Not fond of the beach? No problem! If you're looking for a vacation alternative to sand, sea and surf, the Philippines has a lot of interesting sights to offer.
1. Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Vigan is known for its ancestral houses and longganisa. Founded in 1572 and patterned after Intramuros, Vigan has retained much of its Old World charm, as seen in the Spanish-era stone houses that can be found along Mena Crisologo Street. Other sites to visit include St. Paul's Cathedral and Plaza Salcedo, the latter being the oldest monument in Northern Luzon. Vigan is also known for burnay, a local form of pottery, and inabel, or handloom weaving.
2. Quezon Province
People who love eating as much as they love history should check out Quezon, which, over the years, has become a foodie destination. Then you can do some shopping at Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden in Tiaong, where you can buy pottery, enjoy wonderful Quezon culinary specialties, and even stay the night in one of their quaint cottages. Of course, no trip to Quezon would be complete without a stopover at the iconic Villa Escudero, a resort famous for its carabao rides and restaurant by the waterfall.
3. Taal, Batangas
Aside from the famous volcano within the volcano, this little town in Batangas is known for many things, including ancestral houses that, like Vigan's, also date back to the Spanish era. It is also the home of the balisong, or butterfly knife, that is made in the barangay of the same name. Don't forget to drop by the Lady of Caysasay Shrine, which is near the Sta. Lucia Well, both places where religious miracles have occurred. Another must-see is the Taal Basilica of Saint Martin, or Basilica de San Martin de Tours, which has the distinction of being the biggest Catholic church in Asia. Outdoor enthusiasts can trek up the Taal Volcano crater, while foodies can scour the market for local delicacies such as tawilis, a small fish only found in Taal Lake, and the province's famous barako coffee.
4. Subic, Zambales
Although Subic does have a beach, you can spend a whole day (or two or three) adventuring without ever having to see the ocean but from a distance. There’s the Tree Top Adventure park, which features jungle trails with treetop platforms, suspension bridges, rappelling, and the first motorized canopy tour in the world. You can also take the Zoobic Safari, the highlight of which is the tiger safari in which tourists can ride jeeps, which the huge cats jump on for a bit of a ride-around and from which they are fed bits of chicken by their handler. Other than that, there’s horseback riding at the El Kabayo Equestrian Center and, of course, retail therapy from the outlet stores like Guess Jeans and malls like Pure Gold Duty Free Mall, the Freeport Exchange Mart, and the Royal Subic Duty Free.
5. Clark, Pampanga
Clark is near enough to Manila for a day trip, and convenient if you’re planning to do a two-in-one trip with Subic tossed in. This airbase turned freeport zone is a site for a number of ultra-adventurous activities: drag racing at the Clark International Speedway, target shooting and dirt bike riding at the Unified Sports facility near the Picnic Grounds, a flying view (or a four-wheel drive and hiking trek) of nearby Mt. Pinatubo, go-cart driving, and so on. And, like Subic, you can go super-sulit by doing your shopping here! The extensive picnic grounds and open fields Clark offers also makes this a great destination for a doggie daytrip! While all these other activities are year-round, though, tourists flock to Clark in February for the annual hot air balloon festival.