Planning to travel to the Philippines? I’m sure you’re weighing the pros and cons of crossing a thousand miles to visit this archipelagic paradise in Southeast Asia. And I fervently hope the pros outweigh the cons.
But in the spirit of transparency, I thought I’d come up with a series that will outline reasons why you will love the Philippines and why you will hate it. I could give you a million reasons why you will love this country but let me give you 7. After all, 7 is the most magical number and the Philippines is nothing short of magical.
Yes, yes and yes! The Philippines undoubtedly has some of the best beaches in the world. This is not just a claim; several magazines have awarded Boracay Island and Palawan as the best islands in recent years. The beaches in the Philippines are surreal and what’s underwater is a different world entirely! Come to work on your tan, to experience the bohemian island life, to ride the waves and to explore the reefs and shipwrecks.
Best spots: El Nido, Malapascua Island, Apo Island, Coron, Siargao
If you don’t mind gaining a few pounds, then you will love the Philippines! Our food is too delicious to resist. From the famous lechon and out-of-this-world seafood, to the well-loved halo-halo, Filipino food is both heavenly and downright sinful. And the best part? You don’t even have to spend a lot to taste the best food; some can be found in the streets and hole-in-the-wall eateries. And if someone invites you to a fiesta, by all means, say Yes! Fiesta food is unlike any other.
Best spots: Pampanga Province, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Roxas City
Filipino food is one thing but the local fruits are another! Tropical fruits are abundant in this side of the world and you can buy them for cheap. Want something refreshing and healthy? Just look for the local buko (young coconut) juice vendor or buy a large tumbler of the sweetest mango shake. The Philippine mango holds the Guiness record for the sweetest fruit in the world, btw. Are you in the mood for something exotic? Sample the foul-smelling yet heavenly durian or the citrus goodness of pomelo. Anywhere you go, you can find a fruit stand that sells local fruits at very affordable prices.
Best spots: Davao City, Camiguin Island, Guimaras
Filipinos are naturally friendly. You probably already know this from the Filipinos you encounter in your home country. Wherever you go in the Philippines, you are most likely to meet a new friend who will genuinely care for you. So don’t be afraid to smile back at that stranger you meet at the line in McDonald’s; that person might turn out to be one who will make sure you see the best of the Philippines.
The Philippines has a deep history under the Spaniards and the old churches tell that story. There are several churches heralded as UNESCO World Heritage Sites located all over the Philippines; an example of which is the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte. The closest you can visit when you land in Manila is the San Agustin Church. These churches have their special characteristics that landed them in the coveted UNESCO list so even if you’re not Catholic, these places are worth visiting.
Best spots: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Iloilo Province, Bohol Province
The festivals are probably the best reasons why you will love the Philippines. On any given day, there’s a festival or fiesta somewhere in the country. Plan your trip around some of the biggest festivals like the Sinulog, Ati-Atihan, Masskara, Pahiyas or Kadayawan to experience the vibrancy of Filipino festivals. And don’t be afraid to dance in the streets with the rest of the revelers, you are guaranteed to have a grand time!
Best spots: Cebu City, Kalibo/Boracay, Bacolod City, Lucban in Quezon, Davao City
The Philippines is known to celebrate the longest Christmas in the world and it’s something you should experience at least once in your life. Christmas in the Philippines starts in September and goes well into the first couple of months of the next year. The celebrations are quite extraordinary and this is when you will see the best of the Filipinos’ festive spirits. Christmas is the time for Filipinos to forget all the hardships and just focus on the blessings, no matter how tough life has been that year.
Best spots: San Fernando City, Pampanga, Baguio City and pretty much anywhere in the country
So there go my top 7 reasons why you will love the Philippines. It’s not a definitive list so if you have anything to add or share, please leave a comment below. We’d love to find out what you love about the Philippines.
Also, watch out for my post on reasons why you will hate the Philippines. Although hate is probably too strong a word. Happy travels!