With over 7,000 Philippines islands to explore it’s easy to see why it’s such an amazingly diverse country with tonnes of things to do. It’s becoming increasingly popular with tourists and I completely get why. Walking around you can see the Spanish and American influences that stem from quite a dark past that we in the West quite possibly have never heard about.
Today, The Philippines islands are a complete mix of crazy busy cities, chilled out golden beaches and luscious tropical forests. If you want a romantic get-away it’s perfect. If you want adventure, it’s perfect. If you want culture, well, it has heaps of that too!
I learnt so much about this country during my time here (including where it was as I had NO IDEA- yeah I know, it’s bad) and completely fell in love with it. It is quite touristy, but not as much as other places In South East Asia. While I was there I was based in Manila and hopped out to 4 amazing islands- Palawan, Boracay, Dumaguete and Bohol.
So here’s a taster of what The Philippines islands have to offer!
Manila – for crazy city life
The great capital of The Philippines. Put simply, it’s crazy busy. There are cars and Jeepneys everywhere, people trying to get wherever they are going. Manila is like most capital cities; full of museums, shopping malls and great places to eat and drink. It was in Manila where I learnt about the history of The Philippines. It’s still a developing city and it’s pretty much a case of you either have money or you don’t. It was so vastly different to anything I had experienced before, but it’s brilliant.
The Ayala Museum here is well worth a visit – it covers the history of the Philippines which was a massive eye opener for me. It has only actually been an independent country for less than a century! The Mind Museum is also another good one to check out; it’s a good hands-on science museum so naturally, I enjoyed it as I’m a big kid.
Manila is also pretty damn good for shopping! There are huge malls to check out (I also went for a massage in a salon in one-amazing), and if you fancy haggling a bargain, Greenbelts is the place to go!
Palawan – for the adventure seeker
This beautiful Island is one for the outdoor and nature lovers. It’s the perfect combination of stunning beaches and lush rainforests. An absolute must is a trip around the stunning Honda Bay islands- It’s complete paradise! Palawan is also home to the Underground River which is actually one of the new natural wonders of the world so I was pretty chuffed to have been able to visit this! I would make sure you book these 2 trips in advance as they are unsurprisingly very popular.
Another popular tour is the City Tour which is a good way to see the historically significant parts of the Island, Baker’s Hill, Mitra’s Ranch (who was once a Senator there). Now, for me, Baker’s Hill was strange. It kinda felt like I had walked into a garden based Disney with large figurines everywhere. Nonetheless, it was a bit of fun! There is also an animal sanctuary which focuses on the breeding of crocodiles. You can also hold a Bearcat here, which I of course did.
Boracay – the place to party
Put simply, It’s the Ibiza of the Philippines. But a shit load cheaper. And possibly better (I don’t actually know that, I’ve never been to Ibiza). But what I do know is that out of all the Philippines beaches I explored, the sand here is beyond soft, I’m not even kidding. It’s so white and it literally feels like you’re walking on icing sugar. The atmosphere is amazing, the booze costs pennies, Tequila is served by the pint and you get to party the night away on the beach. What more could you want?
Dumaguete – where old meets new
Dumaguete has a completely different feel to the other Philippines islands I visited. It’s home to a lot of expats and there’s clearly a very comfortable openness from the LGBT community here. It was great! It’s a university town so there are plenty of places to eat and drink.
I was lucky enough to visit Dumaguete when the Whale Sharks were close to the area. Having the chance to snorkel with this magnificent animals was such an experience! I took a tour here to swim with them which included a lovely fresh lunch with plenty of seafood and local dishes to try. I have such a love for the ocean, so I would recommend this if you do too!
Bohol – to relax
I don’t think I have ever been anywhere where I have felt more like I was on the ultimate honeymoon. Kinda strange when you’re there with your best mate but ya know, we powered through. It is full of beautiful resorts overlooking the clear blue water, surrounded by palm trees and framed with infinity pools. I stayed in the amazing Amorita Resort and yep, it was heaven.
Bohol is actually made of 2 islands – Panglao and Bohol itself, with Tagbilaran city being the capital of the island. Tagbilaran was the place of the ‘blood compact’ (or ‘Sandugo’)which was a treaty between the Spanish and the Philippines to symbolise friendship between 2 different cultures, races and religions. Further round the island in Corella is a Tarsier sanctuary who are the smallest primates and unbelievably cute! Smack bang in the centre of Bohol in Carmen you will find the natural phenomena that are the chocolate hills. These literally look like Hershey’s kisses in the summer when the grass dries to a chocolate brown colour. There are over 1,200 of them and they literally stretch as far as you can see. Bohol is also home to the 2nd oldest Church in the Philippines which was built in the 1700s from egg and coral. It’s simply amazing that it’s still here today!
So there you have it! 5 very different places in the Philippines with very different things to offer! This is why I love this country and this is why I will always tell people to go!
Have you been to The Philippines? Tell me about your favourite place!