DOT welcomes Travel + Leisure ranking of Palawan, Cebu, Boracay

Media Release

16 July 2019

The Department of Tourism (DOT) celebrates the inclusion of the three popular island tourist destinations of Palawan, Cebu, and Boracay in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2019

Leading the Philippine honorees is the “the perennially popular Philippine island of Palawan,” wrote the magazine. Palawan, which ranked second on the 15 Best Islands in the World list, is home to the enchanting Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Coron and El Nido.

Palawan is also where the DOT’s San Vicente Flagship Tourism Enterprise Zone (TEZ) is located.  Master planned as an integrated tourism destination project, it is envisioned as a sustainable investor’s haven that will be a catalyst for inclusive economic growth through public and private partnership.

“We are thrilled that Palawan has improved its ranking this year and is inching closer to regaining its top spot in T+L’s World’s Best Awards. Hats off as well to Cebu and Boracay for being recognized among the best in Asia,” DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Mactan, Cebu (photo courtesy of www.cebutours.ph)

Cebu and Boracay were voted 7th and 9th, respectively, in the Top 10 Islands in Asia category by the readers of the international travel magazine. The islands were rated according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value. Palawan also came in second on this list.

Boracay Island

“This citation by a major publication validates our efforts towards attaining a sustainable tourism industry and now, more than ever, encourages the DOT to work even harder on this advocacy, creating a tourism environment that is recognized and lauded not only today, but for the generations to come,” remarked Puyat.

El Nido,  Palawan (photo courtesy of  www.joya.life)

T+L writer Rebecca Ascher-Walsh quoted one reader naming Palawan as the “single most beautiful place I have ever seen.”

Ascher-Walsh also wrote that the Philippine island triumvirate of Palawan, Cebu, and Boracay are longtime favorites thanks to top-notch reef and wreck diving, white-sand beaches, hiking trails with waterfalls, and welcoming locals.

Plan Your Destination Wedding in the Philippines

After getting engaged, many brides get lost in a flurry of tasks: choosing colors, finding the dress, picking out decorations, and what seems like a thousand other things. One of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding is finding the right place for your nuptials. With the average ceremony and reception cost in the United States reaching $15,163, it is no wonder that the venue takes a toll on a couple trying to find the perfect setting at a reasonable cost.

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Although the money-savvy couple can find venues in the U.S. for a modest amount, they are often lacking extras – like seating, food, and decorations – which the couple must furnish themselves or pay extra for the venue to provide. This can leave many couples dreaming of a destination wedding instead. If this echoes your struggle and you’re wondering where in the world to get married, let us recommend some of our favorite places for Filipino nuptials. From the beachy keen couple to those who imagine heart-stopping heights, we have locations for every type of bride!

Eco-Conscious Bride

The Philippines is full of eco-conscious and eco-friendly spaces. Whether you want the whole experience in one of the many eco-friendly resorts or if you want a simple elopement on a breathtaking protected beach, you are sure to find a place that meets both your vision and environmental ethics. Here’s just a quick sample of the exquisite locations you can find.

Pangulasian Island – El Nido Resort (Palawan)

El Nido owns a group of sustainable resorts that focus on a variety of experiences. Their Pangulasian Island Resort offers the most services, including a coordinator on site who can assist you in planning the wedding of your dreams. In addition to promoting responsible tourism, their entire staff continually undergoes training on conservation, environmental ethics, and waste management.

Amorita Resort – Bohol

As a recipient of the ASEAN Green Hotel Award and Condé Nast Johansens’ 2017 “Best for Service” Award, Amorita strives to make sure every guest experiences world-class comforts without compromising sustainable practices. They work to protect and preserve the surrounding natural environment, which doubles as picturesque scenery for your destination union.

Fundacion Pacita – Batanes

Maybe the beach or exclusive resort isn’t your style. For those who prefer to get married in a more harmonious setting, with a dramatic volcano rising above you, Fundacion Pacita is waiting for you. Their staff will strive to make sure you cherish your day, from the farm-fresh food to the awe-inspiring views.

 

Beach Bride

If you prefer to get married with the sand between your toes and a rose gold sunset creating a magnificent backdrop for your vows, we have plentiful beaches for you. Let’s face it: nothing says romantic wedding like a sandy paradise.

Kandaya Resort – Cebu

Kandaya has a pristine white, sandy beach nestled beside a lush landscape. With luxury accommodations and exquisite sunsets, it is easy to see why so many couples choose Kandaya to exchange their vows.

Bellarocca Island Resort – Marinduque

Have you imagined getting married in a Grecian paradise, but want a non-traditional spin? Look no further than Bellarocca, situated on a tiny island off the coast of Buenavista. Book a breathtaking cliffside villa, with infinity pools that seemingly stretch into the space between sea and sky, and you have a perfect escape for both your ceremony and honeymoon.

Crimson Hotel – Cebu

If you want relaxed nuptials on the beach followed by a toast in the sea, the Crimson Hotel in Cebu is for you. This resort will help take care of everything, plus their stunning location will make the perfect backdrop for memories you will treasure for years to come.

Adventurous Bride

Maybe you want to find a scenic setting off the beaten path. These locales are not for the faint of heart or large groups. If your dream destination wedding involves a beautiful landscape that is out of this world, the next three places are calling you by name.

Mount Pulag – Kabayan, Benguet

Mount Pulag, the Philippines second highest peak, creates an unreal atmosphere above the clouds. You will have to work for the view as it requires a six-hour hike to the top. However, once you get there, the panorama of the Milky Way and the blanket of clouds below creates a backdrop of galactic proportions.

Daraga, Mount Mayon – Albay

This area was recently made famous by the incredible photos taken while Mount Mayon erupted in the background. With an array of venues for the ceremony, you are sure to find the perfect spot. Then you can capture the active volcano in your couple shots, showcasing how explosive your love is for each other. You will need to keep in mind that flexibility is key in this location; since the volcano is active, you may have to delay your wedding if evacuations are in place.

Sila Island – Northern Samar

Sila Island boasts one of the only pink sand beaches in the Philippines. As such, rose gold fanatics can find the perfect spot here, especially if they can catch the golden rays of the sunset hitting the dusty pink beaches. Traveling to Sila Island is not easy, however, as it takes almost every mode of transportation to arrive on its blushing shores. The long travel is worth it as the lack of accessibility means that it is one of the least crowded and tranquil islands the Philippines offers.

