6 Kid-Friendly Travel Destinations In The Philippines
If you’ve traveled with kids, you know that not all vacation spots are created equal. Here are some of the best family-friendly spots, a list of exciting must-dos, and other things to consider.
LAGEN, EL NIDO RESORTS, PALAWAN
Consistently at the top of Conde Nast Traveler and CNN Travel lists of the most beautiful islands, El Nido is truly a must-see. Dubbed the last Green Frontier, the region is truly a showcase of nature’s beauty. Make sure not to doze off during the flight, as the route to El Nido is a special one. There’s nothing that signals a departure from the city quite like flying over the picturesque Taal Volcano. Moments from landing, make sure to also take in the breathtaking view of the different Busuanga islands.
When your plane lands, enjoy the very Filipino welcome. It begins with a high-ceiling, colorful jeepney that brings you to a welcome cottage, where you’re greeted by women wearing baro’t saya, singing and dancing to Filipino tunes. Then you’ll cross a wooden bridge to ride a small boat that will transfer you to a bigger boat. Once you arrive in Lagen, you’ll be greeted by a welcoming staff, who’ll hand you bamboo origami and welcome drinks, while serenading you with more Filipino songs. I have to admit, I got a little teary eyed! There was something about hearing native songs sung so beautifully that pulled at the heartstrings. Once you’ve settled in, make sure to experience the view and the food. It cannot be overstated how awesome they are. Breakfast, lunch, merienda or dinner—we enjoyed Lagen’s buffet.
Leaving the island was particularly difficult, as everyone we encountered was so endearing.
What to do:
- Visit the crystal-clear waters of the world-famous small and big lagoons. Water activities include swimming with jack fishes, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, island hopping, and boating.
- You can also go bird-watching, hiking, or embark on nature walks. Make sure to experience both the sunrise and sunset at least once, and also try picking fresh vegetables from their organic garden. Be on the lookout for friendly bayawaks that walk or swim casually in the resort.
Don’t forget: SunBum or Mustela sunblocks, insect repellents and patches, floaters, swimwear, hats, swim diapers for little ones, organic snacks, and small toys for the flight.
Minimum budget: P120,000 to P150,000 for 4 pax (mommy, daddy + 2 kids) for a 4d/3n trip
ANVAYA COVE, MORONG BATAAN
It’s only two hours away from Manila, an extremely easy drive, with very few jeepneys and tricycles to hamper the flow. If you leave early enough, you can avoid Manila traffic completely. The drive on NLEX and SCTEX is very picturesque and smooth. Depending on the season, you’ll have green or golden rice fields on both sides of the highway, with mountains in the distance. Whether it’s rainy or sunny, the drive is always beautiful!
Upon entering Subic, look out for the playful monkeys along the road, and enjoy the refreshing change in scenery in the middle of the Subic forest. Anvaya is actually an ancient Sanskrit word that translates to "family". So once there, expect that there is something for every member of the family—from the little ones, all the way up to the seniors.
There’s a wide variety of pools to enjoy, including bubble pools that my kids go crazy for. They also enjoyed the array of wide open spaces, the kiddie library, the nature camp, and the big sandbox near the beachfront. Moms looking to relax can try out the spa, while dads can sneak in a workout at the gym. Lounge chairs and daybeds are also scattered around the beach, the pool, the lagoon, and the private casitas, for those just looking to enjoy a well-earned day of lazing around.
What to do:
- Swimming, kayaking, nature walks, goose chasing, playing golf, getting spa treatments, relaxing, napping by the beach
Don’t forget: SunBum or Mustela sunblocks, insect repellents, floaters, swimwear, hats, swim diapers for little ones, organic snacks and small toys, first aid kit, basic kiddie medicine
Minimum budget: P10,000 to P20,000 including room, food, activities, gasoline for 2d/1n
Siargao gives you a distinct and unique feel due to the variety of travelers who flock from around the world to experience its world-class waves. The drive from the airport to the hotel is very refreshing, with abundant coconut farms and lush greenery. It’s very provincial and laid-back. There are no tall buildings and commercialization is still in the early stages. The island is famous for surfing, but there’s plenty to enjoy away from the waves.
What we loved most were the natural pools at Magpupungko, which form when the tide is low enough. The cool water from below mixes with the leftover salt water to provide a surreal experience. Make sure to also explore the many small islands with pristine, white powder-like sand, surrounded by crystal clear water. Ask your boat guide or resort to arrange and bring you to Dako island. It’s unspoiled, stunning, and you’d wish there was more time to stay. A part of me would like to keep this little island a secret, but it’s just too beautiful not to share. Besides, I’m sure the locals would appreciate the extra income from the hut rentals and fresh coconut sales. You won’t really see the best of Siargao if you don’t make a visit. Buy fresh fish from the market before heading there and ask one of the local homes to cook it for you.
