By now, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard how beautiful the Philippines is. If not, well, where have you been in the last decade?
But if you do, we’re sure you’ve heard from friends, even strangers, tell amazing travel stories about how absolutely breathtaking Boracay and El Nido, Palawan are. After all, in its Top 100 2016 list, CNN ranked El Nido, Palawan as the 14th best beach in the world. Additionally, Conde Nast Traveler ranked Boracay as the number 1 beach in the world!
Pretty good reasons to visit the Philippines, right? Of course! But, these two places are just a few of the many great reasons you should book a flight, pack your bags, see this island-country for yourself, and spend more time in the great outdoors and reap all its health benefits.
In this listicle, I’m giving you 5 more reasons you shouldn’t miss the fun in this part of the world. Best of all, this list could be your unofficial bucket list when you visit the Philippines!
#1 Great Beer, Low Cost
It’s no secret that the cost of living in the Philippines is very low compared to its ASEAN cousins. For example, if you travel to Tokyo and want to taste the best sake, you need to shell out a sizable amount.
But in the Philippines, its best beer brand—San Miguel Beer, SMB for short—delivers quite an experience for a fraction of the cost. The most popular beer in the Philippines is San Miguel Pale Pilsen, which has 5% alcohol content and costs around Php40.00 or less than USD1.
Pro tip: Pale Pilsen is best served chilled and sipped outdoors while watching the amazing sunset at the beach.
#2 There Are Multiple, Colorful Festivals Year-Round
In the Philippines, almost every town or province has its own festival wherein locals parade on the streets in colorful outfits and dance to local songs, households prepare feasts, both locals and tourists flock to the streets to join the festivities, and everyone gets to eat great food.
Festivals happen year-round, but the biggest and most popular include the Dinagyang Festival in IloIlo, Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon, Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan, Maskara Festival in Bacolod City, and the Moriones Festival in Marinduque.
Pro Tip: Manila, the Philippines’ capital, is a great place to explore but various provinces are worth exploring during your trip to the country as well. Check out the list of festivals available during your trip and book a flight there.
#3: Ride in Style
The jeepney is the most popular and iconic form of transportation in the Philippines with a colorful façade and history, as they are repurposed US army vehicles from WW2.
Some modern units carry colorful slogans, but the great majority often have images and names of their loved ones, usually children, spray-painted on the jeepney’s exteriors. Some also design their ride with religious images such as the Santo Niño and Virgin Mary.
You can “hop on and hop off” from a jeepney around Metro Manila. While it is not the most comfortable way to travel around the city, in the sense that you’ll be sitting next to about 20 people, it’s an experience you wouldn’t want to miss especially the part wherein you get to “knock” on the roof of the jeepney and say “Para!” (stop please) if you want to get off and be on your way.
Jeepney tours have become so popular lately that even celebrities hop on one during their trip in the country. Here’s Vin Diesel in one of our jeeps!
Pro Tip: Make sure you have spare change. The jeepney fare is pretty cheap, and paying in large bills is frowned upon.
#4: Make Friends with Whale Sharks
The whale shark, which measures between 18 and 45 feet, is the largest fish in the world. And the Philippines’ clear, blue waters is one of the best places wherein you can swim alongside these magnificent creatures.
The best spot to try this exhilarating outdoor experience is in Donsol Bay in Donsol, Sorsogon. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, and if you find yourself in this province, you might as well take the plunge.
Pro Tip: Whale shark swimming is a popular activity, even with local tourists, so make sure you book an early tour. It is best that you try this activity on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
#5 Best Smiles in the World
The Filipino hospitality is known around the world. Filipinos are often very friendly, and language plays a huge part in this trait. About 90 percent of the population understands and speaks English, which is our second language.
Unlike in other countries where tourists rely on translations and local guides to get around, it is easy to get to the Philippines because almost everyone can understand you if you speak in English. And if you’re lucky enough to know someone from the Philippines, the hospitality factor is even greater.
They will welcome you to their homes, cook a feast for you, and help you get around. They will even prepare a “pasalubong” (souvenir) package for you to take home. And this is why the Filipinos are known to have one of the best smiles in the world because they can understand you, which helps them make you feel more at home.
Pro Tip: You can return the favor by bringing a souvenir from your own country. Likewise, Filipinos love pasalubong, and they will greatly appreciate whatever gift you give them.
It Really Is More Fun in the Philippines
Now that you know more reasons to visit the Philippines, there’s no stopping you from exploring more reasons to add to this list. We hope that the 5 items above will help you plan and make your trip to the country more meaningful and truly, one for the books!
Meghan Roces is considered a social butterfly due to her overwhelming energy and charisma, as proven by people who get to meet her. She also loves traveling and has been to a few amazing places around the world. However, one can only have such energy, and sometimes, Meghan would opt to lie low and have an alone time—curled up in bed with a really good book.