The Philippines: from the party island of Boracay, to the remote jungles of Luzon, to the city lights of Manila, the Philippines has something for everyone. Until recently it has remained a relatively untrodden tourist spot, with nearby Thailand hogging the Asian limelight.
The Philippines have suffered their fare share of natural disasters in recent years. They are located between the South China sea and the Pacific Ocean, in an area known as the ‘typhoon belt.’ Due to this location, they receive more tropical storms than any other country on earth. However, this should not put you off; it is an exciting, diverse country, with vibrant cities, paradise islands, towering volcanoes and dense rainforest. Many parts of the Philippines remain untouched by mass tourism and give you the opportunity to experience Asian culture at its best.
In November 2013, parts of the Philippines were left devastated by the mighty typhoon Haiyan. Since then, the country has been re-building and recovering. Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the Philippines and it is vital for the economy that such natural disasters do not reduce visitor numbers. Whilst some of the islands are still in a state of repair, there are still plenty of beautiful and safe places to visit.
Here are the top 5 attractions in the Philippines:
1 - Exploring Boracay Island
At just 7km long, and at it’s narrowest 500m wide, Boracay Island is a small yet perfectly formed picture of paradise. It is part of the Visaya island group and is located 196 miles South of Manila. White Beach is a 4km long stretch of white sand with a plethora of bars, shops and restaurants, and is the heart of the action. From here you can snorkel, paraglide or just relax on the vast sandy beach whilst sipping a cocktail in the sunshine. White Beach also has an extensive choice of nightlife with bars and clubs staying open until dawn. If you prefer a more secluded spot, try Diniwid or Yapak beaches further north on the island.
2 - Swimming in Kayangan Lake
Kayangan Lake is located on the island of Coron. It is a freshwater lake, up to 10m deep and is reputed to be the cleanest lake in Asia. It is a steep climb of approximately 200 steps up to the lake look-out point that you must use to access the lake. From there you can descend to the lake shore and have a refreshing swim or snorkel in the cool, clear waters.
3 - Climbing Mount Mayon Volcano
Mount Mayon Volcano is located on the island of Luzon. It stands at 2463m and is one of the most active volcanoes on earth. It last erupted in August 2014. At present it is not recommended to take trips all the way to the crater, however day trips to the first base camp can be arranged with a local guide. Be sure to be prepared. The terrain is changeable and the walk is strenuous. Make sure you pack good walking boots and plenty of water.
4 - Seeing the sights of the capital city, Manila
Manila is a huge city with a population of approximately 10 million. While largely an industrial city, it has a number of interesting monuments, museums and plenty of shopping opportunities for the visitor.
Take a stroll through Rizal Park, where you can see the historic Rizal monument, as well as many others featuring important people in Filipino history. Some of these monuments form part of an evening light show, which is definitely worth viewing. It is on Wednesday-Sunday evenings at 7pm.
Pay a visit to San Agustin church, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Built in 1539, it is a perfect example of colonial architecture.
The most famous historic site and major tourist attraction is Fort Santiago, which forms part of the old walled city. It was constructed in 1593 and housed many prisoners including the Philippine national hero Jose Rizal before his execution in 1896.
There are plenty of shopping opportunities in Manila. The city has a number of large air-conditioned shopping malls with international brands, as well as smaller boutiques and independent stores. In fact, three of the world’s biggest malls are located in Manila. Check out the SM Mall of Asia, opposite Manila Bay, or Trinoma Mall in Quezon City area.
5 - Trekking
The Philippines has plenty of trekking possibilities for the adventurous traveller. You can hike through the stunning rice paddies in Banaue, trek through the rainforest in Luzon or even hike through jungle to Nagkalit-Kalit waterfall in El Nido. Some of the jungles are exceptionally remote and are home to a variety of wildlife, including many rare and endangered species. Keep your eyes peeled for the very cute and elusive Tarsier, one of the smallest primates on the planet.
It is vital to remember that the Philippines is still a developing country, so good preparation is essential prior to your visit. Make sure you take out adequate travel insurance if you intend to partake in any adventurous activities. If you are prone to stomach bugs, it’s worth considering purchasing one of our Tummy Kits. This will ensure you have appropriate medication to self medicate when access to treatment is limited. If you are trekking, then make sure you bring a good first aid kit and sterile equipment. We sell the Ouch Pouch, which contains a variety of plasters, bandages and dressings. We also sell Sterile Kits, which hold a range of needles, syringes and cannulas.
Finally, and most importantly, to ensure your vaccinations are fully up to date and to get any of the kits mentioned, book your appointment with us now!