50 ways to rediscover the Philippines in 2022

With Philippines borders now open to both domestic and international passengers, there has never been a better time to travel around the country

We like to say that there are 7,641 reasons to come to the Philippines, and it’s true: tropical islands of all shapes and sizes are especially tempting after the last two years of surreal pandemic living. But there’s also the level of hospitality, the warmth of the welcome and the relentless have-fun-wherever-you-find-it attitude among the local hosts that’s bound to make one of your first trips post-Covid more satisfying than surreal. That’s on top of very specific gems around which you can tailor a larger itinerary. Here are 50 examples – and we’re sure there’s at least 5,000 more. So why should you fly to the Philippines now?

1. Surfing and beyond in Siargao

The island may be world-famous for its numerous surf spots – and waves for every level of surfer, from noobs to world champs – but Siargao’s charm goes well beyond surfing. The island has plenty of natural assets to draw even non-surfers, from remote beaches to rock pools to the largest mangrove forest in the Philippines, located in the municipality of Del Carmen. Although Siargao is still reeling from the force of Super Typhoon Odette, which devastated pretty much the whole island in December last year, they’ve been quick to rebuild. The iconic Cloud 9 Tower, usually the judges’ perch during the annual surf competition, is on track to be fully restored in time for this year’s Siargao Surfing Cup in September.

2. Water sports and history spotting in Cebu…

If you’re looking for a beach fix, landing in Cebu is a strategic option for accessing a variety of destinations: from Moalboal for the sardine runs, to Malapascua for swimming with thresher sharks, to Mactan or Bantayan for sitting on the sand, twiddling your toes and soaking up the sun. But the mainland isn’t too shabby either: Cebu City is a bustling metropolis with plenty of historical sites, from the Parian district, founded in 1590 as a trading settlement of mainly Chinese merchants, to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu, home to the oldest Catholic relic in the Philippines, if contemporary culture anchored on religious artifacts is your jam.

3. …and don’t forget the lechon!

It is arguably Cebu’s greatest export, has been called “world’s best pig” by the late Anthony Bourdain, and is replicated outside the province – from Manila to Singapore and further afield – as Cebu lechon, but in its birthplace it’s simply called lechon: whole pig, stuffed with salt, pepper and lemongrass, then slow-roasted over a charcoal spit for hours until the skin turns red and crackles. Dripping with fat and flavor, there’s no need for any kind of dipping sauce.

4. Also, that new bridge connecting Mactan to the rest of Cebu

If you’ve been awed by Hong Kong’s Tsing-Ma Bridge, you’re going to like this one: the newly opened Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX), a project of the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, is an ambitious piece of public infrastructure. The third bridge to connect Mactan Island with the rest of the Cebu mainland, the 8.5km CCLEX traverses the Mactan channel, landing on the southern part of Cebu City and in the town of Cordova on the Mactan side.

5. Dining in Boracay

A series of closures hobbled everyone’s favorite summer island destination, from the six-month closure in 2018 ostensibly for environmental rehab, to the Covid19 lockdowns of the past two years. Now, the dog bone-shaped island with arguably the finest white sand in the world is ready to welcome visitors. The big bonus: new dining establishments that sprouted during the pandemic.

6. Discover natural wonders in Bohol

It’s one of those destination islands with a well-developed tourism menu for which a three-day weekend visit might prove a little too short. Natural wonders? Check out the Chocolate Hills, a curious geographical formation of over 1,268 small hills – ranging from 30m to 120m meters in height – dotting a 50sq km plain. Curious fauna? The Philippine Tarsier Foundation in the town of Corella can tell you all about the world’s second-smallest primate and its habitat. Some diving, maybe? There are several options, from the popular islands of Pamilacan and Balicasag, to the lesser-known dive spots in the municipality of Anda, on the eastern side of the Bohol mainland.

