Experience the Philippines’ award-winning destinations: Palawan, Cebu, Boracay, Siargao, Intramuros, and Batangas

The Philippines Named the World’s Best Islands, Spas, Diving, and Tourism Campaigns

Boracay, Philippines

Known as one of the top destinations in the world, it is no wonder that the Philippines has been winning awards for its world-renowned best beaches, diving tourism, and even its tourism campaigns. In this blog, we celebrate the many wins for the Philippines; more specifically, the awards garnered by the Philippine tourism industry.

The 2020 World Travel Awards Asia

Intramuros, Manila

This awarding body has contributed to the rising global tourism standards through giving awards to brands and best practices from the best travel, tourism, and hospitality industries every year. And last year, the Philippines’s Department of Tourism was declared the 2020s Leading Tourist Board in Asia out of the 11 countries nominated. 

For the fourth time in a row, its majestic beaches have won as Asia’s Leading Beach Destination. For the second time, the award-giving body recognized these beaches as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination.

Siargao won as World’s Leading Island Destination, and Intramuros won as the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction. 

Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2020

Coron, Palawan

The world-renowned travel magazine awarded Palawan as the Best Island in the World. This tourist attraction is rated by the lifestyle sites reader for 94/83 out of 100 for its striking limestone cliffs extending directly from the ocean, the seascape in its dramatic way. Its white sandy beaches with palm trees are to-die-for. And, did we forget to mention its crystal clear waters? It looks straight out of a million-dollar art piece. 

One of the reviews also noted its world-class scuba diving to discover and explore the World War II shipwrecks. A piece of nature and history enveloped in one destination. 

Travelers can enjoy the traditional Filipino culture as locals celebrate festivals with float parades and costumes. 

Conde Nast Traveller Readers Choice Awards

Siargao Island

Aside from Palawan, other islands were recognized as the best in Asia. Conde Nast Traveller’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards named Cebu and the Visayas as the Best Island In Asia, scoring 95.83 out of 100. 

Other islands, Palawan, Siargao, and Boracay, also made it to the Top 10 in the Asia list, ranking fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. Although Boracay is part of Western Visayas, it was submitted as a separate entry.

None of its major island groups –  Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Negros, Guimaras, Panay, Romblon, Samar, and Leyte – all pose its charm simplistic white sand beaches to its picturesque crystal clear water. 

These islands also have a significant historical value. Explorer Ferdinand Magellan first set foot in the Mactan Island in Cebu, where he introduced Catholicization. Some of the bloodiest battles were fought on these islands. One of these was against the Japanese during World War II. It is in Leyte where General Douglas MacArthur made his famous promise, “I shall return.”

World Spa Awards

Our spa and wellness brands, including Conrad Spa Manila, Aman Spa at Amanpulo, and The Farm at San Benito, bagged three awards in the 6th edition of the World Spa Awards. 

Conrad Spa won as Philippines’ Best Hotel Spa and bested other famous luxury hotel spas in the country like Willow Stream Spa at Raffles Manila. The said luxury spa facility is famous for its unique pampering and relaxation experience, boasting its six individual treatment rooms with tubs, private sauna, and steam facilities. 

The said spa also won the same award in 2019. Aman Spa bagged the Best Resort Spa, which is the same accolade given to them in 2016. The said luxury spa offers fitness, relaxation, and a serene, panoramic view of the sea. 

The Farm of San Benito in Lipa City Batangas, one of the world’s top holistic medical wellness resorts, was also recognized as the Best Wellness Retreat. They are known to specialize in preventive health care and offer a personalized plan to improve their guest’s physical and emotional health. 

These awards were voted by professionals in the spa and wellness industry as well as by spa tourism consumers. 

Visit the Philippines

Come and visit the Philippines, and experience these award-winning destinations — Palawan, Cebu, Boracay, Siargao, Intramuros, and Batangas — for yourself. Indeed, it’s more fun in the Philippines!

12 Instagram-worthy Spots in Coron, Palawan

Four things pop in our minds when someone mentions Coron, Palawan: white sand beaches, diving, karst landscapes, and stunning views. Places with these four features are a perfect element to an instagrammable post, whether it is a photo or a video. Palawan is internationally renowned as the best island in the world, recognized by numerous travel publications like Travel+Leisure and Conde Nast Traveller. For sure, Coron has tons of Instagram-worthy spots. 

A tip, though, if you want that serene photo, visit during the dry season spanning from December to May. Not only will you be able to avoid the rain and typhoons, but also you can capture the clear waters Coron is known for. Plus, traveling during this season is safe for travelers riding on a boat between islands. 

So, we’ve selected 12 picture-perfect spots you must visit if Coron is on your bucket list.

  1. Kayangan Lake
Dive into the deep blue Kayangan Lake

The lake is instagrammable because it is a surreal destination. Kayangan Lake has a mixture of fresh and saltwater that is crystal-clear, and it is visible up to ten meters deep. The rock formation is unique, making it an excellent background for every picture. One worth mentioning is its pristine reef that catapults Kayangan Lake to one of the island’s most popular tourist spots.  Make Kayangan Lake your first stop to avoid the crowd and enjoy the serenity of the lake while capturing picture-perfect photos. 

2. Twin Lagoon

A spectacular attraction, the Twin Lagoon is a go-to for its beauty and mystery. 

It’s clear water and the unique structure, seen in the karst wall that separates the lake and the sea, is a definition of beauty. The lagoon is surrounded by sheer cliffs; however, it doesn’t end there. Here is the mystery. 

As you explore, you will discover a hole found in one of the cliffs leading you to an inner lagoon. The hole itself is submerged underwater at high tide. With a wooden ladder, visitors can climb up to the rocks and view the second lagoon.

3. Calauit Island Safari 

Including wildlife in your Instagram feed is one of the highlights, so visiting a safari is a must. Calauit Island Safari, a 9,100 acres game reserve and wildlife sanctuary, is one of the top destinations for tourists, both locals and foreigners. Take a trip to see the savannah with African giraffes, gazelles, zebras, and more.

4. Siete Pecados

Known as a snorkeling haven, Siete Pecados prides on its picturesque coral reefs along with reef fish, turtles, and schools of barracudas, perfect for an underwater photo. Its coral reefs surrounding are the healthiest in the region and the most-visited by snorkelers. So when going to this spot, imagine swimming in a giant aquarium. 

Siete Pecados, a name of a group of seven rocky islets, is located in the south of Busuanga Island.

5. Bulog Dos Island

White sandy beach and endless sunshine hours seem to be a myth but not in Bulog Dos Island. So, enjoy the turquoise waters and their tranquil surroundings. It is perfect for Instagram shots worth a hundred likes. 

Bulog Dos has a small sandbar where you can take a walk into its clear, calming waters. Snorkeling is another activity on the island. Here, you will be able to see vibrant corals and abundant tropical marine life. 

6. Two Seasons Coron Island Resort

If you come to Bulog Dos during low tide, you can cross to its neighboring island where the resort is located. What connects the two islands is a small sandbar that only appears during a low tide, which occurs in the early morning. 

Tip! Visit the infinity pool, and also, make sure never to miss the happy hour cocktails. Definitely worth the fun!

7. Barracuda Lake

It may not be packed with marine life, the lake is the center of interest to divers for different reasons. There’s nothing much to see underwater except for a barracuda fish. What makes it exciting for scuba divers and freedivers is the thermocline experience, the temperature drastically changes at 30 feet. The lake never fails to deliver a picturesque overload. Barracuda lake has saltwater and freshwater, causing it to have an oil-on-water layer. 

8. Coron Bay

This is an obvious choice for travelers visiting Coron. The bay features a viewpoint where you can take a picturesque full view of the bay using your drones. The best-kept secret of the area is the swimming spots. You can enjoy the unbelievably clear waters and tall limestone cliffs, an excellent background for your Insta’ pic! 

Beneath the surface of Coron Bay is World War II sunken ships covered with colorful corals and marine life, and Philippine Dugongs or Sea Cows, approximately 8-10 feet long and 510-650-pounder marine animals that are related to manatees with similar in appearance and behavior, except its tail is fluke like a whale. It’s indeed an amazing experience to have a close encounter with this gentle, shy giant at six feet and capture this moment with your camera.

9. Black Island

The reason behind its name is the black limestones covering the area. However, the beaches on the island have fine white sand. You can explore three small caves, open to the public, and a natural pool inside the cave. 

The island is also an excellent snorkeling spot where you can find a colorful coral garden and a World War II shipwreck in the middle.

