Travellers looking for an Asian adventure have traditionally visited the popular destinations of Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and China, choosing from any number of pre-organised package tours. With today’s traveller able to make direct arrangements on the internet, less established destinations are increasingly attracting a new group of tourists and the Philippines is one such example of this. Comprising over 7,000 islands, it is home to some of the World’s most breathtaking, undisturbed and fascinating locations for those looking for something a little off the beaten track. Whether it’s scuba diving with Whale Sharks, hiking up volcanoes, exploring underground rivers or simply relaxing on picture perfect white beaches, there is something for everyone and yet, it still remains one of the most under-advertised destinations in SE Asia.
Getting to the Philippines has never been easier with an ever-increasing domestic and international network of airlines operating to and from various regional airports. Manila International Airport is the country’s official main airport with Clark International, adjacent to Angeles City, fast becoming a popular alternative. As from 1 October 2013, Emirates (international carrier for United Arab Emirates) is adding daily flights in/out of Clark International with other airlines expressing their intention to follow.
Once in the Philippines, there are a number of larger bus operators running between major towns and cities throughout the day and night. Travel rates are cheap and those looking for an authentic experience can even opt for the more basic local services which don’t include aircon although in the height of Summer, this may be too much even for the experienced! Hop-on/ hop-off jeepneys provide in-town transportation along all major routes or motorbike trikes can be picked up from any street kerb but travellers are reminded to negotiate rates before setting off.
With the additional influx of visitors, real estate developers have reacted quickly and the skylines of Manila, Cebu and Angeles City are now home to beautiful, western style condominium developments for foreigners at price ranges to suit all budgets. Investors need to tread carefully before buying a condo in the Philippines as there are very specific limits and rules regarding foreign ownership of real estate. A really useful guide which every foreigner contemplating buying a condominium should read is Mike Williams’ aptly named “A Foreigner’s Guide to Buying a New Condominium in the Philippines”, available from www.foreignerscondos.com. Amongst other topics, the guide covers the applicable laws, rules & regulations, permits and the sales process together with setting out practical tips for helping choose the right developer.
With a cool drink in hand and the sun setting on the horizon, those who have made the effort to visit this amazing country will surely wonder how much longer the Philippines will remain one of Asia’s best kept secret destinations.