Amazing tourist destinations awaits you in the biggest island of the Philippines. Each province offers a different kind of adventure and amazing sites. What’s your Top Ten Philippines Tourist Spots in Luzon Island?
These are my personal selections but I think most Filipinos will agree with my choices. The goal here is when you showed someone a picture they can automatically figure out what it is or where it is located, in the same vein that when you showed someone a picture of a pyramid in the desert, the top of mind recall will be Egypt’s Pyramids. So if you are a Filipino and you can’t figure out these famous and popular Philippine tourist spots by looking at the pictures alone, then I failed at my goal. Sad 🙁
Do let me know if you have some other Luzon best tourists destinations that I should have included in the list 🙂 or for any violent reaction. 🙂
I will be writing later on about the untouristy sites, those sites that are off the beaten path and only a few serious adventurers and travelers have wandered to.
For now, let me share Penfires Best and Popular 10 Destinations in Luzon.
Top Ten Most Popular Philippines Tourist Attractions in Luzon
(in random order):
- Mt Mayon, Bicol
- Bangui Windmills, Ilocos Norte
- Lion in Kennon Road / Wright Park and The Mansion , Baguio
- Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna
- Luneta Park, Manila
- Taal Volcano, Tagaytay
- Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao
- Vigan Heritage Village, Ilocos Sur
- Hundred Islands, Pangasinan
- Underground River, Palawan
Mt Mayon or Mayon Volcano, Bicol
The almost perfect cone shaped of Mayon Volcano makes this a favorite backdrop of pictures for local and foreign tourists in the Philippines. This famous landmark is located in Bicol Region, specifically Albay.
Travel Tips : To go there you either take a 11 hours bus ride from Manila to Bicol or alternately fly to either Legaspi airport or Naga airport. If you are taking the Naga airport, you need to travel 2 hours more to reach Legaspi. Update: The Bicol Express that goes to Bicol from Manila and vice versa is back on track! Read this post for details: PNR Bicol Express Info
Bicol Foods and produce: Bicol is home to the Philippine’s spicy and hot foods, popular Bicolano dishes includes Laing or Taro leaves in Coconut Milk, Kinalas – it’s a sting ray meat cooked in coconut milk with loads of local chili called ‘siling labuyo’. Other famous produce includes Abaca native bags and Pili nuts pasalubong.
Sidetrips for more of Bicol tourist spots: Visitors to the Majestic Mt Mayon can also check out the many popular attractions of Bicol starting from (1) Whale Shark Watching in Donsol, Sorsogon; (2) CamSur Water Sports Complex for wakeboarding and other water sports; (3) Caramoan Islands for white sand beaches – some of the islands there were used for the taping of Survivor France and Survivor Israel 🙂 More recently, Caramoan is the site of the US Survivor Series which was called Survivor Philippines. This 2013, Survivor US will again be in the same island for “Survivor:Caramoan”.
Bangui Windmill Farm, Ilocos Norte
What’s more iconic symbol to the Ilocos Region than these windmills gracefully rotating its blades beside a pristine black sand beach? Find the Bangui Windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. You might even be lucky to get inside one of these giant fan!
Windmills in Bangui
Trivia: The Philippines is a perfect place to utilize renewable energy sources specifically harnessing the energy of the sun and the wind because almost all year round the sun is out it its glory hotness and also because winds blows strongly in many islands in the country but sad to say, only the local government of Ilocos has seen this potential and acted on this.
Ilocos Foods: Ilocandia offers many food specialties. I so love their crunchy bagnet and yummy vigan longganisa! Ilocanos love veggies in their food no wonder they have many dishes that are mix of veggies like Pakbet and Poqui-poqui.
Sidetrips for Ilocandia Travel: Have an adventure and head for an Ilocos Roadtrip, you can click HERE for a more comprehensive Ilocos trip guide/experience. Ilocos offers lots of tourists’ attractions and scenic spots!