What to do:
- Surfing, swimming in the beach and natural pools (in low tide), dancing under the stars, star gazing, sleeping in hammocks, eating, boating, island hopping, visiting the local wet market
Don't forget: SunBum or Mustela sunblocks, insect repellents, floaters, swimwear, hats, swim diapers for little ones, organic snacks and small toys, first aid kit, medicine bag
Minimum budget: P70,000 for 4 pax (Mommy, Daddy + 2 kids) for 5d/4n
BAGUIO, SAGADA, BANAUE, UNESCO HERITAGE BATAD
The 2,000-plus-year-old, eighth wonder of the world rice terraces is a must-see! It is said that if the steps are connected end to end, it will encircle half the world. It’s a sight to behold. Can’t help but feel awe, wonder, pride, and deep respect for our ancestors whocarved these world-famous rice terraces.
Sagada is a sleepy little town sitting on top of mist-shrouded mountains. Make sure to visit the centuries-old coffins hanging on the cliffs.
What to do:
- Nature walks, rice planting, walking in the terraces, traditional dances and music with the Igorots, caving, hot springs, rice fields, sunrise watching above the clouds, trekking, and hiking
Don't forget: Jackets, sweaters, caps/hats/beanie as it is always drizzly, extra pairs of socks, mosquito/insect repellant. Also bring your own lightweight blanket, travel pillow, snacks and drinks as the prices get expensive in Banaue and Batad. Bring your own toiletries, lightweight towels and first aid kit, especially kids’ medicine and thermometer.
Minimum budget: P40,000-P60,000.00 includes private van that will take you from Baguio to Sagada to Banaue to Batad, and back to Baguio. Also includes an overnight hotel stay in Baguio before heading to Sagada, and another overnight stay when you come back to Baguio.
If traveling from Manila with small kids, it is recommended to rest for a night in Baguio since the drive to Sagada is 8-10 hours, depending on weather conditions and how clear the roads are.
Another overnight in Baguio is highly recommended after Sagada/Banaue/Batad before heading back to Manila. This is to give little bodies time to rest and acclimatize to the high and low altitude.
Caution! Do NOT go during rainy season as this can be very dangerous. Many of the roadsare very steep and slippery. Road signs that say "Beware of Falling Rocks" and "Landslide prone areas" are a common sight. Ensure to practice safety first before adventure. Ensure that you have a highly qualified guide and a local driver, and keep emergency contact numbers of rescue operators.
FOR DAY TRIPS OR OVERNIGHT TRIPS (1-2 HOURS AWAY FROM THE CITY)
Domicillo in Tagaytay + Antonio’s + Paradizoo
What to do:
- Nature watching. Once you stay in Domicillo’s top 2 rooms, you won’t want to go elsewhere. They designed the rooms so that you can take in Taal Volcano in the best possible manner. The views from the room make you feel as if you’re living in the clouds, with Taal Volcano exclusively yours to enjoy.
- Antonio’s is an all-time year-round favorite. If you haven’t eaten at least once, you must go.
- Paradizoo is great for children. They have a Shetland pony that kids can ride, and are also home to a famous 5-legged cow. There’s also a camel and several more farms animals. To cap off the experience, there’s an organic garden that you and the kids can pick vegetables from, and bring home.
Body Food All Naturals by Ana Gutch in Antipolo
What to do:
- Organic soap making.
- Ask permission to visit Ana Gutch’s mom’s glass house, made from mostly upcyled and recycled materials.
- Visit the neighborhood Antipolo bee farm, Antipolo glass house, and Pinto Art museum.
This is a private activity and arrangements must be made with Ana in advance, subject to her availability. The soap-making class is 100% satisfaction guaranteed. Warning: It will really make you happy if you’re into organic things.
Seda Nuvali + Holy Carabao Farm
If you’re looking for a quick respite from the city, Seda Nuvali is a fantastic place. Request a room facing the lagoon. They have a game room, a gym, a spa, a kiddie room, and a pool, which makes for a great staycation. The design and overall feel of the hotel is like a tropical resort. Owned by Ayala, expect premium amenities, outstanding service, and delicious food. If you lack activities in the hotel, you can arrange a short drive to the Holy Carabao Farm (bookings and arrangements must be made in advance). You can ride a carabao, feed the wild pet pig Gringo and the turtle, rabbits, and goats, and visit the organic garden. You can even swing from the trees.
What to do:
- Swimming, biking, running, walking, boating, outlet shopping, fish feeding, visit Holy Carabao farm
This article was originally published in Working Mom. Changes have been made for Metro.Style.