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17 Unexpected Places In The Philippines That Should Be On Your Bucket List

There's more to the tropics than sand.

1. Run across the green pastures of Batanes.

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Batanes is the northernmost province in the Philippines, and because of its remoteness, much of the region has been spared from commercialisation. Its famed Marlboro country is a vast land of rolling hills located south of the island's main city, Basco.

2. Go back in time in the colonial town of Vigan.

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Expect to see cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and colonial homes in this UNESCO World Heritage site in the northern Philippines. The historical centre of Vigan successfully preserved the influences from the Spanish era that you can no longer see in other Philippine towns.

3. Go mango picking on Guimaras Island.

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The Guimaras mangoes are renowned for being the sweetest variant in the world, and because of this, locals are very protective of their produce. Farmers individually wrap the fruit while still on the trees to avoid bruising, and imports of other mangoes to the island are prohibited. While there, you can visit orchards for some fruit picking. Some restaurants also feature mangoes on their menus, like this one that serves mango pizza, their version of a Hawaiian pizza.

4. Or strawberry picking in La Trinidad.

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While the Philippines is known for its mangoes, the northern regions are also famed for growing fruits that are associated with cooler climates. Just outside Baguio in La Trinidad is a massive strawberry plantation where you can do your own picking and buy them cheaply.

5. Go on a safari on Calauit Island.

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It's not the kind of thing you'd expect in a Southeast Asian country, but yes, you can get up close and personal with giraffes and zebras on Calauit Island in northern Palawan. The safari was established in the 1970s as a response to the Kenyan government's appeal to help preserve African species. The park opened to the public in 2009 and while the main draw is the safari, the island is also a feeding area for dugongs.

6. Sleep in a treehouse in Palawan.

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There's heaps more to Palawan than its beaches and water activities. You can also surround yourself with nature and stay up a tree far from the busy towns. While you're there, you can hang out in a giant wicker pod while looking out onto the rest of the world.

7. Kayak in the crater lake of mount Pinatubo.

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It's a journey through Jurassic-like terrains and a bit of trek to get to the crater lake of mount Pinatubo but it's definitely worth the journey. The volcano has been quiet since the massive eruption of 1991, and visitors have since been enjoying the emerald-green lake for swimming and kayaking.

8. Fall in love at The Ruins in Negros Occidental.

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The Ruins in Visayas is a neo-romanesque mansion built by sugar baron Don Mariano Lacson in memory of his first wife. Only the framework of the building and some relics remain but it's still quite the attraction for the romantics out there.

9. Zipline on bikes and surfboards in Bohol's Chocolate Hills.

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These guys are taking hanging on a zipline to the next level with bikes and surfboards. While you're in the area, be sure to look out for some tarsiers, those wide-eyed locals living in trees.

10. Scuba dive in Moalboal.

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This dive spot near Cebu takes you right into one of the richest areas of marine biodiversity in the country. Here, you get to swim with a tornado of sardines, some sea turtles, and if you're lucky, there are whale sharks swimming in the area too.

11. Watch the sunrise over a sea of clouds on mount Pulag.

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You will need basic mountaineering training to climb even the easy trails, but this overnight hike will take you up some of the most stunning views to watch the sunrise - literally above a sea of clouds.

12. Swim in the Hinatuan Enchanted River in Surigao del Sur.

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This deep spring river in southern Philippines is not just enjoyed by casual visitors, but also cave divers going deeper into its unexplored areas. The river is home to various species of turtles.

13. Trek through Banaue's rice terraces.

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A walk along these terraced rice paddies will take you through some of the most breathtaking views in the Philippines. The terraces are 2000 years old and mostly constructed by hand by the Ifugaos, the Indigenous people of the region.

14. Hang out with your friends up in the sky at the Masungi Georeserve in Rizal.

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This conservation area is an easy drive from Manila where you can enjoy some incredible limestone landscapes. The park has constructed giant hammocks and treehouses to take your experience a bit further.

15. Learn about the country's colonial history at Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar in Bataan.

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This place west of Manila Bay is actually a museum where visitors can walk through and experience 18th century Philippines in the present day. They offer guided tours, overnight accommodations, and event venues, but you can also visit the place on your own.

16. Challenge yourself on a whitewater rafting ride in Cagayan de Oro.

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It's not for the weak-hearted, but if you think you can handle it, whitewater rafting is definitely one of the must-do items when you fly to the southern Philippines.

17. And chill in the cool climates of Baguio.

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Baguio is one of those great road trip destinations in the Philippines. Some eight-hours north of Manila, this city on top of a plateau is a cool spot to just unwind and find quirky shops you won't really see in the capital city.

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