Approximately 5 million people from around the world visited the Philippines in 2015, and the number of tourists continues to rise. It seems like when people hear about tourist destinations in the Philippines, they immediately think of white, sandy beaches. While that seems like a given, there are much more amazing natural wonders to see in my home country. Here are my top 5 favorites:
If you strike up a conversation with a fellow traveler and you mention you’re from the Philippines, the first two places they’ll probably say are Manila and Boracay. If they’ve been to Boracay, you’ll hear them rave about the amazing white sand beaches and the party atmosphere. Makes you quite proud to be a Filipino, doesn’t it?
Boracay seems like a given. Then again, a list of Philippines’ natural wonders isn’t really complete without it. In fact, Conde Nast Traveler named Puka Shell Beach (Yapak) in Boracay the 13th most beautiful beach in the world.
The famous party scene shouldn’t turn people off because Boracay has something for everyone. From extreme sports, laid back atmosphere, fantastic seafood, and yes, beachfront parties. So, if you plan to visit the Philippines, make sure Boracay is on top of your list.
- El Nido, Palawan
In the same Conde Nast Traveler list, El Nido, Palawan recognized it as the most beautiful island in the world. In recent years, Palawan has enjoyed increased attention from travelers around the world who are not just after the stretchy, white beaches but also the secret water lagoons surrounded by limestone formations. However, Filipinos should also consider seeing this amazing place and fall in love with it.
With so many beaches to choose from, it’s quite hard to pick a favorite. But, I think Shimizu Island just might rank highest on my list of El Nido beaches. It has one of the best limestone structures that frame the white beach beautifully. It’s also one of the top pit stops for day trip lunches. Can you just imagine eating the freshest seafood at the beachfront with this scene in front of your eyes? Heaven!
Unlike Boracay and Palawan, Batanes may sound like a newcomer in the top Philippine wonders. Batanes is the northernmost and smallest province in the country, sitting almost between Taiwan and Luzon’s top tip.
If you like the countryside, this is the place to go. In fact, its massive cliffs and rolling hills that frame both the skies and the sea earned it the name “Scotland of the East.”
If you’ve seen The Sound of Music and you’ve always wanted to do a Julie Andrews in the fields, go to Batanes. You’ll definitely be singing “The Hills Are Alive” because the beauty of this place is just unbelievable.
I personally like to visit the so-called Marlboro Country, which is actually an area called Racuh A Payaman, famous for its hedgerows, hills, and mountainous views complete with livestock frolicking in the grass.
- Mayon Volcano
Considered as the world’s most perfectly shaped conic volcano, Mayon Volcano is the crowning glory of Bicol region in the Philippines. It’s also one of the world’s most active volcanoes, which has erupted up to 50 times since 1600.
The Mayon Volcano remains dangerous to climbers, even the experienced ones and even without any volcanic activity. The slopes are so steep, and landslides and rock avalanches are quite common.
However, if you do want to take on the challenge, you can hike up the volcano by going through the deserts and forests. Interested climbers can register with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) and go through the northwestern slope, which is considered the safest route. A gas mask comes in handy to deal with the dangerous fumes.
Of course, you can always admire the volcano from afar, and one of the most advantages locations is the Embarcadero de Legazpi, which is a premier mall in Legazpi City. It’s like the Greenbelt 3 of the Bicol Region. If you like shopping and dining, this is the place to go. Don’t leave Legazpi City without tasting the famous Bicol Express and Sili Ice Cream too!
- Hundred Islands
The Philippines is famous for its beautiful islands and what better way to enjoy it than go island hopping. If you happen to visit Pangasinan in the Northern Province, head to the Hundred Islands National Park, which is composed of 124 islands.
The three main islands are called Governor’s Island, who shot to fame because of the Pinoy Big Brother TV series; Quezon Island; and the Children’s Island, which is the most kid-friendly island to visit if you are traveling with the fam bam.
The tour takes you around the park, and you can stay on some of the islands to explore on foot. You can also go camping on some islands which have some cottages for rent. You can even stay longer and sunbathe and just catch the next boat back.
See You in the Philippines
Unlike some of its neighbors in Southeast Asia, tourists in the Philippines get more for their hard-earned vacation budget. It’s cheaper to travel here compared to Malaysia and Singapore, but you do get more value for your money in terms of amazing natural sceneries, amazing food, and that world-renowned Filipino hospitality.
So, what are you waiting for? Plan that trip, either travel solo or with someone special. Visit the islands and see for yourself why people can’t seem to be contented with just one visit to the Philippines. Don’t forget to bring your camera and take photos like photographer Ralph Wunsch. With so many natural wonders, you’ll be spending so much time outdoors, even your body will benefit from it. How’s that for a vacation?