Foodie Bride

The Philippines is full of fantastic and cheap local cuisine. For very little money, you can feed your entire reception with a scrumptious feast. Below are some of our favorite regional treats and where you can find them!

Lechón – Cebu

Lechón is a whole pig slowly roasted and basted above a fire pit over the course of several hours. The result is beautifully tender meat with a crispy, flavorful skin that will delight your taste buds. Cebu is known for having the best lechón, but don’t just take our word for it! Even celebrities like Anthony Bourdain had said Cebu lechón is the “best pig ever.” Filipinos typically serve the dish on special occasions, so it is a perfect meal to accompany your reception. Check out favorites, like Rico’s and House of Lechón, or ask your venue to contact their favorite lechón maker.

Adobo – Manila

Many consider adobo the national dish of the Philippines, so you cannot miss it as you plan your nuptials! The best adobo is found in Manila, which is perfect for the bride who still wants the glamor of the city. Adobo refers to the vinegar based marinade and slow cooking method and can be made with pork, chicken, or vegetables. That means no matter what your guests’ tastes are, they can find a way to enjoy this traditional cuisine. Order some lumpias with the adobo and you have a perfect dinner for the occasion.

Traditional Desserts

Since you are planning a destination wedding, you can forgo the traditional wedding cake if you want. You might try out the heavenly local sweets and create a dessert table for your guests to enjoy. Add succulent seasonal fruit to the table and you will have a dazzling array of confections to satisfy everyone. Our favorites are halo-halo, palitaw, puto, leche flan, silvana, sans rival, turon, and maja blanca. If you are unsure of what you might want, spend a day checking out the neighborhood bakeries and pastry shops to find what you love. If you still want a traditional cake, don’t worry! There are plenty of amazing bakers who can create the stunning (and scrumptious) cake you desire.

Weddings…It’s More Fun in the Philippines

Now that you have a handful of places to choose from, we hope you have found the perfect location for your destination wedding. You will find that your wedding is more fun than you could have imagined if you choose to have it in the Philippines.

7 Must-See Churches in the Philippines: Plan an Easter Experience

Lent, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday are celebrated by Christians around the world, but in the Philippines, it’s different. More than 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholic. Their traditions have influenced the culture and whole communities celebrate together.

For travelers interested in observing these holy days, it’s an ideal time to visit the Philippines. Plan a spiritual experience with your family or with close friends. It’s important to start planning this trip early–booking both travel and accommodations–as many guests visit for the Easter holiday and Filipinos travel to be with family and friends.

Must See Churches

Enhance your journey through the Philippines during the Easter holidays by visiting some of the oldest and most beautiful churches on the islands.

Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva – Ming-ao, Iloilo

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, the Ming-ao Church has an extensive history. It’s thick walls and mismatched bell towers helped protect the area from invaders during the 18th and 19th centuries. The belfries were commissioned by two different parish priests and the west tower is both older and taller. While visiting this church, don’t forget to go inside and see the solid gold retablo also known as a sanctuary.

St. Matias Parish Church – Tuamauini, Isabela

Built entirely of red bricks in 1783, the church, commonly known as the Tumauini Church, has been under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006. It was built in the style of Late Baroque or Early Rococo and its bell tower stands four stories tall.

Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio de Maria Parish Church – Boljoon, Cebu

While this parish dates back to the 1690s, the church building, which is commonly known as Boljoon Church, was first built in 1783. It was listed as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2001 and continues to be a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is well-known for its special ceilings which are made of “tag-ut” which means “coming from trees” and are beautifully painted. They date back to at least 1883.

Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel – Argao, Cebu

Completed in 1788, the church commonly known as the Argao Church is a two-level structure built of coral stone. The beautifully painted ceiling tiles are made of wood. The paintings themselves were completed by two artists, one being the renowned Cebuano painter Raymundo Francia. Sadly, the other half was completed by an unknown Boholano artist. As the name suggests, the church was dedicated to the archangel Saint Michael.

Saint Augustine Church – Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, the church, commonly known as the Paoay Church, began construction in 1694. It is known as a prime example of the Spanish Colonial Baroque Architecture-style which was adapted for the Philippines due to the frequency of earthquakes. You’ll see larger than normal buttresses and stair-style buttresses. The facade is made up of two materials, brick on the lower part and coral on the upper.

The Camarin de la Virgen at the Sta. Ana Church

Commonly known as the Santa Ana Church, it was established by the Franciscan Order in 1577. The first cornerstone for the larger stone church and convent was laid on September 12, 1720. The image of the patron saint, Nstra. Sra. De los Desamparados – or Our Lady of the Abandoned – was carved in Spain and brought to Santa Ana by Fr. Vicente Ingles, OFM, who was the parish priest at the time.

Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours – Taal, Batangas

Within the Archdiocese of Lipa you’ll find this church, commonly known as Taal Basilica. It is considered the single largest church in the Philippines, as well as in all of Asia. First established in 1575, the church was severely damaged by the largest recorded eruption of the local volcano in 1754. The church was then moved to its current location on top.

Tips for What to Expect

If you’ve never been in the Philippines for Holy Week and Easter, you will need to keep a few things in mind.

  • Heavy traffic and crowded streets cause problems getting anywhere quickly. Processions involving people, carts, floats, and crowds around the churches are common. Plan to become part of the celebrations and immerse yourself in the experience.
  • Many businesses are closed during Holy Week or have shortened working hours. Once you know where you’ll be staying, learn what will be open and be prepared for stores and services to be shut down, including grocery stores and restaurants.
  • Some television and radio stations feature reruns or pre-recorded shows during parts of Holy Week, while others play seasonal content to join in the spirit of the holiday.

 Plan Your Trip to the Philippines

Spending the holiday living like a Filipino local creates one-of-a-kind, spiritual memories.

The time to plan your trip to the Philippines is now if you want to be a part of this immersive religious experience before it’s gone. If you’re ready, our partnersare ready to help you discover the Philippines.

