Trip to the Philippines

First things first, we had to figure out when we wanted to travel and how long we would spend in the country. The Philippines has a warm tropical climate all year round, but we wanted to avoid the rainy season and settled on a trip in February, which coincided with the cool and dry season.

Next, we put together a rough itinerary of the places we wanted to visit. We knew we wanted to spend a few days in Manila to explore the city, then make our way to Palawan for some island hopping and finally head up north to Banaue to experience the rice terraces. We did some research to figure out how long to spend in each place and the best way to get around.

Once we had our itinerary in place, we started researching accommodation options. We searched for hotels and hostels that fit our budget and provided easy access to the sights and activities that we wanted to see and do.

One of the most exciting aspects of preparing for the trip was researching the local cuisine. We couldn’t wait to indulge in the delicious food the Philippines has to offer. We looked up popular restaurants and street food vendors to try out during our trip. We also made sure to research the local customs and etiquette to ensure that we were respectful and integrated well with the locals.

Last but not least, we tackled the daunting task of packing. We researched the weather conditions in each place we were visiting and made sure to pack appropriately for each location. We also made a checklist of essential items such as travel documents, medications, and electronic devices to ensure we didn’t forget anything important.

Arriving in the Philippines

Flying into Manila, we were met with a stunning view of the city skyline as we descended. The airport was modern and spacious, and we were happy to find that the immigration and customs process was hassle-free. We found a taxi easily outside the airport and headed straight to our hotel.

The first thing we noticed was how welcoming and friendly the locals were. We were immediately struck by the warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people. Our hotel was in a prime location in the heart of Manila, and we couldn’t wait to explore the city.

Over the next few days, we toured Manila and fell in love with the bustling city. We visited the San Agustin Church, one of the oldest churches in the country, which was built in 1599. We then headed to Fort Santiago, a historical spot where you can see the remnants of the Spanish colonial era.

We indulged in the local cuisine and tried out Jollibee, a popular fast-food chain in the Philippines, and sampled the famous Halo-halo, a dessert made of shaved ice, evaporated milk, and various fruits and sweet toppings. We also enjoyed browsing through the local shops and visiting a few malls, including the Mall of Asia, one of the largest malls in the world.

As we looked ahead to the rest of our journey, we were eager to explore the rest of the country. Over the next few weeks, we would be island hopping in Palawan and trekking through the rice terraces of Banaue. We couldn’t wait to see what other adventures the Philippines had in store for us.

Exploring Manila

One of the highlights of our time in Manila was visiting Intramuros, the walled city within Manila that was built by the Spanish during colonial times. We took a guided tour and learned about the history of the city and saw many iconic spots, including the Manila Cathedral and Casa Manila, a restored Spanish colonial house.

Another must-visit spot in Manila is the National Museum of the Philippines. This massive museum covers art, history, culture, and more, with a wide range of exhibits and collections to explore. We particularly enjoyed the art galleries, which included pieces by famous Filipino artists.

For foodies, Manila is a paradise. We loved sampling the local cuisine, which is a fusion of Filipino, Chinese, and Spanish flavors. We visited popular food spots such as Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown outside of China, and Greenhills, a famous food market with stalls selling Filipino delicacies.

One of the best transportation options in Manila is the jeepney, a unique Filipino mode of transport that is part jeep and part bus. Riding a jeepney is an experience in itself, as they are colorfully decorated and music blares from the speakers. We also took advantage of the train system, which was clean, efficient, and affordable.

Island Hopping in Palawan

Our first stop was El Nido, a pristine coastal town that is known for its limestone cliffs and picturesque beaches. We embarked on an island hopping tour that took us to some of the most stunning spots in El Nido. We visited the Secret Lagoon, where we swam through a narrow opening in the rocks to reach a hidden lagoon, and the Big Lagoon, where we kayaked around towering limestone cliffs.

Our next stop was Coron, where we went on another island hopping tour. Coron is known for its clear waters that are perfect for snorkeling and diving. We visited the Kayangan Lake, a popular attraction that is known as the cleanest lake in Asia. We also visited the Twin Lagoons, where we swam and snorkeled in a lagoon located inside a rocky outcrop.

One of the highlights of our island hopping tour was visiting the small island of Malcapuya. The island is uninhabited, and it felt like we were on our private island. The beach was pristine, and we spent the whole day swimming, snorkeling, and taking in the natural beauty of the island.

The crystal-clear waters of Palawan were perfect for snorkeling, and we were lucky enough to see a variety of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and even a few clownfish. We admired the beauty of the coral reefs and marveled at the vast array of fish swimming around us.

Trekking in the Rice Terraces of Banaue

Our trek began in Banaue, where we were greeted by our knowledgeable guide who shared with us the history and culture of the indigenous people who built the terraces. As we hiked through the terraces, we were in awe of the incredible engineering and agricultural techniques that were used to develop and preserve the fields.

One of the most remarkable sights was the amphitheater-shaped rice terraces, which were built by the Ifugao people. These terraces ascend the mountain in a spiral pattern, with each level providing a unique perspective of the surrounding landscape.

The trek was physically challenging but extremely rewarding. We passed through several small villages and encountered friendly locals who were happy to share their culture with us. We learned about traditional farming practices, the Ifugao way of life, and the importance of the rice terraces in the community.

One of the most memorable experiences during our trek was visiting a local home where we were served a traditional meal cooked on an open fire. This meal included the local staple, rice, as well as other dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, which provided a unique and authentic culinary experience.

At the end of each day, we would retire to our homestay, where we were welcomed by the friendly hosts who treated us like family. Nights were filled with stories, laughter, and cultural exchange, and we felt incredibly grateful to be a part of the community, even if just for a few days.


On our last day in Manila, we took the opportunity to do some last-minute souvenir shopping and visited a few of the spots we missed during our earlier visit. We took one last stroll through the city, taking in the sights and sounds of Manila, and reminisced on all the incredible experiences we had over the past few weeks.

As we packed up our belongings and checked out of our hotel, we felt a sense of sadness to be leaving the Philippines. We had made so many memories, met so many wonderful people, and seen so much beauty. But we also knew that this was only the beginning of our adventures and that there would be many more opportunities to explore new destinations and cultures.

Reflecting back on our trip, we were incredibly grateful for everything the Philippines had to offer. From the warm and friendly locals, the stunning landscapes and natural beauty, to the vibrant culture and delicious cuisine, the Philippines exceeded all of our expectations. We felt humbled by the experiences we had, and we were grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to such a unique and beautiful part of the world.

In conclusion, if you’re considering a trip to the Philippines, I highly recommend it. It’s a destination that will take your breath away and provide memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re interested in exploring the bustling cities or the serene tropical islands, the Philippines offers a variety of experiences for every type of traveler. Overall, our trip to the Philippines was an adventure of a lifetime, and we cannot wait to go back and explore more of this beautiful country.

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