University graduate and traveller Alice Crossley takes you through her best things to do in The Philippines on a budget after spend a summer travelling the islands. You can catch up with Alice’s travels over on her blog Wonderland.
Before heading to The Philippines for three action-packed weeks this summer I knew very little about it. I had been lured in by photos of seemingly endless stretches of white sand beach and set off seeking paradise. Little did I know; The Philippines would be the busiest and most exciting part of my post-university travels. Armed with my book and my flip flops, I set off to Cebu City with little expectations but a budding sense of anticipation.
1. Exhilarating Adventures
The Philippines is a traveller’s dream destination. You could never be bored or restless with waterfalls, cliff-jumping, mountain hiking and snorkelling aplenty. In Moaboal my new friends and I created lifelong bonds. We jumped off twelve feet cliffs whilst canyoneering, were constantly breathless, both from the enormous rush of adrenaline and from the beauty of the crystal-clear turquoise waters around us. In Oslop, we swam with whale sharks. Huge, beautiful, prehistoric creatures gracefully swimming mere metres beneath us as their gullets open up like humongous vacuums to feast on plankton. In El Nido, we spontaneously hiked up a sheer mountainous rock-face in flip-flops. Only to reach the top and be able to see for miles upon miles of the luscious green fauna, which envelops the country in a tropical decadence. These moments often left me pinching my myself in awe.
2. Beautiful Sunsets
The uniqueness of the sunset in every part of the world is somewhat of a fascination of mine, and every day at dusk The Philippines truly took my breath away. Each of my favourite memories from the trip happened with the backdrop of a beautiful sunset straight out of a desktop wallpaper. A fact I certainly took for granted at the time. As the sky turns to a pastel muddle of purples, pinks and oranges it is impossible not to feel a flood of gratitude for the opportunity to travel. It is the most magical time to enjoy a cold beer with friends and reflect on your adventures. Oh and it’s completely free! Great if you’re a student travelling on a budget.
3. Cheap food, drink and hostel
The Philippines is an extremely cheap place. Street food costs next to nothing and neither does accommodation. The people, though blessed with very little, speak incredible English and are beyond kind and generous. It’ll cost you around £1 for a huge bottle of 8% red horse beer and there are endless supplies of fresh spring rolls on every street corner. The best meal we had was in Bohol in a small front garden turned local gem of a restaurant. After a long day at the beach, we were starving and ended up ordering all the food the restaurant owner had left. We paid around £2 each and in turn, the table was lavished with battered aubergine, tofu in a rich soy sauce, spring rolls, battered shrimp, an array of meats and of course tonnes of rice.
4. Non-Stop Karaoke
The biggest surprise I encountered on my trip was the country-wide infatuation with karaoke. The loud, confident caterwauling of the Filipino’s acted as a continuous soundtrack to my travels, regardless of location or time of day. We found ourselves never more than 100 metres from a karaoke session. Karaoke in the Philippines is, however, very different to karaoke in the West. The singing is a serious art with the backing track down low and the microphone amped up dramatically. Fortunately, (and to our delight) ‘My Heart Will Go On’ still unites karaoke world-wide as the ultimate karaoke song.
Crystal Clear Blue Water
Snorkelling with Sardines? Check. Swimming with turtles? Check. Kayaking through secret lagoons regarded the most beautiful in the world? Check, check, check. Not even the iPhone X can do the beaches and lagoons in El Nido justice. (Just make sure you stock up on cash first- the island is known for both its sublime beauty and an inconvenient lack of cash machines.) Whether you want the tropical beach holiday of your dreams or an adrenaline-filled adventure, The Philippines has it all.
And if you’re considering a trip to the Philippines now after reading Alice’s blog, take a look at our Philippines Travel Guide for more information on how to book your trip!