Thailand Travel Guide Contents
At a glance
The Philippines are the paradise of thousand islands with fabulous rice fields, mysterious underwater world and smiling and extremely hospitable locals. It is still not quite discovered destination, where one day you climb the volcanoes and another you can swim with giant whale sharks or rest on the one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Facts about Philippines
- Capital: Manila
- Language: Filipino, English
- Currency: Philippine Peso (PHP)
- Population: approx. 102,5 mln
- Time zone: UTC / GMT +8
What you did not know about Philippines?
- More than 100 species of mammals and 170 species of endemic birds (not found anywhere else in the world) live in the Philippines.
- The largest active volcano is Mayon. It is 2463 m. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world. If someone wants to climb it – $ 100 for 2 days trekking.
- A real specialty (and also an aphrodisiac) is a soup cooked with bullous kernels.
- The first European who discovered Philippines was Ferdinand Magellan.
Best places in the Philippines
Boracay - a little paradise on earth
Spending a holiday in the Philippines, you can admire the breathtaking beaches of Boracay Island. It is considered one of the best beaches in the world. It has a great tourist infrastructure and it offers comfortable snorkeling, swimming, diving and windsurfing. For those who prefer a sweet holiday laziness, undoubtedly recognize this place as a tourist paradise on Earth with a beautiful view of white sand, palm trees and turquoise water below the blue sky.
Breathtaking masterpiece of giants
When deciding to travel to the Philippines, you should definitely go to the Chocolate Hills, which consists of about 1300 conical hills forming a picturesque landscape. Their symmetrical shape may appear to have had a man involved in the process of creation. Nothing more misleading, although legends claim that it can be a matter of giants. Kids may be disappointed, because in these numerous hills there is not a little sweetness. Their name is derived from the brown color, which shimmers on the rising hills of rough grass.
Mysterious Underground River
When it comes to the wonders of the Philippines, it is also worth mentioning about the underground river in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. This river is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of the longest underground rivers in the world. Its underground section is 8 km long and can be crossed by boat. The national park encompasses one of the world’s most impressive cave systems, featuring spectacular limestone karst landscapes, pristine natural beauty, and intact old-growth forests and distinctive wildlife.
Unique rise terraces
Another unique place in this region of the world are the amazing, picturesque Banaue Rice Terraces, which stretch over an impressive area of over 10,000. square kilometers. Terraces dating back to 2000 years are considered the eighth miracle of the world, mainly due to the theory that they were created solely by the work of human hands. This magnificent view stretches over the slopes of the Banaue Mountains in Ifugao on the island of Luzon, which also houses the capital of the state of Manila.
The Philippines, unspoiled by mass tourism, will fascinate you with the beauty of nature, the warmth of people, the color of ethnic minorities and colorful festivals …
The Province of Palawan
A dense jungle, stunning coral reef, mysterious caves, beautiful beaches and a relatively underdeveloped infrastructure make Palawan one of the most undiscovered and pristine islands of the archipelago. Located west and separated from the everyday life of the rest of the Philippines, the island of Palawan remained quiet and atmospheric.
It is said about Palawan that it is a real miracle of nature. The coast stands out one of the largest coral aggregates of various species, and the mountainous interior hides in the green forests rare and endemic species of animals, such as the Philippine mouse-deer – one of the smallest nocturnal ruminant in the world. There are two UNESCO sites here: Subterranean River National Park and Tubbataha Reefs National Park. Besides, on the island, you can admire crocodiles, visit Tabon Caves, where the skull of a man from 22,000 years ago was found, go on jungle trekking or island hopping. Lovers of water madness will be delighted because there are all kinds of water sports available from canoeing to diving on the wrecks of Japanese submarines from the periods of the Second World War.
The best time for holidays in Palawan begins in December when the weather is the best and ends in June. In the remaining months, there is heavy rainfall, especially in August, which is the wettest month.However, this does not mean that dry day does not occur.
Paradise islets, hidden lagoons, snorkeling spots with a magnificent reef, charming coves, lakes hidden in rocks, submerged wrecks of Japanese ships – all of this and more you can enjoy on a small island located northeast of Palawan – Busuanga. It is a paradise for diving enthusiasts with probably the best wreck diving spot in the world. At a depth of a few to forty meters, there are 12 wrecks of Japanese ships sunk by Americans during World War II. The ships are well preserved, overgrown with coral and inhabited by many sea creatures. The largest ship is 160 meters long.
In addition to diving, the popular attraction is island hopping around the island of Coron. Being in the area you need to visit the Kayangan Lake, which is located in a crater and is surrounded by rocks, the Barracuda lake, whose waters at a depth of 10 meters reach even 40 degrees. It is worth climbing to the top of Tapyas Hill, from which the views are breathtaking.
