La Union Foodie Guide

 

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La Union is mostly known for being the surfing capital of the Philippines.

For this reason, most people would associate the laidback municipality with the sun, salt, beach and the waves and most recently, its food. Indeed, while this surfing paradise is widely regarded as the mecca for aquatic sports enthusiasts, its reputation for being a food destination has been growing over the years. After all, being the most accessible surfing spot from Metro Manila, the province sees a regular influx of tourists and locals each month which invariably means good business. In this regard, restaurants and food stalls have started cropping up over the years catering to the hungry crowd of surfers and non-surfers alike.

There is no doubt that the waves of tourists La Union welcome is mainly composed of sun-worshippers and swimmers but for a beach town, it has a promising food scene that delivers quite nicely. Along the beach and the parallel road, one can find a bustling and colorful food scene with a series of restaurants offering a wide array of cuisines—both international and local. These eateries are punctuated by cafes and street food stalls that have some uniquely diverse offerings that are sure to ensnare the inner foodie in you.

 

LA UNION’S CUISINE

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La Union’s food scene is incredibly diverse. As the municipality welcomes hordes upon hordes of tourists each month, it would be easy to see why the food scene is greatly inspired by international cuisines insomuch that tourists might even enjoy a taste of home from one of La Union’s many food stalls and restaurants. Of course, locals are not left out seeing as La Union is best known for their Halo-Halo de Iloko, a sweet and rich ice cream dessert that is unlike any other halo-halo you have ever experienced in your life.

In fact, it has been said that no trip to La Union would be complete without indulging one’s self with this sugary and creamy dessert staple that is said to rival even the Philippine’s best known halo-halo offerings. Apart from the famed dish that is said to give your meals a sweet ending, La Union has their very own rendition of bagnet, a crispy and succulent pork dish. The fried pork belly dish hails from the Ilocos region (which is just a little north to La Union). La Union’s version serves it in a rice bowl that is enough to feed one person and get him or her through the day.

For just a little over a hundred pesos, you get a rice meal for yourself and a taste of one of the most supremely crispy deep-fried pork belly that is best enjoyed dipped with their signature sauce.  La Union’s bagnet rice bowl will probably be one of the crispiest pork dishes you will ever have in your life so you should definitely not miss it.

 

WHERE TO EAT IN LA UNION

Olives Restaurant

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Located inside the lush and luxurious casino resort, Thunderbird has its very own slew of restaurants that will likely delight and enchant diners. Olives Restaurant is the perfect choice for individuals with a more discriminating taste and who expect nothing less than the finest cuisine. The restaurant’s menu consists of mainly Mediterranean food options which are aptly served in an ambiance reminiscent of Greece’s Santorini. The restaurant is styled after the Grecian city and emulates it rather well insomuch that people would often come here for the view as much as the food.

Fira Beach Club

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Located at Poro Point and within Thunderbird, Fira Beach Club is a wonderful fusion of a restaurant and a bar. Their menu boasts of a wide array of drinks complemented by a Japanese inspired menu. Diners with a hankering for Japanese food while in La Union should definitely hit this place up.

The Cliffs Restobar

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The Cliffs is a Restobar that recently opened in Thunderbird’s new clubhouse. It is the preferred dining option for golfers and other members and crew of The Cliffs Golf and Beach Club. The menu is an excellent mix of Mexican favorites and Filipino dishes making it the perfect chillout place after a game of golf.  

Gefseis Greek Grill

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Any quick search on the internet for La Union’s must-try restaurants would automatically include Gefseis. Apart from being widely covered by social media influencers and bloggers all over the world, the restaurant is known to top most lists when it comes to the La Union’s must-try restaurants and eateries. The restaurant’s ambiance draws inspiration from Santorini Greece and incidentally serves Greek food as well. Considering that Greek restaurants outside of Manila are quite rare, it is quite a feat to find a good one in La Union which means it is definitely worth the visit.

One of the restaurant’s bestsellers which combines different types of grilled meat of your choosing (lamb, beef, pork or chicken) served with two pieces of pita bread or Greek-styled rice. It comes with a serving of fries, vegetables and a sauce that adds punch to your dish. To whet your appetite for the main course, start your meal with the restaurant’s bestselling appetizer. The dish is basically a Greek rendition of cheese sticks made with sagnaki cheese and served with lemon. However, the unexpected fusion between the saltiness of cheese and the tanginess of lemon is sure to give you an unexpected flavor that is sure to have you looking forward to your main meal.

Surf Shack

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More of an outdoor bar than anything else, Surf Shack is definitely one of the must-try restaurants in La Union that cater both to local and international tastes and palates. Part of the restaurant’s charm is bolstered by the live band’s music filling the air with the menu consisting of favorites such as pizza, buffalo wings, and other finger food delights. Some of the food you should definitely order is Mommy Lou’s Gourmet Tuyo Pizza and the Ilokano Pizza (with Vigan longganisa).

El Union Coffee

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While La Union has its very own Starbucks coffee shop, it pales in comparison to the local café that stands out among locals and even tourists alike due to its popular coffee offerings. El Union is definitely unlike your usual coffee shops. This boho-themed café is without the usual industrial setup you would find in most coffee shops in Manila but is leaning towards the subtle charm of quaint coziness. As the coffee shop is rather small, the casual and relaxing spot can accommodate only about 10-20 persons at one time which makes the setting even more intimate. Some of the select favorites that you should definitely give a try should be their Dirty White coffee blend paired up with their Indoor S’mores for an excellent afternoon or after surf snack.

Mad Monkeys

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What makes Mad Monkeys stand out is definitely the chill vibes it exudes. This unassuming burger shop is just a stall along the highway near Urbiztondo but their burgers definitely pack a punch. It has an open air ambiance that is well complemented by the good music and of course, good food. While the food joint is said to offer only burgers with patties slathered in cheddar beer sauce and a siding of fries, it has become so popular that the place is almost always packed. So, if you get the chance and are a burger fan yourself, you should definitely hit this burger joint up.

Tagpuan

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Located just beside the Mad Monkey’s burger joint, Tagpuan is a restaurant that will definitely surprise and delight you. Tagpuan has a very focused menu specializing in Filipino rice bowls topped with meat favorites such as tapa, pares and chicken adobo flakes. Their best offering, however, has to be the bagnet rice bowl which costs a little over a hundred pesos. If you are looking to sober up after a night of drinking by the beach then hit this hole-in-wall eatery and treat yourself to some of their indulgent rice bowls.

Olas Banditos

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The authenticity of Mexican cuisine is not lost in La Union’s diverse food scene and offerings of food fusions. In fact, if you are looking for the best Mexican place to dine in La Union, you will never go wrong with Olas Banditos. Plus, it has been said that good and authentic Mexican food and surfing make a good pair, so you might as well check the restaurant out after one of your surfing excursions. When it comes to Mexican food fares, Olas Banditos certainly does not disappoint. To get a sampling of what Mexican and local fusion tastes like, try an order of Ilocos Norte Burrito which is essentially stuffed with Ilocos longganisa, fries, and cheese. It is definitely unlike any other burrito you have tried in your life before.

Flotsam and Jetsam

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People who are looking to explore the party scene in La Union should definitely check out Flotsam and Jetsam. Dubbed as the place to be for nocturnal excursions, Flotsam and Jetsam is an incredibly popular hostel that draws hordes and hordes of the millennial partying public. In fact, it is somewhat of a tourist spot itself as the place is practically packed at night with almost everyone vacationing in San Juan in attendance. Apart from having a wide range of cocktails and beers, the hostel has a full menu as well. Their dishes include Filipino staples as well as international favorites. Some of the winning dishes the restaurant serves are Lechon Kawali and Crab Meat Rice.

Great Gamble Seafood Shack

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Being a surfing municipality, it should be no wonder that La Union would have its very own seafood restaurant. Great Gamble Seafood Shack is best known for its seafood sandwiches and rolls. Their bestseller happens to be their Classic Quarter Pounder contains ¼ lbs of crab, shrimp, and scallop in a brioche roll—a seafood sandwich roll that remains unmatched to this day. Apart from the seafood sandwiches, the restaurant also serves seafood pasta dishes as well.

Sabong La Union Fried Chicken

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Fried chicken lovers, rejoice! La Union has its very own signature fried chicken dish that is sure to rival fan favorites such as Jollibee’s Chickenjoy and KFC’s signature fried chicken. As the name suggests, Sabong La Union Fried Chicken restaurant serves everything fried chicken but what makes this restaurant unique is their offerings of different types of fried chicken. They have every interpretation of fried chicken there is—from the classic fried chicken, Korean soy chicken to chicken glazed with honey and bagoong. The latter is definitely something you should try if you are looking for something that is a little more different than your usual fried chicken fare.

Papa Bear

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Papa Bear is a restaurant with a themed menu focused solely on offering a variety of Asian dishes. This quaint but charming eatery in La Union promises to give you a brief tour of Southeast Asian countries with dishes like char kway teow, pho, and sambal pork. The house specialty is a bowl of begg which would cost you a little under two hundred pesos. A must-try for bacon lovers, the dish contains house-cured bacon cubes served with sous vide egg over rice. Another in-house favorite is the sambal pork which is said to attract many tourists to the restaurant.

Layag Grille and Kilawen Bar

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Lovers of different kilawen dishes as well as Filipino inihaw (grilled food) would find themselves at home in Layag Grille and Kilawen Bar. Kilawen is a native specialty of the Ilocos province and consists mainly of either goat, beef, pork or fish that has been cooked by the acidity of organic vinegar or calamansi. In this regard, many uninitiated diners would misinterpret the dish as uncooked and raw while in reality, it has been cooked by the vinegar or calamansi. However, while fish kilawen is somewhat commonplace in the Philippines, goat is not and is something you should definitely try when in La Union.

Makai Bowls

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Back in the day, Makai Bowls used to be located at Flotsam and Jetsam but they have since moved to their own location at the Travel Stop. This popular eater in San Juan is well-known for their healthy fruit smooth bowls that are made with different types of fresh fruit and homemade granola. They make for interesting and vibrant additions to anyone’s Instagram feed and are just as much of a visual delight as they are a gustatory one.

Seawadeeka

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Some of Seawadeeka’s offerings include pad Thai, nasi lemak and satay. Indeed, this restaurant specializes in offering Asian staples. This restaurant had its humble beginnings and started out as a food truck for a number of years before having a permanent location in 215 Urbiztondo. Some of the restaurant’s must-try menu items are the banh mi and glasses of Thai iced tea. The latter food offering is a refreshing way to quench your thirst after braving San Juan’s rather humid weather—particularly during the summer season.

Mamba’s Kitchen

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Mamba’s Kitchen is probably the most popular restaurant at 215 Urbiztondo. It is just a couple of blocks from nearby Seawadeeka and is almost always packed with diners. The place is known to serve breakfast, sandwiches, and burgers.

Bar-You Tayo

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Although widely regarded as a nocturnal watering hole by locals, Bar-You Tayo serves a wide array of Filipino food items. However, most of their menu items consist of beer match and pulutan fares, so it is probably best to head to this restaurant if you are looking for a drink.