Don’t Let Hurricanes Delay Your Vacation: Come to the Philippines

Your bags aren’t packed yet, but your boss already approved your vacation time, right? Even if Hurricane Irma didn’t care about your vacation destination, your much-needed vacation shouldn’t have to be postponed.

Hurricanes and tropical storms are devastating bringing destruction and grief to many island destinations. We are optimistic that the Caribbean Islands will rebuild better than ever. In the meantime, the Philippines can offer you all the amenities and similar exciting attractions for a vacation you’ll never forget.

Beautiful Diving Destinations

With new resorts and diving tours popping up across the islands, the Philippines is a perfect destination for both beginners and experienced divers. Filipinos have a history of helping divers experience the underwater beauty of the Philippines through Scuba Diving since 1966. Pick your favorite spot and get to diving today!

Shipwreck exploration in Coron

Below the surface, there are several sunken  Japanese warships leftover from World War II when the U.S. Navy attacked on September 24, 1944. The ships serve as a host to marine life and are a unique memorial from the war. You can visit the ocean floor to see the damage done to the ships by the 96 American planes, preserved by their home at the bottom of the sea and only available to SCUBA divers.

Hole in the Wall at Puerto Galera

At slack tide, this is a a perfect diving spot for inexperienced divers. Sitting at a depth of only 40 feet, thousands of divers have visited this big rock with a hole only large enough for one person to fit through. You’ll have a good chance of seeing snappers, scorpion fish, and turtles. Also, you’ll be hypnotized by the different soft corals, gorgonian fans, and sponges.

Apo Island Diving

There are dives sites circling Apo Island which offer beautiful seascapes and tons of marine life. The Apo Island Marine Sanctuary and Protected Seascape has been under rehabilitation and is currently prohibited from diving, however, you’ll still be blown away by diving at Coconut Point, Chapel’s Point, Rock Point, and Mamsa Point. Reef sharks, jacks, barracudas, Vlaming Unicornfish, tuna, snappers, eels and many more types of fish can be seen.

Sweet Surfing Spots

Peak surfing season happens in the Philippines September through March. However, in some areas, it is said to be possible to surf all year long.

Cloud 9 on Siargao Island
Often the first place Filipinos mention when asked where to go surfing, Cloud 9 landed in the No. 9 spot on the CNN Travel blog, “World’s 50 Best Surf Spots.” This is one spot surfers can catch a great wave all year long and is dubbed the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”. Each year, surfers from around the globe meet in Siargao for the annual Siargao Cup, a surfing competition sponsored by the Surigao del Norte provincial government.

Charlie’s Point near Baler, Aurora

The movie Apocalypse Now changed life forever for the once-small fishing village of Baler. During filming in 1979, local Filipinos watched as the beach became scenes from the Vietnam war. They also watched the actors surfing, and when the actors left their boards, the locals taught themselves to surf. Each year, tourism grows at Charlie’s Point and the locals will gladly show you where the movie was filmed, teach you to surf, or join you in the waves.

Bagasbas Beach in Daet, Camarines Norte

Bagasbas Beach is known for being both long and wide with fine sand. The Pacific Ocean provides big waves that are known to become barrel waves between July and November. Waves break both to the right and left, providing a good learning spot for inexperienced surfers. The sandy bottom below the waves also helps beginners keep from scraping themselves up as they learn to surf.

Wildlife Swimming Companions

Have you ever wanted to swim with dolphins? Have you dreamed about a dive with sea lions and sea turtles? You can do it all in the Philippines!

Swim with the Sharks in Oslob

The largest fish in the world, the whale shark, can be seen in the water at Oslob, Cebu. Tourists gather along the beach and catch boats out into the water to get a closer view. Those who have paid to swim with the sharks must remove all sunscreen and agree to stay at least four feet from the sharks. There are fines for anyone who touches the beautifully-massive creatures. From 6 a.m. until noon, groups of people called “feeders” drop krill, small fish, and sea plants to keep the whale sharks in the area. You can set up tours and even combine the experience with a trip to the turquoise pools at Tumalog Falls.

Experience an Animal Encounter at Ocean Adventure
In just one place, you can swim with sea lions and dolphins or dive with sea turtles, blacktip reef sharks, and giant jackfish. At Ocean Adventure, you can even get a fish spa pedicure where live fish tickle your feet as they nibble away all the dead skin. You can tailor each part of your day to fulfill your every expectation. Spend the day as an animal trainer, see the shows, and even dine by the bay.

Unique Catches for Fisherman

With more than 2,000 species of fish living in or around the islands of the Philippines, there is no shortage of places to fish. You can hire guided tours and boats, which also have rental fishing equipment. Take your chance at fishing for a record in the Philippines.

Go sport fishing in Cagayan

Fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in Cagayan. While you can productive fishing all year, the best times to catch fish are from March to June. During that time you can find fishing tournaments, or arrange for your trip to avoid the tournaments if you don’t want to fish with a crowd.

Fish for Largemouth Bass

Both Lake Lumot and Caliraya Lake on the island of Luzon are known for their bass fishing. Even though the American Largemouth Bass is not native to these waters, they thrive there. You might even be able to find bass larger than 10 pounds!

See How It’s Made

Spend more time getting to know the people of the Philippines and how they live through tours of local farms. Experience a day in the life on a Filipino farm and you’ll find something delicious to take home with you.

La Huerta de Rosario – Baao, Camarines Sur

La Huerta de Rosario is a privately-owned farm and tourist stop where visitors can experience harvesting fresh, local produce. In addition, guests are then served food–freshly harvested and cooked in the local style. La Huerta de Rosario is also a haven for local artists and their work is displayed throughout the buildings on the farm.

The Coffee Farmhouse, Cavite

From coffee to bean, serious coffee connoisseurs can enjoy a stay at the Coffee Farmhouse. About two hours away from Manila on the outskirts of Tagatay, you can escape the bustle of the city and learn about how coffee is raised, processed, and served on a family farm in the Philippines. In addition to the tour, you can play games, enjoy a bonfire, or schedule a relaxing massage.

Malagos Chocolate Cacao Farm, Davao City
Known for their excellent quality, the Malagos Farms’ chocolate bars start from cacao beans grown, harvested, and processed on their farm in Davao City. Chocolate lovers can take a half-day tour of the farm to get an idea of how the chocolates are made. For serious chocoholics, a three-day cacao farming seminar is also an option.