7. Sailing trips and underwater advetnures in Palawan

You’ll need several trips to soak up all the must-visit spots in this long chain of islands along the western side of the country. On the northern end of the chain is the Calamianes, a cluster of islands that includes popular destinations such as Busuanga, Culion and Coron. Here, lagoons of crystalline waters, enchanting karst landscapes and quiet beaches – the ancestral domain of the Tagbanwa, one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Philippines who are also considered among the original settlers of the archipelago – set the dreamy scene to sailing trips and underwater adventures.

8. Embrace the mystical in Siquijor

A quick, 50-minute ferry ride from Dumaguete in Negros Oriental, this island has a unique selling point beyond a 102km shoreline characterized by long stretches of sandy beach. Siquijor has a mystic flavor to it, and indeed it’s labeled the Mystic Island of Central Visayas, thanks to its folk healing practices, a tradition that features potions and incantations. The fact that it also has the Lazi Convent, made of thick stone, corral and hardwood, completed in 1891; it is reportedly the biggest and oldest Catholic convent in Asia.

9. Visit Apo Island’s marine sanctuary

Another ferry ride form Negros is Apo Island, a small island with a community-run marine sanctuary that protects the rich biodiversity of its waters, including over 650 documented fish species and more than 400 species of corals. In the Apo Island Marine Protected Area, a project started by the country’s premier marine biologist Dr. Angel Alcala almost four decades ago, the diving and snorkeling are a particularly rewarding experience. On any given dive, you’ll come face to face with two species of sea turtles, green turtles and hawksbills.

10. Hang ten with the creatives in La Union

Although La Union is a large province north of Manila, its initials have become shorthand for a specific locale with a very specific vibe: the municipality of San Juan, where the steady beach breaks have given rise to a laid-back, surf-oriented lifestyle. Naturally, this has drawn hordes of weekenders from the big cities of Metro Manila, approximately four hours by car, and Baguio, about an hour north of LU. As the pandemic forced office workers to remote working arrangements, many creatives decamped to LU, some permanently, for the fresh air, the spread of culinary options and the surf.

11. Because the feeding never stops

If you have at least one Filipino friend, chances are you’ve tasted someone’s version of adobo or lumpia, whipped up from family recipes and proudly served with lots of personal backstories. For a fuller appreciation of a people through the plate, new tours, cooked up by the Department of Tourism and its partners during The Great Global Travel Pause of 2020 to 2021, offer delicious eats across the foodie regions of the Philippines. These tours provide plenty of anthropological, historical and gastronomic context to the many regional cuisines across the country. Most of the tours are organized slow-food experiences that range from a full day to three days, and take you across scenic landscapes in the countryside.

12. Indulge your tummy with Pampangueña cuisine

There’s good reason to call the province of Pampanga, to north of Metro Manila, the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, and not just because it’s the birth place of favorite bar chow sisig (minced pig parts like ears, cheeks, jowl and liver, seasoned with calamansi, onions and chili, and stir-fried with soy sauce). A number of rich and hearty dishes that originate from Pampanga borrow heavily from Spanish cuisine – tweaked to include locally available ingredients – and figure prominently in the Great Filipino Cookbook: morcon, embotido, bringhe, caldereta, afritada…you get the picture.

13. We do wonderful things with pork

Like boiling seasoned pork hock until tender, then deep-frying the whole thing until the skin pops and crackles (crispy pata). Like boiling a slab of pork belly, air-drying it for hours, then deep-frying it twice (bagnet). Like mixing ground pork with minced garlic and stuffing it into natural casings of pork intestine (longganisa), with recipes varying from region to region, some plump and fleshy, others dry and crispy. Like lechon. And the list goes on.

14. Just the seafood in general

In an archipelago like the Philippines, bountiful seafood is almost a given everywhere. Still, some corners of the country have a bit of an advantage. General Santos City and Davao City are known for the tuna fished out of their waters; the Province of Isabela for lobter; Bohol for oysters; Surigao del Norte for crab, prawn and spider conch. Then there’s Roxas City, Capiz in Western Visayas, often tagged the “Seafood Capital of the Philippines”, a kind of one-stop destination that has it all.

