Travelers have been raving about the Philippines for years, with its beautiful white beaches, lush landscapes and friendly people. Despite these rave reviews and a growing tourism industry, far less tourists visit the Philippines every year compared to its South East Asian neighbors like Thailand, making it a much more relaxed place to visit.
The entire country is an archipelago of 7641 islands, lying close to the equator in the Pacific Ocean to the South of Taiwan and China. Its population of over 100 million people is spread across these islands, though concentrated in mega cities like the capital Manila. Its history as a Spanish colony is still seen today in the Philippines’ colonial architecture and majority Catholic population. A strong association with the USA in the aftermath of the Second World War and beyond has meant that many Filipinos today speak very good English.
The Philippines has a tropical climate, with warm temperatures year round, and heavy rains and high humidity during monsoon season. Rainy season varies in the different regions, but in most places you can expect heavy rains from June to November. The coolest months are December to February making this the best time to travel, as it can get very hot from March to May. The country is also located on the Pacific Ring of fire, making earthquakes and typhoons a possibility at any time. However, its unique geographical conditions also make the Philippines rich in natural resources and biodiversity.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport
The Philippines’ capital, Manila, is serviced by Ninoy Aquino International Airport, a large, modern and busy airport. Many airlines fly from the USA to Manila, including United, American Airlines and Philippine Airlines, as well as budget options such as EVA Air and China Southern which regularly have incredible deals on fares.
International flights arrive into Terminals 1 and 3 of the airport, with Terminals 2 and 4 servicing domestic flights. For further NAIA info, including the multiple options of how to get to or from Manila city center to the airport, please visit wikivoyage.org
Now that you've gotten into Manila...
Where to go and what to do??? That's the question!
With over 7000 islands making up the country, how to you choose where to go? Here is a look at some of the best and most popular destinations in the Philippines!
This island is in the South West of the country, in the Sulu sea which borders Malaysia. It has beautiful scenery and its coastline is dotted with tiny archipelagos of islands surrounded by coral reefs and crystal clear water. El Nido, a beach town surrounded by lush jungle located on the northern tip of the island is a popular destination for those who like to get a little of the beaten path.
Puerto Princesa tops the list when it comes to ecotourism in the Philippines. Dubbed the ecotourism capital, there’s not just a lot to see in Puerto Princesa, there’s a lot to do while there. If there is a place in Puerto Princesa that you don’t want to miss, it is the Underground River or the Subterranean River National Park. Tourists from different parts of the globe visit the site every year. There are even more visitors now with its recent title as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
This small island is located off the Northern tip of Cebu. It is a world famous dive destination, and surrounded by many dive sites where you can see coral reefs and an abundance of fish. It is most famous for its Thresher sharks, with divers to flocking to get up at 4am to see these rare creatures – reportedly this is one of only places in the world you can see them! It is also a great place to hang out on the beach, with a range of relaxed accommodation and restaurants, and friendly local villagers
Boracay is one of the busiest tourist spots in the Philippines, thanks to its long, white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. Although it may be a little crowded for some, its wide variety of hotels, restaurants, activities and a lively party scene make this the perfect spot for many, and it remains much more relaxed compared to other party spots in the world!
NOTE: As of April 2018, the Philippine Government closed the island of Boracay for 6 month in order to undertake major infrastructure upgrades to the island to ensure it continues to be a great destination while protecting the local environment. The island is planned to reopen in October 2018.
accommodation and restaurants, and friendly local villagers
Siargao is an emerging destination tucked away in the province of Surigao del Norte at the North-Eastern tip of Mindanao in the South East of the archipelago. The island is the number one surfing spot in the Philippines which hosts several international surfing competitions every year.
If you’re a beginner, you can also find plenty of instructors to teach you to surf! However, Siargao has plenty more to offer beyond surfing: you can go island hopping to nearby pristine tropical islands, explore the lagoons, kayak, visit limestone caves, or just sit on the perfect white sand beaches with clear turquoise waters.