If you’re headed to Southeast Asia for soul searching, out of this world cuisine, or as the next adventure on your bucket list, you don’t want to glance over the Philippines. Many people turn away from the Philippines from fear of danger or the safety of their belongings. Fluffed news headlines aside, this is a country that is going to prove these wrong and have you coming back year after year in search of even more hidden paradises among these islands. Within these 7,107 islands, there is adventure and excitement around every corner whether you’re going swimming with whale sharks, island hopping in Siargao, or chasing waterfalls in Cebu. There is so much to see and that is all the more reason to return, and trust me, you’re going to want to. If you’re considering going to the Philippines, these are my top twelve reasons why you NEED to travel here for your next bucket list trip!
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1 | The Adventurous & Accommodating Locals
One of the quirks about the Philippines that shocked me the most was how many locals travel around their own country. Generally, whenever I am elsewhere in Asia it seems that I am always surrounded by tourists like myself, which isn’t always a bad thing, but in the Philippines you are waterfall exploring, cliff jumping, and hiking with the very people that make this place so great. For me, this added so much extra charm and ease to my travels since I was surrounded by adventurous, local souls that could encourage me to venture and also help me find my way around, and lest we forget how accommodating they are.
All of the speed bumps I encountered on my way around these islands was handled with a smile and enthusiasm from all of my local guides. The way of life here truly does move a little bit slower and it’s nice to be placed into such a peaceful, laid-back way of living compared to here in America. The locals truly just want to help you. They make you feel like you’re at home here and often times they’ll lead you on some of the wildest adventures!
2 | There Is Something For Every Type Of Traveler
Whether you’re into luxury villas, world-renowned dive sites, hostel life, or surfing, you’re going to fit right into the Philippines. Most islands in the Philippines have something unique to offer whether it be the famous Tarsiers in Bohol or Thresher Sharks in Malapascua. You’ll quickly find that each island you visit will have a completely different feel and culture than the last. This added so much more to my adventures because I never knew what to expect or what I could do on each island that I visited. What did the beaches look like? Is this island completely barren with nothing but palms? What adventures will this take me on next? All of these questions floated around my brain for the duration of my trip since I really didn’t know what to expect and I was both surprised and excited with each new place I visited. If you find that one island didn’t suit your needs/wants, hop to another and I guarantee you’ll find it!
3 | Your Money Goes Far
Like most of Southeast Asia, your dollar is going to go so much further here than if you were to go to Europe. Since the conversion rate is so good (speaking from someone with USD) you’ll be able to splurge on accommodation, tours, or whatever you want to elevate your experience here. A quick tricycle ride into town is going to be around 8 PHP (~ $0.15 USD) and the average cost of a local dinner is just a couple dollars out of pocket. This is comparable to a lot of other destinations in Asia and you’ll likely find that traveling here is cheaper than staying at home, and that’s all the more reason to stay!
4 | Endless Surfing Hotspots
The words surfing and hotspots will probably lead you to the Philippines’ surfing paradise known as Siargao. If you’re into quaint beach towns nestled on the edge of the world than look no further than the municipality of Pacifico in Siargao. It’s around forty minutes north of General Luna by scooter, but it is way less crowded and it’s known to have a gnarly surf break. It’s where I actually learned how to surf while I was there and it was only my surfing guide, me, and a couple of locals there in the morning for the waves. Although most people go to General Luna for epic surfs anyway, so choose whatever place suits your lifestyle needs, then head over and get salty!
5 | Crystal Clear Water & White Sand Beaches
Chances are this is the whole reason you’re going to be dying to visit the Philippines. It is no wonder that millions of people come here to experience its raw beauty, and let’s be real here who doesn’t want to go on a tropical island getaway? Palm trees, lush greens, and golden sun rays make up (most of) the entirety of these islands which really makes you feel like you’re filming an epic episode of survivor, but in a relaxing, carefree way. I could have easily spent the entirety of my trip snorkeling among the coral reefs or plopping myself right in the sand and getting my tan on. There is even a beach titled “White Beach” on Cebu, but you’ll be finding beach gems throughout your whole stay.
