6 Most Underrated Long Weekend Destinations in the Philippines

October 27, 2022

Here are some of the most underrated long weekend destinations in the Philippines.

Everybody loves a long weekend. After an arduous week of hustling and grinding, there’s nothing like finally getting to kick back and relax—either with yourself or in the company of loved ones. With the Philippines’ abundance of tourist destinations, it wouldn’t be too difficult for you to find your next out-of-town destination and start planning your budget and itinerary. And thanks to the internet, it’s now easier to download a reliable loan app to secure extra funds that will help finance your much-awaited getaway.

Sunrise over rice fields in Marinduque during a long weekend
Photo by Joshua Salva

6 Most Underrated Long Weekend Destinations in the Philippines

    That said, if you’re a frequent vacationer, you’re probably used to the usual choices for a long-weekend breather. Fortunately, there are plenty of corners in the country that don’t get much hype but are still worth a visit. With this, let’s discuss some of the most underrated vacation spots you may want to consider visiting the next time a long weekend rolls around.

    1. Marinduque

    Marinduque is a South Luzon island province known primarily for being the home of Moriones Festival—a Holy Week celebration in which locals dress like Roman soldiers and reenact biblical tales. Other than that, Marinduque has also gained significant attention for its majestic karsts, white-sand beaches, and overall serene atmosphere.

    While in Marinduque, check out Gaspar Island and its “secret cove” with sloping rocks and white sand. In addition, the island is filled with churches and old houses that are sure to entice history and architecture buffs alike. To get to Marinduque, you can take a direct flight from Manila to the province’s capital city, Boac.

    2. Calayan Island, Cagayan

    With its majestic hills, grassy cliffs, and pristine white-sand beaches, Calayan Island is truly a sight to see. Located in the Cagayan region, Calayan is part of the Babuyan Islands dotted across Luzon Strait. You need to get on a motorized pump boat called a lampitaw first to visit the island, but the view makes it worth the long trip. Solace-seekers will enjoy plenty of solitude here—because of Calayan’s secluded location, you will probably not share the island with droves of tourists.

    While in Calayan, take a dip in Lusok Cave’s lagoon and stand under the cascades of a three-column waterfall. Sibang Cove, with its white sands and cliff borders, is also great for casual wading. If you want to savor 360-degree views of the island, get on top of Nagudungan Hills to marvel at the turquoise waters, lush greenery, and picturesque shores.

    To get to Calayan, you can ride a bus from Manila to Aparri and get on a lampitaw. Alternatively, you can ride a bus to Claveria and ride a tricycle to the port to get to the lampitaw. The island has also opened a small airport that accommodates chartered flights to the area, making the journey to the area a bit easier.

    3. Anda, Bohol

    Chocolate Hills is usually the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about Bohol, but the province also has some gems that are worth visiting. Located a couple of hours away from Tagbilaran City is Anda, a municipality locally regarded for its cave pools and quiet beaches with barefoot-friendly shores and prime sunrise-viewing spots.

    Anda is also home to the Cabagnow Cave Pool, which boasts deep blue waters surrounded by stunning cave walls. Adrenaline junkies may want to take a 15-foot plunge into the pool, which has depths of around 20 to 25 feet. For the less daring, there is the smaller Combento pool with shallow waters suitable for wading.

    While in Anda, check out the mystical island of Lamanoc, which is home to a few large caves with ancient art and ritualistic artifacts such as burial jars and coffins. To get to Anda from Manila, you can take a direct flight to Tagbilaran, get on a tricycle to the terminal, and ride a van or bus to Anda.

    4. Dumaguete, Negros Oriental

    Dumaguete City was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the best places to retire, and it’s easy to see why. Nicknamed the “City of Gentle People”, Dumaguete is filled with local charm that makes it a pleasant place to explore. But despite its laid-back vibe, Dumaguete is regarded for its bustling nightlife and historic landmarks—most notably, the early 1800s belfry that served as a watchtower for warning against pirate attacks.

    And of course, a lively student town is not complete without an array of restaurants and seaside eateries that showcase local delicacies such as diwal and the local sans rival. Before the night hits, you can stroll through Rizal Boulevard to admire the view from this historic seaport. To get to Dumaguete, you can take a flight from Manila directly to the city.

    5. Bukidnon

    If you prefer mountains over beaches, the Food Basket of Mindanao is perfect for you. Located in Northern Mindanao, Bukidnon is a mountainous province home to a variety of pineapple plantations, nature parks, and hiking spots that offer panoramic views of the Mount Kitanglad ranges. Hikers will delight at the province's climbing opportunities—the province is home to a whopping 96 named mountains!

    Aside from mountain climbing, you can drop by the Dahilayan Forest Park to ride Asia’s longest zipline which spans a length of 840 meters. To get to Bukidnon from Manila, you need to fly to Cagayan de Oro first. From there, ride a shuttle to the Lapasan terminal and get on a bus to Malabalay.

    6. Zamboanga City

    The Zamboanga Peninsula is a great place to visit to learn more about our country’s indigenous maritime culture and Mindanao’s colonial history. Zamboanga City is home to the colorful vinta as well as various tribes including the Tausug, Subanon, Balanguingui, and the nomadic Sama-Bajau seafaring tribe. 

    Widely regarded as Asia’s Latin City, Zamboanga is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture—including the country’s second-largest fort—and the birthplace of the Spanish creole language Chavacano. You can check out Zamboanga’s local delicacies such as satti (grilled meat skewers with spicy t’amu sauce) and the curacha crab dish to get a feel of the area’s rich Hispano-Malay heritage.

    While in the area, check out Santa Cruz Island’s pink-sand beaches and visit the Yakan Weaving Village to see how the local artisans keep the traditional craft of weaving alive. To get to Zamboanga, you can take a direct flight from Manila to Zamboanga International Airport (ZAM).

    Make Weekend Breaks Worth the Wait

    For most of us, breaks are best spent with a change of scenery—be it a beach, a mountaintop, or a charming corner in the hometowns we left for the city. Thankfully, the Philippines has a lot of lesser-known destinations that are definitely worth a day-long journey. Long weekends only come once in a while, so when you spot one in this year’s calendar, use it as a chance to check out the country’s best-kept secrets and colorful hidden heritage.

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