The Philippines

Chinese New Year is approaching. Time to leave the country!!!

I’ve been to Bali and Thailand and both places were amazing. This year I’m planning a trip to the Philippines. Unfortunately, I don’t have a guide book yet.

Am looking for recommendations for…

Good beaches
Good food
Good snorkeling
Good shopping
Good night life


Good beaches
Good food
Good snorkeling
Good shopping
Good night life


Outside of the Makati district in Manila, everything in the whole country is bargain-basement cheap. A hotel room in the provinces will run you 5 to 10 bucks. The cheapest room I ever paid for was 2 bucks a night in a guesthouse.

Food is awesome, better than Taiwanese as it’s mostly local not imported (which means fresher). Just throw a dart on a menu and dig in.

Great beaches and snorkeling are literally everywhere, with one exception: avoid the Greater Manila Area, it’s a polluted garbage heap. In fact, just try to avoid Manila as much as possible - it’s a dangerous, crime-ridden, polluted eyesore. If you have to spend a night there because of your flight, that’s unavoidable, but get out to the provinces as soon as you can. The Lingayen Gulf has the 100 Islands, which are a must-see. Palawan is a remote province with some amazing unspoiled underwater scenery. Almost any island in the Visayas would be an ideal beach bum paradise. Really, it’s like throwing a dart on a map - there’s little industry in the PI, so the beaches are almost all clean and unspoiled. The only place I would avoid would be western Mindanao, because of the terrorist situation. Do not go there! Also, be very careful treading in the hills of interior Luzon - there are still some active Communist guerillas around and about.

Good shopping? Well, on that day in Manila, investigate the open-air markets. The Baclaran Market or the one in Chinatown, both are good stops for cheap clothes and stuff. There are quite a few malls dotted around Manila, as well. Out in the provinces, the pickings are pretty slim. The PI isn’t exactly a shopper’s paradise, most of the people are too poor.

Good night life? Err…well, if you’re into “night life” similar to downtown Bangkok when the sailors pull into port, you won’t need to look for it, it will come to you - the touts will annoy you to no end as you’re walking down the street. But, if you’re looking for something more wholesome, there are plenty of nightclubs and danceclubs around the tourist belt in Manila (Malate/Ermita). Around the big circle at the end of Malate there are several decent clubs to go dancing and listen to live music. Also, Makati is the upscale neighborhood of Manila and there are quite a few places to go - head to the Glorietta Mall in the center of Makati, there are a bunch of clubs around that area. That’s about as adventurous as I got because like I said Manila can be a very dangerous place for a gringo to be hopping about at night. In the provinces the night life is a lot more relaxed but in every village there’s at least one joint with a jukebox where you can grab a cold San Miguel and bust out on the karoake machine. Filipino life is a lot more socially active than Taiwanese, so the small towns aren’t as totally dead as the comatose Taiwan small towns.

Some good places to see:

  1. Baguio (high up in the moutains; the famous rice terraces are in the same province)
  2. 100 Islands
  3. Borocay
  4. Palawan
  5. Cebu (the Chocolate Hills are on the next island over, as well)
  6. Pasingan (spell? - it’s the lush jungle lake where they shot Apocalypse Now)

Have to add Puerto Galera to that list.


Hey i’m in the same boat, about to go to the philippines and all i’ve got is the “south-east asia on a shoestring” LP book. not much help there, considering how many islands there are. any ideas about beaches around Naga, or between Manila and Naga?



I have two extra copies of “26 days around the Philippines” – I had picked up a few for friends a few years ago. That’s right, it’s a bit dated (published 1999) but it should still give you ideas

if you are interested in a copy, please indicate your interest here and PM me a mailing address (it’s a small book :slight_smile:)

I recommend Boracay but you need to check if it’s safe down there.
There is a chain on the island called Lorenzo, they have 3 types of accomodaton (chalets and hotel) from medium to expensive.
The Lorenzo South is directly on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (so it was said) and the place you want to stay.
The Lorenzo Main is just across and IMHO you can use their facilities (pool etc.).
I stayed at the Grand Villa but while nice, sitting on a cliff, it’s a bit remote from the beach.

Or just google Boracay or Lorenzo for more info …

if you haven’t check out the lonely planet “thorn tree” website, some of the guys on there practically live over there :slight_smile:

I just spent two months this summer in the Philippines and can give you the following rudimentary advice:

(1) Do not go to Mindinao (specifically General Santos or Zambouanga).
(2) Boracay is excellent for parties but can be quite expensive in high season.

There are two ways to get to Boracay from Manilla. One is to take the flight on Asian Spirit - crap, third-world charter - to an island right next to Boracay and then take a boat. Or, you can ride a proper jet in which case you land quit e bit farther from Boracay and have to take a bus for two hours.

I opted for the cheap route and although I made it there in one piece, the trip was a bit scary in parts. IN a propeller plane you really feel the air-pockets, and given that all the planes writing wa sin Arabic led me to believe that it was quite old.

The Pink Patio resort on Boracay is nice.

(3) Consider a trip to Banaue from Manilla. For this you will need access to a car, and although the trip is only 340kms, it will take you at leats twelve hours. The scenery when you get into the mountain province and Ifugauo is stunning though, and I’m sure you won’t regret it.

(4) Although Manilla is indeed a dump, Malate can be a fun diversion, and Tagaytay, a volcano 40kms from Manilla, is also worth checking out.

(5) Do not go to ‘Intramuros’ - the ‘tourist’ attraction of Manilla. It is little more than a decrepid old pile of rocks that is both overpriced and mind-numbingly dull. You will be reminded of the brilliance of Jose Rizal and Nino Aquino wherever you go - from what I gather these were the only two Fillipinos ever who were not completely bone-idle and lazy - so you can skip the museums.

As a last tip,make sure you don’t stay over 21 days. Visa extension is a major pain in the arse.

All the best