You may not have considered it before, but the Philippines is a great place to travel. It has a little bit of everything!
What to see in The Philippines
Bustling cities with some of the largest malls in the world, and a beautiful wilderness where you can walk through waterfalls and kayak between islands sprinkled in an aquamarine sea. But while you can find those elsewhere, the Philippines is still unique amongst Southeast Asia.
About The Philippines
Once ruled by Spain and then freed by America, much of the Philippines is somewhat westernized – so most people understand English just fine and can speak it pretty well too. Many are absorbed in Western media so they relate to how we talk and our sense of humor… yes even our memes. But that doesn’t mean they have lost their own culture, language, traditions, or cuisine.
Filipino food is delicious and unique, with some ingredients not even found elsewhere in Asia. But if you’re unsure about those, there’s still plenty of familiar foods to eat, whether it being western dishes or just our ingredients. Adobo, for example – their national dish – is a way of cooking any kind of meat in a delicious soy & vinegar sauce full of local herbs and spices. Something you can take home with you and do yourself, which I definitely will. But if someone offers you Balut, you might want to look it up before you agree… You’ll see why they were grinning when they offered. It’s a delicacy to some, and disgusting to others.
Like in any country, there are things you may need to be wary of…
In most of the Philippines, the temperature sways between a humid 32 Celsius in the day, to 25 at night, all year. And as it is out in the ocean by itself, at the mercy of frequent tropical typhoons and cyclones. So bunkering in a beach bungalow wouldn’t be a good idea if one is on the way.
You may also want to make a local friend to advise or join you during your visit, as though foreigners are popular, it may not always be for the right reasons. Some will try to get more money out of you than is reasonable, charging you based on how foreign you look. That being said, everything (especially services) is surprisingly cheap, with the only exception being imported goods or electronics that are priced pretty similar to back home. Just about the only thing that costs more is dairy… so prepare to be disappointed if you want full cream milk in your tea/coffee. And if you’re a cheese lover like me, you’ll hardly find anything except a few kinds of basic cheeses imported at prices that rival our exotics back home.
One of the best things about the Philippines is the people..
They are friendly and welcoming – always looking on the brighter side of things and greeting you with a smile. They love to feast with their families and friends, and it’s no wonder they have some of the best singers when all of them have Karaoke set up back at home (which they regularly use). They are also proud of their history and country, having big parades for their heroes and saints, and often welcoming home their representatives the same way.
Their Spanish history developed into one of their languages, Bisaya/Binisaya, which is similar to Spanish if you happen to be fluent. But they have many other languages, primarily Tagalog, which is spoken everywhere; and you may want to learn some for the few locals who don’t understand English (or our accents) so well.
You should also bear in mind that they use English a little differently to us at times. Our toilets become their “C.R.” or comfort room. Our flip-flops and thongs become their slippers. And if you ask them for a napkin, you may be given a confused look and a women’s sanitary pad, instead of the tissue you should have asked for.
So with all that in mind, where should you go in the Philippines. While there’s plenty to do all over the place, everything is relatively close as the country is small.
Where to start…
A good spot to start is where you’d likely be transiting/connecting through: Cebu (Seh-boo). It is in the very centre of all the Philippines and full of tourist attractions such as theme parks, carnivals, and activities. But there’s a lot of history to discover here with ancient sites, statues and cathedrals.
If you are looking for somewhere to relax you will be spoiled for choice with resorts and health clinics of every kind everywhere, and still plenty of nature around it. But there are even more beautiful places further out to the edges of the country.
If you don’t think you’ll cope in the tropical heat, Baguio (Buh-gwee-oh) is a city high in the mountains and on rare occasions it can snow. With lush forests, hot springs, gardens, and mountain treks; it’s perfect for those who like to wander the outdoors.
The Beauty of The Philippines
Nature lovers should also consider Bohol (Boh-hole). It’s Chocolate Hills look like something out of the Hobbit or another fantasy – hundreds of giant grassy rolling hills like Goosebumps poking through the rainforest below, which you can fly over in a hot air balloon. Or the Cadapdapan (Cuh-dup-dup-pun) rice terraces, which look like someone built an entire mountain range out of giant slices AstroTurf… If you have children that play Minecraft, they may think they’ve somehow entered the game – Jumanji style.
If you are looking to escape civilization all together, then Palawan (Pah-lah-wun) is a beautiful location by the sea, with the “Hundred Islands National Park” and those aquamarine waters I mentioned above. There you can sunbathe on sandy beaches, drift between valleys, paddle and trek through caves, scuba dive through lush reefs, and zip-line from cliff faces.
All in all, the Philippines is a beautiful escape from home while travelling on a budget. And it is all the more worth it for the friendly people you’ll meet, the delicious food you’ll eat, and the fun you’ll have with each. As they say here: “It’s more fun in the Philippines”.
Adam Walsch – https://www.facebook.com/a.just3d