While preparing my big trip to South East Asia, I was looking for something different to do than the classical route through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. When someone asked me ‘Why not try the Philippines!?’, I got curious. With direct flights to Manila from Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Australia, and even budget airlines flying there, the Philippines are within easy reach. Long story short, as soon as my plane touched down in Manila and I stepped out into the wild, I fell in love. You have never visited the Philippines before? Here are twelve reasons why you should go.
1. The people
Filipinos are the friendliest, most beautiful people I have ever met! They are always smiling and willing to help you. They love to sing and dance wherever they go, which is pretty interesting and not at least contagious.
2. The atmosphere
Everybody is so relaxed and chilled out, you cannot help but feel that way too. From laying on the beach to walking around the markets, everybody is laig back, and wants to laugh and chat with you.
3. The beaches
White sand that stretches for miles and miles, water so clear you can see the whole of the ocean bed. The Philippines consists of 7,107 islands, so it is not hard to find your own perfect, private beach. Island hopping in El Nido, Palawan takes you to the most isolated and picturesque beaches, and everywhere is so clean. I have not found one beach that did not blow me away.
4. The fruit
If you are into juicy mangoes and pineapples, the Philippines is the place for you. They are super cheap too, £0.50 for a mango and £0.80 for a pineapple. The bananas are perfect and you can buy them anywhere. With fruit like this it is hard not to eat healthy. Plus it counteracts all the delicious and cheap cakes available from the many bakeries. Where else can you get a chocolate cupcake for £0.12?
5. The seafood
Red snapper, squid, lobster, crab – you name it, you can have it. Fresh and cooked to order for a fraction of the price you would pay in Europe.
6. The weather
Most of the time it is hot and sunny, but never too hot. There is a nice breeze on the beaches and the average yearly temperature is 26 degrees Celsius (~79 F). November to April is peak season here and promises the best, driest weather.
7. Cheap drinks
The local Boracay Rum comes in three delicious flavours, Cappuccino, Coconut and Melon, and at the bargain price of £2 a bottle. It tastes a bit like Malibu, and is pretty strong. You will need a lot of mixer! A bottle of Red horse beer is pretty strong too, 7% a bottle. You can usually find this for £0.80 in the shops. Happy Hour!
8. The amazing wildlife
The Philippines boasts more than 600 species of birds, 300 reptiles, 400 different kinds of corals and innumerable mammals. My favourite, the Philippine Tarsier, is one of the smallest, cutest species of monkeys in the world. People also come from all over the world to swim with the giant Whales Sharks and many other types of marine wildlife.
9. The cheap massages
It may not ave been the cheapest I have had in Asia (£5 for an hour, Indonesia was £3) but it was definitely the best. On the beach at sunset, I can officially say it was one of the best massages of my life.
10. No language issues
Over 90% of Filipinos speak English. This is always handy when travelling. English is the language used by the government, so most signs and any information you need can be found in English.
11. Jeepneys and Tricycles
The local form of transport is a great alternative. A tricycle is a motor bike with a large side cart attached – a slightly safer version of a motor bike taxi in my opinion. A Jeepney is a huge pickup truck – old military vehicles, left to the Filipinos by the Americans after WW2. They run along certain routes like buses and cost 7 Pesos (£0.12) a trip.
12. The Philippines is not a tourist trap
In my opinion the best thing about the Philippines is that it has not been destroyed by tourism. Although, there are street vendors and people trying to sell you sunglasses on the beach it is nowhere near as crazy as in other SEA destinations. Some places in the Philippines can be expensive but you can always find a cheap alternative. Just like other parts of Asia if you shop and eat local, you will pay the local price.
The Philippines is a beautiful country full of beautiful people and places. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. I am sure I could easily come up with 12 more reasons. I cannot name my favourite country in the world as they are all amazing for different reasons, but if I had to make a list… The Philippines would definitely be near the top.
*This is a guest post by Sally Munt, who blogs more about her adventure on her blog Sally Around the World.Tweet