Leche

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Cool off after a day of lounging at the beach with an ice cream cone in hand made by Leche’s. This ice cream parlor is popularly known for its more peculiar ice cream flavors inspired from Filipino favorite dishes such as coconut three-way, champorado-tuyo (chocolate porridge and dried fish), manggat suman (mango with steamed rice cake). So, if you have a proclivity for ice cold and sweet creamy desserts with a twist, Leche is definitely the place to be.

Beach Bum Food Park

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Known as one of the very first food parks in San Juan, Beach Bum is a local favorite. The food park hosts a variety of food offerings that would cater to most palates. Considering that food parks are all the rave in Metro Manila, it should be no wonder that they would start proliferating in provinces that see an influx of tourists each month such as La Union. Incidentally, Beach Bum offers a cheaper alternative for people who are looking for something to drink as the beers are much cheaper than anywhere else.

Beach Bum BBQ

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Filipinos love variety when it comes to their grilled food or local inihaw. For this reason, places like Beach Bum BBQ which specializes in offering grilled food have the propensity for success and popularity among locals and tourists alike. Indeed, Beach Bum BBQ is one of the more popular and successful food stalls in La Union and it is easy to see why: Filipinos love munching on grilled food while drinking. More importantly, grilled food items on sticks do not usually cost that much which makes them a very popular beer match.

Mang Enteng’s

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Individuals with an affinity for more sinful delights such as crispy pata (deep –fried pork hocks), sisig, chicharon bulaklak (fried pork intestines) and liempo (grilled pork belly), Mang Enteng’s is the place to be. These food fares might potentially be detrimental to your cholesterol levels and are not exactly what you would call healthy, but helping yourself to some of these rather indulgent beer-match bar chows is definitely something you should do when you are on vacation.

Beach Break

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This La Union eatery is a hodgepodge of all sorts of snack items from grilled cheese sandwiches, dumplings, empanada to onion rings. If you are looking for a quick bite to eat, you should definitely hit this restaurant up.

Tokyo Go

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From the moniker itself, you would have probably known that Tokyo Go serves everything Japanese. Some of the food fares you will find here are katsu, karaage, sushi and so many more. So, if you find yourself with cravings for Japanese food amid your surfing excursions, know that you have a dependable place like Tokyo Go to dine in.

PizzaTacito

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PizzTacito serves mostly pizzas with their menu boasting of ten pizza varieties. Some pizzas are inspired by Filipino favorite dishes such as sisig, salted egg and Vigan longganisa. However, if you are hankering for something else, they have pasta dishes and decadent desserts to indulge your sweet tooth as well.

Chancho Loco

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If Mexican rice meals are your thing, Chanco Loco will easily be one of your favorite eateries in La Union. The restaurant offers mostly Mexican flavored dishes with the bestseller being the barbacoa (slow-cooked beef).

K-Pop’s Diner

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With all the rage K-pop has been gaining in the Philippines over the years, it is only a matter of time before a food stall with Korean inspired dishes would pop up in La Union. Surprisingly, however, this food stall does not only cater to individuals with a unique palate for Korean food. In fact, they offer a wide variety of dishes that includes Asian rice bowls, hamburgers, fish and chips, and even an all-day American breakfast. The name can sure be misleading but you can definitely find some Korean menu items here.

Rustic Box Steakhouse

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Located at the Beach Bum Food Park, Rustic Box Steakhouse is exactly as the name suggests: a food stall that caters to patrons with a hankering for steak. Luckily, steak lovers do not have to fork over an exorbitant amount just to satisfy their steak cravings as meals usually range around 250-350 pesos per person depending on the dish.

Papak sa Dagat

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Translating to “snacking by the ocean” in Filipino, Papak sa dagat is a tiny stall that specializes in rice bowls and chicken wings. Their menu items are perfect for anyone who wishes to eat on the go and enjoy their food while watching the ocean waves.

Drinks Ahoy

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People who wish to wash down their dinner with a cold beer should definitely head on over to Drinks Ahoy. Located at the Beach Bum Food Park, cocktails and local beers are priced reasonably with a bucket of San Mig Light only for 270 pesos.

 

 

Indeed, if you find yourself in San Juan anytime soon on one of the Philippine long weekends this year, go beyond enjoying the beach and explore the local food scene as well. After all, these are pretty much not your standard provincial eateries as most of these restaurants are incredibly trend to cater to an incredibly diverse crowd. Indeed, with excellent menu offerings coupled with design-driven concepts, these establishments would probably fare just as well in major Philippine metropolitans as they would in La Union. So, give it a try as you might never know what local food would easily become your next favorite.  

 

All About La Union: A Definitive Travel Guide to La Union (Including a List of The Top Things to Do)

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Where does one go surfing?

While most Filipinos who reside to the south of the country prefer the idyllic and island vibe of Siargao, city dwellers and metropolitan residents up North would rather head up to La Union in Northern Luzon. This is especially true for Manileño travelers who do not want to contend with booking airline tickets and air travel. After all, San Juan has always been the staple go-to when it comes to chill vibes, and laidback living and La Union has always been regarded as the Philippines’ surfing capital where one goes to chase and ride waves. San Juan, La Union, has always been considered as the average city dweller’s summer playground where they go to enjoy a brief respite from the perpetual hustle and bustle of the metropolis, catch and ride some waves. Indeed, a trip to La Union provides an avenue for a refreshing break from the constant grind in the city and has been a widely popular long-weekend or Philippine summer destination.

However, beyond its appeal as a surfing town, La Union has a lot to offer to surfers and non-surfers alike. There is a myriad of daily activities to be enjoyed insomuch that you can fill a three-day itinerary by exploring what the rest of the town has to offer. Travel activities range from exploring lighthouses to picking grapes but if your visit is primarily for surfing, then you best book your trips between the months of July till October (South Swell) or November to March (North Swell) as these are the months with the most favorable surfing conditions. In any case, if you have never been to the sublime Philippine surfing capital before, let this article show you the ropes and serve as your La Union Surfing Guide.

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LA UNION TRAVEL GUIDE FOR FIRST-TIME TRAVELERS

HOW TO GO TO LA UNION FROM MANILA

TRAVEL TIME: 4-5 hours (depending on your point of origin)

MANILA- SAN FERNANDO-SAN JUAN

Driving to La Union from Metro Manila requires you to take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). From there, connect through the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and connect to the new Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX). Exit at Carmen Temporary Toll Plaza located under the Carma overpass in Pangasinan. From here, turn left following the Carmen-Poblacion Rosales Road then turn right to Teofilo Sison Bridge going to Villassis, Pangasinan. Once there, all you would need to do is follow the MacArthur Highway (National Highway) through Pangasinan to reach La Union.

For ease of navigation, download navigating apps such as Waze and Google Maps to ensure that you are taking and exiting the right roads going to La Union.  

WHERE TO STAY IN LA UNION

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Ideally, travelers hailing from Metro Manila should pick San Juan as a base, but booking accommodations in San Fernando is an excellent alternative as the two is only a mere twenty-five-minute ride away from the beach. However, if you are looking for a budget-friendly accommodation, your best bet would be to stay in San Juan as the place is saturated with some of the most affordable and mid-range resorts and hotels. More importantly, the area is in proximity to Urbiztondo Beach –which is basically where surfers go to chase the waves.

Travelers who are seeking for a more luxurious stay would not have a difficult time finding one here as there is also a good range of options for travelers who wish to spend more for a more comfortable stay. Accommodation choices range from budget inns such as Isla Bonita Beach Resort to midrange such as Thunderbird Resorts.

WHAT TO DO IN LA UNION

Explore San Juan, the surfing town

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Regardless of whether you are in La Union for surfing or not, your first order of business should be to explore the surfing town, San Juan. Apart from viewing the waves, the laidback scenery will surely encourage you to relax and take it easy insomuch that you can chill out at the beach without being compelled to surf. However, if you are up for it, try your hand at surfing and ask any of the local instructors for a lesson. Most surfing lessons range PHP400-500 depending on the instructor and would already include a rental board as well as the basic surfing training good for an hour.

Try your luck at Thunderbird Poro Point

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If you are not strapped for cash, you might want to try your luck at a fun game of slot machines or even a friendly game of Texas Hold’em Poker. While most travelers head to La Union for the surf, Thunderbird’s newly opened casino might come as a welcome break to you if you are sick of the waves and are wishful for a local Las Vegas experience.

Hike and cliff-jump at Tangandan Falls

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Located in the quiet and unassuming town of San Gabriel, the majestic Tangandan Falls is generating a lot of buzz among travel enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies who are looking for the next adventure. Take a break from the beach and see these beautiful waterfalls up close. It is located approximately thirty minutes away from the town center and would require a bit of a trek before reaching the waterfalls. However, you should not be daunted by the prospect of the hike as seeing the waterfalls for yourself is pretty much worth the effort.

Offer a prayer at Ma-Cho Temple

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One might never imagine ending up in a temple while in La Union, but this is certainly an experience you should never miss whenever you are in town. Ma-Cho Temple is a picturesque temple found atop a hill in San Fernando.  While you can find a myriad of Taoist temples all over the Philippines, what makes Ma-Cho temple especially unique is the fact that it is the first ever Taoist temple and is the only one in the Philippines dedicated to the Chinese sea-goddess Mazu.

While you are there, you might want to offer a prayer or two. Alternatively, you might want to fill your Instagram-feed with aesthetic photos taken at various areas in the temple. Some of the interesting features you can find include the unusual spider-type dome you can find in the main building, Majestic Five Door gate as well as interiors filled with ancient Chinese decorations.

Go on a truly hip food trip

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Apart from being widely regarded as Philippine’s surfing capital, Urbiztondo has been generating a lot of chatter online for being a burgeoning food destination. Over the years, the town of La Union has attracted a fair share of locals and tourists owing to its association of being a surf town. Consequently, this monthly influx of tourists has inspired Urbiztondo’s hipster vibe. In this regard, you can find many Instagram-worthy restaurants as well as a vibrant food scene that offers diverse options insomuch that you can start your day with a Greek breakfast by the beach and cap the night off at a local food joint.

Pick grapes at the town of Bauang

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One might never have thought of picking Grapes while in La Union, but that is precisely why it should be included in your travel itinerary. Before leaving La Union, be sure to drop by some of the grape farms in Bauang where you can go grape-picking and bring your harvest back home as pasalubong. While the idea of grape-picking might be mundane and rather commonplace, the Philippines is a tropical country where grapevines rarely thrive. However, the town Bauang is a pleasant exception owing to its slightly colder weather.

Meet new friends at Flotsam and Jetsam

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Part of La Union’s appeal is the prospect of turning to strangers into friends by meeting them in some of the surfing town’s hip bars. As La Union has become somewhat of a tourist hub owing to its allure of being the Philippine’s surfing capital, it should not be surprising to find the town of Urbiztondo concentrated with travelers. If you are not particularly shy and are looking to widen your social sphere, head on over to Flotsam and Jetsam, a nocturnal destination said to be frequented by locals and tourists alike. Have a bottle of your favorite bubbly and strike a conversation or two with some friendly-looking strangers. You might not know it, but you might have potentially made a travel buddy.

