A Philippines Travel Guide for First-Timers

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As a Filipino-American, it took me some time to warm up to my ancestral homeland of the Philippines. But once I experienced it for the first time myself, I fell in love and haven’t looked back since. As one of the most scenic locations in all of Asia, the Philippines has become a vacation hotspot in recent decades, drawing in a whole new wave of tourists from all over the world. It’s not hard to see why-pristine, remote island beaches accompanied with friendly locals and stunning wildlife make for a once in a lifetime trip. For those who have never been, the following are just a few key aspects of this country that may sway you in visiting sooner than later.

Hospitality

As mentioned, Filipinos have a reputation as being very kind and generous, being warm and welcoming to tourists and encouraging them to explore their native country. Many Filipino’s take pride in their country, showcasing the best parts of the Philippines for visiting tourists. Singing and dancing is an enormous part of the culture here, so don’t be surprised if you’re pulled into one of the many celebratory events going on throughout the summer.

Rarely is a tourist’s naivety or unfamiliarity taken advantage of in the Philippines. The locals are happy to lend a helping hand and ensure that your time spent in their country is enjoyable, memorable, and leaving you wanting to come back again.

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Having said that, it’s also highly important to remember that as a visitor in their country, you should be respectful and humble at any place you find yourself. There are many things you might find odd or strange in their culture that might conflict with your own, but it’s always a good idea to respect the differences and focus on just enjoying your time.

Beaches

Being one of the largest collections of islands with 7,107 total, the Philippines has some of the most flawless beaches in the world. White sand, crystal blue waters, and incredible rock formations make up hundreds of these somewhat private locations, which are not always flooded with tourists so long as you know where to look.

Perhaps one of the most iconic beaches and best one for your Instagram feed is White Beach in Boracay. This beach consistently finds a spot on the list of top 10 beaches in the world, and is one of the most famous. That being said, the crowds here may be a little larger than what you’re looking for, but the aesthetic is absolutely worth the trip.

Nature

If part of your vacation plans involves seeing exotic wildlife, the Philippines then becomes that much more appealing. Home to some of the most diverse animals and plant life on Earth, this country includes nearly 200 species of mammals, over 600 species of birds, hundreds of reptiles, amphibious creatures, and coral species. One of the most popular attractions here is swimming with the native whale sharks.

In terms of geography, there are a total of 37 volcanoes found throughout the Philippines, all of which are accessible via hiking tours in addition to the country’s many caves, lakes, and waterfalls. To add to its beauty, temperatures here rarely ever reach levels of extreme heat or cold, making a trip here ideal in nearly any month of the year. However, experienced visitors typically recommend anytime between the months of November and May.

Food

As the late Anthony Bourdain once famously said, “Filipino’s love feeding people”. While Filipino cuisine may not be as well known around the world as their Asian counterparts, you might be more than impressed with some of the food you may encounter here. A traditional Filipino meal will have tourists experiencing a mix of Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, and even American-style cuisine, with foods like pancit, sinigang, barbecued chicken intestines, halo-halo, and much, much more.

The fruits found growing around the Philippines are among the freshest you will most likely ever try. From fresh mangos, pineapples, to coconuts, to papayas, Filipino fruit grows within an incredibly nurturing environment that adds to its flavor.

And good news for the avid seafood enthusiasts, the plethora of sea creatures found around the Philippines’ many coasts including lobster, crab, tiger prawns, and octopus among many others. Chefs around the country are highly skilled in preparing some of the most delicious seafood meals in Asia. However, if you are less inclined to try something adventurous, there are still plenty of options for those that are more accustomed to the Western ideals of flavor.

And did I mention how inexpensive eating out in the Philippines can be? More often than not, you’ll pay a fraction of what you might pay for a similar meal in North America or Europe.

Relaxation

While all of the aforementioned aspects certainly fall under this category, the Philippines is also a perfect getaway for travelers who would prefer to do nothing other than relax, unwind, and fully embrace a week of well deserved laziness. For starters, prices for alcoholic beverages, just like the food, are significantly cheaper than most other countries. Rum is actually cheaper than most of the juices served throughout the restaurant scene seeing as these juices come from the highly sought after fruits around the islands. Their Red Horse beer cost just 20 pesos, and is a little stronger than the average beer with 6.8% alcohol; a cheap, delicious way to take the edge off.

Once you’ve settled in and grabbed a drink, add even more to your spiritual pampering with a massage on the beach, or at one of the many spas around the country. From Swedish, to Shiatsu, to manicures and pedicures, Filipino spas and masseuses offer several different types of massages and are usually more dedicated and experienced than the types of massages you’d find elsewhere. Additionally, over 75% of the country speaks English, so language barriers are hardly ever a problem.

For more info on the Philippines and how to book your first trip, check out this site here and do some research of your own. The experiences mentioned above are just scratching the surface of what you can do in this beautiful country, and if you’re still thinking about it, take my word that you won’t ever regret making the trip.

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