KW’s: things to do in philippines
Going on a family trip can often be a complicated ordeal. Once everyone has finally agreed upon a destination, deciding what to do when you get there can seem like a never ending conversation. If you’re travelling with kids of different ages, extended family you don’t see often, or going for a specific special occasion, it’s important to make sure everyone can find activities you can enjoy together. Luckily for you and your family there’s 7,641 islands filled with things to do in the Philippines. Check out our extensive guide below on activities everyone of any age can enjoy – the only thing you’ll need to worry about is what to pack.
1. Take a Tour Through History
Anyone of any age can enjoy revelling in history and feel as though they’re taking a trip through time. Many Asian countries have rich cultural heritages and the Philippines is no different. The Philippines specifically has 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites for you to discover.
The historic city of Vigan will transport your touring troupe to the Spanish colonial era. You’ll feel like you’re stepping into a history book when you gaze upon the cobblestone streets and main road that only allows horse drawn carts to pass. Most notably however is the wide range of architectural styles that reflect Vigan’s importance in the war and as a major trading post. Here you’ll find the main streets lined with Spanish designed stone white buildings and balconies, whereas in other parts of the city you’ll see buildings made of wood with sloped roofs in a traditional Chinese style. In some areas you’ll find buildings that have combined both of these elements with the Spanish style at street level, and Chinese style abode on the top. Definitely get a good pair of walking shoes for this visit as Vigan has an impressive 233 historic buildings for you to marvel at.
For a breathtaking Philippines tour that’s steeped in historical tradition a visit to the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras are a must. This living landscape is of utmost importance to the Philippine culture and identity, as these terraces were built 1000 years ago and pretty much unaffected by colonization. Not only that, the traditional farming techniques established here are still practiced to this day. An astonishing landscape that portrays the harmony of humanity and nature coming together.
Bonus tip: if you’re traveling with youngsters or movie buffs don’t forget to mention that the Rice Terraces were also the backdrop for the film Avengers: Infinity War.
2. Celebrate Culture at a Local Festival
To get an intimate look at the Philippines cultural history and have fun while doing so, there’s nothing more tantalizing for the senses than a local festival. In the Philippines our festivals are vibrant, colourful, and celebrate our rich culture and history. Plus every province has its own, so pack your best buntal and join in some of the most lively local festivities.
One of the biggest and most lively festivals is the Sinulog Festival in Cebu. This week long fiesta celebrates Santo Niño and features colourful parties and processions. Check out the Sinulog Grand Parade on January 19th and be mesmerized by the colourful dress, hypnotic drum beats and of course the incredible and enchanting Sinulog dance performances.
For a colourful festival that’s a wonderful sensation for the eyes and the nose, be sure not to miss the Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City. This month-long festival celebrates everything during the “season for blossoming” and culminates in a Grand Float Parade which features giant parade floats made entirely of flowers. This festival has become increasingly popular for tourists and locals alike as it begins with a Grand Street Dance Parade which many celebrities attend and perform at.
3. Explore Local Businesses
One of the best ways to immerse yourselves in a culture – and take home a unique souvenir – is by visiting a local market. Local markets are also a great family activity because everyone can find something to pursue that suits their interests. Additionally marketplaces filled with colourful foods or dazzling handcrafts are a great way to support local business and get some of the most interesting travel photos.
To really shop like the locals and experience how traditional Asian markets work take a gander through Divisoria Market in Manila. It may seem a bit chaotic and overwhelming at first, but you’ll soon realize that it’s popularity is due to the fact that Divisoria sells just about everything. From fresh fruits and street food, to traditional clothing, textiles, and even toys. This market is made for bargain hunters, and your haggling skills will take you far at Divisoria (if you buy around 5-6 items from a vendor you’ll also typically get a better discount). If crowds aren’t your thing but you still want to experience this authentic tradition, plan a visit for an early weekday morning when it’s not super packed.
Many Philippine tours will take you to historic buildings or ancient natural wonders, but to truly embrace the Philippine history take a journey to the oldest and largest market in the country – Carbon Market in Cebu City. This market is over 100 years old and is located at what was the final stop of the Cebu Railroad. Here not only will you find colourful piles of fresh fruit and vegetables, but a large selection of extraordinary freshly cut flowers as well. This market also features many handicraft vendors but is most well known for traditional hand woven baskets
4. Find Your New Favourite Food
One of everybody’s favourite things to do in the Philippines is of course; eating! Because the Philippines is so hot there’s always a street vendor or cafe selling iced coffees, bubble teas, and everyone’s fav, Halo-Halo. Food is a great way to bring people together and celebrate an occasion, big or small. It’s easy to whet your appetite in the Philippines.
For the foodie in your group you’ll definitely want to check out the Taboan Public Market in Cebu – famously televised and visited by the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. This is also the best market to try traditional danggit – an economic dried fish dish. Be sure to follow up with the equally famous Taboan dried mangoes.
5. Get Your Feet Wet
If you haven’t noticed this yet, the Philippines is famous for being surrounded by some of the most gorgeous oceans and rivers. That’s why one of the most popular things to do in the Philippines is to have fun – and cool off – playing watersports. Playing in the water is a great family activity because even if you’re a novice there’s still plenty of fun to be had in the azure blue waters of the Philippines. So whether you’re an extreme activity enthusiast or an extreme wading aficionado there’s a fun way to spend a day just waiting for you and your crew.
If you don’t have much water experience or are looking for a relaxing activity then Stand-Up Paddling is the water activity to help get your feet wet. Stand Up Paddling involves (believe it or not) standing up on a paddleboard and using said paddle to glide across the water. Not only good for sightseeing, many Philippine tours can also involve doing yoga on top of the boards. Try a scenic tour down the Abatan River in Bohol, or even try a night tour surrounded by fireflies in Puerto Princesa.
If extreme speed and heights is what you’re after then take a visit to the first wakeboard dedicated waterpark in the country, the Camsur Watersports Complex in Camarines Sur. At this park a cable ski system will take you on your wakeboard over ramps and rails. If you have a need for speed but have never wakeboarded before, there are also plenty of beginner classes and even a spectator area where you can watch others perform some wild wakeboard tricks. If wakeboarding is too extreme for you the park has plenty of other fun activities including kayaking and beach volleyball.
Travelling with others and coordinating agendas and schedules can be a stressful time. But communicating effectively and planning your days out can lead to unforgettable family memories and shared experiences that you’ll hold on to forever.