Imagine three to five days of uninterrupted me-time. No blaring phone alarm; no waking up at 5 AM to prep for school or work; no emails to respond to. As summer approaches, this me-time a.k.a holidays is slowly turning into reality. What do you do when you finally get that most coveted break? You pack your bags and travel!
But, if thinking about the actual trip doesn’t spark happiness in you yet, well, perhaps you should start planning. You should start now as studies have shown that the mere act of planning for a trip generates excitement. It also elevates the vacationers’ moods before leaving. This is why, when it comes to domestic destinations, tourists and adventure-seekers have opted to resort to DIY trips rather than book a local tour package, according to a HSDV survey.
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Sure, the process of creating a DIY trip can be a bit taxing, but it’s also part of the fun! This also means that you’ll have the freedom to map out key cities that are often unexplored and a little less crowded especially during local holidays.
To save you time, we took care of the nitty-gritty. Grab a pen and jumpstart your break by listing down the following under-the-radar destinations to explore for the upcoming Holy Week and summertime!
1. Lake Sebu and General Santos City
Commonly known as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines, General Santos City is filled with activities that can be accomplished in a day trip. Are you up for land, air, and sea adventures? Gen San’s got you! You can choose from Sarangani Paragliding (PHP 3,000 per person that includes 4x4, photo, video, and gear), Sanchez Peak hiking (PHP 20 per person), or lake-hopping in Lake Sebu.
2. Oslob, Cebu
Oslob is synonymous with whale shark adventures, but that’s not all there is to do in this part of Cebu. Aside from it being the perfect jump-off point to go snorkeling or diving in Sumilon island, the country’s first marine sanctuary in 1970, it’s also home to the 300-foot Tumalog falls. Maximize your vacay and channel Yoon Se-ri (of the top Korean drama on Netflix “Crash Landing On You”) as you explore the city by tandem paragliding. Each 20-minute flight will cost you about PHP 3,500 per pair.
3. Vigan, Ilocos Sur
A trip to this UNESCO World Heritage city will take you back to the past as you walk along the city’s preserved cobblestone streets of Calle Crisologo. You’ll definitely go hungry with all that walking so head to Café Leona before all the seats get taken (it fills up with starving tourists pretty fast!). Aside from the famous Vigan longganisa, this restaurant, named after an Ilocana poet, Leona Florentino, also serves mouth-watering fusions such as bagnet pizza (PHP 300++) and bagnet-bacon maki (PHP 210).
Cap your day off with a kalesa ride that can take you to at least 8 key places within the city for PhP150 per hour.
4. Ermita Hill, Baler
Baler, Aurora province’s capital and oldest municipality, is known as a surfer’s paradise. Just like the other magnificent cities mentioned in this travel guide, there’s so much more to do and experience than just surfing here.
Instead of taking the usual beach route, start your day with a quick hike to Ermita Hill and savor the breathtaking view of Sabang Beach’s cove that’s clearly seen from up the hill. Why Ermita Hill? This historic spot has played an important role in the history of Baler because it was where the survivors of “Tromba Marina” (tsunami) fled for safety on the catastrophic night of December 27, 1735.
This is the closest destination to Metro Manila on this list. In just 2 hours, you’ll be in a place where you can relax, recharge, and rejuvenate for a day or two. Although Pampanga is widely popular among foodies, as it boasts of delectable and signature Kapampangan cuisines, it has destinations and activities that can nourish both your body and soul, too. Start your day with a few hours of relaxation in Puning Hot Spring’s sand spa. For PHP 3,500 per person (min. of two), you’ll get to experience their sand spa and be buried in a warm, relaxing sand for 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll also be treated to Mt. Pinatubo volcanic mud mask and a sumptuous buffet lunch right after. The fee also includes your 4x4 jeep rental, entrance fee, tour guide, and use of towel, shirt, and shorts.
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Photos courtesy of Red Doorz Philippines, @peternavila, @nikkoxsavella, and @diaa_zoher.