Nestled amid some of Southeast Asia’s best-loved destinations, the Philippines often is overlooked as a destination for the luxury traveller. It’s time for this vibrant, sun-soaked haven to stand up and be counted – visit the Philippines and here are ten things you are guaranteed to love!
FRESH FRUIT, EVERYWHERE!
As a sun-drenched tropical paradise, you can expect to indulge in fresh, home-grown fruit plucked straight from the trees around the clock. With everything from papaya and watermelon tasting sweeter than ever, it’s the mangos that the country is famed for. Don’t be surprised if you’re floating through the shallows and a friendly local on a hand-built vessel glides over to sell you a young coconut.
Whilst this 7,000-island-strong archipelago may seem like an inconvenience when it comes to getting around, its sporadic distribution is, in fact, a blessing in disguise. Hitching a ride on a local’s junk boat and riding off into the sunset to the neighbouring island is a surefire way to experience the country’s scenery at its best.
The waters surrounding the many islands and inlets are all part of the golden handle, a world-famous underground kingdom renowned for its abundance of tropical marine life, fabulous coral reefs and eerie Japanese shipwrecks. And whilst anywhere around the archipelago presents an amazing underwater playground in which you can obtain your diving licence, Malapascua Island – home to an entourage of majestic thresher sharks – is a personal favourite.
The people of the Philippines are renowned for their big smiles and welcoming hearts. Pull up a chair at the local bar and it won’t be long before you’ll have made a friend or two to show you around.
UNTOUCHED CORNERS OF THE UNIVERSE
Thanks to its sprawling nature, there are many hard to get to places in the Philippines that remain untouched by tourists, out of guidebooks and off the map. Discover the more isolated, rural villages where time moves slowly and relaxation is a way of life. Hire a local guide for a rustic experience tucked away from the reach of wi-fi and taxis.
LUXURY ON TAP
In recent years, the Philippines seems to have shaken off any connotations it once had as a destination purely for the backpacker and has fast been transformed into a high-end destination that consistently graces glossy brochures from the world’s most illustrious travel publications worldwide. As a result, the sheer number of luxury hotels and spas on offer is mind-boggling, offering all the indulgences expected of a high-end escape in the sun.
It goes without saying that the beaches found in the Philippines are some of the purest, white-sand beaches in the world. Hours can be lost baking in the heat to the sound of nothing more than the lap of the waves and the odd coconut striking the powdery sand.
The cookery of the Philippines strikes a unique balance between sweet, sour and salty, taking influence from the very best of its neighbours’ offerings to create a unique flavour fusion that makes the most of local produce. Not necessarily the healthiest, crispy Pata and chicken skin chicharon should be on your list of must tries.
With top-notch beaches and azure-blue waters to hand, naturally the promise of a magnificent sunset follows in tow. Whether you watch the sun fade into a thousand shades of orange from the dizzying heights of Mount Apo or from beyond the rooftops of Cebu City, nightfall is one of the most spectacular times of day.
THE CHOCOLATE HILL
As the only tourist destination on the list worthy of its own mention, the Chocolate Hills are an incredible natural phenomena formed of over 1,000 rolling hills. If you ask me, the country’s landscape is incredible enough without the addition of perhaps the weirdest rolling landscape on the planet! Sadly, you won’t find any traces of chocolate here.