Visit the Honeybee Center

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Again, this is probably one of the last things you would think of doing in La Union. However, if you wish to experience an up-close and personal interaction with honeybees without getting stung then head on to the La Union Honeybee Center in Bacnotan. In here, visitors are offered a tour of the center and will learn how honey production has become one of the primary sources of livelihood among locals.

Appreciate the arts at La Union Culture and Arts Gallery

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La Union has its very own art gallery which is locally dubbed as the Silid ti Adal Ken laing ti La Union Gallery. The Art Gallery showcases local art made by the talented locals themselves. Apart from that, the gallery also gives visitors a glimpse into the province’s rich culture. Incidentally, this is also the home of AGLAUN (Artists Guild of La Union), the group that trains young artists from various art groups such as Guhit Pinas La Union and KARATULA.

Discover the story behind Luna’s Watch Tower

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La Union has its very own share of heritage sites—one of which is the St. Catherine of Alexandria Paris (also known as Namacpacan Church). The Spanish pre-colonial church was built in 1690 and currently stands right next to the town plaza. The majestic church is cloaked in grandeur insomuch that it is listed as a National Cultural Treasure and is considered as one of the grandest churches in the province. Beyond the church, however, is the Luna Baluarte or Watchtower which stands along a pebbled beach. It is said that the watchtower served as an impenetrable fortress used by the Spanish colonizers to warn residents of any pirate attacks.

WHERE TO GO IN LA UNION

BAHAY NA BATO

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Bahay na Bato is a relatively new tourist attraction in the province of La Union. To get there, you need to head north to the town of Luna from San Juan. What makes Bahay na Bato infinitely interesting is that it is built from stones found along one of Luna’s rare pebbled beaches. Apart from the beguiling exterior is an even more intriguing interior. In Bahay na Bato, you can find an exciting combination of stone and wooden sculptures made by Korean artist, Bong Kim peppered all over the place–making the attraction an excellent destination should you have aesthetic photo backgrounds in mind.

PINDANGAN RUINS

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Adventure goes beyond than usual food and beach combo in La Union. If your penchant for exploration remains unquenched by the province’s vast offerings of beaches and food joints, you might want to try something a little different such as heading over to Pindangan Ruins. Be wary though, the place is an old remnant of an old church with a monastery located right behind it. Local tales speak of headless priests that roam around the vicinity making this pit stop a must for thrill-seekers. Individuals who are faint of heart might want to skip including this in their itinerary though.

AMBURAYAN RIVER

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The beautiful Amburayan river serves as a boundary of La Union and Ilocos Sur. Apart from that, it also serves as an additional source of income for the people of Sudipen. If you wish to take a break from the beach and ocean scenery, visiting Amburayan River will be a welcome opportunity.

AROSIP ECOTRAIL

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The Arosip Ecotrail in La Union provides guests an avenue for adventure with Mother Nature. The eco trail is rife with magnificent views as well as towering trees which makes it truly a breathtaking sight. Adventure enthusiasts and thrill seekers will also flock to this place as it is one of the premier places for trekking in La Union. At its highest point, the trail gives way to the scenic lowland Bacnotan, the West Philippine Sea as well as other landmarks and prominent structures of the province. It also showcases four beautiful waterfalls (Zim-sim-ug Twin Falls, Tekdag-aso Falls (combined water of 2 waterfalls), Pad-tok Falls)

WHERE TO EAT IN LA UNION

Olas Banditos

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Mexican lovers will definitely love this hip and authentic Mexican joint in La Union. Olas Banditos is a restaurant in La union that promises to satisfy your Mexican food cravings whether you just came from a surfing session or are nursing a hangover from a night of partying. Some of the restaurant favorites are an order of chicken quesadillas, fish tacos and flautas as well. However, if you wish to try something a little more unique and a bit more appropriate to the place, you should give the Ilocos Norte burrito a try. Apart from the usual fillings you would find in a typical burrito; this burrito is filled with Ilocos or Vigan longganisa which gives it quite the different but interesting flavor.

Great Gamble Seafood Shack

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Being so close to the beach and inhaling the crisp and salty sea air would definitely give us a hankering for fresh seafood. Lucky for you, La Union has its fair share of seafood restaurants that would surely satisfy your seafood cravings in no time. One of the more interesting seafood shacks is the Great Gamble Seafood Shack which is known more for their seafood sandwiches and rolls rather than your typical seafood fares. A must-try is their Classic Quarter Pounder–a sandwich that is filled with scallop, shrimp and ¼ crab in a brioche roll in lieu of a beef patty. The restaurant also serves a good range of seafood pasta dishes as well giving diners an extensive set of menu options.

Tagpuan

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Located at the side of Mad Monkeys burger restaurant, Tagpuan is a local La Union restaurant that serves your typical Filipino food. The place specializes in Filipino rice bowls topped with Filipino favorites such as pares, chicken adobo flakes, tapa and the like. However, it has been said that the restaurants best offering is the bagnet rice bowl which is priced at a hundred and twenty pesos. Bagnet is a staple food in the Ilocos region. This supremely crispy fried pork belly dish is incredibly succulent that you should not be surprised if you would go for a second helping of this delicious pork belly dish.

Sabong La Union Fried Chicken

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A plate of crispy fried chicken, regardless of what time of the day it is, will always be a good idea. Sabong la Union Fried Chicken restaurant seems to share this sentiment as they offer different types of fried chicken at any time of the day. Some of their flavors include Korean soy chicken to chicken glazed with honey and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste). Fried chicken lovers will definitely see themselves coming back to this restaurant more than once just to sample more of their fried chicken flavors.

El Union Coffee

In lieu of commercialized coffee chains such as Starbucks and The Coffee Bea Tea Leaf, why not try a café that is a little more localized but bursting with interesting coffee flavors? El Union Coffee is La Union’s very own Starbucks, and while La Union has its very own Starbucks in town, El Union Coffee surpasses the ubiquitous coffee shop in terms of popularity in the area, and it is easy to see why.  El Union is often featured in some TV segments, internet, and news articles that feature La Union primarily for their cold brew coffee and horchata. In fact, the place is incredibly popular insomuch that a trip to La Union would be incomplete without including this trendy coffee shop in your travel itinerary.

Halo-Halo de Iloko

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As the name suggests, Halo-Halo de Iloko is an eatery in the neighboring town of San Fernando that specializes in Halo-Halo dishes. If you are looking for an excellent spot to cool down after a surfing session, Halo Halo de Iloko is a great place to stop by. Be wary though as the place is typically packed with big groups of diners waiting to be seated. So, if you wish to sample their famous halo-halo, coming during off-hours such as early in the morning or in the middle of the afternoon might be your best bet.

How to get around La Union

Getting around La Union is as simple as taking a jeepney which costs PHP 11 or a tricycle ride to your destination which typically costs PHP50 which are the province’s two main modes of transport. Alternatively, if you brought a car with you, it is fairly easy to get around with the aid of a GPS app on your mobile phone.

Other travel tips for visiting La Union

Take the bus

Admittedly, while taking your own car gives you better leverage on where and when to stop, taking the bus will ultimately save you a lot. Alternatively, you might want to hire a van if you are traveling with a large group as this allows you more comfort as well as stop whenever and wherever you wish.

Visit during off-peak seasons

As La Union is a widely visited Northern Luzon destination, it is easy to see why the prices would skyrocket during the holidays and long-weekends. Tourists prefer visiting the province during the surf season which means that the place can get rather crowded and ultimately making it difficult for you to book affordable deals. April to July might not be the best month for good waves, but you can find better prices.

Book accommodations that are easy on the pocket

La Union has a good range of lodging accommodations which means you can find anything from affordable budget hotels to luxury hotels. If you wish to make the most out of your trip, opt to stay in cheap hostels as you will be spending most of the day outside anyhow.

Buy food at the local market

If you wish to save up on food, buying food from the local market might be your best option. On average, a typical meal would set you back for about two-hundred pesos which can be quite expensive if you take three meals a day. In lieu of restaurants and eateries, opt to buy raw food at the nearest market and have it cooked or grilled for a minimal fee.

Travel with a group

It is common knowledge that traveling with a group can save you a lot. All of the potential expenses will be divided equally—from the accommodation expense to the tour guide fees. More importantly, it is a lot more fun to travel in a group than to venture out alone.

 

 

If you do not have any plans for the summer yet, why not kick it off to high gear by commencing it with a trip to La Union? Apart from being the surfing capital, the province has a lot to offer surfers and non-surfers alike that each and every traveler stopping by will find something that would appeal to them in one way or another.

 

Philippine Long Weekends 2019

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Filipinos sure do love their long weekends.

In fact, Filipinos have such a unique affinity for long weekends that they start planning their travel itineraries weeks or even months prior to the said dates. Some would even go as far as booking those prospective dates and weekends for vacation excursions even when there has been no formal holiday declaration from the Philippine government just yet.

Looking forward to long weekends is understandable. After all, being perpetually busy people working from 9-5 five to six days to week, Filipinos crave those weekends that give them more than the usual one to two-day respite. More importantly, long weekends are seen as an avenue for out of town trips and perhaps, extended vacation days. In this regard, some, if not most, of us would already start scouring for articles that would give map out long weekends as early as the week prior. In this article, you are presented with a list for the year’s prospective and declared holidays. This year, there is a whopping total of 21 holidays and at least ten long weekends.

With this mind, you can start grabbing your travel journal and plan your getaways as early as today. While some of these holidays do not fall on a Friday or a Monday, you can plot your leaves accordingly to make your weekends even longer. Long weekends are arranged below by Month with suggestions of when you can find your office leaves so as to maximize the weekend. A calendar of activities for the Philippine long weekends in 2019 follows with suggestions of where to go and what to do follow.

The Philippine Long Weekends 2019

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(December 29- January 1)

2019 proves to be a very eventful year indeed as the first long weekend falls squarely on the year’s start. After celebrating a long Christmas break, students and employees are afforded an even longer respite on the first weekend of 2019. December 29 and 30 (coincidentally a holiday as well) are Saturday and Sunday respectively. December 31 and January 1 are holidays which mean Filipinos have a four-day break in total (From Saturday to Tuesday (New Year’s Day).

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(February 2- February 5)

Filipinos, in their bid to be more inclusive to Filipino-Chinese individuals, celebrate Chinese New Year. As a result, the Philippine government has declared February 5 (Tuesday) as a non-working holiday. Admittedly, while the holiday falls just outside of a weekend, you can file for a leave from work on Monday (February 4) to maximize the weekend and enjoy a four-day furlough starting on Saturday (February 2).

(February 23-25)

Apart from celebrating Chinese New Year, the Philippines gets another holiday every February which falls on the 25th. This yearly holiday is to commemorate the EDSA Revolution Anniversary—which falls on a Monday this year giving Filipinos two long weekends just in the month of February alone.  

