10 Reasons Why The Philippines Should Be Your First Stop In Asia

published by Bren

Last updated: December 10, 2023

The Philippines was never very high on my travel bucket list. No one really talked about the place, and it seemed to have a reputation for being a rather dangerous place to travel through. Besides, all travellers knew that Thailand had all the best beaches, China had all the work opportunities and Vietnam had all the best food. Why bother going to the Philippines?

Then finally in March this year I got the chance to visit. What I discovered was a country inhabited by the friendliest people on Earth, littered with unimaginable beaches and an infectious family like culture that made you never want to leave. Some of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in Asia were hidden in faraway corners of the country, still unheard of by much of the backpacker crowd. What I still can’t figure out is how so many travellers in Asia pass on this country full of beautiful people, fresh tropical fruit, picturesque islands and untouched natural beauty. Safe, cheap, beautiful; I ended up staying for 6 months! It’s easily become my new favourite spot in Asicoa.

Need more proof? Here’s 10 reasons why you need to skip Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and head straight to the Philippines on your next trip to Asia.

1. The amazing people

friendly people philippines

It’s amazing how friendly the people are here. How the place got a reputation for being dangerous, I have no idea. There was one time where I ran out of cash in El Nido, and since the place had no ATM’s I wasn’t able to get cash to pay for the tour I had been on that day. I was so embarrassed but when I finally told the guy, he just laughed and said “Ahhh no problem, you can pay anytime! I just hope you enjoyed the tour!” A perfect example of the generous, welcoming spirit of the Filipino people.

They’re also so polite! I’ve never been called Sir so many times in my life. As soon as you walk into 7 Eleven – “Good afternoon Sir!”

Then I ask her to help me work the drink machine, “Yes Sir, no problem Sir!”

Then when I go to pay, “Thank you Sir, is there anything else you need Sir?”

Then when I leave, “Thank you Sir, come again Sir!”

Then as I walk through the door the security guard holds it open and says, “Thank you for coming Sir, have a good day Sir!”

This isn’t a one off, it happens like this every single time! I thought the Japanese were polite but this was a whole new level. They don’t try to sell me anything, they don’t try and give me a taxi ride, they don’t try to ask for money; they’re just polite for the sake of being polite, and that’s something that you don’t see around the world too often these days. Filipino’s certainly know how to make you feel welcome.


2. The incredible food

Food in the Philippines

What I love about Filipino food is that it’s so different.

I love eating new things and that’s hard to do in many other parts of Asia. I’d eaten a whole lot of Chinese food before I went to China, I’d had quite a few gallons of Tom Yum soup before I went to Thailand, I’d eaten my fair share of curry and roti before I went to India and I knew all about udon noodles before I went to Japan. Yet before this year I had never seen or even heard of kalderetta, adobo, sinigang, bulalo, turon, lumpia, I could go on forever.

Some of the food didn’t agree with me completely but there were some things, their soups especially, that were just so different and delicious. There really is a lot of stuff that will be like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. Damn, I’m craving a sinigang right now!


3. You don’t get scammed or hustled

Mall of Asia Philippines
No one bothers you when walking down the street

To me, one of the most unattractive things about Asia is the blatant scamming. If you’ve ever been to the markets in China or caught a tuk tuk in Thailand you’ll know what I’m talking about. Hustling is even worse – take a walk through Phuket one night and count how many times someone tries to sell you something.

100 times only? Guess it was a quiet night.

During my 6 months in the Philippines I got scammed once. Other than that, it was so refreshing not having to watch my back every second of the day. A couple of times I even tested the taxi drivers, telling them I had no idea how to get back to my apartment when I actually knew the way perfectly. Did they drive me around the block and run up the meter? Nope.

Maybe the country’s strong religious roots has something to do with it, but whatever it is you’ll definitely appreciate it.


4. It’s off the beaten track

Tourism desk in the Philippines

I still struggle to understand how so many attractions in the Philippines continue to fly under the radar.

How is it that Bali gets 3 million visitors a year and Boracay barely manages to get a million?

How is it that I literally had the entire resort on Cagbalete Island to myself?

The Philippines only had 4 million tourists in 2012, compared to 20+ million in Thailand. Anyway, whatever the reason is let’s just hope it stays that way. Part of the magic in exploring the spotless white sand beaches of the Philippines is that you quite often have them all to yourself.


5. Everyone speaks English!

I was surprised to find out the language of instruction in schools here is actually English!

