Earthly paradise

Why the Philippines should be next on your list of idyllic travel destinations.

21 September 2022


With 7,641 islands (to be precise) – all surrounded by dreamy white-sand beaches and home to dramatic volcanic landscapes, magical cultural festivals, foodie discoveries and some of the friendliest people on earth, the many facets of the Philippines make it arguably one of Southeast Asia’s best-kept secrets.

The country is a rare cultural melting pot, with each region taking pride in its own quirks, dialects, and tasty dishes which have been influenced over the centuries by countries that once colonised the archipelago including the Spanish, Americans and, briefly, the Japanese.

The Philippines is often overlooked in favour of other Asian destinations, but there’s no better time to get to know the dynamic culture and unique geographical wonders that lie just north of our border and are so easily accessible.

Here’s our guide to some of the most incredible, one-of-a-kind experiences you can expect when visiting Philippines.


Manila: the country’s beating heart and buzzing capital

If you’re visiting the Philippines for the first time, your first experiences are likely to be within this bustling city. Manila is a hub and gateway for Filipino culture, history, and nightlife. You can expect to be mesmerised by lively streets teeming with cars, Jeepney (local public transport), street food, and bustling people with places to be.

Manila has recently dialled up its food and art scenes which both pay homage to the country’s rich gastronomic and cultural history. Philippine gastronomy is at its finest in Manila, including Toyo Eatery, named one of Asia’s 50 Best restaurants and the best restaurant in the Philippines. Chef Jordy Navarra’s signature pork barbecue skewers are a gourmet take on classic Manila street food.


The teardrop-shaped island: Siargao’s surf buzz to rival Bali

The island of Siargao has remained pristine, remote, and still falls relatively under the tourist radar. Siargao is the kind of place where you can confidently and freely ask the locals for the best surf spots, mangroves, and cliff jumps.

Within inner surfing circles, Siargao is fast becoming one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. The tiny island haven serves up world-class waves, white sand islets, turquoise tide pools, and hidden lagoons – which are perfect for surfers and non-surfers alike.

Surfing’s pot of gold is a barrelling right-hander known as Cloud 9, which is located in General Luna on the southeast corner of the island.

Whether you’re a die-hard surfer or not, a visit to Cloud 9 promises to impress, especially around sunrise and sunset.


Hinterland health retreats, festivals, and farm stays in Batangas

Batangas province is like a mini-Philippines. Here, you’ll discover everything from white sandy beaches, small islands, and scenic mountain hiking trails, to diving destinations, heritage towns, and delicious local cuisine. Batangas province is also home to some of the country’s most vibrant festivals.

For those seeking rest and relaxation after the heat and bustle of Manila (which is just 90 minutes away), it’s a blissful experience to ascend into Batangas’ cooler mountain region. Pine-forested chains of mountains shelter laid-back towns, and a swathe of farm stays have emerged in the past few years, putting the region on the radar of many health and wellness seekers.

Don’t miss the Parada ng Lechon held at every Feast of St John the Baptist, where a procession of roasted pigs (lechon) is paraded through the streets before being devoured by hungry revellers.


Beautiful Boracay’s crystal clear beaches are back

In 2018 Boracay was placed in rehab and closed for 6 months to ease the strain on its fragile environment.

Fast-forward to 2022 and islanders have collectively developed a sustainable focus, with everyone from locals and resort owners to paraw (native sailboats) skippers adding to Boracay’s new identity as a model for sustainable tourism development. Boracay has even made it onto TIME’s 50 extraordinary destinations to explore in 2022.

Boracay’s most celebrated icon is its White Beach, stretching 4 kilometres along the western shore and flanked by luxurious hotels and fun, vibrant hostels.

The island paradise is blessed with great restaurants serving superb seafood, shellfish, pork and poultry. Imagine parasails, seabirds, frisbees, and paraw cutting across the technicolour horizon, while palm trees flutter in the breeze and the warming scents of street food waft through the air.




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