The Philippines, an archipelago of around 7,500 islands, is a traveller’s paradise. Its people are friendly and over 90% speak English, the culture is a blissful blend of Asian, European and American, and the beach life here is beyond heavenly. But don’t just take it from us. Listen to a local!
There are just so many places on Mrs Romance’s and my travel list, but every now and again we find somewhere that gets us very excited.
Our friend and colleague Darra, who is from the Philippines, has shared a few of her beautiful nation’s top spots to visit and it’s made us look seriously at flights!
There are so many amazing things to see and do in the Philippines it’s very hard to know where to start. The Philippines archipelago with some of the most incredible beaches and SCUBA diving in the world.
Its food has strong (and delicious) Spanish and Meixcan influences, and its landscapes, architecture and wildlife are a photographer’s dream. But where are the best places to go to sample these things? What do the locals recommend?
We asked Darra to tell us the top 5 places locals, expats and tourists alike all love about the Philippines and these are her tips:
5 reasons to book a flight to the Philippines – hot tips from a local
The Island of Boracay is a tiny island on the mid-western fringe of the archipelago. Even though it’s only 10.5km2, this island has 9 pristine beaches, great nightlife and eating options, and the sun sets into the ocean. Perfect!
Darra’s recommended reading: boracaycompass.com.
2. Palawan Subterranean River
On the Island of Puerto Princesa – one of the more remote parts of the Philippines and whose southern tip is in fact closer to Malaysia – is Palawan. Here a river runs under the limestone cliffs of the St Paul mountain range out into the South China Sea.
It’s been named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and is a UNESCO listed site.
The Island of Cebu was the first to be colonised by the Spanish in 1565. The main city there – also called Cebu – has some of the most dramitic and identifiable architecture in the country.
Also, thanks to its long stretches of pristine white sandy beaches, amazing year-round water sports and great nightlife (and an international airport), Cebu has found itself a focal point for tourism. Make sure you head to the Tops on the city’s northern outskirts for amazing romantic views out over this sparkling city.
Tucked away behind Cebu is the Island of Bohol. Not many people other than locals know about this very special place, which is surprising. Here you’ll find not only the ubiquitous superbly beautiful beaches of the Philippines, but also the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier, the world’s smallest monkey.
The Chocolate Hills are hundreds of conical mounds that have popped up over a wide area of the island. Scientists aren’t too sure how they’ve come to be but they’re certainly striking.
Tarsiers, which are about the size of a human fist, are nocturnal primates. Each eye are bigger than their entire brain… and they’re absolutely adorable!
Darra’s recommended reading: justonewayticket.com.
5. Banaue Rice Terraces
Also known as the Ifugao Rice Terraces, these ancient rice fields are over 2000 years old. They’re still funtioning but only just. UNESCO put them on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2001, so make sure you get to see them asap.
The terraces look absolutely magical, carved into the mountainside and reflecting the sky like slivers of mirror. When you do go, it’s recommended that you aim to be there between Feb and May as low cloud coverage can obscure the view outside those times.
Darra’s recommended reading: travel-philippines.com.
With so many islands and hidden-away places to explore, the Philippines is a treasure trove for the inquisitive traveller, especially if you’re out and about long term.
Even these 5 places Darra says it would take you a good month to enjoy them properly, and I can well believe it.
Thank you, Darra, for your help researching this piece. It certainly has got our feet itching for a trip to the Philippines.
If you’re interested in other inspired travel tip-offs, check out our look at the amazing Corrour Station in the Scottish Highlands, as reported to us by our friend Jimmy.
Have you ever been to the Philippines? Where did you go? Which of these places would you most like to visit if you’ve never been there before? Tell us in the comments!