Aside from visiting the beach during summer, there are other options to cool off by visiting mountain provinces like Baguio. Located approximately 250km (4-5hrs drive) away from Manila, Baguio is a popular destination for the locals because of all the activities you could do in the area.

1. Take a Nature Escape.

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Baguio is popular for its cool weather, so it’s pleasant to do outdoor activities all throughout the day. Baguio is filled with pine trees, parks, gardens and a lake, so you can do several outdoor activities such as strolling in the parks, picnics under the pine trees, horseback riding at Wright Park or boat-paddling at Burnham Park. Camp John Hay is one of my favorite places to go to get some fresh air.

Camp John Hay is a 246-hectare mountain resort with restaurants, shops, hotels, a golf course and other activities around the area.

2. Visit the Strawberry Farm.

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One of the activities I would recommend is picking fresh strawberries and vegetables in the Strawberry Farm. The Strawberry Farm is open for fruit picking from November to May every year. The best part about visiting the Strawberry Farm is all the food and souvenir stalls in the area. You can get strawberry jam, local delicacies, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other locally produced items.

The Strawberry Farm can be located here.

3. Check out a Haunted House.

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Baguio has gone through several horrifying natural disasters which make it a place rich with post-disaster stories. For us, we decided to take a peak of the Laperal White House in the evening. It was an eery sight, considering many of the stories were told to us before we even went close to the gate. Several deaths have happened in this house – from the owner to the child, to the household helper who committed suicide for not guarding the owner’s child closely. There are some instances of visitors still seeing a bloodied woman peaking out of the attic window, and some, hearing angry voices and noises from inside the house even when it is completely empty.
For thrill seekers, visit the list of haunted places here.

4. Eat in a Nice Restaurant with a View.

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With many of the farms located in or close to Baguio, there’s no doubt that you would be getting good food because most of the ingredients is fresh. People actually come to Baguio for food tripping – there’s a wide variety of food choices in the city. There are also several restaurants which you can visit with a nice scenic view. My friends and I visited Lemon & Olives Greek Taverna located here. The good and decent priced food (especially when compared to Manila) and the view adds to the great meal.
Visit this link for the top 10 most loved restaurants for 2017.

5. Vintage Finds and Factory Outlet Shopping.

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Baguio is almost a one-stop-shop with all the shopping you can do. Vintage finds, factory outlets, night markets, silver shopping, food shopping, artisan shopping and many more. There are so many shopping spots which we were not able to visit in the 3 days we were there, so if you do plan to do a shopping spree in Baguio, make sure you stay a little longer and bring a car with a larger trunk.
Any other suggestions on what to do when in Baguio? Feel free to drop it in the comments section.
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Do you want to visit a place of rich history that will take you back 300 years of Spanish influence? There are only a few places in the Philippines that preserve such Hispanic towns with a fusion of Spanish colonial culture — and Ilocos region is one that truly stands out. From historic churches, deep aquamarine-colored seas, panoramic vistas of rugged mountains, hidden waterfalls and a multihued history, there are plenty of things to discover that will leave you a feeling of nostalgia.

As many locals tend to visit Vigan (Ilocos Sur), one of Philippine’s oldest preserved Spanish towns, the Travelling Foxes decided to venture out to Ilocos Norte. About 488 kilometers north from Manila, Ilocos Norte is the self-proclaimed “True North”, where you can almost see from a distance the tip of our nearest neighboring country, Taiwan! Getting there is easy as you can ride an overnight bus that takes you straight to Laoag City; or if you want to save up some time, take a domestic plane ride from Manila that will get you there in 1.5hrs or less.

Our trip to Ilocos Norte was a pretty cramped one (we stayed there for 4 days, including our travel time to and from the city). So to say that we’ve fully explored the city is an overstatement, but nonetheless, we were able to see and do as much as we can, and capture moments that are worth sharing.