10. Malcapuya Island 

Imagine a tropical getaway with clear warm waters and tranquility. That is a 100 out of 100! Malcapuya is one of the farthest islands of Coron town, but the view is definitely worth the trip. Not only you’ll find a great swimming spot, but also a great diving spot where you will be able to have a glance at the marine life on the beach

11. Mount Tapyas

Craving for a stunning sunset view? The best picture Coron can give you is on the top of Mount Tapyas. Here, you will see surreal panoramic views of Coron Island and other smaller islands. Don’t forget to have a camera with you for a chance for a beautiful photograph. 
Note: Prepare for a sweaty hike, though you have to take 700 stairs to get to the top. Also, one tip, leave early before the sunset (a 45-minute allowance is enough before the sun goes down).

12. Maquinit Hot Springs

Aside from the beaches and snorkeling, Coron also has places where you can relax after a day of exploration. Now, it is time to relax your muscles as you soak yourself in a natural hot spring with a relaxing view of the ocean. Of course, Maquinit has to be the number one option. 

Experience Coron 

Coron has a lot to offer, and the posts are worthy of your Instagram feed. Just don’t forget to travel during the dry season to achieve the perfect shot. We know that experience is also your number one priority. To see the picturesque spots Coron has to offer, plan your travel with our partner agencies

Four Must-Visit Pink Beaches in the Philippines You Should Include in Your Bucket List

Have you heard of pink beaches in the Philippines?

Though the Philippines is famous for its white-sand beaches, there is no denying that the country also has beaches that aren’t known yet. Travelers worldwide may know about Palawan, Siargao, Cebu, and Boracay, but there is more that the Philippines has to offer. Like Barbados, Bahamas, Greece, and Indonesia, there are several pristine, off-the-beaten-path pink beaches around the country that you can find and include in your bucket list.

What makes pink beach “pink”

People only know about white and black sand beaches, so it’s no stranger that pink sands are still surprising to some because of their color. But, what makes pink sand “pink”? 

The pink hue actually comes from a microscopic organism called “foraminifera,” algae in pink. These organisms are present as they are in the sand mix with corals, shells, and calcium carbonate. Sounding too scientific? Well, science does magical things we’ve seen, just like these four pink beaches we have in the country. 

  1. Great Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga City
Aerial drone of sandy beach on a tropical island. Great Santa Cruz island. Zamboanga, Mindanao, Philippines.

If you are looking for a unique island to check off that bucket list, then you should come and visit Great Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga City, which is in the Southern part of the Philippines! The island itself is famous due to its fine pink sand that mimics the sea’s pink corals’ color. It is no wonder that this sun-drenched island was named one of the world’s best beaches by National Geographic.  What makes the island unique and famous is the lovely pink hue sand that glows under the sunlight and calm waters with some mangrove trees as background.

As an ecotourism site, Santa Cruz Islands or Las Islas de Santa Cruz only allow low-impact structures, facilities, and activities to ensure that the islands’ natural environment remains pristine and habitable for various animal species.  Aside from enjoying the scenic beach and strolling around the island, you can also do  other activities such as snorkeling,  diving, bird watching, lagoon tour, and cultural immersion in a small peace-loving Sama-Bangingi community.  If you are looking to experience local cuisine, then locals can prepare good ol’ seafood dishes just for you. 

Getting There: The island is just a 15-minute boat ride from Zamboanga City’s bustling commercial district, about a 90-minute plane ride from Manila. Since the islands are protected seascape and landscape areas, the best way to visit the island is to get in touch with the Zamboanga Tourism Office or the Protected Area Management Office through its Facebook account (Las Islas de Sta. Cruz – Pink Sand Beach) or email at zcpamolgu@mail.com. You may also contact your preferred travel advisor or travel agent to facilitate your travel arrangements. Booking is then encouraged 30-days before your actual visit to the island. You may enjoy this less crowded nature preserve from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. since the overnight stay is not allowed. The island is a lot quieter, with only 500 visitors allowed per day, making it a perfect island getaway escape. 

2. Sila Island in San Vincente, Northern Samar 

Are you dreaming of going to a tropical island retreat while avoiding throngs of sun-seekers? Why not explore one of the most famous off-the-beaten-path pink beaches in the east-central Philippines Sila Island in Northern Samar? Sila Island charms tourists because of its pink sand hue and natural beauty. The pink sand isn’t as ultra pink as you’d expect, but the pinkness can be noticeable up close, which is still impressive. Plus, the island is the definition of clean and beautiful, where you can submerge yourself under the sea to discover what this beautiful island has to offer.

On the island is the Pink Sand Resort, where you and your friends can rent cottages for a day so you can enjoy the clear blue horizon besides the pink sand.  You may bring  your snorkeling gear as Sila Island is considered one of the Philippines’ best snorkeling spots. Don’t forget to prepare your own food, drinks, sunblock, garbage bag, and enjoy one of the most impressive pink beaches you could find in the Philippines. 

Getting There: Sila Island is about a 40-minute flight from Manila to Catarman town in Northern Samar or Tacloban City in Leyte. Chartered jets are also available from Cebu, Davao, and Manila. From Catarman (almost 2-hour drive) or Tacloban City (more than 4-hour drive), hop on a chartered van to Calbayog and San Isidro towns, a jump-off point to San Vicente. A passenger boat or ferry will take you to Sila Island that departs daily at 7:00 in the morning, except Sunday, and returns to San Isidro town at 2:00 p.m. You may also have the option to charter your own boat.

3. Subic Beach in Sorsogon

Who would’ve thought you’d get two pink beaches in one whole beach? Only in Sorsogon! This particular Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon, is divided into two: the locals call it Subic Liit (Subic Small Beach) and Subic Laki (Subic Big Beach). The sand is fine, and it’s pink sand also comes with crushed red corals mixed with creamy white sand, a unique island trait.  

Instead of landing on the beach right away, you can explore the sea caves and their rock formation near the southeastern end of Calintaan Island. Enjoy the crystal blue water as you swim, but never forget to grab that life vest of yours. 

You may have the option to avail of a private day tour that kicks off from Legazpi City, including boat rides, fish feeding at Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary, and swimming. The tour package includes hotel transfers, private boat rental with life jackets, complimentary refreshments, cottage rental, entrance fees, and tour guide services. 

You can see several native-style huts and cottages; some even have air conditioning in Subic Laki and book an overnight stay as the beach offers affordable accommodation rates. 

4. Tikling Island in Sorsogon

Tikling Island in Matnog, Sorsogon, Philippines. Mt Bulusan in the background. Shot from the San Bernandino Strait.

While exploring Sorsogon for the pink beach, Tikling Island, located along the scenic waters of Matnog Bay, could be your last stop. As the boat sails towards the island from Calintaan Island, you’ll get a glimpse of the aquamarine waves to the shores of the fine sands mixed with scattering pink corals in the entire coast, making the sand pink. 

With its charming rose-tinted shores, Tikling Island will impress you with its beautiful beach. Another beach that is just miles away from Subic Beach, this island isn’t known to most tourists, considering it as Sorsogon’s hidden gem. Explore this island and get the feel of its pink sand. 

Getting There: Fly from Manila to Legazpi City in Bicol. You may hop onto a chartered van from Legazpi City to Matnog town, then take a private boat to Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary for fish feeding, island and pink beaches hopping (Calintaan and Tikling Islands) before boarding your boat bound for Matnog town proper and driving back to your hotel in Legazpi. Or, you have the option to stay in Subic Laki.

PHIDEX 2021 makes a splash in the international dive market

PADI Ambassadiver and PCSSD Commissioner Bo Mancao discusses the local dive industry’s environmental protection efforts in his talk entitled “Lockdown Blue: Environmental Efforts During the Pandemic”

MANILA – The challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic could not stop diving enthusiasts and industry experts from coming together in the first-ever all-digital Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) organized by the Department of Tourism (DOT), from March 19 to 21 via virtual conferencing.

Over 2,000 diving enthusiasts from around the world attended this year’s iteration of the Philippines’ largest platform for the diving community, which was established in 2019. This year’s event, themed “Our Sea, Our Story,” brought everyone together to raise awareness and discuss solutions for the local diving industry’s recovery.

Sulubaai Environmental Foundation Founder and President Frederic Tardieu and project manager Laure Thierry de Ville D’avray talk about Marine Protected Area (MPA) management in Pangatalan Island, Palawan

“With the gradual activation of dive travel and tourism in various parts of the country, an event such as this is even more crucial for the recovery of the dive industry,” said DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in her opening speech on the first day of the expo.

