"The pearl of the South China Sea" Luzon by eitangozani

Luzon Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 45 photos

Brief background

While planning our trip to the island of Luzon (the main island of the Philippine archipelago), me and my friend told ourselves that 3 weeks would suffice beyond doubt, and that we can manage to see "all there is to see" during that time.
When we looked up points of interest on the net, we easily found the highly toured areas (Sagada,the rice terraces,lake Taal, etc.), which only seemed to confirm the assumption that you can sum up the country, and make it back before you need to change a page in the calander. Obviously, we couldn't have been more wrong. This land has so much to offer, both in terms of nature and culture, that we could easily have made it 3 months, and still feel hungry for more.

Our doings in Luzon

After landing in Manila, we quickly faced the fact that this city is not what we intend to see in the Philippines, and only spent a night there.

Being devout adventurers, we were eager to start getting to know the land with our feet. After brief preparations, we set out to Mt.Pinatubu, and spent 2 days hiking it. The trek proved to be demanding as much is it was heart-stoppingly beautiful.
After that, we did some R&R in Tarlac, Gerona, Alaminos (hundred islands) and Baguio, and then set out on another hike, this time to Mt.Pul-ag. We took that one a bit on the hard side (harder than we expected), but it only made us feel more vigorous at the end. It took us 3 days to make it from Kabayan (in Benguet province) to Ambagio (Nueva Viscaya province), and all we encountered left us breathless (both literally and metaphoricaly)
We then went northwards from towards Banaue, and made another, lighter, trip to the rice terraces of Batad, Cambulu and Bangaan. Our finale was a calm weekend in Sagada, and we just had time to spend another night in Baguio (our favorite city), before having to go back to Manila and home. The Philippines, we found out, seems to have it all.

Personal summary

Needless to say, everything we did only made us realize how much more there is to see in Luzon. This country's natural beauty is only second to the hospitality of it's residents. Where ever we went(outside the cities), we met warm, friendly people, who always proved to be both talkative and helpfull. Since english is widely spoken throughout the country (far more than it is at home..), getting around is very much easy, and we did most of it on our own. In remote areas, we just picked up strings of local dialects (which only enhanced the experience), and our conversations with local villagers only left us even more in awe of the Philippines. We we're surprised when people asked us if we met "bad" people, because all we met was the kindest of people. This country is perfectly safe (once again, compared to home).

If I seem to be painting it all in bright colors, it's only because that is my way of having a vacation. But I must warn that some of the things we did were careless, and sometimes even fearless. Some locals we talked to about our plan were greatly concerned about it. We made it safe and sound, but there were some difficult moments, that I'm not sure everyone would have found those as pleasent as we did.

Words cannot encapsulate my thrilling experience. Sadly, what I saw at each mountain peak I got to was a landscape of summits, rivers and villages I knew I had to leave behind, uncharted. Most of the land, we observed, is left unexplored by travellers, and also unaccessible at times. I wish things were different, and I write this page in hope that it would inspire people to visit places that niether me nor others get to see in that remarkable country.
In fact, I implore you to try it out.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unparalelled nature; peacefull people;great climate
  • Cons:Big ugly cities; tourist haunters in some areas
  • In a nutshell:Adventurers, I summon thee!
  • Last visit to Luzon: Mar 2009
  • Intro Updated Mar 25, 2009
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eitangozani

“"Always travel with an empty suitcase, an empty mind, and the hope to fill up both 'till you get back"”

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