Climbing a mountain is, hands down, one of the most perilous activities a person could engage in. To describe it as "dangerous" is an understatement: You could fall down a cliff, bash your head on sharp rocks, or even get bitten by a snake. Still, it’s a risk thousands of people around the world make every year, and here in the Philippines, it’s a pastime that’s increasingly growing in popularity.

You see, unlike other sports where there’s a clear winner, climbing a mountain will have you challenging yourself alone. You’ll be testing your limits and pushing against your own personal boundaries to pass the many mental and physical challenges you’ll encounter going up and down. As a result, each successful climb feels so rewarding, and more and more people are flocking to the great outdoors to experience that adrenaline-fueled high.

Us Pinays are lucky to have so many mountains all around the archipelago to satisfy hikers of all experience levels. Check out our must-climb list in the gallery below, and feel free to share with us your other top hiking destinations!

1. Mt. Batulao
Mt. Batulao is an ideal pick for first-time hikers as it’s challenging enough for beginners to savor the thrill of getting to the summit, but not too difficult as to turn them off mountaineering completely. The winding trails offer beautiful views and plenty of rest stops, and the more daring will get a kick out of the extra challenges Batulao’s Old trail delivers. Best of all, it’s just a few minutes away from Tagaytay, and the promise of a post-climb bulalo feast should be enough to spur you on to the peak.

2. Mt. Pico De Loro
The summit of Pico de Loro can be reached after a relatively easy four-hour trek through forested trails, making it a great dayhike location and a prime destination for beginner mountaineers. If you’re feeling extra gutsy, you could try scaling the Parrot’s Beak, an imposing monolith that can test even the most seasoned rock climbers.

3. Mt. Pinatubo
Two decades after its destructive explosion, this volcano is now a beloved trekking destination for all sorts of adventure seekers. A hike here rewards you with a jaw-dropping view of the crater lake’s turquoise waters, which you could even swim in if the conditions permit.

4. Mt. Banahaw
Mt. Banahaw isn’t just a defining feature of the Southern Luzon landscape; it’s also an area brimming with tremendous cultural significance and is even deemed sacred by several Filipinos. Hikers currently aren’t allowed to go up the mountain as its trails have become too polluted, but you can still get your fill of Banahaw’s culture by visiting the landmarks near its foot like the challenging Kalbaryo, the treacherously small husgado, and the many sacred springs, called puestos.

5. Mt. Makiling
This mountain, one of Laguna’s major landmarks, is said to be the home of the diwata Maria Makiling (the mountain is said to even take her reclining form!). That said, visitors must approach it with reverence for its many natural treasures: its lush forests are home to all sorts of flora and fauna, some of which, like the Rafflesia flower, are endangered. Hikers should also be on alert for the many dangers the mountain presents like flashfloods, snakes, and leeches.

6. Mt. Pulag
The majestic Mt. Pulag, the crown of the Cordillera range, is the highest peak in Luzon and the third-highest mountain in the whole country. There are a handful of trails you could choose from to get to the summit, but most mountaineers either pick the easy Ambangeg or the more challenging Akiki trails. Temperatures here can dip to sub-zero levels, so come prepared with your warmest clothes!

7. Mt. Guiting-Guiting
While not the highest in the Philippines, this mountain, located in the heart of Romblon, is consistently ranked as one of the most difficult to climb due to its dangerous trails and volatile weather. Scaling G2, as its fondly called by avid hikers, takes around three days and will take you through treacherous areas like the "Knife Edge," a rocky, exposed path bordered by deep cliffs, and the appropriately named "Kiss The Wall," where the hiker has to—you guessed it—practically kiss the wall on the way to the summit.

8. Mt. Kanlaon
Kanlaon, named for the legendary prince who slayed the seven-headed dragon that lived on the mountain, is both Visayas’ tallest peak and the country’s largest active volcano, making it one of the most dangerous yet exhilarating local destinations for mountaineers. Hikers who dare ascend this beautiful mountain will be rewarded with a chance to see its volcanic features like craters, hot springs, and sulfuric vents, as well as its lush forests and fauna.

9. Mt. Mayon
The majestic Mt. Mayon, which got its moniker from the Bicolano word for "beautiful lady," is the most active volcano in the Philippines and one of the most recognized attractions of the country. This tempestuous beauty presents a challenging hike for those lucky enough to be allowed to scale its peak: The rocky trail leading to the summit is steep and riddled with loose stones, plus there’s the ever-present danger of a sudden eruption that, no matter how minor, can still be fatal. If you want the ultimate YOLO experience, this would definitely be it.

10. Mt. Kitanglad Range
Located in the heart of Mindanao, the Mt. Kitanglad range is the home of five of the highest points in the Philippines, including the namesake Mt. Kitanglad, the fourth highest peak of the country, and the mystical Mt. Dulang-Dulang, the second highest mountain in the Philippines. Nature lovers will enjoy trekking through the well-established paths of Kitanglad’s cool forests, while thrillseekers could opt for the grueling but more pristine trails of Dulang-Dulang. If you’re lucky, you could even spot the Philippine eagle during your hike!

Must-Climb: Mt. Apo
Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain in the whole archipelago at 2,954 meters above sea level, should be on every Filipino mountaineer’s bucket list. A hike through this extinct volcano will have you seeing different natural features, varying from verdant forests and rocky boulders to lush swamplands, hot springs, and beautiful waterfalls, depending on the trail you take. Scaling the so-called grandfather of all the Philippine mountains requires a lot of preparation, but it’s a feat guaranteed to be worth it.

PHOTOS: Raleene Cabrera, Jojo Nicdao, Jojo Nicdao, Cagsawa, letthere_belight, Andy Nelson , Jojo Nicdao0 Constantine Agustin, Bar Fabella, Jojo Nicdao, jaya /Flickr Creative Commons, Instagram @andrel.b

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