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(April 6- April 9)

In this year, the celebration of Araw ng Kagitingan falls on a Tuesday (April 9). To enjoy a four-day vacation from Saturday (April 6) until Tuesday (April 9), plot your leave on Monday (April 8).

(April 18- April 21)

Being a country of mostly Christian and Catholic devotees, the Philippines celebrates Holy Week each year. In this year, Holy Thursday falls on Thursday (April 18) and Easter falls on April 21 (Sunday) giving individuals a four-day long weekend.

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(June 1-June 4)

To be more inclusive of our Muslim brothers and sisters, the Philippine government has since then declared the observance of Eid Al-Fitr each year a holiday. While no formal date of June has been set just yet, it has been said to fall on June 4 which is a Tuesday. Maximize your weekend by filing for a one-day leave on Monday (June 3).

 

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(August 24-26)

August is known to be one of the months with the most Philippine holidays. This August, we get one Philippine Long Weekend in 2019. To remember and honor our fallen heroes, we commemorate the holiday on August 26 each year. Aptly called as the National Heroes Day, Filipinos take a holiday from work during this day. The event falls on Monday this year which affords employees and students alike a long break from work and school.

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(November 1-November 3)

To remember our dearly departed as well as given Filipinos a chance to visit their dead relatives in the cemetery, November first and second (All Saints and All Souls Day respectively) of each year are considered legal holidays. However, while All Souls Day falls on a Saturday this year, November 1 falls on a Friday which would resultantly give us one long weekend in the month of November 2019.

(December 21- December 25)

In this year, Christmas falls on Wednesday (December 25). However, as Christmas Eve (December 24) is considered a legal holiday, you might as well make it a long weekend by filing for an office leave on the 23rd of December (Monday).

(December 30- January 1)

The first workday of 2020 falls on a Thursday. This means that employees are given a full five days leave from work. As December 30 (Monday) is Rizal Day followed by December 31 which is New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (January 1), the end of the year marks as the longest weekend Filipinos will get to enjoy without filing for any office leaves.

 

CALENDAR OF LONG WEEKEND ACTIVITIES AND DESTINATIONS

 

JANUARY

Go surfing in La Union

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Looking to catch some waves? Then you should definitely go on a road trip and head on to La Union. Known to be the Philippines’ surfing capital, La Union enjoys the biggest waves from July to October due to the South Swell and November to March because of the North Swell. While the road trip might be a lengthy one, it is definitely worth it once you see the majestic waves. So pack your bags and finalize your bookings with any of the La Union resorts and get your surfing gear ready.

Need a luxurious accommodation? Thunderbird Resorts in La Union offers several luxurious rooms and villas, restaurants, golf course and a casino.

Marvel at the beauty of Banaue Rice Terraces

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To kick off your year and start it on a high note, you should definitely see for yourself the beauty of the Banaue Rice Terraces. Dubbed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and recently featured in the fourth installment of the Avengers series, it is easy to see why so many tourists would flock this area. Apart from its sheer magnificence and beauty, the place is 2000 years old which is amazing by itself. Carved into the mountains of Ifugao with the use of crude tools, the place is truly a wonder.

FEBRUARY

Get a traditional tattoo in Kalinga

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Make the month of love a bit more memorable by traveling all the way to the mountains of Cordilleras and getting yourself a permanent souvenir, a traditional tattoo. Propelled to worldwide acclaim since her art and skill was posted all over social media, Whang-Od Onggay is the oldest living mambabatok (Kalinga tattooist). Until she recently began training her grandnieces at the trade, she was the only one left which made her one of the most sought-after tattoo artists in recent years. With no actual shop of her own, many travelers would still make the long trip up to Buscalan just to get their bodies marked by the legendary artist.

Be in awe by The Ruins in Talisay, Negros Occidental

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Dubbed as the Philippines’ counterpart to the Taj Mahal, The Ruins in Negros Occidental has been regarded by many as the monument of love—making the place a very fitting visit for the month of February. As the story goes, the sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson built his ten bedroom mansion fashioned after Italian architecture. It was said that he had this Italianate mansion built in the early 20th century in loving memory of his wife who had died during the pregnancy of his 11th child. During the Second World War, Filipino guerillas set the mansion on fire to prevent invading Japanese forces from using the building as headquarters with the intention of burning it to the ground. However, despite the smoldering flames that burned on for several days, the walls and foundation of the Italianate mansion remained intact leaving behind the beautiful ruins we can see in the city of Talisay today.

 

APRIL    

Have your breath taken away by San Agustin Church

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Deeply religious individuals might want to abstain from going on any extended trips during this Lenten holiday but that does not mean that they have nowhere else to go but home. If you wish to refrain from going on any trip as part of your Lenten fasting then perhaps you might want to use your extended weekend as a way to explore some of the most beautiful churches in your area. San Agustin Church is one of Manila’s more aesthetic churches that holds a lot of history. It was built during the Spanish colonial period and has since then withstood seven major earthquakes.

Go on a trek to see the active Mayon Volcano

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Alternatively, you might want to see the active Mayon Volcano which is known locally as Mount Mayon. Known to be the volcano with the perfect cone due to its symmetrical cone shape, seeing this volcano at least once in your lifetime is definitely something you should do. The volcano and its surrounding areas form part of a national park that is certainly worth the visit whenever you have the time to go on a road trip to Albay.  

 

JUNE

Go canyoneering in Kawasan Falls, Cebu

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As the prospective date for Eid Al-Fitr falls in the early June, there is a great chance that you can still get to enjoy the last vestiges of the summer season before we fully transition to the rainy months. However, if you wish to do something a little different than going on a typical beach day then you might want to visit Cebu and go on a canyoonering adventure in Kawasan Falls. Adventure enthusiasts will certainly love this high energy activity that involves walking, climbing, swimming and abseiling through the canyon’s magnificent creeks and streams. The journey starts at Canlaob River on Cebu Island and finishes at the Queen City of the South’s famous tourist spot, Kawasan Falls.

Explore Corregidor

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Located at the entrance to Manila Bay, the island of Corregidor is an easy day trip from Metro Manila. This historic city was then identified as a strategic defense location by the Spaniards when they arrived in the 16th century and aptly gave it the designation, “Island of the Corrector”. The island was where all of the ships entering Manila are mandated to stop for inspections and since then, it has seen countless battles from the Spanish-American War to the era of American colonialism which makes for an interesting destination particularly for history enthusiasts.

 

AUGUST

Go on a food trip in Pampanga

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Individuals with a penchant for trying out different food items should never miss out on going on a food trip in the culinary capital of the Philippines, Pampanga. The food scene in Pampanga is eclectic and definitely unique owing to the people involved in making distinct Kapampangan cuisine. Apart from being home to a number of culinary personalities that are well-known in both the local and international food scene, Pampanga’s cuisine is incredibly diverse that each scrumptious bite of Kapampangan food would give you a glimpse to its history. So, if you wish to sample some good eats, take full advantage of the long weekend in August so that you can scour the city for their most revered restaurants and eateries.

Go on a hair-raising experience in the Diplomat Hotel

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If you are up for an experience that is anything but ordinary then you might want to try visiting the ruins of the old Diplomat Hotel in Baguio. Originally built as a retreat house for friars of the Dominican Order, much of the dilapidated building’s mysterious history has now devolved into something that sparks intrigue among ghost hunters and paranormal investigators. Widely known to be one of the Philippines’ most haunted places, the once beautiful Diplomat Hotel has now become a place of paranormal anomaly. Many people have recounted their stories of seeing headless apparitions at night and reported hearing cries, screams and banging on doors. As a place with haunted origins, it would be no wonder why the place routinely welcomes an influx of visitors. If you wish to experience something out of the ordinary and maybe even a little eerie, you should definitely visit this place.

 

NOVEMBER

Visit the Cemetery Beach

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If you do not have any dearly departed to visit on the month of November, make your trip for the long weekend in November a little more apt by visiting the Cemetery Beach off the coast of Anilao. Peppered with hostels and resorts, the coast of Anilao finds itself welcoming hordes of scuba divers flocking to the Philippines for its coral reefs. Apart from being known as a scuba diving hotspot, the beach is also known for being home to nearly 100 concrete graves which lies 20 feet beyond the pristine waters on one untouched stretch of the beach—definitely a sight you would want to see!  

See the Iron Butterfly’s personal footwear collection

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Marikina is known to be the Philippines’ shoe capital so it should not be any wonder why it also houses the former first lady Imelda Marcos’s personal footwear collection. Aptly given the moniker “Iron Butterfly”, Imelda Marcos once owned more than a thousand pairs of shoes. After most of their belongings were seized by the state, her collection of various shoes have since then been turned into a bizarre opulent display. Today, a part of her shoe collection can be seen at the Marikina Shoe Museum which, incidentally, also hosts the World’s Largest Pair of Shoes.

 

DECEMBER

See the grand lanterns in Pampanga

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To feel the festive spirit of Christmas on the long weekends of December, you should head on over to San Fernando, Pampanga to see the Giant Lantern Festival. For more than eighty years, the city of San Fernando, Pampanga has been hosting this festival which is usually held on the Saturday before Christmas Eve. It is definitely a sight to see as you can get to witness the colorful giant display of parols fitted with thousands of light bulbs that would dance to the beat of the team’s music of choice. Everything about this festival is a sight to behold—from the sheer size of the lanterns down to the kaleidoscopic colors that interplay to the sound and beat of the music.

Be in awe by Cavite’s Christmas Display  

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When it comes to Christmas decoration, Kawit and Imus in Cavite go all out. Apart from the attractive Christmas decorations, these towns are also known for their festive attractions and presentations and the best thing about it is the fact that both towns are easily accessible from Metro Manila. Panunuluyan, as the locals have called it, is a dramatic rendition of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter in Bethlehem as performed by the locals themselves. However, the town’s main allure during Christmas time is the Maytinis Festival which occurs on the even of December 25th. Imus has its own way of celebrating Christmas by having a month-long Paskuhan Festival which includes their own version of Panunuluyan. Whenever you are in town, keep your eyes peeled for the design decorations as the design theme changes with each neighborhood you pass by.

 

Now that you have an idea on which dates the Philippine long weekends in 2019 would fall, you better start planning your travel excursions and escapades for the year ahead. Remember, all work and no play would make you a dull individual. So, go ahead and give yourself something to look forward to and make 2019 a memorable year full of travel memories and adventures.

 

Smart Travelers: 13 Mobile Apps to Make Your Trips Hassle-Free

 

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Traveling, albeit a whimsical endeavor; is an endeavor fraught with complex planning on its own.

Indeed, while traveling is something we all love to daydream about and even plan for weeks or even months in the making, the nitty-gritty parts of travel leave not much to be desired. If it were up to us, we would skip all the miserable and troublesome parts of travel altogether after all, who would want to go through all the hassle if you can skip right to the good part, right? Luckily, we live in a world that is in reality, predominantly run by ever-evolving technology which consequently includes mobile apps. These mobile apps are contained in diminutive devices such as your phone or tablet and in essence, would alleviate most, if not all, of travel’s stressors.