Sneak a Peek at Nature

The list of flora and fauna you can only see in the Philippines is extensive, both on land and underwater. Even if you aren’t a hiker or a diver, the people of the Philippines have found ways to share their unique landscape with you.

Bird Watching at Olango Wildlife Sanctuary

The first preserved wetland of international importance for waterfowl, the Olango Wildlife Sanctuary offers trekking tours with knowledgeable guides. Vulnerable and threatened species like the Chinese Egret and the Asian Dowitcher are protected here and can be seen while taking the tour. The amenities of the sanctuary are minimal, but guides will help you see the natural aviary on this important migratory route as well as arrange for your group to have fresh coconut juice.

Watch Whales and Dolphins at Pamilacan Island

The Pamilacan Island Dolphin and Whale Watching Tours began with one man’s dream to provide an eco-tourism adventure for the people living on Pamilacan Island, as an alternative to hunting whales and dolphins. Now, you can create a tour to satisfy your need for adventure, see dolphins and whales at play, swim and snorkel on white sandy beaches, tour the Bohol countryside, or visit the village on Pamilacan Island.

Create the Vacation of Your Dreams in the Philippines

When you come to the Philippines, people will make you feel at home. You can enjoy adventures of all sorts, lay on white sand beaches, or get treated like royalty at the spas and resorts. Don’t let mother nature steal your vacation plans, let us help you craft the most memorable vacation of your life today.

Top 3 Honeymoon Destinations in the Philippines

Preparing for a wedding can be too arduous and time-consuming which makes newlyweds crave for the events to follow the wedding itself. Still overwhelmed with so many options? Listed below are three destinations you can spend that sweet honeymoon like no other.

Cebu

Cebu, the Queen City of the South is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. In fact, back in 2010, Cebu was chosen as the best honeymoon destination at the World Travel Fair Awards which makes Cebu’s strong foundation as a honeymoon destination recognized worldwide.

Taking a boat tour around dusk would give couples that unparalleled moment of watching the sun fall while holding hands. The night breeze and atmosphere might even join in the fun which would create nothing but memories for the two of you.

If you and your partner are inclined more towards attaining adrenaline, then fret not as Cebu is also known for water activities. You can either visit Moalboal to get a glimpse of the rich marine life underwater which cannot be seen in other places besides Cebu or Kawasan Falls, listed in Travel + Leisure’s beautiful waterfalls around the world where you can raft through the three levels for a cascading massage. You can certainly never run out of things to do together in Cebu.


Bohol

Not too far from Cebu, another famed tourist spot known as Bohol sits by. Newlyweds can witness majestic landscapes such as the awe-inspiring Chocolate hills or drop by the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, home to one of the smallest known primates, where a couple of Tarsiers are carefully taken care of without destroying their niche. At the sanctuary, the lovely wide-eyed tarsiers are trained to roost in during the day but are active and hunting at night which makes them free to roam around the area which is several hectares large.

One cannot leave Bohol without the fireflies encounter experience. Fireflies can be found in Loboc River in which you would have to rent a boat to visit. Five minutes in and you’ll be guaranteed with small blinking lights swarming in and around the mangroves. The surreal atmosphere and gentle breeze while traveling along Loboc River will leave you and your partner reminiscing the day you met.


Palawan

Certainly not what you have expected, Palawan makes its mark as the last one on our list. Sometimes referred to as Asia’s Garden of Eden, Palawan will be able to give you and your spouse-to-be the once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon both of you have always been dreaming of. Unlike the crowd favorite that is Boracay, Palawan provides the much-needed privacy to create lasting moments with only the two of you.

Known as the Philippines’ last frontier, the well- preserved Palawan offers so many couple activities you are encouraged to do. Kayaking your way to the amazing turquoise-green Big and Small Lagoons of Palawan where you could seclude yourselves and be astonished by the beauty of untouched nature. Explore the overwhelming Honda Bay and tunnel through the ravishing underground river of Palawan and leave nothing but priceless moments that you’ll cherish for your life as one.

Want to make your honeymoon struggle-free? Leave it to our travel experts and they’ll make your dreamy honeymoon come true.

Filipino Street Foods Worth Drooling Over

Admit it, you love trying new food. Everyone from Food Network toBloomberg claims 2017 is the year Filipino flavors will explode onto the food scene. Bon Appétit named the D.C.-based Filipino restaurant “Bad Saint” the second best new restaurant of 2016, providing evidence for the claims that Filipino flavor is about to find fame.

While eating his way through food-friendly cities around the world for television audiences (since 2002), Anthony Bourdain has shown some serious love for Filipino street foods. He claims his favorite street food in the Philippines, sisig, is “possibly the best thing you could ever eat with a cold beer.”

It’s time for you to let your taste buds join the adventure and get to munching as you travel through the streets of the Philippines. The endless choices from street vendors will get your stomach rumbling. Some of the foods you’ll find may test the limits of your palate, but if your’re craving adventure, you can find it among the stalls of Filipino food markets.

However, if eating from a stall in the street seems too extreme, choose these items from a menu in a bar or restaurant. Many places offer wine or local craft beer pairings with these traditional street foods.

Savory Snack Foods in the Philippines

You can find a variety of grilled, barbecued, and roasted savory dishes on Filipino streets. Don’t forget, as you snag your street food, it is proper to stop at the sauce station and add salt, vinegar, onions, chilies, and various sauces as the Filipinos do.

Sisig

One of the single most popular dishes in the Philippines, Sisig, is made from pork. It’s created by cooking the delicious parts of a pig’s head and is often seasoned with golden limes, also known as calamansi, and chili peppers. The go-to add-ins are coarsely chopped onions with a runny egg on top. It’s most often served on a sizzling plate–like fajitas.

If you visit during the right time of year, you could find yourself at the Sisig Fiesta held in Angeles City.

Lechón

You won’t want to miss trying the national dish of the Philippines, roasted suckling pig known as Lechón. It is prepared throughout the year for special occasions, celebrations, and holidays. After removing the insides of the pig, it is seasoned and skewered by a large stick. The skewer is then placed in a large rotisserie and the entire pig is cooked over a charcoal pit for several hours.

