Luzon is the country’s largest island and 15th largest in the world, with a population of 53 million — about half the country’s. Therefore, it has tons of things to see in this nature rich country. However, if this is your first time visiting the country, we recommend you check out some of the more spectacular sights in the Philippines, such as those found in Palawan or Visayas. And if you have the budget, we would love to take you on one of our custom private or group boat tours between El Nido and Coron in Palawan.
If you would like to explore Luzon, we suggest only Luzon because of the great expanse of the country, otherwise you will spend a lot of your vacation time on transport. In fact, as you will see in this map of attractions and destinations for Luzon, there are so many options that you may even need several visits just to cover the great expanse of this island alone! Below I’ll give a brief description to the more popular sites.
Most popular tourist destinations and attractions in Luzon
There will be links to some others below.
Banaue Rice Terraces
By far the most popular and famous among the tourist attractions in Luzon, and a must see if you will be touring this part of the country. Anthropologists claim that the terraces may be over 2,000 years old, built by hand and simple tools by the indigenous ancestors of Ifugao. It is considered the Eighth Wonder of the World, the steps if strung end to end would encircle half the globe. It draws water through an ancient irrigation system from the rain forest above the terraces, although nowadays less people are interested in such subsistence farming, the younger locals often moving to Manila or working for the tourism trade for a more lucrative lifestyle.
There is also the Batad Rice Terraces:
Vigan is one of the oldest towns in the country and boasts an intriguing and important mix of historical and cultural landmarks. With a lot of great restaurants and bars, you will find yourself amply busy over a couple of days of sightseeing, while it is also a great place to buy locally-made arts and crafts.
Hundred Islands National Park
Not far north from Manila, this wonderful home to 124 islands and islets is a great place to camp overnight on some secluded island and spend a few days snorkeling in its sparkling waters full of marine water or exploring the limestone islands covered in forest and sprinkled with the occasional remote beach.
Famous for its cliff hanging coffins, this is a great area for hikers, whitewater rafting, rappeling down cliffs, and exploring caves, waterfalls and viewpoints.
Mount Pulag National Park
Not far from the Hundred Islands National Park, this is also a hiker’s paradise.
A little pitstop for spelunkers.
Manila Ocean Park
If you are stuck in Manila for a day you can let yourself get lost in this wonderland.
For ideas on other areas in Luzon you can try:
History and interesting facts about Luzon
With a population of 53 million, Luzon is the 4th most populous island in the world, making up about half the entire country’s. The name is said to be derived from the Tagalog word “lusong”, which represents a large wooden tool used to dehusk rice:
This tool was usually used by two to three men or women who would work in rhythm together to pound the rice and was actually a focal point for socialising among villagers.
The island was originally inhabited by Negritos before Austronesians from Taiwan took over. By the 16th century the Spaniards broke up the various kingdoms, establishing the islands of the Philippines (Las Islas Filipinas) with their capital in Cebu, later moved to Manila. Under Spanish control, Luzon was used as a point of trade between the Americas and Asia, bringing in silver from Peru and Mexico to be used in exchange for Chinese silk, Indian gems and Indonesian spices. This trade and activity turned Luzon into a focus of global migration.
Eventually for 20 million dollars Spain sold its Philippine footholds to the US following their defeat over the battle for Mexico, giving rise to the First Philippine Republic, which in turn rebelled against US efforts to subjugate their new aquisition. However, no other country in the world recognised the young republic and the rebel forces were overcome by the sheer numbers of the American colonisers. It is at this time that the US set up the city of Baguio in the mountains as a summer retreat for their officers.
After the World War, many colonies around the world rose up against their overlords, the Philippines among them and which eventually gained its own independence. Luzon became the wealthiest island in the archipelago, but the lingering divide between the rich and the poor perpetuated by US supported dictator Ferdinand Marcos led to civil unrest and the dispersion of many from their original homeland.
The Philippines abounds in beautiful nature and wonderful people, and a great way to experience it is to get off the beaten path. If you make your way down to Palawan, we would love to take you on a custom private or group boat tour between El Nido and Coron. It is our favourite part of the country!