The Philippines boasts of its majestic beaches and scenic landscapes. With its more than 7,000 islands, each with its own unique beauty and personality, you can never feel bored when you’re in the country. Discover all the possible activities to spend your time doing in the Philippines.
A trip to the Philippines is not complete without exploring one of the country’s beaches. There are several water adventures to match everyone’s skills, preferences, and level of boldness.
This activity is for everyone, except maybe for those with motion sickness. No skill needed to be able to explore the islands since all you have to do is ride the boat and feast your eyes on the beauty of nature. Several islands in the Philippines are located near each other and can be explored in a day using an outrigger boat. You can either rent a boat for a private tour or join group tours organized by agencies.
Snorkeling is another fun water activity even for non-swimmers. See the country’s marine life up close and in a natural setting. A device called snorkel is used to aide in breathing and swimming goggles for vision. Snorkeling and island hopping are often done together – you visit the islands and then you explore the underwater scenario.
For the more adventurous travellers, diving is the way to go. Underwater diving enables you to explore deeper levels of marine life. For newbies, a course on basic diving is recommended in order to know the tips and tricks as well as proper usage of the equipment. In popular island destinations like Boracay and Bohol, you will find several resorts and centers offering various courses on diving. You can even get diving certification from these sites.
Surfing is for anyone who finds it exciting to ride the waves. It is fast becoming a popular water activity in the Philippines. Thanks to its several surfing destinations including La Union, Baler, Samar, Pagudpud, Zambales, Sorsogon, and of course Siargao – the country’s surfing capital.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
With stand up paddle boarding, you stand at full height on the board and use a paddle to propel yourself through the water. Aside from the sea, it can also be done on lakes, rivers, and big canals as well as while fishing or doing yoga.
Kayaking is the use of small, narrow watercraft and double-sided paddle to move across water. In the Philippines, whitewater kayaking is a favorite variation of kayaking as many find it exciting to traverse down a series of rapids. Some of the places in the Philippines to experience kayaking include Moalboal in Cebu, San Jose in Tarlac, Surigao del Norte, Hundred Islands in Pangasinan, and Camiguin Island.
Windsurfing is a combination of sailing and surfing. For beginners, hip-deep water is the recommended playground while flat water is ideal for experienced ones who wants to harness their skills. Bulabog Beach in Boracay is considered as Asia’s best windsurfing spot by most enthusiasts and the Funboard Center Boracay is known to have the newest condition for various conditions.
Wakeboarding is a water sport wherein the rider stands on a wakeboard which is being towed by a motorboat. Part of the sport is for the rider to perform aerial maneuvers or midair tricks. The best places to wakeboard in the Philippines include Lago de Oro in Batangas, Camarines Sur Watersports Complex, DECA Wakeboard Park in Davao, and Clark Wakeboard Park in Pampanga.
Like wakeboarding, kiteboarding is characterized by the rider on a board being pulled across water. But instead of a motorboat, a power kite does the trick. Boracay Island pioneered kiteboarding in the Philippines and remains the most favorite spot up to this day. Presently, the sport has reached Negros, Mindoro, Palawan, and as far as Ilocos.
Tourists who aren’t too fond of the water and all the water sports have the option to do land-based adventures instead. With equally scenic landscapes, it wouldn’t be too bad afterall.
Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a newbie, hiking is the most common activity on land. With this activity, you’d be able to explore mountain trails, lush forests, lagoons, and rivers.
The popularity of mountaineering in the Philippines is evident by the number of clubs, groups, and organizations existing in various parts of the country. Some of these clubs even offer courses to jumpstart your mountaineering journey. Taking up a course is not required, though, as you can simply join mountain climbing tours organized by these groups or tag along with your mountaineering friends. Mount Pulag is one of the most popular as it is accessible even to beginners. Mount Apo, on the other hand, is regarded as every Filipino mountaineer’s dream since it is the highest mountain in the country.
Rappelling is the use of rope to descend in a controlled manner, usually against a rock face. Aside from recreational rappelling, it is also applied in mountaineering, caving, and even search and rescue. For a quick rappel experience, try indoor play parks found in various cities in the country. For more thrilling experience, adventure parks such as Danao Adventure Park (Bohol), Laiya Adventure Park (Batangas), Hundred Islands National Park (Pangasinan) or Mt. San Miguel in Bataan is the way to go.
If you think there’s no desert in the Philippines, then you’re wrong! There’s a coastal desert located in Laoag and Paoay in Ilocos Norte, and it has become popular among adventure-seekers for its La Paz Sand Dunes Adventure. Like other boardsports, sandboarding involves riding a board across or down a sand dune, instead of water.
ATV stands for all terrain vehicles. The activity involves riding a three or four-wheel vehicle with a handlebar for steering. It has a seat for driver and some models can seat one or two passengers more. The ride is great in exploring steep mountains, muddy jungles, and even shallow river. You can find ATV rides in several tourists destinations in the Philippines such as Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Mayon Lava Trail in Albay, and Pinatubo Crater Trail in Albay. Unfortunately, some destinations like Boracay banned ATVs because of environmental issues.
