(Still) The Philippines' Best Vacation Spots
Revisit—or finally explore—some of the Philippines’ most beloved holiday destinations
1. LAGEN, EL NIDO RESORTS, PALAWAN
Consistently on the top of Conde Nast Traveler and CNN Travel lists of the world’s most beautiful islands, El Nido is truly a must-see—the destination is truly a showcase of nature’s beauty.
Once you arrive in Lagen, you’ll be greeted by the welcoming staff, who will hand you bamboo origami and welcome drinks, while serenading you with more Filipino songs.
What to do: Visit the crystal-clear waters of the world-famous small and big lagoons. Water activities include swimming with jackfish, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, island hopping, and boating. You can also go bird-watching and hiking or embark on nature walks. Make sure to experience both the sunrise and sunset at least once, and try picking fresh vegetables from their organic garden. Be on the lookout for friendly bayawak that walk or swim casually within the resort.
Minimum budget: P120,000 to P150,000 for four pax (couple plus 2 kids) for a 4d/3n trip
2. 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.
Anvaya is actually an ancient Sanskrit word that translates to “family.” So expect that there is something for every member of the family—from the little ones to the seniors. There’s a wide variety of pools to enjoy, including bubble pools that kids go crazy for. Kids can also enjoy the wide open spaces, kiddie library, 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
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 (mostly surfers) who flock from around the world. The island is famous for its world-class waves, but there’s plenty to enjoy for non-surfers, including 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, 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.
What to do: Surfing, swimming in the beach and natural pools (during low tide), dancing under the stars, star gazing, sleeping in hammocks, eating, boating, island hopping, visiting the local wet market
Minimum budget: P70,000 for 4 pax (couple plus two kids) for 5d/4n
4. BANAUE, UNESCO HERITAGE BATAD
The Banaue rice terraces, the 2,000-plus-year-old eighth wonder of the world is a must-see. It is said that if the steps are connected end to end, it will encircle half the world. You can’t help but feel awe, wonder, pride, and deep respect for our ancestors who carved these world-famous terraces.
What to do: Nature walks, rice planting, walking in the terraces, traditional dances and music with the Igorots,
Minimum budget: P20,000 to P30,000.00 includes private van that will take you from Baguio to Banaue to Batad and back to Baguio.
Caution: Do NOT go during rainy season as this can be very dangerous. Many of the roads are very steep and slippery. Road signs that say “Beware of Falling Rocks” and “Landslide prone area” are a common sight. Ensure that you have a highly qualified guide and a local driver, and keep emergency contact numbers of rescue operators.