The US has the Pacific Coast Highway; Canada has the Columbia Icefields Parkway, and Australia has the Great Ocean Road. But you don’t have to go abroad just to see beautiful drives and breathtaking highway views. The Philippines has its fair share of gorgeous routes, starting with the most scenic drives in Luzon.
With these vistas, the journey truly becomes half the destination (if not more!) So check your tires, gas up, and pack your car chow as these scenic drives around Luzon give a whole new meaning to road trips.
Halsema Highway to Sagada
When talking about scenic drives in Luzon, Halsema Highway is perhaps the most famous – and for a good reason. Now that Sagada is a tourist hotspot, Halsema Highway is becoming just as busy. This stretch from Benguet to Mt. Province first became famous for its rolling terrain and sharp zigzags, where the mountain falls off on either side of the road and transforms into rice terraces, small fields, or quaint little villages. It’s also famous for its gasp-inducing turns, where you don’t see the road beneath your car when you look out the window. Another attraction on the Halsema Highway are the rickety old buses speeding like rocket ships, which add a whole new layer of excitement to the experience.
Tabuk to Tinglayan, Kalinga
Officially, the almost 3-hour-long route is called the Mt. Province-Tabuk-Enrile-Cagayan Road – a mouthful. And when driving through its winding mountainous highway, the road is an eyeful as well. Some turns would reveal verdant rice terraces carved on the mountain ranges as far as the eye can see, while some turns would unveil sparkling blue rivers snaking through the thick forest below. This is one of the most common routes to Buscalan, where the now legendary Apo Whang-Od, the mambabatok, lives. It’s also possible to commute this way by taking a Victory Liner bus from Kamuning to Tabuk, then taking a jeep to Tinglayan. When passing through this road, make sure to keep your windows down to maximize the fresh and cool mountain air.
Patapat Viaduct, Pagudpud
The Patapat Viaduct is a short stretch of road in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. What it lacks in length, however, it makes up for in drama. The road itself is right on the edge of the mountain and seemingly hangs over the ocean beside it. Cars can stop on the roadside (with caution!) and take photos of the stretch, where you can see the giant pillars holding the road up. The contrast between the lush greens of the mountainside and the deep blue of the ocean is a sight to behold, especially after coming from long expanses of white sand beaches.
SCTEX to Subic
We’ve become all too familiar with SCTEX, being the bringer of shorter trips to Subic and Baguio. But have you looked out the window during your drives at all? The lush landscapes on both sides of the highway look like they’re right out of Amorsolo paintings. If you look hard enough, you could even start seeing the classic Filipina beauties bathing and doing their laundry in the streams, just like in the maestro’s works. Another highlight on that drive are the massive retaining walls on either side of the road. These feats of engineering not only add to the character of the landscape but also help keep the mountains intact and prevent landslides.
The Nasugbu-Ternate Highway was completed less than 5 years ago. It’s fast becoming an alternative to the now-congested Aguinaldo Highway when going to Batangas from Manila. The highway starts in Nasugbu, Batangas and ends in Cavitex. It also features the Kaybiang Tunnel, a 300-meter long stretch piercing through Mt. Pico de Loro, which has become a tourist spot in itself. In between is a breathtaking drive with commanding views of the Batangas shoreline and mountains. Bikers and motorists can even stop by a view deck between Pico de Loro and Kaybiang Tunnel, and enjoy refreshments at the small sari-sari store while watching the sunset.