If you’ve made it as far as Palawan Island in the Philippines and have seen the underground river plus all the sights of the island’s capital, Puerto Princesa, you may feel it’s time to hit the beach and take time out. While the municipality of El Nido in the north of Palawan island is a popular choice and convenient to reach for many visitors to the region, there is another option which has all the same features as El Nido but is much less crowded, and that’s Coron.
*In almost the same amount of time it takes to drive from Puerto Princessa to El Nido, you’ll find yourself in an incomparable paradise of lagoons, pristine white beaches and weathered limestone landscapes plus less tourism to contend with which is why Coron is number one on this list. If you’re not touring around but having a single destination break, fly into Busuanga and Coron is a one hour boat ride away.
The Philippines, with twenty-five active volcanoes, is the ideal country for volcano tourism. The Mayon Volcano, as well as being an almost near perfect classical cone shape, is one of the most amazing volcanoes in the world. It is also one of the most active and can be dangerous so if visiting it is on your wishlist, check its current eruption status here before going.
When the Mayon Volcano is taking a rest from spewing lava, it is possible to trek up it, though you’ll need to be prepared as it’s not an easy climb.
There are four camps along the hiking path. Basecamp, camp one, camp two and the final one, the crater itself. Making it as far as the second camp takes on average around three hours. Going any further up is not advisable unless you’re a seasoned volcano climber, have the right equipment and are accompanied by a trained guide who knows the terrain.
When you think of rice terraces, the first country which comes to mind will probably be China. Think again, because the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippine province of Ifugao are classed by many as the eighth wonder of the world.
The rice terraces were constructed more than two thousand years ago by the indigenous inhabitants of Luzon and rise, tier upon tier, up the mountain sides to a staggering five-thousand feet. Which, considering there was no agricultural machinery in that era, and the terraces were constructed by hand, is an incredible feat. The Banaue terraces are part of the extensive spread of Ifugao rice paddies which also include similar fields at Batad, Bangaan, Mayoyao, Kiangan, and Hungduan and a must-see when in the Philippines.
On the road up to the Banaue Rice terraces there are a total of four viewpoints spread out at quarter mile intervals. Rather than hiking up, hire a tricycle, they cost around 200P (Philippine pesos) for the return journey. Along the way, gathered at the viewing points, you’ll encounter native Ifugao and Bontoc women dressed in traditional costume, who for a small fee of 20P will permit their photograph to be taken.
Explore the Ifugao rice fields more by heading to the terraces at Batad. They are the most impressive of all though not the easiest to get to. It takes an hour to get from Banaue to Batad, and there is some walking involved. Put your hiking boots on because there are some great treks in and around the Batad rice terraces which you’ll want to experience when you’re there.
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