If you are looking for the best summer getaway, you would be surprised that there are numerous beach resorts to choose from when you take a tour to Subic, Zambales, which is just 2 to 3 hours away from Manila. One could easily go there through transport by riding buses along EDSA going to Olongapo or Iba.
Enjoy the clear deep blue sea waters of one of the many Subic Beach Resorts. There are a lot of exclusive and clean white sand beaches in the areas of Subic, Olongapo. Enjoy the exclusivity and be in one of the most well-known hotel beach resort in the Philippines, the White Rock Beach Resort Hotel in Subic.
During broad daylight, why not play some beach ball or just lay during early daylight to get your skin a glowing summer tan? Watch or film the spectacular sunset in some of these well-known beaches. Then, you could either make a bonfire at night in the middle of the clear and fine sands. Or, you could make and build your very own sand castle or bury your friends in the wet sands of these clean beaches.
You could take a ride to motor boats and have a fun sailboat tour in the middle of the sea. They could take you to a lonely island in the middle of the ocean only for a few hundred pesos (price of boat rides depends on how many passengers would take the ride).They also have water skiing, water sports, scuba diving and banana boats for tourists and residents alike.
If you do not have enough budget to spend for your vacation trip, you could still have some fun without spending too much. Just spend on some bus ride or jeep ride to bring you to barrios or towns of Zambales. You could also visit a few of the barrios’ many free beach resorts where natives and people who live near and make a living around those areas, just normally go there to swim or to just stroll around the place. They offer beach huts, dining tables for very low prices or you could either bring your own sun shields and protectors.
One would also enjoy a lot of the native delicacies in Zambales. They have a variety of rice cakes or native suman, singkamas and mangoes which you could buy in baskets and if you are good in negotiating, you could get a lot of mangoes (green or yellow) for very cheap prices. If you are a sweet tooth yourself, try their local pastilles or milk candies which you could buy on many local town stores. They also have meat sausages (longganisa); look for their native longganisa in a lot of their wet markets, which is well-known for its strong garlic taste.
There are also free port zones, a good choice for a clean and wide driving area for you to check. You could also visit the Subic International Area where there is a Duty Free to do your shopping spree or you could either go to their local supermarkets where you would be surprised to get very cheap and bargains of different items and clothes.
Intramuros - The great walled city of Manila
Get in touch with the Philippine’s rich historical heritage, culture and museums in the heart of Manila. Intramuros is really worth visiting and taking a look at. It offers a lot of historical sites and museums, gallery trades and flourishing business establishments. What still prominently remains there is the Intramuros city walls built hundreds of years ago dated as far as pre-Spanish times.
Take a ride on one of the calesas, which were used since early times by rich and aristocratic Spanish families, mestizos and high officials as a means of transportation. Now for just a few hundred, you could experience the tour around Intramuros and take a quick and relaxing tour from one of their calesas.
Even the guards there wear traditional and Spanish-timed costumes of real Spanish soldiers and the sellers or tinderas have Filipinianas worn by women during Spanish colonial times. They have the WOW Philippines which offer nightly concerts. You could also tour and have some great views of old historical wrecks of buildings and cathedral walls due to Japanese bombs.
They have a lot of museums and gallery to choose from. Some would even be free but only on scheduled visits by those residents of Manila. A lot of business establishments have flourished in Intramuros like well-known and classy restaurants and exclusive gardens where you could celebrate wedding receptions, debut parties, birthday parties and other grand celebrations.
One could also spend their leisurely time on top of the city walls. Tourists, businessmen and foreigners could also play golf in one of the most popular golfing fields in Metro Manila.
They also offer a lot of dining places where you could get the most affordable and cheapest prices of great Filipino food. You could even enjoy the local banana-Q or turon, which is made up of fried bananas wrapped in crusty sugar sheets. Street foods like taho (local soya drink), fried fishballs, squid balls and others could easily be enjoyed.
For your night life and parties with your friends or if you just really want to hang out, you could go to the Intramuros Beer Garden to get low priced beers and sisig topped with chili and egg as your primary food (pulutan).
You could also visit the most prominent Roman Catholic cathedral and church in these areas. The Manila Cathedral, where most grandeur weddings take place, houses the body of the first Spanish governor general in the Philippines. While in San Agustin Church, one could visit and take a tour in their museums which offers ancient religious artifacts dated a hundred years ago.
