The areas of Luzon around Manila encompass some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations – as well as a number of undeveloped provinces that few visitors take the time to see. The island of Corregidor, out in Manila Bay, is easily accessed by ferry from the capital. Littered with thought-provoking museums and monuments to World War II, its inviting hotel makes for a tranquil overnight break from the city.
South of Manila the real highlight is stunning Lake Taal and its volcano, best approached from the heights, restaurants and refreshing breezes of Tagaytay. Along the coast Anilao offers outstanding scuba diving, while south of Laguna de Bay, the nation’s largest lake, Los Baños is best known for its delicious buko pie, hot springs and mountain pools. Further around the lake are the churning waters of the Pagsanjan Falls, where you can take a thrilling (and wet) canoe ride downriver across a series of rapids.
North of Manila you can enter northern Luzon on fast roads via historic Malolos, where the Revolutionary Congress was convened in 1898, and the town of Obando, scene of the intriguing festival known as the Obando Fertility Rites. For a little more adventure and scintillating views, climb the lush slopes of Mount Pinatubo or Mount Arayat. Bataan province, the peninsula northwest of Manila, is far more isolated and was the site of fierce fighting during World War II, commemorated by the Shrine of Valor atop Mount Samat. Come this way and it’s a straight shot north to Subic Bay, once a major US navy base and now being developed into a series of relaxed beaches and adventure parks.