“As the Philippines is widely recognized by scientists as the center of marine biodiversity, it is fitting that we lead the region in mounting an event that reflects our world-class diving.”

Various international leaders and experts in their respective fields spoke in 17 different panel discussions and talk sessions at the three-day expo, with around a hundred attendees watching each session. These include California Academy of Sciences Curator Dr. Terry Gosliner, French-British underwater photographer Henley Spiers, Emmy Award-winning husband-and-wife documentary team Howard and Michele Hall, Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Ambassador and Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) Commissioner Bo Mancao, University of the Philippines marine economist and community scientist Tara Abrina, and German underwater photographer Tobias Friedrich, just to name a few.

PHIDEX’s main thrust is to advocate for the sustainability of the local diving industry and marine environments, with a number of key sessions on the topic.

One was the talk of Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation president Frederic Tardieu, in which he tackled the management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and restoration of ecosystems. Tardieu and project manager Laure Thierry de Ville D’avray went into great detail about their work in creating 150 hectares of MPAs around Pangatalan Island in Palawan and sharing these efforts and knowledge with the locals.

Roni Ben-Aharon from Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards shares sustainable tourism practices in the dive industry

Another was the session by Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards Sales Manager and Roni Ben-Aharon on sustainable tourism practices in the dive industry. Ben-Aharon zeroed in on three important factors of sustainability: the environment, the people affected, and the communities that operate in the area. She shared easy-to-do measures that locals can take to help protect marine environments, citing cases from different places in the Philippines.

Philippine Airlines and Guide to the Philippines offer discounted fares and dive holiday packages through their virtual booth
Turkish Airlines promotes their “Diving Equipment Fly for Free” program through their virtual exhibition booth

A third talk was that of Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) Commissioner and PADI Ambassadiver Bo Mancao, in which he discussed the environmental efforts of the local dive industry during the pandemic-induced shutdown and issues that arose because of it. Mancao shared stories of coastal clean-ups and preservation drives around Cebu, and also shed light on the resilience of the residents of Malapascua Island.

Expo-goers also had the opportunity to score exclusive PHIDEX deals on diving equipment, accessories, and travel experiences from the 64 exhibitors, dealers, and partners present in the event’s virtual exhibition. Over 2,000 business and networking leads were generated by the Dive Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) meetings.

Mares virtual exhibition booth features discounted dive equipment and gear on sale

“With health and safety protocols in place to ensure the safe reopening of our destinations, we are taking this opportunity to pivot towards sustainable solutions,” Puyat stressed.

For more information and updates on PHIDEX and the Philippine dive industry, like Dive Philippines on Facebook at facebook.com/DOTdivephilippines, follow @dotdivephilippines on Instagram, or visit www.phidex.asia.

Into the green: eight destinations for an eco-friendly escape

Featured Content by Lonely Planet

TAMARA HINSON Lonely Planet Writer22 JANUARY 2021

Deciding to adopt a sustainable tourism ethos doesn’t mean vowing never to take another flight or to only travel to off-the-radar locales. Instead, invest your wanderlust in places that are rolling out initiatives to minimise the impact of tourism on the environment.

In many ways, travel can be a force for good, so kick-start your eco-friendly escape with one of these dynamic destinations doing their bit for sustainability; from hotels committed to reducing energy consumption, to pioneering tours and activities designed to give back to local communities and help wildlife thrive.

DOT welcomes IATF decision to allow balikbayans

The Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomes the ratification of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 85 which includes the provision on allowing balikbayans’ entry to the Philippines.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that allowing entry of balikbayans or former Filipino citizens into the country during the holidays is a great cause for celebration for millions of families who long for the homecoming of their relatives abroad.

“This not only bodes well for our ailing industry but is good tidings for our kababayans who have been clamoring to be reunited with their loved ones from abroad, especially this yuletide season,” Secretary Puyat enthused.

The said resolution, signed on November 26, provides that, ”Starting December 7, 2020, the following may be allowed entry privileges under Republic Act No. 6768 or the “Act Instituting the Balikbayan Program”:

a) Filipino citizens’ foreign spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with them;
b) Former Filipino citizens, including their spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with them.

The entry of these persons shall be subject to the following conditions:
a) they are allowed visa-free entry under Executive Order No. 408, s. 1960;
b) with pre-booked quarantine facility;
c) with pre-booked COVID-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport; and
d) subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.

The IATF also directed the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to formulate the necessary guidelines to ensure smooth implementation while the DOT has been tasked to issue the necessary guidelines for the provision of sufficient accommodation taking into account the release of test results.

“Balikbayans are considered as a viable source market of the country for tourism, particularly extending to the second and third generation dependents who have yet to discover their parents’ roots. The Filipino diaspora to date, has reached about 10 million. That is why we deem important the Filipino communities abroad as staunch partners in driving visitors to the Philippines,” the tourism chief further added.

CLARIFICATION OF CAB ORDER DATED 2 FEBRUARY 2020 IMPLEMENTING THE TRAVEL BAN DIRECTIVE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE SAME DATE

CAB Order dated 2 February 2020, relating to the travel ban as contained in the Presidential directive of 2 February 2020, includes Taiwan.

Airlines are therefore directed to adopt proper measures and put in place appropriate systems to fully implement the temporary travel ban restricting the entry into the Philippines of the following persons coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

This Order applies to the following:

  • Temporary ban on entry into the Philippines of any person regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visas issued by the Philippine Government directly coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan;
  • Temporary ban on entry into the Philippines of any person regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visas issued by the Philippine Government, who within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, has been to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan;
  • Temporary ban on Filipinos from travel to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

Airlines directly operating between these territories and the Philippines, as well as those connecting to the Philippines via these territories are hereby reminded to strictly comply with the requirement to file with the Board any changes, revisions, cancellations of their flight schedule and to regularly update the Board on the status of these flights.

For strict compliance.
Done this 10th of February 2020.

CARMELO L. ARCILLA
Executive Director

15 Must-Try Extreme Adventure Activities in the Philippines

Featured Content by Guide to the Philippines

Adventure-junkies listen up! Check out the must-try extreme adventures in the Philippines. Is the Philippines good for adventure travel? What kind of outdoor activities can be done around the country? Are there any water activities you can try aside from the usual inland activities? Read this article to find out more about it.

For a true adventure junkie, the Philippines is a good destination. From caving to snorkeling and scuba diving, the Philippines has it all. The country’s diverse natural wonders make it a sought-after destination among adrenaline junkies. 

So whether you like outdoor adventures in the air, land, or water, you’ll find that there’s a lot of things to do in the Philippines.

15. Freediving with Sardines in Cebu

One of the most exciting, unique, and spectacular things to do in the Philippines is seeing the sardine run in Moalboal. It doesn’t have the billions of sardines, in southern Africa, the best-known sardine run in the world, but it does happen year-round. Just rent a snorkel set from the many tour operators along Panagsama Beach, jump into the water, and you’ll find them there. 

14. Multi-Day Caving Adventure in Samar

When it comes to multi-day caving tours, nothing beats caving in Samar. Called the Cave Capital of the Philippines, with the largest cave system to be found there (Langun-Gobingob Caves in Calbiga), Samar has hundreds of caves that have been explored, a small portion of the total known caves.

Caving tours in Samar range from 1-day “discovery” tours, to multi-day caving tours where you get to spend a night or two inside the caves.

13. Hiking Mt. Pulag 

The Philippines is not only famous for its beach tours but also for its hiking tours. Mt. Pulag in the Northern Philippines, the third highest peak in the country, is a popular trek for local mountaineers due to its famous sea of clouds.

The Mt. Pulag National Park has one of the richest biodiversity in the country, having vast forests full of pines, moss, and grass. It is a mountain worth climbing, both for its challenging trails and its natural beauty.

Hiking Mt. Pulag can last between 1-4 days, depending on the trail. Beginning climbers take the Ambangeg trail which is possible on a day trip, while the Akiki trail is a challenging, multi-day hike requiring physical fitness and training prior to the climb.

12. Wakeboarding in Camarines Sur

Wakeboarding tours are also popular as it involves riding a wakeboard on the water surface. The wakeboard is normally towed by a motorboat or by closed-course cable systems like in CamSur Wakeboarding Complex, a world-class water sports complex that is the first in the Philippines and in Asia. Aside from wakeboarding, visitors can also try water skiing, kneeboarding, and wake skiing.