Intramuros, today, has been the home of one of the many formidable and reputable college and universities of the countries, to name a few are Mapua Institute of Technology, PLM (University of the City of Manila), Lyceum University, etc.
To go to Intramuros through transportation, one could have a lot of ways to get there. For those who live in North, (Quezon City, Quiapo, etc.), you should take a jeepney ride going to Baclaran, Mabini or you could go down to Manila Hall, and just walk from there. Either way, it is a prominent place for you not to find it by asking locals for directions. Have a nice trip!
The city of flowers
Zamboanga City is known as the city of flowers because of the variety of flowers that is local to the place. It is also branded as Asia’s Latin City. It is home to three universities namely, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Western Mindanao State University and Universidad de Zamboanga. This city is said to be one of the oldest cities in the country. The Spanish influence in the city is very much seen. Its dialect is Chavacano, a mixture of Spanish and other local dialects.
The first place to visit in Zamboanga City is Pasonanca Park. This is the city’s main tourist attraction. With trees, an aviary, a butterfly garden, and around 600 varieties of orchid could be seen in this park. The number of orchid varieties makes Zamboanga the flower city of the south. A tree house could be found within the park. The tree house can be used for free. Just get the permission from the city mayor. Abong abong is far up the mountain from Pasonanca. The view from the cross on top of the hill is such a wonderful sight.
Zamboanga is blessed with beautiful beaches. Off the mainland coast is the famous Santa Cruz Island. It is known for its rare pink coral sands. The island is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. At its prime, it could be said to be the most beautiful beach in the country. Santa Cruz Island is not the only island under the city’s jurisdiction. A total of 28 islands are in its area. These islands are Camugan Island, Gatusan Island, Great Santa Cruz Island, Kablingan Island, Lambang Island, Lamunigan Island, Lapinigan Island, Little Malanipa Island, Little Santa Cruz Island, Malanipa Island, Panganaban Island, Pangapuyan Island, Pitas Island, Sacol Island, Salangan Island, Sinunug Island, Taguiti Island, Tictabon Island, Tigburacao Island, Tumalutap Island, Vilan Vilan Island, Visa Island and Vitali Island. Fishermen and their families inhabit most of these islands. Some are isolated and only visited by fishermen and divers. The water surrounding these islands has a healthy marine ecosystem.
Plaza Pershing is named after the first American governor of Zamboanga City. It was originally named Plaze de Juan Salcedo but was renamed to Plaze Pershing to recognize General Pershing achievements in making Zamboanga what it is today. General Pershing is the brain behind the early city planning and zoning. He developed most of the city features including Pasonanca Park.
The city’s nightlife is alive. With clubs that are open nightly, the city’s night owls have a lively night scene and could dance the night away. And with restaurants and cafes to cater to everyone’s taste, Zamboanga is a place to go and indulge your gastronomic desire. Don’t forget to order fresh seafood.
A visit to Zamboanga City is not complete without going to Fort Pilar. It is a Catholic shrine built in a former Spanish garrison. Inside the Fort is a national museum. It was built in 1635 to ward off invaders from the sea. The Lady of the Pillar is the city’s patron saint. A statue of the Lady could be found prominently displayed at the east wall of the fort. Masses are held there every Sunday.
Your Mini Guide to Tagaytay
The City of Tagaytay is located in the province of Cavite about an hour and half drive from Manila. Its high altitude location has blessed it with a cool climate, foggy and chilly evenings and misty mornings and makes it a popular destination for tourist during the summer. Tagaytay lies on a ridge that rises 640 meters above sea level and makes it the highest point in Cavite. The ridge offers magnificent views of the Taal Volcano and Taal Lake in Batangas.
There are many reasons for visiting this beautiful city aside from the spectacular views. The variety of restaurants in the city will surely be a delight for any discriminating taste. There is the now popular Sonya’s Garden and Antonio’s which offer organically grown vegetables from their backyard and serve it in their delicious salads and gourmet food. This is coupled with a scenic view of their garden and cottages where you can lie down and rest after a good eat.
