Sunrise marks the beginning of a day, a routinary scene that is beautifully different everyday. They may be different day by day but each conveys the same message – a promise of a brand new beginning… of renewed hope and optimism.
Here in the Philippines, we are privileged to have 7,641 awe-inspiring view of the rising sun, spread from island to island, from lowland to highland. But where to witness it at its best is the million dollar question. To make it easier for everyone, here are ten spots in the country that guarantee an amazing view of sunrise.
Kiltepan View Deck (Sagada, Mountain Province)
Imagine seeing the sun as it rises behind the mountains with the horizon of sea of clouds at the foreground and the beautiful rice terraces below. Head over to Sagada and see this magnificent view! Undoubtedly, Kiltepan View Deck is one of the best places in Cordillera (and even in the entire Philippines) to see the sunrise. It resembles the daybreak scene at the summit of Mount Pulag but there is no need to trek here for it is easily accessible and can be reached by vehicles. If there is one thing worth waking up early after a strenuous day of activities in Sagada, this must be it!
You may either pitch a tent and camp at night or hire a jeep or van from Sagada town to bring you there before sunrise. The best time to see it is during dry season or from November to June. Make sure to bring a jacket, it can get really cold up there.
Sagada can only be reached by at least 12 hours of land travel from Manila. Expect to shell out approximately P4,500 for a three days and two nights in town including the transportation, accommodation, food and all the activities as well as some souvenirs. Vans and multicabs are readily available in town to bring you to Kiltepan View Deck for P700 round trip.
Mount Pulag Summit (Benguet – Ifugao – Nueva Vizcaya)
Famous for its sea of clouds at daybreak, the summit of Mount Pulag is undoubtedly one of, if not the best spot in the Philippines for sunrise viewing.
Standing 2,922 meters above sea level, Mt. Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines and the highest in Luzon Island. It is a favorite trekking destination, considered to have the most beautiful cloudscape and summit’s landscape of all the Philippine mountains earning its “Playground of the Gods” moniker. It sits in the Cordillera Mountain Range and bounded by the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya.
But the mountain is not for everyone. One needs reasonable amount of fitness to scale the summit, a feat that guarantees a priceless reward with its sea of clouds and rolling plains. The thrill of conquering its unparalleled peak attracts a lot of mountain climbers of all levels and purposes all year round through its five known trails – Ambangeg (the easiest), Akiki, Eddet and Tawangan trails from Benguet and the Ambaguio (Lusod) trail from Nueva Vizcaya.
The trek to Mt. Pulag via Ambangeg Trail in Kabayan, Benguet which is regarded as the easiest route can be done on a weekend if you are coming from Manila. Budget wise, P3000 is a safe figure.
Buscalan (Tinglayan, Kalinga)
Spend a night in the village of Buscalan after having a tattoo session with Whang-od, the legendary tribal tattoo artist of Kalinga. The next day, when the tattoo is starting to heal, get up early and be rewarded with the awesome view of the sun as it rises behind the mountains, revealing the beautiful rice terraces of Tulgao. Waking up early while nursing a pain can be a really tough feat, but the scene is well worth seeing, you will forget the pains once the show is on.
The trip to Buscalan involves long trek on a friendly and scenic trail. If you have the reasonable amount of fitness, then this trip is for you. Plan your trip on dry season, particularly on the month of May, when the rice terraces are on its greenest. Aside from the rice terraces, you can also trek to the waterfalls as a side trip. There are no hotels or fancy accommodation in the village, only homestays, so be the best cowboy that you can be.
A tattoo from Whang-Od can cost you at least P1,000 while homestay is for as low as P200. A guide is not necessary but if you prefer to have one, the standard fee is P300 per day. So unless you are getting a tattoo, an overnight stay in Buscalan can cost you around P3000 including the transportation from Manila to either via Tabuk, Banaue or Bontoc.
