With its extroverted culture laden with festivals and warm Filipino hosts ready to welcome newcomers, is it any wonder that the Philippines has recently been named as one of the world’s friendliest countries?
Given that our family tends to focus more on the welcome and warmth we receive above anything else when we visit, this nation is high on our list of places to visit once we have braved the art of plane-hopping with ten children. With a bunch of kids that love the beach, the 7000 islands and their coastlines would undoubtedly be their idea of the ultimate paradise.
Flying in with our family set aside, visiting the Philippines is relatively hassle-free. English is a main language so communication is easy and, as long as your passport is valid for the duration of your stay, you don’t need to worry about having an extra six months available on it from the date of arrival. Visas are also not required for stays of up to 30 days whilst tourist visas can be easily applied for from the Philippine Embassy which will allow stays of up to 59 days. Visits longer than this will require applying for an extension at the Bureau of Immigration but I reckon we’d be quite happy with a month or two!
Having said that, I don’t know that even a couple of months would be enough to pack in everything that the Philippines has to offer. After checking out the best destinations in the Philippines, we have managed to hone our ever-expanding list down to these top 5 places to see:
The Chocolate Hills of Bohol
Unfortunately, these are not hills made of real chocolate but is the name given to a collection of cone-shaped geological formations within the Bohol province. The number of these hills is unknown, with the minimum number quoted as being 1260 though thought to be as many as almost 1800, and their name derives from the colour of the grass that changes from green to different shades of chocolate brown as the seasons change. A climb of approximately 200 stairs will take you up to a point providing a panoramic view of the hills and whilst it can get crowded at times, it is definitely worth a visit.
The Secret Beach of El Nido
Also known as ‘The Hidden Beach’ the Secret Beach of El Nido is most certainly that. Nestled between the tall, grey limestone cliffs of Palawan and accessible only by swimming through a door-sized keyhole, this strip of beach cannot be seen from the open sea. Please note that the image is of another beach on El Nido and not the Secret Beach because, well, it’s a secret.
Getting Active on Boracay
The island of Boracay lies 196 miles south of Manilla, and is an incredible tourist trap thanks to its pristine beaches and resorts. If you want to try out your surfing skills the winds caught along the east coast’s Bulabog Beach provide the perfect spot. If snorkelling is more your thing then the diverse marine life found beneath the water is just what you need.
Batad Rice Terraces
If the 2,000 year-old Batad Rice Terraces are breath-taking enough to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site then they are definitely on our shortlist of places to see. Unfortunately, getting there, which involves a tricycle or jeepney ride plus an hour-long hike down the terraces, can be a little difficult with kids, so it might be one for Mike and I to do without them some day. They’re on the list, nonetheless.
Tubbataha Reef Marine Park
The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park (known as the Bahurang Tubbataha) is another World Heritage Site that lies within the centre of the Sulu sea. The area which contains the North and South reefs span over 374 square miles and is home to a very high density of marine species including whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks and Napoleon wrasse. The ecosystem boasts over 350 species of coral and more than 500 species of fish, providing a vital habitat for endangered species of marine life. Amazing!
Have we convinced you yet? If we have and you would like more details it’s worth checking out http://www.philippinestravelpackage.com/ who provide hotels, tours, concierge services and packages to anyone visiting the Philippines, and with whom this article was written in conjunction.
Have you visited the Philippines before? If you have (or you plan to), do you have any sights you’d like to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!