It’s more fun in the Philippines, they say; with all the awesome events and attractions to experience around the country, it’s hardly surprising. But this year, it will be a place not just to have fun, but to get things done. People can look forward to more than 20 exciting events, attractions, and other reasons to travel the Philippines in 2016.
Photo by Efren Pomperada, Jr.
Partake of a Feast from the Sea
The Seafood Festival, held in Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental every March 31, celebrates the bounty offered by the ocean. Tourists and locals come together to enjoy sumptuous meals made from fresh seafood. This should be Anthony Bourdain’s next stop, right?
Catch a Cultural and Colorful Festival
Held in Binalbagan City in Negros Occidental, the Balbagan Dance Festival is just one of the many Philippine festivals you can catch. A celebration based on history and myth, it’s a time for townsfolk dance in the streets with colorful headdresses and bamboo sticks. Keep an eye out for the giant Golden Unity Serpent, which represents harmony and prosperity.
Watch Filipinos Fight
Pacquiao isn’t the only Pinoy who can fight. At the Kali-Kalihan Festival, held every November in Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental, ancient beliefs about spirits and unique traditional self-defense and fighting styles are put on display. If you want a different kind of festival, you’ll enjoy this one for sure!
Enjoy a Rhythmic Mask Parade
The most popular festival in Bacolod City, the Masskara Festival, is held every third week of October. People put on dazzling costumes and masks of happy faces, symbolizing the City of Smiles’ uniquely positive character. The Sugarland Hotel has been the mainstay hotel for tourists for years, so it’s definitely a good choice if you need a place to stay.
Beauty and Wellness
Turn Back Time with Cosmetic Surgery
The Philippines is not just a vacation destination. With the boom in medical tourism, people all over the world are now flying in to take advantage of the country’s affordable and quality medical services. Interested in cosmetic surgery? You’ll find it easy to find a reliable medical professional to fulfill your needs.
A Fresh Start for Your Follicles
The Philippines is also a go-to country for those who need to restore their crowning glory, whether it’s due to premature baldness, old age, or any other medical condition. If you’re feeling a little insecure and are looking for hair restoration services, then we’ve got you covered (no pun intended)! NuHart will hold a consultation event in Cebu this February.
Feel the Healing Touch of “Hilot”
After a long day of traveling, you’ll definitely want a massage. When in the Philippines, try the traditional healing therapy called “hilot.” A technique that involves banana leaves, it’s the Filipinos’ answer to other therapies like shiatsu or Thai massage, and it is practiced in different provinces around the country.
Treats for the Ears
Listen to a Living Legend
You may have heard of Andrea Boccelli, the blind tenor with the golden voice, but have you HEARD him? If not, you can hear his effortlessly beautiful renditions of classics and standards on April 26 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. The venue is fairly close to the airport, so there are many hotels to choose from. If you prefer a five-star hotel, consider Sofitel at the CCP Complex, located along Roxas Boulevard.
Watch International Alternative Acts
For an edgier kind of music, consider attending the GoodVybes Fest on February 20. Happening at the Aseana City Open Grounds, it will attract acts like Passion Pit, Chvrches, Oh Wonder, and many more. It’s happening soon, so if you want to catch them, better book your tickets quick!
Appreciate Music, Filipino Style
Filipinos are a very musical people, and we can definitely hold our own when it comes to music. From Lea Salonga to the Manila Symphony Orchestra and the Philippine Madrigal Singers, there are many world-class acts to see. It’s early in the year, so no performances have been announced yet, but there will surely be many musical events in the Philippines to expect.
Go Up, Up, and Away
The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival, to be held at Clark, Pampanga from February 11 to 14, is a gathering of enthusiasts who have one thing in common: a love for flight. Shutterbugs and spectators can watch creative balloons, radio-controlled toy airplanes, ultralight aircraft, and kites color the sky. Some even take the chance to ride in the balloons!
Visit Vigan, a City Frozen in Time
To experience a slice of Philippine history, visit Vigan in Ilocos. It’s a very well-preserved example of trading towns during the Spanish period, and its is recognized by the UNESCO as a world heritage site. From the cobblestone streets to the horse-drawn calesas, you’ll find many unique subjects and backgrounds for your DSLR camera or Instagram accounts.
See Remnants of History at The Ruins
Go to Talisay City and ask where you can find The Ruins, and locals will surely know what you’re talking about. The remains of a mansion built by a sugar baron in the early 1900s, it has many ornate architectural features, offering great photo opportunities for tourist
Capture the Beauty of Marine Life
A natural haven away from it all, Danjugan Island is host to many beautiful sea creatures. While scuba diving gives you the best chances to photograph colorful fish and corals (use that underwater camera if you have one), you can also walk along the beach during low tide and see starfish, sea cucumbers, and various other marine specimens. Keep in mind that this is a nature reserve, so expect very basic facilities.
The Thrill of a Lifetime
Run off the Road
The Philippines boasts of many breathtaking trail running destinations, such as the one in Tanay, Rizal, and holds a lot of trail running events every year. Need a change of pace from road running? This could be exactly what you’re looking for. Just be ready for steep slopes, river crossing, slippery rocks and roots, and a little more pain than you’re used to!
Brave an Underground River
One of the new 7 Wonders of Nature, Puerto Princesa’s Subterranean River is one to visit for a truly unique adventure. It’s the longest navigable underground river in the world, measured to be 8.2 km long. If you want to collapse into bed right after flying in, check into Palawan Village Hotel, which is just walking distance from the airport.
Experience an Adventure Park
Just south of Puerto Princesa is the Irawan Eco Park, where you can experience a different kind of thrill. From a skywalk above the treetops to a canopy zipline, there are a host of activities that will surely satisfy your craving for nature and adventure.
Get a Dose of Vitamin Sea
If you want a water-based thrill, then consider learning to surf in San Juan, La Union. Just a few hours away from the nation’s capital, there are dozens of spots where beginners can enjoy themselves while being taught by friendly surfers.
Other Things to Try
Visit a Wildlife Sanctuary
Calauit Island in Palawan is arguably the Philippines’ most extensive wildlife preserve. It is home not just to the Philippine crocodile, the dugong, and other Philippine species, but it is also a haven to 108 African animal species. To experience a safari in the Philippines, this could be your best bet.
Satisfy Your Spirit
Being the only Catholic country in Asia, the Philippines is also a good place to include in any global pilgrimage, and there are a lot of churches to visit. In Bacolod City, you’ll find the San Sebastian Cathedral, which was originally built in 1876 as a small chapel. It was later turned into a cathedral, and the bells were taken down and left on the side of the church during its 100th anniversary.
Make the World Better
The thing about traveling is that it tends to open minds and hearts. That’s why voluntourism has become fairly popular. People who have enjoyed going around the world are now giving back. Whether it’s by helping rebuild disaster-hit areas or joining in coastal cleanups, there are many chances for travelers to extend a helping hand to the Filipino people.
There are a lot of places to visit, experiences to try, and events to attend in the Philippines that no one should miss. So if you’re feeling a little bit of wanderlust or just need to get away from stress for a while, consider this list and you’ll be delighted with what the Philippines has to offer.
Patricia Evans is a part time interior designer and a full-time mother. She has worked in Marketing before but she quit her job to pursue her true passion: interior design. When she’s not busy balancing her household and career, she writes about lifestyle, travel, architectural trends, fashion, health, gardening, tea, and cooking.