Finding your way around a language barrier can be half the fun in travelling, but it’s also surprising how different your travel experience becomes when you can actually communicate with everyone.

The level of English here is very high, definitely better than any other country I’ve visited in Asia (except for Singapore). It really makes travelling through the country a lot easier, and it’ll allow you to interact with the locals who will be able to recommend things and places you would have never otherwise heard of.


6. The fantastic shopping

SM Manila Philippines

For me, shopping in Manila would be the best I’ve ever seen.

Bangkok was pretty good, Shanghai was also good, even Hong Kong is not bad.

Manila beats all of them.

Out of the 20 biggest shopping malls in the world, 5 of them are in Manila. That’s more than any other city. On top of that all the shop assistants speak great English, stuff is not overpriced (cough, Shanghai), the local brands are surprisingly good quality and the free WIFI actually works! No stupid codes, no getting a password from the information desk; just connect and go.

Their malls are not just big, boring boxes either. The maze of Greenbelt malls is modern, classy and full of character. Spend a whole day walking through here and you’ll probably only manage to see half of it.


7. Unbelievable beaches

Cagbalete Island Philippines

These days its pretty hard to find a picture perfect beach that isn’t overcrowded, overdeveloped or overhyped. Unless of course you’re in the Philippines, where there are just too many to name.

In a country made up of over 7,000 islands beautiful beaches are bound to be everywhere. And they are! Try Googling Amanpulo, Caramoan, White Beach Boracay, Coron, Camiguin, Anguib Beach, Cagbalete Island, Caramines Sur, Nacpan Beach, Bolobadiangan Island, Subic Beach, Buluan Island; there’s just too many to list.

Most of these I haven’t even seen yet, but I’ll definitely be back to do it soon. What’s even crazier is that I’m guessing you’ve never even heard of these places, meaning no one else is going to be there except you.


8. The pretty faces

Megan Young, Miss World 2013 Philippines
Miss World 2013. Photo credit: Paul Cortes Photography

While I was living in Manila, the Traveler’s Digest released an article ranking Quezon City as one of the “Top 10 cities with the world’s best looking men”.

The article caused a bit of a Facebook sharing frenzy amongst the locals, and the humble celebrations had barely ended when the Philippines won Miss World 2013 a few months later. In fact, it appears the Philippines has been cleaning up at beauty pageants for quite some time now.

I’m just going to chime in and go on record saying that the Philippines really is a country of very pretty people πŸ™‚


9. It’s cheap!

Glorietta market Philippines

Budget travellers will definitely have no problem making their way through here. Taxi rides around town cost $3, a decent meal costs $1.50 and a bucket of beers will barely run you $5. Catching the latest movie at the cinema will cost you $6 and you can rent yourself a studio apartment for around $15 a day! Not to mention the country’s budget airlines (Cebu Pacific, PAL Express) offer some of the cheapest fares in Asia.


10. It’s growing, fast

Fort Bonifacio Philippines
Fort Bonifacio in Manila

I remember the first time I visited Fort Bonifacio and felt like I was walking through an upgraded version of Singapore. Skyscrapers were going up in all directions, it was incredibly clean, all the international eateries were around, there were Deutsche Bank and HP and IBM offices towering above me, the roads were wide and uncrowded, there were fancy public parks and boutique shopping streets; there I was thinking “I thought the Philippines was 3rd world?” The place looked like New Zealand 20 years into the future! I cannot wait to see what this place looks like in a few years time.

I’ll say it one more time. Go to the Philippines NOW. Asia’s best kept secret may not stay a secret for too much longer.

Looking for more Philippines content? Make sure you check out my trip to El Nido, my month living on Boracay, and my Manila Accommodation guide. It’s more fun in the Philippines!

Heading to Asia. Be sure to add the Philippines to your "to-do" list. Amazing beaches, delicious food, off the beaten track, the friendliest people. What more could you want?

Loved this? Spread the word


You might also like:

Share your thoughts!

Your email address will not be published. 

  1. Thank you Bren for this awesome article! I can relate to every single point on your list. I try to visit my family in the Phils every year, but i also visit because i want to be in this beautiful, crazy and so different country again. And yes, sometimes i think a little bit more tourists would be good for the economy but, as selfish as it may sound, i want to the phils to be a secret getaway. 13 days left till im on my way to the pinoys again, btw =)

          1. You’ve been to more places in the Philippines than I have, and I’m a local! πŸ™‚ Thank you for the wonderful article, so glad to find people like you who love my country!! πŸ™‚

          1. San Jose? I think that’s the jump off point to Apo Reef (different from Apo Island). I think it’s the the 2nd largest reef in Asia? Or the world next to the Great Barrier Reef. Anyways, been there, it was good!! Kilometers of great snorkeling or diving.