If you are game for exploring dark and closed spaces, you will surely enjoy spelunking, or simply caving. The Philippines is blessed with interesting caves an adventurous soul would love the explore. There are hobbyists who do the activity on a regular basis but if there’s only one cave you will visit, make it Puerto Princesa Underground Rivera. It’s popular worldwide and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other caves worth visiting include Tabon Cave and Callao Cave.
Hot Air Balloon
There’s only one destination for hot air balloon ride in the Philippines and that is the province of Pampanga. Every year, local and foreign tourists alike gather to enjoy the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. The event used to take place between January and February but in 2019, it was moved in April. Aside from hot air balloon which is the highlight, a spectator will get to witness more air adventures like skydiving, aerobatics, choreographed kite flying, remote-controlled airplane and helicopter flying exhibitions, and many others.
Submit yourself, throw your worries away, and jump out of the plane! You can either jump with an expert strapped to your back or bravely do it alone. The top spots to consider for this nerve-wracking activity include Tropical Asia Parachute Center in Pampanga, Binalonan Drop Zone, and Skydive centers located in Cebu, Vigan, Davao Oriental, Siquijor, and Zambales
How about flying without an engine? That is the beauty of paragliding! The sport uses a foot-launched glider aircraft that relies on wind conditions only. Carmona Ridge in Cavite is the most popular location to enjoy this interesting air adventure.
Zipline adventure is common in the Philippines. One can experience it in several cities and provinces in the country. The Dahilayan Adventure Park Zipzone is longest in Asia at 840 meters in length. But no matter the length or height, most ziplines in the country guarantee scenic views over lush forests, rivers or seas.
The Philippines has a fascinating culinary scenario. Experience firsthand how Filipinos enjoy their foods.
Every town, city, barrio, and even barangay celebrates their fiesta every year. Be it in honor of their patron saint or their founding anniversary, fiesta in the Philippines is a colorful and lively celebration with food for everyone. It is one of the few days of the year in which residents prepare more than enough food and drinks for everyone, invited or not!
Boodle fight is derived from the military practice of eating a meal wherein they ditch the use of cutlery and dishes, and use their hands instead. The foods are placed on top of the table covered by green banana leaves. Diners also stand shoulder to shoulder while eating.
All You Can Eat Buffets
Also referred to as buffet, eat all you can is paying a fixed price and eating as much food as you can. The most popular eat all you can is of course Filipino favorites but some restaurants and hotels offer various foreign cuisines including Korean buffet, Japanese buffet, and international buffet. There are also dessert buffet, seafood buffet, pizza all you can, pasta all you can, and the likes.
Health and Wellness
Tried from your long-haul flight to the Philippines? You may want to incorporate these health and wellness activities to your itinerary.
Hilot (pronounced HEE-lot) is a local term for massage. It is an ancient art of healing wherein the manghihilot (the one who gives hilot) massages the patient to both detect and treat musculoskeletal ailments. Hilot has something to do with supernatural aspects as several practitioners claim that their ability is from a supernatural source.
Dagdagay Foot Massage
Dagdagay originated from the Igorot and other indigenous tribes of the Mountain Province (one of the provinces of Cordillera Administrative Region). Instead of using the fingers, this traditional massage uses to bamboo or rattan sticks to stimulate the pressure points of the soles of the feet. It is similar to the concept of reflexology but it is also a form of acupressure. Dagdagay massage is said to be a helpful therapy for high blood pressure, hormonal imbalance, depressive disorder and stress. It improves blood circulation too!
Also known as cupping therapy, ventosa is another ancient form of therapy that uses cups with suction in the hopes of treating various body pains including stiff neck, back pain, myofascial pain, muscle tightness and strain, malaise as well as fever, chills, and skin conditions. Cups could be made of glass, bamboo, silicone or earthenware. Side effects of ventosa may include bruising, blisters, and scarring. Better consult with an expert before trying.
Kawa Hot Bath
Popularized in Tibiao, Antique, kawa hot bath is bathing in a large work or cooking pan steaming over a log fire. It looks scary since it looks like you’re being boiled but the fire is just enough to keep the water warm. Also in the kawa are flowers and herbs to help remove body toxins and lower the body’s stress and strain level. In Tibiao, the kawa varies in size – for one person, for couples, and for groups.
Holistic Wellness Programs
Holistic wellness is achieving balance with the body, mind and soul. With holistic wellness program, it teaches one to meditate and practice mindfulness, eat clean foods, stay optimistic, and to love life. The Farm at San Benito (Lipa City) is the first destination in the country to offer health and wellness programs. Another destinations to consider include Anya Resorts and Residences (Tagaytay) and Aegle Wellness Center in luxury resort Balesin Island.
