In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, The Philippines is fast becoming a go to destination for city lovers, adventurers and beachcombers alike. Just type in any #philippines tag on Instagram and prepare to be overcome by some serious wanderlust feels.
As with any destination that’s on the up and up, get here now – before the rest of the world does!
Blessed with over 7000 islands, The Philippines is undoubtedly a beach lover’s paradise.
Home to Travel & Leisure’s 2016 “Best Island in the World” Palawan, the country’s islands have much more to offer than impossibly beautiful beaches.
Built by hand into the lush mountains in Luzon, the 2000 year old rice terraces at Banau and Batad offer a glimpse back in time, with villagers still living a relatively isolated and traditional way of life.
Colored green or brown depending on the time of year, the coral deposits that form the Chocolate Hills in Bohol are unique to The Philippines. Bohol is also the exclusive home to the world’s smallest monkey species, the wide eyed and unimaginably cute Tarsier.
Those looking for a bit of action can check out another Unesco site, the underground river cave system in Puerto Princesa, surf the Cloud 9 reef break in Siargao, or go diving at Apo reef. For a unique experience, head south of Manila and trek up the active Taal Volcano, which is located in the center of a lake! The eco diversity here is mindblowing.
When to Visit
The dry season, November – March is said to be the ideal time to travel for weather, but it’s also high season so expect to pay more for just about everything. On the flip side, wet season June-October is when you’ll find good rates, but it’s also summer, and many Filipinos take their holidays during this time. Travel during shoulder season March – May means less tourists, better prices, and pleasant weather as you’re just missing the wet season. We visited May-June, and had 1 rainy day the entire time, with awesome thunderstorms nightly.
Unless you want to get caught in the middle of monsoon season, avoid travelling during July and August, as you’ll have greater chances of experiencing flooding, road closures and torrential rains.
Offering hop on hop off rides, Tricycles and Jeepneys are the preferred means of transport by locals and tourists alike, offering cheap rides for around $2, depending how far you’re going. Drivers take pride in jacking up their rides with fancy colours, rims, lights, and sound systems to boot. Some of these little gems even offer wifi!
When you’re ready to island hop, domestic flights are reasonable, averaging about $80-$100 USD each way. Cebu Air is a great budget airline, and most islands are only a quick 60 – 90 minute flight away from each other. Ferries are the more economical option in some cases, providing spectacular scenery on over water journeys.
While the official language is Tagalog, Filipinos are taught English in school and it’s recognised as the official second language of the country. The vast majority of Filipinos in cities speak English fluently, although this may not be the case in more remote islands and villages, but you can get by. We found that service staff at hotels, restaurants, tour agencies, banks, etc will all speak English, or there will be at least one English speaker on site. A lot of time people can understand you, but don’t know the English words to communicate back, so be patient and learn a few Filo words before going. Speaking with locals is the best way to immerse yourself in the culture and get the best recommendations and deals…not to mention directions when you’re lost!
H&M flagship store. The greatest 6 syllables known to man. The behemoth sized SM Megamall Mandaluyong in Manila hosts the retailer’s Philippines headquarters as well as an Olympic sized ice rink, IMAX theatre AND big name brands from TopShop to Victoria’s Secret and everything in between. This place could literally have its own zip code… and it’s not even the largest mall in Manila!
Meat and seafood lovers rejoice! Kebabs reign supreme here, and Filos love their BBQ foods! We were actually hard up to find substantial veggie dishes at all for a lot of our trip, but at least tropical fruits were in abundance. After 3 weeks of Filo food (and a possible case of jaundice), we had some serious meat-itis! Some dishes I would recommend to try:
- Adobo – A tangy marinade of vinegar, soy sauce and garlic served up most commonly with chicken or pork
- Lechon Menok – Spit roasted chicken, slowly cooked to juicy, tender, bbq’d perfection
- Lechon – Savoury, smoky, spit roast suckling pig, complete with crispy cracklin
- Longanisa – Sweet sausages Filipino style, popular with breakfast
- Halo Halo – A shaved ice dessert topped with condensed milk, fruit and other ingredients, such as coconut or sweet corn
- Balut – For the more adventurous, boiled egg, with a half developed duck embryo inside
Tune in next Tuesday to Midst of It, I will be taking you on a Cebu adventure!
About Ana James
Meet Ana – Travel agent by day, wanderlusting, food loving, adventure seeker by….well, all the time!
Originally from Calgary Canada (Go Flames!) Ana loves the mountains and all things outdoors, but her heart lies with island life and the tropics. She graduated from Sait College with a Diploma of Marketing in 2013 and has been traveling ever since. Based in Northern Queensland Australia, and currently working as a Travel Agent for STA Travel, perfect for her true passion, travel!
As a Travel Writer newbie, Ana wants to share her travel knowledge and tips with the world!
Contact Details for Ana
For any inquiries for Ana please contact directly through her email below, or follow her Instagram for amazing travel pics and stories!