Visit trekking sites, magnificent waterfalls, and secluded beaches on your backpacking adventure in the Philippines. There are more than 7,000 islands in the country, and about 2,000 are habitable that you can visit. You can climb mountains in the Cordillera region or explore the rich marine diversity in Aklan. You may also learn about the country's colonial era by traversing the UNESCO Heritage site in the Ilocandia or visit Spanish period Catholic churches.
Summer is almost here. It is time to plan your island hopping escapade in the Philippines. Check out 15 summer destinations for 2019.
1: Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Photo courtesy of KuyaAndy via Pexels
Traveling to the Philippines? Head to Ilocos Norte, about 400 kilometers north of Metro Manila. It is a treasure chest of tourist destinations. Plan an adventure in Pagudpud, home to gorgeous resorts and beaches. To enjoy this place, wake up early at around 5 a.m. and wait for returning fishermen. They typically give free or discounted harvests to those who help them bring their boats ashore. You can have fresh lobsters, prawns, and fish cooked by resort staff.
2: Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Photo courtesy of krystianwin via Pixabay
Ilocos Norte is teeming with European-style architecture as the Ilocandia region was a Spanish stronghold. Visit the town of Paoay where a majestic church stands. The Paoay Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was erected in 1694 and completed in 1710. Marvel at its Baroque design and walls of Javanese influence. Adjacent to the church is the three-storey bell tower, built in 1793. It served as a watchtower for Filipino revolutionaries against the Spaniards as well as Japanese soldiers in World War II.
3: Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Photo courtesy of eydreeyawn via Pixabay
If you are planning for a budget backpacking getaway in the Philippines, make sure Ilocos Sur is on your list. The city, established in the 16th century under the Spanish regime, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stroll along the cobblestone streets of Calle Crisologo where colonial-era houses still stand. You can also shop charming souvenirs such as handloom blankets, buri and corn husk crafts, and native desserts like kalamay, made of glutinous rice and coconut milk.
4: Baguio City
Photo courtesy of doyevaristo via Pixabay
Among all the summer destinations in the Philippines, Baguio City is on the top of the list. The mountain city is at least 8 degrees colder than the lowlands. Tens of thousands of people flock to Baguio every summer to escape the heat in other parts of the country. If you want to avoid the crowds, go to the outskirts of the city and explore the beautiful towns and trekking sites. Discover the rich art scene in Ili Likha Artist Village, BenCab Museum, and Tam-Awan Village.
5: Kapangan, Benguet
Photo courtesy of eydreeyawn via Pixabay
The Cordilleras is a massive mountain range in the island of Luzon. The region is comprised of six provinces including Benguet. Have a nature tour in Kapangan, Benguet, which is a 2 to 3 hour bus ride from Baguio. Take a dip in the cold waters of hidden waterfalls and the Amburayan river. The river flows from the Cordillera mountains and passes through Benguet, La Union, and Ilocos Sur. Trek the mountains of Dakiwagan and Amkiyet, discover the natural beauty of Bolinsak and Longog caves.
6: Bolinao, Pangasinan
Photo courtesy of Free-Photos via Pixabay
From the mountain region in the Cordilleras, head on south to Pangasinan. The province is home to beaches, waterfalls, and cultural sites. A must-visit place is Bolinao, a former Spanish town. You can see the old churches and the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse, which provides an amazing view of an expansive plantation. Don't miss a trip to the white beaches of Rock Garden Resort and Patar.
7: Various towns in Pangasinan
The Philippines is known for its many colorful festivals. Many are observed as thanksgiving to patron saints while others, to commemorate the foundation of towns. Join the town fiestas in Binalonan (February 16-20), Laoac (March 1-5), Tayug (March 7-18), and San Manuel (March 10-15). Bolinao will celebrate its own fiesta on April 9-14, Mapandan on April 11-16, and Dagupan (also the Bangus Festival) on April 6-May 30.