      1. First of all thank you Bren. I am so embarrassed when you list down some, and I repeat some of the best beaches as I have not heard some of them.
        I spoke to some tourists as well and they are selfish as we are. They don’t want advertise the beauty of the country as it might end up like another Phuket or Bali.

        Next time try climbing mountains. You’ll see a different perspective. Also Batanes and Calayan Island.
        Have fun

          1. you have to visit Coron..its one of the best destinations here in Ph.. (i will not attempt to write about it fearing i will not do justice to its charm/beauty ..hehe..) i will wait for your superior review when you finally get to visit..thank you for the heartwarming article about my country..

          1. Even before karaoke was invented Filipinos have always been rich with music and dances imbedded in our culture. Because of so many islands/ provinces each has their own distinct culture, music, dances, food and dialects but still one as a nation.

          2. I did notice the many different dialects from around the country, and how the Filipinos don’t always understand each other. Hah! Thanks for sharing.

      1. There’s a relatively new alternative to karaoke and it started to pick up; it’s something that those who like singing with live bands would appreciate. It’s called Rockeoke and it’s being offered in many bars in the metro. Not that it hasn’t been done before but I guess it’s nice to put a name on something we’ve been doing.

        Nice article! I hope to see you randomly in one of our streets. I’m an advocate of bringing my foreign friends to places that tourists do not usually go to (like downtown Manila etc). Most often that not, I find it more exciting every time I explore new places. This is coming from someone born and raised here. Anyway, I hope your next visit to the Phils becomes a lot more magical than the last. πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Bren,

    Thank you very much for the love and appreciation to our country. I am so glad that you experienced all the good (incredible) things that a lot of people or should i say nationalities never see or realize, even our fellow Asians.

    I believe in all the great things you pointed out like about our Food, Malls, People, Fort Bonifacio and of course the countless Beaches because I also feel the same thing. I believe the Philippines got a lot to offer, so much more. But unluckily I haven’t been to some of the beautiful beaches here and it’s a shame! :/ But it’s fine as long as our country’s visitors get to experience all these wonders themselves and enjoyed them, I am already happy with it! πŸ˜‰

  3. Hi Bren,

    It’s so nice of you to write this beautiful blog about my beloved country, I really appreciate it. Looks like you’ve been into places here more than I do hehhe. I noticed some of the place you mentioned are located in Bicol region (where I came from, I now stay here in Quezon City). Anyway, next time you go back here, you might want to pay a visit on one of the island that is a part of my hometown, the Calaguas island (http://www.calaguasislands.com/). Furthermore, in case you want to explore more of bicol region and need help, you may want to try ‘Asog travel and tours’ to help .. I didn’t work there by the way, it’s just that there are already quite some nice review about them.

    1. Hi Arvey, I think travelling is so important, as important as school and work and all the other things we spend so much time on. There are things travel can teach you that nothing else can. But I’m sure you already know this πŸ™‚ I really hope you’ll find some time in 2014 to get on the road, even if it’s just for a weekend! Thanks for visiting the blog, glad you enjoyed it πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, I think that had something to do with it. A lot of people used to talk to me in Tagalog, and were so shocked when I asked them to speak in English. However, my Asian face didn’t stop me getting hustled in Thailand (and I was constantly mistaken for a Thai while I was there) or China (and I’m Chinese!). So the scam level is definitely lower in The Philippines, without a doubt. No need to thank me, it was a pleasure staying there for so long! Safe travels to you as well.

  4. Hey Bren! Lovely, positive article. To give you some of the love back, I have to say that I LOVED New Zealand when I visited there in 2006. And when I was at a life crossroads four years ago, I seriously considered moving there. I even did the whole points thingy on the immigration site, but in the end, the Philippine is my home. I do have vague plans to return someday, but in the meantime, I always go dreamy remembering my two weeks in Auckland, Wellington, the Abel Tasman, and Marlborough! I took the Milford Sound crossing too and I have to say, it is indeed one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. We were blessed with a rainbow as we crossed, and the afternoon at Picton was… so quietly beautiful. I still remember that the fish and chips we had for dinner was awesome πŸ™‚ You are one lucky man to live in (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

  5. We were led here through one of the posts of a friend. Thank you so much for all the kind words you have given about us. It does help that people who had a great time here spread the word.
    About the scamming: I have got to say you are pretty lucky. Even locals here can get scammed. I guess it is all about judging if something just sounds too good to be true. BTW, what was that one thing you were scammed with?
    Hope you get to see more of our country when you return. You are returning, right πŸ˜€ ?

