It’s another year, Philippine Travelers! A full leap year to explore the wonderful islands that is the Philippines. While I cannot claim to have seen every nook and cranny of my country, I do know where the great places are. So I’ve come up with 7 Philippine Destinations to Visit in 2016.
This elusive Philippine destination is one for the books this year. Batanes is a coveted destination because of its beauty and exclusivity; flights are very expensive and quite rare to come by. Batanes is located in the northernmost part of the Philippines, right smack in the South China Sea.
Batanes is known for its pasture lands that resemble that of New Zealand’s, if not better. There’s also the Honesty Shop where customers can just take what they need and leave the payment in a box. The capital Basco is in Batan lsland where the famous Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge is located. The property is a mesmerizing work of art set on rolling hills with wonderful views of the sea. It is own by the artist Pacita Abad. Also, don’t forget to indulge in islands’ unique cuisine, mostly of seafood (read: LOBSTER!)
Best known for its harvest festival Pahiyas, this town in the Quezon Province will be a gem this year! Lucban’s Pahiyas Festival falls on a Sunday this year so it’s the best time to experience the colorful extravaganza held in honor of San Isidro Labrador. Lucban is just a few hours scenic ride from Metro Manila via private car or bus making it perfect for a quick weekend getaway or even an extended one.
Bring your cameras and happily snap shots of the colorful décor that adorn the houses. Try kiping, a rice wafer that is made in different vibrant colors. Kiping takes centerstage during Pahiyas as chandeliers, garlands and other embellishments. Also sample pansit habhab, a noodle dish served on a piece of banana leaf and eaten without a spoon or fork. And don’t forget to take home longganisang Lucban, a local sausage known for its distinct garlicky flavor.
You’re in for a culinary treat if you visit Iloilo, undoubtedly one of the best Philippine destinations to visit in 2016. Located on the island of Panay, this old city is equal parts charming and gastronomic. The old churches are incredibly preserved; most of them date back to the Spanish era. And the food is simply divine that you will probably gain a few pounds before you leave!
Iloilo is known for its old churches like the Miag-ao Church which is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Marvel at the beauty of Gigantes Island; take your snorkels and GoPros because you will not be able to resist the water! And while exploring Iloilo City, drop by La Paz market for a large bowl of the infamous batchoy.
This college town is a must visit when in the Visayas. Dumaguete is just a couple hours fast craft ride from Cebu City, ample time to rest up because the streets in this city are meant for walking! Dumaguete is a charming old city known as “The City of Gentle People”. It is also a popular retirement destination for expatriates looking to spend their golden years in the Philippines.
While in Dumaguete, don’t miss visiting Silliman University, the most prominent college in the city and the oldest American-founded university in Asia. Spend an afternoon strolling along Rizal Boulevard and every now and then stop at any of the food stalls selling cheap (yet delicious) eats. If you’re visiting between March and October, find time to visit nearby Bais for some dolphin and whale-watching.
We’re all familiar with Samal Island (formally Island Garden City of Samal) but we seldom hear about Talicud, a very short boat ride from mainland Samal. Talicud Island is a largely unspoiled paradise with pristine beaches and lush vegetation. There are quite a lot of resorts on the island but developments have not affected its beauty.
Talicud Island is perfect for water lovers. Aside from enjoying the clear blue waters, you can also go underwater and explore the coral gardens in the area. When available, a plethora of water sports can be enjoyed as well. You can also go island hopping or simply enjoy a quiet time by the sea. Talicud Island’s location at the back part of Samal makes for exclusivity some of us seek during vacations.
Surigao del Norte
The ultimate sun, sea and sand adventure awaits in this Philippine destination to visit in 2016. The world surfing circuit has definitely heard of or even already surfed the swells of Cloud 9 in Siargao Island but there’s a lot more on offer even for non-surfers. Siargao Island’s boho vibe is perfect for the traveller looking for a laid-back time just listening to reggae, sipping rum-coke and watching beautiful sunsets.
Surigao del Norte’s waters are also perfect for sport fishing. Avid anglers and even beginners will have a grand time looking for the perfect catch. Spelunking is also a great past time since the interesting caves abound in the region. Perhaps your kind of adventure involves jellyfish? Head over to Bucas Grande and the Sohoton National Park to swim with stingless jellyfish and just enjoy nature in its purest form.
The Summer Capital of Mindanao is slowly making a name in domestic tourism. Bukidnon, the land-locked province in Mindanao is a destination worth visiting this year. The mild weather is one of its main draws, as well as the sweet pineapple and the freshest of vegetables. You can say that Bukidnon is the Baguio of Mindanao, minus the traffic, congestion and perilous roads.
Experience the ride of your life at Dahilayan Adventure Park’s zipline which is known to be the longest in Asia. There’s also Kampo Juan’s adrenaline rush-inducing suspended bridge that’s 165 meters above a river, a river! Bukidnon has plenty of natural springs so after your adventures, you can relax in one of them. Or maybe you can have a peaceful retreat at the Monastery of Transfiguration and enjoy breakfast with the monks.
So there you have it, my recommended 7 Philippine destinations to visit in 2016. Have fun exploring the Philippines!