A nation known for its white sandy beaches and hospitable citizens called Filipinos by the world or more fondly Pinoys, the Philippines offers the greatest adventures. With an archipelago of 7,107 islands, each island is unique and shares with you a story of its own.
Here is an exclusive list of 10 things you can do in the Philippines that will test your strength, courage, and creativity. Get to know yourself better and let the adrenaline widen your comfort zone.
- Getting a traditional tattoo
There may be thousands of inking salons in the world, but nothing can compare to Whang Od’s. Whang Od, who lives in Buscalan, Kalinga, a living legend, is the oldest and lone Kalinga artist in the Philippines.
Her ways are rooted in years of tradition, and she uses nature’s ingredients for inking. Her process is just the way ancient Filipino tribes used to do it.
- Riding top load jeepneys
You will not find a jeepney anywhere else. The 10+ sitter with kitsch design was originally made from US military jeeps after World War II. After the war, the jeep was reconfigured to fit more passengers and redesign with colorful hues. Today, jeepneys are one of the most used public transportations by Pinoys, but top load jeepneys are more fun and exciting to ride, as you get to see the road from a different view and feel the fresh air on your face and blow through your hair.
- Climbing Mt. Pulag
Mt. Pulag is among the most well-maintained national parks in the country. It is the third highest mountain with a peak of 2,922 meters. The hike brings you to an amazing adventure above the clouds where you experience top loading in jeepneys or crossing wooden bridges.
- Witnessing Philippine festivals
Filipinos enjoy celebrating together. When you’re in the Philippines, try to experience festivals like the Dinagyang Festival, which means “Merry Making.” The IloIlo festival is usually celebrated on the 4th Sunday of January, just a week after Sinulog.Meanwhile, Sinulog is one of the most popular Philippine festivals that tourists and Pinoys alike fly to Cebu for, which is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of January. It is a dance ritual honoring the miraculous image of the Santo Nino and re-enacts the coming of the Spaniards through the fluvial parade in Cebu’s Pahina River. Spectators are treated to a wonderful show and scrumptious handaan (feast).
- Eating exotic food
The US TV show, Fear Factor, dared their contestants to eat balut. A balut is a boiled bird’s embryo, and though it might look terrifying, do not let its appearance fool you. In the Philippines, young and old individuals enjoy eating balut. There are also other exotic foods to try like isaw (chicken intestine) or betamax (coagulated pork blood that tastes like tofu).
- Experiencing El Nido
El Nido has been awarded as one of the World’s Best Islands by Travel + Leisure, an online travel Magazine. The Philippines is proud to have El Nido because of its clear-blue waters and scenic rock formations formed by the hands of nature—making it a must-see for every traveler. I’ve been to El Nido twice already and I won’t mind coming back again and again. The tropical island offers you white sandy beaches and a one-of-a-kind island hopping experience.
- Eating famous Filipino food
The best way to enjoy the Philippines is the way Pinoys do. When you’re in the Philippines, make sure to taste delicacies that are uniquely Pinoy like lechon, sisig, longganisa, and kare-kare.Lechon is one of the most popular party guest in every Filipino party and for a good reason—biting down on its crispy skin and tender meat smothered in sweet lechon sauce is to die for. And in the Philippines, nothing ever goes to waste.In the province of Pampanga, local chefs turn pork’s cheek, head, and liver into a scrumptious dish of sisig. The crunch and chewy pork meat is served on a sizzling plate that is best paired with a cold bottle of beer. There are more dishes to try in the Philippines, so do not be afraid to go out and explore!
- Visiting museum and art galleries
If getting down and dirty is not your cup of tea, do not fret. The Philippines also has a dozen of museums and art galleries for the cultured tourist. If you are traveling with kids, take them to Museo Pambata, which was inspired by the Boston Children’s Museum. It was first built to address the needs of an interactive museum for children.
You can also check out the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, which exhibits contemporary Filipino artists and presents the rich cultural heritage of Filipinos.
- Get lost in Manila
Other than beaches and museums, there are other things you can do right in the heart of the country’s capital. You can try out the trapeze lesson in Bonifacio Global City or go back in time with a visit through the streets of Intramuros.If you are in search of great bargains and deals, come and see merchants at Quiapo or Dapitan. You could purchase items for as low as $1.00.
You can also catch the Philippine Ballet at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) or learn more about the country’s history at the National Museum of the Philippines.
- Canyoneering in Cebu
For about P1,500 or $32, you can explore the wonders of Badian, Cebu. Here, you can enjoy a cliff diving experience at Kawasan Falls or a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) ride through a trail. You will be doing a lot of rock scrambling, swimming, and hiking, so it is best to wear comfortable shoes instead of slippers.
However you choose to relax or define what an ideal adventure is, the Philippines has something in stored for you. Not to mention, because of the beautiful destinations and exciting activities the country has to offer and the many scientifically-proven health benefits from it, your body will thank you for it! From water sports, tours, and food trips, there are hundreds of fun and exciting things to do in the Philippines that will make you feel more alive than ever!
Gem is the founder and author of Travels with a Hobo, a budget travel blog inspired by the adventures with her cheapskate travel buddy and boyfriend, Beep who likes to call himself a “hobo”. Their first date was a solo backpacking trip together in early 2012. Instead of splurging on romantic dates, they go on budget trips in the Philippines and Asia.