Places To Visit

Coron, Palawan Island

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.

Things To Do In Coron

Kayangan Lake is a hidden natural treasure on Coron Island. Surrounded by high cliffs and thick foliage, the lagoon-like lake is reputed to be one of the cleanest not just in the Philippines but in all of Asia. Take a leisurely swim or ride on a bamboo raft across the crystal clear water before climbing up to the viewpoint to snap off a few shots of Coron Bay.

Twin Lagoon on Coron Island is a quirk of nature in that it has both fresh and saltwater. It’s also a spot where the underwater scenery is as incredible as on the surface so make sure to take a snorkel and mask. The first lagoon of the pair is only accessible by boat and entering the second depends on the tidal conditions on the day. If there’s a low tide, the second lagoon can be reached through a swimmable crevice in the rocks. If the tide is up, then you’ll need to climb a ladder to get to it. Getting in, whichever way you do it, will give you the sensation of entering into another world.

Mount Tapyas is seven hundred foot high mountain on Coron Island worth climbing to see the fantastic panoramic views of Coron, the ocean and the neighboring islands from the summit.

Mayon Volcano

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.

Climbing Mount Mayon

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. 

The Best Places to View the Mayon Volcano

The best place to view the Mayon Volcano, and the one which requires the least strenuous effort, is from a window seat in an airplane. If you’re flying into Legazpi, ask to be seated on the left side of the plane to see the volcano in all its majesty or when flying out of the city, sit next to a window on the right-hand side. There are also great views of the volcano from the airport itself.

Another option is to visit the Cagsawa Ruins, a sixteenth-century church tower in the Daraga municipality of Albay, from where the vistas of the temperamental mountain are uninterrupted and incredible.

Alternative Places For Volcano Trekking in the Philippines

Mount Mayon isn’t the only volcano in the Philippines worth seeing or climbing. Check out the Taal Volcano which is the world’s smallest active volcano and located just outside of Manila or take a day trip out of the city to Mount Pinatubo, a volcano famous for making the twentieth century’s second largest eruption. It’s also possible, though definitely not easy, to climb Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines.

Banaue Rice Terraces

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 BatadBangaanMayoyaoKiangan, and Hungduan and a must-see when in the Philippines.

Banaue Rice Terraces Viewpoints

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.

Batad Rice Terraces

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.

Best Time To Visit Banaue and Batad Rice Terraces

While the Banaue rice terraces are amazing to see at any time of the year, they’re at their best a month or two before harvest time when the rice plants are a vibrant green, before they slowly ripen and turn golden as the season progresses. The best time to go is from June to July or alternatively from February to March when it’s planting time. The Batad rice paddies are planted twice a year and usually at their greenest from April to May or from October to November, but as with all agricultural crops, a lot depends on the weather and the world’s ever-changing climatic conditions.

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