If you’re like the average Filipino, you most likely have a long bucket list of must-see destinations. Perhaps you dream of hassle-free trips, spending a week or two in the coastal town of Byron Bay in New South Wales, soaking in the sun and sniffing that smell of sea salt in your hair for days.
But, then, you return to reality, remembering the things you have to go through before actually getting your feet on that fine, white sand, a.k.a. the time-consuming and tedious visa application process.
Don't give up on your #TravelGoals just yet. For Philippine passport holders, believe it or not, there are plenty of choices for you. If you’re wondering just how many countries are visa-free for Philippine passport holders, there are over 70 of them. In almost every continent, you’ll find at least one destination that doesn’t require that prized entrance pass. Here are some of those visa-free countries for Filipinos worth adding to your Travel Bucket List:
1. Barbados, North America
2. Brazil, South America
3. Cambodia, Asia
4. Fiji, Oceania
5. Morocco, Africa
Let’s explore them one by one:
1. North America: Barbados
Perfect for: Nature lovers and beach bums
The allowed maximum length of stay: 90 days
Photo courtesy of elly h via Unsplash
It’s not surprising that Barbados is among the top-visited visa-free countries of Philippine citizens. When people talk about this destination, three S’s come to mind: sea, sun, and sand. Make that one more S for "sizzling" given that Rihanna–the queen of fashion, beauty, and music–was born in this gorgeous island country.
If you choose to travel to this beautiful tourist attraction, visit its different beaches. Try surfing at Bathsheba Beach which offers incredible waves for beginners and seasoned surfers, alike. The entrance is free. You can also drop by Dover Beach. Unlike the former, the currents in this tourist spot aren’t too strong; so you can very well enjoy a warm and peaceful swim. There’s also the option to jet ski and windsurf if you’re into the more vigorous types of activity. With these enticing nature-loving activities, Barbados definitely takes top priority on the list of visa-free countries for Philippine passport holders.
In terms of food to try, you can’t miss the national dish called cou cou, a flying fish meal. Made of cornmeal grain, fresh onion, tomatoes, and pepper, it’s indeed a hearty treat. Get a taste of the fish cakes, too. The deep-fried salted fish snack, drenched in local herbs and spices, is available almost anywhere–from five-star restaurants and hotels–to food stalls on the streets.
2. South America: Brazil
Perfect for: Adventure seekers and daredevils
The allowed maximum length of stay: 90 days
Photo courtesy of photo-nic.co.uk nic via Unsplash
Brazil is famous for its beautiful landscapes and rich biodiversity. Additionally, its tourist spots are popular for adrenaline-rush activities. Take, for instance, Rio de Janeiro. This city is one of the most amazing sights in the country. The best way to look at it? From a bird’s eye view.
Adrenaline junkies hang-glide over the city to appreciate its beauty. The activity ranges from USD150-200 (roughly Php7,500-10,500). Another hub for adventure sports is the Alto Ribeira Tourist State Park. Here, you can hike and trek, buoy cross, camp, and explore caves. It’s one place that makes Brazil one of the best, must-visit visa-free countries for Filipinos this 2019. A word of caution when engaging in too many activities: discuss with your partner or peers what exactly you plan to do, way before the trip. It pays to set their expectations.
You can’t leave Brazil without having a taste of their famous moqueca, a seafood stew cooked with diced tomatoes, coconut milk, coriander, and onions. Brigadeiros, the Brazilian version of chocolate truffles, are also a must-try. They're made of condensed milk mixed with cocoa powder and butter and topped with chocolate sprinkles. This, alone, should be enough to get you packing and taking advantage of that visa-free access.
3. Asia: Cambodia
Perfect for: Cultural explorers, history buffs, and live-like-a-local tourists
The allowed maximum length of stay: 30 days
Photo courtesy of Taylor Simpson via Unsplash
In Cambodia, be ready to put on your culture hat as you spend a day or two at the Angkor Archaeological Park. At this site, you’ll have access to ancient places of worship and majestic relics and monuments. It’s like a real-life Temple Run.
