Back in 2014 when I first landed in the manila airport, I could not miss but see the slogan - There is more fun in the Philippines. And trust me 2 years in this country it has been fun, smiles, love all along for this country and from the people.After numerous compliments of the poster perfect beaches in our social media profiles and inquisitiveness of friends and family members about the captivating islands with enticing people, I decided my first blog would be sure about the fascinating affair I have with this beautiful country called the Philippines.
Who should visit the Philippines
People who love Exotic and Pristine Beaches
The truth, however, we want to lay aside is, the Philippines is full of exotic and postcard perfect beaches .with my favorite list being Boracay Island, el Nido and Coron islands of Palawan, Siquijor, Malapascua and bantayan islands of Cebu , Panglao beach of Bohol are few of the countless beaches that one can enjoy here. With more than 7,000 islands, world-class and crystal-blue water beaches are abundant here.And yes Daku islands in Siargao is the dream beach which has still eluded me.
People who want to be happy
All these years I noticed, Pinoys are happy people, who live in the moment. They love to meet, greet and laugh. You can connect to a Philippino in an hour, meet for lunch, catch up few songs a beer in KTV and feel that you knew them forever. Typhoons like Yolanda and Hayan could not snatch the happy spirits of Pinoys and it makes me proud to be home here. With awesome music places around manila, or to take the Pukka bar in El Nido, Epic club of Boracay - 24 *7 beach - you might not get time to sleep at all.
Mind it Pinoys take their vacations as seriously as you do now.
Who want to maximize Spending Power
When you compare the fortune you need to spend a week in European locals or to learn scuba diving, free diving, stay in awesome resorts - you find it's less than a quarter what you need it in the Philippines . with insanely cheap seafood and luxury - the Philippines is the place to be.
You want to be comfortably communicable
With a majority of the population speaking fluent English and another part still able to gather few lines here and there. It's easy to travel here, with very little stories about travelers getting lost like in Vietnam and China
When I first came to the Philippines from India I was hard to believe the cost of a pint of beer and or a bottle of exquisite whiskey .a Dollar whiskey or a 4 dollars rum bottle. Getting drunk each night wasn't so economical.
People in need of relaxations
There is one word when you visit the Philippines - Relax. mind refreshing and rejuvenating cheap massages can be found in every nook and corner of the country and if you are lucky along with the gentle sound of the waves in the ocean or the soothing rippling of the waterfalls.
You love festivals but Mardi Gras is far
The Philippines have a long list of festivals which are unique and entertaining across the seasons starting from Sinulog of Cebu in Jan to the mascara of Bacolod in October .iestas in the Philippines can be religious, cultural, or both. Several of these are held to honor the local Roman Catholic patron saints.
below are the few major festivals not to miss
Ati-Atihan, Kalibo (January)
Feast of the black Nazarene, Manila (January)
Sinulog, Cebu City (January)
Dinagyang, Iloilo (January)
Panagbenga, Baguio (February)
Moriones, Marinduque (March/April)
World Costume, Vigan (April)
Sandugo, Bohol (July)
Kadayawan, Davao (August)
Masskara, Bacolod (October)
You are food lovers .
I know that there aren't lanes of Philippino restaurants around the world, and me being a vegetarian Indian was in doubt whether I would starve while traveling around but Pinoy food was a welcome surprise
Filipino food has the essence of Malay, Chinese, Spanish,Japanese and American cuisine.
with a range of seafood - Red snapper, squid, lobster, crab you name it, you can have it and dear its so light on the pocket.
Calamansi juice, made of a citrus fruit.
Buko juice, first site of seeing coconut water and that too within a dollar a piece left a bright smile which has continued this three years stay in manila each day
Halo-Halo, a dessert made of milk, kidney beans, buko, apples other fruits and ice cream.
Being a staunch vegetarian I never tried it, but I know a quite a lot of travelers who have tried Balut, a boiled egg with an underdeveloped duck (embryo) inside.
Pancit noodles with veggies and meat.
Sinigang, a tamarind based sour soup.
Pork Sisig - Barbecue sticks of chicken/pork intestines.
Adobo, a dish with chicken or pork cooked with vinegar and soy sauce.
And if you are a vegetarian like me you can try - Mungo, stir fry vegetables.
