Located in the western Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is comprised of around 7,000 tropical islands waiting to be discovered. Vast crowded cities, fiery magnificent volcanoes, breathtaking beaches, bright green rice fields, multitudes of islands, and cheerful, loving people are just some of the amazing attributes of that set the Philippines apart from other Southeast Asian countries.
The capital city of Manila is the best place to start your trip. This pulsating, ultra-urban city is an eclectic mixture of developed and underdeveloped. Although some parts of the city are very modern and up-scale, most of it is still quite poor and crowded, giving it a very distinct feel. A good way to explore the city is by local colourful jeepneys or trains. There are many attractions to see here, such as the old and historic city centre, the walled city of Manila known as Intramuros, and the famous Fort of Santiago, which was built by the Spaniards in 1593. Another fascinating attraction to explore is the iconic Rizal Park where you can relax your senses. This massive park is full of greenery, ponds, and heroic monuments to explore. After the city tour you can choose to discover one of the largest malls of the world, the Mall of Asia. Alternatively, you can visit the Seaside Market to enjoy different seafood or indulge in a shopping spree in the nearby Divisoria Market, the largest retail market of the Philippines. Unlike other Southeast Asian countries, the use of English is quite common in the Philippines, largely due to its American influence. From taxi drivers to restaurant servers, everybody communicates well in English here, which is an added advantage for tourists.
If you have had enough of Manila, then fly out to Bohol, one of the more primitive and splendid destinations of the Philippines. It is worth spending a couple of days in this wonderland, which has a lot of adventurous activities to offer. The island boasts ancient houses, cultural monuments, and natural landscapes. Adventure-seekers can sail across the spectacular waters of Bohol and indulge in water activities like snorkelling or paddling in the Loboc and Abatan rivers. You can also undertake mountain-biking trips to explore the remote villages of Bohol.
In the north of the Bohol Sea lies the island of Panglao, which is famous for its world-class diving locations and the pristine Alona Beach. This white sandy beach stretches 1 km and is full of resorts, diving centres and shops. From here you can reach the beautiful tropical islands of Pamilacan & Balicasag and discover world-famous diving sites. You might be left awestruck upon spotting whales and dolphins in the waters of Balicasag and Panglao Islands. Crystal-clear water and vibrant coral reefs make this place a diver’s paradise.
Another destination that attracts a lot of people in the Philippines is Puerto Princesa, the coastal city on Palawan Island. It is famous for underground rivers and limestone caves. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the cleanest and greenest island of the Philippines. You can take an exciting and unique tour of this subterranean river, which takes you through the dark caves above sparkling turquoise waters and offers amazing sights of towering limestone cliffs filled with dense jungle flora.
El Nido, another natural heaven in the Philippines, is home to large underwater ecosystems, ponds, spring-fed waterfalls, white sand beaches, and caves. The best way to explore this natural paradise is by kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, snorkelling, scuba diving, or simply relaxing on the beautiful beaches. Taking a nature walk to freshwater springs and waterfalls in the jungle is another delightful experience offered in El Nido.
There are many more splendid attractions and islands to be discovered in the Philippines and just one visit to this amazing country is not nearly enough.
If you are short on time and want to see the most of it on your first trip to this wonderful country, travel on the Philippines Island Hopping, a spectacular 14-day trip hopping from one island to the next with a wealth of adventure activities to choose from. Make unforgettable memories on this once-in-a-lifetime trip to pristine islands where you can snorkel, scuba dive, trek, mountain bike, zipline, kayak or simply forget about the worries of life in this breathtaking paradise.