It might be overwhelming to choose from Cebu Pacific’s 37 domestic and 25 international destinations, but we’ve done the leg work for you
7. Experience Kapampangan culture
This year is looking set to be big for tourism in Pampanga with the launch of the new Comercio Central lifestyle market playing a big role in attracting travelers. Launched just last December, Comercio Central offers several dozen stalls spread out on the Parade Grounds, each hawking a piece of Kapampangan culture — the distinctive cuisine, handicrafts and even performing arts. “Comercio Central is not just a marketplace, it’s a social hub,” explains Bessie Rustia, organizer of the Balik Pinas, Balik Saya tourism program. “Our objective is to elevate Pampanga as a top-of-mind, must-visit destination.”
8. Explore Cebu’s Big Five
The Cebu Provincial Tourism Office’s new Big Five ecotourism initiative highlights five towns in southern Cebu, with experiences unique to each one. The town of Alegria is all about canyoneering and tours of the local organic farms; Argao takes you on a foodie adventure that reveals the traditional production processes behind tuba (palm wine), tablea (chocolate tablets) and torta (Argao’s native pastry, produced with tuba for a nice, boozy flavor). Aloguinsan’s Bojo River and Hermit Cove underpin the town’s water-based fun, while bird watchers and nature lovers will find what they seek in Alcoy’s Nug-as Forest Reserve. Finally, the town of Boljoon is the site of a heritage walk centered around the centuries-old Boljoon Church. The Big Five initiative is also about empowering the community. “It will level the playing field for small-time players, especially local communities who are supposed to take care of their own local natural and cultural heritage,” Cebu provincial tourism officer Joselito Costas says.
9. Take the kids surfing in Siargao
Despite Siargao’s rising reputation as a top world surfing spot, the waves on this island are suitable for all levels. Elaine Abonal, proprietor of surfing tourism company Surfista Travels and a certified ISA Level 1 International Surf Instructor, ensures that even Siargao’s challenging surf breaks can be welcoming to surf-ready kids. That’s why she launched kids’ packages last year. “When we teach kids, we never force them,” explains Elaine. “The Surfista way is the fun way. We don’t believe in pushing a student into a wave. We encourage them and catch them when they fall,” says Elaine. Surfista Kids’ sessions take place at the island’s tamer surf spots for an age-appropriate challenge. “This is a good way for them to get out of their comfort zone, and try something new.”
10. Shop at a retro market in Lopburi
For authentic Thai local experiences, you’ll have to move a little away from Bangkok and on to the nearby province of Lopburi, home to a new “retro” market. Opened in November, Talat Boran Ban Si Phak looks and feels different from most other markets. For starters, the market’s 70-plus shops use one- and two-storey wooden shophouses built in traditional Thai styles. Products include local souvenirs, indigenous arts and crafts, and local food and drinks. Lopburi is just a short drive northeast from Bangkok, and in exchange for the schlep, you get a greater variety of goods, lower prices and a more small-town feel.
11. Come into the light in Sydney
From May 25 to June 16, lasers, spotlights and projectors will transform the Harbour City into a brilliantly animated light show. The Vivid Sydney festival — billed as “the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas” — celebrates its 10th year in 2018, promising three weeks of artistic exhibitions, musical performances and seminars by scientists, business leaders and other great minds. Among the things to look forward to are the light sculptures at the Museum of Contemporary Art; wildlife-themed light and sound shows at Taronga Zoo; and “light walks” through major Sydney neighborhoods. See Sydney landmarks like the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge covered in brilliant, compelling images as this year’s evening light shows promise to be the most spectacular yet.
12. Be a culture vulture in Iloilo
The new Western Visayas Regional Museum in Iloilo is slated for a soft opening in time for this month’s Dinagyang Festival. Housed in the former Iloilo Rehabilitation Center building, the five galleries on the ground floor will be filled with treasures that showcase Panay Island’s and Negros Occidental’s cultural and natural heritage. These include a gold death mask (found in Oton, Iloilo) and a 750,000-year-old fossilized elephant molar (found in Cabatuan, Iloilo).