11. Surfing in Siargao

Surfing tours are exciting, and the Philippines doesn’t lack for surfing destinations all over the country. There’s San Juan in La Union and Baler in Aurora, best to visit from October to April and from December to February, respectively.

The most popular, however, is Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte because of several surfing spots that can be found on the island. Its Cloud 9 reef break has even been called one of the best waves in the world. The best time to catch swells there would be from July to December.

While Siargao is the surfing capital of the country, it does not only offer good surfing breaks, but also some of the best tourist spots in the Philippines, from lagoons, caves, and the best beaches in the country.

10. Whitewater rafting in Kalinga and Cagayan de Oro

River tours are popular for both local and international travelers as it often includes whitewater rafting, a recreational outdoor activity that uses an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other body of water. This is often done on different degrees of rapids. Dealing with risk and the need for teamwork is often a part of the whitewater rafting experience.

In the Philippines, there are several places where you can go whitewater rafting. Near Manila, you can do it in Magdalena, Laguna, where you will navigate over 20 rapids in a couple of hours. The two most popular whitewater rafting destinations, however, are up north in Kalinga and down south in Cagayan de Oro.

In Kalinga, you’ll have the best time navigating the 175-kilometer-long stretch of the Chico River. You can even bundle it up with other activities in Kalinga, like getting a tattoo in Apo Whang-Od’s village of Buscalan.

Cagayan de Oro, on the other hand, is known as the Adventure Capital of the Philippines and the Cagayan River is best known for whitewater rafting. It offers rapids with varying grades that suit everyone, from beginners to whitewater rafting junkies. There are direct flights to Cagayan de Oro daily, while you can get to Kalinga by flying to Tuguegarao and then taking a 2-hour land trip.

9. Ultralight Flying in Pampanga

Ultralights are small 1- or 2-seat fixed-wing aircraft. For people who love flying and want to experience flying and being in a small aircraft, ultralight or microlight flying is a good recreational activity. You will also experience flying with the wind on your face as the ultralight has an open-air cockpit.

The Philippines is a good place to try the ultralight as the country has a good flying condition, especially during the summer season. It’s not dirt cheap, but there is no cheaper way to fly than with ultralight planes. It’s one of the top outdoor activities in the Philippines.

8. Canyoneering in Cebu ​

Canyoneering tours are popular because it involves hiking, bouldering, climbing, rappelling, jumping, and swimming while exploring canyons. It’s a more fun activity than just ordinary hiking. One of the best places to do so is in  Cebu, where you will start in Alegria and end up in Badian.

canyoneering day tour takes 4-5 hours and the fee covers all the gears (life vest and helmet) and a bottle of water. It will challenge you to conquer your fear of heights, and even non-swimmers can join, too. For those who want adrenaline-pumping activity while exploring canyons and falls, canyoneering in Kawasan Falls is a must.

7. Swimming with Whale Sharks

You can swim with whale sharks in some parts of the Philippines. These whale sharks grow at 32-40 feet on average, but despite their size, they are known to be docile, earning them the “gentle giant” nickname.

There are two locations in the Philippines where you can swim with whale sharks: Donsol and Oslob. Whale shark season in Donsol is from December to May, with the best time from February to April. While whale shark sighting is not assured, since these are wild creatures, you will likely see at least 5 during peak season and as many as over 40. 

There have been controversies with the whale shark tours in Oslob, with the primary argument being the lack of sustainability practices in place. The Oslob local government unit, however, has taken steps to limit the number of tourists to the area to reduce the stress tourism brings to these gentle creatures. 

6. Sandboarding in Ilocos Norte   

Sandboarding is a recreational extreme sport similar to snowboarding but instead of snow, you ride a sandboard down or across the sand dune. It can also be done while standing up or lying on your belly. It is a popular sport in desert or coastal areas with sand dunes.

Sandboarding in the Philippines is quite a new sport and you can only do this at the sand dunes in Ilocos Norte. This sand dune is getting more and more popular not only for sandboarding but also for ATV and 4×4 riding.

5. Paragliding in Sarangani

If you want to experience flying but find skydiving too extreme, paragliding is your next best choice. It uses a lightweight and free-flying glider aircraft and requires a licensed pilot to operate it.

There are few paragliding sites across the Philippines but Sarangani in the Soccsksargen Region in Mindanao offers the best view with its rolling hills and the Sarangani Bay in the background. You can also find paragliding tours in Carmona, Cavite and Narvacan, Ilocos Sur. A paragliding trip takes only around 20 minutes, but it’s more than enough to satiate your thirst form adventure. You can try other Sarangani tours after your paragliding trip.

4. Tandem Skydiving in Cebu

Skydiving is one of the most extreme adventure sports in the world. It was developed for military use but is now one of the most popular recreational activities for adrenaline junkies. It is also one of the most expensive, given the gears and the expertise involved in doing sports.

If you can get over your fear of heights, and want a very unique perspective of seeing the Philippines from above, head to Cebu to go skydiving. While it is indeed pricey to undertake this activity, the view of the numerous beautiful beaches in Cebu surrounding the province is priceless indeed.

3. Canyon Swing in Bohol     

Bungee jumping is not in the Philippines yet. However, a very good alternative to the different outdoor adventures is the canyon swing called The Plunge in Danao Adventure Park in Bohol. Unlike bungee jumping where you jump off a platform, you’ll hang by your feet in Danao and be dropped over 200 meters above the river. You’ll get around 4 seconds of free fall before swinging around 100 meters wide around the canyon.

An alternative to hanging by your feet is being dropped in a sitting down position, where you can see the ground rushing forward to meet you as you drop. Just state your preference!

If you want to tick off “bungee jumping” from your bucket list but find the 200-meter The Plunge too much, head to the Tree Top Adventure in Subic. There is a range of fun activities there, including zipline rides, but one activity similar to The Plunge is the Tree Drop. You climb up to a 60-foot high platform and experience free fall for around a second, which means that before you can scream, the free fall is over.

2. Spelunking in Sagada

Sagada, a small town in the northern part of the Philippines, is best known for its hanging coffins. However, it’s also known for adventure travel in the Philippines due to its beautiful limestone caves.  

The province of Sagada has more than 60 stunning caves with spectacular rock formations, the biggest of which is Sumaguing Cave. It is an expansive cave network known for its gorgeous stalagmites, stalactites, giant rock formations, and steep descents. It is also considered as the deepest cave in the country and has a big role in the culture of the people in Sagada.

A DIY tour of the Sagada caves is not possible; a guide from the Sagada tourism office is required. While you can decide to explore Sumaguing alone, it is best to check for Sagada tours that bundle up Sumaguing with another large cave, Lumiang.

1. Coron Diving Experience  

As one of the biggest archipelagos in the world, it’s not surprising that the Philippines is one of the top diving destinations worldwide. It is part of the Coral Triangle, an area in the western Pacific Ocean that’s incredibly rich in marine life. It comprises six countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and Solomon Islands, and of course, the Philippines.

You’ll find in the Coral Triangle hundreds of species of reef-building corals, six out of the world’s seven marine turtle species, and thousands of reef fish species. 

 

  

11 Best Festivals To Join in the Philippines

Featured Content by Guide to the Philippines

Experience the colorful culture of the Philippines by joining the vibrant festivals around the country. What and where are the top festivals that are worth traveling to? When should you schedule your trip to experience these festivals? What are the highlights of these festivals? Read on to find out about these fun festivals in the Philippines. 

Filipinos are known around the world not only for its attractions included in top tours but for their love to get together and celebrate. A proof of this is the long list of festivals in the country.

There are a number of holidays, long weekends and top festivals in the Philippines happening throughout the year. These vibrant festivals are characterized by the history, artistry, creativity, and passion of the people. While some of them take place for just a day, a lot of them are celebrating for a week and even for an entire month.

Travelers are attracted by these celebrations, along with the energetic, colorful, and fun environment they create. In fact, some of the celebrations are some of Asia’s most popular festivals.

Here is a list of the best and must-see festivals in the Philippines:

11. Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

When: Every Second Week of February

Where: Clark Freeport Zone, Angeles City, Pampanga

Unlike most of the traditional festivals in the country, the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is an extraordinary one and is often hailed as one of the top tourist spots in Pampanga.

This 4-day festivity surprises and delights the attendees with things and activities that include flying, skydiving, formation flying, paragliding, aerobatic displays, and hot air balloons. People all over the country and across the world gather during February to experience Asia’s longest-running sports event and to celebrate the heart’s day with their loved ones.

