We all know that Boracay and Palawan are some of the most prominent go-to destinations in the country. That said, the Philippines is rife with hidden tourist gems just waiting for their deserved time in the spotlight, too. If you’re on the prowl for more lesser known spots to add to your travel bucket list, we’re one step ahead you.
In a recent Summit Sandwich Session with Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, we asked her for a list of underrated travel destinations in the Philippines. Read up on her suggestions below!
The province of Isabela may not be top of mind when it comes to local travel destinations, but Sec. Berna highly recommends it for its great and food and gorgeous churches. “They have the best kutsinta. They [also] have pancit cabagan and lechon,” she shared. “For me part of traveling is what food I can eat that’s unique to that province or that destination. It’s underrated but it’s actually really beautiful.”
As for its churches, a few ones you can add to your check list are the San Matthias Parish Church in Tumauini, the more modern Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel in the town of Gamu, and the historical San Pablo Church, a.k.a. the oldest church in the province.
2. Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte
If you’re planing a trip to Mindanao in the future, consider stopping by Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte. While there, Sec. Berna particularly recommends a visit to the Rizal Park and Shrine for an educational trip down memory lane. “When you land in Dapitan, [the museum is] 45 minutes away,” said the DOT secretary. “You can see the love letters from Josephine Bracken to Jose Rizal. You can see where they lived. You can see the life of Rizal in Dapitan.”
Though it’s famously known as the Shrine City of the Philippines for its deep relations with the national hero, Dapitan is also home to a few stunning beaches, perfect for tourists vacationing in the summer. A standout option is the Dakak Park and Beach Resort, a magnificent countryside getaway that comes with 13 different restaurants to feed the foodie in you.
3. San Pablo, Laguna
Speaking of food, another must-visit destination for food lovers, in particular, is Laguna’s San Pablo City. A tourist magnet to take note of is the Patis Tesoro Garden Cafe. Owned by designer Beatriz “Patis” Tesoro, the restaurant and bed and breakfast is beloved for its homey heritage house design and familiar native cuisine.
If you’re looking for a B&B alternative, there’s also Casa San Pablo, as mentioned by Sec. Berna. The property itself is worthy of your instagram feed should you find yourself scouring for charming rustic photo spots in the city.
4. Pinto Art Museum, Antipolo, Rizal
For something closer to home if you’re residing in the metro, there’s always the Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo. Founded in 2010, the popular exhibition space is home to marvelous contemporary art by local artists. Oh, and if it wasn’t obvious already, every turn you take in the vicinity warrants a snap for the ‘gram.
Hear more about Secretary Berna's recommendations below.