Top Three Reasons to Visit the Philippines (OfficiallyPhilippines.com)

(This feature was published in OfficiallyPhilippines.com last October 31, 2011)

Why should you visit the Philippines?

Compared to its other Asian neighbors, the Philippines is hardly ever top of mind when it comes to the must-visit travel spots in the region. China has its Great Wall, Singapore has its Formula One, Thailand is famous for its fantastic food, and Malaysia is, well, supposedly Truly Asia.

What, then, is the Philippines known for?

Despite its lack of popularity, there are several good reasons why you should pack your bags and book a flight to the so-called Pearl of the Pacific—the Philippines.

Spectacular sights

Although the country does not have any great wall, it is home to the world’s longest underground river—the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also nominated in the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Visitors may take a tour of the underground river and get a glimpse of this natural wonder with their own eyes.

Another must-see place is the Banaue Rice Terraces, which is a 2000-year-old man-made rice field terrace in Northern Luzon. The Ifugao people who were native to the region made this magnificent landscape, which was also included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Throughout the country, there are first-rate beaches worth visiting, one of which is Boracay, which is popular for its powdery white sand beaches and clear blue waters. Those who are into water sports would also enjoy wakeboarding in the world-class wakeboard park in Camarines Sur, or diving in the depths of the Sulu Sea. According to foreign studies, the Philippines is the world’s center of marine biodiversity. It is believed that there are more coral species here compared to the entire Caribbean Sea and the Great Barrier Reef. Imagine the view underwater—it must definitely be worth checking out as well.

Hospitable people

Even if the Philippines is considered a third world country, you will find a lot of people with smiles on their faces here. Filipinos are just plain, happy people. We warmly welcome guests to our home and offer them food—that’s our signature style of greeting. “Kain tayo,” which translates to “Let’s eat,” is a regular phrase that you will most likely hear anytime of day.

Also, even if you are just a friend of a friend, Filipinos will still welcome you in their household if you need a place to stay. It is just innate for the people to be this warm and welcoming.

Shoppers’ paradise

Some people travel to shop, and if that’s the case, then the Philippines should be on the top of your list. Three of the world’s top ten largest malls are in Metro Manila alone. In this capital city, you will find seasonal bazaars, and malls of every kind—from boutique shops to high-end stores. In some shopping places, it is even customary to haggle for the best price. Shoppers of all kinds would surely be pleased with all the options here in the Philippines.

The Philippines really has a lot to offer aside from its spectacular sights, hospitable people, and superb shopping destinations. You just have to go there and see for yourself.