15. Because inasal, like lechon, deserves special mention

There’s a whole district in Bacolod, Negros Occidental called Manokan Country, devoted mainly to one of Negros island’s most famous dishes – chicken inasal (called inato in the adjacent province of Negros Oriental), or chicken marinated in special seasoning and grilled until golden and charred in all the right places. Best eaten with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and calamansi and white rice drizzled with sinfully delicious spicy chicken oil (aka drippings of chicken fat). There are several restaurants at Manokan Country, nearly all of them named after women, but Aida’s appears to be particularly popular.

16. Festivals, aka street parties with costumes

There’s always a major one somewhere in the Philippines anytime of the year. Although mostly religious in nature, these festivals are anything but solemn; it’s all about energetic dancing, colorful costumes and merrymaking. Two famous ones happen in January – Kalibo’s Ati-Atihan and Cebu’s Sinulog, a festival rooted in the moment Hara Humamay, queen of Cebu and wife to local chieftain Rajah Humabon, was given a statue of the child Jesus (called the Santo Niño) by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, a colonizer under the Spanish flag, some 500 years ago. The occasion marked the island’s acceptance of Christianity.

17. Food as fiery as the view

Delicious spicy-coconutty dishes, brine-scented sea breeze, the perfect cone of Mayon volcano looming from everywhere – what more could you ask for in a foodie weekend? In Legazpi, Albay, savor Bicolandia’s best-known dishes: Bicol Express (pork or seafood stewed in chili and coconut milk), laing (taro leaves stewed in garlic, ginger, shrimp paste and chili and coconut milk), kinunot (flaked stingray, moringa leaves, chili and coconut milk) – are you noticing a trend here? There’s even a sili (chili) ice cream at local restaurant chain 1st Colonial Grill that serves scoops according to your preferred level of heat.

18. And, oh, the mangoes

There are many local varieties of mango, but the carabao mango, also known as champagne mango, has the distinction of being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the world’s sweetest mango” (back in 1995, but still). Dubbed the generic name of Philippine Mango in fancy green grocers around the world, you can have your fill of the distinctively sweet and succulent variety in the province of Zambales, which dedicates a whole festival to the fruit (the Dinamulag Festival in the town of Iba, a must-see if only for the mango-inspired costumes and mascots), and where the produce is exported to many countries around the world. Or you can make your way to the island province of Guimaras, in Western Visayas, where a reported 50,000 mango trees have earned it the “mango capital of the Philippines”.

19. When you’re over sisig, try sinuglaw

It might be impossible to trace the genius who dreamed this up, but it’s widely accepted that this dish more or less originated in the Visayas and Mindanao. Take two of Filipino cuisine’s greatest hits – sinugba or char-grilled pork belly and kinilaw na tuna, or tuna chunks cooked in acids such as vinegar or citrus – and throw them in together. Like sisig, it’s a popular dish served at drinking places.

20. Roam the world’s oldest Chinatown

Manila’s Binondo district, established in the late 1500s, is considered the world’s oldest Chinatown. Located just outside Intramuros, the stone fortress exclusively for the colonial Spanish, and along the Pasig River, this is where Chinese merchants have conducted brisk trade for centuries. The district became especially busy during the American occupation, when multi-story commercial buildings began populating its narrow streets. These same buildings are now largely abandoned, but their neoclassical designs and weathered facades draw heritage buffs to the area. Binondo is far from being a museum of old buildings though; it is, as it’s always been, the place to go to for excellent Chinese food in Manila.