The Lechón is usually crispy on the outside due to the method of basting and the hours on top of the coals. During his visit, chef Anthony Bourdain claimed Cebu had the most delicious version of the dish, but Skyscanner claims they know the nine best places to grub down on some Lechón.

Lumpia

Lumpia looks like a spring roll but is found in the Philippines and Indonesia. Inside a thin pastry skin, you’ll find filling of the savory sort, including carrots, cabbage, green beans, bamboo shoots, and leeks (or some combination of those). You often find meat–chicken, shrimp or beef, but most often pork – as well. The whole roll is often deep fried but can be prepared in other ways. Try dipping them in banana ketchup or sweet chili sauce.

Lumpia is incredibly popular during celebrations, on the street, and in restaurants. If you’re interested in learning more about Lumpia recipes, you can check out Pinterest’s board for “25+ best ideas about Lumpia.”

Balut

Walking around a local market is one of the best ways to try the adventurous and famous street food snack, Balut. The partially developed duck egg embryo is often referred to as the king of Filipino street foods.

You eat it by first cracking open the top of the boiled egg and drinking out the broth or the soup. Then you peel the rest of the egg and season it with vinegar and salt before finish eating the snack. See how Americans react to the dish in this Buzzfeed video.

Isaw

A famous Filipino street food, isaw is the barbecued intestines of a pig or a chicken coiled on a skewer and grilled until smoky and crispy. Of course, the intestines are cleaned, then turned inside-out and cleaned again, with this process occurring multiple times before cooking.

During the afternoons, you can find vendors selling isaw on street corners across the islands. While visiting an isaw vendor, pork barbecue, atay (liver), and adidas (grilled or barbecued chicken feet) are usually available for your culinary pleasure.

Isaw is popular across the country, but comic book artist Maniz Abrera’s “KikoMachine” comic strip made the food a staple at the University of the Philippines Diliman. The comic strip featured in the Philippine Daily Inquirer began with many scenes featured on the campus around the isaw vendor’s stall. Abrera’s comic is now a daily find in the newspaper and even though it deals with weightier topics most days, people still visit the university as homage to the origins of the comic strip.

Kwek Kwek

Kwek Kwek is a tempura-like battered and deep fried street food. The batter is dyed orange and when you bite through the batter you find a soft-boiled quail’s egg. It’s much like a corn dog, only with egg inside instead of a hot dog. Sounds like a perfect street snack, doesn’t it?

Get psyched for your Filipino food tour with a virtual tour alongside Mark Wiens of Migrationologythrough the Quaipo Market in Manila.

Sweet Treats You Need

Savory isn’t the only flavor you’ll find when trekking through the streets in the Philippines. Sweets are often flavored with the abundant fruits of the islands including ube (also known as purple yam), coconuts, and mango.

Binatog

A favorite local merienda snack (a light meal, sort of like afternoon tea), Binatog is made by soaking and boiling white corn sliced off the cob. This dish is often seasoned with freshly grated coconut and salt.

If you’re interested in trying binatog before visiting the Philippines, there are many recipes available online, like this one from blogger Lalaine of Kawaling Pinoy, a blog dedicated to Filipino and Asian-inspired recipes.

Halo–Halo

Halo-Halo is one of the most popular and inexpensive summertime sweets you’ll find when visiting the Philippines. Halo-Halo is made from shaved ice and evaporated milk. Vendors mix in sweet fruits or other sweet ingredients like corn, coconut, or sweet beans.

The dessert is served in a tall glass or bowl and has been featured in multiple travel and food television shows, including Bizarre Foods and Top Chef.

Ube Halaya

While there are lots of different desserts which feature ube, from ice cream to cakes, ube halaya is most common on the street. Ube halaya is ube boiled, grated, and combined with other ingredients like sugar or milk until it thickens. You can then add it to halo-halo or ice cream, or you can eat it like pudding.

This recipe from the blog 196 flavors will awaken your sweet tooth in no time. “Ube halaya was a blissful and unexpected discovery for me, as we featured Filipino last June,” said Mike Benayoun of 196 flavors. “I especially loved making latik, this crunchy residual of coconut milk that adds a beautiful sweet and crunchy note to this dessert.”

Buko Juice

The Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands, which means that coconuts, also known as buko, are never far away. In the street markets, you can find buko juice, or coconut water, almost everywhere you go.

Buko juice not only tastes good and helps with hydration, but it is often heralded for its health benefits. The juice has been known to help prevent kidney stones, reduce sugar levels, regulate blood pressure, and improve digestion.

Plan Your Culinary Adventure

Explosive flavors and generous portions await your arrival in the Philippines. Whether these flavors seem exciting or extreme, you are bound to find something in the Filipino culinary world which will light your flame.

Let us help plan your next trip! We have great ideas and can help you find experts so you’re never overwhelmed with options. We can’t wait to shout magandang araw–or beautiful da –to you across a market full of Filipino street food.

Why an out-of-country trip is the best gift for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to spoil your mom and give her something extraordinary. While sales and discounts on high-end bags and luxury perfumes can be enticing, ditch the material things and look for something irreplaceable. Here are five reasons why you should consider traveling with your mom on her special day.

  1. Spending quality time with your mom can be redundant if you go to the same places. Try looking for new destinations outside the state where you can get lost and score an unforgettable experience that only you and your mother can share. This could also be the perfect story you can share on your next family reunion!
  2. Sometimes moms just want to flaunt on social media after days of constant struggle and stress. Help her unwind by adding more selfies and photos on her profile from visits to iconic tourist spots and must-try restaurants.
  3. If you haven’t traveled overseas with your mother before, this could be the start of a new tradition! Help her tick off bullets on her bucket list as she finds home at a different country, or better yet different continent. It can be one of the best gifts you could offer as she may need to leave a piece of her heart there just like how she left a big chunk for you.
  4. It may be cliché but not all superheroes wear capes, moms are known to be the epitome of all superheroes. Wonder woman needs a break from time to time and this is the perfect chance to it. Sometimes all she needs is an adventurous vacation to remind herself of the beautiful life she is living. Give your all in creating a fun but relaxing itinerary for your mom as she de-stresses from all realities of her work life and even family life itself.
  5. Material things can be tempting to buy at first but these could also mean you barely have the time to think your gift through. Planning the best tropical vacation with all the activities your mom could possibly enjoy is intangible and would make her  feel even more special than what you intend to. Travelling is known to bring out the genuine personality of a person. This trip may also be an eye-opener on how much you really know about your mom.

