When you live in a tropical country, just about any month of the year is a great month for local travel. Still, some months might be better than others for hitting up the locations on your must-visit list, if only because local events or the weather make them ideal. If you’re working on pursuing that passion for travel this coming year, check out our list of 12 local destinations to visit, one for each month of the year.
Which places do you plan to visit this year?
Kick off the year with a trip to the Queen City of the South. Sinulog, the festival in honor of the Sto. Niño, is held on the third Sunday of the year. Stay a few days past the festival, and apart from pigging out on Cebu’s world-famous lechon, you can hit the beach—either right in the metro area via the beaches on Mactan Island, further down south in towns like Oslob and Moalboal, or up north in San Remegio or Bantayan Island.
Head out to Clark, Pampanga, for the annual Philippine Hot Air Balloon Festival—for 2018, it’s from February 8 to 11. While there, you can try local Kapampangan delicacies like morcon, sisig, buro, bringhe, and more. You can also indulge in some family or barkada fun with the various theme parks in the area, like Fontana Water Park, El Kabayo Riding Stables, Zoocobia Fun Zoo, Clark Dinosaurs Island, and more.
Batanes is one of those picture-perfect destinations here in the Philippines where weather is a major travel factor. If you want to be assured of good weather, March through May and early June is your best bet. Some must-see sights in Batanes include the Ivatan stone houses, the caves and cliffs at Itbayat Island, Fundacion Pacita, Valugan Boulder Beach, Vayang Rolling Hills, the Basco and Sabtang lighthouses, and more.
Ever wanted to scale a mountain? How about the tallest mountain in the Philippines, Mount Apo? Head to Kidapawan City in the second week of April, and you’ll not only get to plan a hike, but also witness as different tribes of indigenous people in Mindanao gather for the Allaw Ta Apo Sandawa. During this festival, the tribes honor the mountain they consider sacred. While in the area, be sure to explore waterfalls and hot springs in Makilala.
One of the most colorful Philippine fiestas is the Pahiyas Festival in Pahiyas, Quezon. The harvest festival is a celebration of colors and traditions in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. As part of their thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, the townsfolk decorate their homes with fruits, flowers, and traditional kiping (multicolored leaf-shaped rice wafers) and arangya (huge flower-like chandeliers).
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Sometimes adventures can be found right at your doorstep. Manileños can explore historic sites and get a gastronomic adventure right in the heart of the city. Take a walking tour of the streets and old-time establishments of Intramuros and Binondo, as well as the haunted halls of Fort Santiago. Stroll through the historic Rizal Park and up and down the Baywalk along Roxas Boulevard at sunset.
One reason to head to Dumaguete in July is the Sinulog de Tanjay Festival, which is just 45 minutes away and features street dancing and mock battles. While in the area, be sure to check out the historic town belfry and grotto as well as Silliman University. Weather permitting, also head up to Bais for dolphins and to learn about the town’s history in the sugar industry as well as to Apo Island to meet the turtles who love to snack right off the beach.
Another not-to-be-missed harvest festival is the Kadayawan sa Dabaw. Here, you’ll get a resplendent display of the region’s abundance, especially in terms of fruits and orchids, as well as a parade, trade fair, sports fest, street dancing, and more. While in the city, be sure to visit the Philippine Eagle Center, Crocodile Park, Davao Butterfly House, Eden Nature Park, the Davao Museum of History and Ethnography, the Japanese Tunnels, Museo Dabawenyo, and more.
Head down south to South Cotabato for some rest and relaxation along Lake Sebu. If you’re the more adventurous types, you can hike to the Seven Falls, ride the zipline, and more. In mid-September, the area also hosts the Lemlunay, or the T’Boli Tribal Festival, where tourists can witness tribal rituals and native music, as well as ethnic dances and sports.
Bacolod is home to the MassKara Festival, held on the third week of October every year. Known as the City of Smiles, other must-sees include the San Sebastian Cathedral, the Negros Museum, the art district along Lacson Street, and the Ruins of the Lacson family ancestral mansion, known as the Taj Mahal of Negros. And if you’re a foodie, you can’t leave the area without pigging out on piaya and the city’s famous chicken inasal.
If you’re in Manila and keen on a day or overnight trip, one easy destination is Angono, Rizal. The town celebrates its Higantes Festival in November every year, but the variety of museums in the area have earned it a reputation as the Art Capital of the Philippines. Some must-visit locations include the Pinto Art Museum, the Blanco Family Art Museum, the House of Botong Francisco (home of the national artist known for his murals), the Nemiranda Arthouse, Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs, which is a cultural heritage site with rock engravings dating back 5,000 years.
It might be tough to head out of town for several days in December, especially given all the reunions, parties, and end-of-year work likely to be scheduled. Still, a quick trip south to NUVALI in Laguna is sure to delight, especially for kids and kids at heart, as area features an annual Magical Field of Lights display. Apart from a large field of LED lights made to look like nighttime flowers, there are other light installations, all celebrating the holiday cheer typical of the season.
Looking for a place to come home to? Visit the Avida Land website to find what you’re looking for.