Just like its Jollibee fast-food chain (that opened here in Toronto last spring), for me, the Philippines is a little strange and misunderstood, yet interesting and unique. So after a little research, I think I will go and pay a visit to the world’s most beautiful beaches this coming winter, and with tickets sometimes as low as 635 CAD, it’s not even going to be that expensive..
Usually, we prefer to visit Honolulu in order to hit the beach, but the Philippines is much cheaper than Hawaii. Meaning one could afford a luxurious vacation easier in the Philippines. Also, it is still unknown territory for me, and it’s also more fun to experience a very different culture than yours every once in a while. Here are 5 reasons why the Philippines is the best place for this winter vacation.
When it’s freezing cold here, the Philippines is actually enjoying the best weather of the year. It’s the coldest months in the Philippines too, around 26°C, and almost no rain, as in tropical countries it’s actually raining in the summer. This is the most pleasant season in the country, and not surprisingly, the high season of tourism in the Philippines. So as much as I love the cold harsh winter of Toronto, I might be working on my tan this winter.
Luxury hotels and resorts
On my last trip to Hawaii, I stayed at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, a 4-star resort. The thing is that a night there costs around 350 CAD, which is roughly the price of a night in the most expensive 5-star hotel in Manila. The average price of a 5-star hotel in Manila will be 200 CAD. In Boracay, one of the best tropical islands in the world, it’ll probably be about 250 CAD.
I’m not someone who only stay in luxurious hotels, but the Philippines does offer great value for money in this field. There are many international chains like Sofitel, Peninsula, Shangri-La, and staying there will be significantly cheaper than at other popular tourist destinations in the world. And if you don’t plan to stay in high-end resorts, you can go on a fairly cheap vacation, because the Philippines is generally cheaper than popular beach destinations.
Never ending attractions in Boracay
I love the beach and could stay for hours and hours just lying back and sipping cocktail after cocktail. Boracay was chosen by many travel magazines to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and therefore one of the best candidates for such a vacation. But sometimes people tend to get bored and want to do some other stuff (crazy, I know). Luckily, Boracay is the liveliest island out of all the 7,107 islands of the Philippines.
The guys from PhilippinesTravelPackage.com, one of the leading local agencies, gave me some insights on what there is to do in Boracay besides of beach bumming. They say that other than island hopping and Paraw-sailing (sailing on a small, local sailboat and watching the sunset), which are the preferred activities of the tourists, there are many other exciting things one can do. There is a good variety of activities for people who want to do things but aren’t fit enough for actually moving around, and there are activities that are… well, sports. All of the attractions I’ll list down below can either be done independently or through a licensed tour agent. Since both ways are very cheap, it’s probably better to have a professional helping you with transfers and making sure you are safe. Check out Philippinestravelpackage.com’s Boracay tour catalog and see if there’s anything there you like.
For the beach bums: helmet diving (8m deep), Banana boat, Zipline, jet skis, parasailing are all great things you can do without moving too much. If you’re a little more active, try kit-surfing, wakeboarding or water skiing. A day tour in Ariel’s Point is also highly recommended. There you can kayak, snorkel and cliff jump, and enjoy lunch buffet, snacks, and unlimited drinks included in your day tour package. Diving is also possible in Boracay, but then I was told that relatively to the Philippines there aren’t very good dive sites there, so better to dive somewhere else.
I was expecting something like Old Havana, but I understood it’s not exactly so. The two do share a lot in common because both were built by the Spaniards 400 years ago. The architecture is very similar to colonial Spanish building style. And there is even Fort Santiago in the heart of Intramuros, similar to Morro Castle. Intramuros (old Manila) is also shabby, with only old buildings like Old Havana.
But I understand that it’s far more neglected than Havana, and the fact that it was almost completely destroyed during WW2 didn’t really help (it was reconstructed after that but it still took its toll on the city’s beauty and charm). But it should be an interesting tour, as aside from Spanish influences I was told to expect a lot of Chinese and local influences when it comes to architecture, street food, restaurants and cafés.
Best beaches in the world in El Nido
El Nido has around 50 perfect white sand beaches, some are only accessible by a small boat. Island hopping tours are leaving El Nido Town daily in the morning, and there are 4 typical tours, A-D. The most recommended ones are tour A and C. In tour A you’ll visit 3 different lagoons, where you can swim and snorkel around. In one of them, you can only enter in a small kayak for 2. In tour C you’ll visit many secluded beaches, but the most notable one is Hidden Beach on Matinloc Island. To reach it you need to swim through a small hole in the rocks.
Besides, this is a great place for you to do scuba diving. El Nido Bay is so calm so it’s perfect for beginners too. I understood that all of the Philippines is located in the coral triangle, and most places in the country will be great to dive in. El Nido is especially good because its waters are home to many fish and coral. For serious divers only, there is a 40m long underwater tunnel that was discovered in the 90’s by a Japanese diver. I’m not a diver but after seeing so many pictures and watching videos, maybe I should give it a try.