As travelers from around the world seek out the warmth of the Pinoy welcome, a guide to the most-visited and lesser-known but equally charming destinations can prove useful – even to Filipinos coming home for the holiday season.
GoodNewsPilipinas put together this list of top popular and new destination finds that would give you the best of what the Philippine islands have to offer especially this Christmas season, based on the year’s best good news stories about the beauty of the Philippines.
THESE ARE 10 PHL VACATION SPOTS YOU CAN VISIT THIS CHRISTMAS:
1. Banaue for globetrotters, recommended by National Geographic
National Geographic Travel has identified the Philippines as one of the 10 Places That Deserve More Travelers, citing the “blindingly green” view of the 2,000 year-old Banaue Rice Terraces in North Luzon – a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Local tribes keep the Banaue heritage site verdant, serving as tourist guides and offering homestays in traditional Ifugao huts.
2. Baguio, a UNESCO Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts
Baguio, known locally as the City of Pines, is usually the first stop before moving on to a more adventurous trip to the Banaue Rice Terraces.
The Philippines’ first UNESCO Creative City is categorized as a recommended Crafts and Folk Arts city.
World-class artists BenCab and Kidlat Tahimik reside and showcase their works in Baguio city, and tapestry woven by Igorot natives are offered in the markets.
3. Rizal, a weekend getaway off the beaten track
Just 16 kms. east of Manila, the province of Rizal offers the Pililla windmills that can rival the Bangui windmills, and the web-like Masungi Georeserve limestone formations for hikers and rock climbers.
Rizal is known as the nation’s art capital with several murals and art galleries especially in Angono, being the birthplace of national artists Carlos Botong Francisco and Lucio San Pedro.
4. Intramuros, Manila you can “FollowMeTo”
The viral “FollowMeTo” couple of Murad and Nataly Osmann went to the Philippines and recorded impressions of unique Filipino fashion, their “It’s like we’re in Europe” amazement at the preservation of the 16th century walled city of Intramuros, riding the creative “wonderful local bus” called the jeepney, bargaining at a local fruit stand, and sampling popular Manila cuisine.
The Osmanns released You Tube episodes of their adventures in the country for public viewing.
5. Mayon Volcano, challenging but rewarding adventure trip
The Osmanns explored the islands outside Manila lured by the authenticity of each single one of the over 7,000 islands.
The social media celebrity couple landed in Albay to film the world-famous Mayon Volcano as the country was hit by a typhoon but came away thinking, “It’s so awesome to be God knows where and to see this beauty…And the sky is so calm.”
Their FollowMeTo snapshot was taken at Cagsawa Church ruins with a view of Mayon, followed by a ride on quad sport utility bikes to get closer to the perfectly-coned volcano.
6. Bohol, for the incredible beauty of Chocolate Hills
The Osmann pair climbed to the top of a Chocolate Hill in Bohol for their FollowMeTo snapshot of Nataly wearing Filipino fashion.
The FollowMeTo videos show the couple praising the incredible beauty of the hills, and the powdery white beaches and pristine waters of Bohol.
7. Camiguin will leave you speechless
The island province of Camiguin in the Bohol Sea and about 10 kms. off the coast of Mindanao, offers breathtaking vista of lush greeneries and surrounding clear blue waters.
Inland there are waterfalls, hot and cold springs for dips, folks who share their freshest ocean catch of the day, bike rides, colorful local costumes and dances, fresh fruits, and the Spanish church ruins.
You can enjoy basking in the warm sand on the White Island sandbar beach, or snorkel around the island’s coral reefs, and at the end of the day pay homage at the Sunken Cemetery off the coast of Camiguin.
8. Boracay, the world’s best island for travelers
Boracay has been voted the world’s best island for two years in a row, in a survey by Condé Nast Travel readers.
The 4-sq.miles Western Visayas island is seen “close to a tropical idyll as you’ll find in Southeast Asia, with gentle coastlines and transportative sunsets.”
White Beach and other beach front properties such as Discovery Shores – a Travel and Leisure Awardee for Best Resort Hotel – offer beachcombing spots, and waters for swimming, snorkeling and other water sports.
9. Cebu shopping and restaurant hopping comparable to Phuket
Cebu offers its famed beaches while offering more personal experience in shopping and restaurant hopping that is comparable to that of Phuket, Thailand, making it the
CNT Readers’ Choice for 2nd Best Island in the World.
Global travelers of CNT recommend the southwestern Luzon islands of Palawan, home of the new seven natural wonders of the world – the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River.
CNN Travel also recommends Palawan’s underground river as one of the most inspirational natural scenes in the world.
El Nido beach is heralded for its glorious white sand beaches, clear waters and numerous diving spots, making it a top pick for both the CNT and CNN Best Beaches in the World lists.
Coron is home to the Tubbataha Reefs in the Sulu Sea, a protected UNESCO World Heritage site.
Pamalican Island in the Cuyo Islands of Sulu Sea, with its top world class luxury beach resort Amanpulo, outranks other world-renowned beaches on the top beaches list by Suitcase Magazine.
Palawan was 2015 best island on Conde Nast Travel.
These 10 vacation spots are only some of the many offerings for travelers visiting the Philippine islands. As there are thousands of islands in the archipelago, there are thousands more ways to enjoy the legendary beauty of the Philippines and the Filipino people. A visit is a must on anyone’s bucket list.