The Philippines is a country in its adolescence and with that its super fun and yet at the same time a giant whack to the senses once you land there. Manila is a loud and boisterous city where lots is happening all of the time; you may have heard that it is a bit much but for travelers with an open mind and spirit there is much to see and enjoy there. The Visayas show off a side of the Philippines that we don’t think about much; its art, antiques and stately suburbs. North Luzon is not to be missed, if you love misty mountains, and who among us does not?
The Philippines is always warm, so the only difference or rather the biggest difference from season to season is about how wet you’re going to get. The monsoon season lasts from May to October and depending on where you are in the country you could be either drenched or just a little damp. However, the remainder of the months are nice and dry and perfect for getting out to the beaches and stuffing your toes into soft (dry) sand.
The capital of this slightly wet, ever-so-gorgeous country is Manila, which can feel like a mash-up of cities at times; one side stuck in a deeply reverent religious space while the other side has thrown caution to the wind, embraced shopping like a drug and the two sides crash into the cacophony that is Manila. Get off the plane, take a deep breath and dive right in - it’s the only way to become one with Manila. The Quiapo Church should be on everyone’s must-see list, if only because of its important to the country’s spiritual world; you can see the Black Nazarene there, which is said to be a miraculous image of Jesus. Several of the countries most important cultural institutions sit in Manila including the National Museum of the Philippines and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, both of which are a must visit to get a real sense of the country’s very different layers.
Walking among the colonial houses of Intramuros is a visual treat – and a photographer’s dream. How stately these homes are, whether crumbling or in fine form. The food is eclectic and tasty in Manila; try the Corner Tree Café for vegetarian food unequalled elsewhere.
The Philippines has a long artistic history and the Visayas holds artifacts and antiques in the Hofilena Ancestral Home that celebrate it. Wonderfully, after soaking up art and culture you can soak up sun and fabulous company at White Beach – the place to truly chill in The Visayas. Walking about the suburbs of La Paz and Jazo will give you insight into how the wealthier Filipinos live, and make you want to join them.
There is a place in North Luzon called Echo Valley where the Applai elders are buried. Their coffins are hung from cliffs of limestone and have been for centuries – this is an astounding site and must be seen to be understood. North Luzon shows how diverse the Philippines truly are, with magical mountains covered with mist, waterfalls nestled in tropical forests and tasty food that you won’t find anywhere else
While many times travellers leave a country with memories of its spaces and places dancing about their brains, more often than not it is the images of the Filipino people and their hospitality that linger after a trip to the Philippines. Don’t be surprised if you are sitting in someone’s home for tea and wondering how you got there, or eating dinner with a group of strangers that will be your friends by evening. Thus is the nature of the Filipino culture, they will make sure you find out about what the country and its people truly have to offer to the open and curious visitor.
The Philippines is a country that warms your heart and brings you a certain peace, if you take your time and do it right.
Airlines serving the route between Australia and the Philippines include Malaysia Airlines, Qantas Airways, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Jetstar Asia, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia, Emirates, Philippine Airlines, Korean Air and Cathay Pacific.
Australia to Philippines
Popular stopovers between Australia and the Philippines include Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Manila, Singapore and Hong Kong.
More information at the Philippines Holidays guide.