There’s an incredible chain of tropical islands in the Pacific that is sprinkled with pink, white and black sand beaches, ultra-relaxing luxury resorts, charming countrysides and villages, exotic foods and an enticing nightlife. You know it exists, but you’ve probably never thought of planning a trip there.
And that’s a shame, because, as the saying goes: It’s more fun in the Philippines.
While it’s true that Manila can feel chaotic and the U.S. government has issued a warning for travel to the country, we found eight stunning reasons this place should stay on your bucket list for when the time is right.
Plan your future trip (or live vicariously) through the pictures below.
1. The Sights:
The Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands, only a thousand of which are inhabited. Within those 7,000 islands, there is a mind-blowing collection of natural wonders: more than 1,000 Chocolate Hills, numerous underground rivers and caves, 2,000-year-old rice terraces carved by ancient islanders, many pristine beaches with magnificent limestone formations, crazy-colorful coral reefs, one of the world’s deepest ocean trenches and more than 20 volcanoes, including the world’s “most perfectly-formed volcano.”
2. The Food:
Filipino food might not be for everyone, but if you don’t try good quality Pinoy cuisine, you’re selling yourself short. Seafood is an obvious staple, as is soy sauce, vinegar, rice, pork and noodles. The tastes can vary from spicy and tangy (try the seafood sinigang), sweet and savory (pork adobo) to crunchy (crispy pata) and even peanut buttery (kare-kare). For dessert, we recommend a tasty deep-fried banana turón.
More adventurous eaters can dine on eccentric dishes such as balut — a boiled egg which contains the fetus of a baby duck — and dinuguan, aka chocolate meat — a stew of pig meat with a pig’s kidneys, intestines, heart and other organs cooked in pig’s blood.
3. The Beaches:
An abundance of shoreline comes with having thousands of islands, and most of the beaches in The Philippines are relatively non-tourist-ridden. There are pink beaches, black beaches and blinding white beaches. Some are surrounded by lush green mountains; others, tall rock formations. If you’re into it, there are also world-class surf spots. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.
4. The Hiking:
It’s any outdoor adventurer’s dream. Hike up Taal Volcano, up an ancient rice terrace, to the Tukuran waterfalls, or wander through mountains and forests in Cordilleras on the island of Luzon.
“For a country that has often been overlooked by travelers in the past, the beaches and mountain regions are nothing short of spectacular,” Nathan Allen, world traveler and creator of the travel blog I Dreamed of This, told The Huffington Post. “There is still an element of rugged adventure that is missing from other more touristy destinations.”