8 natural wonders you must visit in the Philippines (WayToGo)

Chocolate Hills_Photo by Nikka Sarthou-Lainez

(This feature was published in WayToGo last April 2016)

These works of art crafted by Mother Nature will definitely take your breath away.

Banaue Rice Terraces

These ruggedly beautiful rice terraces, which have been declared a National Cultural Treasure, were carved into the mountains of Ifugao more than 2,000 years ago. Today, the indigenous community continue to maintain the traditional farming practices that their ancestors started; however, more young people are migrating to the urban areas of the Philippines, leaving fewer people to work the fields. Pay a visit before the terraces deteriorate.

Mountain Province Rd, Banaue, Ifugao; banaueterraces.com

Chocolate Hills

If there’s one thing that Bohol is famous for, it’s these conical, symmetrical haycock hills. There are more than 1,200 of them spread out across 50km2, each standing at a height between 30m and 50m. At the end of the dry season, these grassy hills turn from vibrant green to chocolate brown — hence the name.

Loay Interior Rd, Carmen, Bohol; chocolatehills.net

Hinatuan Enchanted River

The eye-catching light and dark aquamarine hues of the river will leave you in awe, but what’s more mysterious about this idyllic hideaway is its unknown origin — it appears to spring from nowhere. Legend has it that the river is home to protective supernatural beings. Visitors still flock to this must-see destination to swim in its clear waters, which run as deep as 50ft in some areas.

Brgy. Talisay, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur

Mount Mayon

This majestic stratovolcano south of Metro Manila is a hugely popular tourist attraction, despite being the most active volcano in the country. Its perfectly conical shape, which can be seen from just about anywhere in Bicol, makes it one of the most picturesque peaks in the world. The best time to climb it is between February and April, weather and volcanic activity permitting.

Albay, Bicol

Puerto Princesa Underground River

The journey to Palawan’s most famous tourist attraction involves traveling by air, land and sea, but it’s well worth the trip. The impressive subterranean cave system, which is 8.2km long and flows directly into the South China Sea, is filled with remarkable karst landscapes. Join a boat tour to fully appreciate the amazing rock formations inside this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Subterranean River National Park, Sabang, Palawan

Lake Sebu

The picture-perfect Lake Sebu is one of the most important watersheds in the country, supplying water to the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato. It’s also home to the T’boli, a highland ethnic tribe that believes the lake is a food basket given by God. After taking in the beauty of the lake, shop for T’nalak handicrafts (traditional crafts made by T’boli women) and pay a visit to the nearby waterfalls.

South Cotabato; lakesebu.southcotabato.org

Sumaguing Cave

Sumaguing Cave is also known as the Big Cave, thanks to its massive chambers, which are the largest among all of Sagada’s caves. Brave spelunkers will relish exploring its deep, dark expanse, which is dotted with jaw-dropping stalactites and stalagmites, and pools of clear, cold water. It’s dangerous to venture into the cave on your own, though, so do enlist the help of a guide.

South Rd, Sagada

Tinuy-an Falls

With a breadth of 95m and height of 55m, it’s no wonder that the spectacular, multi-tiered Tinuy-an Falls has earned the moniker “Niagara Falls of the Philippines”. This tapestry of cascading waters is best experienced up close by riding a bamboo raft around its plunge pool.

Bislig, Surigao del Sur