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Linda Aksomitis at the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines.

Linda Aksomitis at the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines.

The Philippines have so much to offer visitors, it’s no surprise tourism is one of the major industries. Between the friendliness of the people and the country’s amazing natural wonders, I’ve certainly enjoyed my 10 day visit!

The infographic below, from Beach Resorts Philippines, gives you a basic map of the country along with eight natural wonders. As you might expect of an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands (about 2,000 are inhabited) situated in the tropics, you’ll find lots of opportunities to visit volcanoes, reefs, and amazing beaches.

Infographic: Natural Wonders of the Philippines

Click here for the full-size infographic.

Top Tourist Spots in the Philippines: Natural Wonders

From Visually.

In fact, Condé Nast Traveller magazine has named several of the Philippines beaches to their list of top beaches to visit in the world. El Nido, Palawan, tops their list, with its white sand beaches and clear waters. Others include: Boracay Island, Aklan; Batanes Islands, Batanes; Camiguin Island, Camiguin (where you’ll also find the most volcanoes per square mile of anywhere in the world!); and Malapascua Island, Cebu, just to name a few.

Tips for Visiting the Philippines

International visitors fly into Manila. I flew Philippine Airlines, a direct flight from Vancouver (there are also direct flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles), having connected out of Regina with Air Canada. The seats were comfortable, even in economy class, with sufficient leg room to get comfortable–and seats that reclined a lot better than I’d had on a different airline going to Europe in July.

You’ll likely want to spend a day in Manila before flying on a local airline to experience island life. According to a 2011 Time Magazine report, Manila is the world’s most densely populated city with over 46,000 people per square mile (nearly twice that of New York City). As you might imagine, traffic is insane, although a new Skyway project is improving airport access.

Traffic on the way to the airport includes motorcycles with sidecars, jeepneys, cars, and more.

Traffic on the way to the airport includes motorcycles with sidecars, pedicabs, jeepneys, cars, and more.

Do make sure you stop and withdraw some local money (Pesos) at the airport, though, as taxis don’t take credit cards. According to my taxi driver/guide (locals are always ready to offer to provide you with additional services), in Manila credit cards are only used for major purchases by locals, otherwise it’s cash or debit card. It took me a couple of bank machines to find one that recognized my Canadian credit card (my Royal Bank Visa was the easiest). To be honest, taking U.S. cash is likely your best option for daily spending as it’s very easy to exchange at a variety of places, and one small town in the Northern mountains even took U.S. cash as payment for me to buy souvenirs.

I stayed at two different hotels in Manila, one before my trip to Banaue in the mountains of Ifugao (see the infographic above for its Northern location), and one after. Both were great, depending on your budget.

The first, the Diamond Hotel, was 5-star and very upscale (and the closest to the PICC Conference Center where I was teaching a workshop at the TBEX travel bloggers conference).

The second, the Belmont Hotel, was near the airport, and very comfortable. In addition to a full range of services, it offered a free two-block long shuttle ride in a jeepney to Resorts World (The Belmont is actually one of four hotels that are affiliated with the resort, including the Marriott), which has exclusive shops and a casino.

Jeepney to Resorts World in Manila

Jeepney to Resorts World in Manila

39 and Holding Bucket List Activities

If you’re 39 and holding, you’ll be able to stroke lots of things off your bucket list after a visit to enjoy the natural wonders of the Philippines!

And of course, there are some pretty amazing hikes, waterfalls, beaches, and lots of bird watching sites if your bucket list isn’t on the extreme side.

Whatever you’d like to do, as they say, it’s more fun in the Philippines!