The island of Luzon is part of the Philippine archipelago in Southeast Asia. Being the country’s largest island, Luzon is a treasure trove of attractions that provide lots of wonderful experiences for the enthusiastic traveler. From outdoor pursuits to indoor activities, Luzon truly has the makings of the perfect vacation spot. So what are the best things to do when you’re in this massive piece of beautiful land? Here’s a quick rundown of things you can add to your itinerary:
Escape the scorching heat, and head to Tagaytay!
The heat in the nation’s capital, Manila, can be a bit overwhelming, particularly during summer. Located approximately just an hour or so away from Manila, Tagaytay is deemed by many as the perfect spot to cool off and enjoy a weekend away from all the hustle and bustle of the busy metropolis. Aside from the pleasing climate, there are plenty of things about Tagaytay that draws the crowd to its midst. For one thing, the view of Taal Volcano is absolutely spell-binding. It’s even possible to get to the volcano, which is located in the middle of Taal Lake, by a combination of a boat ride, horse ride, and some walking. While you’re in Tagaytay City, be sure to check out the following attractions as well: The Flower Farm, Casa de Segunda Katigbak, and St. Anne’s Shrine.
Snorkel in Donsol, and bond with whale sharks.
Even though there are scores of things to do in Luzon, you’ll find that there’s nothing more unique than being able to swim in the same waters as whale sharks. These magnificent creatures, known to the locals as Butanding, go to Donsol Bay, Sorsogon from the months of November to June in search of rich nourishment. The whales stay in the area for about 6 to 7 months. Although snorkeling is the most you can do because scuba diving in the area isn’t allowed, the whale sharks are huge enough that it’s impossible to miss them. Don’t attempt to touch or harass them; you’ll scare them away! The best time to go whale shark viewing is from February to May, when the sea is calm and clear.
Catch a glimpse of the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Northern Luzon, specifically Banaue, is home to one of the most awe-inspiring sights in the world – the Banaue Rice Terraces. Created approximately 2,000 years ago, the terraces were built by the Ifugao people (the natives in the area) using nothing more than primitive tools. The rice terraces are fed with water gushing from springs and mountain streams. These bodies of water were tapped and directed into canals so the valley of rice terraces could be irrigated. Nothing attests to the ingeniousness and industry of the natives like these rice terraces. If you’ve got time to spare, you can also hire a van and go to Bontoc and Sagada. The former is where you’ll find a museum that embodies Ifugao culture perfectly, while the latter is where you’ll be able to explore breathtaking limestone and burial caves as well as find out what a hanging coffin looks like.
Haggle and shop till you drop at Divisoria.
If you ‘re a true-blue shopper who doesn’t mind the throngs of people milling about while you haggle with shopkeepers, then Luzon’s shopping mecca is just right for you. Divi, as the Filipinos call Manila’s massive shopping district, is actually composed of a cornucopia of stalls and malls that offer everything you might ever need and want at dirt-cheap prices. Whether you’re hunting for fashionable clothes, cool handbags, eye-catching accessories, wedding gowns, costumes, or any other type of goods, you’ll find it within Divisoria. Even if you don’t buy anything, you’ll find that the Divisoria shopping experience is worth adding to your treasure chest of memories. Haggle away!
Sample delicious Filipino dishes and delicacies.
All across Luzon, and the entire country as well, you’ll find a profusion of restaurants and food shops that offer you a taste of delectable Filipino cuisine. The Bicol Region, found in Southeast Luzon, is most famous for its Bicol Express. This dish is comprised of spicy chili, garlic, shrimp paste, onion, and coconut milk. Its taste has traces of Malaysian cuisine influence.
Located in Central Luzon, Pampanga is where you’ll be able to discover just how tasty sisig can be. The dish is mainly made of pork liver and pork head, flavored with vinegar, native lime or calamansi, and chili. If you’re craving seafood, then you can also head to Pangasinan, where they serve the most delightful Broiled Boneless Bangus (milkfish). Even if you don’t want to go farther than the capital’s borders, you’ll find that most Filipino restaurants have a wide variety of local dishes that will surely satisfy your cravings.
Get a taste of Philippine history.
You can’t visit Luzon and Manila without stepping foot in Rizal Park, which can be found at the northern end of Roxas Boulevard. Named after the country’s national hero, the park has been a witness to a few of the most significant events in Philippine history. The park is where Jose Rizal was executed by the Spaniards for daring to challenge them with his written works. Previously known as Luneta, the park is also where the Filipinos’ independence from American rule was proclaimed. Within the park you’ll also find the Philippine National Library, the Chinese and Japanese Garden, and numerous other attractions. To complete your historical tour, you can also head to Intramuros (The Walled City) and Fort Santiago. A visit to Nayong Pilipino might suit you as well.
Enjoy the white beaches of Camarines Sur.
The country has plenty of exquisite beaches for anyone who wishes to spend a day or two enjoying the sun and sand. Gota Beach, in Caramoan, Camarines Sur, is an outstanding choice. With a white beach that rivals that of Boracay, Gota Beach boasts a stretch of sand that’s so fine you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. If you’d also like to engage in extreme sports, Camarines Sur is the perfect place to do it. The waters get high enough to entice wakeboarders to come out. The Caramoan National Park is worth checking out as well.
There’s so much you can do in this enormous island. If you only have a few days to explore, that isn’t a problem. You’ll be able to experience a lot even if you don’t cover the island from one corner to the other.