People often ask me which countries they should visit in South East Asia. Most of the time, they have Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia in mind. I often ask if they've considered the Philippines. Most of the time the answer is "no."
I've been to the Philippines almost ten times and I'm not sure why the Philippines isn't on the top of the list of countries to visit for most people, but I definitely think it should be. Here's why.
ONE : AMAZING BEACHES
Being one of the largest island groups in the world, it's not surprising that the Philippines is home to an incredible amount of awesome beaches. Some of the more well-known ones are the beaches in Boracay, Alona Beach in Bohol and the beaches in El Nido. But other places like Siargao Island and Malapascua Island also offer great beach options. In fact, it's hard to go to The Philippines and NOT run into an awesome beach.
TWO :THE PEOPLE
The Filipinos are some of the happiest people in the world, as reported by many reports including on by the Business Insider. They say "a problem is only a problem if you make it one," and this seems to be firmly hard-wired into the Filipino brain. Any inconvenience or issue is swiftly laughed off and countered with an "it's ok" or "it will be fine." With an average yearly income of about $5,000 and under the constant threat of some of the world's most powerful Typhoons, the Filipinos deserve praise for their positive attitude towards life. They have personally inspired me to complain less.
THREE : YOU CAN SPEAK ENGLISH
In most countries outside the western world, English is only spoken in the touristy areas. For those who are looking to spend a week relaxing, reading a book at the side of a resort pool, this is not a problem. However, as any seasoned traveler knows, to learn and understand a countries culture it's essential to be able to communicate with the locals, not just with the waiter at the hotel. In the Philippines, English is widely spoken across the country. Even in the most remote places, the basics are generally understood. This really helps when you're looking for local information as well.
FOUR : AMAZING NATURAL BEAUTY
The Philippines is home to a wide variety of majestic landscapes and natural beauty, such as the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the Rice Terraces in Banaue and the world's second longest underground river in Palawan.
FIVE : A SCUBADIVER'S PARADISE
Few countries on our planet can compete with the Philippines as a scuba destination. If big fish is your thing, Apo Island, Apo Reef and Tubbataha Reefs offer a variety of Tuna, Sharks and schools of Jacks and Barracudas. For beginners, Boracay and Puerto Galera are great spots. Malapascua Island is one of the few places where the Thresher Shark can be seen, while Coron is famous for it's WWII Japanese warships, making for excellent wreck diving.
SIX : ADVENTURES & ACTIVITIES
The Philippines offers a wide variety of awesome adventure opportunities. The city of Butuan (on the island of Mindanao) is home to the longest zipline in Asia, stretching for over 1300 meters. On the same island, nearby the city of Cagayan de Oro, you'll find great white water rafting opportunities.
You can go snorkeling in the tropical, crystal clear waters almost everywhere in the Philippines. On the island of Cebu, near the village of Cebu, you can even snorkel with Whale Sharks. For a stunning hike, climb Mount Apo in Davao, the country’s highest peak at 9,689 feet, or trek Mt. Pinatubo in Luzon. This famous volcano erupted in 1991, producing the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century.
The wonderful island of Siargao has some of the best surfing on the continent. As the island is quite remote and relatively unknown, you'll have more waves for yourself than other surf spots like Bali and Thailand.
For kite-surf fans will love Boracay, which is constantly mentioned as one of the best kite-surf spots in Asia and the only spot to make it to this list of best kite-surf locations in the world.
SEVEN :AFFORDABLE LOGISTICS
With the nation's low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific serving most major cities in Asia, it's very easy and affordable to get to the Philippines. The airline also has an extensive domestic network in place. Domestic flights often go for as little as $20 - $50. If you're on a budget, you can often also get somewhere by ferry, or, for the shorter distances, by a local "banca."
EIGHT : CLIMATE FROM HEAVEN
With average daily temperatures ranging from 25 to 28 degrees Celsius (78 to 83 F), the Philippines has a very pleasant tropical climate. A light breeze is usually around (as on most islands) that prevents you from overheating. The best time to go is November to April. Expect a lot of rain from May to October. This doesn't mean it rains all day though; most days it will just pour down pretty hard for an hour or two while the rest of the day it could be clear skies.
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