The latter part of the year dubbed the “-Ber months” by many, is usually regarded as a time for people to rest, to take some time for themselves or to spend quality time with family and friends. One of the most preferred ways to do this is to travel.
Traveling during the latter part of the year can be challenging for two reasons. The first half of the Ber months still fall under typhoon seasons, which makes it difficult to reach remote areas of the Philippines – especially areas that require travel via plane or boat. The second half, on the other hand, is the start of the holiday season in the Philippines, starting with Bonifacio Day (which could turn into a long weekend depending on the calendar year) and ending with Christmas and New Year. These months are considered peak season for travel, which in turn brings its own set of challenges: huge crowds, expensive bookings, and delays in travel times, to name a few.
Given these challenges, where are the best places to visit during the Ber months? Here’s a list of places you can visit and things you can do to maximize your remaining vacation days for the rest of the year.
Go on a surf trip
The entire western seaboard of Luzon is firing with waves that you can surf during Ber months. The Ber months are typically the height of what surfers and locals call the South Swell. Spots that you can easily visit are Zambales and La Union – thanks to the construction of the TPLEX, the drive only takes 3-4 hours from Manila.
What makes these spots great is that if you’re not into surfing, or when you’re done, and you want to do something else, there are other activities you can explore. Zambales has mountains that offer scenic and sometimes challenging hiking spots, and La Union has the Tangadan Falls, an easy hour-long trek suited even for visitors who are not inclined to physical activity.
Do note, however, that the Ber months, specifically September and October, are considered peak season for surf communities, so book your accommodations early. October is also the season of Surf Break – four days to a week of festivities the week before Halloween, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. This is also the same time as most students’ semestral break, so expect the beach to be crowded.
The eastern seaboard will also start firing waves during the Ber months. Baler is a good place to visit at this time because depending on where you surf, you can catch smaller waves perfect for beginners – or test your skills on waves that reach as high as 10-13 feet for seasoned surfers. Siargao is also a popular destination during this time, especially for professional surfers, because it is a popular spot for hosting the Qualifying Series of the World Championship Tour.
Fly to Boracay – then go on a road trip
The earlier Ber months aren’t considered by many as an ideal time to fly to Boracay because they’re generally known as the Philippines’ wet season – monsoon rains and typhoons are expected to make conditions unfavorable for travel.
But this is the perfect time to go to this popular tourist destination because you can enjoy Boracay without the crowd. You might be surprised by the weather if you go around September because this month is usually sunny in Visayas and Mindanao.
If the weather permits and you have a few days to spare, you can make a road trip out of the trip and explore the entire Panay Island, which consists of four provinces: Aklan, Iloilo, Capiz, and Antique. You may need an additional 4-5 days, and it’s better to hire a van to take you around the island so you can maximize the time, but there are many places you can visit in the island itself:
Things to do
- Make sure to visit the Kawa hot baths and soothe your tired muscles as you soak in a wood-burning kawa with hot water and leaves.
- Go kayaking down the Tibiao River! This is something you can only do during the wet season, as the river dries up during the summer.
- While you’re in Tibiao, be a bit more adventurous and ride their zipline!
- Because you’ll be traveling close to the holiday season, it’s good to visit the Christmas Village in Roxas – you’ll feel the spirit of the holidays for sure!
- Take a boat to Malalison Island and hike up the Lantawon peak for beautiful views of the island.
These are only some of the things you can do that will fit into a 4-5 day trip – you can add more stops if you have more time to explore.
Visit the highlands: Sagada / Buscalan
The latter part of the Ber months is mostly dry and colder thanks to the Northeasterlies or Hanging Amihan. This is the perfect time to go north, to places usually difficult to access during typhoon season – drive to the Mountain Province, where you can enjoy the cold weather of Sagada. The best times to go to Mountain Province are just before the holidays and then right after because the typhoon months are over and most people are going back to work – this means fewer crowds and less worries about troublesome weather.
While you’re there, go up further to Buscalan, and you might meet the famed mambabatok, Apo Whang-Od – and you can get your traditional ink as well. Just make sure to schedule via her website ahead of time.
The trick: Book early, plan accordingly
The examples cited above are just a few places that you can visit during the Ber months. These four months will find the weather transitioning from wet and often humid to dry and cool, which gives you variety in your choice of destinations and activities. However, as the Ber months denote the coming of the holidays in the Philippines, they still are collectively considered a peak season.
The trick is to book early – watch out for seat sales and accommodation promos as soon as six months ahead. Plan your itinerary so that you can maximize your trip and have time to go on side trips to see as many spots as you can. That way, you can enjoy your ber months of travel adventure.
If you love this article, check out “How to Travel on a Budget and Save Money.”