I rarely start collaboration articles, but when I do it’s always about a topic close to my heart. This time, it’s about zen places in the Philippines where you can relax, unwind and disconnect from the outside world.
These zen places can help if you’re feeling stressed or burn out, or you just want to get that feeling of inner peace. These are places where you can stay for 1-3 days and come back feeling rejuvenated. Aside from our own recommendations, I’ve asked fellow bloggers and here are their suggestions!
Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa (Antipolo, Rizal)
This hanging gardens and spa is tucked away on a mountainside in Antipolo City, Rizal. Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa has everything you need for that short break — fish spas, massage pools, jacuzzi and sauna, idyllic lounges where you can enjoy tea or just chill out. The resort also offers spa services for full-body relaxation accompanied by a body scrub using banana leaves. These aside, I think the most standout feature of Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa is its ambiance. Imagine looking out at great mountain views, with a soft clinking of chimes in the background, in a place carefully decorated in Mediterranean and Balinese style. It’s perfect.
Most people go to Luljetta’s for a day trip, although there’s also an option of staying in one of their overnight accommodations.
Eco-saddle floating cottage in Lake Caliraya (Caliraya, Laguna)
From Gem of Travels with a Hobo
If peace and quiet is what you’re looking for, escape to the floating cottage of Aquascape/Eco Saddle in Lake Caliraya, just a 3-4 hour travel from Manila.
The fully-furnished and motorized nipa hut-inspired floating cottage will cruise you around the lake with the comforts of a modern home. You’ll wake up to the soft morning breeze blowing in the floating cottage’s white curtains with the sun peeking in and the lush trees of the nearby islands mirrored in the tranquil lake for a breathtaking breakfast view. By sunset, the lake is enveloped in pink, blue and orange hues so sit back and relax in the floating cottage’s balcony with a beer in hand.
The cottage was designed by the owner of the resort himself and constructed with native materials, but with a modern touch with its glass windows and sliding doors so you can get as much natural light as possible and be one with nature.
Read more about Aquascape/Eco Saddle in Lake Caliraya
Greenvalley Island (Cavinti, Laguna)
Lakes have an incredibly calming effect, more so when you’re doing it old style: camped in a tent, with brought food for cooking and a bunch of logs for night bonfire.
Greenvalley Island is an AirBnb listed property, located in Cavinti, Laguna. Specifically, it’s in Lumot Lake, an area perfect for quiet weekends. Greenvalley Island offers a cottage with a double-decked bed and outdoor tents. Utensils, cooking equipment and grills are available for preparing meals. Logs can be brought for making a bonfire.
Here, you can explore around the red-soil islands, swim in the quiet green lake or play with the animals (dogs, a horse and a few others). At night, you can light up a bonfire for storytelling or cooking marshmallows or roasted potatoes. Aside from these, one of the things I appreciate about the island is its quietness. You can sing or whistle and hear it from afar. I love it.
Read more about Greenvalley Island
Pamilacan Island (Bohol)
From Alieth of Geckome
Similar to Boracay and or Panglao Island, minus the people and the commercial establishments, that’s Pamilacan Island. A literal paradise we’ve’ fallen in love with. It is inhabited by less than 2000 people, mainly fisher folks and operator of homestays.
I was here last year 2016 when I join Balyena.org “Bohol Sea Cetacean Survey.” We stayed in the island for 2 nights and 3 days, spending the whole day in the boat looking and spotting for dolphins and whales in the Bohol Sea. It was that time I told myself to come back for a vacation and hopefully I can tag along my kids.
This place is perfect for relaxation away from the crowd. The beach is all yours most of the time.
There is a beautiful coral garden in front if you want to go snorkeling; you can have a stroll within the village and see smiling locals. Dolphin and whale watching is the major tourist attraction, but even that being said you will be doing the activity again without the crowd of boats compared to other places. There is also a very good dive spot for free diving. The local cottages for rent includes food such as vegetables and fruits available in Baclayon town, as well as abundance of seafood. The sunrise and sunset here is perfect to connive with your yoga and or meditation.
Read more about Pamilacan Island
HideOUT (San Felipe, Zambales)
From Ian of HideOut
HideOUT is a small guesthouse tucked away from the mainstream beach crowd in Sitio Liwliwa, San Felipe, Zambales.
Rather than being on a beach front, the rustic cottage sits next to a river, surrounded by pine trees. Here, you can experience waking up to the sound of wind and birds, try various organic coffee (with local types including Batangas, Quezon, Cotabato, among others), tea and tablea; lay in the hammock with a book or a ukulele, play surf or skim, go fishing or rafting, visit the nearby waterfall, take a nap and then watch the sunset in the beach.
The place is good for people who want to be close enough (3 minutes walk) to the beach but with enough distance from the drinking crowd.
Visit their Facebook
The BirdHouse (El Nido, Palawan)
From Mark of El Nido Birdhouse
Zen comes from many places and in different forms. Fortunately, for visitors to El Nido exists The Birdhouse Glamping.
