The Philippines is any backpacker’s dream with its crystal clear waters, colourful fish, and many islands to discover! Hike the volcanoes, relax on the beautiful sandy beaches, and get amazing diving experiences. The Philippines has it all!
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Whether you're a frequent visitor in Asia or it is your first trip to this part of the world, a trip to the wonderful Philippines is definitely recommended. The extraordinary archipelago of the country consists of 7,107 islands and you will find authentic white beaches on almost every one of them! These islands have many wonders to offer and are home to diverse lanscapes. Nowhere else in the world, you will find such big variations of landscapes in one location together. On the tropical Island of Palawan, you will find the biggest variation of them all. From stretched out jungle areas, high rockformations with deserted white palm beaches to black lavabeaches and even underground rivers, Palawan has it all. The island was know by the Spanish colonists as Paragua because of its original shape but it could have easily been know as Paraíso, as it is a true paradise. In 2016, the island has been elected for the second time in a row as the most beautiful island of the world.
There is offcourse much more to the Philippines than just Palawan. No less than six different spots of the country are on the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO, under which the Rice Terraces on Luzon Island, the four Baroque churches, the historical city of Vigan, the reefs of Tubbataha and the longest subterranean river of Asia in the Puerto-Princesa National Park.
The neighboring countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, Palau and China. Besides the amazing scenereries, the population and culture are the true assets of the Philippines. The country is home to over 100 million people, which means it’s a heavily populated country. It used to be a former colony of Spain and later from the US. In 1946, it became an independent democratic nation. In the Philippines, you will actually rather find an interesting mix of different cultures then a very traditional Asian culture. On the opposite, you´ll be surprised by the level of Western influence. The three languages that are mainly used here are English, Filipino and Spanish.
The Philippines are part of the Pacific 'Ring of Fire', meaning you will find various vulcanoes here of which many of them are still active. Therefor, a lot of the tropical islands are volcanic, mountainous and covered with rainforests. Mount Apo Mindanao ranging up to 2,954 metres is the tallest mountain in Philippines. There are active volcanoes like Mayon and Mount Pinatubo, both on Luzon Island. It´s crater lake is simply mesmerizing. Another crater lake to be seen is Lake Taal by the Taal volcano. You can get here by bus from Manila.
Most travelers commence their trip in Manila, since it´s easy getting there. From Manila, you can easily access the many tropical islands e.g. Cebu, El Nido, Boracay and Puerto Princesa to name a few. Make a roundtrip and travel with other backpackers from around the world.
The Philippines have a lot to offer for travelers such as: yummy food, lots of accommodation options, a well functioning infrastructure (most of the times), helpful locals, and and endless amount of islands to discover! We do have a warning for shoppers though - you might go crazy in the Philippines since it is very cheap and even way cheaper than Thailand...
The Philippines is an amazing diving destination. Scubadivers and snorkelers are drawn to these waters because of their rich marine life and amazing diving spots. Marine Conservation is very important and you will find protected marine areas at Corn, El Nido, Bohol, Apo Island and Boracay. Panglao Island is a popular destination for divers and beach-lovers. On Cebu Island, on its Western side you’ll find Moalboal, which is also a very tempting dive destination. There are superb dive sites just 10 minutes from the shore, making it very good for snorkeling as well. Float in the big blue with the hammerheads, turtles, stingrays, treasure sharks and tons of colorful fish.
Go wreckdiving in Coron and also check out the Island of Comotes. Comotes has less tourists, less divers and more pristine dive sites and sceneries. The visibility here is awesome, ranging often to up to 30 meters. Here you can relax on a nice drift dive. Take a boat from Cebu City to the Island of Hilutunga, and find an amazing fish sanctuary in crystal clear water! Also, check out the Sunken Cemetery, a real cemetery that has sunken under the sea leaving only one large cross above the surface. It´s for sure one of the most unique dive sites ever.
If you want to do some trekking, head to Camiguin Island near Cebu and Bohol. There are seven volcanoes offering nice hikes on the hills as well as volcanic springs.
Go volunteering in the Philippines and contribute to the development of local communities or the conservation of the marine life. Through a volunteering project, you will experience the culture and life through the eyes of local people. We work together with different types of volunteering projects such as community volunteering, education, healthcare and marine conservation.
Jeepneys are small minibuses, which have their routine routes and you can simply stop them on the road. They take you off their normal route if you show some cash. Ferries operate frequently between the islands. Find the timetables online or in the daily newspapers. Note that the Banka-wooden ferries are slower than the fast ferries – obviously. E.g. from Cebu city, you can take a ferry to various islands. In Cebu the roads are in good shape, minibuses and taxis are well functioning and if you want to rent your own car or tricycle, those are available in bigger cities. Taxis are available and cheap, but be sure that they turn on their meter or negotiate a good price prior to departure.
The best time to travel to the Philippines in general is from December to April, when there are no typhoons and it is more dry and not too hot. The best period to travel to the central islandsgroup, the Visayas, is from December to June. Visayas consist of many islands such as Boracay, Bohol, Cebu, Negros, Siquior, Malapascua, Samar, Leyte and so. This area is know for its unique and amazing underwater life, white beaches and impressive divesites. The Visayas are perfect to go islandhopping for a couple of weeks.
The best time to travel to the biggest island Luzon and the beautiful islands of Palawan, El Nido and Coron is from November to June. The weather in general is humid and hot. Avoid Easter and Christmas time unless you want to be part of a more crowded atmosphere. New Years party is a wild time to be in this country, the fireworks are beyond your dreams. There is a colorful yearly religious Sinulog festival in Cebu celebrated in the thrird Sunday of January. The festivities lasts 9 days and the highlight is the Sinulog Grand Parade.
The country is hit by typhoons a few times a year. The Philippines is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the seismic and volcanic activity causes earthquakes. Follow the news and weather forecast well.
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