You can arrange it for just the two of you, or even for the entire family. What’s important is to spend the meaningful holiday doing something she’ll enjoy immensely. Create an unforgettable bonding experience with your Mother and immerse yourselves on the beauty of the Philippines. Book through our travel partners for an affordable vacation and score an invaluable experience for you and your mom!

Learn more about the different destinations in the Philippines and see some of the latest ongoing travel promos and tour packages here.

5 Gadgets to Bring to Your Tropical Island Adventure

Contrary to popular belief, packing for a vacation can be easy with the right gadgets. There’s a certain satisfaction in thinking you’ve brought everything you need after being restricted with your luggage allowance. Bounded by the rules and the baggage load you have acquired, you just can’t bring everything you have. Besides, you wouldn’t really want to go island hopping with so many things in hand. At the same time, traveling isn’t just about self-improvement, sometimes you may want to brag about it once a while to your peers. Here are 5 gadgets that would make your friends and fellow travelers die of envy on your tropical island adventure.

Wireless Portable Speaker

To make the most of your tropical adventure, a portable speaker is something you can’t not bring. Ideally, it allows people to chill and relax at their own room while listening to their preferred music. It can also connect people together to create a more enthusiastic atmosphere where everyone can have fun. With two 40mm speakers, a built-in microphone, a 10-hour rechargeable battery and being one of the most versatile portable speakers in its category, Scosche’s boomBottle is highly praised for its remarkable mix of high-quality audio and rough waterproof abilities.

Water Purifier Bottle

Unprepared travelers often find themselves in pain after consuming contaminated water, which means they didn’t invest in a water purification system before travelling. Getting yourself, one will be useful in many ways as you travel in destinations such as the Middle East, Central America and even Asia. Rather than a straw or a pumping mechanism, go for the Grayl as it works more like a coffee press. You ought to fill the lower part with water, attach its upper and press down. In 30 seconds or less, you’ve made yourself a 16 oz of purified water in a sophisticated container. It’s simple to use, reliable, safely eliminates unwanted viruses and bacteria.

Solar-Powered Inflatable Light

While checking for your stay in a remote island by yourself, you may want to bring necessary equipment to ensure that your dream-like wishful thinking doesn’t turn into a nightmare. Secure your trip by bringing a solar-powered inflatable light like Luci’s MPOWERED. Luci has produced an inflatable LED light which is ultra-compact, waterproof, solar-powered, has multiple functions and the most important of all, inexpensive! Before going back to your home, you could opt to leave it to the locals to aid a community with little to no electricity.

Scuba Mask Camera

Discovering the diverse marine life underwater is too surreal and sometimes you simply want to capture the whole experience with ease. While mounting action cameras on scuba masks is possible, it just doesn’t help you enjoy and interact with the magnificent life under the sea. Scuba underwater HD recorder masks are now must-haves for people who are basically mermaids and mermans at heart. Liquid Image HD movie mask features a 720p HD quality with 30 frames per second, and also has a light attachment to help you record movie in dark waters. Swimming with schools of fishes will be something you can boast to your friends and family without you worrying about showing proof to support your claim.

Scrubba Wash Bag

To fully experience immersion among locals, one must explore further to rural areas to get the sense and feel of their genuine culture. It would be hard to do this unless you’re open to do lots of physical activities like trekking or walking and packing light. Packing less is actually quite easy but the problem lies on where you could do your laundry. Of course, living in the 21st century, everything is possible! And that includes packing your own washing machine without breaking your back. Scrubba Wash Bag effectively cleans your clothes with the help of hundreds of internal Scrubba ‘nobules’. Simultaneously, you could also use it as a dry-bag which makes it cost-efficient and worth more than you pay for. At the same time, by lessening your luggage allowance, you could allot more of your money into travelling further.

Getting ready for your next tropical adventure? Check out these Top Destinations in the Philippines where you could fully utilize these gadgets to their greatest extent.

What to bring on a travel to a tropical destination

Philippines is an archipelago made up of 7,641 islands. This world-recognized tropical destination is famous for its picture-perfect beaches but since the climate here is very different from what you’ve been accustomed to, you need to know how to prepare so you can maximize your vacation. We’re not just talking about booking your flight ahead or reading about the must-visit places on your chosen destination but also about knowing what to pack for your travel to the Philippines or any other tropical country. To help you out, here are a few things your bags should contain:

1. Documents

First and foremost, you can’t go traveling the world without your important papers. Anything can happen during your tropical vacation so make sure to have all these documents ready for a no-hassle getaway.

-Passport

Of course, this is pretty obvious, you can’t explore the amazing places that make the world without your passport. Wherever you go, it’s best to have this in your purse since it’s also accepted as a valid ID.

-Valid IDs

Doing various transactions, especially when it involves banks, require you to present at least two valid IDs. Government IDs like your driver’s license and professional IDs should always be in your wallet so in the event you’d be asked to show one.

-Photocopies of your travel documents

It may seem redundant but having photocopies of your travel documents can prove to be helpful. This is one of those instances when it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Have photocopies of your IDs, passport, and birth certificate.

2. Essentials

When it comes to other basic necessities you should bring on your travel, there are some things that are specific to a tropical country. We’ve listed a few here including other items your bag should contain no matter what destination you’re heading to:

-Map

Whether you’re an old-school physical map user or one who relies on map apps available on your smartphone, having one allows you to roam around and explore your destination much easier. Of course, you can always ask the locals but if you really want to feel like an adventurer, knowing how to read a map could be really helpful on your travels.

-First Aid Kit

This one is definitely a must-have for travelers. Having a first aid kit on your bag allows you to be prepared in case of emergencies. Whether it’s against scrapes and wounds or cough and colds, being ready with band-aids, gauze, and medicine can make you feel a little less worried about yourself and others around you as well.

-Insect Repellent

Since tropical countries are continuing to be a top choice for holiday travelers, scientists are encouraging adventurers to carry and use insect repellent. Remember, tropical destinations like the Philippines are surrounded by bodies of water and are filled with lush forests, mountains, and other landscapes so it’s best to be prepared against mosquitoes and other insects.