After all, just because the date is set does not mean automatically mean your vacation is booked. So, take a gander at this article as it explores the various ways technology has helped shape convenient travel the way it is today and discover the necessary apps you might need for your next travel excursion to make your next travel endeavor more memorable without the stress—or at least mitigating it.

HOW MOBILE APPS CAN HELP YOU

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Roughly fifteen years ago, mobile phones were solely used for making and taking calls and sending a few messages here and there. Some token interactions were to play games and store pixelated picture messages but I digress. In any case, back in the day, mobile phones were not recognized as a powerful tool as they are today. But during the advent of the late 2000s, the term smartphone was coined and these diminutive devices were perpetually connected to the internet. In this regard, smartphones have become an integral object in our lives where we do not only answer emails, monitor our health but also navigate the world and consequently make and plan our trips.

Indeed, mobile phones have made vacation planning so much easier than they were decades ago. Back in the day, if you decided to go on holiday, the planning process alone would be a nightmare. Now, all you would need is your smartphone and a steady internet connection. Just imagine for a while what travel planning would look like without your diminutive, albeit powerful, device. It would be quite the hassle and for some people, planning a trip would take more than just a day. Today, you can even do it in a single hour and over your afternoon coffee at that so long as you have all of the logistics of your travel plan mapped out.

To illustrate just how much better we have got it today with the use of our smartphones, here are some of the aspects of travel that your smartphones have made easier:

   It allows you to make airline bookings online

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One of the best features a smartphone possibly has is to allow its users to book flights through their mobile phones. Back in the day, travel hopefuls would have to visit the office of their airline of choice just to secure a ticket. With a smartphone, it is all a matter of just choosing a date and keying all the important information. The same goes for hotel accommodations and lodging.

 You can compare prices better

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Apart from getting to book your airline tickets and hotel reservations online, there are mobile apps that would help you get competitive prices for the dates you wish to go on vacation. Some apps would even take this up a notch by offering users a discount if they successfully book their accommodation arrangements through the app.

    Check the weather forecast

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While this is something you might wish to do a week or perhaps days before your scheduled trip, it can be helpful in finalizing your itinerary. More importantly, should the weather not be agreeable to the prospective activity you want to do on a particular day, you can make the necessary amendments even before your scheduled trip. Knowing the weather forecast of the place you are visiting will help you plan a more comprehensive and cohesive itinerary. More importantly, it helps you do all the things you wish to do.

    Helps you navigate through foreign cities

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Let us face it: Physical maps are not as helpful as the digital ones we have on our phones. The maps we have on our smartphones are routinely updated and would help us navigate through unfamiliar cities. Even better, some of these maps might even suggest stops and points of interest for travelers.

   Bridges the language barrier

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The world’s foremost and biggest technology behemoth, Google, has significantly helped the world bridge the communication gap. It is a reality that not all countries have English-speaking locals when you go and at times, you would need the locals’ help in finding a particular place or even ask them for recommendations. Aside from that, foreign signage will not always be in English and thus, would constrain you to make the necessary translation. Situations such as needing help or reading signs would compel you to use your trusty device to bridge the communication barrier and trust us when we say; you will be vastly relieved for having it.

 

MOBILE APPS EVERY TRAVELER SHOULD HAVE ON THEIR PHONE  

HotelTonight

(Available for iOS and Android for FREE)

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While there is a myriad of hotel booking apps for download, not all of them would prove useful to you as HotelTonight would. Available on iOS and Android platforms, HotelTonight is probably the only booking app you would ever need in your mobile phone. Apart from giving you the best hotel accommodation bargains, there is no other booking app available that gives you quality hotel reviews like this app does. More importantly, you can refine your hotel search based on a range of criteria from level of luxury to affordability. The latter is a feature which is a helpful metric for vacation planners to keep in mind. With HotelTonight, you can make accommodation bookings for tonight, tomorrow or even two weeks from today.

Google Trips

(Available on iOS and Android for FREE)

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As the juggernaut of search engines, it would be unthinkable for Google not to have a mobile app that would exclusively cater to the traveling market. In Google’s latest foray into the development of travel apps, traveling is made easier and more convenient by consolidating all of your travel documents into a single app. Google Trips ensures that all of your reservations, possible itineraries, plane tickets, saved places and other pertinent data are stored in a single place. More importantly, it has the feature of Google Maps as well and has reviews of the local restaurants and bars nearby you.

Dark Sky

(Available on iOS and Android for $3.99)

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Regardless of where you are, the weather is going to play a pivotal role as to whether or not you should push through with your plans for the day in an unfamiliar city. In this regard, you would want to ascertain what the weather will be like for the next couple of hours or even the next day. Dark sky precisely does this. While there are many weather apps pretty much like Dark Sky, the former’s algorithms do not provide immediate forecasting better than Dark Sky does. The app gives you detailed readings for humidity, rain and temperature and comes with built-in widgets so that you can check the forecast with a single glance.

Citymapper

(Available on iOS and Android)

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Public transit information might be available in general map apps such as Apple or Google Maps but its features are rather limited. A mobile app dedicated to the myriad of ways you can navigate a city certainly has an edge over generalized apps that gloss over pertinent information. Citymapper is a dedicated mobile app that is used by many travelers to navigate unfamiliar cities. To date, the app provides navigation information for many cities all over the world. Plus, using the app is a seamless experience wherein users are given a vast number of transport types and the cities it covers. Apart from that, it helps you make connections and find your transport while you are mid-journey.

Waze

(Available on iOS and Android for FREE)

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Waze is undoubtedly an incredibly useful mobile app for both travelers and non-travelers alike. True to its tagline, “outsmarting traffic together”, the mobile app promises to give you the best routes to take in order for you to reach your destination earlier. However, Waze can also be a great navigating tool for travelers who wish to drive in unfamiliar cities. Apart from telling them which roads to take, it also ensures that the routes they take are devoid of traffic or at least mitigates the possibility of leading them to roads gripped by traffic jams.

TripIt

(Available on iOS and Android for free)

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TripIt is pretty much a travel agent that fits comfortably inside your pocket. In fact, fewer people are hiring travel agents because mobile apps such as TripIt would essentially do the same work sans the professional fee. In essence, this mobile app is pretty much like a travel assistant that is easy to use. All you would really need to do is forward all of your booking emails, details and any travel-related correspondence to the app and the app will do the rest. TripIt would then pull your itinerary details from all the information you have forwarded and store it. From there, the app would then send you push notifications as to where you need to be and what time. In this regard, the app saves you a lot of time from scouring through your inbox just to find the appropriate mail. More comprehensive app features are included for a fee which would include real-time alerts on flights and alternative flight trackers.

Google Translate

(Available on iOS and Android for FREE)

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Undoubtedly, Google is a ubiquitous tech giant that is predominantly recognized by everyone who has even the most tenuous awareness of the internet. Apart from its ubiquity, Google also endeavors to deliver a utilitarian service to its users. In this regard, it should come as no surprise that this tech powerhouse would have its own translating service in conjunction to its powerful search service. Google Translate remains to be one of the most useful apps when it comes to traveling as it paves the way for you to understand the locals abroad as well as have yourself be understood by them. While the program has been launched in 2006, today it shows more promising features and has a total of 103 languages. More importantly, with fine-tuning, the app is more polished and allows you to translate the signs you snap with your phone’s camera, provide correct pronunciations aloud and so much more. In fact, it is such a comprehensive translating tool that many users have utilized it as a learning tool for understanding and speaking foreign languages instead.

Headout

(Available on iOS and Android for FREE)

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Headout is the perfect app for travelers who wish to explore a foreign and unfamiliar city the moment they arrive. Apart from giving you suggestions as to where to go, the app helps you find events in your current location. This includes tourist tours, exhibitions, adventure experience and the like. To be in the know as regards what is happening in an unfamiliar place, download Headout and immediately fire it up when you are in a foreign city.

Sygic Travel

(Available in iOS and Android for FREE one month trial)

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Sygic Travel is a mobile app that promises to revolutionize and change the way you travel. In essence, the mobile app is pretty much the digital equivalent of having a tour guide make a personalized itinerary for you. To use it, you need to tell the app where you are going and for how many days. From that information, the app would then create a travel itinerary which would include all of the top attractions of that place as well as a Daily Plan which takes away the confusion and stress of determining where to go and in what order.

TripTrip

(Web app only)

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Triptrip is pretty much like Trello with the marked difference of it being used solely for traveling. Admittedly, you can use Trello t visualize your travel plans but it is so much better to use an app that is dedicated for traveling purposes. TripTrip allows you to see a series of boards all at once with each broken down by day. More importantly, the app contains search recommendations so that you can easily add items like museums, landmarks, nightlife options, restaurants and the like. These items can then be moved throughout the board or between days should you ever wish to change your plan.

Check and Pack

(Web only app)

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Check and pack is essentially a web app that makes a checklist of all your travel essentials to ensure that you have everything that you need packed and stowed away before leaving. To use the app, you simply tell the website where you are going, what kind of trip it is, your mode of transport and other pertinent details such as whether or not you will be traveling or children. Based on the information you have keyed in, Check and Pack would then auto-generate a list of packing essentials across categories that would include but is not limited to clothing, toiletries, journey supplies, entertainment, food and drink, travel gear and so much more. Apart from that, the web app also adds a list of things for you to do before you leave. This full list can then be printed out to better guide you.

Bingeclock and Reading Length

(Web only app)

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Depending on where you are traveling to and how you are getting to your destination, traveling can take a while which leaves you with a lot of free time. Bingeclock is a web app that gives you the total run-time of a particular movie or TV series which essentially is an integral piece of information if you wish to map out your airline or road trip entertainment. Similarly, Reading Length is another web app which gives you an estimate of how long it would take an average reader to finish a book. Incidentally, the web app also comes with a metric for which you can test your WPM (words per minute) to help you determine whether you are a slow or fast reader.

Google Maps

(Available on iOS and Android for FREE)

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It should go without saying that having Google Maps installed on your smartphone whenever you are traveling is imperative for obvious reasons. Apart from showing you the map of the general area, it shows you the multiple ways to get somewhere and provides you with real-time traffic reports. More importantly, the app allows you to save maps offline which is pretty nifty considering that there are some areas that have poor cell coverage.  

 

 

Regardless of where you are going, you can always make your vacation a stress-free and more convenient. So, the next time you have a trip in mind, be sure to look back at this list for reference on which travel apps you should have for your next excursion. The installation of these apps can make the difference between a breezy trip and a taxing one.  You are on vacation after all, so in lieu of planning out the nitty-gritty details of the trip yourself, why not have these apps do it for you?

 

 

Exploring Luzon by Road—The Ultimate Road Trip Guide in Luzon

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With summer looming just right around the corner, it would be no question that most individuals are drawing up their plans for extended vacations.