Baguio City and the Lion in Kennon Road / Wright Park and The Mansion
This black lion’s head is one of Baguio’s most popular landmarks that welcome you to the City of Pines and the Summer Capital of the Philippines. Go by private vehicle as public buses do not passed by the Kenon Road. There might be jeepney passing by this area, but you have to ask local for more info. If you have a car, it’s more convenient for you to stop by this popular tourist spot and have your pictures taken 🙂
Wright Park’s pond where you can see The Mansion is also a landmark of Baguio City. The Mansion is the summer residence and vacation house of the President of the Philippines.
Trivia: If you like taking risk and passing awesome views then taking the Kenon Zigzag Road to Baguio is right up your ally 🙂 I say riskier because there had been many instances of landslides along the zigzag road especially when it is raining hard. To go to Baguio you can take alternate roads like Naguilan or Marcos Highway but you will not be seeing this welcoming lion if you do so.
Baguio can get really cold. Last January 2012 cold spell wraps the city in 9.5 degrees Celsius. For those who lives in the smaller islands, don’t forget to bring your jackets and cardigan shirts.
Baguio’s famous delicacies or produce: Strawberry!!! Baguio is one of the very few places in the Philippines that have a ‘cold’ climate and one of its advantages is that farmers in Baguio and La Trinidad Benguet plants strawberries 🙂 Most of Manila’s veggies also come from this city up in the mountains. There are lots of popular pasalubong items from Baguio City including sundot kulangot, Romana’s peanut brittle, Ube Jam from Good Shephered and more! Don’t forget to bring home these treats after your vacation in the highlands.
Going to Baguio City? Check out these Do It Yourself Itineraries to enjoy the best of the Summer Capital!
Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna
One of the most famous Philippines water falls is the Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna. You have to ride a canoe and cruise the Pagsanjan river to get to the falls.
Travel Tip: If you want to know more on how to go to Pagsanjan click HERE.
Sidetrips: Pagsanjan is close to the artistic town of Paete where you can see hand sculptured figures, wood carvings and paper mache products. Alternative side trip is to visit the town of Liliw where you can buy hand made footwears. Or if you want serene and relaxing time, head to Pandin Lake for a quick getaway. Lake of Pandin is the smallest lake in the San Pablo 7 Lake System.
Laguna famous foods: Espasol, Buko Pie and Puto Binan 🙂
Luneta Park, Manila
This park is one of the most well-known national parks in the country, you can find KM 0 here, the statue of Dr. Jose Rizal, the cool Philippine Relief Map and more. Luneta Park is being rehabilitated and it now boasts of a modern laser and fountain show among others for all the locals that troop there especially on holidays and weekends.
Rizal Statue in Luneta Park
Trivia: Usually when you are traveling in the countryside you will see these yellow road markers on the roadside that indicates the next closest town, how far it is to the city or town hall, and the distance in kilometers from the island’s or province main Dr Jose Rizal statue. This is also called the reference site or marker. When you are in Luzon Island, the distance reflected of your current place will be against the statue of the Philippine National Hero in Luneta Park which is called Kilometer 0 or “Kilometer Zero”. Example: As you exit the South Luzon Expressway, you will see a vertical yellow road marker with details Cal, 1km, 53 kms. It means that the closest town or city is Calamba City, and you need to travel 1 kilometer more to reach the city hall and it is 53 kilometers away from the Rizal statue in Luneta where ‘KM 0’ or kilometer zero is located. Each island province has its own Rizal statue starting point which is usually located within the province capitol complex. Please click this link to know more about the Philippines Road Marker and KM 0.
Side trips in Manila : Take steps back into Philippine history as you visit the nearby historic walled city of Intramuros, the National Museum and wait for the fame Manila Bay sunset. If you like to check modern tourist attractions you can walk to Ocean Park Manila and ride to Mall of Asia.
Philippine famous foods: I am using the Philippines as a reference as Luneta is located in the capital of the country, so famous foods would be Adobo, Lumpia and Pancit. Of course there are more but I am just citing some examples heheh
Taal Volcano and Tagaytay , Batangas|Cavite
The world’s smallest active volcano is the Taal volcano. This volcano is located within a lake within a volcano. Intrigue? Taal Volcano that is best viewed when you are in the ridges of Tagaytay. It’s one of the coldest places nearest Manila and best for weekend getaways. Check this post for Tagaytay Day Trip Guide.