Here are top 5 things we did and highly recommend when you plan to visit Ilocos Norte:

1. Visit the wind farms of Bangui.

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They’re more than just a pretty structure. Bangui (bang-gee) used to be a sleepy town until it gained tourism fame in 2005, where the first wind farm in Southeast Asia started operations with 15 wind turbines of about 70 meters tall. These giant white fans are perfectly planted along the 9-kilometer stretch of the beach on Bangui Bay, making it as picturesque as the iconic windmills of Netherlands. The number of turbines have since grown, and attracted a number of tourists wanting to take photos of what’s now become a symbol for Ilocos Norte.

We were lucky to have the opportunity to talk to one of the local wind power companies and actually climb one of the turbines to get a stunning panoramic view of the Bangui wind farms. Unfortunately, this isn’t open to the public, but it’s definitely still worth visiting — and perhaps learn more about how energy is transmitted through wind power!

2. Chill out on the beaches of Pagudpud.

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I’ve never seen so much shades of blue until I visited Pagudpud. Just a few kilometers away from Bangui, you will discover that Pagudpud is not your typical beach. Because it’s located at the northernmost tip where the winds may be strong, it can get rather gloomy and rainy. The deep waters can also get dangerous as the waves are big (perfect for surfing though!). However, because of the frequent rain, you’re most typically rewarded with a pretty rainbow; and you’ll love every minute whenever you get a chance of sunshine.

The hospitality here is great and there are many places to stay – I recommend Evangeline for the great service and comfortable rooms! But more than that, if you’re in Pagudpud, it’s definitely a must to “chillax” and listen to the waves crashing on the shore. Just don’t let the rain get in the way!

3. Sample some yummy Ilocano chow. 

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Like the rest of Ilocos region, Ilocos Norte is not an exception when it comes to gastronomic adventures. Now, I’m no foodie (I’m the worst critic ever!), but trying out some Ilocano specialties is definitely a must. If you want to sample some of their familiar dishes, the most popular one would be Bagnet – as I call it, crispy deep-fried pork to perfection. If you’re craving for something exotic, I’ve tried Dinuguan pizza (pictured above) and Pinakbet pizza in Paoay. We were travelling with a German girl who has never tried any of these dishes, so imagine me trying to explain what Dinuguan is (yep, it’s basically pork blood!).

There are loads of dishes we haven’t tried when we were there, unfortunately, but I heard that one should never miss their famous empanadas, the “abu-os” or ant eggs, and their specialty vegetable broths called Dinengdeng. Ilocanos love their pork and veggies!

4. Discover the hidden waterfalls.

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There are literally dozens of waterfalls in the area, and many of them require a bit of a trek (thus, hidden!). We decided to visit one of the less touristy and difficult to find waterfalls because of course, they’re usually the ones worth seeing. Pass the roots, dead leaves, bushes and trees, we finally made our way to Ka-agrian falls, magically sleeping in the middle of nowhere.

There was absolutely no one else but us, and we rushed to explore 2 falls – the Ka-agrian, and another one (pictured above) just a few meters down. It’s more majestic, breathtaking, and beautiful. It’s a must to see at least one of the falls in Ilocos, but if you want more info how to get to Ka-agrian, feel free to ask us 🙂

5. Get the adrenaline rush with sand dunes adventure. 

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For our last stop in Ilocos, we decided to stay in Paoay, particularly in Fort Ilocandia. This sprawling 77-hectare resort is one of the largest in Asia, and has a lovely Spanish architecture, built during the time of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. I was a bit overwhelmed with the range of activities you can do in the area – from shooting, ATV, parasailing, horseback riding, golf, and other water sports.

My favorite activity (and highly recommended) is the 4X4 ride across the vast lands of the La Paz sand dunes. You can also do ATV and sandboarding as part of the package, but you’ll love the thrill of riding through the bumpy sands and get that adrenaline junkie going. Fun Fact: Hollywood films like “Mad Max” was shot in this place — and it’s no wonder, the place literally looked like a scene from a movie!

