The Philippines is a great place to visit. It’s fairly inexpensive to travel there, and you can take in the amazing natural environments, pristine beaches and neighbourly people.
My name is James Frazer-Mann and have been to the Philippines a few times already, and every time I went it was a great experience. It’s such a wonderful place to visit that I recommend it to my friends all the time. Many people visiting Southeast Asia want to go to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, but they leave off the Philippines for some reason.
This is not something you want to miss out on, though. The Philippines is miles ahead of those other countries, and I am going to tell you why.
Probably the number one reason to visit the Philippines is because of the friendly people who live there. Out of all the Asians I have come across in my travels, similar to thailand I have yet to find a friendlier bunch of people than the Filipinos. They are warm, generous and very welcoming. They always seem to have something to smile about, and they are very respectful and constantly dancing and celebrating. They are materially poor compared to the west, but they are constantly smiling.
When I am in the Philippines, I don’t feel like I need to give out money at every turn. You can simply become friends with people so easily there that you don’t feel obligated to give tips and pay for everything you do, since people are so willing to just help you out.
Awesome Islands and Beaches
The Philippines has more than 7,000 islands. The islands and beaches there are sublime, and I have not found better beaches anywhere else in the world.
White Beach in Boracay is regularly considered one of the best beaches anywhere. It’s probably the most famous in all the Philippines, but honestly, there are better ones. Palawan is also an area you should visit.
The Philippines has an abundance of white, sandy beaches with pristine blue water. With all those islands, it isn’t difficult to find a great beach not far from where you are staying.
Filipinos seem to love their shopping. Manila has some gigantic shopping malls, and those are the kind of places where Filipinos just love to congregate and see the people they know best. There are all sorts of shopping opportunities in Manila and in other pats of the Philippines. You can find a perfect place to shop no matter what your budget is or what you are looking for.
The fourth largest mall in the world is located in SM City North EDSA, so you know you are in for quite the experience there. That mall has spas, cinemas, coffee shops, supermarkets and enough stuff to keep you busy for days on end.
If you would prefer a flea market setting, then you can go with the Greenhills Shopping Center, with is located in San Juan. This place has tons of budget-priced goods, including a lot of cheap knockoffs of jewellery and clothing brands.
The Wildlife and Plant Life
You will also find a wide array of plants and animals in the Philippines. There are over 200 mammals in the country, and it is home to one of the tiniest monkeys in the world- the Philippine tarsier.
You can also discover hundreds of species of birds, 300 reptile and amphibian species and around 400 coral species. The worlds smallest fish, the pandaca pygmea, and the giant whale shark share these beautiful waters.
You would be missing out if you went to the Philippines and didn’t check out some of its amazing environments. It has almost 40 volcanoes, including the world’s smallest- Taal. The islands are rife with waterfalls, caves and lakes. Nature lovers will adore their visit here.
The Philippines is a mild country, with temperatures never becoming too hot or too cold. You’ll love the temperate, tropical climate. The best time to visit the islands, though, is between November and May.
Be careful about visiting during monsoon season, though. If you go between June and October, you will get buckets of rain most days, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this beautiful place. Once the rain subsides, the sun comes out and makes everything look pristine again. The sun will keep the waters at a comfortable 30°C.
The Scrumptious Food
Filipino food may not be the most famous exotic taste outside of its own country, but there really is nothing like it. Because it is not very well known, that means that it is hard to find anywhere else, so you really need to go to the Philippines to experience this type of food properly. It is kind of hard to describe Filipino food, but it’s safe to say it is like a mix of Spanish, American, Japanese, Chinese and Malay cuisines.
The Philippines have so many bananas that they use them to make a new kind of ketchup called banana ketchup. You should give Balut a try as well, which is made with a boiled egg and a duck embryo. Sinigang is a sour soup made from tamarind. Pancit are noodles mixed with vegetables and meat. These are just a few of the great dishes that seem like weird mashups of other things or incorporate ingredients that you might never try, but you may be amazed at how good they all are.
The Philippines is packed with fruit of all kinds. Mangoes, coconuts, pineapples, papayas and so much more are grown fresh here and are very cheap.
You can also find fresh seafood in abundance. Octopus, prawn, crab, lobster and more are all fished locally, which means they are sold at low prices. Of course, if your tastes are less exotic, you can find pizzas, burgers, pasta, Indian food, pastries and more here. The larger cities tend to have the greater variety of foods.
In the Philippines, the rum is even cheaper than juice. Few countries sell their booze for as cheap as the Philippines does. A lot of people order rum with juice to get a taste of the exotic mixtures they have on offer here.
The beer is pretty cheap too, and the most famous Filipino beer is Red Horse, which is stronger than your average draft.
Spas and Massages
You should definitely pamper yourself a bit while you are in the Philippines. A great way to do that is to visit one of the many massage parlours and luxury spas all over the country. The Swedish massage, which is a full body treatment with oil, is a local favourite. In most places in the Philippines, you a get a decent massage for about $8 USD, which works out to 350 pesos in local currency.
One reason why the Philippines is a favourite destination is because there is pretty much no language barrier. The vast majority of people here speak English (about 90%). That gives it a major advantage over most other Asian countries. That’s also the language of the government and the language you will see for all street signs and most written communication. Most magazines and newspapers come with English versions as well.
The Exotic Jeepney
If you want to get around the country like a local would, then you need to hire or ride in a jeepney. These are colourful vehicles that are open to the air, so you don’t even need air conditioning. These were jeeps left by the US military back in World War 2. The Filipinos got hold of them and changed them up a bit, opening out the back, putting in some benches and adding some colourful designs. The jeepney has become an iconic symbol of the Philippines.
Most jeepneys can carry between 16 and 20 passengers. Two of them sit up front next to the driver, and the rest sit in back facing each other on the two benches. In some cases, you will see people sitting on the roof or hanging out the window. Those on the outside of the jeepney tend to be teenage boys. Riding in one of these will give you a unique perspective on the country and help you to feel more like a local.
To find out more about me and my travels to Southeast Asia you can visit jamesfrazermann.co.uk