Activities in Luzon

Your trip to Luzon and Manila is incomplete without visiting Rizal Park which is located at Roxas Boulevard’s northern end. It got its name from the national hero of the country and has witnessed some of the most important events in the history of Philippines.

Apart from this, there are several exquisite beaches to enjoy and spend a few days relaxing and bathing in the sun. Some of the best beaches include Gota Brach (Caramoan). You could also try out some of the adventurous water sports at Camarines Sur. Another place to visit in Luzon is the Caramoan National Park.

Puerto Princesa is the famous underground river with a spectacular landscape. It is now counted among the New Seven Wonders of the World. You must visit this place and take the boat ride in the unique underground river. There are plenty of activities and sight-seeing opportunities in Luzon and Manila for everyone.

Explore Manila

Even though you can find plenty of interesting things to do in Manila, absolutely nothing beats the experience of being inside the same waters which are home to the whale sharks. The locals call these beautiful creatures ‘Butanding’ and they can be found in the Donsol Bay from November till June. Snorkeling is the maximum you could do as scuba diving is prohibited in this area. The whale sharks are so huge, there is no way you could miss them!

Apart from this, you could visit some of the most spectacular sights in Northern Luzon, particularly in Banaue. These include the Banana Rice Terraces, constructed by the people of Ifugao using simple primitive tools. They are nearly 2,000 years old!

The entry of the beautiful Pasig River is where you will find the primary tourist attraction of Manila-Fort Santiago. It is surrounded by a delicate lily pond as well as the Intramuros Visitors Center. Another must visit in Manila is the National Museum of the Filipino People which is built inside a stunning neoclassical building. This brilliant museum is home to a huge collection which includes Tabon Man’s skullcap. He was the first known inhabitant of the Philippines.

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Introduction to Philippines

The Philippines observes a tropical climate. The holiday seasons, New Year’s, Christmas and Easter are when the Philippines is packed with tourists. During the peak season (December to May), you will find that hotel prices have increased by almost three-fold, but that does not deter tourists from holidaying in the country. You would do good booking months in advance, if you plan to visit the Philippines during the peak season. October to early December is a convenient time to plan your trip if you do not want tourist inrush or rains to be the hallmark of your Filipino holiday. Expect heavy rains and storms if you visit the Philippines in June to September period, although there are some regions in the Philippines that are not hit hard by the rains. The tourist inflow is scarce during this period, and the prices are much more reasonable.

The Philippine currency is peso or PHP. Only rarely would you find any other currency mentioned in shops, such as US$ in some imported goods. The medical facilities here drawn many foreigners due to the affordable prices that are almost 80 percent lesser than that in the Europe or US. Metro Manila has many of these hospitals. Alternative medicine has grown popular in many Filipino spas.

Citizens of ASEAN countries, along with some others can visit the Philippines even without a visa, provided they have a return ticket, passport validity for a minimum of six months after their stay, and a stay duration within 30 days.

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Transportation in Philippines

Although the Philippines has numerous modes of travel, the safety aspect of transit modes such as buses, ferry boats and taxis can be a point of concern. It is a good idea to seek the advice of the locals on the best mode of transport at a location. For instance, traveling by plane or ferry is advised for places like Misamis Occidental and Zamboanga del Norte. There have been many reports of armed hold-ups when individuals are traveling in public transport, landslide and flash floods incidents are other factors that may make getting around the Philippines a little difficult. All said and done, do not travel by yourself in remote areas.

Another thing that you should know is that ferries here are known for inexplicable delays that can go up to two days sometimes. Air travel is the preferred mode of transport for tourists who go island hopping. The Cebu Pacific Air and Philippines Airlines have been certified as safe for EU operations in the Philippines. While in the city, you can use jeepneys – a modified version of jeeps, to get around the place. You simply have to wave out to jeepneys for them to stop, and they charge an affordable fee of 8 pesos for every 4 kms with an additional 1 pesos for every km. These are preferred over pedicabs, rickshaws and traysikels by tourists, as they are not as cramped.

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Activities in Philippines

The Philippines nightlife culture comes alive in the Visayas biggest city, Cebu. The city is packed with many amazing restaurants, and the live music only makes it better. If you find boards that mention ‘videoke’ know that they are referring to what is known as karaoke elsewhere. The nightlife offers various settings from posh urban VIP lounges to laid-back grunge bars that play folk music. There are also transvestite venues in Manila that many tourists visit. Filipino towns feature far more low-key bars that play reggae or country music. You can also catch classical music, opera and ballet performances at the Philippines Cultural center.

You can purchase a number of things in the Philippines from religious artifacts to exquisite pieces of art. If you are picking up souvenirs you could try looking for jeepney models or fridge magnets. You should also find cutlery pieces that use bamboo and carabao horn. If you are looking to shop for clothes, stop by Colon, Dividoria or Palitan markets; you should find batik textile products, traditional malong, vibrantly colored raw textile cloths and more. You should also find linens products in Filipino department stores. Jewelry pieces can be found at throwaway prices in malls, from tribal-imitation jewelery to pearl jewelry.

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Philippines’ Cuisine

Filipino cuisine has strong Spanish influences (from the 35-decades of Spanish rule that the country saw) and ones from other native traditions as well. Many Westerners are pleased when they learn that Filipino cuisine scores the lowest on the spicy food scale among South East Asian food. Filipino food creations are made to tantalize the palate, with loud combinations of sour, sweet and salty. Ginger, onions and garlic are often used in food preparations, and the prolonged cooking period beautifully brings out all these flavors in the food.

