Awesome Adventures in Tarlac Perfect for Every Kind of Outdoorsman

by Julia Escaño

Sometimes, the best adventures are found right outside your door – or at least kind of close to it. Take Tarlac, for instance. It is only 2.5 hours from Manila and is a downright mecca of exciting activities. Sure, there is the famous Pinatubo trek, which tourists flock to, year in and year out. But not many are aware that there is so much more to see. Rappelling? Canoeing? Whitewater rafting? There is no shortage of outdoor pursuits in this province north of Manila. If Mother Nature calls out to you on a weekly basis, check out these fun activities in Tarlac that will surely quench your thirst for thrills.

From Above

Fly high on a helicopter ride

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Few things truly capture the phrase “experience of a lifetime,” but a private helicopter ride over the lahar canyons of Tarlac and the turquoise crater of Mt. Pinatubo is one of them. PhilJets, a renowned aeronautics company, offers private charters over the famous volcano. Guests can experience views few have seen, and appreciate one of the country’s most iconic destinations from a breathtaking perspective. PhilJets offers tours ranging from 1 hour and 25 minutes to up to 3 Continue reading Awesome Adventures in Tarlac Perfect for Every Kind of Outdoorsman

This Bulacan Itinerary is Perfect for Every Weekend Warrior

Bulacan is one of the most historical provinces in the Philippines. From the Malolos Constitution to the Battle of Quingua, many momentous events in our country’s story took place here. It’s also rich in culinary tradition and natural resources, making it a great destination for short vacations.

So for you weekend warriors out there, we created a list of the must-visit tourist spots in Bulacan! Choose between natural wonders, cultural landmarks, and delicious food for a fun weekend with the gang.

Tour Angat Rainforest Eco-Park, Norzagaray

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Photo by Albert Lozada | CC BY

The Angat Watershed isn’t only responsible for the potable drinking water or the electricity within Manila and its surrounding towns and provinces. It’s also home to a diverse species of flora and fauna native to the Philippines. A tour at the Angat Rainforest Eco-Park, which is part of the Angat Dam Continue reading This Bulacan Itinerary is Perfect for Every Weekend Warrior

This Heritage Town in Laguna is a Living Museum Worth Visiting

by Julia Escaño

If the constant stream of tourists in places like Vigan and Taal say anything, it’s that there’s still space in the Filipino’s heart for culture and history. After all, there’s no better way to get a feel for the olden days than to visit a town that’s pretty much a time machine. One such place is the Pila Heritage Town in Laguna.

Pila’s historic town center is located in Barangay Sta. Clara Norte. In 2000, The National Historical Comission (NHC) declared it as a National Historical Landmark, but didn’t gain traction as a mainstream tourist spot until a few years ago. If you’re looking for a cultural weekend experience and a quick break from the city, check out Pila Heritage Town for a good dose of history.

It’s only 1 of 4 such towns in the country

Over the centuries, one war or another obliterated most of our rich heritage. After 300 years of Spanish colonization and the subsequent American reign, we were left with only 4 towns recognized as national historic landmarks. These are the city of Vigan, the town of Taal in Batangas, Silay in Negros, and Pila, Laguna.

It’s like going back in time

A visit to Pila Heritage Town is an excellent way to get a real feel of the Philippines in that era. Its rareness and the stellar condition is a unique peek at the way the country once was. It’s also an opportunity for some great photos, with blocks and blocks Continue reading This Heritage Town in Laguna is a Living Museum Worth Visiting

5 Fun Weekend Destinations You Can Reach by Bus from Manila

by Julia Escaño

It’s the weekend, and there is another mega sale in one – or God forbid, all – of the city’s many malls. You can already imagine the traffic that is going to lock the city down. The thought alone is stressful enough. So what better way is there to deal with Manila’s chaos than not having to deal with it at all? Perhaps this is the perfect excuse to head out of town for the weekend to properly unwind.

There are vast options for weekend destinations near Manila that you can reach by bus. Whether you decide to go north or south, there are beautiful outdoor destinations, cultural sites, and (best of all) delicious local flavors to enjoy. If a quick trip for a breath of fresh air sounds appealing, check out these awesome spots waiting just around the corner.

