Top 10 Places in the Philippines
Well Well Well. I intended on only being a couple of months in this wonderful palm fringed country but I ended up staying SIX MONTHS! Everyone speaks English and EVERYTHING is MORE FUN in the Philippines
Here is a rundown of my favourite places!
1. El Nido
This paradise area with jagged limestone cliffs and perfect white sand beaches is picture postcard material. There is nowhere in the Philippines (possibly the world) quite as picturesque as this. Alex Garland wrote the book, the beach while he was here. It’s quite easy to see why. Although that novel was set in Thailand – it is here that gave him the inspiration.
The island of malasapcua is a remote, tropical, little paradise on the North coast of Cebu – It’s surrounded by powdery white sand, turquoise waters and some incredible and unique diving. This is one of the only places in the world where you can regularly see threshers sharks – This place was wiped out by a typhoon in 2013 – The people here are incredibly humble and love talking and getting to know foreigners, they certainly do not take you for granted.
3. Apo Reef
This is Scuba Diving Heaven! Large fish, schools and sharks everywhere.. Crystal clear water and very healthy coral. It is listed by liveabaord dive cruises. Ranging in price from cheap to expensive. I did a cheap one and it was fine. Food was pretty good too! It’s a 6 hour sailing adventure through open ocean to reach this reef. Which is classed as the second largest reef in the world (after the great barrier reef) – Do not get confused with APO island – (apo island is diving near dumaguete and is rubbish!)
Coron is 200 miles north of El Nido in Palawan – Its has some amazing rock formations – the main island is like a floating fortress surrounded by huge black cliffs pointed with razor sharp spikes. It’s veery bizarre to see. Even more bizarre is the saltwater lake inside which if you dive down you can see fresh water mixing with it. You could spend a few days exploring this island on its own. However, the biggest draw to Coron is the WW2 shipwrecks – There are over 10 absolutely massive Japanese warships which were sunk by the Americans during the war. They are Fantastic and an absolute must for any adventurous Scuba Diver coming to the Philippines.
5. Dumaguete City
This seaside town is located on the south coast of Negros. It’s got laid back vibes and is very clean and pleasant as far as Asian cities are concerned. Great food on the seafront and has one of the largest universities in the Philippines so lots of arty type folks around. It’s also the gateway port to Siquijor and Apo Island. I highly recommend to stay at Harold’s Mansion – these guys can organise all your diving and excursions and you’ll meet loads of other backpackers too.
Siquijor is a wonderful island. Pronounced sicky-whore, it has a bad reputation with other filipino’s – apparently because there are witches and black magic on the island. I never saw any of that and instead I saw an island covered in thick jungle and wonderful winding roads for the motorbike. Some great beaches and the people here are so friendly! I made some great friends here and for sure I will come back again, I had some great on and off road adventure while backpacking across this island .. I think the reason this place is so quiet is because they are all scared of the ghosts!
7. Loboc River
This river runs straight through Bohol and looks like something straight out of a movie! Palm fringed emerald green jungle lines the side as the turquoise river snakes through the steep valley. Forget about the cheesy tourist trap river cruises – that are blaring horrid music at 300dB.. The real way to travel is by Stand Up Paddle there is also a Zip line which crosses the river. This is real adventure when paddling your way through the jungle!
8. Pamilacan island
Pamilacan Island is a tiny little island off the coast of Bohol – this is a true secluded paradise island – Fantastic Snorkelling and the hosts will take you whale or dolphin watching – you only pay if you see them! and to top it all off – this was one of the cheapest all inclusive places to stay in the Philippines. You must prebook and the host will come and pick you up with a boat from the mainland.
Pronounced Moe-al.Boe-al (not mowlbowl) – This is where some of the folks from Cebu city come to spend their weekends. Its only a couple of hours bus ride and if you come during the week then the place is lovely and quiet and the people very welcoming. Dive Centres are everywhere and accomodation is cheap and will suit all budgets. Diving is “OK” and its not particularly an adventure – but the village atmosphere the people that make this place special. You could learn to dive here for very cheap too! I recommend Cebu Dive centre and the manager Cameron is a top bloke!
10. Cebu City
If you are into big Cities but don’t like the concrete hell-hole of Metro Manila. Then Cebu City could be for you, scammers, touts, pickpockets and general vermin don’t seem to be in abundance here like in Manila. I found this city to be very pleasant and the beach is very close to the city (mactan island) – There is always something going on here and some great all night parties in the city near Mango square and IT park. I loved this city so much I actually bought an apartment there. It has excellent links to the nearby islands and tourist spots – only 2 hours journey to Malapascua, Bohol, Moalboal, Dumaguete and others. It has great shopping and an international airport. Just stay away from the old town and Fuentes circle. Its a bit of a dump down that way.