Roasted chicken, pork and fresh fish are a staple in the Filipino feast table, and as is rice. In fact rice features in all their meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Although you may find some Visayas’ locals choose corn over rice. Dessert is also an important part of the meal in the Philippines. The diverse variety of tropical fruit found here have allowed locals to create a range of exquisite desserts that keep you coming back for more. Turo-turo and Carenderias are budget food stalls in Philippines. Eating with hands is something that you may see in some country-side locations.

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Explore Philippines

Boracay is one of the most sought-after islands for tourists around the globe, and you cannot tell if it is the azure ocean, the coconut palms that gently sway to the wind or the sun-kissed sand that makes it so appealing. Restaurant and bar chains have not gone a deaf ear to the tourist racket in Borocay, and neither have the tourists to them. However, if the tourist activity is not to your liking, you can instead go to Panglao Island. Intramuros, Manila’s historical attraction is home to the country’s most prominent museums. Tourists also stop by Corregidor to see ruins from the Second World War.

Another tourist hotspot is Tagaytay that is home to the crater-lake Taal, with a Volcano at the center. Viigan which is declared as a World Heritage site by the UNSECO is also worth a visit. If you want to go diving, stop by Puerto Galera. The location also gives you trekking opportunities in the jungles where many tribals reside. Palawan is popular amongst scuba divers, with most of them choosing the world war wreck location to go scuba diving. Mount Apo has been deemed as a tough climb by even experienced mountaineers, and is also the tallest mountain around here.

Philippines Culture

With Tagalog being the national language, the Philippines practice nearly 150 other dialects and languages. The Filipinos have their family roots from all around the world, from Middle Eastern Sufis to Chinese traders, Spanish conquistadors, Malay settlers, and more. It’s diverse heritage, can in a way be attributed to its rich culture, of which hospitality seems to be a common thread. The warm Filipino hospitality is unmissable even in ram-shackled barrio homes. Another thing that the Filipinos take very seriously is entertainment. The vibrant fiestas that occur here are a testament to this tradition.

The countryside locals are especially known for their hospitality and generous spirit, although they may appear shy at first. They invite strangers and tourists to feasts during these fiestas without a second thought, even if it means spending all savings or running into debt in many cases. You will find that the geography hugely dominates the different groups and culture in the Philippines, such as the warm Visayans in the central islands, religious Muslims in Mindanao, frugal Ilocanos in the north and so on. A huge majority (83 percent) of the population are Roman Catholics, which is different from the dominant Buddhism influences in the remaining parts of Southeast Asia.

The Perfect Day: Sunrise to Sunset in Boracay, Philippines

Boracay is type of laid back, barefoot, chilled out island paradise where you can spend the entire day sleeping in a sunlounger and dipping your toes in the surf. There is no rush here, it’s made for relaxing and enjoying a slower pace of life. Lee and I found it to be the ideal break from the hectic pace of Manila and a great place to slow down and enjoy ourselves.

We had many perfect days on Boracay – it’s not that hard to do. Here’s what an idyllic day on this island might look like:Head over to the eastern side of the island to catch the sunrise at the famous kitesurfing spot, Bulabog Beach. This side of the island is much quieter and less developed. The sunrise will light up the sky with a fiery orange hue as the rays of the powerful sun flood across the peaceful blue sea.I often prefered to have a liquid breakfast while on Boracay in the form of a refreshing fruit smoothie. There are several fruit smoothie shacks along the length of the beach serving up fresh blends of mango, pineapple, banana and other mouthwatering tropical fruits. A smoothie is healthy and refreshing in the heat and it is quite filling too.As you walk down the beach on Boracay you will notice volleyball nets set up with people playing barefoot in the sand. The games are pretty casual, so someone is likely to invite you to join in. Also, many of the beach resorts will provide beach volleyball equipment such as nets and balls, so ask at the front desk of your resort. It’s a fun and laid back sport and great exercise too.

(If you are as clumsy and uncoordinated as I am, you might just want to sit on the side and watch the game while enjoying a fruit smoothie.)It goes without saying that Boracay offers superb seafood. One of the best places to go for a freshly cooked seafood meal is Talipapa Market, which is located on the main road of Station 2. The way it works is that you choose your fish from the market then the restaurants will cook it and provide other side dishes and drinks. Check out this great guide to having a seafood feast at the market.Of course, you could spend the afternoon just lounging on the beach and no one would hold it against you. That’s how chilled out Boracay is. However, there is also a great selection of watersports activities to enjoy here.

The snorkeling is amazing, as the water is calm and clear and there are an abundance of colourful tropical creatures living beneath the surface. You can take a boat trip to some of the different beaces and reefs around the island. There are also kitesurfing and windsufing rentals available, as well as waterskiing, parasailing and glass bottom boat tours.My favourite time to walk down the length of White Beach was at sunset. This beach faces the west, so it offers a perfect view of the spectacular sunset colours. As I walked along the edge of the water I watched the sun sinking slowly below the horizon and the sky turn shades of peach and lavender while listening to the music from the bars and the sound of people laughing and talking on the beach.When we were in Boracay we dined at Nigi Nigi Nu Noos restaurant, which offered an all you can eat ribs and beer night. For three hours, we could feast on sticky, juicy barbequed ribs and cold beer – which was wonderfully hedonistic. We dined on a table outside, our feet in the sand and a fresh breeze coming in from the ocean. I don’t even want to know how many ribs we ended up scarfing by the end of the night – washed down with delicious chocolate banana rum milkshakes.