In the island of Luzon lies the Philippines’ capital city, Manila. A bayside city, it is one of the central districts of business, yet it still retains traces of the Spanish colonial era with well-known structures, like Intramuros. If it is your first time visiting the Pearl of the Orient, we at CVMN will help you make the most of your holiday before jetting off to our famed beaches.

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Opt instead for a roadtrip with your travel buds and have a look into some of the things you can do without getting your feet wet.

Travel back in time in Manila

Photos courtesy of Mango Tours

What better first to explore than the capital of the country? Manila has a lot to offer, especially if you’re a history buff. There’s Intramuros, where the remnants of this once formidable fortress still stand. Visit the San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago, structures that have been in existence since Spanish rule. To get your fill of art, there’s the National Museum, which houses the works of masters such as Fernando Zobel and Juan Luna. Binondo, being the country’s Chinatown, is second to none if you’re in the mood for some Chinese food. Experience Manila now with Intramuros X! Book your visit here.

Forget your worries in Antipolo

Photo courtesy of Nicole Lim
Photo courtesy of Page One

To the east of the capital is the City in the Sky, so-called for its place way up in the mountains. Antipolo suits whatever mood you’re in, whether it be for rest and relaxation or that rush of adrenaline. Don’t miss the Pinto Art Museum, where many flock to in the name of Instagram. Luljetta’s Hanging Garden & Spa is your bet if you need some pampering. The view of the Sierra Madre mountains is a definite plus, too. Cloud 9’s Hanging Bridge provides a jaw-dropping 360-degree view of the entire city—but whatever you do, don’t look down! (The food isn’t so bad either; crispy pata and kare-kare are must-tries!) Antipolo’s Marcos Highway offers a wide variety of watering holes for the weary traveler, like the ever reliable Padi’s Point.

Go food-tripping around Pampanga

Photo courtesy of Xancho Iñigo

Just a couple of hours away is Pampanga, a landlocked region. Because it’s landlocked, it’s faced with the challenge of not having many natural attractions, like beaches or springs. The answer? To create attractions. Of course, don’t forget about the food. Pampanga is known for top-tier cuisine, like sisig, frog legs, buro, halo-halo, tocino, tibok-tibok, bringhi (the Kapampangan version of paella) and much more. Everybody’s Cafe, and Matam-ih restaurants are your best bets for these delish dishes. Be sure to stop at Clark City, which features man-made attractions like El Kabayo, the riding stables; Dinosaur Island, their version of Jurassic Park (minus the living, breathing reptiles); and Clark Museum, which shows the comprehensive history of Clark since its inception and surrounding areas. Every February, Clark hosts the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta—definitely worth it to see.

Cozy up in Baguio

Burnham Park
Photo courtesy of Wandering Soul Scamper
Photo courtesy of Althea’s Adventures

Further up north is the Summer Capital of the Philippines. Need we say more? Warm yourself up with a cup of coffee and the best breakfast in town at Cafe by the Ruins Dua. Stroll, bike or boat around Burnham Park and just breathe in the cool mountain air. Let colors soak up your eyes with the Valley of Colors, a collection of playfully painted houses perched on a hill. If you’re feeling a tad adventurous, try the Treetop Adventure in Camp John Hay. That should get your blood flowing. When the sun goes down, experience that rush when you find bargain buys at Baguio’s night markets.

Witness a stunner at Taal

Photos courtesy of Mango Tours

If you’re a trekkie (not the Star Trek kind), Taal, Batangas is where it’s at. The town’s man attraction lies in the crater of a volcano, but you know what they say: nothing worth it every comes easy. Pack your gear and brace yourself for the climb up to the rim, which is reachable by horseback. When you come back to the mainland, visit long-standing churches, tour around inside ancestral homes, enjoy Batanggeño food, maybe even shop for custom-made barongs or pinya fabric in this heritage town. Book your Taal exploration here now.

Chill out in Tagaytay

Photos courtesy of Mango Tours

Anyone looking to spend their vacation as stress-lessly and as chill as possible will not be disappointed in Tagaytay. Hailed as everyone’s favorite holiday town, this getaway is home to countless restaurants and coffee shops, most notable of which is Bag of Beans. You can also walk around natural beauty in Sonya’s Garden and the Palace in the Sky, while enjoying the cool temperature that is one of Tagaytay’s gifts. Of course, no trip here is complete without having its famous bulalo, a dish having bone marrow and beef with steaming hot soup and veggies. Savor the Tagaytay experience and book your trip now.

Dive with both feet in at Anilao, Batangas

Photos courtesy of iDive Manila
Photos courtesy of Mark Genuino

Bonus stop: located south of Manila and bounded mostly by water, Anilao is a real treat for water-lovers. Many journey to this destination to go scuba-diving, which you can enjoy. Take a beginner’s or advanced class, depending on your skill level and get PADI-certified in a matter of days. Learn how to take macro-photography underwater and get to know the rare creatures that live in the deep sea. Let CVMN take you there with iDive X. Book your Anilao excursion here now! (And who knows? You might even prove Atlantis is real.)

The Philippines has countless more spots you’ll definitely enjoy exploring and more that are just waiting to be discovered. Get those calendars out and set a date as soon as you can to visit any of these amazing locales.

Header image by Mango Tours

Article cover by Mango Tours  

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