10. Giant Lantern Festival

When: Every Weekend Before Christmas Eve

Where: San Fernando City, Pampanga

Anyone will feel the holiday vibes during the Giant Lantern Festival in Pampanga. San Fernando City or the Christmas Capital of the Philippines organizes the competition of giant lanterns during the weekend before Christmas Eve.

Participants create gigantic and bright lanterns made from locally sourced materials and parade them to each barrio in Pampanga before the midnight mass of Christmas. Add some Pampanga activities to make your Christmas excursion more special.

9. MassKara Festival

When: Every 19th of October

Where: Bacolod City

The MassKara Festival in Bacolod is a giant masquerade party hailing from the country’s City of Smiles. Thousands of young people wear colorful masks decorated with flowers, feathers, beads, and paints.

Aside from joining Bacolod trips, make sure to participate in the MassKara festival to get a full picture of Bacolod. It’s filled with people wearing festive costumes and masks while dancing with the beat of the loud music and spreading the friendly, welcoming, and happy atmosphere.

8. Pintados Festival 

When: Every 29th of June

Where: Tacloban City

A religious festival celebrated in the name of Santo Nino, the locals of Tacloban City parade around the city with their bodies and faces painted with vibrant colors of green and blue, which symbolizes Leyte’s ancestral people.

Locals fill the street and perform traditional dances in honor of Santo Nino. Some dancers also use designs that look like arbors to depict warriors who lived in Leyte decades ago. Join a Tacloban day tour to fully experience the province to the fullest.

7. Aliwan Festival

When: Every Last Weekend of April

Where: Pasay City

Although relatively new, the Aliwan Festival in Manila, particularly in Pasay, is by far one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines. Due to its popularity for Filipinos and foreigners, it is called the “Mother of all Festivals.”

This festivity, which started in early 2003, is known as more of a competition than a festival. It aims to promote the diversity in the country, with thousands of participants showcasing their cultures, and the winner bringing home a million pesos as the cash prize. 

6. Kadayawan Festival

When: Every Third Week of August

Where: Davao City

Davao City brings its locals and residents in the biggest celebration of Kadayawan.

Kadayawan Festival takes place during the third week of August. You can try Davao tours or watch the flourish with street dancing, beauty pageants, floral floats, and fireworks displays. Locals also showcase flowers, fruits, and other products from the city.

5. Dinagyang Festival

When: Every Fourth Weekend of January

Where: Iloilo City

The people of Iloilo takes street dancing into a whole new level during the Dinagyang Festival. 

The whole city of Iloilo transforms into a huge street party complete with bands in every corner and street performers. Mouthwatering and overflowing local delicacies and drinks are served while watching the performances. To cap everything off, barangays and schools compete against each other on a street dancing contest. 

4. Pahiyas Festival

When: Every 15th of May

Where: Lucban, Quezon

During the month of May, Lucban showcases a unique harvest festival also known as the Pahiyas Festival.

Locals decorate their homes in lively and vibrant colors. Farm produce like handicrafts, fruits, vegetables, and kiping (rice wafers) are hanging around the houses as decorations. People also bring in their own baskets and pick the fresh produce – free of charge!

3. Moriones Festival

When: Every Holy Week

Where: Province of Marinduque

During the Holy Week in the country, people flock to Marinduque to experience the weeklong celebration of St. Longinus: the Moriones Festival.

Combining the Catholic pageantry with folk mysticism, people wear helmets and don in centurion costumes to reenact the beautiful and theatrical play where one of the locals play the role of St. Longinus and hide among the houses while the others search for him. It’s a great way to spend meaningful time in the province aside from joining Marinduque excursions.

2. Panagbenga Festival

When: Every February

Where: Baguio City

Panagbenga or the Season of Blooming is one of the longest Philippine festivals, observed during the entire month of February in Baguio.

This festival highlights the bountiful blooming of the flowers and to pay tribute to the rising up of the city from the 1990 Luzon earthquake.

During the festival, expect beautiful parades of floats made from different flowers, parading throughout the city, followed by children and adults adorned as flora and fauna.

1. Ati-Atihan Festival

When: Every Third Week of January

Where: Kalibo, Aklan

The Ati-Atihan Festival is known as the granddaddy of the festivals in the Philippines, the celebration that started many festivals in the country. This festival in Aklan is also one of the oldest and is known as the best and the biggest Mardi Gras in the Philippines.

This grand festival lasts for the whole week, often starting its peak during the third Sunday of the month of January. With activities set from sunrise to sunset, people are parading on the streets with colorful paints on their faces and wearing indigenous costumes.

The highlights of Ati-Atihan Festival are the tribal dances, the booming drum beats, the loud chants, and the Catholic rituals, which will surely make any visitor dance their heart out.

TPB Annual Calendar Of Philippine Festivals and Monthly Themes

Looking for how to experience the Philippines as a local? Experience how Filipinos throw a real celebration with vibrant colors, extravagant costumes, and many entertaining festivities!

