Pagsanjan is a town 102 km (63 miles) from Manila. It is most famous for the Pagsanjan Waterfalls, which are one of the top tourist attractions of the Philippines.
Once in the town of Pagsanjan, the tourist is taken by bangka (canoe) up the river to the falls. Two bankeros (boatmen) row the bangka against the fearsome current of the river and navigate carefully while avoiding the many boulders and eddies on the way.
Once at the Pagsanjan Falls (more accurately known as the Magdapio Falls), the tourist normally will be allowed to spend about half an hour there. Tourists can take a ride on a bamboo raft under the 91 meter (299 feet) high falls and explore the cave behind the falls, have a swim, take photographs, or just enjoy the spectacular natural views.
The trip back down the river is thrilling and memorable as tourists experience shooting the rapids (there are fourteen rapids in all) during the rapid descent downstream.
The rapids are exciting at any time; but if you have the choice, visit during the wet season (August and September) when the river levels are at their highest and the rapids therefore even more thrilling.
One side note: the Pagsanjan Falls were the location where the closing scenes of the Vietnam war epic film, Apocalypse Now, was shot by US director Francis Ford Coppola. There are some remnants of the film sets still to be seen in and around the falls.
Be prepared to get quite wet during your visit to Pagsanjan Falls. Place your camera and documents in a plastic bag to protect them.
Do not visit Pagsanjan on a weekend when huge crowds descend on the area. It is a good idea to stay overnight in the town of Pagsanjan and then visit the falls in the early morning when few other people are on the river.
Some boatmen are known to demand exorbitant fees and tips; so many visitors arrange tickets with their tourist agency, hotel or guesthouse beforehand.
Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)