Philippines Vacations

The Philippines is a huge archipelago that is composed of over 7,500 islands divided into 3 main island groups, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The island-nation is located in South East Asia and is flanked by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam in the west, Taiwan and China in the North, the Pacific Ocean in the East, and Borneo in the South. This unique location is partly why a vacation in the Philippines can feel like visiting several countries at once! A vacation in the Philippines is an awesome experience because aside from what was shared above, it is really a cultural crossroads. Chinese influence and Malayan influence is strong in the Northern part of the country, a mixture of Spanish and Asian in the middle, and Islamic, Arabian, and Indian in the South. Think of it as the Asian version of the USA in terms of the mix of cultures and you’ll be on the right track.

Philippines Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

Philippines Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,641 islands with a population of 81 million. And only 1/3 of those islands are inhabited, making a vacation in the Philippines a unique experience where you can visit a few of the unique islands and amazing cities. The cities have not generally been planned; but are towns and municipalities that grew from the land due to a combination of trade growth and strategic location. This means that traveling from place to place would require using a variety of methods of transportation but that is part of what makes a vacation in the Philippines even more exciting and fun!

Key Cities in the Philippines

Population-wise, the over 100 million people that call the Philippines home are concentrated in the cities, with 12 million of the population residing in the country’s mega-city Metro Manila. Metro Manila is its own region and resembles New York City in terms of traffic, diversity, past-faced life, and the mix of poverty and luxury. It is not uncommon to see a shanty right beside a sprawling mansion that happens to be right in the middle of a business area.

Notable cities to visit in Metro Manila are:

• Manila – The capital city of the Philippines where you can visit historic sites, national museums, or take a boat ride to visit some of the islands such as historical Corregidor or board a luxury liner for a cruise.
• Quezon City – The biggest city in the Philippines with a lot of business centers and shopping centers plus some key government buildings. A fun fact was that Quezon City was initially planned to be the nation’s capital before WWII but Manila was chosen after.
• BGC or Bonifacio Global City – If you’re after American-style accommodations and city layout but still want a strong hint of the tropics, this is the place for you.
• Makati City - Perhaps the most foreigner-friendly city in Metro Manila although, on the busy side. Makati City is like Tokyo and Manhattan combined, with plenty of business areas, the majority of embassies, luxury shopping, good nightlife, and all sorts of accommodations, from house-type rentals to penthouses. Metro Manila has several train systems that can get you from place to place within an hour or two. Traffic may be bad and it is advised that you use Uber or Grab (both are available as iOs and Android apps) for your convenience.

Other Key Cities in the Philippines
Searching for a vacation in the Philippines will typically bring up the following beautiful cities:

• Cebu City – The tamer version of Metro Manila, Cebu city boasts of being just a few hours away from amazing diving spots and beaches but with a cosmopolitan feel.
• Davao City – Davao City is very clean and organized. It used to be rife with gangs and the negativities that most cities have but it is the safest city to visit in the Southern islands now. There are a lot of foreign retirees in Davao.
• Puerto Prinsesa City – One of the least urbanized and nature-friendly cities in the Philippines, Puerto Prinsesa City is a jumping point when having a vacation in Coron, El Nido, or other amazing spots in Palawan.
• Subic – A very Americanized place that is just an hour or two away from fantastic beaches, hidden resorts, and hiking spots.
• Baguio City – A city in the mountainous region of the Philippines, Baguio city has a cool temperature year-round owing from its altitude. The place is loved by both locals and visitors from other Asian countries.

Note that because of how vast the Philippines is, a vacation in the Philippines for just a week or two will not give you enough time to see the beautiful cities above and the nearby areas that feature the country’s beaches and mountains.

Philippines Culture

A vacation in the Philippines is an immersion experience in a cultural cocktail of East meets West. Do note that although the people in the cities can seem very Americanized in terms of the clothes they wear, music they listen to, some of the food they eat, language that they speak (about half can converse in English and an overwhelming majority have a good grasp of it), and movies that they watch, they are still very traditional. The people are friendly and are usually warm towards visitors.

A discussion of culture in the Philippines won’t be complete without talking about food. The local food has a heavy Chinese, Indian, Spanish, and American influence, perhaps because the country has had a lot of Indian and Chinese immigrants centuries ago, was colonized by the Spanish for about 400 years, and was under American influence for the greater part of the last century. Food-wise, be prepared to eat a lot and eat all sorts of delicious delicacies because the locals are known to offer food even to strangers! It is part of the Filipino hospitality.

English and Filipino are widely spoken although provinces and regions tend to have their own language. There are approximately 175 languages spoken in the Philippines but you don’t need to learn specific ones when planning a Philippine vacation, knowing ‘salamat’ (thank you) and speaking English is enough for you to get by.

Climate and Weather in the Philippines

It is not uncommon to hear conflicting reports about the country’s climate and weather from people who’ve had a vacation in the Philippines. This is because although the Philippines is classified as a tropical country with only two seasons (humid and wet, or rainy season, and humid and dry, or summer), the country’s location near where storms form in both the Pacific and South China Sea can give surprising weather changes in some months of the year depending on which specific area of the Philippines you are in. It is best to ask your host or a local friend about how the weather is like when you plan your Philippine vacation.

A Philippine vacation in the nation’s middle islands during July and August can be all sunny days or a full-blown storm as it is the height of the monsoon season. Fret not because the country’s Western provinces generally have fair weather all year. Note too that although the best months to have a vacation in the Philippines is from November to February due to the mild weather, sunny and warm days out number rainy ones for the rest of the year.

How to Enjoy Your Philippine Vacation

When planning your Philippine vacation, be sure to bring light clothing that can be worn in layers. Bring socket and power adapters because not all hotels or accommodations will have some for you (power in the Philippine is 220V).

Don’t forget to bring sunscreen especially if you need high sun protection because the ones sold in stores generally just have SPF 10-50. For those who are planning a Philippine vacation away from main hubs or big cities, tampons may not be easy to find because sanitary pads are locally preferred (for ladies) and it won’t hurt to bring some shaving cream (If you’re a man). Lastly, don’t forget to smile and be prepared to get a lot of smiles in return as you’re having your Philippine vacation!