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18 Places You Would Never Have Imagined Were In The Philippines

Why go abroad when we've got it here, 'di ba?

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1. Romania?

This might look like a street in Transylvania, but this quaint city is actually Vigan, Ilocos Sur. It's known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, with cobblestone streets and carriages pulled by horses. At night, tourists often visit Calle Crisologo—a whole street lined with stores that offer souvenirs and Ilocos delicacies.

2. New Zealand?

Not New Zealand, but Batanes, the northernmost and smallest province in the Philippines. The lighthouse on the left photo is the Tayid Lighthouse, one of the three famous and fully-functioning lighthouses in Batanes that guide seafarers in the Pacific Ocean and West Philippine Sea. Naturally, they're open to tourists.

3. Japan?

This might look like something straight of a Japanese anime, but this is actually Bohol's man-made Mahogany Forest. The dense mahogany trees line the stretch of a two-kilometer road on the border of Loboc and Bilar.

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4. Indonesia?

Not quite. This gorgeous caldera* lake is that of Mount Pinatubo. It was formed after the volcano's destructive eruption back in 1991, proof that something beautiful can come out of something so devastating — just like in love, charot!

5. Honduras?

This piece of paradise might look like something you'd find at a Carribean, but this is actually in Gigantes Island, part of a remote group of islands in northeastern Iloilo. It's one of those beaches that shies away from the ~urbanized~ aesthetic of more popular destinations like Boracay.

6. OMG, Greece?

It looks like the Acropolis, but no, this is not in Greece. This is actually in Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas. The island is an abandoned resort developed by the town's former governor, Jose Antonio Leviste, in 1995. It was also near this island where the San Diego galleon sunk back in the 1600s. Passenger ferries MV Kimelody Cristy and MV Princess of the Orient also sunk around the ferocious waters of Fortune Island in 1995 and 1998, respectively. History, amirite? Suck it, Parthenon.

7. Cambodia?

Sure, waterfalls in Phnom Koulen National Park are great, but this particular multi-tiered waterfall is actually in Bislig, Surigao del Sur. Tinuy-an Falls is said to be the widest waterfall in the country and is lovingly called "the Little Niagara Falls of the Philippines."

8. Phuket?

This pristine blue paradise is actually the famous El Nido, Palawan. Miniloc island, in particular, is known for its clear waters and several lagoons. Aside from island hopping, tourists may also enjoy diving, canoeing, and paddle boarding.

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9. South Africa?

These clouds ain't rolling on one of the mountains in Africa, but rather, on the Philippines' third highest mountain, Mt. Pulag. On a lucky day, hikers can witness the majestic sea of clouds that make you feel like you're literally in heaven. If you want to experience Mount Pulag at its coldest weather, it's best to visit from December to February.

10. Switzerland???

This extremely mountainous town may look like the Alps on a good summer day, but this is actually in Sagada, Mountain Province. The humble town is not only known for its cold climate, but for keeping old traditions like burying their dead in hanging coffins. The coffins can be seen on cliffs surrounding the area.

11. Shanghai?

Not quite. This highly urbanized area—far from its beginnings as a cradle to the Filipino resistance against the Spaniards in 1890, thanks to the Zobél de Ayala family—is known today as Makati city. There are lots of Chinese restaurants in here, though.

12. Papua New Guinea?

Yeah, no. The rich diversity of these coral reefs and underwater wildlife is actually found in Tubbataha Reef, a protected area located far off the coast of Puerto Princesa, Palawan and right in the middle of Sulu Sea. Though highly protected, the Tubbataha National Marine Park offers diving sessions from mid-March to mid-June, a season of calm waves, clear skies, and underwater visibility of up to about 150 feet.

13. Bulgaria?

These amazing rock formations might look like they're found in the caves of Bulgaria, but this is actually inside the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. The river goes through a mountain of a limestone karst landscape, and the river itself is more than 24 kilometers long.

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14. Maldives??

Maldivian in beauty, but this gorgeous island of Pamalican is actually making a name for itself when it comes to unique and private beach experiences. The island has been turned into a high-end exclusive island-beach resort called Amanpulo—"Aman" meaning "peace," and "pulo" meaning "island."

15. Peru?

Peru hindi (di ba???). This is actually in Benguet. In the 1500's, Spaniards tried colonizing the area for its rich gold mines, and by the time the Americans ruled over the country, mining companies have already started operating in the province.

16. China?

These might look like snapshots of tea farms in China, but this is still in Benguet. Aside from gold, the province is also known for its huge production of highland vegetables like strawberries and lettuce. Benguet is in fact dubbed the "Salad Bowl of the Philippines"—a province a lot of millennials will love, for sure.

17. Spain?

Almost. This is in Intramuros, the oldest district of Metro Manila. It's also called the Walled City because it's literally enclosed by stone walls built by the Spaniards to protect the city from foreign invasions. It was heavily damaged in World War II, but has since been rebuilt with parts of the walls and other historical units still preserved.

18. Colombia???

I have to apologize, but no; the winner is the Philippines! The Hinatuan Enchanted River, situated in Surigao del Sur, is a deep spring river believed to be a home for the ~supernatural~ beings that protect it. Much of the river's depths still remain unexplored, though some attempts have led to the discovery of a hidden underground cave.

CORRECTION

*The Mount Pinatubo lake is actually a caldera, not a crater as originally stated. H/t Elsed Togonon.

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