With more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is recognized by travelers from around the world for its beautiful beaches and natural wonders. Yet, few are aware of its historical sites, art galleries and ecological diversity, as well as the multitude of traditions inherited from the passage of Spaniards through this storied archipelago.
Baguio and Benguet
Eco and agro-tourism among pine forests
Known as the “City of Pines,” Baguio, in the province of Benguet, is revered for its cool climate. In fact, it has always been the destination of choice for Filipinos wanting to beat the heat.
The Jesuit Villa Mirador offers an enriching historical and spiritual journey with attractions such as a bamboo trail, a weather station, a labyrinth and an open-air café with views of the city and breathtaking sunsets. In addition, one of the most popular places in Baguio is the Bencab Museum, which oozes creative inspiration with some of the masterpieces of National Visual Arts Artist Ben Cabrera. Meanwhile, the village of Winaca, in Benguet province, offers tourists a glimpse into the history and culture of the indigenous Igorot people.
In Benguet, we also find new ecotourism and agro-tourism destinations such as Armando’s Lemon Farm and Polig’s Berry Farm. With activities such as picking lemons and strawberries, visitors can reconnect with nature by enjoying its fruits firsthand.
Ilocos Norte and Sur
A journey back in time
The province of Ilocos Norte is home to many attractions that showcase the colorful culture and ecological diversity of the Philippines. In Paoay City, the famous sand dunes offer tourists an exciting desert experience with activities such as sandboarding or 4WD offroading.
For history buffs, the San Agustin Parish Church, better known as Paoay Church, is one of the oldest Catholic churches in Asia, built in the 17th century. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has retained its unique architectural charm through regular maintenance and offers a good visual representation of the Spanish influence on Philippine culture.
The same goes for the Sitio Remedios Heritage Village Resort in Currimao, which also offers a glimpse of life in the past, but with the convenience of modern luxuries for a relaxing vacation.
In the town of Ilocos Sur, Vigan City’s famous Crisólogo Street remains a delight for tourists and shoppers. The Old World charm of the street has been wonderfully preserved, and it’s a spectacular sight to behold at night when the lights come on. With all the buildings lining the street decorated with Spanish colonial-era details, strolling along the cobblestone paths is almost like taking a trip back in time.
The archipelago’s crown jewel
A visit to the Philippines would not be complete without a trip to the beach. Boracay Island, of course, is one of the most famous and award-winning islands in the world. It’s a must-visit when traveling to the country.
Following intensive island rehabilitation projects that began in 2019 – and continued throughout 2020 – a good number of hotels, restaurants and other tourism establishments are ready to cater to guests looking to enjoy the best of island life.
Adventure under the sea
Famous for its lush marine life, the diving enclave of Anilao Beach in Mabini (Batangas) is a hit with tourists who need a respite from the usual stay.
As the ideal diving season runs from November to May, thrill-seekers from all over the world have a great opportunity to dive into an unforgettable adventure under the sea.
Best contemporary art scene
For tourists who appreciate the arts, the famous galleries of the Pinto Museum of Art and the Rizal Province Art Sector offer the best of the contemporary Philippine art scene. The former is famous for its exhibits housed in missionary-style buildings surrounded by lush, soothing gardens. The latter, meanwhile, offers breathtaking and picturesque views of the mountains and Laguna Lake.
Rizal’s hidden gem, the Burrow Café, aims to bring people closer to nature by placing diners in a lush space surrounded by dense forest. Accessed down a 76-step staircase from the main road, this place is known for its all-day breakfast and lunch menu, filled with Filipino-inspired international dishes.