Owing to its natural beauty, the Philippines is considered to be the Pearl of the Orient Seas. It regularly finds itself on top of the lists of places to visit in the world.
It makes you wonder why Filipinos go to other countries in search of that best vacation experience. Not only does the archipelago boasts of its unique tourist spots, but there are also places in the Philippines that replicate destination wonders around the globe.
This list will show you how to tour around the world in the Philippines. Experience Europe, Africa, and the rich culture of Asia without having to leave the country.
1. Experience “Brazil” in Tarlac through The Risen Christ Statue
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Brazil’s Cristo Redentor or Christ the Redeemer is on top of Mount Corcovado. There it stands like a sentry, watching the hustle and bustle in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
A similar and magnificent statue of Christ may is on top of Mount Resurrection in San Jose, Tarlac. The Risen Christ Statue exudes the same grandeur and holiness as the Cristo Redentor. It watches over the town at the foot of the mountain as if it were its guardian.
The Risen Christ is in Monasterio de Tarlac, where a famous sacred relic of Jesus Christ’s cross is enshrined. Several pilgrims visit the monastery to find solace and enter into meditation. Tourists may also connect with nature and take lots of selfies with the mountainous view on top of Mount Resurrection.
2. Taste the flavors of “Japan” in Makati City’s Little Tokyo
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Japan is on top of the list of countries Filipinos want to visit. With the presence of popular anime, cosplay conventions, and Japanese cuisine such as ramen, Japan’s influence in the Philippines is undeniably luxurious.
If you’re looking to experience Japan in the city, look no farther because Makati’s Little Tokyo can surely satisfy your taste buds. Little Tokyo is on Chino Roces Avenue along Pasong Tamo Exit corner Amorsolo Street.
Little Tokyo is a small Japanese community, where several restaurants can be found. Places such as Seryna serves bento lunch meals for PhP350, and Kaisen Gozen—a bento box-full of mixed sashimi tempura, grilled tuna, and sushi rice.
Go international and experience Japan’s culture in the Philippines’ backyard in Makati City.
3. Go Island hopping in “Vietnam” in Bacuit Bay, El Nido, Palawan
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Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994, Halong Bay is a body of crystal clear water dotted by towering limestone pillars and islets in Northern Vietnam.
Rivaling the limestone islets of Halong Bay, Bacuit Bay’s limestone and marble cliffs, aquamarine waters, and surrounding lush forests is truly a paradise for adventure seekers and nature-lovers.
Bacuit Bay is in El Nido, Palawan, which is arguably one of the most visited sites in the Philippines next to Boracay.
Bacuit Bay offers several sites that tourists can discover and visit. One of which is the Island of Cadlao where its highest peak is located. Cadlao Island also offers white beaches, snorkeling spots, and plentiful marine life. Scientists and researchers flock all year-round in islands such as this to study the animal and plankton kingdom.
If you’re looking for serenity similar to Halongin Bacuit Bay, you may visit the glorious island of Miniloc where a private island resort awaits through an underwater tunnel.
Meanwhile, there are also resorts in Pangulasian Island in Bacuit Bay such as the Eco-Luxury resort, if you want to relax and take a break from all the island hopping.
With a few more added attractions and luxury activities, Bacuit Bay doesn’t fall short, in terms of giving you a rich and authentic Vietnamese experience.
4. Run with the wind in “New Zealand” in Sabtang Island, Batanes
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If you’re a fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, then the lush, fertile green fields of the Shire can be seen at the Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand. The Shire’s Hilly terrain is peppered by tunnel houses where the hobbits, like Bilbo Baggins, live.
In Batanes’ equally magical Sabtang Islands resides the humble and resilient Ivatans. Unlike the hobbits, their houses are propped up on the ground and built entirely with stones. These symbolize the people’s strength of mind and fortitude.
Sabtang is one of Batanes' ten islands accessible via a faluwa or a traditional Ivatan boat. One New Zealand-like destination in Sabtang Island is the Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint which is an austere green hilly pasture facing the West Philippine Sea. If you’re in search of happiness after a tumultuous break-up or away from your toxic job, then these Pacific fields are perfect for your soul-searching.
One jeepney ride away is the Sabtang Island Lighthouse where you can view the turbulent waters of the sea and feel the sea breeze lift you ever so lightly. At night, you can stay in one of the stone houses in Savidug Village where you can experience lodging in a traditional Ivatan house. The village is also abundant in seafood such as dibang—a migratory flying fish that is a well-known delicacy in Batanes.
Sabtang Island is only one of the many islands in Batanes where you can experience New Zealand in the Philippines.
5. Frolic at the beach in “The Bahamas” in White Beach, Boracay
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Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas, is home to at least ten white sand beaches which tourists can choose from, depending on the type of activity they want to do. Nassau is also a busy city bustling with life, thanks to the influx of tourists.
If you’re yearning for the beach getaway, The Philippines' very own Bahamas is, of course, Boracay with its magnificent and globally famous White Beach.
Boracay, like the Bahamas, offers quality accommodations at a very affordable price. If you’re not a beach person or not into nightlife culture, there are plenty of other things that you and your travel companions can do in Boracay. Meanwhile, those on a budget will be surprised that there are still tons of things you can do in Boracay, which demonstrates how versatile and accommodating Aklan is.
6. Go shopping on a boat in “Bangkok” in Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi.
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Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is one of the many places in Bangkok where you can buy items while riding a boat. Aside from this fluvial shopping experience, you can go on a boat tour or experience local Thai cuisine at nearby floating restaurants.
Sitangkai, known as the Venice of the South, is home to Tawi-Tawi’s own floating market. Like the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market of Thailand, Sitangkai offers fresh produce and a wide array of seafood. The most popular of which is their Carrageenan seaweeds, locally known as agar-agar.
But unlike Khlong Lat Mayom which hosts business establishments, Sitangkai is riddled with residential structures. The houses in Sitangkai are propped up from the water via large stilts. These houses are called Parian, where the Badjaos or locals reside.
Sitangkai does not only offer tourists the unique experience to shop for goods in a boat, but it also allows Filipinos to discover the culture and tradition of the Badjaos, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Philippines’ diverse tourist spots may seem to mimic other places of the world, but the local places on this list each have their distinct charm, enriched by the tradition and culture of the Filipino people.
Hopefully, these destinations will inspire you to explore and appreciate the places in your backyard before venturing out of the country.