Why do you travel? Are you breaking the cycle of your daily life, or perhaps reliving the adventures of your book or movie heroes? We move around for various reasons. Some hit the road to decompress, others to heal a broken heart. Traveling can be a form of therapy. “When it [travel] corrects the imbalances and immaturities of our natures, travel reveals its full potential to function as a form of therapy in our lives,” as The Philosopher's Mail beautifully puts it.
Breathe a fresh perspective into your life by opening up to the best travel experiences in the Philippines. For your next off-peak travel adventure, explore Aklan province. Marvel at mangrove forests, pristine beaches and historical landmarks. Here's your budget Aklan travel guide.
An enchanting mangrove forest
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Your first stop from the Kalibo International Airport is a massive mangrove forest that houses Aklan's rich flora and fauna. The Bakhawan Eco-Park is perfect for travelers wanting a closer connection with nature. Take the 1-kilometer bamboo trail and feast your eyes on the various types of mangroves, birds and fishes. If you need to rest your feet, you can lounge under the sheltered rest-stops. Quench your thirst with fruit juices and try the exotic delicacy, tamilok. Tamilok is an edible worm-like creature that lives inside mangrove wood. After cleaning their insides, these crawlers are placed in a bowl and sprinkled with vinegar. This is a culinary experience you can truly say, “only in the Philippines!”
Bring home craft souvenirs made by locals. You can also buy fresh seafood that the residents harvest themselves. Most importantly, take photos of the majestic mangroves, the Sibuyan Sea and the breathtaking Aklan sunset. The entrance fee for non-locals is Php150 per person. You can rent a tent if you wish to spend the night for only Php500, good for two persons.
A majestic hill and its hidden gems
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If you want to know the best month to travel to the Philippines, there is none. The archipelago of more than 7,100 islands has something for you any time of the year. Have a day tour at the Tigayon Hill, the only hill in the capital Kalibo. From the top, you'll have a grand view of the massive blue waters and greenery of the province. Tigayon Hill is more than an eco destination. It was home to the first inhabitants in the islands as evidenced by recent archeological discoveries. A team of archeologists from the National Museum found quartz crystals, Chinese earthenware dating back to the 13th century, and shards of pottery that existed in the Metal Age (400 B.C. - 800 A.D.).
Tigayon Hill is a popular Catholic pilgrimage site during the Lenten season. It's also a top destination for educational tours and trekking. Admission is free. Make sure you bring your own water and snacks as there are no diners or restaurants in the site.
A worry-free escape on one of Boracay's highest peaks
Photo courtesy of Alta Vista de Boracay
What to do in Aklan? If there's one thing you shouldn't miss in the province, it's Boracay. Boracay, named as one of the most beautiful islands in the world, is known for its vibrant parties, gastronomic delights and outdoor activities. The island is definitely one of the best places to visit in Aklan.
Are you flying to the island during the off-peak months of June to November? No problem. You don't need the striking sun to enjoy your time. Alta Vista de Boracay offers you a grand view of Boracay from one of its highest peaks, comfy rooms, well-equipped leisure facilities, and a menu of sumptuous local and international dishes. You can host your mini get-togethers at the Function Hall. What about a Star Trek-inspired birthday party or a 70s retro-style family reunion? If you want to embrace your sweet solitude, you can lounge by the infinity pool and relax with a glass of fruit shake. Alta Vista de Boracay offers Rainy Days Promos and other discounts during off-peak season.
A shopping spree like no other
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Tourism is a major industry in Aklan. Many locals earn their living as fishermen, fruit growers and staff in restaurants, hotels and resorts. When you visit the province, take the time to explore the arts and crafts hubs that not only bring livelihood to locals, but also promote their rich culture. For authentic handmade paper products, check out Papierus Arts & Crafts on Osmeña Avenue in Kalibo. You can buy gorgeous paper products such as gift boxes, diaries and photo albums made of natural and eco-friendly materials. For many centuries, the people of Aklan have been weaving clothes and home décor from piña. Get yourself an intricately woven piña fabric from the Dela Cruz House of Piña, which is composed of a massive network of community-based weavers. There are beautiful baskets made of the tropical vine nito and apparel from abaca.
There are handicraft shops scattered all over Aklan. Take a walk around the public markets and bazaars as well as in tourist sites. The selections are overwhelming.
A trip down Aklan's iconic past
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They say that the best way to understand a people is through their cuisine. You shouldn't leave Aklan without trying out local delicacies, but you should also visit the museums where priceless artifacts are kept. Museo it Akean (Aklan Museum) houses the tangible proofs of the province's rich culture and heritage. “This little downtown museum, in a nicely restored school building between the market and Pastrana Park, offers a rare look at Aklan history, culture and traditions,” according to travel site Lonely Planet. The other historical sites you should visit are the Aklan Freedom Shrine and the Kalibo Cathedral which was originally built in 1581.
A no-frills relaxation
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The best things in life are free. Get yourself a bottle of cold beer and watch the sunset by Aklan's pristine coastline.
Traveling can be life altering. It can open your eyes to new possibilities beyond your 9-to-5 lifestyle. Embrace nature, meet people and just let the moment sweep you off your feet.