The Philippines is a spectacular country full of treasures, be it its tropical and diverse landscapes and beaches, its mixture of cultures or its actual, well, treasures (with hips of sunken Spanish galleons and the still undiscovered spoils of war of the Japanese Imperial army during WW2!). There are so many places of interest to visit, from ancient rice fields to some of the best beaches in the world and we have a selection of small group holidays and adventure tours where you can see the highlights of the country.
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Here are some of the best places to visit and best things to do in the Philippines...
In Cebu you can take a trip down to the famous Larsian BBQ area right off the main roundabout in the centre of the city one evening, we can only describe it as a big tent full of copious BBQ stalls all striving for your business, fish, pork, squid and much much more accompanied by puso (Cebuano rice wrapped in banana/coconut leaves) all at a very cheap price. The great local food and atmosphere is amazing if you are feeling adventurous! Whilst whizzing around you are more than likely to come across the famous lechon baboy of Cebu (spit roasted pig) this is pretty much a right of passage whilst in Cebu. You may also hear cries in the night of ‘Balut... balut...’ We’ll leave you to google this one, it’s only for the brave. If you want something a bit closer to home, maybe try Jollibee (very famous fast-food restaurant in Philippines) they do a great burger that’s for sure.
If you like to shop there are plenty of shopping centres in Cebu, Ayala and SM being the biggest, if you want something a bit more traditional head to the Colon area, the oldest street in Cebu, little markets if you want local souvenirs, though do be wary of pickpockets in this area as it is extremely busy. Taxi is probably the best way to get around the city but don’t worry, they are cheap! Moving away from the city, Kawasan falls is a must see, picturesque waterfalls not too far from the city. If you are into scuba diving, Moalboal on the west side of the island is a must go, known as one of the best diving spots in the world, only about a 2/3 drive. Then of course head back to Mactan Island for the most beautiful, postcard finish beaches. There are plenty of resorts here so take your pick, ‘Bluewater’, ‘Costa Bella’, ‘White Sands’ are a few of the places we recommend. Whilst on the way, definitely stop off and check out the Lapu-Lapu monument, the hero of the Mactan who was the first native to resist the Spanish colonization.
A few things we would suggest here definitely check out Rizal (sometimes known as Luneta) Park, this seems the heart of the city, a charming park with the monument to another Filipino hero Jose Rizal. Come at night to see a spectacular light show across the water feature in the centre. Always a great atmosphere, lots of people, food stalls, fun fair rides and music. Makati is the celebrity/business hub of Manila, if you like to shop, drink coffee and enjoy good nightlife, this is your spot. Manila is also home to the Mall of Asia, this place is massive and the 3rd biggest in Asia (second only to 2 in China). Manila's Chinatown is one of the busiest, dirtiest, poorest and consequently most interesting neighborhoods of the country's capital. Chinatown is a feast for the eyes once again and a short and intense introduction to a world extremely different to the one you might be used to back home or from the hotel you might be staying in. If you want to get out of the city, take a trip to the nearest volcano, Taal. It does take a short boat ride and then a horse ride up a dusty steep mountain until you arrive at the magnificent Taal volcano, trust us it’s worth it.
If you like to party, Boracay is your place! Once voted the most beautiful beach in the world, Boracay’s White Beach is among the best your eyes will ever witness. During the day the place is riddled with water sports and restaurants that appear on the beach, serving the freshest, cheapest and most delicious seafood (oysters, lobster, you name it) you could ever hope to experience. Once night time appears watch the tables and chairs gradually abscond as the place becomes a hub for night life. The glorious thing about this place is its versatility along the main strip. Once minute you will be in a full out nightclub, take a few steps along the strip and you will be listening to an acoustic act perform in front of an audience that is lazing around on bean bags on the beach whilst drinking at a small candle lit table. Whether you want to relax or dance the night away you will find it here in Boracay.
Located a short ferry ride off Cebu’s south east coast Bohol is one of Philippines little gems. Sand so white it actually hurts your eyes, sea so blue you can’t resist jumping in, palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze and the best bit is, the beaches here are almost always deserted. Bohol has a famous tourist trail that I’d highly recommend once you’ve pulled yourself away from the divine beaches. There are tours which include visiting the famous chocolate hills, a wonderful buffet meal on a boat cruise and a trip to see the most famous residents, the tarsiers!
If you really want to get away from it all, and we mean REALLY get away, go to Palawan. Located on the west side of the Philippines it cuddles the Chinese sea, making the water wonderfully warm. Landing in Puerto Princesa, we took a car journey along roads that looked as if they had abandoned for years to the idyllic Port Barton. We recommend staying in Villa Margurita, a private villa surrounded by a couple of hostel style places on a deserted beach. Just beautiful, if you want to lay on a hammock and just watch the sea, come here, you couldn’t feel further from the ‘real world’.
Of course this is a only a quick guide, just remember ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines!’ This information was brought to you by Marie-Claire Macardle.