Manila is the capital city of the Philippines. Aside from being a melting pot of various races and cultures, Manila is home to various attractions that make it worth visiting – either as your primary destination or as your gateway to the other islands of the country.
One of the most famous destinations in Manila is Rizal Park, also called Luneta, located at the northern end of Roxas Boulevard. It is here where the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, was executed. A monument now stands in the center of the park, which also serves as the point of origin, or kilometer zero, for all other cities in the Philippines.
Intramuros is a district surrounded by a three-mile stone wall. (Intramuros literally means “within the walls.”) Stepping into this district is like stepping back in time, as many of the buildings are preserved in their original Spanish style from the 18th century, and horse carriages are available to transport travelers around the area.
Nearby is Manila Bay, considered one of the finest harbors in the Far East. The breathtaking sunset is always something to behold, no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
Subic is another popular vacation destination in the country, for locals and foreigners alike.
Formerly a U.S. naval base, Subic has been converted into a busy vacation headquarters. At Zoobic Safari, you can walk with wild animals as the park’s caretakers tell you all you need to know about the animals you see. At Ocean Adventure, you can literally swim with the dolphins, as well as be amazed at the aquatic life that are protected by the park. At Tree Top Adventure, you can fly through the trees, through various zip lines and cables, or leisurely glide on top of them in caravans and roped benches. At El Kabayo Equestrian Center, share your time with horses as they prance or gallop about in their play area. You could either ride them or simply walk beside them.
Bohol is an island in the Visayas region of the Philippines. It is home to the world-famous Chocolate Hills, a collection of thousands of small hills (1,268, to be exact) that are all roughly between 30 to 50 meters in height.
At first look, it is hard to believe that these hills are not man-made – their uniformity in shape and size is a true natural wonder. They are all covered in grass which, at the end of the dry season, turns into a deep shade of chocolate brown, from which they got their name.
The Chocolate Hills isn’t the only tourist attraction that Bohol can offer. You may also opt to visit the Loboc River, a river that cuts through the whole Bohol province. The riverbanks are filled with lush greeneries and placid sceneries. Tourists can take cruises in riverboats complete with hearty buffets and local entertainment to take in the beauty of the river.
This province is also a spelunker’s paradise, with around 1,400 caves that you can explore.
Palawan is home to some of the most exotic flora and fauna that can be found in the Philippines. In this province, we find the El Nido Marine Reserve, which is a nesting site of hawksbill turtles; the Malampaya Sound Land and Seascape Protected Area, habitat of the bottle-nosed and Irrawaddy dolphins; and Ursula Island, a migratory and wintering ground for seabirds and shorebirds.
It is the jump off point to Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that holds 10,000 hectares of atoll reef densely populated with a wide variety of marine species.
It is also the site of the Puerto Princesa Underground River – the world’s longest navigable subterranean river, and a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The Underground River is five miles of natural beauty that is a truly unique experience for those who choose to take a boat ride through its length. It is not a mere body of water inside a cave, as the river exposes you to breathtaking stalactite and stalagmite structures and wondrous cave formations. The river courses through these caves before pouring out into the South China Sea.
The mouth of the river, on the other hand, is home to a multitude of wildlife species. Ancient trees grow right up to the water’s edge, serving as a home to a variety of monkeys, lizards, and other animals.
Mt. Pinatubo is located in Luzon, spanning the boundaries of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. Its eruption in 1991, where it released 10 cubic kilometers (2.5 cubic miles) of material into the atmosphere, is considered as one of the worst volcanic disasters in recent times.
Today, however, Mt. Pinatubo has been transformed into a tourist destination. You can use 4×4’s to travel to the volcano’s base, and then hike by foot to its peak.
The physical demand of the hike might be too much for some, but for those who have the stamina and good health to make the climb, the immensely serene view of the deep-blue lake in the volcano’s once-fiery caldera makes the hike well worth it.