We all know that tourist boards like to talk-the-talk and hype up their destinations. They all like to boast that they have the best beaches, the craziest adventure activities or the hottest culinary scene… But the Philippines doesn’t have to try so hard. This southeast Asia island nation has so much to offer that when it comes to catchy slogans, the Philippine Department of Tourism decided to keep things simple with the catch phrase: ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’.
And those clever people at the tourist board are absolutely right! From the majestic beauty of its glorious Chocolate Hills and the dynamic vibe of Manila, to the warmth and sincerity of its happy, smiling people, there is so much to discover in this gorgeous country. Here are five fun destinations that you definitely don’t want to miss on a trip to the Philippines…
Known as ‘the capital of fun’, this mega-city is rich in history and teeming with colorful sights to see. Take a bamboo bike tour around the walled city of Intramuros or lose yourself in the streets of Binondo Chinatown, which dates back to the 16th century and is said to be the oldest Chinese settlement in the world. If you’re a culture-vulture you can can soak up knowledge to your heart’s content at the National Museum of the Philippines or catch a live performance at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. And in the evening, spend some time soaking up the Malay, Chinese and Spanish influences of the local cuisine or bar hop your way through Ermita and Malate.
There’s no denying that Cebu’s white-sand beaches are full of fun, but it is well worth delving a little deeper into the oldest city in the Philippines. Home to the Magellan Cross, which Magellan ordered to be planted where the Spanish landed back in 1521, the city of Cebu is overflowing with historic treasures. Take the time to stroll around Fort San Pedro, which has served as an army garrison, a rebel stronghold, a prison camp and a zoo over its long and colorful history or throw yourself into the aquamarine water of Logon Beach on the southwest coast.
There’s no arguing that few things are as much fun in life as chocolate, and in Bohol, you’ll fee like you’re surrounded by it. Grab your camera because this truly Instagram-able location is the perfect place to capture some to-die-for shots of the other-worldly Chocolate Hills or unbelievably cute bug-eyed tarsiers. Explore the world-class dive sites near Pnaglao, Pamilicam, Cabilao or Balicasag, spot dolphins at Pamilacan Island or go night-kayaking at Maribojoc, where you’ll see the fireflies light up the Filipino sky like diamonds.
Every kind of island claims to be its own kind of paradise, but Palawan has some serious credentials to its name. Named the number one ‘Island in the World’ by Conde Nast Traveler for three years in a row now, its Coron Reefs are heaven for snorkellers and divers. There are 12 World War II Japanese shipwrecks to explore, which—along with the abundant aquatic wildlife that call the reefs home—have helped the destination be listed in Forbes Traveler magazine’s top 10 ‘Best Cuba Sites in the World’. Palawan is also home to the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which features a full mountain-to-sea ecosystem.
There’s no fighting it, the Spanish colonial town of Vigan is like something straight out of a fairy tale. Frozen in the Spanish-colonial era, this picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place of cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages; a place where European and Filipino cultures blend seamlessly. Stroll past the Spanish-style homes that line Calle Crisologo, soak up the stunning views from Banaoang Bridge, take a river cruise along the Mestizo River or sample the town’s famous longanisa sausage or bagnet sundried pork.
Do you dream of sampling all the fun that the Philippines has to offer? Of diving into Cebu’s aquamarine waters? Of coming face-to-face with an unbearably cute tarsier in Bohol? Of losing yourself in Vigan’s historic cobblestone streets? Yes? Then come with us to the Philippines. Not only will you have the experience of a lifetime, but you will have a sophisticated itinerary that has been lovingly-created by Indus’ Philippines experts. To find out more about our tours to the Philippines, please feel free to contact us at any time.
About the Writer: Vickie Sam Paget
Vickie is a freelance writer and editor based in Vancouver, BC. When she’s not creating dynamic travel or tech content, globetrotting or gazing at the North Shore Mountains, you can usually find her curled up with a good book or sipping a pint of the good stuff in her local Irish bar.