The largest city of Busuanga is Coron (not to be confused with the island of the same name), a small sleepy fishing settlement. It is an ordinary seaside town and at the same time an ideal starting point to all attractions in the area. Here you can buy fresh seafood straight from the catch.
Puerto Princesa is the largest city on the Palawan island, which is also its capital. Every trip to Palawan begins and ends in Puerto Princesa because here is an airport connected with many cities of the Philippines.
The city has low buildings and lots of greenery. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants that offer a variety of cuisine. Even on the beach, there are cafes, and some restaurants offer coffee with great taste or cocktails, which will help you refresh during high temperatures.
It is believed that Puerto Princesa is the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines. Since 1991, in the third week of June, annual Feast of the Forest takes place here, during which the city residents plant thousands of trees of different species. Every year, up to 30,000 people take part in the event, each of them gives a new life of 5-10 trees. The figures are impressive, and the initiative is certainly worth following. Also, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a beautiful way: Love Affair with Nature is a family festival during which mangrove in the coastal zone is planted. The event promotes ecology and emphasizes its importance. During the event, films are screened, ecological quiz concerts and beach games take place.
The main attractions of Puerto Princesa are a trip to the Subterranean River National Park near Sabang, island hopping in the Honda Bay and underwater expeditions to Tubbatha Reefs Natural Park.
The picturesque bay on the east coast of the island of Palawan is the perfect place for sunbathing or island hopping. In the bay, there are many small islands around which you can snorkel, dive, feed colorful fish and enjoy the eyes of beautiful islands. During island hopping, you will most likely visit Snake Island, named after its shape, Starfish Island or Pandan. Other stops along the cruise route are often Luli Island, which disappears under water with its high level, or Cowrie Island with huge coconut piles, under which you can find the desired shade.
If you are looking for beautiful reef and diving, it is worth going to one of the diving centers and dive in Tubbatha Reefs Natural Park, located about 180 kilometers from Palawan’s shore. The reef surrounding Honda Bay is not in the best condition. The Natural Park was inscribed on the UNESCO heritage list and is famous for its great biodiversity.
The idyllic rural atmosphere, a dozen or so colorful islets, an idyllic beach, only a handful of tourists, gently swaying palm trees – this is the landscape of Port Barton – a small fishing village off the grid of Palawan. You can get here only by a dirt road, and electricity is available several hours a day. There are no expensive and luxurious resorts or crowds of tourists here. Accommodation can be found in one of several guesthouses and in bungalows. Mostly, there are backpackers here, who do not care about the hardships of travel and lack of facilities. The main attraction is island hopping in the rented boat where you can enjoy the nearby beaches, lagoons, snorkeling sites, rocks, and colorful fishes. Another option is jungle trekking in search of a waterfall.
In Port Barton, there are also several intimate cafes, diving centers, and travel agencies. According to some, it is as beautiful here as in El Nido, but without the crowds of tourists.
Enchanted lagoons with turquoise water, secret beaches, high dark cliffs, mangrove forests and countless uninhabited islands are everyday life in El Nido – a small town in the northern part of the Palawan island. Hundreds of islets covered with tropical vegetation conceal small, romantic beaches, and more than a hundred species of birds, many of which are endemic.
El Nido is the province and a larger fishing village that has become a popular beach resort in recent years. There are no luxury resorts here yet, but many beach houses, hotels, and bungalows that fill up quickly during the high season. It also happens that at lunchtime it is difficult to find a free table in a restaurant. The prices are proportional to the demand, as for the Philippines rather high.
El Nido offers mainly sea atractions. Most of the islands in the province are surrounded by coral reefs, full of various species of marine flora and fauna. Nearby is the Bacuit Archipelago, which is often compared to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. Diving enthusiasts will find here interesting reefs, although a large part of them has been destroyed by fishing with the use of dynamite. During island hopping through the crystal clear ocean, it is easy to see fishes and corals, even if they are located a little deeper.
Amateurs of mountain climbing can go on the trail and climb one of the mountains surrounding the town and the bay to admire the picturesque sunrise from the top. It is also worth visiting a nearby waterfall.
Subterranean River National Park
Inscribed on the UNESCO heritage list, the Subterranean River National Park is one of the best-preserved ecosystems in the world. The greater part of the park is covered with primeval tropical jungle, inhabited by species of animals unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Visiting this place will surely provide an unforgettable experience. At over 90% of the park, there are sharp karst limestone ridges, which can be admired among both plains and mountains.
An underground river, which flows through the Park is one of the longest in the world. It is surrounded by limestone rocks, which are decorated with stalactites and stalagmites of many meters in size, the lagoon, whose shore is covered with tropical vegetation, magnificent specimens of crystals and minerals and fossils from millions of years ago.