Perhaps the most important island in the Philippines is Luzon. The island is home to the nation’s capital, Manila, the nation’s main airport, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and a major economic center.
Not surprisingly, in 2015, Luzon’s huge population ranked it as the fourth most populous island in the world, and is expected to surpass the population of Great Britain in just a few years.
While most travelers arrive at the Manila airport and hop straight on to another plane to head to one of the tourist islands, not many choose the off-the-beaten-path Luzon roads — but they should. Once you leave the bustling city of Manila and head to the coast, you’ll discover an unexpected world full of small villages, peaceful beaches, untouched jungles and islands that most travelers have never heard of. Chili peppers in the natural beauty of Luzon are where memorials, museums and cultures return to the rich history of the Philippines.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Luzon:
1. Batad Rice Terraces
Visiting Batad will be the exact opposite of your visit to Manila. Instead of crowded streets and towering skyscrapers, you can expect green rice terraces in a village of only about 1,500 people.
Hike up the mountain in the morning, overlooking a cone-shaped valley where perfectly designed rice terraces radiate green vegetation as far as you can see. Quaint wooden houses are scattered around these terraces where farmers and their families live.
While you’re here, you can enjoy homestay opportunities with your family and hike to a nearby waterfall with a friendly guide. See a side of the Philippines through the eyes of the people who live and prosper here.
2. Taal Volcano in Tagaytay City
Just 3 hours from Manila is the wonderful city of Tagaytay, home to the Taal Volcano.
This active volcano has experienced more than 30 eruptions in recent history and still emits smoke today. But that’s not really what makes Ta’al so unique.
From the naked eye, Taal Volcano sits in the middle of the lake. cool. But look a little closer to Taal Crater and you’ll find a lake in the mouth. Get a little closer and you’ll find another island in the lake inside the crater.
Did you catch it all? You may have to visit in person to get photos.
3. Corregidor Island during World War II
Just because you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Luzon doesn’t mean you can’t get out and explore. From Manila, you can take a guided tour of the Historic Islands or Corregidor.
The island was once a notorious battleground between American, Japanese and Philippine troops during World War II. Remnants of conflict and reminders of these hard times are now educational props.
Originally, the island served as a fortress, the skeleton of which still exists. You’ll also visit light hours, barracks, and hear stories from your guide.
During your tour, you will also enjoy some bird watching and a traditional Filipino lunch.
4. Swimming in Pagup
From Manila, you can fly to Lawag Municipal Airport or take a 12-hour overnight bus to Pagup town in northern Luzon.
When you arrive in Pagup, many pristine swimming opportunities await you! One of the most beautiful beaches in the area is Maira-ira Beach. This beach is home to the popular Blue Lagoon, where the turquoise waters and shallow waters are the perfect way to spend the day.
You’ll find lots of cute little restaurants on the beach with a variety of food and plenty of cold beers.
5. Private Vacations in Magalawa Island
Looking for a luxury getaway near Luzon? Magalawa Island has what you want.
There is only one resort on this small island called Armada Resort. This resort exists to funnel the right amount of tourism to the island and stimulate its economy.
What does this mean to you? This means that you will be one of the few guests on this island and will receive top-notch service. This also means that the beaches, water and nature are completely unspoiled and unspoiled by development!
6. Explore Mount Mayon in Legazpi
Mayon Volcano National Park is a thrilling experience full of adventure and exploration.
There are many ways to get up close to Mount Mayon, including hiking near its base, where bright green plains, rice fields, clean creeks, and rushing rivers lie. There are plenty of hiking trails and viewing platforms of varying difficulty, allowing you to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding valley.
For a more adventurous adventure, sign up for an ATV tour or mountain bike tour, where your guide knows where to find the best views.
You can also climb the nearby Lignon Hill Nature Park, where you can take a 320-meter zipline and admire the incredible mountain views around you.
7. Sagada Hanging Coffin
The town of Sagada has a strange tradition of not burying coffins in the ground, but securing them to the edge of a cliff, where they will be on display forever. This tradition gives an eerie vampire feel, but is really just a way to bring their loved ones closer to heaven.
In addition to this strange attraction, visitors can hike in the forest, hike to waterfalls, rappel and cave along cliffs, explore caves, and enjoy the scenery of this mountain village. Sagada is undoubtedly a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
8. Stay in Adams Village
In the northern province of Irkos Norte there is a small remote village called Adams. The population of the village is only more than 1,000 people, almost all of them are farmers and fishermen. These gentle people warmly open their homes to the small number of tourists who come to visit and offer homestay opportunities.
