Southeast Asian countries Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are some of the most visited, however the region offers much more than just those popular tourist destinations. The Philippines have remained in the news due to their recent tragedies in the last few years, but if the earthquake and super typhoon are all you know about this archipelago, then you know just a fraction about this splendid country.
East of Vietnam, north of Malaysia and south of Taiwan, the Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands. Four bodies of water bind the country: the Pacific Ocean, the Bashi Channel, Celebes Sea and the Sulu Sea. With its Spanish and American historical influences, it’s unlike any other country in Southeast Asia. Largely a Christian nation where English is spoken almost as much as Tagalog, the Philippines is relatively easy to navigate as an English-speaking visitor.
From the sprawling capital of Manila to the picturesque azure waters of Cebu to the Hinatuan River in Mindanao, the Philippines is a mixture of natural beauty and bustling city life. Here are just three of the reasons why the Philippines should be on your travel radar.
The most costly part of visiting the Philippines is actually getting to the country. But considering airfare makes up the largest percentage of most travel budgets, that fact shouldn’t come as a surprise. Living large in the Philippines isn’t expensive, even in the most saturated tourist areas. Food, drinks, taxis, shopping and activities are relative values, some of which can be negotiated. Hostels are as inexpensive as $10 per night, and a hearty seafood lunch can be had for $5. Drinks at bars are often buy one-take one, with a can of beer costing as little as $.60 in the grocery store. An hour-long massage on the beach is no more than $40, which is a bargain at twice the price.
Even luxury hotels are reasonable. In Manila, the five-star hotel, Acacia is a steal at $90, while a room at the lavish oceanfront Shangri-La, Mactan starts at $230 per night. Perhaps the most opulent resort in the country is the Shangri-La, Boracay. The brand’s flagship resort with its private white beaches, surrounding mountainous landscape and impeccable service is found on the #2 island in the world according to Travel + Leisure (Palawan in the Philippines is #1). Easily the most luxurious resort I’ve stayed in, the Shangri-La, Boracay would cost a small fortune in other parts of the word.
Thanks to low-cost carriers such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Tiger Air and AirAsia Zest, it’s also affordable to visit Philippine islands. Even the excess baggage weight is inexpensive compared to North American carriers.
It doesn’t matter if your travel budget is tight or unlimited, you’ll get great value your money while vacationing in the Philippines.
The Philippines is the place that you think only exists in your imagination or on your dream travel Pinterest board. These spectacular photos are the ones that have you declaring, “I must go there.”
The islands’ vibrant variety of colors puts a box of 64 Crayola Crayons to shame. Coral reefs, powdery, white sands, cerulean water and lush, emerald forests are found throughout 7,000+ islands. Sunrises come early, normally around 5:45. Their splendor draws even the latest of sleepers from their state of slumber. Sunsets bring forth the richest shades of oranges, golds, blues and purples, with each one appearing more magnificent than the last. Watching the day turn to night just might be the best thirty minutes of your day.
There are five World Heritage Sites in the Philippines including Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras and Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. These are some of the most beautiful spots in the country. One of the most spectacular sights is the Chocolate Hills found in the Bohol Province. Over 1,268 grass-covered, limestone symmetrical mounds are spread out across more than 50 square kilometers. It’s certainly a site to behold.
Whether relaxing on the beach, swimming in the pristine rivers, hiking the verdant mountains or exploring in a bangka boat on the exquisite azure ocean, the views alone make the long journey worthwhile.
Throughout my many travels, I’ve maintained that the Kiwis and Irish are the friendliest groups I’ve encountered. However, they’ve met their match in the Filipinos. The genuineness of the people of the Philippines is what stood out the most to me throughout my time in the Philippines. A sincere smile met me at most every turn, and I was referred to as “ma’am” throughout my stay. As a Texan, that sign of respect truly struck a chord. It didn’t matter if I was at a five-star hotel, in the back of a taxi, waiting in line at the airport or wandering the food market of Carcar, I felt welcomed and appreciated. On several occasions I was thanked for visiting the country, which I found particularly humbling. In reality, it is I that should be thanking the Filipinos for greeting me with such warm exuberance.
The Philippine Department of Tourism’s tag line is, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” I can certainly attest to the validity of their clam. Thus, if you’re looking for a tropical trip in an exotic locale, set your sites on the Philippines before the rest of the world arrives.
With a severe case of wanderlust, Leah lives by the motto, “Life’s too short to live with a someday mentality.” When she’s not in Houston dreaming about travel, she’s being groped by airport security, getting her passport stamped, seeking out street food that won’t make her sick, and writing all about it on LeahTravels. Believing that monotony is the enemy of a satisfying life, Leah always dreams in red and believes that she can never have too many airline miles, vacation days, or shoes. Find her also on Facebook and Twitter