    – Lynne -Enroute.com

    1. I was scammed in a taxi from the airport to Makati, he did this weird thing with his meter and it said 500 pesos (usually around 180). I argued with him for about 10 seconds but was just too tired from my flight for any of that. Now I always make sure the right meter is on! Taxis around town seem to be much better though, never happened again. There may be some areas I did not visit where scamming is more common though, I can’t really say. Yes, I am returning!

  6. Super happy to know someone like you who really loves the Philippines! I remember when I traveled solo in Vietnam and Thailand, most of the travelers I met there don’t know about the Philippines. Like when they hear of Asia, they only thought of going to the mainland Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia). This article just proves how great the Philippines is.

    And because of that, if you get the chance again to visit the Philippines, I am volunteering now as your travel buddy or at least help you plan your next trip to the Philippines. <3

  7. hi bren! thank you for appreciating our country this much. this brought tears to my eyes and i know to my fellow countrymen also who love our country as much as i did once reading this.. this only shows how good you are as a person appreciating small details our country has to offer like addressing you “sir” , eating your “turon” etc.. and not paying much on the part of you being scammed once..thank you is not enougn actually, i would love to show you Calaguas Island once ur back and have the time. ive also been to many pristine beaches here in the phils and calaguas is really one the best places to visit! the place wud give you the serenity of nature every backpacker is looking for.. more power and continue wrting good stuff like this. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Grace, thank you so much for the kind words. I think the comments here from all your fellow Filipinos is a great representation of your country’s spirit, that you feel compelled to write a heartfelt thank you to a stranger just for a positive post about your country on some tiny blog! I would love to visit Calaguas, I was planning a weekend trip there from Manila but I chose to go to Cagbalete instead, but when I return it will be on my list for sure. Salamat for reading and your comments πŸ™‚

  8. Hi Sir Bren,

    Thank you so much for such a great article and for appreciating the philippines. It is so heartwarming when people talk fondly of our country. I am so glad that you enjoyed travelling and exploring the many islands but there are still a lot more beautiful places here and i think a lifetime is not enough to truly see how the philippines is. We as filipinos try our best to be as accomodating as possible so that the people who visit our country will have wonderful memories of the people and the country.
    I am so full of gratitude sir that you love our country as well. Thank you so much again sir Bren and may you travel farther and wider!

  9. Amazing article Bren! πŸ™‚ Thank you for writing about our country, it makes us happy that visitors enjoy the things we experience everyday! I’m also glad you managed to visit Cagbalete Island. πŸ™‚ Not many people know about the place since it’s kinda far, but it’s an amazing beach, especially if you just want to laze around and sleep.

    Hope to you come back to the Philippines for more adventures! πŸ™‚

  10. Hi Bren! Just finished reading this blog post about my nativeland,the Philippines.I’m glad that you had a blast staying there. I’m currently based in America but I see to it that I go home every year to re discover its grandeur.If in the near future you opted to change your nationality and become a Filipino, we will definitely embrace you with open arms. Hehe. Thanks again! Expect for more Filipino followers because of this post.

    Jai (from NYC and a proud Pinoy)

  11. thank you so much for your kind words for our country and our people., Sometimes advisories and warnings make our country “bad” in the eyes of foreigners, but because of your experience, you’ve proven otherwise. Scammers? they are all around, Thank God, you were spared from them. But they do not reflect the TRUE FILIPINO as you have found out yourself. But it’s also wise to take precaution. Your article reminded me of another blog written by an American tourist who also fell in love with the Philippines and its people. here’s the link, you may be interested to know what he has written: http://www.idreamedofthis.com/ He also captured the amazing beauty of the country in photos. He also has a facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/idreamedofthis?ref=br_tf I hope you could visit our country again and experience more of the people’s hospitality, beautiful beaches and sceneries, exciting food and appreciate the beautiful smile that only filipinos offer….especially from our beautiful women. πŸ™‚ God bless you and your endeavors!

