After Manila, Where to Next?



Bumper-to-bumper traffic, street and karaoke noise all over, the stifling heat—the capital of the Philippines can be daunting at first but once you dig deeper, you will unfold a fast-paced and fascinating metropolis defined by its rich history and legacy. 


Manila Chinatown 

Oh, Manila—love it or hate it, as they say! Whether you are a first-time traveler to the Philippines excited to see what makes this country more fun aside from its capital city, a millennial Manilenya seeking to escape the buzzling city, or a returning tourist wanting to stray away from the metro, here are some ideas on where to go next after exploring the Philippines’ chaotic yet iconic mad metropolis.  

Thankfully, there’s a wide array of choices for you—places to visit, transportation to take and accommodations to book—ranging from luxury to budget—in any city or province you wish to discover after Manila. 

IF YOU HAVE ONE DAY… 


1. Feel the breeze in Tagaytay City 
A well-known daytrip and weekend destination from Metro Manila, Tagaytay City is a popular getaway for people who want to unwind and get closer to the wonders of nature.  It offers the best view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano and boasts a cool atmosphere, perfect for beating the tropical heat! Visit Picnic Grove for an adventure-filled day—try horseback riding and the zipline. The People’s Park in the Sky is another popular spot in Tagaytay, giving a panoramic view of the city. Another great viewpoint is from the giant Ferris Wheel at Sky Ranch.  For foodies, head over to Mahogany Market, where you can taste the best bulalo and tawilis in town; order a cup of coffee at Bag of Beans or Java Coffee Shop; or have a healthy meal at Sonya’s Garden! 

How to get there: From Manila, take a bus bound for Tagaytay or Nasugbu, get off at Tagaytay Rotonda. From there, walk, ride a tricycle or a jeepney to your destination.    


2. Hike the beautiful destruction that is Mt. Pinatubo
Go on a day hike to see the majestic crater of Mt. Pinatubo! With travel agencies offering daytrips here and there, it’s now easy to reach Mt. Pinatubo. If you want to go DIY, take a bus to Tarlac from Manila, ride a 4x4 jeep, and trek for at least 30 minutes – 1 ½ hours—depending on your speed and strength! After a long and winding hike, you’ll be rewarded with a view of the seafoam-colored lake!  After the hike, make your way to the Culinary Capital of the Philippines—Pampanga! Gastronomical delights are teeming in this province—from the infamous cheese bread of LA’s Bakeshop to the mouthwatering sisig of Aling Lucing’s, you’ll surely go loco with the many food choices!  

How to get there: From Manila, take a bus bound for Tarlac to go to Mt. Pinatubo. You may also hook up with a travel agency that will provide roundtrip transportation from and to Manila, along with the guide and 4x4 ride going up Mt. Pinatubo.   


IF YOU HAVE TWO DAYS… 
1. Visit Baguio City, the Summer Capital of the Philippines 
Another popular choice for vacations during holidays and summer, Baguio City provides a relaxing respite from the bustle of the frantic Metro Manila. If you want to enjoy the cool breeze, appreciate art and history, and dine on fresh delights, visit the City of Pines. If you can spare at least two days, make sure to visit Baguio’s beloved parks, such as Wright Park, The Mansion, Burnham Park, Camp John Hay and Mines View Park. Soak up the arts at Bencab Museum and at Ili Likha Artist Village along Assumption Road or touch on Baguio’s horror history by going on a ghost tour at the notorious Laperal White House or at Teacher’s Camp. 


Ghost Tour at the Laperal White House 

A trip to Baguio would not be complete without sampling some of the freshest local food you will ever taste in your life—try Choco-late De Batirol, Arca’s Yard, Pizza Volante, 50’s Diner, CafĂ© by the Ruins, Oh My Gulay, Hill Station, and the many restaurants at Ketchup Community. 




Arca's Yard, a quaint restaurant and a hidden gem in Ambuclao Road, Baguio City.

How to get there: From Manila, ride a Victory Liner, Partas, or Genesis bus going to Baguio City. They have terminal stations in Pasay City, Cubao, Caloocan, and Sampaloc. Travel time may take 4-6 hours.   

2. Enjoy the beaches and islands of Zambales 
Drive north from Metro Manila and be rewarded with some of the country’s unique beaches and fine islands in the province of Zambales: Anawangin and Nagsasa Coves are no ordinary beaches for its shores are laden with ashen sand and agoho trees; Capones Island leads you to a lighthouse in a cliff which gives you a Batanes-like view of the sea, the jagged hills and the rocky coves surrounding the island; Magalawa Island in Palauig is a tranquil escape; and Crystal Beach—probably the nearest surf spot from Manila—is  perfect for those who want to catch and conquer some waves. 