If you’re the type of Filipino who’s deeply spiritual, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy your time here. Prepare USD37.00 (roughly PhP2,000.00) for a one-day pass. After your trip to prehistoric structures, extend your cultural expedition to rural Cambodia. Stay for a day or two at Koh Dach, a town outside the city popularly known as Silk Island. You will be greeted with lush, sprawling landscapes here. Everywhere you look, you will see silk weavers, ready to lend you a smile. A lot of Philippine passport holders and tourists love to stay here because they’re able to connect with locals more meaningfully. Make it a priority to include this in your itinerary planning for a stress-free vacation.
As for treats for the tummy, go for street food. Try lok lak, stir-fried meat paired with fresh cucumber, onion, and tomatoes, then seasoned with lime juice. You can eat this in true Cambodian fashion: in a crispy lettuce wrap. Of course, you can’t miss amok, their national seafood dish. This is a curry mixed with amok leaves, coconut milk, lemongrass, and chili. It’s usually served in a banana leaf. If ever you find yourself longing for home, though, some street vendors sell balut. Go try the Cambodian version.
4. Oceania: Fiji
Perfect for: Soul-searching and rest-and-recreation retreaters
The allowed maximum length of stay: 120 days
Photo courtesy of James Coleman via Unsplash
Fiji is famous for its palm-tree-filled beaches and crystal clear lagoons. What’s most interesting about this country is that it’s teeming with 333 tropical islands. This makes it perfect if you are craving peace and quiet brought by the calming blue seas.
The Mamanucas are arguably the most popular vacation spots; and Monuriki, an islet in it, is the picturesque gem you cannot visit. It’s uninhabited; so you can experience the realness and rawness of island life when you spend a day or two here. This is the perfect destination when you want to hit pause on the busyness and stress of life, get buried in a book, or simply watch the sights of blues and greens around you. If you’re on a budget vacation, you can opt for dorms as accommodations and then just pick up food at the main island market. You’ll spend about USD80-90 (roughly PhP4,000-5,000) for this. Don’t forget your flight miles, as well; this will greatly reduce your travel costs.
When in Fiji, try their raw fish dish called kokoda. It’s fresh fish drenched in lemon or lime juice. It’s usually served in a coconut shell or a pineapple. Make sure to taste rourou, as well. It’s a stew made of coconut milk and dalo or taro leaves. Filipino citizens who have traveled to this part of the world love these delicacies, as they’re a bit reminiscent of local dishes, like kinilaw and laing.
5. Africa: Morocco
Perfect for: Crafts collectors and Instagram junkies
The allowed maximum length of stay: 90 days
Photo courtesy of Sergey Pesterev via Unsplash
The first thing people think of when they hear "Morocco" is the Arabian Nights. This country, though, is more than just a popular folktale. Traveling here, walking along its streets, tasting the local food, and observing the locals will make you realize that their history is very much alive. That’s why this is the ideal destination for Philippine passport holders who like to collect unique stuff as well as tourists who want to preserve their memories in photos and Instagram shots.
That said, explore the famous Casablanca, especially the bustling downtown area. You’ll feel like you stepped into another dimension, as you will be greeted with historic, Art Deco-inspired buildings. Seize these Instagram-worthy moments. Drop by the Blue Village of Chefchaouen, as well, and get your phone camera ready. Of course, make time for Moroccan treats shopping. Visit the Chouara Tannery of Fez for the best leather goods. In the same city, you’ll also find lanterns, rugs and carpets, and pottery famous for their intricate, elaborate details.
As for food, try the popular tagine. This is a chicken or a lamb meal slow-cooked in vegetables and spices. The harira soup is also a must-eat. It’s a tomato-based soup that has chicken, peas, meat, and vegetables. It’s usually paired with bread.
Travelling is fun, yes, but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, especially when you think of the tedious, long wait of a visa application. Just the same, it’s possible to reach your #TravelGoals without that hassle. The easy, obvious fix is to visit visa-free countries. Or, you can go local. Boracay, perhaps? At Alta Vista Boracay, for instance, your vacation will not only be visa-free but also worry-free. Interested? Book a reservation today with us today!