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Around the Philippines
 Island Life: Backpacking in Northern Leyte
for Six Days Regaining its seat as the commercial hub of Samar and Leyte, Tacloban becomes the starting point of our six-day backpacking adventure through Northern Leyte.

From unspoiled beaches to breathtaking sunsets, and a magnificent underwater world, Northern Leyte is paradise found for any self-proclaimed beachcomber. Like many other provinces in the country, this part of the Visayas is a patchwork:  a collection of sleepy seaside villages, sandbars, and vast island groups. In order to sew its glorious diversity of places together, we prepared for a week’s worth of numerous boat rides, hours worth of land travel, and a bit of roughing it out.



Adjacent to the town proper of Palompon, Tabuk is easily accessible by boat, which you can reserve at the tourism office right next to the port. This sanctuary boasts of a lush mangrove forest and its resident giant fruit bats. At sunset, these fruit bats take flight and you can catch the glorious sight from atop the three-story watchtower. While waiting, have a picnic in a cottage right on the sea where you can also go for a refreshing swim.


DAY 2    

Possibly the highlight of your trip to Northern Leyte, a visit to Kalanggaman is mandatory—and so is an overnight stay. While many locals like to visit this island for a day trip, tourists are encouraged to spend the night if only to see the sunrise from Kalanggaman’s famed sandbar. With its crystal clear waters and a surprisingly colorful underwater life, snorkeling is a must do. Camping here is required so don’t forget to take your tents and hammocks with you.



Be prepared for a long road trip on Day 3. From Palompon, make your way to Naval via a series of van transfers. But don’t fret about the long drive because the scenic vista of Biliran’s roadside mountain-scapes is a definite feast for the eyes. After a long day, check in at Biliran Hotel and a short distance away, have dinner at Naval’s popular barbeque spot at the port aptly called Barbequhan sa Naval.


SAMBAWAN From Naval,

take a ferry headed to Maripipi Island. Once in Maripipi, hire a small boat that will take you to Sambawan. While many enjoy Sambawan as a day trip, I recommend staying the night to enjoy the sunrise and sunset from the highest peak on the island. Conveniently, a cottage is set up for people who want to capture the island’s beauty from a bird’s eye view. There are no accommodations here. Just large, opened cottages you can rent to hang your hammocks for the night.



The next morning, we took an early morning boat back to Maripipi. On the back of jabal-jabals, we made our way to Tinago Falls. Don’t let it’s name fool you because it’s actually pretty easy to find and get to. But like every waterfall, getting to the falls does require a little cardio to get up and down to the falls’ pool. Back on our jabal-jabals, we made our (long) way back to Tacloban.



In some ways, Tacloban is still working to step from the shadows of Typhoon Haiyan. In others, it is beginning to rebuild life anew. This was felt particularly in The Yellow Door Hostel, a quaint little space that’s partly built from doors collected houses ruined during the typhoon. Book a room or a bunk here on a weekend to catch the hostel’s live performances and art workshops.



before heading to the airport so a tour of the city’s highlights was in order. We hired a car and started our tour at the Displaced Ship, which is now a monument in honor of the typhoon’s victims; then we headed to the Sto. Niño Shrine, also known as the Malacañang of the South, where you can take a sneak peek into the extravagant lives of the Marcoses. We then made our way to the San Juanico Bridge, the longest in the Philippines and the gateway to Samar. Taking advantage of this, we made our way to Basey, Samar where you will find some of the most extravagant and colorful handmade Tacloban a day to explore Have halfbanigs you will ever see—that you can purchase too! Before heading to the airport, we made one last stop at the McArthur shrine for photos.




You may also like these amazing places to visit 

corregidor island tour

Corregidor Island

While the island is entirely a natural spectacle, some underground caverns in the place are man-made, making it an ideal spot for adventure seekers. Strategically located at the entrance of Manila Bay, Corregidor is formerly the headquarters of the allied forces during the Japanese Occupation era; hence it was named a naval landmark.

But aside from its rich contribution to our history, it’s a great adventure place for adrenaline junkies as it has hosted its own version of the Amazing Race, clearly an excellent choice for activities like rock balancing, camp adventure, and island runabouts, among others. Check out this primer to get a view of the activities and accommodations.

Bangui Windmills, Ilocos Norte

Bangui Windmills, Ilocos Norte

It isn’t a complete trip to Ilocos if you don’t pass by this Instagenic wind farm. With the province’s close proximity to the ocean, it is no doubt that it is a good spot for wind energy generation, thus giving birth to the Bangui Windmill. Started in 1998 with the help of a Danish firm, the wind electrical powers from the large turbines contribute to nearly 40% of the province’s electrical power. It’s great to swing by the place if you’re visiting the nearby Pagudpud. Visit here if you plan to stay a night or two.

Intramorus tour

Intramuros, Manila

Via Wikipedia

Dubbed Manila’s Walled City, Intramuros by far is still one of the man-made spectacles that figures in much of Philippine history. Dating back to the Spanish colonial era, the story goes that it was built by Filipino and Chinese workers, has more or less stood the test of time, bombings during WW2, and man-made disasters and was restored in the 1980s. Being one of the oldest districts of Manila, it is really worth the visit if you want to escape the bustle of the metro without actually leaving it.

Explore the place through learn photographyparkour group, join a art and culture activities, try the visit its museumsThere’s always a lot to do in Intramuros aside from the cliché calesa ride. You can ecobike, indulge yourself with great food, among others.  You can also check out the Intramuros Administration page to know about the activities that best fit your interests contact us for your discounted booking

San Juanico Bridge

San Juanico Bridge

This widely-famous bridge connecting sister provinces Samar and Leyte is one of the main attractions of Eastern Visayas and said to be the longest bridge in the Philippines inside a body of seawater.

Your Eastern Visayas experience wouldn’t be complete if you haven’t passed by this majestic bridge, as it offers a great view of the narrow San Juanico Ferdinand Marcos’s gift to his wife,Formerly called the “Marcos Bridge” since it was built during President Marcos’s time it was also straitespecially during sunset and sunrise. If you fancy a long road trip with plenty of fresh sea air, you need to put this on your bucket list ASAP.

Hanging Coffins of Sagada

Hanging Coffins of Sagada

While Sagada is now known as a place “where the broken hearts go” (courtesy of the popular movieThat Thing Called Tadhana), there are certainly a lot of unconventional spots here than what you might expect.

Perhaps one “attraction” that makes the place known long before its movie setting stint is the Hanging Coffins in the Lumiang Burial Cave. From the word itself, the coffins are stacked on the high rock formations beside a cliff, a burial tradition practiced by the ancient Igorots to honor their family, the highest being the most  positioned significantly depending on how they were valued by their loved ones.  According to local tourist guides, the coffins are valued, since it is the one “closest to heaven”. A proof of the rich culture of the old Filipinos, this old tradition is completely fascinating, as it showed how much they care for the dead in the ancient times, to make such complete effort in pinning their coffins near the edge of a cliff.  To history junkies, this place is worth the visit despite its somehow spooky background because it says a lot about us as Filipinos and it’s a tale worth passing to the next generation.

Click here if you plan to visit.

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