Surrounded by the Celebes sea, South China Sea, Sulu Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the Philippines has over 7100 islands that lay slightly off the overland route in Southeast Asia. Metro Manila is the capital of the country, and is also one of the top tourist spots. Other big cities in the country include Cebu, Davao City, Palawan, Borocay and Baguio. While the rest of the world may know it for its mail-order brides and domestic helpers, that barely graces the true essence of Philippines. Its rich culture, sun-kissed beaches and warm hospitality has earned the title of being one of the world’s friendliest countries.
Another tourist hotspot is Tagaytay that is home to the crater-lake Taal, with a Volcano at the center. Viigan which is declared as a World Heritage site by the UNSECO is also worth a visit. If you want to go diving, stop by Puerto Galera. The location also gives you trekking opportunities in the jungles where many tribals reside. Palawan is popular amongst scuba divers, with most of them choosing the world war wreck location to go scuba diving. Mount Apo has been deemed as a tough climb by even experienced mountaineers, and is also the tallest mountain around here.
There are a lot of rice terraces in Asia, but the Philippine Cordilleras is a unique World Heritage Site that should be on any serious traveller's bucket list.
Cordillera Central is located on the Filipino island of Luzon. Its dramatic mountain ranges span slopes of 70 degrees and altitudes of 1,500 metres, and offer world-class hiking trails.
The region comprises four rice terraces. There's Banaue (Batad and Bangaan), Mayoyao, Klangan (Nagacadan), and Hungduan.
Let's check them out in turn…
The Visayas have a number of tourist attractions that will surely appeal to children. Guimara Island is a must visit if you plan to do some island hopping. The Visayas are also known well known for their diving spots. Camotes Island, Balicasag, Mactan, Malapascua and MoalBoal are especially famous.
Visayan cuisine is very simple. If you want to be free of processed food or artificial flavors/chemicals in your food, then Visayan food is for you. Dishes like binignit which is a yam snack in coconut milk, sinugba which is barbecued and spiced meat or fish and seafood kinilaw will have you licking your fingers in delight.
Even though you can find plenty of interesting things to do in Manila, absolutely nothing beats the experience of being inside the same waters which are home to the whale sharks. The locals call these beautiful creatures ‘Butanding’ and they can be found in the Donsol Bay from November till June.
Boracay is one of the most sought-after islands for tourists around the globe, and you cannot tell if it is the azure ocean, the coconut palms that gently sway to the wind or the sun-kissed sand that makes it so appealing. Restaurant and bar chains have not gone a deaf ear to the tourist racket in Borocay, and neither have the tourists to them.
Filipino cuisine has strong Spanish influences (from the 35-decades of Spanish rule that the country saw) and ones from other native traditions as well. Many Westerners are pleased when they learn that Filipino cuisine scores the lowest on the spicy food scale among South East Asian food.
Although the Philippines has numerous modes of travel, the safety aspect of transit modes such as buses, ferry boats and taxis can be a point of concern. It is a good idea to seek the advice of the locals on the best mode of transport at a location. For instance, traveling by plane or ferry is advised for places like Misamis Occidental and Zamboanga del Norte.
The Philippines observes a tropical climate. The holiday seasons, New Year’s, Christmas and Easter are when the Philippines is packed with tourists. During the peak season (December to May), you will find that hotel prices have increased by almost three-fold, but that does not deter tourists from holidaying in the country. You would do good booking months in advance, if you plan to visit the Philippines during the peak season.
If you’re visiting the Philippines, it is recommended that you explore the varied cuisines of its’ different regions. But if you’re particularly in the northern part of Philippines in Luzon, try the cuisine of the Ilocos region where the most popular dish is a plate of mixed vegetables that are flavored with the addition of bagoong or fermented fish instead of salt. This Ilocano delicacy is famously called pinakbet.