You’ve probably heard or read about Boracay Island, Kayangan Lake, and the Banaue Rice Terraces — three among the many tourist attractions in the Philippines. Surely, these are included in your travel bucket list.
But the fun in this country doesn’t stop in taking selfies with these jaw-dropping sceneries. Here’s a rundown of 10 thrilling things you can only experience in the Philippines.
1. Getting inked by a 101-year-old tribal tattooist
At the heart of a mountaintop village in the province of Kalinga, you’ll find Apo Whang Od, the country’s oldest tattoo artist. She uses nothing more than a bamboo stick and a few lemon thorns in performing “batok”, an age-old tattoo tradition.
The symmetrical patterns of Kalinga tattoos are inspired by different objects found in the environment, such as the sun, rice terraces, pythons, crabs, and centipedes.
2. Eating developing duck embryo
It sounds disgusting, yes. But your visit in the Philippines won’t be complete without having a taste of “balut”. Basically, it’s a boiled egg that contains not only a yolk but also an 18-day-old duck fetus. This protein-rich delicacy is mostly sold in the streets.
3. Riding a bamboo bike
There’s no better way of exploring Intramuros, the historic Walled City in Manila, than by riding a “bambike”. The Bayleaf Intramuros, one of the most frequented accommodations in Manila, offers hotel pacakges that are inclusive of bambike tours.
These bambikes are made in partnership with a respected Philippine-based NGO that aims to end poverty. Not only will you be touring in style with bambike, but you’ll be doing it for a good cause too.
4. Swimming with whale sharks
The town of Donsol in the province of Sorsogon is one of the few places in the world where whale shark sighting is almost assured. From November to June, the world’s largest congregation of whale sharks are found here. With simple snorkeling equipment, you’ll experience an enthralling encounter with these gentle giants.
5. Extreme carpooling
One of the most exciting things to do in Philippines is riding a “habal-habal”. It is a unique means of transportation usually used in far-flung areas where cars cannot pass narrow roads and rough terrains. Habal-habal is a motorcycle with an extended seat protruding over the back wheel that can accommodate at least five passengers.
6. Street dancing
Philippines is also known for numerous festivals that often include elaborate costumes, colorful parades, and mesmerizing processions. One of the most popular is the Sinulog Festival in Cebu.
Held every third Sunday of January, this sought-after event will surely get your groove on. Just make sure to book a Cebu accommodation in advance if you wish to join the revelry.
7. Bathing in a large cooking pot
Filipinos don’t usually take a shower or use a bathtub. They use “tabo” and “timba”. But in the province of Antique, you’ll get a chance of taking a soothing dip in a large cooking pot or “kawa”. It is probably one of the most offbeat recreational activities in the Philippines because it actually looks like you’re being cooked alive.
8. Eye to eye with world’s smallest primate
Beach getaways in a Panglao resort in the province of Bohol are more memorable if you take a countryside trip. One of the top tourist attractions there is the Philippine Tarsier, a nocturnal creature that’s only about 85 to 160 mm. Their eyes are so large, they can’t rotate them. But just like owls, they can rotate their necks a full 180 degrees in either direction.
9. Releasing sea turtles into the sea
A conservation center in the province of Bataan allows tourists to “adopt” a baby sea turtle. For a minimum adoption fee, you get to have a day-old hatchling that you’ll release back to the sea.
10. Visiting an island that has been isolated for more than a hundred years
Culion Island in Palawan has been cut off from the rest of the Philippines after being built as a leper colony for Filipino patients. It is now free from leprosy.
If you’re spending your vacation in a Palawan beach resort, make sure to include Culion in your side trip. You’ll be amazed that the island’s long isolation has preserved most of its natural resources.
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