- Hop between stunning islands in the Bacuit Archipelago
Vietnam’s Halong Bay may be impressive but it’s also overcrowded. Want to have the place a little more to yourself? Then go to the Bacuit Archipelago to the north of Palawan. The peaceful islands, secret beaches and karst cliffs are simply drop-dead gorgeous, and you can have some incredible snorkeling to boot. Some great island hopping tours depart from El Nido on Palawan and from Coron Island.
- Visit Echo Valley and the Hanging Coffins in Sagada
Hit up Northern Luzon and you might feel like you’re in a whole different country. As you get higher up in the mountains the feeling of tropical summer recedes, turning gradually into more of a gentle European spring with the smell of pine trees in the air. Sagada is a good base for trekking and caving.
- See the impressive Ifugao rice terraces
A UNESCO world heritage site, the rice terraces near Banaue in Northern Luzon are a major tourist attraction. I recommend making the hike to nearby Batad instead; this village can only reached by foot, but you will be rewarded with the sight of stunning amphitheater-style rice terraces that are even more impressive than the ones at Banaue.
- Go to a tarsier monkey sanctuary on Bohol
The island of Bohol is home to the rare tarsier monkeys, small nocturnal and giant-eyed creatures. You might be lucky enough to see them in the wild, though the semi-wild sanctuary on Bohol is your guaranteed way to see them.
- See the Chocolate Hills on Bohol While I don’t recommend going to Bohol just to see the Chocolate Hills (they’re a little overrated), they are still a fun curiosity. For some unexplained reason the landscape in central Bohol is dotted with little Super Mario esque hills, which are chocolate-coloured for part of the year.
- Snorkel with whale shark. These gentle giants are not dangerous to humans; they only eat plankton. But they are also the largest fish in existence and their scale is truly something to be appreciated. Donsol in Southeast Luzon and Oslob on Cebu are places where you can go on a boat and jump in the water right next to these huge creatures. Keep in mind however that sightings are by no mean guaranteed (even in season).
- Visit the Subterranean River National Park Sabang on Palawan is home to one of the longest cave rivers in the world. The boat tour is interesting–you will see some cool rock formations and a lot of bats. Also of interest is the nature surrounding Sabang. Walk westward along the beach and you’ll find a small waterfall that leads into the sea, and you can see hundreds of mudkicker fishes hanging onto the rocks here. Wake up early and take a boat tour of the nearby mangrove forest to see lots of snakes, crabs and tropical birds. Around the cave entrance, you can easily spot monkeys and giant lizards.