21. Walk the cobblestones of Intramuros

It might be one of the more obvious tourist destinations in the capital, but it’s also a great starting point to understanding how the Spanish colonizers establishment a colonial government in the archipelago, which they then managed from a city, fortified with thick walls, at the mouth of the Pasig River. Parts of Intramuros, which means “within walls”, are still laid in the cobblestone and within its perimeter are old churches, museums, Spanish-time houses and Fort Santiago, where the Philippine national hero, Dr Jose Rizal, was detained on charges of rebellion against the Spanish crown and later executed by firing squad. Go on a guided tour of the city within a city on foot or by bamboo bike.

22. Imbibe the vintage charm of Escolta

Once upon a time, during the American Occupation, Escolta was the Philippine capital’s main street, it’s most fashionable address for retail and banking, home of the country’s first-ever ice cream shop (Clarke’s). Although it languished for decades as a district of semi-abandoned and decaying Art Deco buildings, it’s found a contemporary audience of creatives drawn to the cheap rent, vintage art and the possibilities of such a storied street.

23. Check out the Museum of Natural History in Manila

The building alone merits a whole afternoon’s visit: originally built as a government building for the Department of Agriculture and Commerce in 1940, it follows a neoclassical architectural style on the outside but is strikingly modern and open inside, where a soaring steel structure called the Tree of Life presides over the central atrium. The museum houses 12 curated galleries that showcase the uniqueness of the archipelago’s geological makeup, as well as our most remarkable flora and fauna.

24. Get awed by the Art District of Bacolod

The city’s contemporary art scene, among the most vibrant in the country, gravitates around the Art District, an 8,000sqm creative hub of galleries, artist-run spaces, bars and restaurants, and even a theater. The area is anchored on the Orange Project, founded by artist Charlie Co, which showcases contemporary art of all kinds of media by Negros-based and other Visayan artists, whose works also appear as larger-than-life murals all around the colorful district.

25. Take a hike

The country’s underwater game may be top of class, but the mountaineering isn’t far behind. The Philippines may not have super summits, but the mountains – from Benguet’s Mt Pulag, the highest elevation in Luzon, to Mt Apo in Davao and Kidapawan, the country’s highest peak – offer an intriguing terrain that makes hiking both challenging and satisfying. Sign up with a mountaineering club or an adventure outfitter if a climb is on your agenda.

26. Live in the past at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan

It’s not so much a tour of old buildings as it is a trip back in time into a shiny, affluent, seaside town in Spanish-era Philippines. In this living museum of sorts, you’ll be awed by the level of craftsmanship and the sheer amount of work that went into the reconstruction of ornate heritages homes, salvaged from the edge of complete ruin and transported to Bagac, Bataan. Las Casas offers has hotel rooms and F&B outlets (and, yes, WiFi), so stay the whole weekend for a relaxing time at the beach and a leisurely walking tour through history.

27. Catch up on history at The Ayala Museum

It’s conveniently adjacent to Greenbelt Shopping Mall in the heart of the Makati Central Business District, so you won’t need to make a wide detour from your shopping spree to catch up on some Philippine history. The museum has permanent collections of artefacts and modern art as well as a library, but a high point is the diorama experience, a gallery of hand-carved dioramas that illustration the story of the Filipino people.

28. Don’t miss The Battle of Surigao Strait Museum

This little-known but unique museum in Surigao City has an outsized story to tell: an epic naval battle between Japanese and American forces that’s acknowledged to have turned the tide of war in the Pacific. On the night of October 24, 1944, American and Australian forces sank five Imperial Japanese Navy warships in the waters of the Surigao Strait. In 2017, the RV Petrel, a high-tech research vessel owned by the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, conducted more research into the area, helping revive nearly forgotten stories of wartime heroism in the Philippines, stories that the Museum and the memorial adjacent to it are helping to preserve.

