11 Top Destinations in Northern Luzon, Philippines

by Angela Mark

The varied landscapes of Northern Luzon are fascinating to explore, whether you’re interested in pristine beaches, towering mountains, or miles upon miles of rice paddies. The view is breathtaking no matter where you go.

Among its varied topography are picturesque mountain villages and seaside towns, while the colonial center of Vigan displays many interesting cultural and historical landmarks.

The northern half of the biggest island in the Philippines is a nature lover’s paradise because of its incredible variety of gorgeous sites, offering excellent opportunities for hiking, swimming, and mountain climbing. Visitors can also go on picturesque boat rides to any of the beautiful islands that dot its shoreline or rappel down rock cliffs.

The area is one of the Philippines’ most culturally diverse, so it’s a good starting point for exploring the country’s many unique communities and traditions.

11. Kabayan

Scenic view of Kabayan Mountain Summit in the Philippines

A beautiful view of the Kabayan Mountain Summit in the Philippines. Image source: Daniel Justine Santillan/Shutterstock.com

The tranquil town of Kabayan, renowned mostly for its famed mummies, is situated in a picture-perfect environment surrounded by rice terraces and mountains. The Fire Mummies are awe-inspiring and unsettling to witness up close; they date back to between 1200 and 1500 AD and are hidden away in natural caverns dotting the mountain slopes.

Kabayan is home to several mummies, but the town also offers excellent hiking opportunities and breathtaking views no matter where you go. The native Ibaloi people of the region also have a rich culture and history, which can be better appreciated by visiting this area and learning more about it.

10. Bontoc

Scenic view of Bontoc town on Luzon Island, Philippines

A beautiful view of Bontoc town on Luzon Island, Philippines. Image source: Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock.com

Bontoc, tucked away in the mountains, is a lively market town that makes for a delightful stopover on the way to Mainit, Maligcong, or Kalinga. Since it is mostly agricultural and rural, there is not much to do in town other than take in the scenery and learn about the fascinating history and culture of the indigenous Bontoc people.

When the Lang-Ay Festival is in town in April, everyone breaks out their best traditional garb, and the town is at its most festive. In addition to this, there are two more notable sights: the Stone Agricultural Calendar of Bontoc and the spectacular Petroglyphs of Alab, both of which are carved into the side of a nearby mountain.

9. Bolinao

Bolinao’s secluded location and abundance of natural attractions—including gorgeous beaches, glistening waterfalls, craggy rock formations, and vast cave complexes—make it a must-see destination. Bolinao’s natural attractions are fascinating in their own right, but the municipality also has some fascinating historical sites, such as the imposing St. James Church and the town’s iconic white lighthouse.

Patar White Beach, however, is the real show stopper and is ideal for relaxing and taking it easy. At sunset, the sea takes on a gorgeous palette of oranges, yellows, and reds. Bolinao is the perfect destination to spend a stress-free vacation, and it’s definitely worth the trip.

8. San Juan

Scenic view of San Juan Beach in La Union, Philippines

A beautiful view of San Juan Beach in La Union, Philippines. Image source: Katesalin Pagkaihang/Shutterstock.com

San Juan (La Union) is a laid-back town with some of the best breakers in the country, making it a popular destination for surfers of all skill levels. The surfing culture here is very important to the way of life. There are a ton of surf stores in the area, and there are also plenty of seaside bars and surf schools to hang out at after a day in the surf.

San Juan is recognized as the “Surfing Capital of the Northern Philippines,” and although the beach is nice, the town itself doesn’t offer much to do if you’re not interested in surfing.

7. Mount Pulag National Park

Scenic view of the sea of clouds at the summit of Mount Pulag National Park, Philippines

A stunning view of the sea of clouds at the summit of Mount Pulag National Park, Philippines. Image source: hijodeponggol/Shutterstock.com

Mount Pulag, the island of Luzon’s tallest mountain, looms above its neighbors. It’s not hard to see why many native cultures revere this area. Mount Pulag, the third-highest peak in the Philippines, can be found in the park of the same name and is a popular destination for mountaineers and hikers. The national park is a pleasure to visit since it has several beautiful vistas and a wide variety of wildlife and plant life in its varied ecosystems. Seeing the sun set and rise over the beautiful surroundings while camping overnight is a very spectacular experience.

6. Sagada

Hanging Coffins of Sagada in the Philippines

A close-up view of the Hanging Coffins of Sagada in the Philippines. Image source: flocu/Shutterstock.com

The little town of Sagada is known worldwide for its morbid but oddly captivating monuments: coffins nailed to the sides of cliffs.

