Mountain ranges, lakes, volcanoes, and plains. Baroque churches and Spanish colonial houses.
For the traveler in pursuit of the next gorgeous shot, Luzon’s natural and man-made wonders make for the perfect playground.
And when it comes to chasing those enchanting frames, the following photogenic spots around Luzon are certainly some of the most rewarding:
The windswept province of Batanes, at the northernmost tip of Luzon, is a photographer’s dream-come-true. Like a postcard that has come to life, Batanes is a combination of rustic and dreamy; a tour to a world of stone houses and breathtaking, verdant hills.
The iconic Naidi Lighthouse looks picture-perfect on any time of the day. The spot faces the west, making it an excellent vantage point for the sunset. From the lighthouse, you also get an excellent view of Basco’s town proper, including the town cemetery and Mt. Iraya at the farther end. If you’re that motivated, Naidi Lighthouse is also a great spot for capturing the Milky Way.
Meanwhile, the village of Chavayan on Sabtang Island provides perhaps the best example of a well preserved traditional Ivatan village. Its row of tightly clumped squat stone houses, chapel, and beach each provide excellent photo opportunities. Chavayan’s beach faces the east, making it a great choice for a sunrise shoot. This just means one thing: spending a night in one of the houses at Chavayan should always be in order.
Marlboro Country, a communal pastureland, is one of Batanes’ most photographed spots, and for good reason: its sweeping view of hills and ocean, plus a distant view of the Tayid Lighthouse, is simply unrivaled. You don’t want to get too near the carabaos though. They don’t like it.
Surrounded by the Cordillera mountain range, the Cordillera Administrative Region’s lush mountain scenery acts as the perfect backdrop to its rich, thriving indigenous culture.
Most of the time, these views require a bit of prior hiking as well. For instance, climbing Mt. Pulag, Luzon’s highest peak, rewards you with a view of the sea of clouds as the sun steadily makes its way up. Getting to the rice terraces in Batad in Ifugao is not exactly a walk in the park, but the views are definitely worth every muscle pain in the end.
But little known terraces, which are everywhere in the Cordillera like this one from the village of Buscalan in Kalinga province, are also just as worth the extra effort. With Kalinga’s indigenous tattoo culture and the mighty Chico River cutting through its terraces, reasons for visiting this province just keep on growing.
No matter how much it has changed, Baguio City’s charm still holds, especially in spots like this—a view of the mountains during sunrise, as seen from the viewing deck of Mines View Park. You really just have to drag yourself from the bed early enough to photograph it before the crowd comes.
Nothing will ever prepare you for seeing Mayon Volcano in person, not even growing up knowing all about it from elementary textbooks and seeing it all over the Internet. On the plane to Legazpi, position yourself on a window seat on the left to take your first real glimpse of this gargantuan beauty.
And as you go around, even as far as Donsol in neighboring Sorsogon province, Mayon’s perfect slopes will always follow you around. Whether at the plains a little distance from the famous Cagsawa Ruins (pictured below) or some other island off the coast of Albay province, Mayon Volcano makes the perfect photographic muse.
Farther south, in Sorsogon province, at the base of Bulusan Volcano, is the placidly beautiful Bulusan Lake. Located inside Bulusan Volcano Natural Park, the lake is at its best very early in the morning. Verdant and peaceful, Bulusan Lake is as much about the view as it is about the experience: after you’ve had your fill of photos from the dock, rent an aquacycle to see the rest of the lake, which is obscured from view. The other side, where the photo below was taken, provides equally terrific photo opportunities.
Palawan has way too much beauty to contain in a single photograph. A good part of the island and neighboring isles, particularly to the south, remain largely off-the-beaten path. But even the known parts, stretching from the capital Puerto Princesa all the way north to El Nido and offshore to Busuanga, will require multiple trips to cover.
Like glittering gems in a bed of aquamarine, the islands of the Bacuit Archipelago in El Nido show nature at its most pristine. Staggeringly tall limestone cliffs standing on gleaming white sand—even the most basic cameras will not leave El Nido wanting for beautifully captured frames. This photo, taken from one of the cliffs on Matinloc Island showing Tapiutan Strait, shows an ordinary sunny day in El Nido.
Coron, another one of Palawan’s more popular destinations, also offers dreamy island encounters. One of its most iconic sceneries can be seen halfway through an up-and-down trek to Kayangan Lake, which is enclosed by limestone cliffs.
7. Ilocos Sur
The Ilocos Region is home to heritage sites and natural wonders that make the long road trip north worth it. The Heritage Village in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vigan, is a favorite for good reason: the different cobblestone calles, traditional bahay-na-bato, and kalesas all make Vigan a living photograph of colonial Philippines. The stretch of Calle Crisologo is particularly photogenic as dusk approaches, when the skies turn a vibrant blue and warm lights glow from the buildings on both sides.
8. Ilocos Norte
Spread over nine kilometers of shoreline in Bangui, Ilocos Norte, the so-called Bangui Windmillsharness wind power to electricity, but the site has become a tourist attraction as well. From afar, the windmills create a beautiful arc along the beach—a stunning combination of natural and man-made.
Meanwhile, Saint Augustine Church, more commonly known as Paoay Church, could very well be one of the most beautiful Baroque pieces of architecture in the country. Part of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the church is surrounded by large well-kept lawns that create a romantic and rustic feel.
The above list covers just a few of Luzon’s most photogenic spots. Share your own picks in the comments below!