Philippines: Cultural & Heritage Tourism

Rice terraces. Banaue, Philippines

Rice terraces, ancient churches and “dreamweavers” only scratch the surface of the Philippines’ rich cultural pickings available to every tourist brave enough to venture off the beaten path.

1.1. Ilocandia Heritage and Cultural Tour (Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur)

The northern Ilocos provinces are home to an industrious and frugal people who populate a land filled with natural and cultural treasures. Travelers can explore the well-preserved heritage town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur; take in the local churches, among them the churches of Paoay, Bacarra and the UNESCO-recognized Santa Maria Church; sample culinary favorites like the Ilocos empanada and bagnet; and conclude with a walk along the pristine beaches of Pagudpud. 

1.2. Ifugao Rice Terraces and Sagada Cultural & Heritage Tour

The culture of the Ifugao is closely tied with the Philippine highlands’ cloud-draped peaks and valleys. The tribe’s signature masterpiece – the millennia-old Ifugao Rice Terraces – dominates the landscape. You can hike through them from the town of Banaue, or see them from your bus as you drive to the town of Sagada, famous for its laid-back culture, nearby caves and the local people’s hanging coffins.

1.3. Cultural Tour of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato

The T’Boli tribespeople who live around Lake Sebu are famous around the country as expert weavers of t’nalak cloth; their patterns come to them in their dreams. Travelers can watch Lake Sebu’s “dreamweavers” at work while gazing at other examples of T’Boli craft, like brasswork and “hegalong” music. Tourists with a more outdoorsy bent can explore Lake Sebu by canoe, go ziplining, or hike to the seven waterfalls in the area.