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What's new in the Philippines right now?

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What's new in the Philippines right now?

story by: Anna Sarjeant

Sure, the Philippines is famed for its ridiculously idyllic beaches and sand so inviting you’re encouraged to do nothing but lounge horizontally, but for those who crave a little get-up-and-go, there are plenty of activities to keep your heartbeat elevated. 


1. Hike Mount Pulag,
Luzon

Difficulty *****

The number one reason people like to summit Mount Pulag - the third highest peak in the Philippines - is for the sunrise, matched only by the experience of sitting in the clouds as ​the sun embarks on its ascent. The orange glow of dawn, coupled by rolling clouds galloping over the earth’s surface is your reward for a 1am wake-up call. The Ambangeg trail from Benguet is considered the easiest, but it still requires two full days and plenty of puff. Day one is spent navigating deep ravines and gorges before camping overnight at the ranger’s station. You’ll leave here around 1am the following morning (you can leave your camping gear to lessen the load) forging a path through steep terrain until you reach 2922 meters above sea level, and the summit of beautiful Mount Pulag.

In a nut shell: A long and challenging trek which is always chilly, the scenery is astounding but you’ll want to pack plenty of thermals.


2. Coron Island Kayaking, Calamian Islands, Palawan

Difficulty *

When people talk of isolated Philippine beaches as “Thailand 40 years ago” this is what they’re referring to: Coron Island. The sand is white, the water merges from teal to turquoise and it’s all framed by lush jungle-clad cliff side. And the best bit, save for residents, it’s near-enough deserted. A 15km circuit of the northwest coast is best enjoyed by kayak. Hire your own or book a local kayaking tour and skim the glassy waters in between islets, mangroves and lagoons. Explore secluded caves, with interiors so peaceful you can hear ​the stalactite creak, and tropical lakes defined by their ultramarine water.

In a nut shell: Quite the adventure, hug the coastline in your kayak; weaving between idyllic bays, connecting archways and deserted beaches, jumping off to snorkel hidden lagoons and secret caves.


3. Walk Banaue rice terraces, Ifugao Province, Luzon

Difficulty ***

A sheer feat of human ingenuity, the rice terraces of Banaue titter on the mountainside like a layered mass of precarious green steps. One of the oldest manmade structures in the Philippines, the ridged terraces were carved into the mountains by indigenous Filipino people over 3000 years ago. A beauty to behold, hiking the relatively rough terrain to the last viewpoint should take approximately 30 minutes. From here you can work your way back to the town centre via steep descends and challenging ridges. Guides are highly recommended; inexpensive and insightful, you’ll also provide the hospitable locals with some much-appreciated income.

In a nut shell: Trekking amid the UNESCO-recognised rice terraces can be rough, wet and slippery, notably because the paddies were built using only stone and clay.


4. Spelunking on Samar Island, Visayas

Difficulty ****

If you’re not afraid of the dark and you can handle the soft trickle of dripping rocks, mud squishing beneath your feet, the flitting of bat wings and the uncertainty of snakes, then spelunking in the Philippines is top choice for you. Better known as the caving capital of the country, Samar Island is home to Langun-Gobingob Caves, including the “mother of all chambers”, Langun-Gobingob which is a colossal 270 metres long and 160 metres wide. Explore the underworld with a guided hike through some of Samar’s most prolific caves, there are hundreds just waiting to be explored.

In a nut shell: Langun-Gobingob Cave is the largest and most formidable, but Sulpan Cave is a big contender. With its four-layered waterfall and enchanting teal water, ​​it's just as jaw dropping as ​the LG. 


5. Stand-Up paddle boarding Loboc River, Bohol

Difficulty **

Loboc River and its surrounding vegetation features every shade of green in the Pantone colour chart. From jade water to lush jungle and tropical branches leaning – gleaming – over the water’s edge, it’s enough to make your pupils dilate. Take advantage of Loboc’s gentle current and spend the afternoon gracing its iridescent water by stand up paddle board. ​Move at your own pace through a jungle paradise of emerald, stopping only to sunbathe and ​if you're feeling spiritual, a spot of SUP yoga. Jump in and go for a swim whenever you like, simply dive in and enjoy the inviting water.

In a nut shell: Four hour SUP boarding through jungle and startling emerald water.

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