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7 Places to Explore in the Philippines

philippinesReady for some adventure? Get your backpacking gear and hiking boots ready for here are seven top places you and your thrill-seeking friends will definitely wish to go to. Included are some budget travel tips for travel junkies on a shoestring budget:

Tubbataha Reef
“Tubbataha” means “a reef exposed at low tide” in Samal.Tubbataha Reef is the only national marine park in the Philippines, and is an underwater site with two coral atolls covering more than 97,000 hectares in the Sulu Sea. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is home to over 1000 species of marine.

The Reef is a popular diving site because of the myriad of corals and sea life in the area, and is even ranked as the 8th most popular diving spot by the CNN travel website. Dive season is between mid-March and mid-June. There are strict diving rules and regulations, but diving here is worth it.



Sagada is a municipality of the Mountain Province, located in a valley in the Cordillera mountain range.The Spanish, during their colonisationof the Philippines, introduced Arabica coffee to Sagada, making the municipality one of the biggest sources of coffee beans in the country.

Sagada is also known for itshauntingly beautiful hanging coffins as well as forits Echo Valley, a popular trekking and hiking trail for its close proximity to the hanging coffins and the scenic route.Others include the Sumaguing Cave and LumiangCave—for spelunking enthusiasts—and the Big Falls where you can take a refreshing dip in cool waters.White water rafting along the upper Chico River in Sagada late in the year is also fun.

Gaia Café & Crafts, Sagada Brew and Yoghurt House arepopular among locals and tourists. For souvenirs, try Sagada Weaving. Get a tour of the looms,too, tolearn a bit of Sagada history. Walking around costs nothing and is a great way to discover the city.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
This subterranean river in Palawan in the Visayas region of the Philippines has been awarded the title of World Heritage. It has an inland origin that flows out to the South China Sea. Also known as the Puerto Princesa Underground River, it was included in the New 7 Wonders of Nature last November 2011.The river’s extensive rainforest is home to a multitude of endangered flora and fauna, a great number of which can only be found in Palawan.

Go on a river boat ride and admire the river’s natural charms, as well as its impressive stalactite formations. Just be careful of the bats in the cave! There are the Lions Cave, Daylight Hole, and the Kawili cave for avid spelunkers, and rock climbing enthusiasts have theUgong Rock. While at the Park, you can also go jungle trekking along its mountainous terrain for a scenic and challenging trail. Be sure to take the mangrove forest tour too, as well as help out with the conservation of the mangroves by planting saplings in designated areas.

Ifugao Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao is fondly called the “Eight Wonder of the World” in the Philippines and is only a part of many rice terraces along the Cordillera mountain range.The rice terraces were carved by the indigenous Ifugao more than 2,000 years ago, and can be found as high up as 1,500 metresabove sea level.

The Museum of Cordilleran Sculpture houses a collection of many Ifugao relics. The Cordillera Mountains from Bontoc to Banaueoffers a scenic view of the terraces. From there, you can go to many other places of interest in Central and Northern Luzon, such as Sagada, Bontoc and Baguio.

The City of Vigan in the province of Ilocos Sur in Luzon, Philippines, is a World Heritage Site. It is one of the few towns in the Philippines with its Spanish colonial architecture left intact. Streets are still in cobblestone, and the architecture is predominantly European. Funnily enough, Vigan has a rich Chinese heritage as well, since before its Spanish colonisation, Vigan was originally a settlement of Chinese traders. It is also home to the famous and delicious ViganLongganisa.

DIY that city tour by taking a stroll down CalleCrisologo, dining at Café Leona for authentic Vigan cuisine, and visiting the Syquia Mansion to discover a little bit more about Philippines History.

Intramuros is located in the heart of Manila. It is the oldest district in in the city, dating back to the 1600s when the Walled City was founded by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.A center of Spanish Government during their300-year stay in the Philippines, it housed the religious and political leaders of that time. Today, Intramuros is a popular historical landmark.

Do another walking tour and take as many photos as you want. Light a candle at San Agustin Church, the oldest church in the country, built in the early 1600s. Or at Manila Cathedral. Other places include Casa Manila, a museum replicating an upper-class colonial home, Barbara’s for classic Spanish-Filipino cuisine and Fort Santiago.

Davao is home to the tallest mountain in the Philippines, Mount Apo, as well as the third most populous metropolitan city in the country. Durian fruits, the Waling-waling orchid, and the endangered Philippines Eagle are native to this city. This is where urban life meets nature and culture.

Try white water rafting at the Davao River. Or a leisurely walk along People’s Park or the Philippines Eagle Conservatory for trails full of flora and fauna.Eden Nature Park is where thrill-seekers can enjoy activities such as zip-lining, trekking, and horseback riding; and Matina Town Square offers performances of traditional and indigenous music and dance. Museums, too, are plenty and some are free.

Bopping over to different places is fun. Getting travel insurance in the Philippines is easy too and makes for a safer trip. So don’t forget to get yourself and your friends covered.

Akash Mahamud

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