29. We bottle our delicious booze quite beautiful

That might sound like a bizarre reason to go anywhere, but not when you’re fussy about liquor. We’ve always had strong and delicious spirits, and the iconic sips include lambanog, traditional liquor distilled from palm toddy; tapuy, rice wine from the central highlands of Luzon; and Tanduay, the official unofficial rum of Philippine parties. Over the years we’ve gotten a little fancier, and our top shelf includes Don Papa Rum, Manille Liqueur de Calamansi (in an especially attracted beveled glass bottle), and craft gin brands such as Santa Ana and Proclamation, both of which spotlight Philippine botanicals such as ylang ylang and sampaguita.

30. Go underground at The El Deposito Underground Tunnel

The massive Spanish-era network of tunnels running under San Juan was once a reservoir (with the Marikina River as its water source), an armory during the American Occupation, a hospital and firing range under the invading Japanese and, after the Liberation of Manila, a derelict piece of the past. It stayed abandoned until 2016 when the University of the Philippines’ Archaeological Studies department began excavating the site. Government support soon followed and the Museo El Deposito opened in 2019. After lockdown-related delays, the El Deposito Underground Tunnel opened to the public in August last year.

31. See contemporary art at Pinto Art Museum

The Mission-style architecture of this airy museum in Antipolo might be a throwback nod to the country’s Spanish colonial heritage, but the art it houses is decidedly contemporary. Pinto means door in Filipino, and the museum founded by arts patron and surgeon Dr. Joven Cuanang provides a visual gateway to the current climate courtesy of some of the country’s most acclaimed artists.

32. Embrace your inner hippie at Casa San Miguel in Zambales

A former private family retreat that includes a mango orchard is home to the CASA San Miguel Foundation, an arts foundation founded by Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata, a violinist who was one-third of the Bolipata Brothers, a group of siblings and musical prodigies that also included Jed, a pianist, and Chino, a cellist. It has a conservatory where musical scholars perform as well as a café and a B&B for visitors. The whole atmosphere oozes with a palpable creative vibe, thanks in part to the artistic influence of another sibling, Plet Bolipata, and her husband Elmer Borlongan, both of whom are among the most exciting visual artists in the Philippines today. The couples’ studio is in a private area of the property.

33. Take a photo with the whale sharks…

It’s an experience of a lifetime to swim with these gentle giants of the sea, whose spots are as unique to each one as fingerprints. Sadly, not all whale shark tourism sites in the country are operating at a sustainable level. How to dive in responsibly? According to LAMAVE or Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute, a Philippines-based NGO that works to protect marine megafauna in the region –sharks, rays, turtles – Southern Leyte, where the shark tourism project is run by the local community and the KASAKA People’s Organization, hosts the most sustainable shark tourism model in the country.

34. …and thresher sharks in Malapascua, Cebu

Shark nerds, divers and adventure travelers love Malapascua for its laidback atmosphere and the guaranteed daily sighting of pelagic thresher sharks in the nearby Monad Shoal. These long-tailed sharks can grow up to 3m but pose no danger to humans at all; they come to the shoal and linger in the waters as cleaner fish like moon wrasse nip off dead skin and parasites that have accumulated on their skin. The Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project, which has collected behavioral data on threshers thanks to the daily presence of sharks at the shoal, is based in Malapascua.

35. Get your energy up at the rapids at Cagayan de Oro

Something to get that adrenaline-flowing: a heart-stopping ride through dozens of rapids in the 48km Cagayan River in Misamis Oriental. New to white-water rafting? Adventure operators offer a 12km course that covers 14 rapids that you can complete in approximately three to four hours. Otherwise, the advanced course will take you over 21 rapids in about four to five hours.

36. Plan a visit to Tubbataha Reefs National Park

It’s one of the most magical places on this planet. The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a 96,828ha protected site that hosts a rich diversity of marine life, from whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and endangered Humphead or Napoleon wrasse, as well over 350 species of coral and 700 fish species. The park, which is administratively under the municipality of Cagayancillo in Palawan, is in the middle of the Sulu Sea, and the best way to visit is to carve out several days from your calendar and hop on a liveaboard. Several companies have permits to visit the area and among the older, more established players known for a great crew is M/Y Discovery Palawan, which offers seven-day dive trips around the North and South atolls, and the Jessie Beazley Reef.

