In the fabulous Philippines you can enjoy incredible food, unique wellness techniques and some of the best diving opportunities in the world.
With white sand bays and warm azure waters, it’s no surprise that the sun-kissed Philippines has been embraced by beach lovers. But the nation – made up of more than 7,000 paradise islands – is home to so much more than that. Its diverse cuisine, sprawling fields, incredible diving spots and welcoming people make it one of the top destinations in the world to visit in 2019. Here we share some of the highlights.
Made up of 144 distinct ethno-linguistic groups, diverse and delicious Filipino food is increasingly well known. Last year, the late chef and food writer Anthony Bourdain described the cuisine as the next big food trend, and travellers are now seeking out authentic dining experiences when visiting the country. The region of Pampanga, known as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, is a great place to start. Here, you will find sinigang, Filipino comfort food at its best. A delicious tamarind, tomato, garlic and onion broth, it is made up of okra, aubergine, chilli and pork on the bone, and is usually served with white rice, a ubiquitous part of Filipino food.
The area is also home to the colourful halo-halo, a multi-coloured dessert, which translates as ‘mixed together’, and is made up of a range of ingredients, such as sweetened beans, coconut juliennes and sago. Perhaps best known, however, is the food of Bicol, where dishes are cooked with gata (coconut milk) and a bunch of sili (chilis). Bicol express is a mixture of pork and bagoong (fish paste), which is enjoyed across the country and beyond.
In the Philippines, there are also many opportunities to learn more about food culture, through farm to table tourism. From milkfish catching to fruit picking and vegetable harvesting in Capiz, Iloilo and Tagaytay, visitors are able to enjoy the calmness and simplicity of provincial life. The nation’s tropical climate means fruit is abundant: you can pick strawberries in La Trinidad, Benguet; oranges in Sagada, Mountain Province; raspberries in Dolores, Quezon, and much more.
Wellness and adventure
The Philippines now boasts more luxurious spa resorts than ever, but wellness is deeply rooted in the county’s history, with a number of ancient techniques available to visitors. These include hilot, a natural Filipino healing art aimed at correcting body imbalances, easing stress and tackling muscle tension. There’s also the kawa treatment, a unique hot bath experience in which guests sit inside a giant cauldron. Tibiao, located in the province of Antique, in the Western Visayas of the Philippines, is famous for this relaxing and reenergising treatment.
The Philippines also offers some of the best diving opportunities in the world, with the chance to see all sorts of weird and wonderful underwater creatures, and even shipwrecks. Given the vast number of sites, divers of all levels, from beginners to experts, can enjoy the Philippines from below water level. There is an incredible amount of wildlife to be seen, including sea turtles, thresher sharks and pygmy seahorses, squid, octopus and Napoleon wrasse. Dauin, in the province of Negros Oriental, offers some of the best muck diving anywhere – that is, diving in muddy environments – where there is the chance to see cuttlefish, frogfish and blue ring octopus.
For more, download the Visit Philippines app or visit itsmorefuninthephilippines.co.uk