NAME OF EVENTDATE/LOCATIONBRIEF DESCRIPTION
                                                                                     JANUARY
Feast of the Black NazareneJanuary 9Quiapo, ManilaCelebrated at the heart of Manila- Quiapo, devotees come from all over the metropolis to participate in this annual event honoring the hundred-year-old statue of the Black Nazarene.
Sinulog FestivalJanuary 15 or second SundayCebu CityAn annual festival held in Cebu, which commences nine days before the third Sunday of January.
Ati – Atihan Festival 3rd SundayKalibo, Aklan A celebration in honor of the Infant Jesus, the town’s patron. Ati-Atihan, observed in honor of the Child Jesus. Ati-atihan means ‘making like Atis,’ that is, pretending to be like the aboriginal natives that once inhabited Aklan. This involves smearing oneself with soot to darken the skin and dressing up in tribal finery. The start of the procession is signaled by drums and whistles, and later punctuated by shouts of “Hala Bira!”
The Dinagyang Festival4th SundayIloiloDinagyang is a Hiligaynon word extrapolated from dagyang meaning “merrymaking” It celebrates the feast of the Infant Jesus and the pact between the Datus and the locals.
                                                                                     FEBRUARY
Paraw RegattaThird SundayStrait between Iloilo City and Guimaras IslandThis festivity features racing events between local outriggers in the strait between Iloilo City and Guimaras Island.
Taytay Hamaka FestivalFebruary 10 to 16Taytay, RizalThis is a seven-day event showcasing the artistry, craftsmanship and various talents of the people of Taytay.
The Tinagba FestivalFebruary 11Iriga City, Camarines SurThis is a harvest-offering affair for Our Lady of Lourdes. Farmers parade in carabao-drawn carts filled with the best of local produce while Agtas come down from the mountain to dance.
International Bamboo Organ FestivalLas PiñasThis is a ten-day series of cultural events with a focus on the unique bamboo-made organ, made by Fray Diego de la Cera, and found only in Las Piñas.
Panagbenga(Baguio Flower Festival)Baguio City Month-long celebration of flowers in the country’s summer capital. Similar to the Rose Bowl Parade of the U.S., this festival is highlighted by a parade of floats made entirely of fresh blossoms from local horticulturists. The highlight is in the 4th week of February.
Ollalion FestivalFebruary 14Tabuk, KalingaThe festival celebrates the Kalinga culture through its sports, crafts, and indigenous food.
Babaylanes FestivalFebruary 19Bago City, Negros OccidentalThis highlights the culture of the first settlers of Bago City before the Spanish colonizers arrived. As defined by Negros historians, the babaylan is a doctor, herbalist, artist, adviser, herbalist, seer, diviner and agriculturist.
Kalilangan Festival February 20 to 27General Santos City, South CotabatoThis features cultural shows, a civic/military, agro-industrial fair, sports competition, and a beauty pageant.
Kaamulan Festival 2nd week of February up to March 10Malaybalay, BukidnonA three-day gathering of Bukidnon’s various ethnolinguistic groups in Pines View Park. It includes a performance of traditional rituals. 
                                                                                      MARCH
Malasimbo Festival March 10-12Puerto Galera Malasimbo Festival has four pillars: music, arts, indigenous people, and environment. The festival is well known for bringing some of the most versatile musicians. In the event, the Malasimbo grounds is decorated with world-class artwork by various talented Filipino and visual artists, also showcasing indigenous peoples’ work.
UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week March 21 – 27 World Theatre Week is an occasion for theatre artists of varied disciplines in performance and media arts to celebrate the power of Theatre to bring people together and an opportunity to share with audiences the wealth of each country’s heritage, history, habitat, theatrical traditions and expertise modeling cultural caregiving for marginalized sectors and disadvantaged youth exemplified in the Philippine program of the Earthsavers Dreams Ensemble honored as UNESCO Artists for Peace;
Island Garden City of Samal Festival1st WeekA week-long celebration of Samal’s founding anniversary held every first week of March.
Anibina Bulawanun FestivalMarch 8Compostela Valley Province An eight-day multi-themed annual festival that culminates on the province’s foundation day, March 8. It is a colorful and joyful celebration of the province’s rich agricultural harvests, abundant mineral resources, governance’s feats, trade and tourism fair, and a showcasing of the people’s culture and traditions. The Al-law Ng Kalomonan (Tribal Day) falls on the 7th day of Anibina.
Holy Week March-April A week-long event honoring Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross; The Palm Sunday is held on the fifth Sunday of Lent where churchgoers bring palm and leaves to re-enact the arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem; Holy Thursday is held with a Visitaa Iglesia where Catholics visit at least 7 churches. A “Pasyon” or narration of Christ’s life through singing is held; On Good Friday, believers re-enact the sufferings and death of Christ on the Cross. Easter Sunday is highlighted by “Salubong” or dawn processions held in various parts of the country.
Moriones Festival Holy WeekMarinduque A week-long celebration participated in by male penitents in costumes who parade around town. On Good Friday, they reenact the story of Longinus, a centurion, blind in one eye, who speared Jesus’ side. Christ’s blood fell on his blind eye, miraculously restoring it, leading to his conversion.
Centurion FestivalHoly WeekGeneral Luna, QuezonThis is believed to be the origin of Marinduque’s Moriones Festival and is as colorful.
Ang PagtaltalGood FridayJordan, GuimarasThis is a procession of flagellants and devotees in biblical attire that ends in the Balaan Bukid Shrine.
Pangalap RitualGood FridayNueva ValenciaThis is a ritual where believers crawl through the Catilaran cave chanting prayers in the hope of gaining supernatural powers to ward off evil spirits.
Witches FestivalHoly WeekSiquijorSiquijor is popularly known throughout the country for “witchcraft”. A “Witches Festival” is held at Crocodile Hill overlooking the Bay of Lazi and the Mindanao Sea. When the moon is full, the sorcerers, called magbabarang gather herbs, roots and live insects, throw these into a giant cauldron filled with boiling water, then sit in a circle around it while mumbling incantations. This is followed by dancing and ends in an exclusive ritual in a secluded cave at dawn.
                                                                                      APRIL
TurumbaPakil, LagunaA seven-day feast in honor of our lady of sorrows highlighted by a procession and a dance (to the beat of a turumba song).
Lami-Lamihan FestivalApril 14 to 16BasilanBegan in 1983 by former mayor Wilfrido Furigay, the festival showcases the rich Yakan traditions. This is highlighted by a parade and a horse race.
Kadaugan sa MactanApril 27CebuThis is mainly the re-enactment of the Battle of Mactan along the islands’ beach.
                                                                                      MAY
Flores de MayoWhole MonthCatholic-wide eventLiterally translated, it means “Flowers of May” and highlights a procession honoring Virgin Mary. Coinciding with it is the Santacruzan, re-enacting the search of Queen Elena for the cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified. The town or city’s loveliest ladies grace the occasion.
Pasalamat FestivalMay 1La Carlota, Negros OccidentalA labor and thanksgiving festival marked by street dancing and a parade of farm products.
Magayon FestivalMay 1Albay ProvinceA showcase of Albay’s culture and arts marked by exhibits, parades, shows, and sports.
Pista y Dayat FestivalMay 1PangasinanA seaside festival and a thanksgiving day by local fishermen for a bountiful year.
Boa-BoahanMay 2Nabua, Camarines SurA re-enactment of the 13th-century rite of offering chains of coconut embryos called boa to deities. They believe that doing so would mean a prosperous year.
Carabao-Carozza Race FestivalMay 3Pavia, IloiloAn event where carabaos (water buffaloes) pull decorated bamboo carts in a 400-meter course race.
Lanahan RitualMay 1-3Balabag, Digos, Davao del SurA ritual performed by the Bagobos involving the making of medicinal oil (lana) after their pilgrimage to Mount Apo.
Balanghai FestivalButuanThis commemorates the coming of the early migrants from Borneo and Celebes. It is said that they came to Agusan in balanghai or wooden boats.
Tapusan FestivalAlitagtag, BatangasA month-long celebration honoring the Holy Cross.
Barangay Boat FestivalMay 11Aparri, CagayanA fluvial festival held annually in honor of Saint Peter Thelmo, the town’s patron saint.
Carabao FestivalMay 15Pulilan, BulacanAn event honoring. San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. Carabaos are paraded and blessed by the town priest.
Pahiyas FestivalLucban and Sariaya, QuezonA thanksgiving festival to San Isidro Labrador for the past year’s bountiful harvest. The event is popular for the elaborate edible decorations that cover entire houses like fruits and vegetables, most prominent of which are the brightly colored rice wafers known as; The image of the patron saint is also paraded around town assuring the farmers of a bountiful harvest in the years to come.
Obando FestivalMay 17 to 19Obando, BulacanThis festival involves the different dance rituals held for three consecutive days honoring three patron saints: May 17 for St. Paschal (for couples who want a male child), May 18 for St. Claire (for couples who want a female child) and May 19 for the Our Lady of Salambaw (patroness of fishermen).
Pahoy-Pahoy FestivalMay 19 to 25Calbiga, SamarEvery May, the quaint little town of Calbiga abounds with giant pahoy-pahoy (scarecrows) made of indigenous materials dancing about its streets. Musical instruments made up of bamboos, cans and stones create the sounds that scare the local maya birds.
                                                                                     JUNE
Naligayan Festival2nd weekAgusan del SurThis is a province-wide festivity which coincides with Agusan del Sur’s  Foundation Anniversary in June 17. Incepted in 1993 during the incumbency of the late Gov. Democrito O. Plaza, the festival is a recognition of the Manobo people’s loyalty to their tribal leader, Datu Lipus Makapandong.Literally meaning “the chosen one” the weeklong celebration showcases the indigenous people’s culture through music and dance, native products, ethnic games, and a host of sporting tournaments and special events.The festival depicts the Agusanon culture and heritage. Natives from far-flung places of the province usually come down and display skills through tribal dances and rituals. A trade fair displaying the province’s cottage industries also takes place in Naliyagan Cultural Center Grounds at the Gov. D. O. Plaza Government Center, Prosperidad.
Pagdayao FestivalJune 11 -12Tacloban, Leyte, MasbateA two-day affair, which serves as a thanksgiving feast in honor of the Lord.
Araw ng CotabatoJune 12 – 20CotabatoThe city of Cotabato in Mindanao celebrates its founding with special events as the layang-layang or giant kite festival, fluvial parades, banca race and sports competition.
Parada ng mga Lechon (Parade of Roast Pigs)June 24Balayan, BatangasCrisp, golden-brown roast pigs are paraded through the streets. As soon as the best decorated roasted pig is announced, the eating commences.
Hibok-Hibok FestivalJune 24Camiguin IslandThe event is held in honor of St. John the Baptist and is marked with fluvial processions, parades and water sports.
Daet Pineapple Festival3rd WeekDaet, Camarines NorteA festival showcasing the famous and sweetest of all pineapples- the Formosa variety- abundantly growing in Daet. The week-long celebration features sports events, talent and skills competition, an investment forum, cultural shows and concerts, a food fair, an agro-industrial and trade fair, search for Bicolandia Queen, and street dancing contests.
Tacloban FestivalLast WeekTacloban, LeyteThe festival consists of three major activities: (1) Subiran Regatta – a sailboat race held at the eastern entrance of San Juanico Strait, (2) Balyuan – a pageant reenacting the historic exchange of images between Basey, Samar and Tacloban City, and (3) Pintados Festival where participants paint their bodies and dance to the rhythm of bamboo sticks.
Piat Sambali FestivalLast WeekPiat, CagayanIn Piat, Cagayan, the colorful celebration is highlighted by street dancing, cultural shows and a beauty pageant. This festival commemorates the Christianization of the Ytawes region of Cagayan.
                                                                                     JULY
Sagayan Festival Tubod1st weekLanao del NorteA festival with a Maranao war dance as a main event. The dance is performed during the Araw ng Lanao del Norte and is participated by all the municipalities in the province. The war dance is complemented by a fan dance performed by Maranao maidens wearing colorful dresses.