You love adventure sports
When i arrived in the Philippines , I did not know how to swim , but if you are here adventure cannot stay far from you . I got into swimming, snorkelling in open water ,Surfing, Scuba diving, hiking, camping, cave spelunking, swimming with the mighty whale sharks , my crazy husband took additionally free diving. When I am yet to hold breathe for 45 seconds or more , he has a proud static hold of 4.5 minutes .
You can participate in white water rafting , flying single engine planes in angles city,do stunning cliff divings,kite boarding , long boarding, standup paddle boarding , sky diving the list is long.
SO when do we visit the Philippines?
My reply to this question is anytime, but it's best to visit the Philippines during the dry season, between November and April. At this time the country is fully accessible, including its many beautiful islands and more remote areas. Temperatures are high during March and April, so itís best to travel during the cooler months of December to February. The wet season falls between May and October, but the rain isnít constant and rarely impacts on travel plans. Youíll still enjoys hot, sunny days at this time, fewer crowds, and lush, green scenery. The shoulder months of May and November can represent good value for money ñ youíll miss the crowds, the weatherís still pleasant and flights will be cheaper than during the high season. The weather can be unpredictable in the Philippines, and typhoons can sometimes occur as early as August or as late as January.
For the places to visit, please always follow the travel warning of your country.If a certain place is restricted for you do not plan that part of the country in your itinerary.
How do I get the Philippines visa?
Most of the APEC countries, as well as the countries listed in the below link, do not need visa to enter the Philippines as a tourist
but if your country like mine isn't in the list, then you can follow the below guidelines, contact an agent and schedule a tourist visa around a month from your travel date at least. Just be sure you hold a passport valid for a period of at least six (6) months beyond the stay in the Philippines.
Airfares to the Philippines are they cheap?
With its budget airlines Cebu pacific air having flight nearly from each major Asian countries. Flying within and outside the Philippines is pretty cheap. Some of the domestic airlines to and fro flight amounting to 50 USD during lean seasons .with Flights directly to the tourist places of Cebu, Boracay, el Nido, Siargao, El Nido, you need not land manila first and use it as a layover.
Below are the few of the airlines to try.
Hotels and Hostels are they affordable
One of the best things about the Philippines is quality resorts with luxury starting at 150 USD a day and hostels and cheaper hotels costing 10 USD a day or so. So the Philippines is as much for the budget travelers so is to the splurge.
check the best hostels and hotels in the below link
Local transport: Taxis, MRT,LRT, Buses, Bankas , Boats and Flights
Taxi is still the convenient transport in Metro manila, whereas traveling to and fro to other provinces within Luzon island is comfortable in Aircon buses.
LRT and MRT though cheaper and faster and used by maximum people for transport are not suitable for traveling with heavy luggage.
Boats are means of transport within islands and you might want to use them instead of flights especially for to and fro from Cebu - Bohol as well as for Surigao - Siargao.
Bankas :Banca or banka are indigenously made small boats you will be using for island hopping, scuba diving trips with some of them having in-house awesome kitchens and comfortable restrooms.
Traffic in the Philippines is little crazy where the time to travel is measured not by kilometers, but by the week of the day and time. So if you are landing on a Friday evening 5 pm. the time to travel to your hotel from an airport which would have been 1 hours is now 4 hours in a taxi.
Flights: Cebu pacific and AirAsia still dominate the affordable travels with one-way flight as cheap as 25 dollars.
Indian Alert :
this small ticker is for desi's like us, who whichever part of the world they go, would love their masalas and chais.
In recent years there has been the growth of both Indian and middle eastern travelers causing the rapid rise of Indian and middle eastern restaurants . In our travels to Cebu (The famous indian curry house , Taj indian Restaurant ),Boracay(True food ,Gypsea shack ), Vigan (mess for indian hostel students ) , El Nido we did find awesome Indian restaurants and off course our Manila has also no dearth of them, with - RICH - royal Indian curry house, Queens at bollywood , new Bombay chain leading the lights.
A vegetarian like me do fall in little tight spots when traveling to remote islands or far off tourist places, But due to European influence - Pasta, Pizzas, and burgers do come to rescue. There are also some vegetarian food as eggplant adobo, Spanish bread, fresh lumpia wrapper, mungo curry and stirred fry vegetables with rice are delicious.
foodpanda, zomato helps a lot in zeroing the restaurants of choice.
Last minute advice?
Just pack your bags with tropical clothes , good sunscreen and mosquito repellant for the beaches and you are here my dear. the Country with fascinating and most gorgeous islands in the world.