Bugsuk Island (Balabac, Palawan)
The last sunset of the country can be seen in Balabac, the southernmost town of Palawan. Ironically, it is one of the best places in the country to witness the sunrise.
The long and wide stretch of beach on the east coast of Bugsuk Island known as Punta Sebaring guarantees a picture perfect scene at daybreak. As the rays touch the land, the perfectly fine white sand and beautiful turquoise water will be slowly revealed. Ephemeral yet so divine moment that you will want to freeze the scene to enjoy it much longer.
Balabac is generally an offbeat destination as such the facilities and tourism infrastructure are not at its best. To go there means five-hour ride from Puerto Princesa and at least two-hour boat from Rio Tuba. There are reported cases of malaria particularly in the mountain and forest areas so take the necessary precautions. Best time to go is during summer, specially from March to May, when the sea is generally calm and ideal in visiting unspoiled and unexploited islands and even the century-old lighthouse of Melville.
Balabac is best explored with a group to save cost. On the average, expect to spend around P8,000 (including the airfare to and from Puerto Princesa) for three days and two nights of hopping from island to island.
Palaui Island (Sta. Ana, Cagayan)
The scene of the golden sun as it rises from the horizon paints a dramatic masterpiece and beautiful gradient to the sky of Palaui Island. Situated on the north-easternmost point of Cagayan and entire Northern Luzon, Palaui Island guarantees a postcard perfect view at daybreak on the backdrop of the Spanish era lighthouse, rolling hills and unspoiled white sand coves.
It is a long road trip from Manila to Palaui Island. One needs to catch a 14-hour direct ride to Sta. Ana or the 12- hour bus ride to Tuguegarao City plus the two-hour van to Sta. Ana. Alternatively, you can catch a commercial plane from Manila to Tuguegarao. From Sta. Ana, a short boat ride will transport you to the protected island of Palaui. To catch the sunrise in Palaui means spending a night and camping out in the island. To make the most out of the long trip, combine it with a tour of other attractions in Sta. Ana, Tuguegarao and nearby areas. A trip to this part of Luzon is quite strenuous but definitely a truly worthy one.
If you are taking the bus from Manila, a three-day / two-night adventure to Palaui Island should not cost you more than P4,000. If via round-trip plane, expect to shell out around P8000.
The eastern coasts of the islands of Batanes provide awe inspiring sunrise and one of the best and easily accessible spots to catch it is at Valugan Boulder Beach in San Joaquin, Basco.
Start your day with awesome view of sunrise at Valugan Boulder Beach before being awed all day with the amazing attractions of the most sought after destination in the Philippines! Approximately seven kilometer from the town proper, the three-kilometer stretch of beach is covered with andesite rocks, overlooking the roaring waves of the vast Pacific Ocean.
But Batanes lies on the path where storms and typhoons frequently pass so as much as possible avoid wet or typhoon season. The season usually starts from July and lasts up to November. Best time to visit is during dry months from December to June, particularly on summer from March to April.
Air fare accounts for the biggest chunk of budget in Batanes. On the average, the round trip airfare costs at least P12,000, but you can score a return ticket for as low as P2,000 during travel expo or airline sale. Once you are there, everything is price reasonably. Accommodation can go for as low as P300 per night for single fan room and by the thousands on high end resorts. For the tours, you can join the group packages, avail of a private tour or just rent a bike and do it on your own.
Osmeña Peak (Dalaguete, Cebu)
There’s no doubt that the roof of Cebu offers one of the best views of sunrise in the Philippines. With its numerous pointed peaks that resemble the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, the unparalleled vista atop makes Osmeña Peak one of, if not the most dramatic place in the country to see the sunrise. Coming from the town of Dalaguete, a trek to Osmeña Peak is an easy feat that guarantees panoramic view of the island, overlooking Cebu Strait and the island of Bohol on the east, and Tañon Strait and Negros on the west.