At this point, city dwellers would already be daydreaming about the summer excursions they will be indulging themselves in and perhaps the relish the idea of a holiday that is soon to happen. However, a brief reprieve from the constant hustle and bustle of prime metropolitans such as Metro Manila does not necessarily require you to fly out of the city neither will it constrain you to go on boat rides. The magic of living in Luzon lies in the fact that there is an excellent chance that there is an incredibly vast expanse of land and a myriad of roads that you have not explored yet. These roads all lead somewhere and if you are looking to satiate your incessant wanderlust, then put your summer plans into high gear by starting with the region you are born.

After all, there is no better way to commence your summer than going on a road trip. Road trips require no plane tickets obviously plus there is an element of spontaneity and unpredictability to them that makes for the most unforgettable vacation memories. Begin your summer with a North Luzon road trip and see for yourself the underrated beauties in this area that truly makes Luzon a delight to visit. If you have known nothing but the concrete pavements and suffocating feel of a bustling city, then the picturesque sceneries will undoubtedly be a refreshing departure from the tall skyscrapers and constant traffic. Underrated as the areas of Northern Luzon may be, it offers a wealth of options to try with exciting destinations such as Baguio, La Union, Zambales and so much more. These destinations are accessible either by car or bus, so it dispenses with the need for booking a plane ticket.

However, before you prepare yourself for that Northern Luzon Road trip and start plotting down the places you wish to go, read on to discover the benefits of road trips as well as proper road trip etiquette for first-timers.


WHY EVERYONE SHOULD TAKE A ROAD TRIP

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It breaks the routine

If you are a full-time employee, there is a likely chance that your life has devolved into a boring 9-5 routine: get up, get ready, get to work, come home, eat, sleep and repeat the same cycle. While some instances may cause your daily routine to vary, it is not significant enough to evoke a feeling of excitement from us. In this regard, it may be argued that we are living in our comfort zone—one that is easy to maintain and does not necessarily challenge us. With this in mind, we ought to spice it up a little by breaking up the routine with a road trip. Apart from being an avenue for growth, it is also an opportunity for good habits to develop.

 

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An opportunity for self-reflection

Whether you are traveling solo or with friends, road trips provide an opportunity for introspection insomuch that it makes you contemplate about who you are and what your strengths are. In a sense, it allows us to renew ourselves by leading us to rediscover the parts of ourselves lost in the constant hustle and bustle of everyday life. After all, there is nothing quite like a long and open road that helps us clear our minds and mull over the essential things in our lives.

 

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It gets you out of your comfort zone

Our comfort zones are safe, and we regard them as a refuge of all sorts. Comfort zones are familiar, and we are used to them. Unfortunately, comfort zones can also be annoying. Admittedly, changing things up and doing something a little different can be a little challenging as it requires effort and planning. On top of all that, you are not sure of how it will turn out. There are no guarantees. But really, are there even any guarantees in life? Getting out of your comfort zone means you see more to life than the things you have grown accustomed. It allows you to experience new things and learn from them. In essence, it will enable you to develop.

 

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See places you have not seen before

The beauty of road trips lies in the opportunity of seeing familiar places with new eyes. Unlike taking a flight, road trips compel you to appreciate not only the destination but the journey as well. More importantly, it allows you to see places you may not have seen before. Flights are abbreviated versions of road trips and while fun, they do not provide much opportunity for you to explore. Road trips, on the other hand, lead you undiscovered places insomuch that there is always an element of spontaneity to it that is somewhat lacking in trips taken via plane flights.

 

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You discover what is essential.

Consistently meeting deadlines and operating on a tight schedule can lead us to lose sight of what is truly important. In life, it is not always about the money you lose or earn or the possessions you own. It is about the experiences you have with family and friends and the resulting memories you form. Driving through an open road and seeing a vast expanse of land as well as picturesque sceneries helps you appreciate the oft-neglected aspects in life. In essence, it enables you to understand life itself. So, take that road trip. After all, in the grand scheme of things, you would not be looking back at how much you have earned on overtime but the memories you have made with your children when you are old and grey.

 

ROAD TRIP ETIQUETTE FOR FIRST-TIMERS


Always offer gas money when you are a passenger.

Regardless of your relationship to the host of your road trip, be considerate enough to pitch in for gas money—or at least offer to do. Most drivers typically do not ask their passengers for gas money, but that does not mean that you should not provide. Take the initiative and politely offer gas money. How much you give usually depends on the number of passengers there are, the distance as well as the car’s gas tank. If the driver or host declines your offer, you can always opt to repay them in some other way. Instead of gas money, you can offer to pay for their half of the lodging accommodations or treat them to a meal.

The driver gets to decide the music.

As a passenger, it is imperative to keep in mind and understand that the driver has control over the music. Why? Because they are the ones who can determine which kinds of music would keep them awake and ones that would put them asleep. As they are the ones handling the wheel, it is important to choose music that would make their drive more comfortable and bearable—especially on long road trips. Sure, you might not exactly agree with their music tastes but refrain from pressing the skip button. To make your trip enjoyable, engage in road trip games or have a conversation with people in the car instead.

Eat only appropriate food.

Some car owners tend to have specific car rules and they expect you to abide by those rules should you ever find yourself in the car. If you wish to consume something while on the road, ask the owner if they could, should they permit it, be sure to steer clear from food items that can get potentially messy or ones that emit particularly strong odors such as shawarma wraps, wings, ribs, pizza, burgers with extra sauce or the like. Opt for finger foods and minimize crumbs as much as possible.

Take advantage of restroom breaks.

It is recommended to watch how much water you are consuming while you are driving cross-country as you do not want to waylay your trip by asking for way too many bathroom breaks. In any case, you should always seize the opportunity to take your bathroom breaks regardless of whether you wish to go or not. You want to reach your destination at the quickest possible time and if that means fewer bathroom breaks, then so be it. Take care of business whenever you can and limit your fluid intake.

Controlling the air-conditioning

As there are plenty of you in one car, it might be hard to find a suitable temperature that everyone agrees with. In this regard, it is best to adopt instead. If you are likely to get hot easily then be sure to garb yourself in light clothing appropriately. However, if you get easily cold then be sure to bring a jacket or a light blanket with you. Sure, asking the driver to regulate the temperature to your preference is not an unreasonable request but keep in mind that you have other passengers to consider as well.

Keep your shoes on

Long road trips can be quite exhausting, but it is no excuse for you to take off your shoes. While you are encouraged to make yourself as comfortable as possible, refrain from taking off your shoes. You are not in your living room after all and should you emit any offensive odor, keep in mind that you are subjecting everyone to that. Be considerate and keep your shoes on.

 

WHERE TO GO IN LUZON

LA UNION

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While La Union is widely regarded as the surfing capital up North (or even in the Philippines), the province offers a myriad of activities for surfers and non-surfers alike. Sure enough, surfing should be in your itinerary, but if you wish to give surfing and to swim a break, you might want to go grape picking or visiting the old lighthouses in San Juan.

BAGUIO

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Known as the “City of Pines,” Baguio City remains to be a delightful Northern Luzon destination for both tourists and locals alike. The city’s climate, as well as the perfectly preserved historic buildings, would make for an exciting place to visit over the summer. While the city is considered “highly urbanized” today by modern standards, it is still one of the most natural cities on the island of Luzon insomuch that this should be included in the travel bucket list of nature enthusiasts.

MOUNTAIN PROVINCE

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Individuals with a proclivity for challenging treks and an inclination for seeing sunsets and sunrises cascade over mountain ranges should head to the Mountain Province in Northern Luzon. This landlocked province in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon is subdivided into ten municipalities with each having something unique to offer both tourists and locals. Of the ten, here are three noteworthy provinces worth the visit:

Sagada

Made known by the movie which implied that this is where broken-hearted individuals go to do some self-discovery and find themselves (and consequently mend their hearts), Sagada is so much more than a retreat for heartbreak. The highland town of temperate weather has a myriad of activities in store for you. From spelunking in Lumiang and Sumaguing Caves to walking along the rice terraces, Sagada is an adventure retreat on its own.

Benguet

If you wish to take a break from the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” known as Baguio City (and avoid the crowds of tourists flocking to its respective tourist spots), then head on to Benguet for a change. Located just beside Baguio City, Benguet is known to be the country’s leading supplier of strawberries and has even won a Guinness title for the largest strawberry shortcake back in 2004. However, apart from strawberry picking, the province promises a wealth of attractions to see. Some of the things you can do are hiking at Mt. Kalugong, visit Bell Church and even ghost hunting at the Diplomat Hotel.

Bontoc

While Bontoc primarily overshadowed by its more famous neighbors, Banaue and Sagada, Bontoc is slowly making a name for itself through its showcase of various attractions and activities insomuch that tourists traveling up north are finding it harder to overlook this beautiful little province. If you are the individual who has always had a penchant for taking the off-the-beaten-track, then this mountain province will undoubtedly delight you with its charming attractions draped by verdant greenery. Like Banaue, Bontoc has its own Rice Terraces in Maligcong. Apart from that, you have two other mountains to trek and explore (Mt. Fato and Mt. Kofafey respectively)

IFUGAO

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Typically, most travelers would never leave the Ifugao province without seeing the Banaue Rice Terraces. However, while Ifugao Province’s popularity is attributed to this worldwide famous rice terraces, it is not the only attraction the province has to offer. Indeed, the rice terraces of Banaue are a sight to behold but apart from admiring the majestic view, make your experience more immersive by watching an Ifugao cultural show and dancing to the sound of gongs.

 

ZAMBALES

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Zambales is one of the more underrated beach destinations in North Luzon massively overshadowed by La Union and Batangas. However, the province has a charm on its own and is proving to be quite the tourist destination over the years. Apart from the gorgeous beaches, the area promises a wealth of activities for you to try such as appreciating wildlife, exploring famous volcanoes, camping out and gazing at the night sky.

 

QUEZON PROVINCE

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One of the charming things about Luzon is the fact that it does not have just one but two places designated as Quezon. While Quezon City is more recognized and famous worldwide, its provincial counterpart has a subtle charm to it that is often overlooked by tourists. Indeed, while this province is not as famous as its neighbors, it promises a myriad of attractions to an intrepid traveler. Some of the things you can expect are old churches rife with history, heritage houses with unique stories and to top all of that off. You get to sample gastronomic food that is priced far cheaper than what it would have been had you gotten them back in the city.

 

ILOCOS SUR

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Visiting Ilocos Sur is pretty much like revisiting and digging into the past. If you wish to know more about how the Philippines looked like during the Spanish colonial era, then you should make a detour in Ilocos Sur. Among the things you can find are cobblestone streets as well as heritage houses insomuch that your experience can be best described as a trip back to a rich and colorful past.

Vigan

What makes Vigan so beautiful is Vigan itself. This historic town has been remarkably well-preserved over the years and was recognized as a Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The planned Spanish colonial town is where you will find ancestral homes, cobblestone streets, and period houses. To complete the veneer and experience of traveling back a century ago, you will see many horse-drawn carriages or kalesas as known in Filipino.

