When airline companies began slashing their fare prices off and budget accommodations popped up both in popular and yet-to-be-discovered destinations, more people started getting seen hauling their possessions in a backpack and ticking items off their travel bucket lists.
Backpacking is today’s most popular form of traveling. But because of the nature of this adventure – backpacks are favored over wheeled luggage, low-cost lodgings over full-serviced hotels, longer routes over well-trodden tracks – it is notably more accepted among the younger crowd. In fact, it is even considered a “rite of passage” between adolescence and adulthood by some cultures.
Since budget is limited when backpacking, countries with a relatively lower cost of living, rich culture and breathtaking sights are prioritized. Owing to their diverse cultures and stunning attractions that don’t break one’s bank, Southeast Asian countries top the lists of many backpackers.
While Cambodia has Angkor Wat, Thailand has exotic beaches, and Vietnam has Halong Bay, the Philippines also abounds with beautiful destinations scattered in its 7,107 islands. It’s not called the “Pearl of the Orient” for nothing, right?
Metro Manila citizens and those living in the southern part of Luzon who want to escape the heat and take respite in the mountains usually drive up to Baguio City. But over the years, more and more travelers have been going further up and braving the long bus rides to visit the sleepy town of Sagada in Mountain Province.
A visit to Sagada can be paired with a side trip to the “City of Pines.” After you’ve had your strawberry taho fix or have spent two hours (because one is never enough) browsing through racks after racks in the ukay-ukay, head over to Sagada to wait for the sunrise at Mt. Kiltepan (screaming your lungs out is optional). Test your will while spelunking in Sumaguing Cave, visit the hanging coffins at Echo Valley, take a dip in the Bomod-ok Falls (after an exhausting-but-worth-it trek), and indulge in a slice or two of lemon pie at Sagada Lemon Pie House.
Backpackers get the most out of their money in Sagada because it offers a complete package: Stunning sights, delectable tastes, unique activities and a vibe that makes one feel like he could forget his worries and just revel in the beauty of this gem in the north.
Perhaps because of its proximity to Manila (three hours drive), Quezon Province is often overlooked and always underrated. But this province is more than just its colorful Pahiyas Festival (which, to be honest, is also a good reason to pay Quezon a visit).
There are several bus companies in Manila traveling to Quezon, and once you’re there, you may go ahead and fill your tummy with delicious treats. Forget about utensils for a while and eat pancit habhab, buy budin (cassava cake) and fried siopao to munch on the road, and don’t forget to buy a dozen or four of the famous Lucban longganisa.
Quezon also abounds with churches (Tayabas Church and Lucban Church), heritage houses and unspoiled beaches. Backpackers looking for hitherto unknown beaches may go the farther route and visit the hidden Salibungot Beach on Jomalig Island, Minasawa Island in Burdeos, Cagbalete Island in Mauban and Borawan Beach in Padre Burgos, among a couple more others.
The Chocolate Hills may be the most delicious looking attraction of Bohol, but the province has several more other magnificent sights scattered around.
Soak up the sun on Panglao Island, or meet our country’s diverse marine life while diving or snorkeling on Balicasag and Virgin Islands. The more adventurous can get a kick of adrenaline rush at Chocolate Hills Adventure Park where they can bike on a rope with the Chocolate Hills as their backdrop.
Enjoy malunggay in its glorious ice cream form at Bohol Bee Farm. And for those who want to take advantage of the province’s location, they may opt to take a two-hour ferry to explore Siquijor.
Negros Occidental’s capital will truly make every visitor smile with its charming attractions and delectable treats. Various modes of transportation can help backpackers go around Bacolod City.
Drop by Negros Museum to learn about the province’s history. After a quick tour of the province, further discover the “City of Smiles” by visiting the famous ancestral houses that give an old world charm to Bacolod. Explore the ruins of Don Mariano Lacson ancestral house, Gaston Farm ancestral house, Hofilena ancestral house, and the Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni house (now called The Pink Museum).
After burning calories walking around the city, refuel with a delicious chicken inasal meal and go to Calea, which is popular for its pastries, for your dessert fix.
Cagayan de Oro
On the southern part of the country lies another gem that’s perfect for the thrill-seeking backpackers.
When in Cagayan de Oro, make sure to try the wild and wonderful White Water Rafting adventure. Wrestle with the waves, conquer the rapids and come out a hero. If water or raging water, for that matter, is not one of your strong suits, opt to enjoy the view from Asia’s longest zipline at Dahilayan Adventure Park.
Don’t forget to grab CDO’s famous pastel, a pastry made of soft bun with sweet caramel filling, before heading out of the province to venture in nearby Bukidnon Province or Camiguin Island.
So grab that backpack now and take what could be the greatest adventure yet this summer.
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