How to get there: From Manila, ride a Victory Liner bus bound for Iba or Sta. Cruz Zambales. Victory Liner has stations in Pasay, Cubao, Caloocan, and Sampaloc.  


IF YOU HAVE THREE OR MORE DAYS… 

1. Discover the best islands in the world: Cebu, Palawan and Boracay
Recently chosen by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler as the best islands in the world—Cebu ranked fifth, Palawan was second, and Boracay finished first—these tropical paradise spots in the Philippines are like heaven on earth! Discover true island life as you laze in pristine white beaches and watch the most breathtaking sunsets!  


Nacpan-Calitang Twin Beach in El Nido, Palawan 


Gibitngil Island, Cebu 

How to get there: Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have daily flights to Caticlan (Boracay), Cebu, Busuanga (Coron, Palawan), and Puerto Princesa (Palawan). You can also check through an online flight booking site like Traveloka to see available flights from different airlines.


There's more to the Philippines than Metro Manila! How about you? What places outside the bustling capital city can you recommend for travelers? Share it in the comment box below. :) Follow my adventure on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook by searching for the hashtags #GirlChasingSunshine. Thank you for dropping by! :) 

A Guide For Filipinos: Do I Need A Visa To Transit Through Dubai?



When we scored cheap roundtrip tickets from Manila to Dubai last year, we knew that our journey would not end in the United Arab Emirates—we would continue on to Europe to fulfill the biggest trip of our lives, and so we did.

As planned, we flew from Manila to Dubai through Cebu Pacific. From Dubai, our connecting flight to Vienna, Austria was via Ukraine Airlines, with another 2-hour layover in Kiev, Ukraine. Whew! I know what you are thinking. What a complicated flight, right? Anything to make #Europamore happen!

Since we’re having a connecting flight in Dubai in a different airline, we were faced by our first road block: 

Where to Eat in Vienna


Where to eat in vienna, austria

I have a confession to make. When it finally became clear to us that we were really going to Europe, what scared me most—aside from fitting all my belongings in a single hand-carry—was parting ways with rice for 12 days! Filipinos are notorious for devouring rice in every meal. We just cannot survive without rice—if you know me, you know that this is certainly true for me! And so, even if I was fulfilling the greatest trip of my life, European cuisine just didn’t appeal to me. Cheese? Sausage? Come on, give me some rice!

But all my fears about missing rice flew out of the window when we finally set foot in Vienna. 

#Europamore Trip Report Day 02: Touring Around Vienna


#Europamore, noun: 1. a word play between “Europa” and “Pa More,” a Filipino expression usually attached to a noun or verb to give further and greater emphasis. 2. by far, the greatest trip of Girl Chasing Sunshine’s life

Today was a long day. 

The moment my passport was stamped by the Vienesse immigration—which was, compared to our ordeal since the Dubai leg of this trip, easy breezy—I felt like I was ready to explore and conquer Europe despite feeling woozy and dizzy because of the long flight.  

We were whisked off from the airport to the city via the transportation service we have arranged through our guest house, Benediktushaus. 

What I Regret About My Europe Trip




When I started planning my Eurotrip, I excitedly took out my pen and notebook and scribbled all the places I told myself that I MUST see.  I was almost halfway through a page when I realized that I can only afford to see so much with 12 days! 

While I was relatively satisfied with how my 12-day trip to Europe turned out, I am still a little bummed out about skipping some of the European cities and towns I’ve long been dreaming. 

#Europamore Trip Report Day 01: 8,225 Miles Of Travel To Europe

Europe Trip Report Day 01

#Europamore, noun: 1. a word play between “Europa” and “Pa More,” a Filipino expression usually attached to a noun or verb to give further and greater emphasis. 2. by far, the greatest trip of Girl Chasing Sunshine’s life

“Europe, here we come!”

These were the first words I told myself upon waking up on October 29, 2015. I remember feeling pumped up despite having slept past my lola-vibes slumber time the previous night. I was awake until 2 AM, trying to stuff all my belongings into my cabin luggage and fixing last minute train bookings. It was so ironic that on the greatest trip of my life, I was not able to do detailed planning—like what I usually do—and was forced to only have a hand carry (insert super sad face here).
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