  12. Wow!! That is wonderful to hear from a tourist. We are glad you enjoyed your stay in our sweet loving country. We Filipinos, are generally happy people and making the best of everything. It is our good nature to be friendly and compassionate as it all rooted for the love of family…I couldn’t agree more with your food choices, makes me wanna go home lolz. It’s more fun in the Philippines! Thank you for your kind words anyway πŸ™‚

  13. Try to Experience the Sinulog festival in Cebu! Grandest mardi Gra and street dancing of the Phils! That happens every 3rd Sunday of January. I suggest U should be there the week ahead to try to experience first the FOOD of Cebu esp the world’s best pork, Lechon! Hit the beaches up north like Camotes, Bantayan, Malapascua islands.. then head down to the South for Moalboal for diving, swim with the whale sharks in Oslob, Try Badian the Kawasan falls or further down to Sumilon island (a lot more I couldn’t list all). Then going back to Sinulog weekend be prepared to be on party mood for the country’s biggest festival! Ü

      1. Hi Bren,

        One of the best surfing spot (for beginners) in the PH is in La Union, just a 3-4 hour bus travel from Manila. Baler which is up north is also a surfing destination. Travel time is 5-6 hours. Long shoreline in Baler, which is great. I hope you when you get back here you try surfing first, super fun experience love. Let me know if you wanna go, we’re more than happy to tour you around πŸ™‚

        Chic

  14. Hi Bren, thanks for the wonderful post about my homeland:-) all of it is true, by the way lol i no longer live there but always find myself being pulled back home every now and then… Loving it from afar πŸ™‚ Excited to go on my next trip back home and see more of the country! As others have mentioned, try visiting the north- banaue, sagada,baguio, ilocos (vigan, pagudpud) sta.ana cagayan, batanes. Or some historical places like intramuros amd corregidor if you feel like it. When in coron, visit nearby culion πŸ™‚ all the best in your future travels!

  15. Mabuhay! Thank you for sharing your experienced in our country to the whole world Sir Bren.In behalf of our kababayan we are so grateful and touched in expressing your love thru this article. If you want adventure , try to visit our place the gateway in northern mindanao, Cagayan de oro City (the City of Golden Friendship). Our White Water Rafting, Mapawa Canyoneering, Dahilayan Park in Bukidnon -the longest dual zipline in Asia, Kampo Juan the anacycle ride and the enchanted Camiguin Island Paradise ( ardent hot spring, sto nino cold spring, katibawasan falls, ruin church,sunken cemetery, Mantigue island and the White island). It is also exit going to Davao City, Butuan City , Surigao and Siargao Island. And try our tropical fuits- Marang, Lanzones and Mangosteen. If you need more information just drop by to our website, http://www.dreamfuntravel.com.ph. Thank you and God be with you always in your adventure!

  16. I kind of like being that quintessential global “hole-in-the-wall” destination you alluded to. Sounds more mysterious and interesting. I too, like some locals here in the Philippines, appreciate the lack of commercialism in our tourism industry. It helps control and preserve the sites that would otherwise be spoiled due to too many tourists going there. I think the amount of tourism we have is a safe number. I also think we need to continue preserving the attractions we offer so the experience will always be authentic for travelers like you.

    Kudos to the blog entry and safe (and exciting) travels to you! πŸ™‚

  17. Hi Bren! Thanks for this wonderful article about our beloved Philippines!! Couldn’t be more prouder… do add to your list Siargao island for some surfing or just plain island hopping (jellyfish lake,lagoons, Sohoton cave etc), zip lining in Bukidnon and white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro, my birth place & of course don’t miss to try the city’s Kinilaw, a raw fish salad/appetizer… cheers on your next trip!! πŸ™‚

  18. A big thank you Bren from all of us Filipinos! This isn’t just an inspiring post for foreign travelers but for us Filipinos as well. As a travel blogger myself, I’ve made it a goal to travel in the Philippines more than traveling in other countries each year. You see, Filipinos are proud of their country but we don’t prioritize traveling in it to see all the 7,107 islands. A lot of our kababayans are too infatuated with the idea of exploring first world countries. Take El Nido for example, such a beautiful beautiful place in the Philippines yet only a small percentage of the Filipino population has gone there. A sad reality. That’s why my partner and I go on budget trips to local destinations just like El Nido to let people know that it’s not that hard to go there and it’s not expensive at all! We hope we’ll meet you someday in one of our trips. Maraming salamat and God bless! πŸ™‚

