12 Reasons Why the Philippines Should be in Your Travel List

The Philippines has been getting bad press recently. The country is in a number of travel advisories mainly due to the government’s so-called “war on drugs.” There are also the persistent threat of terrorism in the southern region. One thing foreigners must know is that the Philippines is composed of thousands of islands, including two administrative regions. While there are parts of the country where not even locals are advised to visit during certain periods, pretty much all habitable islands are safe for travel.

Before you remove the Philippines in your travel destination list, here are 12 reasons why you should fly to this Southeast Asian paradise.

Expand your network

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It’s quite a known fact that Filipinos are extremely hospitable and  sociable. No wonder the country is regarded as the world’s “most social nation.” Expect to meet new friends throughout your journey. Pack a lot of stories and jokes as Filipinos love talking over coffee or chilled beer.

Search for the unsearchable

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Many Southeast Asians joke about Westerners “finding their soul” or the meaning of their life in poorer countries. Foreigners can’t really be blamed. The Philippines and its neighbors are home to breathtaking landscapes that can redefine one’s perspective in life.  Aside from the well-known beaches in the Philippines, there are majestic mountains and volcanoes in the Cordillera and Bicol regions. Shut off the stressors in your life. Hit the road.

Score the best shopping deals

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Whether you’re hunting for luxury clothing brands, local handicraft or the latest gadgets, the Philippines got you covered.  The country is home to some of the largest shopping malls in the world including SM City North EDSA, SM Megamall, and SM Mall of Asia. During the holiday season, major malls extend their operating hours to midnight, offering unbelievable discounts and bargains. There are also bazaars, fairs, and novelty shops everywhere.

Affordable accommodations

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There’s a wide range of accommodations for short- and long-term stays in the Philippines. You can book a hotel, inn, transient home, room or a condo unit. A resort-style condo, such as Fairway Residences, can be rented for a few weeks to a couple of years. It has everything you need from a fitness gym, business center, and laundry services. Most condo communities are situated near business districts and commercial areas, making it easier to explore the city.

Mangoes are king

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Food in the Philippines cannot be defined by a handful of adjectives. There’s a lot to feast on from fresh fruits and vegetables to mouthwatering dishes. The country is a huge exporter of mangoes. You can have all the mango products that you can eat—dried mangoes, candied mangoes, mango shake, etc.

 

Lechon and sisig, and lots of red peppers

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When it comes to pork dishes, Filipinos reign supreme. Lechon, or roasted suckling pig, came from Spanish conquerors and was later reinvented by locals in different parts of the country. Each region has its own recipe and sauce. Lechon paksiw is a dish variation of this well-loved food. Sisig is another popular pork dish that hailed from Pampanga. It’s made of chopped grilled pork parts including ears, seasoned with salt, vinegar, and spices. If you drive further north, you can have dinakdakan, an Ilocano dish made of grilled pork ears, boiled pig brain, and lots of red peppers.

 

Goat dishes like you’ve never had before

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The Philippines is home to a large Muslim population. Before the European domination, the archipelago was under the Sultanate rule. Most Filipino Muslims hail from Mindanao, though many have migrated to the northern regions. One way of exploring the Filipino Muslim culture is through culinary. Try the traditional kanduli, a goat meat dish usually served during festivities. In northern provinces, goat meat is a staple. You should try kilawing kambing, sinampalukang kambing, and kalderetang kambing. Other Mindanaoan food you can enjoy are cassava delicacies such as taajil and piyuto.

Sun, sand, and sea

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Traveling in the Philippines is incomplete without visiting the beaches. Aside from the world-renowned Boracay and Palawan, there are equally magnificent destinations in Ilocos Norte, La Union, Baler, Mindoro, Bicol, and Davao. Swim, snorkel, scuba dive or go island-hopping. There are also night parties where the well-loved San Miguel beer is served.

Experience that “tagay” system

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Beer, gin, and karaoke—with these, you have a very Filipino vacation. The tagay system is a drinking ritual where family and friends take shots of alcohol from one glass passed from one person after another. If you can’t carry your alcohol anymore, you’d need to nominate someone to take the shot for you. Be ready for drinking games such as “truth or dare” or the infamous karaoke singing competition.

A vibrant art scene

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Why you should travel the Philippines? To immerse yourself into various art forms. The country is a melting pot of cultures. You should know that there are dozens of languages spoken across the archipelago, as well as a number of indigenous groups with their unique customs and traditions. Amid modernization, artists and  ethnic groups are collaborating to preserve customs, traditions, and local art forms. There are body art exhibits (tattooing), theater performances, and music festivals organized in different parts of the country.

Captivating religious structures

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The Philippines is home to Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, Methodists and other  Christian religions established by Filipinos. Explore the many churches, mosques, statues, and holy sites across the country. You can also join religious festivities held all year round.

Budget-friendly lifestyle

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Discover the Philippines with a fraction of the price you’d spend in other destinations. You get a full meal for US$2, a rental apartment for less than US$200, and regular out-of-town escapades without burning your bank account. Ask locals for cheap yet good recommendations. It’ll help if you explore the country with a Filipino friend who’d do the haggling for you.

If the news about the Philippines and its controversial leader is scaring you, don’t worry. There’s more to the archipelago than meets the eye. Take heed of travel warnings, but research on safe areas and activities. Ask a local. Definitely, Filipinos are more than happy to accommodate your questions.