My family and I love adventurous travel. While we love the typical family travel destinations like Disneyland, or visiting big cities like New York, there’s something to be said about going slightly off the beaten path with your kids. One of our favorite vacations was visiting the tourist spots in Luzon, Philippines. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily say that the Philippines is off the beaten path, as there are plenty of visitors who go there every year, but the idea of Philippines travel doesn’t exactly scream “family travel.”
But anyone who has ever been to the Philippines would say that it’s a great place to visit. Especially with your kids. With its welcoming culture, tropical climate, and beautiful scenery, Philippines travel is well-worth doing at least once in your life.
Visiting the tourist spots in Luzon
We visited the tourist spots in Luzon in 2012, when my step-son was fourteen and my daughter was not yet two. It was a blast. There were so many cool places to see and things to do. And since my husband’s family comes from the Philippines, there was a personal connection for us too.
If you’re trying to decide where to take your family for vacation, you may want to consider visiting the tourist spots in Luzon, Philippines. Although the initial flight costs may be more expensive than places like Europe or Mexico, the dollar is strong over there. So the overall trip costs wouldn’t be too different from any other trip. Plus, unless you’re spending time in the rural areas, most people speak English, and are more than happy to practice with you.
Here are my picks for Philippines travel ideas for your next family trip:
One of the more obvious tourist spots in Luzon is the capital city of Manila. Within that city, the old historic part is called Intramuros. It’s characterized by a wall that surrounds the area, and is still full of some of the old Spanish-style architecture in some of its buildings. When we were there, we decided to go all-out tourist mode and rent a kalesa to take us around Intramuros. Kalesas are traditional horse-drawn carriages, and one of the things I liked about riding them is that you go at a much slower pace than a car, which makes it easier to look around and take in the sites. Plus, my kids loved riding around in a horse-drawn carriage.
If you’re looking for a nice place to get some lunch in Manila, then you should definitely head to Manila Bay, another one of the popular tourist spots in Luzon. The restaurants in this area are known for their seafood. On our trip, we decided to stop by Harbor View Restaurant. Their restaurant includes a covered pier, which gives you the chance to dine right on the water. We ate to our heart’s content on crabs and seafood, as well as traditional Filipino dishes like kare-kare and halo-halo.
One of the heroes of the Philippines, Jose Rizal, has a park dedicated to him in the central coastal part of Manila. Parks are a great way for families to relax when they’re doing Philippines travel. In terms of family friendly tourist spots in Luzon, we especially liked Rizal Park for the fountain found in the center of the park. Rizal Park also has memorials dedicated to Jose Rizal, so this was also a way for my kids to learn about their Filipino heritage.
Mall of Asia
Filipinos love their shopping. It’s evident in the abundance of malls throughout the Philippines. Manila is no exception. In fact, Manila has the eleventh largest mall in the world, called the Mall of Asia. When we were in the city, we spent an afternoon shopping at the Mall of Asia, a large open area mall with amenities like an ice skating rink, a ferris wheel, and even an arena! Of course, while we were there, we spent most of our time at the shops. It was just so big, I think we covered just a tiny corner of the place. If you’re traveling with little kids, a mall is a great place for them to run around.
If you’re wanting some less busy tourist spots in Luzon, head out of the city of Manila. Just about an hour’s drive from Manila is the Taal Volcano, considered the world’s smallest volcano. It’s set in the middle of Lake Taal, and is accessible by boat. For us, we decided to forgo the boat ride to the volcano, and instead headed to nearby Tagaytay, where you can catch postcard-worthy views of the volcano.
My husband’s parents met in Subic Bay, a military base in the Philippines on the coast of the island of Luzon, west of Manila. His dad was in the Navy, and his mom was working on the base. Since the base held such an important place in my husband’s history, we decided to stop by there and see what it was all about.
These days, all the former US military bases in the Philippines have been turned into duty-free shopping areas (remember how I said Filipinos love their shopping?), so they are all overflowing with shopping malls and visitors coming in droves to take advantage of tax-free shopping. Subic Bay has become one of the frequently visited tourist spots in Luzon, by foreigners and Filipinos alike. Despite the commercial aspect of former bases like Subic Bay, there are still some naturally beautiful parts of the area. Subic Bay, in particular, is quite peaceful to look at in the early mornings, before the visitors come.
Also on the island of Luzon, and north of Manila, is the hill town of Baguio. It’s a nice respite from the hot craziness that is Manila. When we visited, it was cool and rainy, and I was actually wishing I had brought warmer clothes to the Philippines! There are plenty of interesting things for families to see in Baguio, including a botanical garden, Burnham Park (Baguio’s version of Central Park), and John Hay Air Base (a former US military base-turned museum). It rained most of the time we were there, but we were lucky to have rented a car, so the rain didn’t bother us too much.
Mines View Park
Just outside of Baguio is Mines View Park, which overlooks the abandoned gold mines and copper mines near the town of Igoton. The area is a nice place for a picnic and to catch scenic views of mountains and hills. And when we visited, the climate was definitely several degrees cooler than Manila.
Philippines travel may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of family travel, but the country definitely has plenty of family-friendly activities for you to enjoy. We loved our time in the Philippines, and can’t wait to visit again.
Have you had a chance to experience Philippines travel with your family? Share your stories with me!
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