6 | No Language Barrier
The sweetest part about the Philippines is that most of the residents there are either fluent or familiar with the English language well enough to where you can communicate effectively to get to where you need to go. I have found that it was much easier to ask for directions, etc. from the locals in the Philippines than any other Asian country that I have visited. This can help take the ease off of fear of getting lost and things like that since you know that there is someone who knows someone that can help give you directions or even take you there themselves. This made traveling there extremely carefree for me and I feel that I was able to connect with a lot more people.
7 | Mouth-Watering Cuisine
I think I ate my body weight in potato curry and white rice while every day while I was there, but I have zero regrets lol. There are plenty of local goodies to try in the Philippines, however, I was limited since I am vegan, but I still had some amazing Filippino style dishes that I am going to savor for the rest of my life. There are no shortages of awesome meals to try out and even if you’re a picky eater, always try at least three new things while on your trip. The food makes the entire destination in my opinion and it’s a great way to dive into their culture.
8 | The Locals Adventure With You
One of the coolest parts about the Philippines is cliff jumping, waterfall chasing, and exploring with the locals alongside you. When I have traveled before it felt like I was among masses of tourists to get photos and experience the country, which I was, but here in the Philippines you’re welcomed with open arms and encouraged to push through your fears and have the most amazing time there, because that’s what it’s all about. They want you to enjoy and experience their country fully and encourage you to jump that 35ft cliff jumping spot (at least that’s what they did to me lol). A lot of the time they know where some of the hidden spots are, so you may even hit gold and find a hidden place!
9 | Transportation Is Made Simple
There are plenty of ways to get around on all of these islands and they are made rather simple with jeepneys, tricycles, scooters, or guides. In the college town of Dumaguete, there are tricycles, essentially a compact, colorful taxi, everywhere and they are at your reach for just a couple pesos and a hand wave. Alongside these are jeepneys, which are old buses that are painted and decorated that have seating on either side with no windows and these are also a good way to get around and save a little bit of money if you don’t want a guide. The absolute simplest and easiest way to get around is by scooter. There are rental shops everywhere and this also guarantees that you have your own way to get around once you arrive. If you’re still warming up to driving a scooter like myself, a guide is always a great option since they know the roads way better and you’re able to support locally. It all depends on what kind of traveler you are, but there is a way from a to b for everyone.
10 | Each Island Has Something Different To Offer
No matter what place in the Philippines you choose to explore, you are more than likely going to end up on some type of island hopping tour or day trip to explore some must-see sights. With that being said, on the exterior, it can seem a little mundane just going from one island to the next, but each island here has something completely different to offer whether that be cage diving with thresher sharks, gazing across the chocolate hills, or just taking a nap under a palm tree. Since there is so much to see you’re going to want to try and see it all in one go, but trust me, you’re going to have a lot more fun if you pick a couple absolute must-sees or a couple islands to explore and focus on those for the duration of your trip. It all depends on the adventure that you are searching for and there is so much to choose from to form your perfect island hopping itinerary.
11 | Hidden Gems Are Throughout The Entire Region
With how much land and area these islands cover and only 4,000 of 7,107 of them being inhabited, there are so many hidden treasures to go searching for. Everytime that I see photos or blog posts from the Philippines I learn about new waterfalls, islands, cliff jumping, you can name or even imagine anything and it’s probably around the corner on one of these islands somewhere.
12 | You Won’t Want To Leave
Ah, yes. The sad truth. Waving these islands goodbye is going to be the hardest part of your whole trip, but you can come back anytime you’d like and that’s the best feeling! It’s only a flight and an Airbnb booking away from being back to your paradise! While you’re away, you’re going to learn about even more epic spots and sights so that you can craft yet another perfect itinerary for your next stay!
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever been to the Philippines and what your favorite part of your trip was!
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