Hands up if you have been to Thailand! How about Bali? What about the Philippines? Why do the hands go down when you mention the Philippines? As a professional travel blogger one of the biggest travel mysteries for me is why more people don’t go to the Philippines. I know so many people who have travelled around Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Hell, even Myanmar is becoming popular.
Why visit the Philippines? we hear you ask. Well this Philippines travel blog post is here to answer that question.
Here are 11 reasons to visit the Philippines
11 reasons why you must travel to the Philippines
Reasons to visit the Philippines #1: The People
The Filipinos are some of the nicest people we have ever had the pleasure to meet. In the 3 months we spent travelling around their beautiful country, they welcomed us with open arms and hearts. To this day whenever we meet a Filipino around the world, our hearts instantly warm. This picture was taken when a group of Filipinos invited us to join their party on the beach. We had such an amazing day dancing, eating gorgeous food and laughing with our new found friends.
Reasons to visit the Philippines #2: The Cost
Philippines travel is cheap. I will never forget the first time I went to buy some of the local rum (priorities, people, priorities) and the shopkeeper asked for $1. I thought he was going to serve me a shot not a whole bottle.
We managed to rent some great bungalows right on the beach for around $35. A word of warning on accommodation. It is better to pay a little bit more than opt for the ultra budget option because usually the cheapest places are pretty dire.
Internal flights are great value too. With over 7,000 islands to choose from you will want to get around quickly.
Reasons to visit the Philippines #3: Easy communication
Lets be honest. English-speaking people are lazy to learn another language. We will try to say a few words in French, Thai or Spanish but usually we are pretty crap. That’s the beauty of visiting the Philippines for us lazy people. They all speak great English which makes travel so much easier and interesting. One of the biggest highlights of our visit was just sitting on a beach or in a Jeepney (see the next reason) chatting away to locals. I learnt a great deal about the Philippines during those chats.
Reasons to visit the Philippines #4: Jeepneys
Think of a jeep/bus and you have a jeepney. They are the backbone of travel in the Philippines and we loved them! People would sit on the roof, hang off the back, anywhere there was space, they would fill. They are a real social transport as you tend to face each other and end up chatting. Long live the jeepney!
Reasons to visit the Philippines #5: The Rice Terraces
There is a reason why we decided to head to the famous rice terraces before hitting the stunning beaches. They are awe-inspiring. We had seen some pretty amazing rice terraces before heading to the Philippines but these were the best of the lot. To think that they were built 2,000 years ago blows me away. One of my most memorable moments was when Karen and I climbed to the top and just sat there soaking it all in. It was magical.
Reasons to visit the Philippines #6: The Whale Sharks of Donsol
Photo by Christian Jensen
Donsol is a small town on the main island of Luzon. In 2004 it was voted by Time Magazine as the best place in the world for wildlife encounters. We know why. In all the years we have been travelling there is no highlight bigger than when we snorkeled with the biggest fish in the ocean. To be swimming next something so majestic will live with me forever. We swam next to 8 whale sharks when we visited but nothing is guaranteed with wild animals. If you read the brochures you will think that the whale sharks are just hanging around waiting for us. On the contrary, over the last few years, numbers have dropped. Marine Biologists are not sure why, after all we are still learning about these magnificent animals. You can read more about our experience swimming with whale sharks here.
DO NOT GO TO OSLOB, CEBU TO SEE WHALE SHARKS!!!
This is wildlife tourism at its worst. They feed the whale sharks in this area, making the fish reliant on humans to feed. There have been reports of whale sharks being hit by boats and many of the whale sharks seem to have cuts and bruises. There was a photo a few years back of people riding whale sharks in Boljoon, another part of Cebu which is just crazy.
Please, please, please avoid these places and go to witness wildlife in a way that doesn’t harm the animals.
Reasons to visit the Philippines #7: The Beaches
A lot of old school travellers we meet say that the Philippines is like how Thailand was in the 1980’s and 1990’s. What they mean by that is, in the Philippines you still can find your own slice of heaven and you won’t have to share it with anyone. Throughout our 3 month stay we lost count of how many empty stunning beaches we lay on. With over 7,000 islands I am quite sure you will find your dream beach too.
Reasons to visit the Philippines #8: The Food
The Philippines is not known for its food like Thailand or Vietnam but you can find some delicious delicacies during your visit here. My favourite by far was the stuffed squid that we used to have on Palawan Island. The most famous of Filipino dishes is the ubiquitous Chicken Adobo. We found this dish on most islands, it’s cheap and tasty so don’t miss it. Being an island nation you will come across delicious fresh fish and seafood all along the coast. Last but not least is the fruit. The Philippines have the best mangoes in the world. They are so good that it is illegal to take a mango from one state to another as they don’t want to cross-pollinate. On one of our journeys we got stopped by a military road block. We thought they were looking for drugs but oh no, it was the mangoes they were after!
Reasons to visit the Philippines #9: The Wildlife
Apart from the aforementioned Whale Sharks, the Philippines is full of other stunning wildlife. From the too cute Tarsiers to beautiful butterflies, the Philippines will satisfy the naturalist in all of us. If you are a twitcher there are over 612 species of birds found in the Philippines.
Then we have the amazing life under the waves which brings me to my next choice……
Reasons to visit the Philippines #10: The Diving
Karen & I have been diving for over 17 years and in all that time we have never seen coral like we did in the Philippines. You know when you watch a BBC nature program and the camera slowly pans over reefs with all the colours in the spectrum? That’s what diving in the Philippines is like. I have never taken LSD, but I am quite sure the colours people see on it are the same as the coral of the Philippines. The fish life is the same. On every dive we did we came across huge varieties of fish. From the beautiful parrot fish to shoals of jack fish, every dive is full of life.
Reasons to visit the Philippines #11: Responsible Travel
The Philippines ticks all the boxes when it comes to responsible travel. With thousands of home-stays, eco diving companies, locally run restaurants and eco wildlife tours, your money and footprint can have a positive impact during your stay.
Variety is the spice of life someone once said, well in the Philippines that famous quote really rings true. In a two-week break you can go trekking in 2,000 year old rice terraces, swim with whale sharks, lay on empty white sand beaches, visit countless islands, become friends with locals and eat the best mangoes in the world and all at a very low-cost.
So, what are you waiting for?
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Find more tips on visiting the Philippines here:
Swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines
Volunteering in the Philippines
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[…] are many reasons why you will want to visit the Philippines and swimming with the whale sharks of Donsol, Philippines should be high up on that […]