10 Random Things to do while you’re in the Philippines
1. Hike Zambales
While this region is more often thought of for the beaches and lakes that it contains, it also has a great number of hiking trails that appeal to even the most seasoned hiker. Everything from dangling bridges to steep uphill hikes with old women who do traditional tattoos at the end of trail can be found within Zambales. Perhaps one of the most unspoiled ares of the country, hiking the region will still keep you close enough to 4 star and higher accommodations.
Few other places offer quiet coves with near tropical temperatures, large mountains, and a surprising lack of rain. Best of all the number of people who explore this area is relatively few, meaning that with a local guide you might see things no other tourist has ever seen. Be sure to sample the fruit and the spicy fresh food of the region to complete your nature bound trek.
2. Go To A Harvest Festival
When you think of a festival, you are likely thinking of the very basic type that can be found in most western countries. Everything is ready and prepared, everything is super commercialized, and there isn’t much nature-like about it. However, that’s not really the case in the Phillipines because each village and each area actually has their own festivals. Most of the time they can be as simple as everyone pitching in together to gather a first harvest and then sharing it among others.
I highly recommend the mango festivals in the South, but with the help of a local guide you may be able to find something even more niche. In some areas there is also the option to help with planting and creating the harvest. This can be as simple as a day spent in the fields planting rice as part of a tour before consuming a delicious meal, or as backbreaking as signing up to work for a week on a farm to get the true experience.
3. Go Snorkeling In The Crystal Clear Waters
A little basic, but still one of the many reasons that people go to the Philippines in the first place; the beaches. While you can hang out on them and enjoy yourself, the better option is almost always going to be snorkeling. This is particularly true if you are an avid fish watcher. This is due to the location of the Philippines, close to mainland Asia, Australia, and in the middle of Polynesian migration patterns.
This leads to a plethora of different special of fish and even corals, with the variety changing quite regularly. This can also make it a great place for fishing although we will go more into that later. Most places that offer scuba trips nearby will have restaurants that serve the same fish you saw as fresh food if you are curious what they taste like.
4. Make A Pilgrimage
While not really something you would normally consider, this does give homage to the majority religions in the Phillipines. Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists all have pilgrimage destinations within the country that take them on stunning treks. It’s a great way to guarantee that you have people you will get along with, to see a large part of the country, and to connect with people from the same religion who share a common goal.
Also dotted around the country are a number of nature focused religious run resorts, providing good family fun in a more wild setting for those who seek it. Really, with the strong Roman Catholic population and the huge number of local saints, shrines, and holy sites, there are few better countries to visit for religious travel.
5. Take A Wildlife Tour
Throughout the country there is a large variety of species. Thankfully, most of the natural rain forest that exists within the country has been preserved. While you can wander some of it by yourself, there is really no need to when there are a large number of different wildlife tours.
While most will only last a few hours. There are some where you can stay all night, observing animals that most people would only ever see on the discovery channel. For those wondering, yes, most of these do have an option to have only vegan or vegetarian food available, making them accessible to anyone who wants to go.
6. Take An Air Tour
With a low number of regulations in place and only a few major airports, you can take any number of air-bound tours. Everything from private flights to helicopter rides, rental of private drones, and even hot air balloon tours is available on this beautiful set of islands.
Most people who choose to go, will either go in a helicopter or a balloon, but those who are able to fly will often find that the prices to rent their own planes are on par with renting a helicopter. For those who want to learn how to fly, the country provides that too. With a large number of pilot educational schools existing within the country, there is no reason not to cross that wish off your bucket list.
7. Go Diving
Whether you want to jump off of pristine cliffs or you want to go deep sea diving, the Philippines has it all. With over 100 different recommended dive companies that offer indoor, outdoor, and even simulated dives, it’s a diver’s paradise. Just make sure that you take lots of sunscreen and pay special attention to any instructions that you are given.
If this is the route that you choose to go with your vacation, it is worth noting that a number of resorts provide private dives that can be a bit more challenging or simple depending on your needs. This can also be a way to get one on one attention if it’s something that you have always wanted to try, but haven’t been able to find the time to do so.
8. Fish In The Deep Sea
You read that right, you can go deep sea fishing for incredibly reasonable prices in this country. Everything from small sharks to swordfish and more can be caught as long as they aren’t endangered. Local guides will take you out, provide gear, give you guidance, and make sure that all of the proper paperwork is filled out. Just be prepared to book your trip at least one week in advance to ensure adherence with local regulations.
If you are interested, there are a large number of catch and release operations that provide less cruel fishing experiences that then go on to fund scientific and preservation schemes as well. If you are more ecologically minded these trips can be a fun way to spend time in the sun and give back to and economy that has been relatively self protecting thus far.
9. Swim With Sea Turtles
While you can swim with other creatures around the globe, the Philippines is one of the few places where you can actually swim with Sea Turtles in their natural habitat. This is because there are several deep, warm, and protected coves that ensure the turtles are well protected and cared for. In return, the majority of them have lost their fear of humans.
It must be stressed that there are strict regulations on these tours, that you need to adhere to them, and that there will be local guides there to make sure that the turtles are protected. It is not permitted to feed the turtles, take anything from their habitat, or chase them if they move away. Not paying attention to any of these rules may lead to legal action being pursued in the Philippines, a country that still carries out the death penalty on tourists convicted of capital crimes; do not book one of these vacations if you intend to break the law.
10. Chill Out On The Beach
While this might be the most basic thing you can do in nature, the fact that this country cares about their beaches and still cares for them while punishing people who try and mess them up has created a unique situation. The country still has a number of incredibly pristine beaches, some of which can only be reach by boats that are only permitted to take a certain number of people to them each day. This means that you can enjoy nature as it should be when at the beach, unspoiled and beautiful.
The beaches are also home to a huge variety of wildlife and of course Sea life that has influenced the way that everyone lives in the country. This is why many people enjoy eating local foods on the beach. For those who eat fish, clams and sustainable fished species are always available. For those who don’t, wild fruits, and incredibly hearty vegetables with a tendency to pair meals with rice and salad makes the country a paradise for everyone stays. Don’t forget to watch and learn from locals how to eat some of the more exotic offerings.