Why The Philippines Should Be Your First Asian Destination
Many new travelers tell me they are looking to explore more continents, but they tell me that they have fears of the unexpected. I always have considered Europe the wading pool for most American travelers, and Asia is more like diving into the deep-end of the pool. That’s a pretty big leap, even for some of the boldest travelers.
If you are looking to visit Asia, but have some hesitations due to language barriers and cultural differences, than you should start considering a visit to the Philippines. Many travelers seem to stick to Europe for the majority of their international travel as they find the idea of visiting an Asian country intimidating. Other Asian countries such as China, can be more difficult to navigate for less experienced or less adventurous travelers. In addition, they can also come with a bit more of a culture shock. The Philippines is a perfect place to get your feet wet as far as Asian travel is concerned.
No Language Barrier
If you speak English, you are already blessed as a traveler because you can get around pretty well in most countries. In the Philippines, you are even better off than most European nations, as just about everyone speaks English. This makes it extremely easy to read signs, get around and ask for directions. In many other Asian countries language barriers can cause stress to some travelers. You won't find this to be a problem while in the Philippines, as English is taught schools.
There is Something For Everyone
It's often difficult for one country to appeal to everyone. However, with over 7,000 islands each with a unique culture and personality, there is something for everyone. With pristine beaches, nightlife, outdoor adventures, cultural activities and shopping– the Philippines is sure to please every type of traveler. Some islands are great for swimming with whale sharks, some have a great surf if you want to hang 10, and some islands have incredible SCUBA diving.
Couples & Solo Travelers Will Both Enjoy
The Philippines can be experienced in so many different ways. It can be the perfect tropical romantic getaway or relaxing trip for couples. It’s a great place for solo travelers to immerse themselves in the culture and interact with locals as well as other travelers. It’s also great for adventure seekers thanks to incredible diving, and exotic foods.
The Food is Amazing
The food in the Philippines is delicious. From the ensaymada's (a sweet bread), lechon and adobo, your tastebuds will always be entertained. I really enjoyed Halo-Halo (pronounced "hallow-hallow"). It's a very sweet shaved ice dessert, topped with all types of goodies including ice cream, and then you top it off with condensed milk.
If you are an adventurous eater, you can try balut, which is a fertilized duck egg that is hard boiled before reaching complete maturity. It tastes partially like an egg, and partially like a duck, and is definitely worth it for the experience. I found one to try at Market-Market in Manila.
It's Instagram Worthy
The islands are so beautiful that it will be sure to not only leave you with long lasting memories, but also some incredible pictures. El Nido on the island of Palawan is particularly stunning. Days in El Nido are spent island hopping and SCUBA diving, while evenings are spent at “sunset bars” enjoying sunsets that are arguably the best in the world.
Everyone is Extremely Kind
Adventuring out of your comfort zone can be a difficult task when traveling. Fortunately, the Philippine people are hands-down the most welcoming and hospitable people that I have come across throughout all of my travels. Filipinos are genuinely happy to have visitors in their country, as it’s often missed by the visitors and backpackers visiting Southeast Asia. Any local you encounter will take it upon themselves to ensure you have an enjoyable experience, as they are very proud to showcase their beautiful country.
Adventuring to new parts of the world can often be just as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. If you have been looking to visit Asia, the Philippines is a great place to start.