7 Travel Destinations in the Philippines You Can Visit in the New Normal
The year 2020 is undeniably an unfortunate year for travelers and holidaymakers. Plans to visit travel destinations in the Philippines and abroad have been postponed, and your hope to feel that exhilarating rush whenever you’re waiting for the boarding gates to open at the airport has been dampened. All of this because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Right now, the million-peso question is, “When can I travel again?” After all, the pandemic is not yet over. In case you have no idea, the government has already allowed non-authorized persons to travel between General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Modified Community Quarantine (MGCQ) areas. This means that people from Metro Manila can now go to other provinces, towns, or cities as long as their destinations are not under lockdown.
Ultimately, this means that you can satisfy your wanderlust. Now, the question should be rephrased: “What travel destinations in the Philippines can I visit in the new normal?”
Ask no more because we have compiled a list of travel destinations in the Philippines so you don’t have to. Here are some interesting places you may want to visit to reclaim your sanity and get rid of those pandemic blues:
Table of Contents
New Normal Travel Destinations in the Philippines
You can’t talk about Siargao without mentioning the words “surfing,” “beach,” and “beautiful.” All these three words don’t just perfectly capture the essence of this paradise. It’s hard to explain the allure of the island without you personally seeing it.
New Normal Accessibility: Siargao, which is part of the Surigao del Norte province, is open to domestic tourists.
What to Do in Siargao
If you’re a big fan of surfing, you and Siargao are definitely a match made in heaven. The gigantic waves will give you the thrill and adrenaline rush as you evade and try to survive wipeouts. After a session with the waves, you can catch your breath at Cloud 9, a three-story hut that stands over the sea water. While resting, you can watch the sunset paint the skies orange. This singlehandedly makes Siargao one of the scenic spots in the Philippines.
You may also visit the Sugba Lagoon, a spectacular lagoon surrounded by the greens of the towering mountains. You can dive, chill, and take life at a leisurely place in one of the best travel destinations in the Philippines. If island hopping is your thing, then head over to Siargao’s three popular islands namely Guyam Island, Daku Island, and Naked Island — all their beaches are equally gorgeous.
2. Ilocos Sur
History buffs and culture vultures will surely have fun in Ilocos Sur. It is home to one of the UNESCO Heritage sites in the Philippines, which is the city of Vigan. From Manila, you can reach the province via an almost 12-hour drive or one-hour flight.
New Normal Accessibility: Currently, Ilocos Sur is open only to Luzon residents with negative RT-PCR Test.
What to Do in Ilocos Sur
One of the main attractions in the province is Calle Crisologo. The cobbled streets and the well-preserved heritage houses will surely make you feel like you’re inside a living museum. You can ride the calesa to tour around the vicinity or visit the shops for souvenirs. Wait until nighttime to see the destination’s full glory; it transforms into a place that is elegantly illuminated by the warm street lamps.
The Bantay Bellfry, more commonly known as the Bantay Watch Tower, is an architecture marvel to behold. It is sitting close to another architectural treasure of the province, which is the Saint Augustine Parish Church. The said church was built in 1590, and it boasts of the beauty of Neo-Gothic and Romanesque style.
Ilocos Sur is also known for its tasty and iconic dishes. Don’t ever leave the without feasting over different types of empanada, bagnet, and longganisa.
You can’t fly to the cool winters of Japan or South Korea just yet. But if you want to simulate the feeling, the city of Baguio can tide you over. The City of Pines is perfectly built upon the mountains, and with its cool weather, it is easily a top-of-mind summer escape of the people from the lowlands.
New Normal Accessibility: Baguio is open to Luzon residents with negative RT-PCR Test.
What to Do in Baguio
The Botanical Garden, Camp John Hay, Mines View Park, Burnham Park, and the Lion’s Head are popular places for starters. But if you’ve been to the city many times now, you can seek out hidden gems that will make you fall in love with the highlands even more.
Swimming is not popular in Baguio, but you can dip your toes into the warm waters of Asin Hot Spring. If you’re a big fan of Philippine contemporary arts, the BenCab museum is definitely a must-visit spot. It houses the masterpieces of National Artist Benedicto Cabrera. Want to try ghost-hunting? The Diplomat Hotel and the Laperal White House are popular places for such pursuits.
Pangasinan is not just a pass-through location before you reach Baguio or Vigan. What many don’t realize is that the province has a wealth of beautiful spots, making it a great quick escape from the city.
New Normal Accessibility: Currently, Pangasinan is open to Domestic tourists from MGCQ areas. However, the Hundred Islands National Park is open only to residents while the Our Lady of Manaoag Church is open to Region 1 tourists only.
What to Do in Pangasinan
First on the list is the Hundred Islands in Alaminos. Here, you can enjoy sightseeing, island hopping, and water activities, such as kayaking, snorkeling, and canoeing. Another beach to visit is the Patar Beach, also known as the Boracay of Pangasinan. Located in Bolinao, Patar Beach features a long stretch of pristine white sand beach and a magnificent sunset view to boot.
