Dreaming of an island getaway? Wondering what exotic places you can travel to while living and teaching in Korea? Think...Coconuts in hand, pristine beaches, and world class snorkeling; the Philippines is a value-for-money destination that is only a three-hour flight from Incheon International Airport.
Flights leave regularly from Korea and if chosen wisely, you could get great deals on airfare for as little as $300 round-trip. The two main airports you will be flying to will be Cebu and Manila. Of the two, Cebu is closer.
Cebu is well known for its location nearby some of the most famous beaches in the world such as Alona Beach on Panglao Island, Bohol. However, if you are not in an island kind of vibe, you can head to Manila which has a lot of rich history and cultural places of interest to visit.
Thinking about going to the Philippines? Here are my top five tips on how to enjoy an inexpensive island trip that will meet your every travelling expectation.
How to get there?
Travelling to the Philippines is relatively easy from Korea. You need to book flights from Incheon to Cebu or Manila, depending on which part of the Philippines you are travelling to. These are the two cheapest airports to fly to from Korea with flights for as little as $300 round-trip.
To catch great deals on flights you need to start booking at least 3 months in advance on sites such as Kayak and Cheapflights. Also, Jeju Air and T'way Airlines have some awesome prices to various destinations nearby Korea. To get the best possible deal, be flexible with your dates and fly during the week, as opposed to weekend flights.
If you are travelling to one of the many islands there are various kinds of transport you can take from Cebu and Manila. There are local airlines, ferries, jeepneys and trikes. Trikes are similar to the 'tuk-tuk's in Thailand. They are small cabs driven with a motorbike in the centre.
In the Philippines be prepared to catch all kinds of transportation. For example, when my husband and I traveled to Panglao Island we caught a taxi, a ferry and a trike. It was an adventurous trip!
When to go?
The Philippines has ideal weather year-round with average temperatures ranging between 24C and 30C. The dry season is the best time to go, between November and April, since there is less rainfall and more sunny island days.
The major tip for travelling to the Philippines is to avoid the monsoon season, which occurs throughout June and July. In addition, typhoons typically occur in October. It would be best to avoid travel during these months.
While living and teaching in Korea, you will get the Seollal holiday season off. This is the best time to plan a trip to the sunny island nation, while escaping the brutal Korean winter in February.
Where to go?
The Philippines has something for everyone from luscious rainforests to white sandy beaches to historical cities.
If you are in the mood for an island destination you should plan to travel to Cebu. Cebu is nearby plenty of beautiful islands with great snorkeling and regular ferry departures. Islands nearby Cebu to visit would include Bohol, Panglao, Bantayan, Malapascua and Camotes. Some of these islands have the top 10 beaches in the world such as Alona Beach on Panglao Island.
If you would prefer nature and hiking then you should plan to fly to Manila which will be nearby more luscious terrain. Places you could visit would be the Rice Terraces of Ifugao, Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park and Puerto Princesa Underground River. Here you can enjoy hiking, camping, river rafting and abseiling.
If you are up for a party then you need to travel to Boracay Island and Puerto Galera Island. Both of these islands on Mindoro are famous for party goers with night time beach parties, daytime festivals and plenty of cocktails and a youthful vibe.
What to eat?
Seafood, seafood, seafood! The Philippines has the freshest seafood cuisine in South-East Asia.
Most islands will prepare your meal right on the beach. You will walk up to a seafood restaurant of your choice, choose any fresh fish lying on ice (that was literally caught that day). The chef will then BBQ your meal and serve it smoky and fresh.
Other BBQ options are marinated chicken, kebabs and vegetables. The roasted vegetables are to die for. They are sweet and juicy after BBQing and make a great side to your seafood platter.
Food is also super inexpensive. For just $10 you can get a platter of food that will be a feast for kings. Also, ocean-side bars are relatively cheap serving a beer for as little as $1. The one thing you will never have to worry about while travelling in the Philippines is going hungry.
What to do?
Rent a scooter - The best way to get around the islands is to hire a scooter and explore. Surprisingly, most islands do not require a license. As long as you pay, you have a scooter for the day.
Get a massage - Spa treatments are ridiculously cheap in the Philippines. For as little as $15 you can have a full beach massage for two hours while lounging on your sun bed.
Go Snorkelling - The Philippines has some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the world. The reefs are covered in tropical fish and turtles. Everything from dolphins to tiny marine life can be seen.
Indulge in Philippino Culture - From the food to the kiosks to the local bars there is something colorful and friendly about the Philippino nation. Take a little wander from your hotel and explore the local towns and villages to understand the cultural and historical parts of this beautiful country.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!