Life in the metro can be a little overwhelming. Good thing there are long weekends you can look forward to for some time unwinding. Whether you're looking to relax at the beach, checking out magestic sites or trying out all kinds of food (who are we kidding, we love to eat!), Northern Luzon has it all.
Ring your friends and plan a great escapade. Here are five provinces in the North near Metro Manila that's perfect for long weekends:
Vigan - Pagudpud - Laoag
Estimated driving time from Manila: 8 hours; 45mins by plane
Go back in time when you reach the heritage city of Vigan. Ride a kalesa and appreciate all the old heritage houses and cobblestone roads in Calle Crisologo, watch the lights and fountain show at Plaza Salcedo and cruise at River Mestizo. In Pagudpud, make your way to Blue Lagoon Beach for a relaxing visit or check out the Bacarra Ruins Tower, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, the gigantic Bangui Windmills which produces electricity and Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. In Laoag, sandboarding is the way to go if you're feeling adventurous and a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Paoay Church is a must. There are already a number of tours available (starts at P2,500) but it's still up to you and your friends if you want to build your own itinerary.
Stay: In Vigan: Hotel Luna (starts at P4000), Gordion Hotel (starts at P2000), Grandpa's Inn (starts at P1800); In Pagudpud: Panzian Beach (P3000), Kingfisher Resort (P2500); In Laoag: Balay da Blas Pensionne House (starts at P1400), Hotel Tiffany (starts at P1500), Terra Rika Beach & Dive Resort (1700), Northview Hotel (P1900)
Eat: Vigan Empanada, Vigan Longganisa, Bagnet, Sinanglaw
Estimated driving time from Manila: 5hr 30mins
Known by surfers for its big waves and the town that's rich in history as well. Sabang Beach is filled with surf shops and schools for beginners and surfer-gods. It is also a beautiful sight in the morning where people stroll by the beach and just enjoy how pristine the water is. If you're into history, you can check out Museo de Baler featuring old letters, reports and drawing from Franciscan missionaries who settled in the region. There's also the Dicasalarin Cove where the Baler lighthouse and Dicasalarin Beach is and the Doña Aurora Aragon House which is Manuel Quezon's ancestral home.
Stay: The Circle Hostel (starts at P500), Charlie Does, Surfhouse Baler (starts at P4500), Costa Pacifica (starts at P6800)
Eat: Nanay Pacing's Homemade Peanut Butter, Suman de Baler, Baler Longanisa, Pako and Bell Pepper Pizza at Costa Pacifica
Estimated driving time from Manila: 4hr 40min
If you have been to Baler, La Union is also a surfing capital that's relatively close to Manila. Having the fifth longest coastline in the world, La Union is a must when you want to ride some good waves. If you're a non-surfer, don't fret, there are other activities you can check out. Trek Tangadan Falls in San Gabriel and be in awe at how majestic nature is or you can also head to Honeybee Center in Bacnotan to see and learn how honey is produced by bees. If you're into history, you can check out the Pindangan Ruins which is a remnant of an old church build in 1786 and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.
Stay: The Circle Hostel (starts at P500), Vessel Hostel (P980), Flotsam and Jetsam Hotel (starts at P680)
Eat: Coffee and S'mores at El Union Coffee, Silog meals at Tagpuan, Burgers at Mad Monkeys, Pizza at Flotsam and Jetsam
Estimated driving time from Manila: 4hr 50min
Its sweet mangoes and being the Little Boracay in the north is what Zambales is best known for. There are a number of islands you can check out: Potipot has a white, powdery sand and clear, light blue waters; Capones Island has Anawangin Cove which is a 25-minute boat ride from Capones and where you'll see pine trees and rock transformations and Nagsasa Cove that's 45 minutes away from Anawangin and is usually best visited last so you can catch the sunset. Crystal Beach Resort is also a popular destination for its camping, surf lessons and team-building activities. Since Zambales is known for its sweet mangoes, you can't leave without bringing sacks of it home! You can pick baskets of mangoes at Rosa Farms in San Marcelino.
Stay: The Circle Hostel (starts at P500), Treasure Island Resort (starts at P2400), Zambawood (starts at P3750)
Eat: Porkchop at Wimpy's, Kalderetang Kambing at Bon's Restaurant, Pinoy Kakanin
Estimated driving time from Manila: 6hr 20min
The cool air with a hint of pine trees are just some of the things people look forward to when visiting Baguio. You can either stroll, ride a bicycle or eat strawberry sorbetes at Burnham Park, wear the traditional Igorot costume at Mines View Park, say a prayer at Baguio Cathedral, have a look at the exhibit at BenCab Museum and thrift shopping along Harrison Road are just a few activities you can do.
Stay: JM Dormitel (starts at P500), Hotel 45 (starts at P1000), Microtel Inn & Suites (P2600), Baguio Holiday Villas (starts at P2800)
Eat: Strawberry Taho, Raisin Bread at the Baguio Country Club, grab a bite at 50s Diner, Strawberry Shortcake at Vizco's, Ube Jam at Good Shepherd Convent, Strawberry Beer at Baguio Craft Brewery
What other places and activities do you have in mind for the long weekend?