Where we want to go this year

Travel experts and adventurers share their inside tips on the places in the Philippines you should be planning to visit 

Estan Conrad Cabigas, photographer and travel blogger, www.langyaw.com

Onuk Island, Balabac, Palawan, screen grabbed from YouRoyalty on Instagram
Balut Island, Mindanao; southern Palawan; Cebu: "I've always wanted to visit Balut island, off the coast of southern Mindanao, because of its remoteness, the fact that Indonesians are living there and because not many people have ever been there. It is reputed to have one of the oldest forts in the country, dating back to about 1565, before the Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in Cebu. And I'd like to go to southern Palawan, including Balabac for its beaches and islands, Quezon for its waterfalls and the Tabon cave complex, which has 215 caves. I've never explored that part of Palawan. And in Cebu I'd like to walk from my hometown in Talisay, just south of Cebu City, to Santander, at the southern tip of Cebu island. This is one of several long-distance walks which I intend to do in some of the provinces. "


Karen Capino, travel writer, photographer and cultural worker at the Presidential Communications Operations Office

Mt. Pulag. Photo by Rey Johnino Carinugan

Mt. Pulag, Luzon; Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park, Mindoro: "I'd like to visit a few of the National Parks in the Philippines, some of the most untamed areas in the country. My list includes the third highest mountain in the country, Mt. Pulag, and Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park in Mindoro, known as the home of the endemic tamaraw. There are 35 National Parks in the Philippines, all overseen by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)."

Mirra Reyes, co-founder of travel booking company Biyaheroes

Calaguas, Camarines Norte; Batanes: "Calaguas is a group of islands in Camarines Norte. Mahabang Buhangin ("long sand") is a stunning beach with ultra clear waters and sand as blindingly white and fine as Boracay's. Campers pitch their tents in the shade of trees. Those who prefer a roof over their heads can book a native cottage at Waling Waling Eco Village. Cabanas from P3,500 per night ($70). 

Vayang, Batanes, photo by Oggie Ramos

"Off the northernmost tip of the Philippines, Batanes seems to exist on a different plane from the rest of the country, with its rolling hills, stone houses built to withstand typhoons and surf crashing against the cliffs. There are few places more wild and picturesque, and the indigenous people (the Ivatans) are welcoming and helpful. "

Jonalyn Fortuno, travel writer for Locale Magazine

Mt. Balingkilat, Zambales; Mt. Guiting-Guiting, Sibuyan Island; Mt. Purgatory, Bokod, Benguet: "Mt. Balingkilat is one of the highest peaks in the province of Zambales, north of Manila. It's a tough climb, but the reward is an unrivalled view of the province's wonderful coastline. You can do it in a day, but you'll need to be pretty fit. There's limited shade on the trail and the heat and sun can be a problem. The sections of the trail approaching the summit are steep and difficult.
Book a trek up Mt. Balingkilat with Trail Adventours. Find out more about Mt. Guiting Guiting and the Philippines Top 10 Extreme Adventures.
"Mt. Guiting-Guiting on the island of Sibuyan in Romblon province is one of the hardest climbs in the Philippines. Some say it is technically the hardest, with ridges that can be dangerous and should only be tackled by experienced climbers. The trek takes three days, which includes the ascent and descent to Mayo's Peak, which is the jump-off point for the four- to five-hour summit assault. 
Contact Trail Adventours
"There are a lot of well-known peaks in Benguet, northern Philippines, but between Mt. Pulag and Mt. Ugo is a lesser-known "traverse" with the wonderful name of Mt. Purgatory. This intimidating trek takes two or three days and spans the peaks of Mt. Pack, Mt. Purgatory and Mt. Kokompol. It's an advanced traverse, but the trail is extremely picturesque, winding through spectacular moss forests and sweet-smelling pine trees. Be prepared for the chill of the Cordillera mountain air, especially at night." 
Contact Trail Adventours. Read our expert's advice on the Top 5 mountains to climb near Manila. Find out about Trail Adventours co-founder Coby Sarreal's top 5 mountains to climb and why.

Janine Zamudio, managing editor of DJ Magazine and Neverland Manila

Lakawon Island, Negros Occidental; El Nido and Coron, Palawan: "Lakawon Island in Cadiz, Negros Occidental, is a banana-shaped island with fine white sand. I'm itching to go back. It combines a gorgeous beach and a bit of a laid-back party vibe. There are native-style huts if you need accommodation. I like hanging out at the TawHai Floating Bar.

Photo by Christian Sangoyo

"I'd like to see El Nido and Coron, in Palawan, both gaining attention for their stunning beaches, lagoons, coral reefs, limestone cliffs and provincial charm. El Nido has dozens of white sand islands including Entalula Island, Snake Island and Nacpan Beach. Around Coron, there's wreck diving on sunken Japanese warships" 
Find out more about 10 of the best beaches in Coron, Palawan, 16 of the best beaches in El Nido, Palawan.

Flora Martinez,
Palawan Floral Travel and Tours

CYC Beach, Coron, Palawan, screengrab from incrediblejom on Instagram
Palawan; Batanes; Baguio; Sagada; Banaue: "I'd like to see more of Palawan, including Dumaran, to the south of El Nido, where I've heard there are some spectacular, but relatively undiscovered beaches. Bataraza, an area in the far south of Palawan, is about six hours by road from the closest airport at Puerto Princesa. It's one of the most untouched areas of the Philippines, a real escape. Batanes is also on my list. Everyone says it is so beautiful. In May, I want to head north to Baguio, and then on to Sagada, the mountain town famous for its hanging coffins. Finally, Banaue and its rice terraces."
Read about Archipelago's Experts' top 18 backpacking holidays in the Philippines.

Cover photo is a screengrab from YouRoyalty on Instagram.

Published December 2016. [email protected] Dornier Media