Angeles & Magalang, Pampanga

Start with a memorable meal at Bale Dutung
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Photo by louis r | CC BY

Start the weekend right with a 10+-course degustation by Chef Claude Tayag at his homey Angeles space called Bale Dutung. Chef Claude is most known for hosting Anthony Bourdain on his first visit to the Philippines. Now, part of the menus offered at Bale Dutung are the dishes Chef Claude prepared for Anthony Bourdain himself. Also offered are courses highlighting lechon, Kapampangan specialties, and Christmas dishes. The well-paced degustation is a whole day affair, starting at Continue reading 5 Fun Weekend Destinations You Can Reach by Bus from Manila

A Different World Awaits in These Lakes Near Manila

by Julia Escano

When you cross out all the mountains and hiking trails nearby, and had your fill with food trips, where do you go next? Sure, there’s always something to discover in the dozens of towns and cities surrounding Manila. But at some point all of them start to look the same and you crave for something different. What then?

One yet-to-be habitual destination for city dwellers are the lakes near Manila. While some are already famous, there are others waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. These lakes near Manila are perfect for weekend getaways and daytrips; where you and your family or barkada can while away the day swimming or having picnics.

So if your gang is looking for a different escape, check out these scenic lakes near Manila for your next weekend getaway.

Taal Lake, Batangas  

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Photo by Babak Fakhamzadeh | CC BY
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With the ever-increasing traffic jams going to Tagaytay these days, the thought of relaxing in the scenic ridge city is becoming more and more stressful. Instead of getting caught with the throng, why not escape to nearby Taal Lake and the smaller Crater Lake. While the rest merely enjoy the view, you can enjoy everything else this famous destination has to offer.

Resorts like Club Balai Isabel and Taal Lake Yacht Club offer tours to these spots. Packages usually start with a boat ride through Taal Lake to Volcano Island. Once on the island, you can have an easy trek or a short ride on horseback to the peak, Continue reading A Different World Awaits in These Lakes Near Manila

Visit These Unspoiled Spots for Your Next Watersport Adventure

by Julia Escaño

With 7,107 islands locked by dozens of seas and one vast ocean, it’s no surprise we have a bounty of destinations for every kind of water activity. Our love for all things water even led to man-made sites just to provide space for our favorite recreations. Despite this abundance, there are still areas in the Philippines that are considered the best destinations for water sports. And we’re not talking about the famous ones where hordes of people flock to at every opportunity. These travel spots may be less popular and less crowded, but they offer conditions that are just as good – if not better – than their more famous counterparts.

Check out these Philippine hidden water sports spots if you think it’s something you want to get into. You may just find your next weekend destination.

Wind-surfing

Kingfisher Beach, Pagudpud

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Kingfisher Beach is exclusively manned by the Kingfisher Resort, located in the remote barangay of Caparispisan, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Getting here is serious business since it’s far-removed from the town center, which takes about 14-16 hours from Manila by land. But for those willing to take on the journey, great rewards await. Kingfisher Kite and Wind Surf Center are equipped with first- Continue reading Visit These Unspoiled Spots for Your Next Watersport Adventure

Discover Biliran: The Waterfall Capital of the Philippines

by Dov Weinman

Please quit complaining about your coworkers bragging about their off-the-beaten-path visit to a remote island you’ve never even heard of. Finding those getaways isn’t as hard as you think. Here’s one: Nestled in the water between Leyte, Samar, and Masbate lies Biliran — a mountainous, rice-terraced, and waterfall-filled island spot that will make you want to update your travel bucket list.

If you haven’t heard of Biliran, maybe it’s because you see that little island on the map and think it’s a part of Leyte. Up until 1992, you would’ve been right. In 1992, Biliran became one of one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines at just over 200 square miles. Biliran affords plenty of opportunities to get lost in true island life regardless of its small size. With provincial charm and no tourist traps that plague other well-known island destinations, Biliran is one of the country’s best kept secrets, and it’s waiting for anyone adventurous enough to unlock its hidden gems.  

To jumpstart your journey, here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about this magical province:

1. Biliran is the waterfall capital of the Philippines.

Outdoor adventure junkies will love Biliran’s legendary waterfalls. The province has such a high concentration of waterfalls (a total of 30!), that the Department of Tourism brands it as the “waterfall capital of the Philippines” in their promotional materials.

WaterfallCapital, Biliran

Just north of Naval, the Municipality of Almeria is home to some of the island’s more impressive falls. Take a short hike uphill from mountain-based Barangay Caucab and follow the trail to the cliff-sided Bagongbong Falls. While you swim in the refreshing pool, you can stare up at the cliffs to see trees leaning out for the sun and vines cascading down the lush walls.

