With its balmy climate, exotic jungles, friendly people and fantastic cuisine, the Philippines is an enduringly popular vacation site. If you’re about to go there for the first time, you’re in for a treat, but learning a bit about it can help to make your trip even better.
Islands of the West
Once known as the Islands of the West, the Philippines has been settled for hundreds of years, providing a home to wave after wave of settlers and developing a unique culture in the process. Diverse and welcoming, they are a patchwork of farmsteads, fishing villages, wild territory and gleaming modern cities. Pork, beef and seafood come together with peanuts and exotic fruits in Filipino cooking, and the islands are home to some of the best ice cream parlors in the world. Traditional dance and theater provide rich entertainment, and there are gorgeous beaches on which to stretch out and relax.
This is one of few countries in the world that mentions nature (makakalikasan) in its national motto, and much of its jungle and cloud forest remains in pristine condition, teeming with wildlife including crocodiles, turtles, spotted deer and tarsiers. It’s also known for its large and beautiful butterflies, and just off the coast you can go swimming with sharks, or even with whales.
Sights you can’t afford to miss
There are some places in the Philippines that are a must on any visit:
- Puerto Princessa subterranean river – the longest navigable underwater river in the world. Take a boat trip through it and marvel at the stalactites and stalagmites.
- Mount Mayon – in the heart of a national park, this perfectly conical active volcano stands amid the ruins of buildings it destroyed.
- Chocolate Hills – not made out of chocolate, unfortunately, but still amazing, these curious brown hills are said to be rubble left over from a fight between two giants.
- Tinuy-an Falls – these spectacular waterfalls give surrounding Bislig its nickname, “the booming city.” Visit between 9 and 11 in the morning to see them create a rainbow.
- Siquijor – otherwise known as the island of fire, this coralline atoll is covered in shells, including those of giant clams, and is associated with ancient myths and magic.
Precautions travelers should take
The Philippines is much safer than other destinations in the area. Scams are rare and the locals welcome tourists as a good source of legitimate income. Occasional muggings and pickpocketing incidents do happen, however, so visitors should exercise the same caution they would in any city or remote area, and should take care with their belongings.
In the event of money being stolen – or simply being spent too fast, which can happen easily in the vibrant city markets – you may need to replace it quickly. Trans-fast is one of the most reliable money transfer companies. Learn how to send money securely online before you go, and then your loved ones back home will be able to help if you should need it. Knowing this is in hand, you’ll be able to forget your cares and enjoy the vacation of a lifetime.