 

ILOCOS NORTE

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Approximately 400 kilometers north of Metro Manila, the province of Ilocos Norte while an underrated gem, continues to delight locals and tourists alike. The region offers a ton of exciting places to explore regardless of whether your penchant for travel is for adventure or for immersing yourself in culture and history. From seeing the Sinking Bell Tower to riding the dunes of Lapaz, there is quite a myriad of activities for you to enjoy.

Pagudpud

Pagudpud is a tourist destination unlike any other in the Philippines. Located in Ilocos Norte, this idyllic destination encourages visitors to take a step back, slow down and live in the moment. Apart from the breathtaking scenery of verdant green hills and grassy plains, this untainted oasis has its fair share of pebble and white sand beaches sans the routine disturbance of nightlife parties. Indeed, if you wish to escape to a paradise retreat away from the constant hustle and bustle of the city, you are sure to find sanctuary here.

 

BATAAN

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There is probably no other Philippine province more heavily laden with history than Bataan is. The area has seen some of the most significant events in Philippine history which include the Bataan Death march as well as the Fall of Bataan. In this regard, you will see many monuments peppered around the province that would reference its historic past. Of particular interest are the markers and monuments that pay tribute to the courageous soldiers that fought during World War II. However, apart from being a town heavily burdened with history, Bataan has more to offer than just snippets into the Philippines’ past. While it is a given that history enthusiasts will enjoy the place, it is also for individuals who love nature and outdoor adventures.

 

NUEVA ECIJA

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Upon mention of Nueva Ecija, two things come to mind: carabaos and dairy. Indeed, this quaint but charming province in Northern Luzon is primarily known for dairy and carabao. In this regard, many tourists might dismiss the town as another boring destination, but unbeknownst to them, the province is rife with opportunities for exploration. Some of the things you can do are trekking, zip lining, bamboo rafting and the like making Nueva Ecija a rural settlement that leaves visitors in awe.

 

TARLAC

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Admittedly, the province of Tarlac is not known for its tourism. It is a stopover destination for many travelers who are bound for northern parts of the country such as Baguio and the Ilocos region. Despite this, however, Tarlac proves to be a province with potential for tourism insomuch that it can be seen as an emerging tourist destination. For starters, Tarlac is well known for its eco-tourism which means that trekking and swimming in falls are some of the things you can enjoy while here. Some other activities you can enjoy are ATV riding, Zip lining, and other outdoor activities in Tarlac Recreational Park.

 

CAGAYAN

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It is not often that people would regard Cagayan as a tourist spot. More often than not, the province is overlooked in favor of more popular Northern Luzon tourist destinations. However, the area is home to many attractions, both natural and human-made which means, people are missing out a lot if they failed to include this in their stop. Apart from the beautiful vistas, the province is home to its fair share of beautiful beaches and impressive churches that would entice history buffs and culture enthusiasts alike.

 

PANGASINAN

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Pangasinan is frequented by travelers mainly because other popular Luzon tourist destinations border it. To the North are La Union and Benguet, Nueva Ecija to the East and Zambales and Tarlac to the South. While merely a stopover for some, Pangasinan proves to pack a punch when it comes to regaling tourists and visitors alike. The province boasts of stretches of white sand beaches, scenic terrains, magnificent caves, and ancient Hispanic churches. More importantly, it is home to Lingayen Beach where you can get a glimpse of the world-famous Philippine sunset.

 

Now that you have a glimpse of the potential road trip destinations you have in Luzon, why bother going anywhere else? Luzon has a wealth of attractions for you to try and so you might as well explore and discover them while you can. You might not know it, but through your excursion, you might develop a renewed appreciation for the country that you call home.

 

The Top Long Weekend Destinations near Manila

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Working in one of the busiest metropolitans in the Philippines is no easy feat.

After all, being employed in one of the offices in a progressive city can only mean more mentally demanding and physically taxing jobs. For the most part, working in Manila means being in a flurry of activity from 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon insomuch that by the end of the day, you are not only physically spent and drained but relieved to have ended the workday as well. Combine that with an average employee’s daily struggle with Metro Manila’s ridiculous traffic conditions and you have for yourself a recipe for a stressful work week. With all that considered, it would be no wonder at all why city dwellers like Manileños themselves live for the weekends. In this regard, long weekends would then be a golden opportunity for a much-needed respite from the stressful daily grind insomuch that these holidays can be seen as a form of short reprieve. Indeed, when a non-working holiday falls close enough to the weekend, it would be enough reason to celebrate and prepare ourselves for a much-deserved vacation.

Luckily, Manila bounded by a myriad of beautiful provinces that you would not require a plane or boat ticket to get away from the city. If you have been wondering where to go near Manila, you are in luck as this article is a curated list of all the potential getaways near Manila that you can have in a three-day long weekend retreat. The list covers places that can be reached anywhere from a 3-5 hour drive from the metropolis which is just about right for a regular weekend getaway. So, if you are planning a brief excursion on the next long weekend, here are some of the potential places you can go to:

TOP LONG WEEKEND DESTINATIONS NEAR MANILA

La Union

Why La Union?

La Union, which has been given the moniker “Elyu” by locals and tourists, remains to be one of the best destinations in the north. Perfect for surfing enthusiasts, beach bums and weekend warriors, the place is ideal for individuals looking for a brief break from the endless hustle and bustle of the city.

TRAVEL TIME

Approximately 267 kilometers away from Metro Manila, traveling to La Union via the R-8 and N Luzon W Expressway takes about four hours and a half.

Recommended Places

San Juan

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Anyone visiting La Union should know that the stops in their itinerary should include San Juan, the surfing capital of the north. A favorite among many tourists and locals, San Juan, is packed almost all year long. However, the best time to visit is from October to March as this is the time when the waves are perfect for surfing.

 

Baluarte Watch Tower

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As with any Philippine city, La Union has its fair share of colorful history. Baluarte Watch Tower was built during the Spanish era and was mainly used to warn locals of looters from neighboring countries. Today, it is considered as one of the national treasures of the Philippines. If you wish to take striking photographs while enjoying the generous view of the beach, you should include this in your stops.

 

Grape Farms

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One of the relatively new tourist spots that have emerged in La Union, the grape farms offers both tourists and locals alike something new in terms of Philippine travel experience. Grapes do not typically grow in the Philippines’ warm climate making the experience incredibly novel for Filipinos to see them grow in a tropical milieu.

 

Rizal

Why Rizal?

Dubbed after the Philippines’ national hero, Rizal province has a lot more to offer than just its famous mountain ranges and moniker. Unfortunately, Rizal has always remained as an underdog when it comes to tourism despite its proximity to the city. Indeed, while Rizal occupies a large portion of the Sierra Madre, there are still a lot of places you can visit in the province. Apart from climbing new mountains such as Mount Paliparan, you can explore the rivers, caves, windmills and even the dams. It has everything a province can offer and gives you a variety of activities to do over the weekend.

TRAVEL TIME

Rizal is roughly 50 kilometers away from Metro Manila. It takes an hour and thirty-nine minutes to reach the province via the Marikina-Infanta Highway or the Marilaque Highway.

Recommended Places

Pililla

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If there is one thing you should never miss seeing in Rizal, it is the windmills of Pililla. While the mills of Bangui, Ilocos Norte are arguably more popular and well-known, these widely photographed windmills require a bit of a hike to see the towering turbines. More importantly, observing the Pililla windmills does not need you to go on an extended road trip as it is only a couple of hours away from Metro Manila. Apart from affording you a panoramic view of the generous expanse of lush green hills where the 27 wind turbines built so, you can also get to sample some of Pililla’s juicy pineapples that have been said to rival Bukidnon’s popular fruit offering.

 

Angono

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Angono is rightfully known as the country’s art capital. On the surface, the town looks like an art explosion with many of its street walls functioning as a makeshift canvas. Apart from being the birthplace of National Artists Carlos “Botong” Francisco and Lucio San Pedro, Angono features art galleries and museums filled with works from renowned artists. To strengthen its status as the country’s art capital, you can even find art right on its streets from the “Malakas and Maganda” statues outside the town hall to the murals on the walls and even on the gates of residents’ houses. Strolling and making your way through the town is pretty much like making your way through an enormous art gallery.

 

Tanay

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Take a dip in one of Luzon’s waterfalls without having to go too far in Tanay’s Daranak Falls and Batlag Falls. Apart from being easily accessible, both waterfalls are considered to be one of Luzon’s most beautiful natural wonders. Indeed, with white curtains falling over aquamarine waters, these two falls would make for an excellent picturesque backdrop for photographs. If you wish to gaze upon the night sky and have a blanket of stars aid you in your nocturnal endeavors then pitch a tent and stay the night. Camping options are available at the WK Forest Reserve.

 

Baras

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Adventure enthusiasts will enjoy the jagged karsts and lush forests of Baras, home to the Masungi Georeserve and a well-liked outdoor adventure facility. If you have been looking to kick your adrenaline into gear, going on an adventure in Masungi will satiate your taste for adventure. Passing through hanging bridges, steel spider webs, and giant rope hammocks amidst the stunning view of Baras’ landscapes is just one of the things you can enjoy while staying there.

 

Cavite

Why Cavite?

Known as the Manileño’s favorite weekend retreat, Cavite has always been known as the nearby city for those who are looking for a quick weekend getaway near Manila. However, apart from being known as the city for brief excursions, this picturesque hook-shaped peninsula is also known for both business and leisure. Indeed, there is so much more to discover about its rich history.

TRAVEL TIME

Cavite is 34 kilometers away from Metro Manila and takes approximately an hour and seven minutes to reach via R-1.

Recommended Places

Corregidor Island

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Known to be town rife with culture and history, no tourist’s visit to Cavite would be complete without a stop to Corregidor Island. While plenty of Cavite’s tourist spots would already serve as a history lesson to visitors, there is no place richer in history than Corregidor Island itself. As the last line of defense during World War II, the island itself is a perfect stop for history junkies who are looking for remnants of the battles that were once fought there. It is full of ruins and lighthouses. The oldest landmark on the island is a lighthouse situated in the same location since 1853.

 

Sky Ranch

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Considered as one of the popular attractions in Cavite, a visit to the Sky Ranch should be on your itinerary whenever you are in the city. The Sky Ranch is a leisure park located in the province and equipped with the country’s biggest Ferris wheel that is said to give you an unobstructed view of the Taal Volcano. If you are traveling with children, there are plenty of rides you and your family can enjoy as well.

 

Aguinaldo Shrine

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History buffs and enthusiasts should include a visit to the Aguinaldo shrine in their travel itineraries. Individuals with a penchant for history will love this place as it is rife in history. It is where the first President of the Philippines had taken up residence. The shrine has also served as his final resting place as it is where his remains are entombed apart from serving as a national museum.

 

Pico De Loro

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Individuals with a penchant for chasing the great outdoors should never miss the chance of seeing Mount Pico de Loro, a dormant volcano located in the middle of the Cavite province. However, keep in mind that Mount Pico de Loro is not an easy trek even for experienced hikers. The hike alone would take you anywhere from a couple of hours to more to reach the summit. The trek is rewarding but will be treated to a breathtaking view that overlooks the island.

