The Philippines has a total of 81 provinces, how many of them have you visited?
Are you the type to stick to the trail and go to the places where tourists usually go, or are you the kind of person who would rather choose adventure, deviate from the norm and take the roads less travelled?
For the curious and adventurous traveler, we put together a short list of Philippine provinces that seriously need more attention.
Surigao del Sur
One of Surigao del Sur’s prides is the Enchanted River in the town of Hinatuan. This entrancing river continues to fascinate tourists and residents alike not just because of its crystal clear water but also because of the many unexplained mysteries that surround it.
It may be reminiscent of Coron’s Kayangan Lake but with its widely spread stories of mystical creature sightings to beautiful fish that can’t seem to be caught, this river has a whole lot of reasons to call itself “Enchanted.”
Not a fan of otherworldly stories? How about this: rivers are generally bodies of fresh water but the Enchanted River hassalt water flowing through it. What’s interesting is that there is no visible source of where that salt water is coming from.
While it’s been reported that the river is about 25 meters deep, many still claim that no one has ever reached the bottom of the Enchanted River.
Another spot that should not be missed when in Surigao del Sur is the Philippines’ “Little Niagara Falls” called Tinuy-An Falls. This three-level white water curtain in Bislig has the widest waterfalls in the Philippines. It’s also said that a rainbow always appears in the area between 9:00 AM to 11:00AM. Definitely another grandeur to behold.
The easiest route to get to these places in Surigao del Sur from Manila is via a 1.5 hour flight to Butuan City, Agusan del Norte. From Butuan City you can get to either Hinatuan or Bislig by bus with both destinations taking approximately 4 to 5 hours of travel time.
You’ve probably passed by Antique on your way to Iloilo or Boracay but have you ever stopped to check out what this place has to offer?
The province of Antique is often referred to as the place “where the mountains meet the sea” because of the short distance between its mountains and coast which is really a pleasant sight to see especially if you are a nature lover.
If you’ve already tried the water rafting in Cagayan de Oro then you must experience the river kayaking in Tibiao, Antique. Unlike the white water rafting in CDO, you get to ride and navigate the kayak alone from start to finish.
With whitewater rafting grades of up to 3 (intermediate level with medium-sized waves and 3 to 5-foot drops) and 4 (advanced level with large waves, considerable drops and sharp maneuvering needed), it’s no wonder the Department of Tourism has been promoting it as a whitewater kayaking destination.
If you are a fan of waterfalls, then trekking to the falls of Bugtong-Bato should top your list. The 1.3 kilometer trek will give you a nice scenic view of three out seven waterfalls of Tibiao.
For a unique and relaxing experience, do not miss the Kawa Hot Bath from the same town. The over-sized woks serve as a tub to give travelers a therapeutic sauna-like experience.
Here are some ways to get to Antique:
You can take a 17-hour Philtranco bus ride to Tibiao, Antique from Cubao, Quezon City.
Take an hour flight to Caticlan and get to Tibiao from the airport within 2 hours by car or van.
Fly from Manila to Iloilo City (1-hour flight) and take a 2 to 3-hour bus or van ride to Tibiao.
If you are a seafood lover, then Capiz is the perfect place for you. It’s not called the “Seafood Capital of The Philippines” for nothing. Fresh seafood is very abundant and affordable in Roxas City, Capiz’s capital.
This tiny province in Visayas may have an unpleasant reputation because of “aswangs” or shape shifting mythical creatures that are said to be thriving here, but visiting this captivating place and discovering its secluded waterfalls, well-preserved churches, and rivers will prove the folklores wrong.
Take the relaxing Panay River Cruise or the Palina River Cruise on a cabana and have the river all to yourself as you spot mangroves, fishing boats and fishing villages that will give you a peek of the daily life of the locals.
After the cruise, you can visit the Pangilatan Falls, regarded as the most beautiful falls in Western Visayas.
There are daily flights (1 hour) from Manila to Roxas City, Capiz.
Marinduque, dubbed as the “Lent Capital of the Philippines,” is not only worth your time during Holy Week. In fact, the best time to experience the natural wonders of this small heart-shaped island is during off-peak seasons. Marinduque has lots of places waiting to be explored but unfortunately, people only go here to see the famous Moriones Festival.
The town of Sta. Cruz, Marinduque is home to the Bathala Caves, a complex network of seven caves but only four of which have so far been explored.
If you are into mountain climbing, then trekking the summit of Mt. Malindig in the town of Buenavista, should be included in your itinerary. It is said that on a clear day, Mt. Mayon is visible from its summit.
Siquijor, they say, is a mystical island that only brave souls would dare set foot on. Lore has it that Siquijor is a place of sorcerers or mangkukulam which unfortunately, is enough reason for some people to avoid visiting this province.
Obviously, these are all just rumors as the only thing that’s supernatural on this small island is its rustic beauty.
If you are up for an adrenaline rush and know how to swim, prepare to walk down 130+ steps so you can jump off Cambugahay Falls Tarzan-style (using a rope strung on a branch or baging). With its multi-level cascaded falls, you’ll end up jumping anywhere from 8 to 12 feet high.
For a taste of Siquijor’s history, checking out the 400-year old giant Balete tree can get a bit creepy but it’s a definite must-see.
Get to Siquijor from Manila by taking a 1-hour flight to Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental and then taking another 1-hour ferry ride to Siquijor from the Dumaguete Port.