Well a friend and I went to Boracay , Cebu and Malapascua Island on a 3 week diving trip last year and I didn't want to come home, we both loved every minute of it so for me I would say it is a must and I am heading off on a 12 month travel starting soon and I am most definitely going back!
The people are some of the most genuine and friendly I have met and will go out of there way to help without wanting a payment. When we went to Boracay they were literally no other westerners on the island and we had the pristine white beach pretty much to ourselves at times. Anyone wanting to dive their I would recommend dive gurus, fantastic people and very experienced instructors, my friend learnt to dive with them and had an amazing experience.
Food wise I don't know where everyone else was eating but Barracuda and marlin steaks for next to nothing money I certainly don't see what is bad about that! If you go to the market you can buy your own fish/lobsters for very cheap and take them to the restaurants and they will cook them for you however you like, fantastic!
We had air con accom private room with bathroom for approx £5 in Boracay, in Malapascua we had our own beach hun which was stunning for about the same price, no air con but if you wet the bedsheets in cold water and put a fan on you don't need.
The flights you can get between islands are about £20, if you can get a boat these are obviously much cheaper, one thing I would say about the boats and you can't blame the locals for doing this, but they will tell you that the boat doesn't go until there are enough people which could take hours, they will then suggest that you can hire the boat yourself, this happened to us a few times and on our first boat journey we fell for it and just wanted to get to our island so we paid £4 to hire the boat, then all the locals piled on before us (they'd been around the corner) and they get a free ride! As a holiday maker I didn't mind as it is still cheap compared to home but we didn't do the same again just smile sweetly and say you'll wait they soon go
I have been to Thailand, Malaysia and Maldives and so this is not my first trip to a beautiful country but I can't recommend it enough, I hope you go and have as brilliant a time as we did
Well, i guess that all of the above mentioned everything that tourists make second thoughts about goin to the phillys. I'd just add some points. I may sound very selfish, but to some extent, take this from a person who loves the philippines and a few of earth's last edens, I'd rather see the phillys more isolated and preserved than say, thailand has been devastated by tourists both the insane and the trolls. I consider it as a natural blessing to be isolated in the backpacking circuit away from hoards of western tourists roaming around SEA. I don't even care about thailand's accomplishments for its tourism, as a matter of fact, its even pitiful because they're luring more idiots, and they are out there in bangkok, phuket, koh blah blah blah, etc. I guess if exploitation of natural treasures will be the consequence of tourism, then, the phillys will be another sad story on earth, take thailand.
It's good to hear that tourists in the phillys is growing in a modest rate but see to it that those coming in are the sane ones and not the idiots coming from say, thailand.
I don't care about easy accessibility and transportation, I kinda care less because I love being out of my comfort zone knowing that its the real 'off the beaten track' experience i'd gonna be. and i do agree in one of the posters here, going to the phillys is the 'real traveling' and not for the fancy one.
If there is one thing that you want to prove to yourself, then the philippines is the best place to be.
i live in the philippines, and i've been to various parts in asia. all i can say is that each country in SEA has its unique personality. thailand has their love for art, singapore is the most modern city in the region, and china is a different world of its own. the philippines may be difficult to navigate because of its numerous islands, but this is also the reason why the country should be a must-see. the different islands in our country has its own characteristics. what you see in manila is far different from the sights in cebu, boracay, bohol and davao.
there's a lot more to say. if you want to see what the philippines has to offer, check out some of these links:
Moderator comment: please see Forum Rules
[ Edit: Edited on Oct 18, 2008, at 7:37 AM by chictravel; Mod: Sorry, no promos please. Link to Forum Rules added. ]