If you’re planning on visiting the Philippines this year, you are in for a real treat. This Southeast Asian archipelago is made up of over 7000 islands, each with their own unique identity. From large cities to tropical rainforests, it’s no wonder that the Philippines is one of Asia’s top travel destinations. You can find historical architecture, gorgeous beaches, and green rice fields all in the same place. With plenty of water transportation available, it’s hard to remain solely on one island. No two islands are completely the same, and it’s hard not to be filled with wonder and a sense of adventure as you island hop. It’s unlikely you will have the time to explore each island during your stay. So use this guide to discover which five activities are an absolute must while you are here.
Climb a Volcano
For a unique activity, you will never forget, you must climb one of the Philippines 37 volcanoes. Located in the infamous ‘Ring of Fire’, 18 of the 37 volcanoes are considered to be active. Mount Mayon, on the island of Luzon, is one of the largest in the region. You can join a group and go on a two-day expedition to the top. There is nothing that will fill you with more adrenaline that climbing a volcano that could erupt at any moment. Another fantastic option is the Taal Volcano, which has the title of the smallest active volcano in the world. But don’t let it’s size fool you. It’s actually one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the Philippines and has caused deadly and catastrophic eruptions in the past. This is a less strenuous trip which you can do in a day and has the added bonus of a sulphur infused lake. This has formed in the volcano’s crater and is the perfect place to take a dip after your climb. Not many people can say that have experience an activity like that before.
Visit the “Stairways to Heaven”
Highly regarded as one of the newest wonders of the world, The Banaue rice terraces in Northern Luzon are a place you need to see to believe. Nicknamed the ‘Stairways to Heaven’ and named a UNESCO World Heritage site, the rice terraces are spectacular. Their stair-like effect was created by indigenous mountain people more than 2000 years ago. This was achieved by carving into the mountainside. It’s difficult to imagine that this wonder was creating using only primitive tools and willpower alone. There are still indigenous people living in the mountains today who continue the same traditions as their ancestors. This can give you an interesting look at how the Filipino people value their heritage and traditional practices. You can hike amongst these iconic rice terraces and soak up the spectacular surrounding scenery. It may seem like a long way to the top, but once you reach it, it will have all been worthwhile.
Ride a Jeepney
One thing you will not be able to escape during your visit is the Jeepney. These large jeeps are remnants from WWII and have become the most popular way to get around the islands. Created by the US military, their sturdy structure, and large tyres make light work of the varying terrain. While they might not give you the smoothest of rides, they can transport to some of the busiest or remote locations on the islands. They are also able to transport large groups and are a great way to meet fellow tourists and locals. The Filipino people have taken to customizing these vehicles to make them look more appealing to tourists. You can find Jeepneys with patterns painted in bright and vibrant colors. Whereas others are spray-painted with images and words, some of which are truly works of art. You can’t come to the Philippines without taking at least one ride in a Jeepney while you are here.
Attend a Festival
With over 100 festivals taking place across the Philippines throughout the year, you’re bound to find one that coincides. Their street parades are filled with colorful costumes, dancing, and upbeat singing. There’s not denying that the Filipinos know how to enjoy themselves. Many of the festivals on the islands are religious celebrations. But the locals welcome and encourage tourists to get involved. You can attend the Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City where they are decorative floats covered in flowers. Or you might like to experience the MassKara Festival in Bacolod, where the locals wear extravagant smiling masks. These celebrations will show you just how generous, friendly and full of like the Filipino people are. Do your research to see which festivals are being held during your vacation and make the effort to get involved. You won’t regret it.
Go Scuba Diving
The Philippines is considered one of the best locations for scuba diving in the world. If you’re a keen diver or just want to learn a new skill, this is an activity that is too good to miss. You can experience diving with thresher sharks at Malapascua Island. Or explore the preserved hulls of WWII shipwrecks in the clear waters of Coron in Palawan. Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park is the ideal place to dive if you want to see a wealth of marine life. With sharks, turtles and eels hiding amongst the coral reefs and rocks, it’s every diver’s idea of paradise. The Philippines has endless opportunities for diving with experts and beginners in mind. An important thing to remember is that some diving spots are only accessible when the sea levels are at a certain point. So look into trying multiple dives while you are here to avoid disappointment.
Whether you are here for a few days or six weeks, there is little chance of you ever being short of things to experience. Use these top activities to help you plan a fun and action-packed itinerary that will make your trip to the Philippines one of a kind. With such beautiful surroundings, it will be hard not to want to explore and discover as much as you can about this incredible region.