While Southeast Asia’s white sand beaches, crystal clear water, and unique cultural offerings are no longer a secret to most of the world, the Philippines still offers a taste of adventure to those willing to visit. Located in the South China Sea east of Vietnam and south of Taiwan, the Philippines is an archipelago consisting of over 7000 islands. It’s a chain of natural wonders, just enough off the beaten path. Tourism and travel students favor the Philippines as a destination for it’s relatively cheap price points and natural beauty. Here are our picks for great places to visit this year.
Located in Busuanga Island, Coron is a great base for travelers looking for natural beauty underwater and on land. For divers, Coron can be used as a base to explore the shipwrecks offshore. The island is also known for Kayangan Lake, a beautiful lake with turquoise waters. Those looking for a little relaxation can hit up Maquinit Hot Springs, located 15 minutes from Coron. And Mt. Tapyas is just a 30 minute hike from the city center, with a lookout boasting panoramic views of the island.
The things to see in Banaue are the Ifugao rice terraces, a World Heritage site of breathtaking green steps etched onto the hillsides. The complicated network of terraces was constructed by the native Ifugao over 2,000 years ago as an irrigation system for their crops. Banaue itself is a town consisting of rather basic buildings nestled amongst a hillside ridge. Travelers can take time to mozy around the village and buy local carvings, between trips to gaze over the terraces.
Boracay can be considered a sort of Cancun of the Philippines: it offers a beautiful white sand beach and a perfect to relax with a fruity drink in your hand. Like its Mexican analogue, Boracay isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for seclusion. The beach is heavily populated in high season, and there has been rampant growth in recent years (and resulting waste issues). If your idea of the perfect afternoon consists of bronzing your skin and playing a little water sports in a spectacular setting, however, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re looking for a site that’s a bit more educational and culture-rich, consider visiting Vigan. The city is a World Heritage site and perhaps the finest example of a Spanish colonial town still standing in Southeast Asia. Take in the unique combo of Asian-inspired European architecture, as well as the traffic-free streets (World Heritage sites are required to limit motor traffic).