The Philippines offers the better-funded traveller excellent holiday destinations and unforgettable activities, with the high standard of English, food and service in the more expensive establishments making the country an easy place to relax. It is not a country that can be recommended to budget travellers, as the standard of the food and accommodation such travellers can afford is lower than elsewhere in SE Asia.
Recommended activities in the Philippines are all water-sports, island-hopping, golf and volcano-trekking.
When island-hopping, be aware that the safety standards of Filipino ferries vary greatly: most years hundreds if not thousands of people drown in avoidable ferry accidents. The traveller is advised not to place his or her trust in others’ judgements: either count the life jackets or fly.
Manila is only enjoyable when cosseted in thick layers of 5-star insulation. Cebu/Mactan is better, but still has nothing much to offer outside the luxury establishments. Davao and Subic Bay are relics from when too many GI’s didn’t bother to say ‘please’ and are best avoided. Puerto Galera’s concrete-covered beaches and foul food justify its decline over recent years.
Bohol/Panglao is an up-and-coming destination, with serenity, unspoiled reefs and interesting attractions. Maybe the most exciting outdoor experience for the over-50’s in the whole of SE Asia is to snorkel with whale sharks off Donsol Island. The Philippines has lots of beautiful volcanoes and mountains to climb. Alternatively, the less energetic might prefer to meander through the improbable-looking Banaue rice terraces, surely a candidate for the eighth wonder of the world . Boracay retains its charm, but make sure you stay at the northern end of White Beach, as elsewhere the island in over-crowded. Palawan is the unspoilt frontier, where tourists are viewed as more than just walking ATM’s and the superb scenery and waters survive relatively intact.
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