Sagada is a mountain paradise that is perfect for hikers, climbers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and cave exploration are all available for the daring traveler. Hiking is fantastic here for people who like more tranquil pursuits. Travel through stunning landscapes as you pass stunning waterfalls and amazing vistas. There is a wide variety of outdoor activities to choose from, so your time in town can be as tranquil or exciting as you choose.

5. Pagudpud

A scenic view of Saud Beach in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, Philippines

The crystal-clear waters and stunning scenery of Saud Beach in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Image source: MDV Edwards/Shutterstock.com

Pagudpud’s beaches are as picturesque as they come, with lovely palm trees swinging in the breeze and glistening turquoise waters. Ilocos Norte is a province in the Philippines known for its pristine white beaches and natural beauty that has been preserved because of the region’s isolation.

Anyone who can tear themselves away from the breathtaking views of Saud Beach will find the region replete with caves, coves, cliffs, and waterfalls. Pagudpud is a perfect spot to go if you’re seeking a peaceful vacation since it has fewer tourists than other Northern Luzon destinations, so you can frequently have the beaches all to yourself.

4. Hundred Islands National Park

Aerial view of Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan, Philippines

The Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan, Philippines. Image source: Roman Skorzus/Shutterstock.com

The aptly named Hundred Islands National Park has 124 islands and islets located off the coast of Alaminos. There are so many wonderful natural attractions in the park that it would take weeks, if not months, to see all there is to see.

The limestone islands rise out of the crystal-clear waters teeming with spectacular marine life; several of these islands are covered in forest and include beautiful, secluded beaches. It’s a popular tourist spot, but many visitors just stay for the day. Spending the night on an island and swimming and snorkeling in the park’s turquoise seas is the best way to take in the park’s breathtaking surroundings.

3. Banaue Rice Terraces

Rice terraces in Batad, Banaue, Philippines

The rice terraces in Batad, Banaue, Philippines. Image source: Frolova_Elena/Shutterstock.com

Banaue is a small town in the Philippines known mostly for its breathtaking scenery, which includes mountains and valleys covered in rice terraces. Filipinos often refer to the rice terraces as “the eighth wonder of the world” because of their stunning beauty and architectural marvel. It’s a remarkable sight to see nature arranged in such a way that it’s both delicate and picturesque by human hands.

Hiking through these beautiful paddies is only the beginning of the cultural experiences that await travelers to the Philippines. The Ifugao people have lived in this region for millennia and are responsible for the stunning scenery that surrounds them now.

2. Vigan

City center street scene in Vigan, Luzon, Philippines

Vigan, Luzon, Philippines, is a historic colonial town known for its well-preserved Spanish-era architecture and traditional horse-drawn carriages. Image source: Daniel Andis/Shutterstock.com

The houses and cobblestone streets in Vigan date back to the Spanish colonial period and have been well restored. In this area, you can take a trip back in time as you watch horse-drawn carriages zip by grand plazas, majestic mansions, and charming churches.

Vigan, one of the oldest towns in the Philippines, is a fascinating blend of the old and the contemporary, with traces of Spanish and Filipino culture visible at every turn. Vigan is an excellent spot to spend a few days sight-seeing due to the abundance of historical and cultural sites found throughout the town. Some of the best places to visit are St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral, the gorgeous Mestizo District, and Plaza Salcedo.

Moreover, you can find a wide variety of excellent restaurants and bars to sample the delectable local cuisine. All the souvenir stores offer lovely works of art created here in the area, perfect for that special someone back home.

1. Batad Rice Terraces

Rice terraces in the Philippines

The rice terraces in the Philippines are an engineering marvel and an important part of the country’s culture and history. Image source: Frolova_Elena/Shutterstock.com

Northern Luzon is home to some very breathtaking rice terraces that should not be missed on any tour to the region. The best site to observe them is generally agreed to be Batad. Located in a beautiful setting, Batad is home to a small community of wooden houses surrounded by miles of terraced rice fields. The gorgeous panorama that surrounds the village, complete with these blankets covering the valleys and mountains, is really a sight to see.

The little village’s rural setting makes it perfect for those in search of peace and quiet. There are many tranquil hikes you may take in the nearby hills and valleys if you’d like to stretch your legs while looking for the ideal vantage point.

No matter where you look, you’ll see mountains covered with rice terraces reaching into the distance, and the land beyond will seem like an unending sea of green.

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