Finally. You have saved some money and found a few spare weeks in your calendar. You made the decision to travel to Asia on a once-in-a-lifetime backpacking adventure. You want to experience new things, meet new people, and finally be the crazy traveler making all of your friends at home jealous by posting the most beautiful paradise-like photos on Instagram.
You want to travel to a unique place with diverse landscapes, great beaches, friendly locals. And all of that as budget-friendly as possible.
Well, let me tell ya, you could probably have that kind of experience in many Southeast Asian countries. So which country should you travel to? Vietnam? Thailand? Cambodia?
This post provides you with 11 excellent reasons why you should choose the Philippines and start your extraordinary backpacking adventure there. What are you waiting for?
1. 7107 Islands To Choose From – The Right Mix
The Philippines are made up of more than 7000 islands.
They range from small, palm-fringed patches in the ocean like Siquijor or Siargao to Luzon, the country’s largest island.
And these islands have it all: mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, rice fields, beaches and coral reefs.
So, don’t let the gorgeous beaches blind you, otherwise, you’ll miss on all the other astonishing things to see in this incredibly diverse island world.
By the way, following this Philippines Itinerary will help you cover all the highlights of the central Philippines in only two weeks.
2. Surreal Landscapes
The different landscapes in the Philippines are incredibly beautiful.
Whether it’s the bizarre rock formations and lagoons in the Barcuit Archipelago in Palawan, the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the UNESCO rice terraces in North Luzon or the exotic beaches in Negros or South Luzon, the landscapes in the Philippines are even more beautiful than portrayed on all those photos across Instagram.
3. Scuba Diving Mecca
Speaking of landscapes, the underwater scenery in the Philippines is one of the best in the world.
The Philippines are surrounded by more than 26.000 square kilometers of coral reef, most of which is still pretty healthy and rich in marine life.
The dive sites are plentiful and diverse. From wreck diving to shark diving and coral wall diving, the Philippines are every diver’s dream.
While scuba diving can be enjoyed all over the Philippines, two of the country’s top dive sites are:
Apo Reef in the waters of Occidental Mindoro and the South China Sea, which is the largest atoll-type reef in the country. And Tubbataha Reef, which is located off the beautiful island of Palawan in the waters of the Sulu Sea and home to no less than 600 species of fish. Both of the sites are somewhat difficult to get to (especially Tubbataha Reef has to be done on a liveaboard).
Nevertheless, many other dive sites are equally beautiful and worth checking out. Plus those dive sites are a lot easier to incorporate in any Philippines backpacking trip.
Some of my favorites include dive sites in Siquijor as well as in Panglao – both islands are located in the Visayas and can be visited following this backpacking itinerary.
By the way, if you prefer snorkeling, many of the shallow coral reef dive sites are also suitable for snorkeling, such as Siquijor, Panglao or some of the dive sites off of Sipalay, Negros. You can also snorkel with whale sharks in Donsol, South Luzon.
4. Tropical Climate
In the Philippines, there is a tropical climate. Temperatures are high throughout the year and average around 26 to 28 degrees Celsius depending on the region.
The best season to visit the Philippines is from October – April, simply because there is less rain and temperatures are not as humid.
So, if you want to escape European winter, consider backpacking the Philippines during that time.
5. Stunning White Beaches
The Philippines have stunning beaches, which could easily be mistaken for the shores of the Caribbean or South Pacific.
Some of the Philippines’ beaches are consistently among the top 10 beaches in the world. The water is crystal clear, the sand all white and soft as powdered sugar.
There are vibrant, cliché-beautiful beaches like Boracay or El Nido. However, if you’re looking for small hidden bays away from the crowds, head to Siquijor’s Solangon Beach, Panglao’s White Beach, Sipalay’s Sugar Beach and Bantayan’s Bobel Beach.
Especially the smaller beaches with fewer crowds are romantic spots to see the sunset as well.
6. Affordable Backpacking Destination
As a European or North American traveler, the entire Southeast Asia region is incredibly affordable.
Depending on your budget, you can find any accommodation without sacrificing comfort. That said, homestays, guest houses and hostels (even with private double rooms) are available from 10 €, beds in a dorm are usually between 4 – 7 €.
Food is generally pretty cheap, especially if you eat where the locals eat.
Transport can be a bit more expensive, depending on your preferences regarding comfort and convenience. Local buses and local ferries are a lot slower, usually not air-conditioned, though you only pay half the price of what you would be spending by using the more advanced touristy operators.
You can find all kinds of information in this Philippines budget breakdown, in which I reveal exactly how much money I spent on everything during my 2-month backpacking trip in the Philippines.
7. Decent Infrastructure
Getting from one place to another in Southeast Asia is not always easy. While renting a scooter certainly makes sense on some islands, the Philippines are pretty well-connected through a network of local bus lines and ferries.
Public transport is really affordable, especially if using the slow ferries and local chicken buses. However, if you only have limited time in the country, it’s good to know that fast-vessels and air-conditioned coaches are available, too.
On top of that, Air Asia and Cebu Pacific offer daily flights between many of the islands, which makes island-hopping between the Palawan region and the central Philippines very convenient.
Thanks to a tourism boom over the past decade, the Philippines have internationalized and standardized immensely, especially when it comes to accommodations.
They now offer a wide range of accommodation to suit every traveler with every budget.
From 5-star hotels and boutique hostels to homestays on the beach – you’ll find the perfect place to stay on your backpacking trip.
8. Magical Sunsets
Having so many beautiful beaches and islands to choose from, you could easily watch a different sunset every single day of your backpacking holiday.
Watching the sun dip into the ocean is a colorful, free spectacle and best enjoyed with a chilled San Miguel or cocktail in hand.
>> See Also: The Best Beach Sunset Locations In The World
9. Local Culture
No matter where you go in the Philippines, you’ll be greeted with a big smile. Filipinos are very friendly, polite, and helpful people.
Scams are not as common as in other parts of Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam. In fact, locals in the Philippines would often go the extra mile just to make sure you’re having a good time.
Also, they are happy and grateful people. While our Western mindset is usually all about thinking ahead, planning and prearranging our life, the Filipinos are truly seizing the moment. Try to get in that lifestyle a little bit and take some of that home with you.
Last but not least, communication is not difficult as most of the locals speak decent English.
10. Thrilling Adventures
Looking for an adrenaline-filled backpacking trip that you’ll never forget? Well, the Philippines have got you covered.
The most popular adventures you certainly won’t forget:
Go ziplining on Las Cabanas Beach in Palawan
Jump into a jungle waterfall on a liana like Tarzan in Siquijor
Go on an overnight hiking adventure near Barlig in North Luzon
Get a tribal tattoo from Whang-Od in the mountain region of Buscalan
Snorkel with thousands of sardines off the coast of Moalboal
Go canyoneering in Kawasan Falls in Cebu
Explore the UNESCO Underground River near Sabang in Palawan
Go scuba diving with thresher sharks in Malapascua
Get to know the tarsiers in Bohol
Climb Mt. Kanlaon, an active volcano, in Negros
11. Off-The-Beaten-Path Experiences & Exotic Places
This might be one of the most significant advantages of backpacking in the Philippines.
Many people find themselves wondering which Southeast Asian country they should travel.
While large parts of Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia have become very touristy over the past ten years, the Philippines are not quite as packed with tourists yet.
Nevertheless, some hotspots have already formed, for example on Boracay, in El Nido, and on Panglao. However, there are still many authentic corners in the Philippines that are rather untouched by tourism.
Therefore, don’t wait too long to explore this exotic paradise before the crowds are taking over all of the 7107 islands. 🙂