What is more fun in the Philippines? To be honest, pretty much just about everything! There’s plenty to do for everyone, from nightlife and shopping to stunning places of natural beauty, the people are friendly and best of all, it’s tourist friendly without being overrun by the spring break crowd. Here’s a travel guide to the Philippines, capturing the loveliest things about the country to add to your travel itinerary!
1. There are Beaches Everywhere!
With thousands of islands and miles of coastline, it’s hard not to stumble across a tropical beach oasis anywhere you turn. There are beaches that are perfect for every kind of activity, from sunbathing to surfing. For some of the best scuba diving in the world, there’s a range, from Bohol Island ideal for beginners, to Coron that offers plenty of shipwrecks to explore. Surfers can ride near perfect waves at Pagupud, while sunbathers can’t ask for much more than El Nido, Palawan, where white sand beaches are circled by lush and diverse tropical rain forested cliffs. The most popular beach in the Philippines is White Beach, located on the west side of Boracay Island, with white powdery sands unlike any other beach. The eastern side of Boracay shouldn’t however be overlooked either, as Bulabog Beach is just the place for kite and windsurfing.
2. It’s Still Undiscovered
Out of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines, only 2000 of them are actually inhabited. That means that the Philippines are one of the most remote, and yet accessible places on earth. It’s relatively easy to get to, the 4th largest speaking English country in the world, and the visa stipulations for many countries are pretty relaxed! Despite that, the islands still remain quite off the touristic grid, overshadowed by their more popular and flamboyant south East Asian counterparts. Once you get to Manila, the capital city, the easiest way to navigate around the islands is by plane, with an excellent network of domestic flights from this hub.
3. You can Hike up Volcanoes
The islands are home to some of the best trekking in the world. While hiking up mountains provides pretty much the same experience as anywhere around the world, in the Philippines you can actually trek up an active volcano too for a glimpse of the hot lava action that helped to form the islands in the first place. Mt. Kanlaon Volcano is great for a first time hike; sitting right in the heart of the beautiful Mount Kanlaon National Park, it’s one of the top five highest mountains in the area, and takes several days to hike up to the crest. Your Filipino tour guide will typically supply the equipment needed for the trip, as you trudge your way through rainforests and farm fields to the surreal mountaintop.
Taal Volcano, located a short drive from Tagaytay, is a beautiful volcano located on the island of Luzon. Visitors are required to pay a small entrance free, but it is well worth the views
from the top overlooking the ocean! Mt. Pinatubo’s crater erupted less than a century ago, but is now site of the Philippine’s most beautiful Crater Lake, an easy day trip away from Manila. Luzon is also home to Mt Mayon, the volcano with the perfect cone and easily one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world. To get there, take a bus from Manila to Legasbi, after which a local guide will lead you to the summit.
4. It’s Easy and Cheap to Relax
It is universally accepted that the Filipinos are the friendliest people in the world. Almost everyone speaks English, which makes communicating with locals’ very easy for visitors. Nearly every person you meet is smiling, happy, and ready to help out with directions or advice.
The word relaxation typically conjures up visions of a massage. Almost every beach in the Philippines is lined with spas, and it’s not uncommon to find locals offering massages to beachgoers along the shoreline. The price for an hour-long full body massage while you gaze at the turquoise colored ocean? About $8 an hour, gave or take a few! For a more luxurious setting, try out one of the country’s many spa resorts, but there’s always something magical about an ocean front beach massage set against the soothing soundtrack of the waves.
5. You Can Shop Till You Drop
Shopping is very much the national pastime in the Philippines, and to accommodate this passion, the country is home to massive malls that are built like mini cities; with department stores, restaurants, ice rinks, spas and theatres catering to every entertainment whim of the shoppers. Indeed the three of the biggest shopping malls in the world are found here with the SM brand conspicuous all around. Given the country’s tropical weather malls are the “hang out’ places, especially on weekends; to shop for the best deals without a jostle, look at visiting over the weekdays.
Those apart, there are also plenty of street vendors and open-air flea markets on nearly every corner, where one can practice one’s skills at “tawad” (haggling) to buy anything from Filipino jewelry and crafts to traditional and modern clothes. The flea market at the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan is immensely popular, and if the shopping bug has firmly gotten to you, Divisoria and 168 are good options too.
Premium outlets like Greenbelt and Glorietta abound too, where the staff thankfully display the signature Filipino friendliness and the prices are competitive with the rest of the world, hence justifying this country’s claim to being a “Shoppers’ dream”!
6. It’s Home to the World’s Best Scuba Diving
The Philippines is home to some of the best diving spots in the world. The water is always warm and clear, there are miles of undisturbed coral reefs, and the oceans are overflowing with underwater fauna and sea creatures. There are scuba diving tours for all skill levels as well as different kinds of dives for varied interests: dive into shipwrecks, swim amongst sharks and whales or just go out there to marvel at the completely different marine world that exists underwater. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors, or PADI, a worldwide scuba diving organization that offers courses, certification, and scuba dive trips around the world is very active throughout the Philippines, and are a great place to get started on scuba instructions around the islands.
Boracay Island offers plenty of shore diving along the beaches if you have your own equipment or only have just enough time for one dive. To make a day of it, join a scuba tour to Gato Island, a marine reserve an hour boat ride from Malapascua Island and home to a huge variety of underwater creatures, sea life, and even submerged caves. Coron Bay is the best place to scuba dive around shipwrecks that were sunk in WWII and are still beautifully preserved beneath the calm bay waters.
7. There’s Never a Wrong Time to Go
Thanks to nearly perfect weather year round, there’s no such thing as off season in the Philippines. One might risk encountering some rain during the summer months when it the islands are technically in monsoon season, but for the most part the islands are perfect. The temperature hovers around 80 degrees Fahrenheit year round, and only waver by about 3 degrees warmer or colder depending on the time of year. No worry about the time of year; it’s always a tropical paradise on the islands
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