Today marks two months until I’m leaving on a jet plane for The Philippines! And since I’m a
crazy enthusiastic person, I’m already looking into what I want to see because I have nothing to do with my life love planning almost as much as actually travelling. Honestly, I should have gone to school for this. Anyways, I always look into my travel destination ahead of time for two reasons: first, to familiarize myself a bit with the area so there’s less culture shock; and second, to make my trip as awesome as possible!
Looking into attractions and what not ahead of time allows me to weed out the spots that aren’t of interest to me. That way I can prioritize what attractions are must-dos and I have less of a chance of missing out what’s of interest to me. Personally, I’ve become more of an outdoorsy traveller, so seeing some nature and hiking around is high up on the priority list. I’m also a fan of landmarks so perusing the internet lets me pick which ones I want to see and which ones I don’t.
In my quest to determine my personal itinerary, I start at TripAdvisor. This site is great for looking at attractions, highlights, places to stay, you name it! It’s great as it’s another review-based website with travellers leaving their ratings and sometimes their two-cents worth. Also, some users create guides for other travellers to use, such as See *Insert City Here* In 3 Days or Romantic Getaway in *BlahBlahCity*. These are also great since they often target the big ticket attractions so it gives you an idea of where to start looking and what to expect. Although one thing to beware is that because this site is so widely known, it attracts a variety of traveller types, so some things that are rated poorly might actually be right up your alley. Just take the time and sift through things to figure out what’s perfect for you!
Now onto my finds thus far!
The fact that I’m travelling with my partner who’s a local gives me a bit of an edge since he’s told me a lot about the sights already. However, there’s a few things that I’ve stumbled across that he didn’t know existed. And with the country’s motto being It’s More Fun In The Philippines, I’m sure we’ll have a wonderful time.
As I previously mentioned, I’m a bit outdoorsy, so high up on my list is hiking some volcanoes! The most famous is the massive Mount Pinatubo which has become a tourist hot-spot since it’s not planned to erupt for another 450-500 years. From my googling it seems there are two hikes you can do: one that is 30 minutes each way, and the other that’s 2 hours – you can guess which one I’ve got my eye on. With 25 known active volcanoes (and potentially more!), there’s plenty of options for hiking, including Taal Volcano south of Manila. Both of these bad boys are on my list, with my only concern being the heat and humidity. I’m afraid my icy Canadian heart might melt!
For the next activity on my list, we head west to the island of Palawan where the Puerto Princesa Underground River is located. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, it is believed to be the world’s longest underground river. Hour long tours run daily that take tourists through the caves to admire the unique rock formations, as well as the variety of bats and swiftlets that call the area their home. Although what’s peaked my interest is the jungle trekking! A 5.3km trail runs from Sabang to the entrance of the river, which takes you across mountainous terrain to experience different forest formations and wildlife. Unfortunately the website says it’s currently closed for renovation, however I have no idea when it was last dated – fingers crossed it will be open when I arrive!!
The last highlight that’s on my list as of right now (don’t worry, my list will get larger… MUCH larger), is the iconic Chocolate Hills on the eastern island of Bohol. These beautiful little hills are unique to only this island, with over a thousand of them scattered throughout the center of the island. As the dry season comes to a close, the luscious green hills turn to brown to match their name. The hills can’t be climbed unfortunately, but I’m excited to check out the Philippines’ 3rd National Geological Monument from the lookout!
Now, time for some more research…