Laguna

Why Laguna?

More popularly known as the birthplace of the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Laguna lies southeast of Metro Manila and is known to be a place rich in history that perfectly balances the old and new. Individuals with a penchant for indulging their adventurous side will enjoy Laguna’s hot springs and various mountain treks. Private resorts aside, the province offers thrilling and intimate experiences as well. With majestic waterfalls, baroque churches and nature treks among the things you can see and explore, Laguna is the perfect place to visit for a brief weekend excursion near Manila.

TRAVEL TIME

Laguna is 102 kilometers away from Metro Manila via the S Luzon Expressway. It takes roughly two hours and forty-one minutes to reach.

Recommended Places

Nuvali

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Individuals with a proclivity for retail therapy should do some weekend out of town shopping by visiting Nuvali. Apart from being home to a great number of shops, trunk shows, and bazaars, Nuvali is also an excellent outdoor facility that promotes environmental sustainability. In this regard, you can expect biking and running trails to be surrounded by a copse of trees. Wakeboarding enthusiasts should also make it a point to stop at this outdoor facility as it is home to Repub1c Wakepark.

 

San Pablo City

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Nature lovers should not miss the opportunity of visiting San Pablo, Laguna. Heralded as the City of Seven Lakes, visitors can engage their senses by taking a dip in not only one but seven lakes. This place is known to have some of the most beautiful lakes in the province known as Lakes Sampaloc, Yambo, Pandin, Muhicap, Bunot, lalibato and Palapakin. However, while all seven are reachable, the most accessible and tourist-friendly are Bunot, Pandin, and Yambo.

 

Pagsanjan Falls

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No Laguna itinerary is complete sans a visit to one of its most iconic and idyllic locations. Known as one of the Philippines favorite tourist spots, the Pagsanjan Falls is as majestic and beautiful as our grade school books claim them to be. Locally, the place is referred to as Magdapio Falls but regardless of what designation you go by, its natural beauty is undeniable and a thing to behold.

 

Batangas

Why Batangas?

Apart from being known as the typical Manileño’s place for a weekend beach getaway, Batangas has more to offer than just its beautiful and scenic beaches. Admittedly, while Batangas has something to offer in terms of rich history and vibrant culture, it has always been well-known for the best beaches in Luzon. However, even non-beach dwellers would find something to do in this city.

TRAVEL TIME

Batangas is approximately two hours and three minutes (107 kilometers) away from Metro Manila.

Recommended Places

Kapusod Treehouse

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Travelers who are looking for hotel alternatives will love the literal Treehouse accommodation that overlooks the vast Taal Lake Protected Landscape. The Kapusod Treehouse is pretty much like an average hobbit’s house where a range of accommodations is available for use to visitors. Apart from staying in quirky accommodation quarters, staying in Kapusod offers guests a chance in being fully immersed in ecological living.

 

The Town of Taal

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As one of the very few heritage towns left in the country, tourists arrive by the droves to the Town of Taal to see not only the famed volcano but the numerous ancestral houses found in the town proper as well. History buffs and enthusiasts will be given the time of their lives just strolling around towns especially when they discover that some of these houses have been turned into museums.

 

Malabrigo Lighthouse

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Known just as the parola to the locals, The Malabrigo Lighthouse or Faro de Punta Malabrigo is one of the two lighthouses in Batangas constructed in 1891. Erected mainly to guide naval vessels traveling through the eastern side of the Verde Island Passage and Tayabas Bay, the historic tower has now become a tourist spot owing to how it remained remarkably in use over the use with updated solar-powered lamps. It has stood the test of time insomuch that it was declared a National Historic landmark in 2006.

Bataan

Why Bataan?

A small, beautiful peninsula that finds its sweet spot between the West Philippine Sea and the Manila Bay, Bataan has a lot to boast in terms of picturesque landscapes and breathtaking places. While incredibly rich in history and culture, Bataan is still vastly underrated despite being surrounded by different kinds of bodies of water. However, given its myriad of attractions, Bataan is poised to become the next burgeoning tourist destination soon.

TRAVEL TIME

Via the R-8 and North Luzon Expressway/Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, it takes two hours and thirty-eight (162.8 kilometers( minutes to reach Bataan.

Recommended Places

Mount Samat Shrine, Pilar

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Known as the province’s most historical (and recognizable) landmark, Mount Samat offers so much more than just a reference to a token piece of history. The Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor) located at the mountain’s summit is a tribute to the unrelenting courage of the Filipino and American soldiers who fought the Japanese troops during World War II. The cross itself is magnificent and stands 92 meters high but what makes it so majestic is the panoramic view of Bataan and Corregidor it offers visitors.

 

Sisiman Bay

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Travelers with a proclivity for chasing sunsets should give Sisiman Bay a visit. Located at the southernmost part of the Bataan Peninsula, Sisiman Bay in Mariveles is an idyllic location for taking Instagram-worthy photos and watching the sunset. With a myriad of rock formations, a pebble beach and lighthouse to serve as a backdrop, the photographs you take are sure to be extraordinary.

 

Playa La Caleta

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Perfect for escaping the noise of the metropolis, Playa La Caleta is a remote island near Morong. This serene destination is a popular choice for individuals who wish to go on an island hopping experience by visiting nearby beaches such as the Velasco Pink Beach, Biga Cove and the Caragman Cove.

 

Pampanga

Why Pampanga?
Fondly known as the Philippines’ culinary capital, Pampanga has a lot to offer in terms of gastronomic treats and epicurean delights. Indeed, Pampanga is the perfect place up north for foodies and culinary enthusiasts alike. However, discussions of food aside, Pampanga is also known to have a vibrant and buoyant business climate that contributes to its popularity. More importantly, it is easily accessible from Manila as it is approximately only an hour away from the metropolis via the North Luzon Expressway.

TRAVEL TIME:

From Metro Manila, it takes an hour and forty minutes (81 kilometers) to reach Pampanga via the R-8.

Recommended Places

Mount Pinatubo

 

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Adventurous souls should never miss out on the opportunity to go trekking in Mount Pinatubo. This must-experience adventure is only available at the famed landmark and tourists can try and avail of this trip in a day tour package.

Fontana Water Park

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Individuals and tourists with an affinity with an affinity for splashing around the water should visit Fontana Water Park. Located at Clark Freeport, Fontana Water Park has ten water park features with six kinds of waves as high as three feet. The water park offers a myriad of aquatic activities that are sure to delight and excite guests and visitors.

 

Sandbox, Alviera

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If you truly want to take advantage of the long weekend by doing not just one outdoor activity but a myriad of them, then you should definitely head on over to The Sandbox, a recreational facility in Porac, Pampanga. Located in the vast expanse of the Alviera property, this adventure facility offers something for the whole family or barkada to enjoy. Attractions range from challenging you physically and mentally so you are sure to have a fun-filled weekend in this versatile facility.

 

Ilocos Sur

Why Ilocos Sur?
It is easy to associate Ilocos Sur with the historical and cobbled streets of Vigan, one of the most visited cities in the North. However, apart from being the quaint and charming town everyone associates with well-paved roads, there is a lot more to Ilocos than what meets the eye. It is a place where nature and history collide. From the streets of Vigan to the magnificent formations of dunes in Paoay, Ilocos almost has everything a traveler needs when it comes to rest and recreation.

Recommended Places

Calle Crisologo

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Undoubtedly, no trip to Ilocos would be complete without a stop in Vigan. Apart from being a popular and major tourist magnet, Calle Crisologo gives visitors a brief glimpse of the Spanish era with its Spanish-style houses. Just stepping into the place itself would already be like a trip back in time as the street features the vibrant lifestyle of the said era.

 

Bantay Belfry

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Sitting atop a hill that offers a generous and panoramic view of the entire Ilocos Sur, the Bantay Belfry is a stop that you should include in your Ilocos Sur itinerary. If you wish to see the vast expanse of the city, you need to make it to the top and from there; you will readily understand why Ilocos Sur is such a breathtaking sight. Apart from the gorgeous view, the belfry has historical significance as used as a watchtower for pirates during the Spanish colonial era.

 

Tirad Pass

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Individuals who loved their history should never miss out on the chance of visiting the famous Tirad Pass. This pass holds historical significance for most Filipinos as it is where Gregorio Del Pilar, a young general, fought against the Americans to allow then revolutionary leader, Emilio Aguinaldo to escape. Today, the place is designated as a National Shrine.

 

Zambales

Why Zambales?
While Zambales is not as developed as other beach destinations like Boracay and Palawan, the province has its subtle charm that entices locals and tourists alike to pay a visit. Apart from giving you that much-needed island getaway, you are also given a taste of what it is like to live in the province which is enough for a quiet weekend getaway. Individuals who love relaxing on the beach, trekking on mountainous regions and exploring other tourist spots will love Zambales and will undoubtedly fill their itinerary with a variety of things to do.

TRAVEL TIME

Via the N Luzon W Expressway and Olangapo-Bugallon Road, it takes four hours and fifty-one minutes (255.1 kilometers) to reach Zambales.

Recommended Places

Mount Pinatubo

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This famous volcano had changed the entire area’s landscape when it erupted in 1991 that it most certainly is worth the visit when you visit Zambales. Apart from the beautiful Crater Lake view that rewards you upon reaching the top, you get to appreciate the unexpected beauty that is left by the devastation back when the volcano erupted.

 

Ramon Magsaysay Ancestral House

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If you wish to know more about the enigmatic former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay, be sure to include his ancestral house in your stops. While he was born in a nearby town, only a bust remains at the spot. He spent most of his formative years in the modest two-story house which has since then been transformed into a museum that features facets of the grand “Champion of the Masses'” life.

 

Capones Island Lighthouse

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Brush up on history and head over to the Capones Island Lighthouse. While lighthouses are generally great places to visit (especially when you get to the top and see the overlooking view out over the water), this lighthouse is especially unique as it was the first list in 1890 to guide ships away from the rocky shores. More importantly, this lighthouse has been considered as a historical site as it was the first project taken on by the Spanish Colonial Government.

 

Anawangin Cove

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No trip to Zambales is complete without a dip in one of its beautiful and picturesque beaches. Of notable mention is Anawangin Cove which is crescent-shaped beach lined with Ago trees with the Mount Pinatubo peeking just at its background.

 

There is no absolute need to travel far or even book a ticket for the next long weekend. Your prospective plans for weekend getaways and excursions can all be accomplished in Luzon alone. After all, Manila is rife with many neighboring provinces that offer refreshing natural getaways that would give you an entirely different feel from the claustrophobic ambiance of the metropolis. So, if you need a brief holiday, hold off plans of going too far off places that would require you to book a plane or boat ticket and save that for extended trips. Instead, take it as a chance to explore the surrounding cities and provinces near you. You might not know it just yet, but you might discover hidden gems that would make one of these provinces your favorite weekend getaway.