One need not be an experienced mountaineer to reach the highest peak of Cebu because there’s a road that is accessible to motorbikes which is just a very short trek to the summit. To catch the sunrise, it is either you camp in the mountain or stay in a lodge in town of Dalaguete, less than an hour ride to Osmeña Peak. Those in for extreme adventures traverse for at least four hours from Dalaguete to Badian, passing Osmeña Peak, Matutinao River and ending in Kawasan Falls. Best months to go are from January to May.
Budget wise, since there are plenty of airlines and promo fares to Cebu, air travel is the most convenient and cheaper way of going there from Manila. Three days and two nights in Dalaguete and Moalboal should not cost you more than P6,000 including the airfare from Manila to Cebu and back.
Chocolate Hills Adventure Park (Carmen, Bohol)
Witness an unparalleled show of nature at Chocolate Hills Adventure Park of Carmen, Bohol and be mesmerized when the horizon of 1,776 cone-shaped karst hills slowly turn into gold as the rays of the sun touch the mounds. This enchanting scene at sunrise makes the Chocolate Hills worthy in this list.
To catch the sunrise in Chocolate Hills Adventure Park means spending a night in the town of Carmen where there are basic accommodations for tourists. Best to go during dry season, specially from January to May, to be able to catch the rare golden scene on the hills.
The average cost for four days and three nights in Panglao, Tagbilaran and Carmen is approximately P8,000 including the roundtrip airfare from Manila. To save cost, watch out for the seat sale of budget carriers where you can score a return ticket to Tagbilaran for as low as P1400.
Bud Bongao (Bongao, Tawi-Tawi)
The highest peak of Tawi-Tawi is Bud Bongao, a revered mountain in the province. Rising at an altitude of 314 meters above sea level, the summit of Bud Bongao offers a panoramic vista of the sea and landmass surrounding the island. This is definitely an awesome spot to witness sunrise and even sunset. The vast seas of Celebes and Sulu, the islands of Sanga-Sanga, Simunul, Laa, Bilatan and Sibutu among others, as well as the outline of Borneo on a clear day can be seen from the summit.
Tawi-Tawi today is still enveloped by the ghost of its tragic past. Its tourism reputation is coated by the negative perception of the place. But generally speaking, it is a safe place. And for brave souls who choose to discover the place, what await are awesome surprises. Most tourists stay in Bongao, the provincial capitol, where basic facilities are available and within striking distance from the airport. Go there from December to April to best experience the place.
To those coming from Manila, Zamboanga is the gateway to Tawi-Tawi. The average round trip airfare from Manila to Tawi-Tawi via Zamboanga City is around P9,000 but once you are there, everything is cheaply priced. A P4,000 allowance for a four days and three nights there will go a long way. To save cost on airfare, keep track of airline promotions and sale.
The Boardwalk (Siargao, Surigao del Norte)
The best way to start your day in Siargao before hitting the swells is to wake up early to catch the sun as its rises over the vast Pacific Ocean. What makes the sunrise in this part of the Philippines beautifully unique is the shadow of the iconic Boardwalk that provides an interesting foreground. With the crashing sound of the waves of Cloud 9 serving as background music, watching the sunrise in the Boardwalk is defintely one of best experiences in the island! So rise up early because in Siargao, the early bird catches the awesome sunrise and the best swells!
There is a direct flight from Cebu to Siargao daily but those coming from Manila need to fly to Surigao City and catch a three-hour ferry to Dapa Port. Most tourists stay in the eastern coastal town of General Luna, where the famed Cloud 9 is situated. If you are not a surfer, worry not for there are still variety of attractions for you. Best time for surfing is during the onset of northeast monsoon from July to December. For non-surfers, plan your trip there from March to May to best enjoy the other islands around Siargao and the neighboring Bucas Grande.
Expect to spend the biggest chunk of budget on air and boat fare when going to Siargao. On the average, a four-day / three-night in Siargao and Bucas Grande will cost you approximately P10,000. Again, avail of the promo fares to lower the cost.