8 Fun and Unique Things to Do in The Philippines

8 Fun and Unique Things to Do in The Philippines

Spice up your next trip to the Philippines with reptilian massages, getting a Kalinga tattoo and sandboarding down desert dunes!

The Philippines is an incredible place with an array of natural wonders including beach paradises, lush landscapes, and active volcanoes. Endless fun and exciting experiences await if you love deviating from the norm and are willing to go off-the-beaten-track. The islands naturally attract crowds of people from all over the world with Boracay’s alluring tropical island life, exquisite Filipino cuisine ( yum!) and surreal landscapes, such as Bohol’s Chocolate Hills.

But that isn’t all the Philippines has to offer! Unconventional activities, such as sandboarding and hot spas in a cooking pot, dot the islands and reveal the quirky side. In this side of the world, unique adventures await at every bend so let’s check out some of them!

1. Witness The Hanging Coffins of Sagada

Image credit: Rick McCharles

In a world where many cultures either bury or cremate their dead, the Igorot tribe of Sagada have upheld a unique method of laying their dead to rest — by hanging their coffins on the side of the mountain. Although there is a spiritual basis for this burial where the dead are thought to be brought closer to their ancestral spirits, there are practical reasons as well. During times of tribal warfare, this burial method seemed to protect the dead from the dogs and headhunters from enemy tribes.

Today, very few are upholding this 2,000-year-old traditional burial method as many embrace the nation’s profound Christian beliefs. When you find yourself in Sagada, explore the caves nearby and witness this dying ancient burial tradition firsthand.

2. Leave with a Kalinga tattoo from Cordillera Mountains

things to do in the philippines

Image credit: Mawg64

If you love inking your body, then this one’s for you! The Kalinga community sits quietly in the Cordillera mountains of Northern Luzon. Isolated from the modern society, the Kalingas are a group of tribal people who are chiefly known for their distinctive body art.

The Kalinga tattooing practice is known to be a thousand years old and the last Kalinga tattoo artist, 94-year-old Whang Od, is still sought after by many to get their dose of the dying ancient art form. Getting the tattoo is no easy task as travellers must drive up the mountainous region covered with steep gouges and deep jungles, to get to the village where Whang Od resides.

Armed with 2 bamboo sticks, one with a Calamansi thorn, Whang Od will work her magic and leave you with a masterpiece that will remind you of your time in the Cordillera region. Bear in mind that since rough thorns are used in the process, the pain intensity is significantly much higher than an ordinary tattoo. High pain threshold is crucial!

3. Relax in a giant “wok” hot tub in Tibiao, Antique

Image credit: Kayak Inn

Getting into a water-filled wok with fire underneath may sound absurd but is nothing unusual in Tibiao, Panay Island. Before your thoughts go wild, be rest assured that nobody is getting cooked here!

Instead, traditional cooking pots have been converted to rustic-looking hot tubs! Known as the Kawa hot bath, experience a good soak in a hot tub surrounded by lush sceneries. Heated up by an actual fire pit at its base, the water surprisingly is maintained at just the right temperature and does not get uncomfortably hot.

Apart from wild hot tub sessions, the town also teems with other adventurous activities such as white water river kayaking, ziplining over the Tibiao river and taking a shower at the Bugtong Bato Falls!

4. Be dazzled by the Hinatuan Enchanted River in Mindanao

things to do in the philippines

Image credit: Lawrence Craft

The magical lagoon of Hinatuan Enchanted River is unmissable when travelling through Mindanao. This saltwater river boasts emerald green shores fading into a deep blue lagoon centre, earning it the sobriquet of “Enchanted River”. Although the river itself doesn’t run too long, the crystal clear water flow has attracted crowds from domestic and international regions. The mystery revolving around the intriguing lagoon’s saltwater source has also yet to be solved.

Although swimming is now prohibited in the main lagoon to preserve the river’s natural beauty, you can still take a dip further downstream.

5. Ride the sand dunes at Ilocos Norte

things to do in the philippines

Image credit: Ilocos Norte

Anyone venturing into the city of Laoag in Ilocos Norte will know about the city’s pride and joy — sandboarding! Make your way down to either Paoay Sand Dunes or La Paz Sand Dunes to get your adrenaline rushing with Mother Nature’s version of a roller coaster.

These coastal deserts, which overlook the grandeur of the South China Sea, are decked with massive dunes where you can surf the sand. Grab your board and toboggan down the dunes in your preferred style. Remember to close your mouth else you will be munching sand grains thereafter!

Image credit: Ilocos Norte

Sandboarding aside, adventure tour groups will also bring you on an epic ride across the bumpy slopes of the desert on a 4X4 vehicle. If you want to be in control of the wheels, try riding the available ATVs as well!

6. Kayak down Abatan River and witness Bohol’s firefly tree

Image credit: Bohol Tourism

Bohol is famous for its iconic Chocolate Hills and colourful coral reefs, but did you know that there are other hidden gems waiting to be discovered here? Brave the night as you cut through mangrove habitats while kayaking down the Abatan River to catch a glimpse of glowing fireflies! These lightning bugs engulf and illuminate trees lining the back as they emit pulsating bioluminescence that will leave you hypnotized. Some might even buzz around you as you watch the twinkling tree in awe!

Apart from enjoying nature’s very own light show, you can also learn about the surrounding habitats and current efforts adopted to protect the fireflies.

7. Dine at Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant

Image credit: zedfrx

Not many restaurants guarantee you fun in the water or have odd requirements such as disallowing footwear but the Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant does exactly that. This restaurant is located at the foot of the Labasin waterfalls which means that visitors can take a shower while they feast on the local kamayan-style buffet lunch, which includes ensalada with bagoong, lumpiang gulay and gourmet seafood! Diners who aren’t too keen on getting drenched completely can seat themselves further away from the waterfalls and still enjoy soaking their feet in the water!

Owned by Villa Escudero in San Pablo City, diners can also make their way down to the Villa nearby from the waterfalls to engage in other exciting activities, such as bamboo rafting, bird watching or exploring surrounding rural areas in an ox-drawn jeepney!

8. Enjoy a snake massage at Davao Croc Park

things to do in the philippines

Image credit: Davao Crocodile Park

You may have heard of zoos allowing visitors to pet the animals and take photos with them. How about offering you a massage therapy with pythons for a masseuse? If you are up for it, Davao Crocodile Park in Davao City warmly welcomes you!

things to do in the philippines

Image credit: Ben Brommell

Lay down on a mat and relax (or try to, at least) as trained professionals place various types of pythons, including a 30 kg Albino Burmese python, on you. The snakes’ heavy load applies pressure to the visitor’s body as they slither around thus imitating a massage session. Thrill seekers, don’t miss out on this rare opportunity of getting snakes to wrap themselves around you!

All in all, the incredible archipelago of the Philippines has so much to offer and it only needs a little more digging to unearth the hidden wonders the islands have masked for so long!

About Authors

Begum Khalida
Begum Khalida

A curious yet quirky oddball who believes that she is the spirit animal of Matthew Gray Gubler. Apart from having a part-time job of having to correct the pronunciation of her name, Khalida is a passionate tea enthusiast who also loves to read, daydream, travel and watch a plethora of dramas.


Nur Sofia
Nur Sofia

When she isn’t plotting her next solo trip, Sofia daydreams about Santorini sunsets, Cape Town coasts and Barcelona’s beaches. Born and bred in Singapore, she feels like her heart belongs to the world though. There is a high chance you'll find her munching on Nutella cupcakes while predicting the next blindside on Survivor.


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