  19. Hey Bren, read about you from outoftownblog’s feature! Nice article you got here and nice to know you enjoyed your stay here. When traveling overseas, PH really is out of radar to foreigners as they find it hard to reach (unlike Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, etc) where you could just hop on a bus/train then you’re off to a different country. Heck, they just never knew about Cebu Pacific (your go to place for piso fares btw). Hope you’ll be back, there’s still more to see! πŸ™‚

  20. I rarely read blogs but I find yours a must-read Bren.This is indeed an esteem booster for a country that has been through so much in the past year.Back in 2011 me and my 2 sisters went to Boracay and had the time of our lives,and we vowed to make it our mission to travel all over the Philippines.But our busy lives caught up with us and we haven’t travelled together again and then I had to leave for Canada.Your article makes me miss home more.On the bright side,it gives me the motivation to work harder to save up for 2015,when hopefully I can go home and soak in the sun and sand!Thank you for this πŸ™‚ Try to visit Cebu (where I’m from) and Bohol on your next visit.Enjoy the Philippines Bren πŸ˜‰

  21. thank you, sir, for your very kind & encouraging words!

    The Philippines is, indeed, a great country to explore. Even us, locals, are guilty of not seeing much of our own country & instead go visit the neighboring ones. I’ve been to faraway lands but never been to Mindanao, which is a shame really. But, I’ve decided to change that. I’m scheduled to visit Davao City soon. I’m sure that’ll be a heck of a trip.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing your experience. You’ve become a local celebrity, people now wanna tour you around & happily so. I don’t blame them, that’s who we are. We feel that we, at least, owe you that. You’d be happy to know that I live near Boracay, so if you happen to need a tour…… πŸ™‚

  22. You must be a backpacker Bren? Im just guessing, but that must be the reason why you got to see the REAL beauty of the Philippines…People who come to the Philippines usually come with the “tour band”, thats why they just get to see the “gates of hell” as some would say, LOL…I agree with the lot here, you should also try to do a North tour, you won’t believe the hidden treasures you will find up there from Mt Province, Ifugao, Kalinga and Benguet…then you can cap it with the beaches that you so love…the North has its fair share of hidden falls up the mountains, and hidden beaches down the side of Ilocos, La union and Pangasinan.

  23. Hi Bren:

    I have never read a travelogue so long and so beautiful such as yours, i read it in its entirety all the comments and your reply. I am ashamed that most Filipinos like me have not experienced what you had. Please do go back and include my province Pampanga in your next sojourn. “Dacal pung Salamat, LUID co pu” (thanks so much and long live! In Pampango of course)

  24. glad you enjoyed your stay and hope you can come back soon. next time you can include tropical rain forests in your itinerary – a few of the very accesible ones are in Subic Bay, Mt.Makiling in Laguna, and Mt. Apo near Davao City. Of course the whole of Palawan had a lot of this. a few other fantastic islands are Bohol, Camiguin and Siquijor (a few hours next to one another by fast ferry) where you can run the whole gamut of nature tripping including snorkeling and whale watching. Have fun and be safe on your travels.

  25. I’m overwhelmed (happy that you share you experience and let the world know how beautiful my country is, proud to live in a tropical paradise tho a bit guilty coz I haven’t been to most of those places & homesick). I’ve been to Phuket and Bali first before I had decided to go and see Boracay and Palawan and that’s when it occurred to me that Philippines is really underrated as I reckon Bocaray and Palawan are better than the 2 places I’ve mentioned, impression & price-wise. Thus, I made a list of places I would travel when I got to come home to my country. You might want to add this on your list too! Oslob, Cebu or Donsol, Sorsogon (Swimming with Blue Whale Shark); Caramoan Island (where the Survivor series were shot); Hundred Islands, Pangasinan. Try learning some Tagalog or Bisaya too for sure you would get plenty of volunteers! πŸ˜‰

      1. Right on! I don’t even have any souvenir(except for pictures) coz their items are way too much and I automatically compare it to the prices back home. What my husband loved most about Philippines is the cheap sea foods (crabs, lobster, quality fish). He’s an Aussie btw and i reckon you got idea how dear seafood is I this country (Australia) πŸ™ Geez…craving now of hot crab w/ coconut milk