While you’re at Adams, you can look forward to tasting local specialties, tropical wines, and enjoying fresh fish raised on their tilapia farm. But the real fun of staying in Adams is being able to chase the falls all day.
Adams has 18 waterfalls, beautiful nature hikes and stunning suspension bridges to cross on your journey. A local guide will be happy to take you there.
9. Vigan, a Spanish colonial town
Ever wanted to take a horse-drawn carriage ride down the cobblestone streets between tall Spanish colonial buildings? Now is your chance – everywhere in the Philippines!
Located in northern Luzon, Vigan was the unofficial political capital during the Spanish occupation in the 1950s, thus dating back to Spanish colonial times.
Wigan’s infrastructure has been preserved from Spanish times. Go shopping in the Mestizo district, where you can buy hand-rolled cigars. Visit Plaza Salcedo, a place where resistance leaders were publicly hanged, or Plaza Burgos for some Spanish empanadas.
10. Hike around Subic
Located on the island of Luzon in the province of Zambales is Subic. This coastal town was once home to a US naval base and is still used as a port today. However, this is not the reason for the large number of tourists. Instead, it’s the Pamulakin Forest.
Nature lovers come to explore the Pamulaklakin Trail, where they can follow the river through rainforest, over rolling green hills and century-old trees. Vegetation includes tropical flowers and native plants. Even better, the trees are full of various singing birds that play melodies as you walk.
There are trails at each level, including hikes lasting 30 minutes, some as long as 3 hours.
11. Visit Brias Island
For a moment, you feel like you are on an abandoned island with only white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters at your feet. Next, you’ll enter a cozy city dotted with guesthouse restaurants and some souvenir shops. You really get the best of both worlds on this island off the coast of Luzon.
Burias has several smaller islands scattered around, making for a wonderful day of island hopping. Hire a local boat and take you to a desert island with otherworldly stunning beaches and bizarre rock formations.
To get there, use the town of Pasacao as your starting point. From there, you’ll take a two-hour boat ride to Brias Island, where your adventure will begin.
12. The Art of Manila Island
Literally add some dimension to your travel photos.
Art in Island is a 3D art gallery where you can bring each piece to life. Get creative when posing on a birthday cake, posing in a shark’s mouth or catching deadly waves on a surfboard. There are tons of scenes to choose from as it is the largest 3D art gallery in all of Asia with the most paintings!
This is a fantastic art museum and gallery for families. The kids found every scene fun and it was a great opportunity to take some age-appropriate photos for the family.
13. Eat traditional dishes
Since Luzon is home to dozens of thriving cities with a large number of workers from all over the country, you can expect to find the best dishes that represent every corner of the Philippines.
In every city you visit, eat lunch with office workers! At noon, you’ll often find food stalls with plastic tables and chairs the most crowded. Such restaurants usually serve authentic dishes in cauldrons. Point to what you want and fill your plate with a little bit.
Some of the traditional dishes to try in the Philippines are fried egg rolls called Lumpia, chicken vermicelli noodle soup called Chicken Sotanghon, and a snack called Chicaron, fried pork rind.
14. Mount Isarog National Park
Imagine if the movie “The Lion King” was set in the tropics, not deserts, but rice fields, rainforests and mountains. Standing on the top of the mountain, you can see the endless sunshine, the blue sky against the emerald green scenery. Issarog Mountain National Park is so beautiful.
This thriving natural environment is home to many endemic animal species such as the Isarog Shrew rat, the Isarog Cloud Frog and the extremely rare Mt. Isarog Forest Skink found only in this area.
Hike, bike, and climb around the national park, where you can visit hot and cold springs, waterfalls, and get in touch with your wild side.
15. Wander the National Museum of Manila
The history of the Philippines, and Luzon in particular, is full of twists, twists, and shocking setbacks that contribute to the rich culture it carries today.
In the magnificent National Museum, you can get a glimpse of what this country and its people have endured and overcome over the centuries.
As you wander from case to case and exhibition to exhibition, you’ll see paintings depicting the arrival of the Japanese in WWII, and learn about the Spanish occupation through artifacts and sculptures.
The National Museum also pays tribute to the beauty of its people and culture through pottery, hand-painted pictures and more.
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Luzon, Philippines
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