Pagoda FestivalJuly 4 – 7Bocaue, BulacanIn Bocaue, Bulacan, a feast is held in honor of the Holy Cross of Wawa found in the Bocaue River. The main attraction of the affair is the fluvial parade of the pagoda or decorated barge and colorful small boats.
Sublian sa BatangasJuly 23Batangas CityThis coincides with the Foundation Day of Batangas City. It revives the tradition of dancing the subli, which is indigenous to the province.
Sinulog and Kinabayo FestivalJuly 24 – 25Dapitan, Zamboanga del NorteThe event honors Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte’s patron saint St. James.
Sinulog de Tanjay FestivalLast weekTanjay, Negros OrientalThe celebration of the residents of Tanjay, Negros Oriental of this 10-day fiesta features the origin of the old sinulog culture. A parade is held showcasing the clothes locals wear, while the horsefighting presentation re-enacts the battle between the Spaniards and the Muslims.
Kahimoan Abayan FestivalLast weekButuan City, Agusan del NorteIn Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, the feast is held in honor of Santa Ana (St. Anne), known to protect the residents along the Agusan River from man-eating crocodiles. The celebration includes the holding of a prayer on boats for safe passage and prosperity.
Sandugo FestivalLast weekBoholCelebrated in Bohol, this festival commemorates the blood compact between Spaniard Legaspi and Filipino Sikatuna. It includes an agro-industrial exhibit, a trade fair, a beauty contest, street dancing and a re-enactment of the blood compact.
                                                                                      AUGUST
Pangapog FestivalAugust 1 – 7Samal Island, DavaoA thanksgiving festival for a bountiful harvest highlighting the culture of the Sama, the indigenous people of Samal, as shown in the indigenous sports, and other culture-based competitions.
Pangasinan Bamboo FestivalAugust 14Calasiao and Sta. Barbara, PangasinanPangasinan Bamboo Festival August 12 This is a festival showcasing bamboo products and includes bamboo planting and film exhibitions. Venue: Calasiao and Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan
Mercedes FISHtivalAugust 6-11Mercedes, Camarines NorteA thanksgiving festival by local fisherfolk for blessings received during seafaring, and fish-farming.
Marang FestivaAugust 5Basco, BatanesLocals celebrate the bountiful harvest of the fruit Marang.
Palu-Palo FestivalAugust 4-5Basco, BatanesThis is highlighted by a cultural presentation showing the life and times of the Ivatans.
Pasaka FestivalAugust 14Tanuan, Leyte“Pasaka,” the native word for Assumption, is a street spectacle in honor of Our Lady of Assumption.
Lubi-Lubi FestivalAugust 15Calubian, LeyteA dance festival extolling the many uses of the coconut in homage to Our Lady of Fatima and St. Roque.
Kalibongan FestivalAugust 17 – 18Kidapawan, CotabatoA gathering of Mindanao ethnolinguistic groups like the Bagobos and Manobos. This is highlighted by a horse fight and a Manobo wedding.
Kadayawan sa Dabaw Festival3rd weekDavao CityDabaweños celebrate the annual Kadayawan – a colorful occassion that lasts for five days – as a thanksgiving festival and a tribute to its indigenous peoples. Kadayawan is a native expression in Dabawnon tongue, which means “anything excellent that brings great fortune” from “dayaw” (good), describing a thing that is valuable and superior.
GigantesAugust 19Lucban, QuezonOn August 19, in the town of Lucban, Quezon, townsfolk trot out their beloved gigantes or giants. Measuring about 14 feet tall, the giants come in pairs, the mag-asawa or couple, a giant man dressed in the peasant’s camisa chino or undershirt, and his wife clad in the native patadyong and kimona, a loose skirt topped with a flimsy blouse. Made from papier mache, the giants are borne on shoulders by those who have made a panata (oath) made in return for a favor received. This festivity is shared by Lucban with the town of Angono, Rizal, which holds it in November.
Buyogan FestivalAugust 19Abuyog, LeyteBuyogan focuses on the bee locally known as “buyog” from which the town’s name originated.
BankatonAugust 20Lavezares, Northern SamarAn annual boat racing contest celebrating the feast of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion, the town’s Patroness.
Kagayhaan FestivalAugust 26-28Cagayan de Oro CityThis festival is highlighted by streetdancing participated in by contingents from schools and civic organizations.
                                                                                     SEPTEMBER
Aurora FestivalLast Sunday of August to 1st week of SeptemberTanjay, Negros OrientalThe festival features evening novenas participated in by more than 40 clans, which culminate in a nocturnal fluvial procession at the Tanjay River.
Hin-ay FestivalSeptember 1-29Irosin, SorsogonThis features a cultural show, trade fair, and a street dance depicting the archangels’ victory over the “Black” Angels.
Bicol Food FestivalSeptember 1-30Naga CityA festival of Bicol cuisine: pinangat and laing, bicol Express, inolokan or tilmak, pecadillo and cocido.
Sarakiki FestivalSeptember 1-8Calbayog CityThe festival features street dancers dressed as cocks swaying to the beat of ancient Samareño instruments.
T’boli Tribal Festival3rd weekSouth CotabatoA gathering of the major ethnolinguistic groups in the province together with representatives from Davao.
Peñafrancia Fiesta Festival3rd SundayNaga City, Camarines SurA religious festival honoring Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, the patroness of the Bicol Region River.
Dalit FestivalSeptember 25Tangub CityThis showcases local rituals, dances, and way of life.
Linapit Food Sharing FestivalSeptember 30Gueday, BesnoA festival with a delightful pre-planting feast at its core where natives share their food with everyone.
Djanggo FestivalSeptember 28-29Nassiping, Gattaran, CagayanThis commemorates centuries-old religious and cultural tradition based on the life of St. Michael.
Banigan-Kawayan FestivalSeptember 29Basey, SamarThis celebrates the banig and the kawayan crafts industry flourishing in Basey.
                                                                                     OCTOBER
Halaran1st weekRoxas CityThis festival highlights the performance of the history and culture of Capiz during pre-Hispanic times.
Universal Children’s Festival1st weekDapitan CityThe festival involves children of locals, dressed in costumes of UN member countries, parading around the city.
Masskara FestivalBacolod CityA grand Bacole celebration marked by carnivals, fairs and masked street dancers.
Ibalong Festival2nd weekLegaspi CityThis festival is based on Ibalong, a Bicol epic showcasing legendary superheroes Handiong and Baltog.
Zamboanga Hermosa FestivalOctober 10-12Zamboanga CityThe festival features a regatta, colorful vintas, banconan flower show, and fireworks honoring the Nuestra Señora del Pilar Zaragosa.
Kasanggayahan FestivalOctober 10-17SorsogonThe festival is itself the foundation anniversary of Sorsogon. The festival’s name means “prosperity and happiness.”
Feast of La Naval ManilaOctober 11Quezon CityThe image of the Virgin is paraded around town in a colorfully-decorated carriage, which resembles a ship. The image is believed to be miraculous and ensures safe voyage to anyone who prays to it.
Inug-og FestivalOctober 15Oroquieta, Misamis OccidentalThis is held in honor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary
Calbayog Grand KarakolOctober 16Calbayog CityA religious celebration of thanksgiving and joyous pageantry of dancing devotees of San Rafael.
Sagingan FestivalOctober 16-17Tubod, Lanao del NorteThe feast is in honor of San Isidro Labrador with street dancers dressed up in various banana-like costumes.
Megayon Festival3rd weekTigbao, Zamboanga del SurA colorful harvest festival participated in by the Subanean indigenous group.
Lanzones Festival4th weekMambajao, Camiguin IslandThe festival is held to celebrate the abundance of lanzones fruit in the island with a streetdancing competition involving the youth all dressed up in lanzones leaves or fruits. The lanzones is one of the island’s most important crops.
Catadungan FestivalOctober 24Virac, CatanduanesThis festival commemorates the province’s independence from Albay.
                                                                                      NOVEMBER
PintafloresNovember 3-5San Carlos CityThis festival is marked by a streetdancing involving the pintados or dancers with tattoos or flowers on their body.
Kalag-Kalag FestivalNovember 13Cebu CityThis restages the Filipino tradition of visiting relatives to lovingly remember departed loved ones.
Sanduguan FestivalNovember 15Calapan, Oriental MindoroThis festival reenacts the first contact between the natives of Mindoro and traders from China.
Feast of San Clemente/ GigantesNovember 22-23Angono, RizalThis celebration is marked by giant Papier-mâché effigies, natives in wooden shoes and costumes joining the procession of the statue of San Clemente around town.
P’yagsawitan Festival3rd weekMaragusan, Davao ProvinceThis involves performances by indigenous groups of the area, and harvest-related thanksgiving rituals.
Kawayanan Festival3rd weekCapitol Complex, Pagadian, Zamboanga del SurThis celebrates the versatility of the Bamboo plant and its importance in the area.
Santa Ipon FestivalNovember 25 – December 25Santa, Ilocos SurA thanksgiving celebration highlighted by the catching of the ipon, a small but mysterious fish.
Day-ang Di Onga FestivalNovember 30Baguio CityThis is one of the region’s major events featuring young Cordillerans in a day-long event to “celebrate life.”
Binabayani FestivalLast weekOlongapo, ZambalesThis festival re-enacts the war between the Aetas and the Christians through dance.
                                                                                      DECEMBER
Paskuhan sa BarangayParian, Cebu CityThis is highlighted by nightly cultural presentations from the different universities in Cebu City.
San Fernando Giant Lantern FestivalPhilippine Christmas Village, San Fernando, PampangaThis is a month-long lantern showcase where lanterns measuring 14 to 18 feet in diameter delight spectators with their kaleidoscope patterns
Kamundagan FestivalNaga CityThis month-long festival features “Kiti-Kiti,” “Pastoras,” Bikol Song Festival, and other cultural events.
Subayan Keg SubanonDecember 1- 8Ozamiz CityThis involves a trade fair, a street theater performance, and songs and dances depicting the rich Subanon cultural heritage.
Pasko sa Tanjay FestivalDecember 1 to 9Tanjay, Negros OrientalA month-long Christmas festivity featuring cultural presentations and contests.
Fiesta de AgooDecember 5-8Agoo Civic Center, Agoo BasilicaThis features a Lantern festival, the coronation of Miss Agoo, the awarding of Bannuar ti and Dakilang Datu Awards.
SinadyaDecember 5-8Roxas CityThis features a fireworks display, a grand parade, a food festival, and the Capiz dance festival.
Hanging of the Green2nd weekZamboanga CityChildren join in the “hanging of the green” signifying the start of the Christmas season.
Feast of the Immaculate ConcepcionDecember 8Puerto Princesa CityA grand celebration in honor of the city’s patroness and is highlighted by a parade of several images of Virgin Mary.
PagdiwataDecember 8PalawanThe Tagbanuas’ feast of thanksgiving for a bountiful rice harvest along with food offerings to deities and departed kin. The rite involves men and partaking of rice wine with the spirits. After the harvest, the Tagbanuas gather in the house of the babaylan or the priestess whom the spirits speak to.
Dad-Iw Day-eng ChantsDecember 8Bakod, BenguetThis features the Ibaloi, Kankana-ey tribal songs and dance presentations.
Karisyohan Han Pasko Ha PaloDecember 10 to January 6Palo, LeyteThis features a Misa de gallo, a cultura show and a Christmas eve choral concert at Palo Cathedral.
Philippine International Lantern ParadeDecember 14Asia World Complex Roxas Blvd., and Quirino GrandstandA grand colorful parade featuring lanterns from different countries along with local bands, indigenous groups, vintage cars, and calesas.
Christmas Among the TribesDecember 16Cabarroquis, QuirinoThis involves house visitations for Christmas gifts undertaken by the indigenous groups in Quirino.
Simballay Festival3rd weekNabunturan, Davao ProvinceA week-long festival highlighted by Mansaka dances, neo-ethnic shows, street dancing and a grand parade.
Shariff KabunsuanDecember 15-19Cotabato CityA celebration to commemorate the arrival of Shariff Kabunsuan and Islam to Mindanao.
Pastores BikolDecember 18Legaspi CityThis involves boys and girls in costumes playing the roles of shepherds who rejoice at the birth of Jesus.
Maytinis FestivalDecember 24Kawit, CaviteA town-wide re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for a room on the eve of Christ’s birth.
SalubongDecember 29Plaridel, BulacanThis is procession of dancing women, horses and calesas to fetch the Santiago Maria Moros from Barangay Sipet.

