Why the Philippines
When people think of the Philippines, they imagine white sand, crystal clear water, and all the luxurious feeling of relaxation that goes along with beach life. And it’s true, the Philippines has all these things. Visitors flock by the thousands to Boracay and Palawan year-round for this very reason, and few come away disappointed.
There’s a lot more to this wild and scattered archipelago, however. Mountain villages offer a taste of traditional life and cool temperatures that you may not expect from a subtropical country. Manila, for all of its chaos and grit, has a noticeably Latin character that you would expect to find in South America, not Southeast Asia, even while it continues to make ever greater contributions to the regional art and entertainment scene. As for the scores of small islands, most are not geared toward mass tourism or large resorts. In fact, if your idea of a tropical paradise is sharing unspoiled nature with local cultures as they might have existed a hundred years ago, the Philippines should be at the top of your bucket list.
If all of this makes the country sound like a somewhat difficult destination, well, it can be. Some of the most amazing sights are well off the beaten path and can take a great deal of planning and primitive transportation to visit. While most of the country is as safe as anywhere else in this part of the world, some areas still require care. On the other hand, the popular tourist attractions places are very, very easygoing. Most of these have direct flights and first world facilities, while the top-end luxury resorts can compete with the world’s best.
Ultimately, the advantage to visiting the Philippines is that you can easily choose the vacation that suits your travel style. If you just want to relax, get pampered, and forget about the stress of daily life, you can do that. If you are looking for true adventure and love the feeling of setting foot in places where few outsiders have ever been, you can do that, too. City people and culture enthusiasts will fall in love with the energy of Manila and Cebu City, while hikers can climb right to the rim of live volcanoes or spend weeks exploring the deepest jungles.
No matter how you travel, the one constant will be the amazing friendliness of the people Filipinos. Most speak good English, and this culture is one of most genuinely welcoming in Asia. Even in areas that get thousands of tourists a day, your hosts will bend over backward to give you what you need and ensure that you are comfortable. Don’t be surprised if you are walking down the street in a small town and a random person invites you directly into his home for dinner or a chat.
If you accept, you will likely end up having more fun than you imagined. In all of East Asia, Filipinos definitely know how to have a good time better than anyone. It’s pretty common to see three generations of people singing, dancing, and celebrating life deep into the night. Filipinos don’t hide their joy or pretend to be anything different than who they are. It may not be a very rich or stylish country, but, if you want real culture and real people, it’s hard to think of a better place to spend your time.