What started off as a glamping experience complete with s’mores night, a short hike and spectacular views is now taking off as the leader in lifestyle tourism in El Nido. Tucked on a hillside overlooking Maremegmeg Beach and Bacuit Bay, The Birdhouse hosts sunset yoga sessions in the private mother nest. In the center of the property is The Nesting Table complete with meals for omnivores, carnivores, herbivores and diets in between. Finish you’re yoga experience with a meditation and some green juice or kombucha. Hike back down and realize you’ve left a special place that will continue to tug at your heart.
Kuta Bungliw (General Nakar, Quezon)
From Kara of Traveling Up
Kuta Bungliw is a simple homestead and eco-lodge located in Gen. Nakar, Quezon but more easily accessed through Daraitan in Rizal. Named after a local tree (Bungliw), which is abundant in the camp’s surroundings, the space is ideal for outdoorsy types who want to go off-the-grid in a semi-private and remote location with a stunning view of the mountains and river below. The site is located on top of a hill, 300 meters above sea level, where mornings and nights can get cold.
The place is good for couples, barkadas and families who want a simple and refreshing getaway but don’t want to do full-blown camping or can’t bring a lot of camping gear. They have several pocket campsites and open air huts along with the convenience of comfort rooms and water facilities. Tents are also available for rent. They offer visitors a base camp for various outdoor activities in the area including camping, hiking, river trekking and swimming, caving, bird watching and photography.
Batad rice terraces (Ifugao)
Natasha from The Travelling Foxes
If you want to find solitude in the mountains, I recommend to hike up Batad, located in Banaue, Ifugao Province. It is a UNESCO Heritage Site, which is famous for its amphiteater-like rice terraces that surround a quiet village of 1500 people. Considered a backpackers Mecca by many, Batad is a worthwhile journey and the best place to unwind and reconnect with nature’s splendor.
Aside from the rice terraces, you can also trek and cool down at the famous Tappiya falls, a breathtaking site and one of Batad’s hidden gems.
Lake Apo (Bukidnon)
From Doi of Travelling Feet
Lake Apo is a hidden paradise in the city of Valencia, Bukidnon. If your aim is to get off-the-grid and go on a digital detox, this is the perfect place to be.
Due to its location, electricity is limited. Network signal is spotty too so consider yourself lucky if you can find internet connection. Otherwise, expect 2G signal or none all throughout your stay.
Going to Lake Apo is a bit tricky since it is located on a hilly area, 11 kilometers away from the city center. You will have to brace yourself for a butt-numbing ride with the bad road conditions especially during the rainy season. But once you get here, you’ll be rewarded with the beautiful scenery that surrounds the lake. For day trippers, floating cottages are available but you can also spend a few nights here to truly enjoy the tranquil nature of Lake Apo and lose yourself in this timeless place.
Cadimahan-Libotong River (Roxas City)
From Mai of Budget Byahera
The Cadimahan-Libotong River is a major tourist attraction in Roxas City. It may be a popular site now. But it’s still a tranquil place where you can sit back, relax and be one with nature. Truly, crusing through the waterway can be one of the most calming things that you can do when in Capiz. Known for promoting eco-cultural tourism in the province of Capiz, the river tour was also established to provide a source of income for the fisher folks.
As you go on board, you will be serenaded with a selection of folksongs and modern tunes sang in Hiligaynon, and will also be treated to a feast of fresh seafood (to be ordered in advance), while admiring the beautiful mangroves that border the stream. You can also request to have a massage/foot spa from one of their licensed therapists on site, any time during the cruise.
Read more about Cadimahan-Libotong River
Nurture Wellness Village (Tagaytay)
From Claire of Traveling Light
Just a few hours away from Manila, Nurture Wellness Village offers a relaxing and arguably nurturing respite with its vivid greenery, organic farm, native huts, and Zen-inspired houses amid the cool Tagaytay air.
Here you can get relaxing spa treatments, many of them authentic Filipino treatments, like nilaib, a medicinal herb massage, and the Dagdagay, an indigenous Cordillera foot massage. Far from being bland and boring, Nurture’s food is worth trying, with healthy yet surprisingly delicious fruit and vegetable juices, colorful salads, and filling dishes like daing na bangus (dried milkfish), champorado (chocolate porridge), and more.
Aside from relaxing in the spa and the resort grounds, guests can also have fun with activities like vegetable juicing, salad making, coffee making, and even a guided walk with a lesson on medicinal herbs from Nurture’s organic farm. Guests also have the option to go glamping instead of checking in in one of Nurture’s villas.
Costales Nature Farms (Majayjay, Laguna)
From Milet of Project Gora
Whether you need a quick weekend getaway or you’re looking to spend a week in absolute relaxation bliss, check out Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna. It’s one of the best destinations I’ve been this year.
It was a mindfully green retreat with breathtaking sceneries, organic farm, wellness and green living tours and organic farming programs. Aside from gardening, harvesting and feeding the animals, Costales Nature Farms also offers other farm-related activities for adults and children. The guests can try tupig making, fishing, green salad making and kale juice making. There’s really all kinds of different activities on the farm to keep the guests satisfied.
Have you been to any of these? Where are your go-to zen places in the Philippines? 🙂 We’d love to hear your comments below.
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