-Sunscreen

If you don’t want sunburns that sting, better apply some sunscreen to your skin before frolicking on the beach. In fact, you could also use this not just on the white sandy shores and blue waters but when you’re about to go on a trek to mountain peaks or just have plans to walk around and explore, protect yourself from the harsh rays of the sun with a reliable sunscreen.

3. Gears and gadgets

Advancements in technology have provided travelers the liberty to document their journeys and turn moments into captured memories. To help make your adventures something you can revisit anytime, here are a few things you can bring to your travel:

-Extra phone

It can be another, cheaper phone but having an extra one is not just for picture-taking purposes but for making calls and messages as well. When you’re in a different country, it’s advisable to always be available for incoming and outgoing communications in case you find yourself lost in unfamiliar grounds.

-Camera

Of course, visiting a tropical country on your dream holiday is not complete without your camera. With social media readily available for you to share your adventures, this particular gadget continues to be a travel necessity, so you can post your favorite views and moments real-time.

-Power bank

The lifesaver of the new generation. If you have this on your travel, you don’t have to worry about low or empty batteries for your smartphones. Just make sure it’s fully charged before your every adventure; believe us, it’s a great help if you like documenting your travels.

4. Clothes

We’re not going to list three clothing items in this part but instead give you a piece of advice- it’s all about layering. Tropical countries like the Philippines experience mostly hot or humid weather but when you’re staying somewhere in the rural areas where the great beaches usually are, it could get pretty cold at night even without air conditioning. Our suggestion? Learn to layer clothes. Bring summer clothes, of course, like tank tops, swimsuits, and shorts but don’t forget to pack light cardigans, leggings, or jogging pants when the nights prove to be a little cooler than usual.

So, there you go! Make sure to check this list out every time you’re about to take on a new tropical country and remember, the best way to maximize your vacation is to always be prepared no matter the situation.

Viva Visayas- 4 must-see destinations in Central Philippines

There’s more to the Philippines than the picture-perfect seascapes of Boracay and Palawan. In fact, more and more travel writers are becoming gateways to the world as they beautifully narrate their adventures in this amazing archipelago. The great thing about this country is that with over 7,000 islands, you will surely find the kind of escape you are looking for. So how about experiencing four amazing islands in the Visayas, in just 8 days? Some may say it’s crazy, but we say it’s possible! To help you fully appreciate the beauty of this country, let’s go on a wild ride through Cebu, Panglao, Bohol, and Siquijor.

First stop- Cebu

It only makes sense to start this tropical escapade in the Queen City of the South. This part of Visayas is like a bite-sized version of the country’s capital Manila with its electricity but with an additional serving of mother nature’s best creations. So, if you the vacation of your dreams is a perfect combination of the pulsating city life and the quaint charm in the arms of amazing oceans, then Cebu is the place to be.

We’ve done a few articles highlighting the many destinations you should experience in Cebu. For places that are rich in history, you definitely should pay a visit to Magellan’s Cross which Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan erected to commemorate the conversion of King Humabon of Cebu and his Queen, son and daughters, together with some of 800 of their subjects to Christianity. Another historical site worth visiting is the Minor Basilica of Santo Niño, the home of the original and oldest religious relic in the Philippines in honor of the Holy Child Jesus.

Of course, you can’t leave Cebu and move on to the next destination without treating yourself to an actual magnificent tropical getaway. The seascapes here are incredible with marine life that would definitely make you want to stay underwater. Our recommendation- Tingko Beach, Mactan Island, and Malapascua.

Second stop- Panglao

The beautiful Central Philippines is located in the north Bohol Sea and is home not just to breathtaking white-sand beaches but also to gorgeous terrains like mountains, hills, and limestone formations. Out of all the many islands that make Panglao (like Gak-ang, Pontod, and Balicasag), the most popular is Alona Beach, recognized for its white sand and pristine waters. This island is also perfect for travelers looking to take their adventure travel to the next level through water activities such as scuba diving, dolphin watching, snorkeling, and island hopping. In fact, around 250 new species of crustaceans, as well as 2500 new mollusks species, were found around the island, this discovery actually revealed that Panglao has more marine biodiversity compared to the Mediterranean Sea and Japan.

Third stop- Bohol mainland

Now, we go to the mainland of, an island province filled with natural wonders. Yes, Panglao does the fair share of bringing in tourists to this destination but Bohol mainland is known for its lush forests and white-sand beaches, and more importantly for the majestic Chocolate Hills.

The Chocolate Hills makes for some breathtaking landscape views you would ever see in your lifetime and what makes it even more amazing is the many stories and legends that surround it; one of which is of two giants in a battle throwing boulders at each other. But this place is just the tip of the iceberg that is Bohol because you still have those cute bug-eyed tarsiers, the delectable local delicacies, the historical attractions, and the white-sand beaches to see and experience.

If you want your #SummerGoals achieved, Bohol is definitely a place to visit because you will go back home with a suitcase filled with unforgettable adventures.

Last stop- Siquijor

Known for being a place of mystery and magic, Siquijor is a must-visit destination for those who are after a truly unique tropical adventure travel. If you’re up for it, you could time your vacation to witness their festivals which focus on rituals of healing. On these local occasions, incantations are being sung while the elders brew potions made out of herbs, insects, tree barks, and roots. In fact, if you’re lucky, a few locals would gladly share legends of witchcraft on the island.

But stories of wizardry are not just what makes Siquijor a must-experience destination; it has plenty of natural wonders that would make any traveler come back time and again. With a 102-kilometer coastline of white-sand beaches, it comes as no surprise that Siquijor is home to some of the best diving spots in the Philippines. It also has caves, waterfalls, a natural park, and a butterfly sanctuary.

Ready to take on these four amazing islands? Check out the eight-day tour of Central Philippines our travel partner has for you and start booking your flight for another summer to remember!

5 Travel hacks when travelling to Southeast Asia

Sunny days, white sand beaches, diverse marine life, interesting culture, accommodating locals and delectable food! Southeast Asia is the paradise on Earth where many tourists flock each year to the thousand islands searching for the ultimate Asian adventure. No matter how much you search for flights and accommodations, you’ll always be behind in preparation until you get there. Here are some of the best travel hacks to save you the trouble as you explore South East Asia.

