Last November, our family travelled to the Philippines for the first time after living in Canada for almost 9 years. Despite the issue with the traffic and the very humid and hot weather during our visit, we truly enjoyed our first homecoming. Our 3 weeks stay in Manila was not long enough to visit and see the fun and beautiful places that are listed in our family’s “TO GO” list. This visit made me wonder why there are people I know that are hesitant to travel to the Philippines. They would rather stick to other popular Asian destinations such as Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Cambodia or Vietnam than go to the Philippines, they don’t know what they are missing – the stunning landscapes, the amazing sights that you will see above and under the sea, the Filipino culture and hospitality and of course the food!
If you will google “Why visit Philippines?” you will be amazed by the number of articles that were already written by travel bloggers about their unforgettable experience during their visit to the Philippines, they can give you more than ten reasons why visiting Philippines should be on your bucket list. After our last “balikbayan” trip, I realized that I should be encouraging my jetsetter friends to visit my home country. You wouldn’t believe how my kids and I were so much in awe in all the places that we’ve been, we haven’t even return to Canada yet they were already asking their Dad and I about our next visit to the Philippines.
On this article, I am enumerating the top 5 reasons in my list why you should visit the Philippines and book your flight to my island-blessed country ASAP!
01 ISLANDS AND BEACHES.
Wikipedia will give you a very long list of beaches in the Philippines and I can bluntly say that the beaches in the Philippines are amongst the most beautiful in the world. With a total of 7,107 islands, Philippines is one of the largest island groups in the world which makes it impossible for a beach-bummer traveler not to find the type of beach that he or she can call as beach heaven. Because beautiful beaches are bound to be everywhere, it’s unfortunate that not all of them are given the attention they deserve. When you try googling the best isalnds in the Philippines for beach getaways, you will for sure find Amanpulo or El Nido (Palawan), Boracay (Aklan), Caramoan group of islands (Camarines Sur), Balesin (Quezon), Batan (Batanes), Siargao (Surigao Del Norte), Panglao (Bohol), Pagudpod (Ilocos Norte) and other popular beach destinations in the Philippines.
02 | SHOPPING MALLS
If you didn’t grow up in the Philippines and you will see the big malls in Metro Manila alone, you would really think that Filipinos are crazy about shopping. In the Philippines the word “mall” is somehow used as a verb (because we are used to saying – “Let’s go malling.”) this maybe because unlike here in Canada, Philippines has more shopping malls than public parks. Some Filipinos may suggest to their balikbayan or foreign visitors to go somewhere outside Manila to truly experience Philippines, but if you have limited time, going to the mall can be a worthwhile experience. Most of the malls in the Philippines were built and developed by 3 of the top mall connoisseurs – SM Prime Holdings, Ayala Land and Robinsons Land, malls developed by these mall giants are not just the usual shops, eateries or movie theatres, now, you can go bowling or ice skating, take exercise classes at the gym, go dancing or visit medical clinic and even attend mass without leaving the mall premises. Anyone can find almost everything inside the mall that can entertain himself for the whole day. Bangkok, Shanghai and Hong Kong are known as great shopping destinations but having 5 of the 20 biggest shopping malls in the world only proves that Philippines is now one of the best places to shop, aside from that, foreign shoppers will not find a hard time as the shop assistants can speak good English. There’s about 16 malls in Metro Manila that qualify as a supermall. With over 1,000 shops SM City North EDSA (Quezon City), is the largest mall in the Philippines and the 4th world’s largest shopping mall. SM Megamall (Mandaluyong), SM Mall of Asia (Pasay), Festival Alabang Mall (Muntinlupa), SM Aura Premier (Taguig), Greenbelt and Glorietta Mall (Makati) are among the best and biggest malls around Metro Manila.
03 | FOOD & DRINKS
When travelling, food is one of the most important things for me, that’s why this is part of this list. Aside from being inexpensive, you will also find Filipino food to be very interesting. Filipino cuisine is a combination of influence of Malay, Indian, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and American culinary tastes. Filipino dishes range from being simple to complicated and centers around the combination of sweet, salty and sour taste. Each region has their own particular cuisine. You should not leave Philippines without trying some of the best Filipino dishes – adobo, kare-kare, sisig, sinigang, kinilaw, kaldereta, silog breakfast, pancit and of course, lechon. And if you are a seafood lover, you will surely enjoy all kinds of seafood from lobster to crabs, octopus or prawns. You will also enjoy different kinds of fruit like banana, pineapple, coconut, papaya and the best mangoes in the world fresh and cheap.
The Philippines is also home to the best and cheapest spirit drinks in Asia, Filipinos love strong drinks and a party or gathering is not complete without having a couple of bottle of drinks. The locally-produced San Miguel beer and Red Horse beer are 2 of the most popular beers while Ginebra San Miguel is the most-well known gin brand Tanduay is the most popular brand of rum.
04 | NO LANGUAGE BARRIER
The language of instruction in schools in the Philippines is English, that is why almost 90% of Filipinos can speak and understand English. This is one of the reasons that will make foreigners’ visit to the Philippines a lot easier, they can interact with the locals with no language barrier. Going around will not be hard as you can ask directions and recommendations from locals.
05 | PEOPLE
If there is one thing that will make one’s trip to the Philippines extra special and unforgettable, that will probably be their interaction with the Filipinos. Foreigners or not, Filipinos treat their guest warmly. Filipinos are known to be very friendly and hospitable. We definitely know how to make our guest fell “welcome” and at home. The moment that you land in the Philippines, you will be greeted warmly by the people that you meet be it in the airport, hotel, restaurant and practically every place that you go. As a sign of respect and politeness, Filipinos are use to calling “sir” or “ma’am.” Do not be surprised if some one offers to help you or approach you, start a small conversation with you or even invite you to eat with them.
Whichever part of the Philippines you go, you will for sure find a reason and a way to enjoy. The beauty of this country will never fail to amaze you.
Have you travelled to the Philippines? How was your experience?
Wikipedia: List of largest shopping malls, accessed July 10, 2018