Taal Volcano belongs to Batangas, Tagaytay to Cavite.
Tagaytay Ridge overlooking Taal Lake and Taal Volcano
Tagaytay Trivia – The quote above is the official wording in the National Marker put by the government that you can find in the Tagaytay Picnic Grove. And rightly so because the original big volcano that was located in the middle of the Taal Lake erupted and after the passing of many years, there arise a new smaller volcano out of the crater of the old volcano. Hence, it has now become literally a volcano within a lake within a volcano.
Taal and Tagaytay Delicacy – Tawilis, that very small fishes that are very crunchy when fried can only be catched in Taal Lake. Tagaytay also boast of its famous Bulalo, perfect for it’s cold weather.
Side Trip: Head to Nasugbo, Batangas and check the beautiful and serene Caleruega Chapel and Retreat Place, it is just about 20 minutes ride from Tagaytay.
Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao
Considered as one of the 8th Wonders of the World, the Banaue Rice Terraces which can be found on the mountain ranges in Banaue, Ifugao is a testament to the great resourcefulness and engineering skills of the Igorots. These ‘Hagdan-Hagdan Palayan’ or rice terraces are still fully functional today. Batad Rice Terraces are what we usually see on the postcard of this famous PH attraction and UNESCO heritage site.
Travel Tip: You have to travel an estimated time of 7 hours to get to Banaue from the bus terminal in Sampaloc, Manila. It is a long journey but the sceneries that you will pass will more than make up for it.
Sidetrip: A highly recommended side trip to Banaue is to climb higher to Sagada! There you can see the famous Sumaguing Cave, Bomod-ok Falls, Aguid Rice Terraces, Marlboro Mountain, Kiltepan Peak and more!
Sumaguing Cave, Sagada, Mountain Province
Vigan Heritage Village, Ilocos Sur
Those who have taken up Philippine History will undoubtedly recognize these row of Spanish era houses that have been preserved for future generations of Filipinos and also the world. The Vigan Heritage Village in Calle Crisologo is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Calle Crisologo, Vigan
Travel Time: If you are commuting to Ilocos, take one of the Partas buses in either Cubao or Pasay terminal. Best time to travel is at night because it is a long 9 hours bus ride to Vigan. You can click HERE for a more detailed account on Ilocos adventure.
Vigan famous food: Vigan longganisa, habing Ilocos, bagnet and empada are super favorites of local travelers 🙂
Hundred Islands, Pangasinan
The Philippines is a big archipelago, and the best way to see many islands in one trip is to go to Alaminos, Pangasinan and check out all the little islands in the Hundred Islands Group. Island hop to your heart’s content!
Travel Tip: For those who have the dough, why not take up an aerial tour of Hundred Islands, and take some pictures and show it to us who can’t afford it hehehe.
Side trip: Pay Dagupan a visit on your way back and dine in the local restaurant and sample a true Bonoan Bangus dish.
Puerto Princesa Subterranian River National Park, Palawan
Snaking below the mountain, this 8.1 underground river is the longest navigational underground river in the whole world. Nature made it so unique that right now this tourist attraction is among the top contenders for the worldwide search for the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
Update: This tourist spot in the Philippines has been declared one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature! Hurray!
Palawan Underground River
Sidetrip: Palawan long considered as the Philippines last frontier offers many exciting trips for travelers and visitors, you can island hop in Honda Bay or go to the famous island of El Nido, Dos Palmas and many more. Domestic airlines also flies to Busuanga and Coron, two of the most popular areas in Palawan that visitors calls paradise.
Thanks to my friend Pam C. for allowing me to post her picture of the beautiful Coron, Palawan scenery.
Just in case you are interested to check Manila’s top tourist attractions, please click HERE.
Want more idea for your pasalubong shopping? Check out this post –>> Best Pasalubong and Souvenir Items From Popular Philippine Destinations