1. Pack as light as possible

Travelling as light as possible not only saves you money on luggage fees but also lightens your actual travelling process. Frequent travelers tend to carry two bags – one for clothes and a slightly smaller one for airport essentials and toiletries. Before starting your journey, make a list of the things you’ve brought so you could check everything before you return home. Everyone knows the rolling clothing trick, but don’t forget to use vacuum seal bags or ziplock bags. It would allow to use every nick and cranny of your suitcase and at the same time, make your things more organized.

2. Travel during the Shoulder season

The monsoon season, usually from June to October, are most commonly avoided by rookie traveler. Little did they know that during that season, you could easily haggle for lower prices on accommodation, transport, and activities. It will certainly rain from time to time during the monsoon season but it won’t hinder the experience to seeing the astonishing beauty present throughout Southeast Asia, plus you’ll get to save some bucks along the way.

3. Book Flight connections wisely

One of the most common mistakes first-time travelers make is that they add too much on their itinerary leaving no time for unprecedented events. Southeast Asia is full of islands, mostly reachable through diverse modes of transportations such as airplanes, buses or boats but it doesn’t mean it can be easily accessed. It will take hours and hours before you can get to your uninhabited destination. And you also have to factor out schedule delays which is very common in Southeast Asia.

4. Bring skin protection

Take note that you are travelling to a tropical destination, surrounded by lush forests, rice fields, rivers, and mountains.  Protect your skin from the sun as well possible insect bites by buying a good and efficient sunscreen and insect repellent.

5. Take your time

Spending more time in a foreign country may require bigger budget. But it doesn’t need to be expensive if you research and plan well. Inquire with tourism information offices or check with travel websites and blogs for tips and recommendations. Make sure to spend enough time to immerse yourself with a culture you could only search about on the internet before. Learning more about the locals and savoring the beauty found nowhere else is undoubtedly priceless.

Ready to embark on a new tropical vacation? Choose among our 7,641 islands – from our multi-awarded destinations like Palawan, Boracay, and Cebu to the best-kept hidden gems such as Banaue, Albay, or Vigan.

Contact our travel experts to help you plan your adventure!

Philippines: Where to scuba dive

The Philippines is known not just for the hospitality of the Filipino people but also its islands that make up some of the world’s best tropical destinations for dream holidays. Being an archipelago allowed this country to continuously capture the attention of tourists on a global scale with its breathtaking beaches, scuba dive spots and other natural wonders.

Of course, when it comes to booking a flight and spending a few well-deserved holidays to get your dose of vitamin sea, you’d probably want to create some new memories through adventures you either haven’t done before or want to do again. One of these sought out water thrills that consistently entices the market is scuba diving. Through this, you won’t just enjoy the clear blue waters of the sea, but you actually get to experience it while being introduced into this wonderful country’s underwater riches. To help you out, we’ve listed the top three must-visit dive destinations for your next tropical vacation:

1. Tubbataha Reef, Puerto Princesa

Scuba diving in the Tubbataha Reef in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is something you would surely not want to miss. Here, you can experience the ocean in multi-colors of marine biodiversity especially since Tubbataha Reef is part of what is called the Coral Triangle.

The Coral Triangle is globally-recognized as the center of marine life making up 75% of the world’s coral species and 40% of the world’s reef fish. Scientists who have been studying and visiting Tubbataha since the 1980s have found that this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to over 359 species of corals, over 600 species of fishes, 14 species of sharks, 12 species of dolphins and whales. If you’re all about coral gardens, then you won’t be disappointed as the reefs boast of an amazing 100-meter perpendicular wall, two coral islands, and a few extensive lagoons. You can also expect to see over a hundred bird species, including migratory birds.

The best time to visit Tubbataha for a dive is during mid-March to mid-June and is reachable only by boat leaving from Puerto Princesa’s harbor at sunset for a 10 to 12-hour journey arriving at this marine sanctuary by sunrise.

2. Monad Shoal, Cebu

Considered as the number one dive site in Malapascua, Cebu, Monad Shoal is the only place in the whole world where divers can witness Thresher Sharks in their natural habitat. But there is more to this underwater island than that. Since Monad Shoal is part of the Coral Triangle as well, this wall is a marine protected area making it possible for visitors to still see its soft coral species as well as other pelagics fishes like Manta Rays. Critter lovers will also have a good time diving in Monad Shoal is home to various species of Nudibranchs, Mantis Shrimps, and Pygmy Seahorses, among others.

If you’re into underwater macro photography as well, it’s best to visit this during summer so you won’t have to worry about sudden rains ruining your plan to scuba dive. Visibility ranges from 10m to 15m, with a maximum depth of 24m. Currents can be strong but if you are an experienced diver, you’ll surely enjoy the waters.

One final word of advice, make sure not to sleep too late the night before so you can witness the magnificent Thresher sharks at early in the morning, which usually requires a 5 a.m. departure from Malapascua.

3. Panglao Island, Bohol

In Bohol, besides the world-famous Chocolate Hills, adventurers can also enjoy scuba diving at Panglao Island with an area that stretches to over 94 kilometers. Inside this island lies one of Bohol’s treasured beaches called Alona, popular for its white sand, clear blue waters, and rocky cliffs. Since Alona Beach is situated in close proximity to a house reef, water thrill seekers can expect colorful corals and fishes with or without diving gear. This makes Panglao Island famous for a number of underwater activities such as snorkeling, freediving, and scuba diving.

Alona Beach dive site boasts of colorful species of western clown-anemone fishes, angel fishes, Moorish idols, pufferfishes, and baby barracudas. Night dives are also possible here and is the perfect time to scuba dive if you want to see boxer shrimps, cleaner shrimps, moray eels, and decorator crabs.

Summer in the Philippines usually begins the moment the month of March steps in so if you want to experience this tropical destination has to offer in terms of adrenaline-pumping water activities, then we suggest you book now! If you’re a first time or amateur diver, no worries, Filipinos are known for being warm, welcoming, and accommodating so they’d gladly guide you as you discover the diver in you! Plan your trip with us now!