Experience the Philippines Beyond the Usual: Top 10 Destinations Local Filipinos Love
Journey into the heart of the Philippines, and discover the enchanting places adored by locals. Skip the beaten path and plunge into these diverse and authentic experiences that will allow you to view the Philippines from a truly local perspective.
Discovering the Cool Retreat of Baguio City
Nestled within the highlands of the Cordillera Central mountain range, Baguio City offers an enchanting respite from the country’s tropical climate. Locals come here to wander amidst the pine trees of Burnham Park, gaze at breathtaking vistas from Mines View Park, and explore the cornucopia of fresh produce and handmade crafts at the Baguio Public Market. Don’t forget to try Baguio’s famed strawberries and “ukoy,” a delicious shrimp fritter!
Time Travel in Vigan City
Vigan City is a time capsule of Filipino-Spanish heritage, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk the cobblestone streets of Calle Crisologo, lined with centuries-old houses. Experience a traditional horse-drawn “calesa” ride, and indulge in Ilocano culinary delights like “bagnet” and “empanada.”
Boracay Island An Enchanting Paradise with Pristine Beaches and Mesmerizing Sunsets
The mention of Boracay conjures up images of powder-white sandy beaches meeting crystal-clear turquoise waters under an azure sky. This idyllic island is far more than just a tropical paradise – it’s a sensory experience that continues to captivate locals and tourists alike.
The crown jewel of Boracay is undoubtedly White Beach. Stretching for over 4 kilometers, it’s a mesmerizing canvas of soft, powdery white sand – so fine it’s often compared to talcum powder. This beach’s pristine beauty is further magnified by the stunningly clear waters lapping its shores. From the gentle turquoise of the shallows, the color deepens to a rich cobalt blue as you move further out, creating a vibrant contrast that’s a feast for the eyes.
But the magic of Boracay doesn’t end with its daytime allure. As the day gives way to the evening, the island reveals another facet of its captivating beauty. Boracay’s sunsets are legendary, with the sky painting a breathtaking tableau of colors as the sun dips beneath the horizon. Whether you’re cruising on a traditional “paraw” sailboat or simply lounging by the beach, witnessing this mesmerizing spectacle is a must-do. As the fiery orb of the sun sinks into the sea, it leaves the sky awash with hues of purple, orange, and pink, a perfect end to a day in paradise.
Beyond its natural allure, Boracay offers a host of activities for every visitor. From exhilarating water sports, tranquil spa experiences, to vibrant nightlife, this island ensures a memorable stay. And let’s not forget the tantalizing local cuisine, with fresh seafood taking center stage.
Despite its international acclaim, Boracay retains a sense of untouched serenity that continues to charm. Its beautiful blend of natural wonders and exciting activities make it a must-visit destination not just for tourists, but also for Filipinos who never tire of its enchanting allure.
Surfing and More in Siargao Island
Siargao Island, dubbed as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”, draws locals not only for its famous Cloud 9 surfing spot but also for its unique teardrop shape, coconut palm-lined roads, and natural attractions. Explore the Sohoton Cove’s labyrinth of stunning lagoons, caves, and rock formations, or take a dip in the Magpupungko Rock Pools at low tide.
Cebu City, A Historical and Modern Fusion
In the heart of the Visayas lies Cebu City, a dynamic metropolis that harmoniously blends history with modern attractions. Visit the Basilica del Santo Niño, housing the oldest religious relic in the Philippines. Just a stone’s throw away is Magellan’s Cross, a symbol of the country’s conversion to Christianity. For a taste of modern Cebu, explore the vibrant IT Park teeming with restaurants, cafes, and nightlife. Don’t forget to try the famous “lechon” (roast pig), considered one of the world’s best dishes!
Palawan, Exploring the Last Ecological Frontier
Palawan, known as the Philippines’ “Last Frontier”, is a nature lover’s paradise. Visit El Nido, where you can island-hop around jaw-dropping lagoons and limestone formations. Dive in Coron’s world-class wreck diving sites or explore its crystal-clear Kayangan Lake. On the mainland, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is not to be missed. For an off-the-beaten-track experience, head to the rustic beauty of Port Barton or the long, tranquil beaches of San Vicente.
Davao City’s Blend of Urban and Natural Allure
Davao City, one of the largest and safest cities in the Philippines, offers a unique blend of urban comforts and natural attractions. Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak, presents a challenging yet rewarding climb. Visit the Philippine Eagle Center, a conservation breeding facility for the critically endangered national bird. For a taste of urban life, explore Davao’s modern malls, night markets, and savor the “king of fruits” at the annual Kadayawan Durian Festival.
The Bicol Region, A Land of Fiery Cuisine and Natural Wonders
Bicol Region is home to Mayon Volcano, known for its perfect cone shape. Adventurous locals enjoy ATV rides near its lava trails or try water sports in the region’s various lakes. For island beauty, visit the Caramoan Islands, a secluded paradise often used as a filming location for international reality shows. Bicol is also known for its spicy cuisine, with dishes like “Bicol Express” and “laing” leaving a fiery yet delightful impression on your palate.
Pampanga, Savoring the Philippines’ Culinary Capital
Pampanga is the epicenter of Filipino cuisine. Locals and tourists flock to taste authentic “kapampangan” dishes like sisig, a sizzling pork dish, and “tocino,” sweet cured pork. The region is also known for its vibrant festivals such as the Giant Lantern Festival held every December. For history buffs, visit the heritage houses in the town of Bacolor or the old railroad station in Angeles City.
Unwind in Tagaytay, The City with a Breathtaking View
Just a few hours away from the bustling Metro Manila, Tagaytay offers a quick retreat with its cool climate and stunning view of Taal Volcano nestled in a lake. Enjoy a leisurely lunch in one of the many restaurants overlooking this scenic view. Visit the serene Picnic Grove for a family outing or walk around the flower-filled gardens of Sonya’s Secret Garden. The city is also known for its sweet pineapples and “bulalo,” a beef marrow stew perfect for the cool weather.
The Philippines, with its 7,000+ islands, offers a kaleidoscope of experiences that go far beyond the conventional. The real charm of this Southeast Asian nation lies in its less-traveled paths and local favorites. Whether you choose to explore the historical cityscapes of Vigan, the vibrant beaches of Boracay, or the surf breaks of Siargao, you’re embarking on a journey of discovery, connecting with the Filipino spirit in a way that’s both authentic and unforgettable.
Are you ready to dive into the Philippines’ hidden gems and experience it like a local? Begin planning your one-of-a-kind journey today and uncover the diverse beauty that awaits you in these beloved local destinations!