted in the 1990s, is now a safe area for adventure seekers who wish to take treks there. You can rent a vehicle and visit the place just 2 hours away from the capital. It’s a similar thing for Taal Volcano in Batangas, also just a couple of hours away from Manila, where you can see the famed “lake within a volcano within a lake” scenery.
Or if you’re really more adventurous, you can go all the way down south of the country or go all the way up north to climb various mountain ranges that pose creative, physical and endurance challenges for mountaineers. Mount Pulag, the third highest peak in the country, is very famous with mountaineers both foreign and local. Located up north in the borders of Benguet and Ifugao provinces, its picturesque climes have enthralled various climbers where they seem to reach the cloudy heavens just by standing at the peak.
Urban nightlife, daylong shopping
If you’re new to the country and you just want a chill, relaxing urban-centric itinerary, then just book a hotel at the heart of the capital and enjoy what the various metropolitan areas could offer. The capital of Manila is actually part of the greater cityscape called Metro Manila which is composed of more than 10 cities and municipalities. That in itself would eat up your time a lot, as the various cities within Metro Manila could offer diverse entertainment, cuisine, artistic and lifestyle choices to immerse yourself in which will occupy your time.
The upscale neighboring business districts known as Makati City and Bonifacio Global City are both home to the finest restaurants, clubs, malls and bars that could satisfy the shopaholic or barhop in you. More adventurous foodies could sample the offerings of eateries found within Pasig City, Marikina City or Quezon City. Music lovers and partygoers could catch live musical performances or dance the night away in various
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