  26. Awesomeness! I couldn’t help but share your blog. Having traveled to some places here, it dawned on me that Filipinos are missing a lot in their own country. This blog says it all! Glad you enjoyed your stay as much as I have enjoyed my adventures. Hope to bump into you somewhere here. Our next stop… Mt. Pulag. You’ve better come down here real quick! ^_^

  27. Bren, thank you for writing an article about my country. When you travel in our 7,107 islands of Philippines, you will notice that these islands are infested (lack of better word) with domestic tourists than foreign tourists. These go to show how we love and support for our country that well. Thanks also to our new appointed Tourism Director Jimenez, he managed to boost tourism and how our present government put a lot of effort into it to increase international tourists significantly. Foreign testimonies do help a lot in boosting our tourism more… this I thank you again… I will do my part by sharing your blog on my profile. God bless you! Hope to see you more often here in our country for many years to come πŸ™‚

  28. I’ve been to Singapore myself. Although the underground rail transit was very impressive, the sceneries didn’t impress me that much, ‘coz I know for a fact that we have more of those in my country, only underrated, as you said. Filipino overseas workers are also plenty in Singapore, as I went there for a visit, the Filipinos I barely knew and just met there were the warmest to greet us there and ones who helped us get around Singapore easily, that made our stay more enjoyable. I am not exaggerating. I was just stating a fact by experience.

  29. Hi Bren! Thank you so much for a wonderful article on the Philippines. All the points you’ve covered are things that all Filipinos inherently known. Thank you for sharing your experiences with the world. However, I would like to point out one thing… Filipino food is probably the most approachable and least intimidating food in all of Asian. Most of the foodstuffs and food preparations should be familiar to most Westerners as the majority of Philippine dishes are based on Spanish (read European) antecedents. There are no chili booby traps (except in Bicol); no sambal deadfalls; and no weird sea creature snacks. What you see is what you get… except for offal which, by the way, is gaining traction as world chefs adopt ‘head to hoof’ use of animal parts. Even the much maligned Philippine condiment ‘Bagoong’ [fermented fish paste] traces it origin to the ancient and highly prized Mediterranean specialty called ‘Garum’. Again, thank you for a wonderful and eye-opening blog on the Philippines. Mabuhay!!!

  30. Wow, your article just made my day! And it’s only 5 am! With my ticket for Wicked later tonight, I can only imagine what this day would offer me. Ha ha! But yeah, thanks for this! You hit it right on the spot. I myself have been travelling the country from the mountains up north (where European tourists abound), the beaches of the Visayas (Aussies are the best beach buddies), all the way to the vintas of the south (really appreciate the works of foreigners there through various NGOs), yet I can’t seem to run out of places to go to in here! Good thing also that I first got to visit Boracay and El Nido before Phuket and Bali, which made me appreciate my country more. Second time to spend my New Year in Boracay this year, and still the best new year celebration I’ve ever had!

    And yeah, selfish as it may sound, I do hope that it stay this way. Or at least, that a balance between economy and tourism will be in place. Having experienced the tourist tracks of our neighbors, it’s quite scary. Even Boracay is no longer the Boracay I first come to love more than 10 years ago. Good thing, choices do abound! And Coron and Caramoan and El Nido are at the top of my alternatives.

    Again, thank you so much for such a wonderful write-up! Mabuhay ka, Sir Bren!

      1. Hi Bren when u thought u have been scammed once u weren’t if u get the taxi from the airport they have a flat rate of 500 pesos within a certain mile for some reaso this taxi operators manipulates the fare πŸ™‚ next time u better off getting one outside the airport… Thanks for sharing ur experience with us…I haven’t been home for 2 years now as I had a baby but defo miss Philippines especially when it’s winter here in England lol

        1. I didn’t take an airport taxi, I walked further down and took the metered ones. I’ve taken the taxi from Manila airport to Makati around 4 times, each time it was only 170-180, just this time he did some weird thing with his meter after we finally stopped and it said 500. After 18 hours of flying, I was too tired to argue with him. But, forgiven and forgotten! I can only imagine how much you miss the Filipino sun up there in England, hope you get to return home soon πŸ™‚

  31. Wow! What an inspiring blog you have here. We thank you for this. I myself wants to visit our beloved country and haven’t done so. Hopefully soon.. Anyway, have you ever been to the South of Manila in Batangas? You can try our Kapeng Barako(local coffee) and special Lomi. We have also plenty of beaches here. You can also buy Balisong(knife) specially in Taal where it is locally made. You can also explore Taal Volcano..