37. Follow the trails in the Cordilleras

From seas to summits, there’s something for every kind of outdoor adventurer in the country. If get your natural highs from scaling mountains, the annual Cordillera Mountain Ultra, a grueling 50km running competition along the trails of Mt Ugo in Benguet, is your jam. Founded by JP Alipio of the Cordillera Conservation Trust as way of protecting the ecology through tourism, the mountain race draws elite athletes from around the world, helping cultivate pride within the local communities and a sense of stewardship over their wild spaces.

38. Ride the rodeo in Masbate

Strange but true: Masbate has an annual Western-style rodeo. The Rodeo Masbateño in Masbate City is a tribute to the province’s livestock industry; ranch hands and farmers dress up in cowboy outfits and compete in events like bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, calf roping and barrel racing. Whether you jump in the arena and join in or settle on a spot in the spectator stands, it’s guaranteed to be a unique and photogenic experience.

39. Chase the waterfalls

It’s not what TLC recommends, but do it anyway – up and down the archipelago are enchanting waterfalls totally worth chasing. Iligan City in Mindanao has 20, including the country’s best-known waterfalls, Maria Cristina. At a height of 97m, it powers a hydroelectric plant that reportedly supplies 70% of electricity in Mindanao. Other impressive waterfalls include Asik-Asik in Alamada, North Cotabato, a green wall of lush flora with cascades of water. It was largely unknown to anyone outside the province until 2010, after which it quickly became an Instagram favorite.

40. Feel small at Mt Hamiguitan Bonsai Forest

The Mt Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, the sixth in the Philippines. It’s home to one of the most diverse wildlife populations in the country, including endangered plants and animals such as the Philippine eagle. Mt Hamiguitan is also home to the world’s largest tract of natural pygmy forest, an otherworldly ecosystem of bonsai or dwarf trees and small animals, almost fit to size.

41. Hang out at Masungi Geo Reserve

Just under an hour’s drive east of Manila, this swath of protected area in Baras, Rizal, in the southern end of the Sierra Madre, has become a favorite destination for active day trips in nature. Enjoy a tour led by a park ranger through the Discovery Trail, a four-hour course through hanging bridges, viewing decks and walkways suspended between limestone karst peaks that jut through a lush forest. The protected area is home to some 400 species of flora and fauna, and is an award-winning example of sustainable ecotourism in the country.

42. Because we need traditional healing

Two years’ worth of social distancing may have made the soothing power of massage feel like a distant memory, so make sure to squeeze it into your itinerary. Hilot, a traditional healing modality, is rooted in indigenous knowledge whose goal is more than just physical wellness, although that’s certainly a large part of it. Hilot aims for alignment of mind, body and spirit, and the practice includes massages, herbal tonics and energy healing (and for the real believers, ritual chanting). Reputable spas in Metro Manila will usually have the standardized version on the menu, but you’ll need to actively seek out traditional practitioners if you’re going to the countryside. Don’t worry, someone will always know someone who knows someone.

43. Experience Dumaguete at dusk

Many people who recommend travel to Dumaguete will agree: it’s a vibe thing, and you’ll need to experience it to know exactly why we love the university town atmosphere in this Central Visayas city. Although there are other universities in Dumaguete, it’s still best known as the home of Silliman University and its leafy, laid-back campus. Founded in 1901 as the first American institution for higher learning in the country, Silliman is famous for an annual national writers’ workshop run by some of the Philippines’ best-known literary figures, as well as a marine lab whose founders include Dr Angel Alcala, a National Scientist and advocate of marine biodiversity and ocean protection. The seaside promenade, Rizal Boulevard, is a favorite spot for strolling at twilight and for sitting on the seawall, soaking up the briny breeze.