After a feast of good food, you can try horseback riding at the Picnic Grove or enjoy a hike through the trails where you can have a view of the Taal Volcano. You can also rent a cottage and use the grill for barbecues or spend the night in their dormitory-style rooms or cottage suites. Tagaytay’s Picnic Grove is an ideal place for an inexpensive family picnic and get together.
You can also head to the newly renovated Taal Vista Hotel, a beautiful hotel with 86 guest rooms, a restaurant and a spectacular view of the Taal Lake and Volcano. You can also try your luck at the Casino Filipino, located within the hotel’s premises and the arcade center where children can enjoy games and eat fast food.
Further down the main road you can find the Residence Inn. This is a perfect place for wholesome family fun where you can find a mini zoo with a fascinating collection of fauna, a souvenir shop, a children’s playground, a restaurant which offers seafood dishes and a Japanese Friendship Garden filled with ornamental plants and flowers.
Other places to visit in Tagaytay include the Palace in the Sky which was originally made to be a presidential guest house for the former president Ferdinand Marcos. This complex was not completed but it is open to the public as a perfect vantage point for viewing a 360 degree profile of Taal Volcano and Tagaytay City.
There is also the Flower Farm in Barangay Guinhawa, just 10 minutes away from the main highway. The 5-hectare farm boasts a variety of colorful and gorgeous flowers from chrysanthemums, gerberas, roses, carnations to anthuriums.
For quiet reflection and meditation you can go to St. Anne’s Shrine in Barangay Sungay, a jeepney ride away from the city center. Here you can find a small garden where the grotto of the Saint and the child Mary stands and inside the life-sized statue is a relic of the saint that is believed to have the power to heal people. The trimmed hedges and flower beds are well-cared for and add to the quiet and meditative charm of the shrine.
The surfing capital of the Philippines
Siargao Island is the surfing capital of the Philippines. Its coastline is surrounded by coral reefs, lined with white sand beaches. This makes Siargao a perfect place for beach lovers to come. Cloud 9 is Siargao’s most famous surf spot. This is where the yearly Siargao Cup takes place. Cloud 9 placed Siargao and the rest of the Philippines in the maps of surfers worldwide. Siargao attracts both local and foreign tourists. With cheap accommodation available, this truly is the perfect vacation destination for the budget conscious weekend warrior. Surfing season is usually around August to March. That’s the time when the waves are high and the conditions are just right.
But if it is off-season, there are still lots of things that can be done in Siargao. You can go island hopping. You can go either to Guyam Island, Daku Island or Pansukian Island. These islands are lined with white sand and would not be as crowded as the mainland beaches. Some islands are rich in minerals and are mountainous which could be a good place to go spelunking. The Buenvista Cave in Hikdop Island has three entrances leading to a cavernous main tunnel that is three kilometers long. Inside it has a knee-deep pool. The Suy-ang Cave is also a must for spelunkers. Mainland Siargao also features caves. One of which is Silop Cave that has luminous spires of stalactites and stalagmites. The Caves of Mapawa is a network of caves in the mainland.
Snorkeling and scuba diving are activities that can be done in Siargao. Marine life flourishes in the waters of Siargao. Snorkeling at the shallow waters can reveal sea urchin, starfish, crabs, mollusks and schools of fishes of various colors, shapes and sizes. There is an underground maze of coral and rock formations that could tickle the fancy of scuba divers.
The food in Siargao is great. Seafood could be bought cheap and fresh from the fish vendors and fishermen. Big games like tunas and marlins are readily available. Local restaurants cook succulent treats for your stomach’s delight.
Siargao is not just about surfing. When you explore the whole island, you will be awed by its beauty and serene scenery. Non-surfers can enjoy basking in the sun, taking a trek around the island and take a dip at Tak Tak falls. Nature lover of all ages can discover something they love in Siargao. Tarsiers are common in the forest of Siargao. Do not be surprise if you see one. Also to be seen are flying lemurs, flying lizards and monitor lizards. Bird watchers can also enjoy themselves while looking at kingfishers, hornbills, parrots and other bird species.
Being in Siargao Island, you will feel relaxed. The problems of the big city do not matter here. Everything in Siargao is laid back. Everyone is seen smiling. You can sit on the beach the whole day, and contemplate on things. So the next time your planning on a vacation, think of Siargao. It is not just about surfing.