If you follow me on Twitter you’ve probably noticed my excitement for my upcoming trip to… PARADISE! Yes, I’m going there. Paradise. Me, me me! So, where is this paradise of yours, you ask? Let me take you away to a place where the sun is always shining, the water is crystal clear, the sand is warm and white, the surroundings are lush and green, and your home away from home is overlooking all of this. Perfect right? Say hello to the Philippines! As the Rough Guide (2014) describes it:
Home to idyllic white-sand beaches, lush jungle-covered wildernesses and – in its warm, inviting waters – an astonishing array of marine life, the Philippines is one of Southeast Asia’s most beguiling destinations.
Most travellers to Asia overlook the Philippines as a trip destination, and I have to be honest, it wasn’t really on my radar either, which is a total shame. Okay, since we’re being completely honest here… The main reason the Philippines came on the list for our January 2015 trip was because I secretly wanted to go back to Hong Kong and my man wanted to go somewhere sunny, and I remembered my bro and his girl did a stopover in HK when they visited friends in Manila. “Honey… What do you think of the Philippines..?”. And a perfect trip combo was born!
Picture Perfect Palawan
The Philippines is actually an archipelago that consists of over 7000 islands (maybe even more, depending on what you count as an island). And although I would love to explore the entire archipelago due to time (and funds) restraints we’re sticking to just the capital Manila, and pristine island Palawan.
Palawan is the fifth-largest island of the Philippines and for some reason it is one of the less explored islands. Most visitors go to touristy Boracay, only 350km south of Manila, for white beaches ánd a bustling nightlife. Since Palawan is just as close to Borneo as it is to Manila it is more of a hassle to get there. But when you do… It is soooooo worth it! It has lush green and thick jungle, rugged and sharp limestone cliffs, enchanting lagoons, secret beaches and inviting warm waters. If you’re looking for that real Robinson Crusoe vibe (yes, please!), this is the place.
After a few days near Puerto Princesa, the island’s capital, where we’ll explore one of the seven natural wonders of the world – The Underground River – we cross Palawan and head north until we reach the tip of the island: El Nido. This area’s main draw is the Bacuit Archipelago which holds over 45 limestone karst cliffs amidst the most beautiful waters and white sandy beaches. We will be staying at Miniloc Island, one of four eco-resorts of the sustainable El Nido Resorts group, which simply is paradise. And heaven. Absolute heaven.
After our days in tropical paradise Palawan we head back to Manila to explore Asia’s new up and coming must-visit metropolis. Since the Philippines is the only country in Asia that was colonized by the Spanish you’ll find many colonial influences that can make you feel like you’re in Latin America, especially in the old parts of metro Manila. On the other hand Manila is also growing up to be a very cool eclectic and modern Asian capital with an impressive skyline that can give a few capitals a run for their money. I can’t wait to explore!
We end our ignore-winter-go-to-paradise-trip with a week in Hong Kong, which I’m very excited about. When we first visited HK in the summer of 2013 (read more here) I fell under the city’s spell immediately. It has everything you want in a massive metro, but what makes it so magical is the perfect combo of Asian authenticity and chaos, and British heritage and order that can perfectly handle the big city craziness. Next to that it will only take you a short bus ride to escape all this hustle and bustle, and immerse yourself in the beautiful nature Hong Kong has to offer. It has the best of everything and I can’t wait to go back!
So, there you have it: our first trip for 2015. It’s a beauty isn’t it? Guess what Coldplay song has been playing in my head over and over again..?
Para, para, paradise, ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh