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Top 10 Reasons Why The Philippines Is A Great Tourist Destination
I’m sure that every country will have its own unique set of attributes which sets it apart from the rest. But, having lived in the Philippines all my life, I have gotten to really appreciate the beauty this country offers. I have lived for some time in a foreign, first world land, but I yearned to be back home. I guess I will always be a “Pinoy” in my heart.
With its 7,107 islands (during low tides), there is much to see and explore here that it is no wonder why many foreigners who once visited chose to stay, or at least make Philippines their second home.
So, allow me to present the top ten reasons why the Philippines is such a great tourist destination:
1. Beautiful beaches, mountains, resorts, landscapes, seascapes
Whether you love the cool breeze of the sea or the serenity of being up in the mountains, there is no shortage of places to go to in the Philippines. Depending on how much time you have, you can travel up north to the burial caves of Sagada or south to the sparkling beaches of the Bicol regions, Boracay or Puerto Galera.
2. The crazy shopping
Shopping malls are a dime a dozen, and there seems to be another sprouting every month. Just when you thought you can’t have enough of shopping, there comes another mall with yet another variety of goods and wares on sale! From bargain hunts in Divisoria to the latest in designer fashion in Boni High Street, at least half a day should be dedicated to shopping for family and friends, and of course for yourself, too. And that’s just in the metropolis alone. Each region has its own unique product, many of which are being exported worldwide. It is not uncommon for tourists to ship home furniture, wooden carvings, paintings, house decors, from their short trip or vacation. The best thing is that most products will be available in the malls (though of varying prices, depending on where you are), and there is a wide range of products, from the very affordable to the pricey.
3. Affordable prices
Speaking of shopping, visitors are able to bring home a lot because of the relatively cheaper cost of products, food and services here. Just take a look at the Big Mac Index published by the Economist, July 2008.
Not just Big Mac, but many other (almost all) products are relatively cheaper in the Philippines than in other countries. For example, a Krispy Kreme in London will be about £1.15, while it is just Php 30 (£0.38) in the Philippines.
4. Great food
Yes, Krispy Kreme, McDonalds and Starbucks can be found in every corner here in the Philippines; alongside with many other international cuisine. I’m not sure if the tourists inspired the variety of food selection or the varied food selection attracted the tourists, but who cares? The important thing is that they’re all here! Many buffet restaurants and hotels will offer a good assortment of Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, American dishes at the least, for around USD 12-24. Eat-all-you-can not for you? Not to worry, there are a lot of specialty stores from fast food (around USD 3-5 per meal) to fine dining within your reach, and they deliver, too.
“One man’s weird is another man’s wonderful.”- Andrew Zimmern
Of course, we also have our own selection of exotic food. Fear Factor contestants have tried eating the “balut” (USD 0.25), and Bizarre Foods of Discovery Channel Andrew Zimmern ate “uok” and “isaw” when he visited. Like he said “one man’s weird is another man’s wonderful”. Well said.
5. Everybody speaks English
Very helpful when trying to haggle for prices, or when asking about what that hairy thing in “balut” is right? (By the way, it’s the chick).
But seriously, most Pinoys can speak the language very well. And if some of us can’t, we certainly try. In fact, in many provinces, English is the second language next to their native tongues, and Tagalog (as a dialect, which is almost like the national language, Filipino) is only a poor third. This is because English is taught as early as the pre-school years while Filipino is taught in the primary level. Though there are more than 150 dialects in the Philippines, it is not hard to find a guide who can switch from Ibaloi to English to Tagalog.
6. Nice, sunny weather
I never appreciated the nice sunny weather here until I went to a country where the sun and its rays were not a permanent fixture in the daytime. Though tropical storms are also quite regularly seen (about 20 in a year), there are always sunny days all throughout the year. Makes going to the beach and getting a tan any time of the year possible.
7. Not too shabby technology = connectivity
Philippines is not the “texting capital of the world” for nothing! Foreigners who come to the country should better be informed that SMS has taken a new meaning here in the Philippines. Short really means short. Here’s a sample of a text message I received yesterday:
“hi, jst wntd 2 tel u dat m hvng a gr8 tym hr n baguio! wish i cn stay longer bt sadly, hv 2 go bk 2 work tom”
“Hi, just wanted to tell you that am having a great time here in Baguio! Wish I can stay longer but sadly, have to go back to work tom.”
Yes, Pinoys do text in English, didn’t I tell you everybody speaks English? And by the way, “to text” means to send a short message through the mobile phone.
That is just an indication of how Filipinos give premium to connectivity. Technology is not bad here, with almost every establishment having its own wi-fi accessibility. The latest cellular phones, computers and other gadgets are available here, and the prices are not too shabby either. All these come welcome for someone away from home.
Some names that have performed in the Philippines in recent years:
- Michael Jackson
- Maroon 5
- Christina Aguilera
- John Legend
- Josh Groban
- Michael Buble
- American Idols (David vs. David, Chris Daughtry)
- Black Eyed Peas
- Pussy Cat Dolls
8. Entertainment at its best
When it comes to movies and entertainment, the Philippines is always on the forefront. Though we have yet to see a red carpet premier, at least we see the movies the same time as our foreign counterparts. Most major movies debut in the Philippines at the same time they do in other parts of the world. What’s best is that movie tickets here are not so costly, though they have increased their rates several times in the past. A good movie will cost about Php 150 (USD 4) per person. Together with some food, coffee, a night out at the movies will cost you around USD 15.
Also, big names in the music industry visit the Philippines to have major concerts. The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, himself visited the Philippines twice and left a legacy in the process.
9. Quality, affordable medical care
Yes, many people flock to the Philippines for the medical care available at a (considerably more) affordable price. Compared to other countries, health care can be had here at reasonable prices. That is why, many overseas Filipino workers (OFW) come home to give birth or get medical help. Aside, of course, from being near their loved ones, their health care insurance will go a longer way here than it would in the other countries. Many foreigners who once visited the Philippines also go back for medical care.
There is a recent trend in hospitals in the Philippines. Nowadays, hotels and hospitals tend to look alike, and both boast of excellent customer service! Indeed, medical tourism is fast becoming one of the country’s top attractions.
The Medical City, Ortigas, Philippines
10. Warm, hospitable people
Last reason in this list, but definitely not the least, is the hospitality of the Filipino people. I wouldn’t say much, about this, except that we’d love to have you here. What are you waiting for?