The Philippines made up of three major islands: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Luzon is the biggest of the three, and it is also the most populated. It located in the Northern part of the country, and it is where you can find the Philippines ’ capital city, Manila. Luzon is not only the economic and political center of the country, but it also has various tourist attractions to visit and an endless amount of recreational activities to do. Whether you are an adventurer, foodie, beach bum, or party animal, Luzon has something to offer for anyone under the Filipino sun.
Surf your heart out in La Union
The Philippines is an archipelago made up of 7,107 islands. It means that there is no shortage of beaches to visit in the country. One of the most popular beach activities to do in the Philippines is surfing.
La Union (LU) is known for its charming resorts, 8 to 10 feet waves, and picturesque sunsets. San Juan beach, in particular, is the leading surfing destination in LU. It has three beach breaks, which are called The Bowl, Beach Break, and The Point. Other surf spots you can check out aside from San Juan beach are Sunset, Car-rille, Bacnotan, and Darigayos. La Union has become a popular venue for surfing competitions over the years, but it is also ideal for all levels of surfers. After a good surf, there are several resorts, bars, and restaurants for tourists to relax in a while marveling at the magnificent sunsets along the LU coastline.
The best way to learn about a country is through its heritage. Intramuros is a Spanish-era walled city in Metro Manila where you can find historical landmarks such as Casa Manila, Fort Santiago, Rizal Park, San Agustin Church, and Manila Cathedral. A tour around the city will give you an idea of how Filipinos lived over 300 years ago, as well as information about the heroes of that time who rebelled against the Spanish rule. Aside from that, you can appreciate the historical, religious, and cultural artifacts in the museums in the area. There are many ways to explore Intramuros, and you can discover the city via a walking tour, bamboo bike, or from a horse-driven kalesa.
Vigan is a famous, old town located in Ilocos Sur. A UNESCO Heritage site, it is one of the few Spanish colonial cities left in the whole Philippines. You can appreciate the preserved architecture of the buildings, which are a mix of native Filipino styles mixed with Spanish influences. Photo op sights in Vigan include Calle Crisologo, Bantay Bell Tower, and the Syquia Mansion. What makes the historic city, Vigan, unique is that it is an outstandingly well-preserved European trading town in South-East Asia.
Stay in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a heritage village located on 400-hectares in Bataan. It is an open-air museum and resort with 128 guest rooms and 63 elite casas. The entire property is a restored piece of history worth visiting. You can opt to stay there overnight or book a walking tour for the day. Exploring the whole property will give you an idea of how “Illustrados” or past prominent Filipino families lived during the Spanish era.
Scuba-dive in Tubbatha
Another way you can know a country is through the depths of its oceans and seas. The Philippines has some of the richest, vastest coral reefs and a large variety of marine life. There is no shortage of diving sites in the country, especially in Luzon.
One of the world’s best dive spots, the Tubbataha reef, is located right in Palawan. Tubbataha reef has around 600 species of fish, 360 species of corals, 11 species of sharks, 13 species of dolphins, and many more. The best way to access this dive mecca is through a live-aboard boat. It involves being on a boat in the middle of the ocean and communicating with your loved ones via satellite phone.
Hike Highest Peak
Apart from beaches, the Philippines is also abundant in hiking trails. Mt. Pulag is one of the most challenging but beautiful destinations to trek in if you have a love for reaching new heights and exploring mountains. It involves a 9-hour hike that starts in the middle of the night until sunrise. You can camp on-site or live with the locals in a homestay setting. Although it is a long trek, the trail is beginner-friendly, and the view is breathtaking. Imagine having a cup of coffee at the peak while watching the sunrise above a white, puffy sea of clouds. The majestic mountain is Luzon’s highest peak at 2,926 meters of 9,600 feet.
Nature Experience Sagada
agada, a town in the Cordilliera mountains, is a hiking destination you should not miss.
A trek in this mountain province takes around three days. Not only will you be able to appreciate the scenic view of the mountains, but you can also see other Sagada highlights, which include the burial caves, hanging coffins, Sumaguing Caves, Lake Danum, Mt. Kiltepan, and Bomod-ok Falls. Sumaguing Cave is known for its natural limestone formations. Bomod-ok has a natural, eco-friendly swimming pool under its waterfalls. Finally, what Sagada is most known for is the multiple rice terraces carved into its mountains.
Visit Mayon Volcano
Mayon Volcano is a natural landmark in the Philippines because it is known for its perfect cone shape. It can be found in Bicol province. You can view it from afar or get up close and personal with it by hiking around its base. You can even book an ATV or mountain bike tour to take you on trails around the volcano. However way you choose to journey around Mayon, you will surely be marveled by it.
View the Underground River
Puerto Princesa’s underground river is not only a natural wonder, but it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The river flows through limestone caves and connects into the South China sea. A 20-minute boat ride through the cave formations and cathedrals will make you feel like you are voyaging to the center of the earth. The river was formed over millions of years ago. It is home to many species of bats, lizards, crabs, and giant spiders. You will experience a great combination of observing water, mountain, caves, and wildlife.
Party in Makati
Luzon is not just known for nature and cultural experiences. Makati, which is the most modern and busiest city in Metro Manila, is also worth exploring. Its main malls, such as Greenbelt, Glorietta, SM Mall, and Rockwell, are worth visiting in the daytime for an optimum retail experience. At night, Poblacion has a wide variety of roof-top bars, speakeasy bars, pubs, and other impressive establishments to have a drink and a great time with your friends.
Caramoan Islands located in Caramines Sur, and it is popularly known as the venue where multiple episodes of reality show Survivor, where shot. There are ten principal islands that makeup Caramoan which are Bag-ing, Cagbanilad, Catanhawan, Cotivas, Lagos, Lahuy, Matukad Minalahos, Pitogo, Sabitang-Laya. Any of the Caramoan islands are a perfect vacation spot for those who want to experience the splendor of Philippine shorelines that are not too tourist or heavily commercialized. These secluded islands are known for their powdery white sand beaches, pristine surroundings, stunning rock formations, and diverse marine life.
Situated in the Cagayan Valley region is the archipelagic province of Batanes. It is composed of 10 luscious islands or 84.56 square miles filled with beaches, lagoons, mountains, and caves. Around this area, the main sights to visit are Sabtang island, Bataan, Nakabuang beach, Tayid Lighthouse, Diura Village, Chapdian Beach, and Homoron Blue lagoon, to name a few. Batanes is also known as the “Home of the Winds” because of its generally cold and windy weather. Almost everywhere you go in Batanes is picture-perfect. The entire province clad with stone houses that add to its book-Esque façade. These were built by the Ivatans, a Filipino ethnolinguistic group that is predominant in Batanes. Some describe Batanes as an escape to a different world because of its grand landscapes and quaint lifestyles.
There are over a thousand things to do in Luzon. Depending on if you prefer the beach, city, mountains, or historical sites, you will most definitely not have a boring itinerary while visiting the Philippines. Luzon is only one out of the country’s three major islands, and there is still, even more, to see in Visayas and Mindanao.