The Philippines is known for its beautiful beaches and pristine diving and snorkeling sites, but the island nation isn’t just sand and sea. There are also plenty of mountainous areas along the 7,000 some islands. So if you’re an avid hiker or just a fan of the outdoors, there are plenty of great hiking choices to choose from. They can range from beginner trails all the way up to advanced, difficult treks. Here’s a look a 5 hiking destinations that should be on your radar if you plan on trekking your way through the Philippines.

BANAUE RICE TERRACES

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On the northern island of Luzon in the Ilfugao Mountains are the ancient rice terraces of Banaue. They are a must see for any traveler visiting the Philippines; whether you intend to hike or not. Some refer to them as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. The Banaue Rice Terraces were carved out into the mountains over 2,000 years ago and are irrigated from the rain-forests located above.

Getting to the terraces can prove to be a daunting feat in itself. You should plan a few days for your hiking trip, as it’s roughly an eight hour drive from Manila. Depending on where you’re starting from to get to Manila, it’s likely going to take at least a day’s worth of travel before you arrive. Consider a home stay option to rest up before you start your hiking adventure.

There are various trails you can take around the area, but it’s probably best to hire a local guide to take you This is especially recommended if you plan to do a day long hike. It can be a fairly strenuous hike with several inclines so make sure you’re fit enough to do it. It’s very remote with little access to necessities nearby so being able to make it back is important. Once you hit the final ascents the views are absolutely breathtaking!

TIRAD PASS

Considered a challenging hike for the beginner and a moderate hike for those who are more experienced. The Tirad Pass trek is one of the more famous hiking destinations in the Philippines. That’s because this particular destination also holds a historical significance for the people of the Philippines. It’s where the Philippine General Gregorio del Pilar fought his last battle during the Philippine-American war in 1899. The Tirad Pass also offers some great views, especially since Mount Tirad is the 3rd largest peak in the Ilocos Region.

Tirad Peak is part of the Tirad Pass National Park, located in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur. There are plenty of historical markers to discover along the trail and the views are pretty awesome. Don’t forget to check out the shrine statue of General del Pilar on his horse during your trek. It’s a fun mix of history and scenery combined to make a memorable hike!

TAAL VOlCANO TRAIL

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Who can pass up the opportunity to hike the trail around a volcano? The Philippines definitely has plenty of volcanoes to offer: for hiking or sightseeing. Taal Volcano is located on the northern island of Luzon in the province of Batangas. The area offers several different trails that are of relatively low difficulty, making it a great place for the beginner hiker to explore.

It’s important to keep in mind that the Taal volcano is still an active volcano. It’s actually the 2nd most active one in the Philippines! In general, however; it’s safe for an adventurous volcano trek and offers plenty of amazing views. There are also potential side-trips and strolls, as the whole area is beautifully picturesque. Not to mention you’ll have the distinction of being able to say you’ve hiked an actual volcano!

MOUNT PICO DE LORO (MT. PALAY PALAY)

Because Mount Pico de Loro is accessible by bus from Manila, it’s a popular spot for local hiker to have an outdoor getaway from the city. The area around Pico de Loro is a DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) protected area, and hikers must register with the local office there and pay a minimal fee before being allowed to hike.

A lot of this hike is through the local forests, and the first hour or so of the hike is relatively easy. The trek can become a bit strenuous with increasing inclines. It takes about 3-4 hours to reach the base camp of the mount where a pretty awesome view awaits. Once you arrive at base camp and rest up (and take plenty of pictures) you’ll then head for the actual peak of Pico de Loro (parrot’s peak) named for its resemblance to the beak of a parrot when viewed from afar. The trail to the peak is steep and can be slippery, so be careful during the ascent. The trek to the top will be worth it. The breathtaking views of the surrounding area are waiting.

MOUNT TRES MARIAS

If you’re looking for a more “off the beaten path” location to hike, check out Mt. Tres Marias: the names for its three peaks that make up the mountain system. Located on Biliran Island in the Eastern Visayas area of the country, this pristine area is known for its natural landscapes. There are numerous waterfalls and volcanoes to be explored. It’s an emerging hiking destination, which gives it the allure of being relatively untouched for plenty of raw natural beauty.

The trails of Mount Tres Marias can be moderately steep, but are well established. There are quite a few trail options to choose from. A typical trek here tends to be an overnight feat, so you may want to plan for lodging options before heading there. The area is also known for its various species of snakes, some even poisonous, so be aware of your surroundings while conquering this untamed jungle and mountain peaks. The area around Mount Tres Marias also has other tourist options to try as well. There’s a natural spring water swimming spot, and the famous San Juanico Bridge and McArthur’s landing site.