The Philippines have a very special place in my heart, and there is no shortage of reasons to visit this vast archipelago. Among so many countries I have visited, not only in Asia but around the world, it is always from the Philippines that I leave with the feeling that time has been short and with a great desire to return soon to explore a little more.
Here are 5 reasons why you should visit the Philippines:
1. Ohhhh the Beaches!
Despite being a popular South-East Asian tourist destination, many of the beaches I’ve been through have left me with the feeling of being in a secluded spot. Personally, this is a differentiating factor, as I usually get away from extremely touristy places.
The beaches of crystal clear blue waters are a true paradise. I believe the most beautiful people I have ever seen live on the islands of Palawan, Siargao and Cebu. For those who continuously work with people, and occasionally suffer from a problem I like to call “social overdose,” the feeling of being on a desert island to me is priceless. There are more than 7000 islands (unfortunately I only know about 10), so finding a dream beach to enjoy a castaway vibe is no hard task.
My favourite is in El Nido, on Palawan Island, which happens to have been voted the second most beautiful island in the world by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Of course, I had to go there and confirm if it was real… indeed it is!
From hiking in the mountains, spa days in volcanic spas, waterfalls, or snorkelling when it comes to nature, the Philippines leaves nothing to be desired.
Since I was a child, I always had a unique attraction for waterfalls. Perhaps because it was born far from the beach and the only option to cool off on hot days were the waterfalls.
In Cebu Island alone, I visited at least five, the largest and most famous of all being called Kawasan Falls. In this particular, I recommend canyoning with a licensed guide to be able to visit all levels with the appropriate equipment and safety. Tumalog and Aguinid Falls are also indispensable stops.
Another experience that I highly recommend is diving with whale sharks, and with a bit of luck, you can also see sea turtles.
3. The Filipinos
I had my first contact with the Filipino people when I moved to Dubai, where there is a large community. My first impression was that they were extremely kind, caring, and humble people. When visiting the Philippines for the first time, I could see that these qualities actually applied to most people.
Several times, during walks, I was approached by locals with curiosity to know where I am from and what motivated my trip there. Note that they take great pleasure in making recommendations, giving advice and sharing the little they have with visitors. I travelled alone, but I never felt lonely.
4. Good, Pretty and Cheap!
One of the worst feelings when travelling is feeling cheated or stolen. I always try to pay a fair price because I know that many people derive their livelihood from tourism, and much of this money is used for community development. In the case of the Philippines, much of this money goes to sustainable tourism.
I cannot say that I had the feeling of falling for so-called tourist traps in the Philippines, where people are quite honest and reasonable when it comes to price. Unlike many tourist places, where not only the practice of excessive pricing for tourists is quite common, but there is also some aggression from local people when trying to negotiate.
Another point that I find quite reasonable is the fact that they charge a fee or tax that is used for the preservation and maintenance of places.
Having an eco-friendly mindset is a big differentiator from some neighbouring countries. In El Nido, for example, the use of disposable plastics has been banned altogether.
5. Sunrise and sunset
Because the beauty of life is in the simplest things, sometimes we don’t pay due attention because we know they are always there. I love to stop to contemplate these two moments of the day, which for me are a way of energizing the soul.
I believe photos never live up to their beauty, but I leave here a sample of the most amazing sunset ever.
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