It is somewhat a mystery how mainstream travellers often overlook The Philippines as a travel destination. While it is true that the country has struggled with bad press in the past and its location isn’t exactly the most convenient (it is slightly removed from its Southeast Asian neighbours Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam) or pleasant (it is on the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire”), good things come to those who are daring enough to discover what this island nation is really all about. From its breathtaking beaches to its fascinating history and exciting capital of Manila, here are six reasons why The Philippines should be on your radar this very moment.Search for cheap flights to Manila
1. The world’s best beaches
With over 7,500 islands, we guess it’s safe to say that you will never run out of exotic beaches to explore in The Philippines. From secluded white sand beaches and celebrity-approved resorts to 24-hour party islands, there are islands to match every kind of traveller and taste. Do you want to spend your days in peace and quiet? The northern province of Ilocos and Batanes are teeming with stunning and secluded coastlines. Looking to party it up? Take a trip to the white sand beaches of Boracay, which is also known as the “Ibiza of Southeast Asia”. If budget is more on your side, however, we suggest you go big and visit the island of Palawan, which has not only been named as the best island in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, but is also home to the longest navigable river in the world and the very exclusive Amanpulo island resort, where the likes of Robert de Niro, Bill Gates, and Beyoncé have reportedly stayed.
2. And surf resorts, too
If surfing is more your thing, The Philippines also offer countless spots for every level, whether you are a beginner, a grommet, or a pro. Located five hours away from the capital, Manila, are the provinces of La Union and Baler. The former is famous for consistent waves reaching up to 10 feet from May until March, while the latter is known as the birthplace of Philippine surfing (rumour has it that surfing was introduced to the country in the ’70s, after a crew member from Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalyse Now” gave a surfboard to a local when filming wrapped). Meanwhile, if you are looking for a place that is more off-the-beaten-path, there is Siargao, where you’ll be welcomed by white sand beaches, year-round surf breaks, and friendly surfers from all over the world (even Australia!).
3. Everything is cheap
Your Aussie dollar can certainly go a long way in The Philippines than, say, Singapore or Malaysia. Apart from numerous cheap accommodations available in and outside Manila, one can also get by with just P$1500 per day or approximately $40, and that includes a nice breakfast, lunch and dinner in a restaurant, transportation fares, and maybe even a drink or two to cap off the day. Local beers such as San Miguel and Red Horse are must-tries, not to mention very affordable.
Why don’t you check our infographic on the most affordable destinations in Asia Pacific for some more inspiration?
4. Friendly locals (and they speak English)
Filipinos are among the happiest people in the world, at least according to a recent poll conducted by Gallup. And, as a tourist, you’ll definitely feel the good vibes as friendly locals are always willing to give a smile and a hand to travellers who need help with directions or even recommendations. Another plus? Almost all locals can speak English so you won’t get lost in translation.
5. Colourful history and culture
The Philippine culture is an interesting mix of Spanish, American, and Asian influences. While you’ll discover more about the country’s vibrant past through colonial ruins and museums, a more colourful way to get to know its history is through its festivals. Every third Sunday of January, Cebu hosts an annual Sinulog festival, a dance ritual of pagan origins, which evolved after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in The Philippines, and presented the image of the Santo Niño to the then king and queen of the island, Rajah Humabon at Hara Humamay.
6. “It’s more fun in The Philippines,” as they say
The country’s tag line is “It’s More Fun in The Philippines,” and they are not lying. You’ll never be bored if you ever choose to spend your vacation in The Philippines because there are always fun, interesting and crazy (and we mean that in a good way!) things that are happening all the time. Apart from the many music festivals and concerts, you’ll also find parties in bars and clubs every day. And, yes, that includes Monday, Thursdays, and Sundays. No rest for the fun-loving Filipinos.
Tempted? Search for flights to Manila now.