Photo by Reyn Tancio

An even taller waterfall awaits near Barangay Sampao. There, the Ulan-Ulan falls cascades 90 feet down, and you can witness the water break apart and fall from the sky like the rain it’s named after. A bonus for making this trip is the nearby Recoletos Falls, located directly above Ulan-Ulan, which isn’t quite as impressive but flows into a refreshing and swimmable pool with great rocks for relaxing and enjoying the view. Continue reading Discover Biliran: The Waterfall Capital of the Philippines

These Eerie Spots Near Manila Will Get You Into the Halloween Spirit

by Julia Escaño

Between visiting departed loved ones and partying in your chosen costume, Halloween season is always full of festivities. But is this really what Halloween is about? Or is it about letting the spirits and elementals of the netherworlds roam freely for one night?

No matter your flavor of Halloween, there’s no denying that ghost hunting and horror stories are part of the holiday. Looking for a destination to get your hands on some hair-raising excitement? These top haunted places near Manila are sure to give you a taste of Halloween’s essence. So bring your brave buddies, strap on those running shoes (just in case), and get the ultimate Halloween experience!

St. Pancratius Chapel, La Loma Cemetery

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Photo by cyndayco/ CC BY | Photo by cyndayco/ CC BY

Approximately 132 years ago the La Loma Cemetery, then known as the Cementerio de Binondo, opened its original wrought iron gate to the gentry of Manila. Since then, dozens of the country’s elite have been laid to rest in its grounds, lying beneath ornate tombs and magnificent mausoleums. It has also been years since the old St. Pancratius Chapel at the heart of the cemetery was put to use.

As creepiness goes, the abandoned chapel with its baroque design and skull and crossbones details is pretty hair-raising, especially when you visit it on a quiet afternoon. If you’re lucky enough to peek through an open window, the empty hall and debris on the floor are a haunting remembrance of decay. That said, actual horror stories at the St. Pancratius Chapel are pretty rare, so there should Continue reading These Eerie Spots Near Manila Will Get You Into the Halloween Spirit

24 Hours in Bataan: A Day In The Country’s Cultural Haven

by Julia Escaño

The weekend is coming, and you have nothing planned. Maybe your bones are still a little sore from that climb you did last weekend. But there’s the undeniable travel itch, and you just have to get out there and do something. You want to travel, but hopefully somewhere not too far it will take up your whole weekend again.

We get it. Wanderlust on a time budget is a thing, and we’ve got you covered.

Bataan province is a promising destination for culture and history enthusiasts. The best thing is that it’s only 2 hours from Manila — easily accessible by bus or car! Between shrines, memorials, and beautifully preserved colonial architecture, there is so much to see and do here to foster national appreciation.

If you’ve only got a day for exploration, make every minute count with this handpicked selection of things to do in the country’s cultural and historical mecca. You can kiss your travel itch goodbye for now.

In the morning: Get in touch with history in Mt. Samat National Shrine

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Photo by Storm Crypt | CC BY

Start your morning with a solemn but exhilarating bird’s eye view of Bataan’s hills and rice terraces at Mt. Samat Shrine. A scenic drive to Continue reading 24 Hours in Bataan: A Day In The Country’s Cultural Haven

Welcome to the Mindanao You Rarely Hear About

by Julia Escaño

Imagine this: you’re a group of friends planning your next travel getaway. If you’re the adventurous types, beaches, waterfalls, caves and rivers would probably be on that list. A quick Google search shows you that all the top sights can be found in Mindanao. You’re all excited and pumped up, until someone from the group asks the perennial question — “Is it safe?”

Years of unrest have tarnished Mindanao’s reputation among travelers. Fear, scorn, or at the very least, a hint of concern from our well-meaning Titas are the usual reactions to this travel destination.  A great shame, we think. While there are legitimate reasons to be wary of certain provinces, not all of Mindanao is buried in turmoil. Some regions are just as peaceful- and beautiful – as the rest of the country.

This month we welcome you to the Mindanao you rarely hear or read about. It’s time to get to know this southernmost island groups beyond the grim news we see on TV. Many of the Philippines’ most stunning landscapes, whether natural or man-made, are found here. If you’re ready for an experience of a lifetime, check out these gorgeous sights awaiting you when you travel to Mindanao.

(And yes, Tita, they’re safe.)

Surigao Del Sur

Tinuy-an Falls 

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Photo by Rolly Magpayo | CC BY

“Majestic” is perhaps the word that best describes one of the largest waterfalls in the country. With 3 tiers, Tinuy-an Falls stands at 55 meters tall and 95 meters wide, with the middle tier having the biggest drop. It’s a 45-minute to an hour habal-habal ride from Continue reading Welcome to the Mindanao You Rarely Hear About