Heritage and Cultural
With the blend of traditional Filipino and influences of Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, America, and Indonesia, the Philippine culture is as diverse as it can get. It is evident in the activities below.
Festivals and Fiestas
Almost every city and province in the Philippines have their own festivals and fiestas. Fiesta is celebrated either in honor of the city or town’s patron saint or anniversary of their independence or foundation day. Fiesta is always associated with loads of food. Festivals, on the other hand, highlight on street parade and tribal dancing to the beat of the drums. Participants wear costumes made of indigenous materials. Philippine festivals known worldwide include Sinulog (Cebu), Dinagyang (Iloilo), Ati-Atihan (Kalibo) and Panagbenga (Baguio). Aliwan Festival, also referred to as the Mother of all Philippine Festivals, is the gathering of all festivals in the country.
READ MORE: Annual Philippine Festivals
Given that the Philippines is a Catholic country, visita iglesia is a common activity among devotees during the Lenten season. It is a tradition of visiting seven Catholic churches, or more, to pray before the Blessed Sacrament and recite the Stations of the Cross in each church. When biking became popular, enthusiasts start to organize bisikleta iglesia wherein the cyclists’ route covers seven churches.
While there are experts who believe that the country is not yet fully prepared for medical tourism, it is fast becoming popular in one category.
Aesthetics and Beauty
Based on a 2015 data, the country caters to approximately 250,000 clients every year to avail a variety of non-complicated procedures including dentistry, cosmetic surgery, aesthetic surgery, weight loss surgery, and dermatology. Foreigners choose the country for the said procedures in consideration of the cost of the procedure, lower accommodation cost, hospital facilities, high quality practitioners, and Filipinos’ English proficiency.
If shopping is your addiction, then you surely won’t go home empty-handed. Aside from the usual mall shopping, you may want to consider these activities too.
Ukay-ukay is a local term for “sift through”. It is the practice of thrift shopping or shopping for secondhand items such as clothes, bags, shoes, and other accessories. Prices of the items are very cheap and most of them are shipped from different countries more particularly from USA, Korea, and Japan. Though very common since you will find them in almost every city, ukay-ukay is considered illegal in the country as commercial importation of secondhand clothing is prohibited to safeguard the health of Filipinos and maintain the nation’s dignity.
Bazaar is a marketplace filled with shops and stalls selling a variety of items such as clothes, bags, shoes, organic products, and foods and delicacies, both locally-made and imported although there are bazaars specifically intended for local products only. Most bazaars are temporary set up only and usually takes place as part of a major event such as Christmas, New Year or during the city’s festival celebration.
Night market is like a bazaar but takes place at night. Aside from shopping, night markets are often organized with leisure in mind as it also involves strolling and eating. Sometimes, a band is playing in the background to entertain shoppers and spectators.
Traveling while volunteering is one of the most rewarding activities a traveller can do. With so many communities facing serious problems like poverty and pollution, the people will surely appreciate any help they can get.
Indigenous People and Poor Communities Outreach
Most of these communities are located in far-flung areas hence they have limited access to education and health care. The best way to help them is through regular medical missions and literacy programs. Before planning your activity, be sure to coordinate with the local government so they can help you with whatever you need to make your outreach successful.
Coastal and Underwater Cleanups
We all know the current state of our oceans and marine life. And with more than 7,000 islands, there is definitely a lot to be done. Several cleanup activities are organized both by government and private sectors every year. Usually, it takes place as one of the events of a major celebration like the annual festival or fiesta but it’s not unusual to find a group which organizes regular cleanups.
If you have a soft spot for animals, you’re better off with PAWS (Philippine Animal Welfare Society). It is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping abused animals. They need all the help they can get to make the lives of these poor animals better.
You can join tree-planting activities organized by local groups or you can even initiate your own. When you decide to initiate your own activity, it is a good idea to partner with the local government or even a private organization so there will be people who will see to it that the trees planted are taken care of.
Malnutrition is a common problem in the country. Aside from doing feeding programs, teaching them about healthy foods and how to cook them is a great idea too. If you have more time, you can also help them start a vegetable garden (if they have none yet) for them to have fresh source of greens later on.
You will never run out of activities to do in the Philippines, even at night. Below are what you can do after the sun sets.
Sunset Watching and Cruise
There are places in the Philippines marvelled for its beautiful sunset. Manila Bay, Boracay Island, Mount Tapyas in Coron, and Malapascua Island are just a few of the tourists destinations with stunning sunset. You can sit in a corner and enjoy the view or take the sunset cruise when available.
Bars, Clubs, and Discos
You will find bars, clubs, and discos, not just in the cities but in popular island destinations as well like Bohol and Boracay. Aside from local drinks, several of these businesses carry imported brands as well so you have an option when you miss your favorite drink back home.
Witness Filipino talent by watching live performance at concerts. Concerts of national artists and big bands usually take place in Manila but you can also catch them outside Manila during big events.