In case you want a pensive trip that gives you a lot of room for reflection, the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag is the ideal venue. Love sunflowers? Allied Botanical Corporation’s Sunflower Maze in Tayug got you covered! Don’t ever leave the province without bringing home puto Calasiao.
It’s nice to know that Boracay, one of the world’s most famous beaches, is open once again to tourism activities despite the pandemic. You’d be thanking the loosening of IATF travel restrictions in the Philippines for that.
New Normal Accessibility: Boracay is open to domestic tourists from GCQ and MGCQ locations only.
What to Do in Boracay
Boaracay has a lot of beaches to choose from, and each may look more beautiful than the next. For those who simply want to relish the island’s beauty, the White Beach, which has been aptly named for its powder-soft white sand, is your place to be. The beach is divided into three sections: Station 1, where high-end resorts and restaurants are; Station 2, a shopping and dining haven for tourists; and Station 3, a quiet spot for rest-seekers.
Other beaches that await your discovery include Bulabog Beach, a paradise for kite-surfers; Puka Shell Beach, which is known for its quietude and privacy; and Ariel’s Point, where you can try cliff diving and engage in extreme water sports.
Still can’t get enough of Philippine beaches? Then head to Coron! Travel + Leisure Magazine even called Palawan, which includes Coron, among the best and most beautiful islands in the world. Definitely one of the best travel destinations in the Philippines.
New Normal Accessibility: Coron is open to domestic tourists.
What to Do in Coron
Coron has a wealth of beaches. These include the Atwayan Beach, which is a famous spot for picnics and lunches; Banana Island, which features a stunning crescent-shaped lagoon and cream-white sand; and Sangat Island, which is a great spot for diving enthusiasts.
For freshwater adventures, Kayangan Lake should be part of your list. Often touted as the cleanest lake in the Philippines, the spot is popular for photographers and tourists who are interested in underwater rock formations. You can snorkel, dive, and swim in the lake, but you may also choose to hike the nearby mountain to get a majestic view of the lake’s panorama.
If you need a quick remedy to your stress and pandemic-related fatigue, a whiff of cold air may send you back to your senses. What better way to enjoy a cool weather than having a short getaway in Tagaytay.
New Normal Accessibility: Tagaytay is open to domestic tourists only.
What to Do in Tagaytay
Just an hour or two from nearby cities in Metro Manila, Tagaytay is made vibrant by nature and its denizens’ warm hospitality. Automatically, activities may include seeing the Taal Lake from spots, such as the Picnic Grove and Twin Lakes. But there are definitely more activities waiting for you here. You can go up to the People’s Park in the Sky, which will give you a 360-degree view of the Taal Lake, the Tagaytay Highlands, and Laguna.
Tagaytay’s another hero offering is its culinary adventures. You can visit top-rated restaurants, which also double as wedding venues, such as Breakfast at Antonio’s and Sonya’s Garden. For a grittier approach to appeasing your inner culinarian, the eateries at the Mahogany Market will tickle your fancy. Warm yourself up with generous servings of bulalo and enjoy the fried goodness of crispy tawilis and chicharong bulaklak. The market itself is also your immersion in the daily lives of the locals.
Travel Restrictions in the Philippines
The Philippine Government has implemented certain inbound travel restrictions on Filipino travelers. All incoming Filipino passengers, including their spouse (Filipino or foreign) will be allowed to visit the country, but they will be subject to quarantine procedures.
Within the country, travel restrictions have been lightened. As mentioned earlier, travels between areas under GCQ and MGCQ are already allowed. At the same time, the Department of Trade and Industry has already allowed travel agencies, reservation companies, and tour operators to operate at 50% capacity, thus slowly boosting the tourism activities. The government also lifted the ban on non-essential travels abroad, which started on October 21.
Requirements for Travel Pass
To further ease restrictions on travels, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield has issued a new travel document, which is called Travel Pass-through Permit (TPP). This will serve as a passage document for travelers. The good thing about is it that it has no requirements.
Some cities still have restrictions and will require people to show a Travel Authority. Below are the requirements for a Travel Authority Pass:
- Medical clearance certificate from the City or Municipal Health Office
- Traveler’s prior coordination between the place of origin and the destination.
Tourism may not be operating 100% yet, but thankfully, some travel destinations in the Philippines have opened their doors to travelers. However, don’t take this as a license to be loose with other government restrictions. You will still need to adhere to specific rules, such as getting tested, wearing face masks, and observing social distancing.
-  Gov’t allows non-authorized persons to travel between GCQ, MGCQ areas (Pia Ranada, Rappler, 2020)
-  Historic City of Vigan (UNESCO Official Website)
-  Palawan recognized anew as ‘best island in the world’ (David Tristan Yumul, CNN Philippines, 2020)
With a goal to help Filipinos lead healthier financial lives, Moneymax regularly publishes tips and tricks on personal finance and lifestyle, among many other topics. For more finance-related news and articles, follow Moneymax on Linkedin.