8: Baler, Aurora
Photo courtesy Ed_Davad via Pixabay
Baler has earned a reputation of being a top backpacking site in Southeast Asia. This beautiful town in Aurora Province is a known spot for surfing, trekking, and outdoor activities. Go surfing in Cemento Beach and Sabang Beach. Plunge into the cool waters of Diguisit Falls. Discover the rich biodiversity in Dimadimalangat Islet, which is home to numerous species of marine and plant life.
9: Tanay, Rizal
Rizal is a 1- to 2-hour drive from the Metro. It is an accessible travel destination for city folks needing R&R on weekends. There are more than 35 mountains in the province for your backpacking tour in the Philippines. Plan a day hike with your friends to Mt. Cayabu and Mt. Maynoba in Tanay. These sites are popular for its gorgeous sea of clouds. The Maysawa Circuit, also in Tanay, is comprised of the mountains of Sa Pari and Binutasan.
10: Pililla, Rizal
Photo Courtesy of Alpecris via Pixabay
Pililla is a backpackers paradise in Rizal Province. It is regarded as the Green Field Municipality for its many peaks, hills, plains, and greenery. Mt. Sembrano, which connects the provinces of Rizal and Laguna, is a scenic destination for trekking and camping. The Pililla Wind Farm houses 27 wind turbines that provide clean energy to Rizal and Laguna households. For an amazing view of the windmills and the entire green municipality, head to the Bugarin view deck in the afternoon – just in time for the sunset.
11: Boracay, Aklan
Photo courtesy of banyanman via Pixabay
Your vacation in the country is incomplete without traveling to Boracay. Considered as the world’s most beautiful island last 2012 by Travel + Leisure, Boracay offers white sand beaches, diving spots, trekking sites, outdoor activities, and gastronomic joints. Go snorkeling or parasailing in the morning, scuba diving in the afternoon, and partying in the evening. You can enjoy your favorite drinks at the well-stocked Sports Bar in Alta Vista de Boracay.
12: Siquijor, Central Visayas
Photo courtesy of 000693 via Pixabay
The Visayas is a group of islands that feature an almost endless list of backpacking destinations. While most vacationers head to Boracay or Cebu, you and your buddies can visit the beautiful province of Siquijor. Chase waterfalls, especially the majestic Cambugahay Falls; lounge along Salagdoong Beach and Paliton Beach; and climb Mt. Bandila-an. Cap off your day with a visit to a pub and meet the locals. They might share folktales with you.
13: Capiz, Western Visayas
Photo courtesy of skeeze via Pixabay
Capiz is your perfect escape from the toxic city life. Also known as the the Seafood Capital of the Philippines, this Visayan province boasts of a number of natural sites for your backpacking adventure. The Culajao Mangrove Eco-Park is a paradise of mangroves, birds, fish and insects species. You can also visit Pilar for the cascading Hinulugan Falls and Tapaz for its breathtaking Pangilatan Falls. For a spelunking adventure, Dumalag offers Suhot and Lahab caves.
14: Tandag, Surigao del Sur
Photo courtesy of joakant via Pixabay
For a memorable summer vacation, Mindanao will not disappoint. One of its top backpacking destinations is Surigao del Sur, which is surrounded by Diwata Mountain Range and the Mindanao Deep trench. The capital Tandag is home to cold springs, waterfalls, and fish sanctuaries. Don't miss a trip to Cagwait White Beach for a relaxing vacation away from ecstatic crowds.
15: Iligan, Northern Mindanao
Photo courtesy of Fifalania-joy via Pixabay
The Maria Cristina Falls is one of the most popular natural wonders in the Philippines. It is found in Iligan in Northern Mindanao. Explore the many waterfalls and springs, as well as historic sites such as the Laya Ancestral House and Macaraeg-Macapagal Ancestral House. There are cave clusters and a camping spot on Mt. Agad-Agad that offers a spectacular view of Iligan City.
There's so much to visit in the Philippines, from mountain ranges to colonial-era churches. Every destination offers a selection of tourist spots, historic sites, and dining options. Plan your summer backpacking adventure in the archipelago!