This list of festivals shared by the Tourism Promotions Board will be updated continuously as many of the dates and details can change every year.

Connect with our travel experts to plan your upcoming festival attendance!

7 Must-See Churches in the Philippines: Plan an Easter Experience

Lent, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday are celebrated by Christians around the world, but in the Philippines, it’s different. More than 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholic. Their traditions have influenced the culture and whole communities celebrate together.

For travelers interested in observing these holy days, it’s an ideal time to visit the Philippines. Plan a spiritual experience with your family or with close friends. It’s important to start planning this trip early–booking both travel and accommodations–as many guests visit for the Easter holiday and Filipinos travel to be with family and friends.

Must See Churches

Enhance your journey through the Philippines during the Easter holidays by visiting some of the oldest and most beautiful churches on the islands.

Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva – Ming-ao, Iloilo

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, the Ming-ao Church has an extensive history. It’s thick walls and mismatched bell towers helped protect the area from invaders during the 18th and 19th centuries. The belfries were commissioned by two different parish priests and the west tower is both older and taller. While visiting this church, don’t forget to go inside and see the solid gold retablo also known as a sanctuary.

St. Matias Parish Church – Tuamauini, Isabela

Built entirely of red bricks in 1783, the church, commonly known as the Tumauini Church, has been under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006. It was built in the style of Late Baroque or Early Rococo and its bell tower stands four stories tall.

Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio de Maria Parish Church – Boljoon, Cebu

While this parish dates back to the 1690s, the church building, which is commonly known as Boljoon Church, was first built in 1783. It was listed as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2001 and continues to be a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is well-known for its special ceilings which are made of “tag-ut” which means “coming from trees” and are beautifully painted. They date back to at least 1883.

Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel – Argao, Cebu

Completed in 1788, the church commonly known as the Argao Church is a two-level structure built of coral stone. The beautifully painted ceiling tiles are made of wood. The paintings themselves were completed by two artists, one being the renowned Cebuano painter Raymundo Francia. Sadly, the other half was completed by an unknown Boholano artist. As the name suggests, the church was dedicated to the archangel Saint Michael.

Saint Augustine Church – Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, the church, commonly known as the Paoay Church, began construction in 1694. It is known as a prime example of the Spanish Colonial Baroque Architecture-style which was adapted for the Philippines due to the frequency of earthquakes. You’ll see larger than normal buttresses and stair-style buttresses. The facade is made up of two materials, brick on the lower part and coral on the upper.

The Camarin de la Virgen at the Sta. Ana Church

Commonly known as the Santa Ana Church, it was established by the Franciscan Order in 1577. The first cornerstone for the larger stone church and convent was laid on September 12, 1720. The image of the patron saint, Nstra. Sra. De los Desamparados – or Our Lady of the Abandoned – was carved in Spain and brought to Santa Ana by Fr. Vicente Ingles, OFM, who was the parish priest at the time.

Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours – Taal, Batangas

Within the Archdiocese of Lipa you’ll find this church, commonly known as Taal Basilica. It is considered the single largest church in the Philippines, as well as in all of Asia. First established in 1575, the church was severely damaged by the largest recorded eruption of the local volcano in 1754. The church was then moved to its current location on top.

Tips for What to Expect

If you’ve never been in the Philippines for Holy Week and Easter, you will need to keep a few things in mind.

  • Heavy traffic and crowded streets cause problems getting anywhere quickly. Processions involving people, carts, floats, and crowds around the churches are common. Plan to become part of the celebrations and immerse yourself in the experience.
  • Many businesses are closed during Holy Week or have shortened working hours. Once you know where you’ll be staying, learn what will be open and be prepared for stores and services to be shut down, including grocery stores and restaurants.
  • Some television and radio stations feature reruns or pre-recorded shows during parts of Holy Week, while others play seasonal content to join in the spirit of the holiday.

 Plan Your Trip to the Philippines

Spending the holiday living like a Filipino local creates one-of-a-kind, spiritual memories.

The time to plan your trip to the Philippines is now if you want to be a part of this immersive religious experience before it’s gone. If you’re ready, our partners are ready to help you discover the Philippines.