44. Explore underwater caves

As if there aren’t one million and one things to do in Palawan already – the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, described as “one of the world’s most impressive cave systems”, is even more reason to get yourself there. In this mountain to sea ecosystem – of primal forest, karst formations, brackish water (for part of the river) and saltwater – hundreds of unique tropical flora and fauna thrive, but perhaps the most visible would be the swiftlets and bats. It features an 8.2km underground river that flows directly into the sea, and the effect of the tides can be seen 7km into the cave. Tours are only allowed up to 4.3km.

45. Get lost in Batanes

North of the country, a collection of emerald islands with a hilly and rugged terrain offers some of the most breath-taking landscapes in the country. The islands are home to the Ivatan, an ethnolinguistic group who have learned to live with the harsh climate of strong winds and high waves that once characterized much of the year: they live in stone houses topped with thick thatch, and work the pastures with a unique-looking headgear called vakul as protection from sun and rain.

46. Take photos in Lake Sebu

The lake is an important watershed that feeds waterways in the provinces of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat. It’s within the ancestral domain of two indigenous groups, the Ubo, a sub-group of the Manobo, and the T’boli, who are known for their dream weavers, women who weave an abaca fabric called t’nalak based on patterns that come to them in dreams. Parts of the lake where bright pink lotus flowers bloom are incredibly photogenic, and you can enjoy a slow cruise through this magical lake aboard a traditional dugout canoe.

47. Because fancy-dining scene in and around the capital is leveling up

After a two-year lull during which many restaurants pivoted to home delivery services, in-person dining is back in full swing, and Metro Manila’s bars and restaurants are ready to make up for lost time. There are the favorites that make the international lists (Toyo Eatery, Gallery by Chele, Antonio’s) and the star chef-helmed establishments (Grace Park, Helm), then there are the relative newcomers such as Mrs Saldo’s, a lush private dining destination in Silang, Cavite and Farmer’s Table in Tagaytay, a semi-alfresco farm-to-table restaurant, that are making dining out feel like a special event.

48. Admire the Rice Terraces

Long before it became Thanos’ retirement spot of choice, the Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras were inscribed as a World Heritage Site. The protected site includes five clusters – Batad, Bangaan, Mayoyao Central, Hungduan and Nagacadan (it’s unclear whether Marvel’s supervillain parked his hut in Batad or Bangaan, both in Banaue) – all of which can be found in the Ifugao region, although there are many more spread out across the highland interior of Luzon. These breathtaking agricultural landscapes, emerald green terraces that have been hand-carved according to the contours of the mountains, have been continuously cultivated by the Ifugao across two millennia.

49. Go diving in Anilao

Here’s how to make a dive trip to the Philippines well worth it: head to Anilao in Batangas, about two to three hours’ drive south of Manila. With 75 dive sites, it’s rated by PADI as the best destination for underwater macro photography, thanks to a reef teeming with colorful marine life. Hammerhead sharks are a common sighting in January and April, but a whole bunch of other underwater superstars are likely to make an appearance here all year round: whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, hawksbill turtles, eagle rays, dolphins. If you’re likely, you might even spot a pilot whale or a sperm whale around December.

50. Get inked

Once on the verge of extinction, the traditional tattoo art of the Kalinga highlands has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts, thanks to the celebrated Apo Whang-Od, the last master tattooist or mambabatok of the Butbut tribe. Experts date this particular practice, used to mark life stages and valor, to be over a thousand years old, and in the last decade, hundreds or even thousands have trooped to the remote highland village of Buscalan to get inked by the legendary mambabatok, who uses a bamboo stick, orange tree thorns and soot to create body art. Whang-Od, who has two apprentices, is 105 years old.

Cebu Pacific continues to offer its guaranteed low fares to stimulate travel across its widest domestic network, with multiple flights to top Philippine destinations, such as Boracay, Davao, Cebu, Bohol and many more.

Written by

Tara Sering

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