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The Philippines will never fail to amaze you. The stunning sights above and under the sea, the culture, the hospitality, the food, and of course, the friendly people willing to welcome visitors wherever and whenever. Spending a night or two on the island-blessed country is not enough when you want to savour all the Philippines has to offer. Here are the top reasons why visiting should be on your bucket list.
Filipinos are known to be hospitable. Arriving at the airport, you will be greeted by friendly people who will assist you in your needs. Cab drivers will try to make conversation with you and, if you are lucky, they can give you suggestions on what to try and where to visit.
Upon getting to your destination, locals will make friends with you and make you feel home. They will introduce you to their family members, and even invite you to some occasions like fiestas, birthdays. They will even let you gatecrash a wedding! And of course, as you go, they will give you packs of food to take to your hostel.
They will wave you goodbye as you hop onto your next destination, with their friendly faces and happy smiles.
A big part of every province in the Philippines is the festivals they celebrate once a year. These festivals either originated from their patron saints or from the legends that came from their place.
Colorful parades, finely-created and detailed costumes, street parties, and dance competitions hype up the mood of every festival. Visitors can check out popular festivals like the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City, Moriones Festival in Marinduque, and Rodeo Festival in Masbate.
The Philippines is an archipelago and we boast more than 7,000 islands and islets, each with their own unique beauty. The far flung ones can either be reached via boat or plane, depending on distance. But if you want to check out the must-see spots, we definitely recommend partying in Boracay Island in Aklan, camping and braving the waves in Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur, island-hopping in Calaguas Islands in Camarines Norte, and sky diving Bantayan Island in Cebu City.
Who would not love tasting the Filipino food? One way to observe the culture of the country is through its food and Filipinos definitely excel on it. Taste Cebu’s world class lechon, fill your hungry tummy with Pampanga’s sizzling sisig, or experience eating in your palm with Quezon Province’s Pancit Habhab. Some must-try are adobo, balut, halo-halo, and of course, Davao City’s durian.
Climbing in the Philippines has gained tremendous attention in the past couple of years, thanks to outdoor enthusiasts who are very keen on promoting the beautiful mountains the country has. When in Davao, reach the highest peak of the country in Mt. Apo at 2,954 meters.
Travelers can also try Mount Dulang-Dulang and Mt. Pulag for additional adventures. But if you would like to take your kids with you and try smaller yet equally breathtaking views, Batangas City has a lot of mountains to choose from—Mt. Batulao, Mt. Gulugod-Baboy, and Mt. Maculot are just some.
Powdery white sand, sugary cream, brown, gray, and pink, you name it and the Philippines has it. Beaches in Boracay Island, Palawan, and Cebu City boast white sand, almost seemingly like a powder. Golden, creamy sand on the beaches in Pangasinan, north of Luzon, a couple of hours from the Philippines’ capital Manila, will also stun you.
Anilao in Batangas, a couple of hours away from Manila, has a lot of diving spots to visit and you can dive in the Philippines with friendly sharks too. This is the main attraction in Oslob, Cebu, where whale shark watching can be included in tours. Just don’t forget to take precautionary measures.
Get a souvenir of all your memories in the Philippines. One artistic way is to get a tattoo from the the last Mambabatok Apo Whang Od, based in Buscalan, Tinglayen, Kalinga. Each day, many people line up to have a tattoo from Apo Whang Od, who is now aged 100.
In between towering mountains and breathtaking islands are hundreds of caves waiting to be discovered. When in the north, you can tour the Sumaguing Cave in Sagada and have a side trip to its hanging coffins. In Palawan, you can also check out the internationally-acclaimed Underground Subterranean River.
After visiting caves, the lakes should be next. In San Pablo, Laguna, there are seven lakes you can see in a day. But if you want to see more, go to Coron, Palawan’s world-class Kayangan Lake and get to know people from the Tagbanua tribe.
The country is a historical place with a diverse culture coming from different colonizers. In Manila, you can have a day tour in Intramuros or the Walled City. It has been a refuge during the Spanish regime. A day tour in Corregidor, an island before reaching Manila Bay, was also a witness of history during the American colonization. In Ilocos Sur, you can go down memory lane at Vigan’s Calle Crisologo, which, up to now, is a preserved area showing the Spanish colonial and Asian architecture.
The Philippines do not fall short when it comes to volcanoes. See Mt. Mayon in Legazpi, Albay in Bicol Region, and be stunned in her perfectly cone-shaped form, like that of Japan’s Mt. Fuji.
A few hours drive from Manila is Tagaytay City, where you can see the second most active volcano in the country. Surrounding it is the Taal Lake which gives you a captivating view from Tagaytay City. You can actually go down the lake and spend time near the volcano for a day.
Another exciting experience is a day trek in Mt. Pinatubo using 4×4 cars. You will be amazed at the beauty of the crater lake, which was a result of the volcano’s eruption in 1993. Back then, it displaced thousands of Aeta community in Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga. However, despite its destructive eruption, Mt. Pinatubo left a beautiful reminder through the emergence of stunning coves within its area—Anawangin and Nagsasa.
The world-class Banaue Rice Terraces up in Ifugao Province should be included in your list. The ancestors of the indigenous people in the area carved the 2, 000-year-old terraces with their bare hands. It is considered as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by UNESCO.
Partying in the Philippines is more fun! It can be in the bars of Quezon City or in Boracay, or just a simple get-together in a Filipino home. One thing that will not be absent from every party is the karaoke machine, which has been the center of every occasion due to the Filipino love for singing.
Parties and get-togethers will not be complete without the drinks! Filipinos love merry making with a couple of beers on the side or a glass of wine. In Quezon Province, it boasts of its lambanog or a coconut wine.
You can also try local rum crafted at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon in Negros Occidental, or try the local craft beers in Baguio City.
Wherever you are in the Philippines, visitors will always have a reason to enjoy and see the country’s beauty. Either through food, sights, and people, there will always be a reason to return to the country.