Each month here at Travelzoo Chicago we have the opportunity to share our travel experiences and tips over a brown bag lunch. While there’s a little bit of show-and-tell, we also hope to inspire each other to try out these fantastic destinations for ourselves with some Travelzoo knowledge at the helm.
Just last month I decided to share my many travel stories from my trips to my parents' homeland -- the Philippines – a beautiful country with a rich culture that isn’t necessarily at the top (or maybe even on) people’s bucket lists. Plus, serving some authentic Filipino food pancit and lumpia during the session was sure to help the cause.
Visiting a foreign country can be intimidating with questions swirling about language barriers, transportation and just overall etiquette. Here are a few reasons why the Philippines should jump into your travel consideration set:
English is an official language: That’s right. English is right next to Tagalog as one of the official languages of the islands. No matter where you travel, whether it be to the capital Manila, or out to explore the provincial area, English is well known and widely spoken. TV commercials and signage are often in Tagalish -- a mish-mash of English and Tagalog. Having been under American jurisdiction after Spanish rule, you’ll find a lot of modern Westernized culture mixed in with the rich tradition of the Filipino people.
Did you eat yet? The first words you’ll hear when you walk into a Filipino household. The islands are filled with warm-hearted, hospitable people who nurture through shared meals with strangers and family alike. Don’t be afraid to ask for help on your travels – you’ll get answers with a warm smile.
7,107 other reasons: Comprised of 7,000 plus islands, the Philippines is teeming with wildlife (both on land and underwater), and different cultures throughout the regions. From coral reefs and World War II shipwrecks under cobalt blue waters, to the Chocolate Hills of Bohol and the limestone cliffs of Palawan there’s more to the country than white sandy beaches (though there are plenty of those too). There’s almost always a fiesta, where the costumes and dancing differ from province to province, but the enthusiasm is consistently strong.
From the U.S., cheap flights to the Philippines usually stop on the West Coast or in major hubs in Asia (Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo) before arriving at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Inter-country flights are affordable via Philippines Airlines or Cebu Pacific Air. For the most authentic experience, jump onto a jeepney or shell out a couple pesos for a tricycle ride (motorcycle with sidecar).
For more information check out the Philippines tourism site.