The northern part of Luzon Island is home to lush hilly landscapes and Spanish style villas that emphasize the country’s rich history. The city of Baguio, which lies just to the north of Central Luzon, is known as the summer capital of the Philippines. With its high altitude and low temperatures year round, it is the ideal getaway from the searing summer heat.
Tourist attractions are in abundance here with something for everyone on the island. If scuba diving is your thing, you will find many dive sites around Subic Bay. There are even ship wrecks which date back to Spanish rule. Surfers are best heading to the east coast and Baler in Aurora Province, where the Pacific Ocean comes in to meet the Philippine Sea.
Eco-tourists should head for the region of Ilocos in the north, where they can take advantage of the untouched forests and marine life and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. If you want to be more at one with yourself, the Batanes Islands off the north coast of the Philippines are perfect. With a 10-hour boat ride to some of the islands, you can shut yourself away and simply enjoy the tranquil surroundings.
Angeles City has to be the place to go if you are looking for some action. Once the area was awash with US military personnel stationed at a base just outside of town. Although the base is no longer inhabited by Americans, the entertainment is still there, and still mainly frequented by lone single males.
The old US military area near Angeles City, Clark Air Base, was evacuated in 1991 due to Mount Pinatubo’s eruption. The Americans never returned and the land was used to build what is now called Clark Zone. The Philippine government set to clearing up after the eruption and set aside the area for new infrastructure and business.
Consequently, today the 16 square mile main zone is built around an airport, which will one day become Manila’s main airport. Hotels, shopping malls and golf courses are just some of the recreational things on offer and with big commercial companies now occupying space in the zone, it has become one of the fastest economic growths in the Philippines.
The Philippines’ only landlocked region is the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) to the north and this is home to the Banaue Rice Terraces, claimed by some to be the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. These rice fields were carved out of the mountain sides thousands of years ago and truly are breathtaking to look at. Some of the very best in white water rafting can also be experienced in the region in one of many national parks.
The capital of Manila is a place all of its own. You could be forgiven for thinking that you are somewhere in the west with its skyscrapers towering up into the clouds. The business district is headquarters for the world famous San Miguel Brewery, with its produce ranking in the top 20 beers of the world.
Downtown shopping areas are home to three of the top 10 biggest shopping centers on the planet, but Manila is packed full of many smaller malls to explore if those seem too big.
Getting There & Away
Manila has an international airport with daily flights arriving from all over the world. Getting around the island of Luzon is relatively simple, with most provinces being reached on land in a day from the capital, Manila. Flights are also available on domestic airlines to get you further afield and most take no more than 3 hours.
Things to Do
The capital and home to a number of sights
- Banaue Rice Terraces
Some say they are the eighth wonder of the world; these rice fields were carved into the mountain sides thousands of years ago.
- Clark Zone
Formally a us military base now converted to an urbanized area with theme parks, golf courses, hotels, restaurants and international airport.
- Mount Pinatubo
A site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century.
- Subic Bay
A great place for scuba divers to hang out and explore the many ship wrecks around.
- Hundred Islands National Park
A national park made up of 123 small islands with only three developed for tourism.
- Angeles City
This is the country’s notorious nightlife zone where girlie bars galore line the streets.
- Batanes Islands
A group of islands that are the furthest point north of philippine territory and relatively untouched by the western world.
- Aurora Province
Home to picturesque green mountains and waterfalls as well as some of the best surfing the philippines has to offer.
- Baguio City
With an average yearly temperature of just 20°c and pine trees all around you can forget you are in the philippines.