The Philippines consists of over 7,000 islands and a handful of sprawling cities.
You’ll find your very own beach paradise without trouble, work up a sweat as you scale rice fields for epic views over the mountainous interior and sneak past steaming volcanoes while visiting this dreamy part of South East Asia.
You can try to get a little of everything out of your trip to the Philippines (beaches, adventure and megacity culture) or just go for one of these options. Just be sure to check out the regional weather forecasts as it varies across the country.
Manila, for instance, has a particularly severe wet season (peaking July to September) even though many other areas of the country are dry during this time. Once you’ve decided on dates, choose which part of the vast archipelago you want to explore.
The Beach Life
Unlike their neighbours in Indonesia and Thailand, it’s significantly easier to find islands, coves and beaches which aren’t teeming with tourists. It’s the ideal alternative travel destination for the beach bums out there. The Bacuit Archipelago is one of the hot spots for tourists wanting to admire the picture-perfect surrounds but get yourselves to El Nido for a little more privacy. Motorbike down from town to find the beaches at Nacpan, Maremegmeg and Duli and thank us later.
These long stretches of white sandy shores will keep you peacefully entertained for days. But don’t end there. The crescent moon shaped island of Cebu is also a divine beach-lover location. It has its own international airport and is a luxury resort hub but we prefer to ferry it over to the islands in the Bohol Strait.
Those wanting proper escapism should look into Pagudpud. It’s a bit of a trek to get to but totally worth it. The town is located on the northern tip of the Philippines’ main island, Luzon, and can be reached via a winding road along the
coast. The drive is as mesmerising as the surrounding beaches. Here, winds ramp up too, making it ideal for windsurfers and the like too.
The Rice Fields
The most famous inland part of the Philippines would have to be Banaue. It is super easy to get to from Manila but can get super busy at peak travel times. We recommend going to the rice terraces early in the morning for sunrise to avoid the tour groups. But tourists or not, it is a must-see. The mud-walled differ from the stone versions in other regions which make for a far nicer vista. They are World Heritage listed too because were introduced around 2000 years ago. And they’re still in use today.
But if you want to stay away from the crowds, look no further than the nearby remote villages such as Cambulo and Pula, which have their own incredible rice terraces. It just takes that extra bit of research to find a quieter spot, no matter what kind of experience you’re after.
But noise isn’t all that bad. Some of us even seek it out. Running around bustling food markets and streets full of people running about their hectic lives can be spectacle in and of itself. Manila is made for these kinds of cultural experiences. Known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, this metropolis is a boisterous jewel of a destination – even if its shell looks weather and super rough around the edges.
Skyscrapers dominate the skyline, casting large shadows the poverty-stricken shanty towns throughout. Here, rich and poor rub shoulders on a daily basis. Walking about, you’ll see how this causes both tension and beauty. Graffiti stains the streets full of vibrantly happy locals selling their wares and traversing the city. Dig a little deeper and find the growing art scene as well as the gentrifying hipster dining spots.
Just don’t get lost in the chaos – which is all too easy to do. Keep your head up and don’t miss a beat as you’re overloaded with stimuli. You’ll quickly discover why Manila is one of the most underrated Asian cities. And how the Philippines is far more than just it’s never-ending coast line.