To say that we have fully explored Ilocos, again, is an overstatement. But this short trip proves that there are still a lot of things to do in just a short amount of time. We’ll definitely be back, Ilocos!

Enjoy the post and maybe have some recommendations for us? Feel free to leave a comment below! 

The Philippines is surrounded by (arguably) 7,107 islands, and a huge portion of it consists of beaches. You are probably going to be visiting one of them this summer, and when you are on a beach, there are so many things that may happen that can hamper your vacation.

Jellyfish stings. Mosquito bites. Sand flies. Sunburn. Coral graze. Here are a few tips which you can share to your family, relatives, friends and colleagues to prepare them for their next summer outing.

Sun Protection

The sun feels harsher during summer, and even when it gets cloudy, you still have a chance to get the harmful UV rays on your skin.

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Prevention:

  1. Sunscreen. Protect yourself by applying high levels of sunscreen (SPF 30 and above) on your face and body. The rays of the sun can still reach your skin even when you have clothes on! Opt for sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB protection. If you plan to go swimming, find yourself water resistant sunscreen protection.
  2. Hat or Cap. The skin in your face is a lot more sensitive than your body, so if you want to protect your skin from sun damage, always keep a hat or cap on.
  3. Sunglasses. Your eyes are very sensitive to light, and too much sunlight going to your eyes is actually not good for you. Using plastic sunglasses is also harmful – so it is important to invest in a good pair of sunnies – with polarized lenses if possible!
  4. Rash guards. Sometimes, sunscreen is not enough to protect yourself from the harsh rays, especially if you plan to be under the sun around midday. Get yourself a rash guard – it can still look as sexy as a bikini!
  5. Water. You are more likely to sweat more from the heat this summer – so always hydrate! Opt for water or fresh juices to keep you hydrated and avoid over consumption of alcoholic beverages as they can cause dehydration.

Insect Protection

You may think that the only harmful insects you are most likely to come across are mosquitos, but during summer, sand flies or nik-niks are also insects you have to be alert for. Sand flies come out at dusk or dawn and their bites can cause allergic reactions. Sand flies are so tiny that sometimes you cannot see it and can only feel the bites the next day.

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Prevention:

  1. Avoid the beach during dusk or dawn. That is when the sand flies come out, and also when the dengue mosquitos start looking for their prey.
  2. Bug Spray. Wear bug repelling sprays with DEET, eucalyptus or citronella.
  3. Natural Oil. Apply natural oil around your body: coconut oil, tea tree oil or avocado oil.
  4. Avoid walking in areas surrounded by mangroves, high grass, or foliage.
  5. Stay in breezy or windy areas. Mosquitos and flies hate the wind!

Ocean Protection

This post is not meant to scare you away from swimming, but there are many things lurking beneath the surface of the water which you need to prepare for.

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  1. Jellyfish and Sea Plankton. I was a victim of jellyfish on my recent trip to Palawan and trust me, the after stings weren’t pretty! You can protect yourself with a rash guard or get some jellyfish sting protective sunscreen lotion. It also can help if you put oil in your body – but this technique is not safe if you plan to be out in the sun all day as you will fry your skin!
  2. Trigger Fish, Sharks, and other naughty fish. If you are in areas with a lot of fish – you may get bitten by one of these naughty fishes. Its going to be very rare case, but best to stay away from their “home” which are the corals or rocky areas as these fish can be protective and bite you if you come too close.
  3. Poisonous Corals. Stepping on corals is not advisable for the environment, and if the water is too low, try to avoid walking on them. This may cause serious skin grazes or even death. Corals are very pretty and are meant for your eyes only. Let them be pretty and admire them from afar. If you by any chance want to be protected while snorkeling or diving, get yourself a pair of aqua shoes. They are not that expensive and you can use them while walking in rocky and pebbly beaches.

 

Do you have any other suggestions on how to remain protected during summer? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!