It is either summer or dry season in most places in Asia right now. If you are looking for a place to visit, consider adding the Philippines into your itinerary. It is close to Australia and offers plenty of things to see and do. The Philippines has some of the best beaches in the world, always has a friendly atmosphere, hospitable people who speak and understand English, plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and delicious seafood, great weather (at this time of the year), and a variety of entertainment. Here are some ideas on how to get ready to visit the Philippines.
1. Gear for Snorkeling
The Philippines is an archipelago, which means that most of its 7,100 islands are surrounded by water. Boracay, an island in the Visayas, which has become famous worldwide for its crystal-clear blue waters, powdery white sand and miles of beaches, also has some interesting spots that are good for snorkeling activity. There are two points of entry to Boracay. You can either take a flight from Manila to Caticlan Airport, take a 10-minute walk to Jetty Port and take a 15-minute boat ride to White Beach in Boracay. You can also take a flight from Manila to Kalibo International Airport, take a 1.5-hour bus ride to Jetty Port in Caticlan and board a boat to take you to White Beach.
The snorkeling sites are a bit farther from the beach and requires taking a short boat ride. There are island-hopping tour and dive shops in Boracay Island that rent out snorkeling gear, but if you very particular about the things you use, you can always bring your own. They would not take too much room anyway. Snorkel gear only consists of a snorkel, diving mask and fins, which is optional. Best snorkeling sites in Boracay are Crocodile Island, Puka Beach, Baling Hai Cove, White Beach and Crystal Cove. While the coral gardens are smaller and less spectacular, there’s plenty of colourful and playful fish species to entertain you. Boracay’s peak season is from February until June, and also have plenty of visitors during the Christmas season, New Year, Lunar New Year and during the Philippines’ observance of the Holy Week.
2. Camera and Selfie Sticks
Taking pictures during your trips abroad, showing some of the best sites you’ve visited, is the surest way to capture every single moment of your vacation adventure. Some opt for the simpler point-and-click cameras while others are very adept at lugging professional cameras around that take better photos in higher definitions. Although not everyone can take perfect photos, when you visit Mayon Volcano in Legazpi, Albay, in the Bicol Region in the southeastern part of Luzon, you can have a shot of the volcano with the most perfect cone. Camera tripods could be cumbersome, since you need a level spot on the ground to make the camera steady. Thinking of having yourself in the foreground? How about using the camera on a smartphone that could take HD pictures and just use a selfie stick? You will not only capture the beautiful mountain, you can have yourself in the picture as well. You can vary the angle easily, too, which is a great plus.
3. Strong Pair of Hiking Boots
Hiking is one of the best ways to explore and check out the countryside, where you might even be able to discover hidden places that are worth the trip. The Philippines offers plenty of wonderful destinations that have drawn both local and international tourists for decades. Ifugao Province, which is located in Northern Luzon is where the world-famous rice terraces, one of the original wonders of the world – the verdant rice fields that are carved out on the sides of the Philippines’ Cordillera Mountains, are found. At one point, you do have to walk, so a good pair of hiking boots is necessary. The Bangaan and Batad rice terraces are both in Banaue. There are three other sites: Mayoyao, Hungduan and Nagacadan. All five make up the Philippine Rice Terraces and are listed as World Heritage Sites. Best times to visit the rice terraces are from April to May, the planting season, which is also the time when the weather in the Philippines is at its best. If you want to see the terraces turn golden, which is before harvest season, visit the terraces in October and November.
4. A Travel Journal
Even if you are not a journal writer, it is a good idea to add a travel journal to you travelling bag. You can jot down personal impressions, dates and names of places you’ve visited and people you’ve met. It is easy to forget things, especially when you are inundated with varied experiences and plenty of information. With a travel journal, you can organize your thoughts, be inspired to be more observant and have a place to write down your experiences from day to day. It is always nice to take a look at it as you travel, giving you more insight to what you have seen and capture the memories of your trip better. Get one that has maps and plenty of space to write done information. You might even realize that it is indeed a great keepsake together with the photographs that you have taken of the destinations you have visited.
5. Mosquito and Other Insect Repellants
The Philippines is a tropical country with two seasons: wet and dry. The dry season is usually from November to February, when the weather is a bit cooler. It turns hot and at times humid from March to May. The wet season usually occurs from June until October. There are areas with plenty of vegetation, stagnant pools and trapped water that are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, flies and other pesky insects that sting and bite. If you are not used to these annoying insects and to prevent contracting diseases like dengue, be sure to bring mosquito and other insect repellants that you are used to. Large drugstores and groceries in the Philippines do sell insect and mosquito repellants but the selection is limited. Mosquitoes love it when the weather is hot, unfortunately this is also the best time to visit the Philippines.
6. Your Sense of Adventure
Anywhere you go, you should bring your sense of adventure with you. If you are visiting the Philippines, you will greatly need it. All over the Philippines, you will see contrasting lifestyles, cultural practices and traditions, so it is always best to have an open mind and not expect too much. The highly urbanized centres can compete with other great cities in the world. Makati City, which is a very modern central business district, is an example, where you can see plenty of high rises, hotels, malls and shopping centres, entertainment venues, and thousands of business establishments, both local and international. Quezon City, the former capital of the Philippines is almost the same as Makati. The City of Manila, is a combination of old and new, with pockets of historical districts within its centre and modern establishments surrounding its core.
There are no modern subways but you can get around the urban centres using buses, jeepneys and metered taxis. You can have international dishes as well as delicious and mouth-watering local fares from dining establishments, hotels and food shops. Shopping can be a pleasure or a disastrous affair, based on where you shop and your bargaining skills.
The Philippines has plenty of places to visit and things to try and discover. It has its flaws but it is still largely populated with friendly and hospitable people who can speak and understand English. Best of all, bring your best smile, which can open doors (and hearts) when you are in the country.
Plan your visit to the Philippines now, as the weather is getting warmer. Find a great flight deal to Manila from anywhere in Australia via Skiddoo. It is your one-stop shop to find the lowest airfare rates, the best flight options and the most suitable airline. All you need is to go online, choose and book your flight. Of course you need to pack, so take a look once again at our tips.