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The Philippines on a Sampler Platter: Preparing the Menu

The Philippines on a Sampler Platter Series: Preparing the Menu

Menu of Experiences: Travel Philippines

I always make a point of promoting the Philippines while traveling and meeting fellow travelers along the way. Emma, a friend that I met while backpacking across Europe, decided to come pay a visit. I realized that she had little time to see everything, but I wanted her to see the best of the country while catering to her own liking and “travel style”.

So I made up a “menu of experiences”. I sent Emma an A-Z of what she can do in the Philippines complete with pictures. All she had to do was pick out those places that caught her interest. Sounds easy and simple, but my next task was to see how all those places and activities can be turned into a connected and balanced itinerary. Luckily, most of her picks centered on the Visayas Region. Better yet, our friends were more than happy to join us either the whole way or just a portion of it.

The Itinerary

We decided to start the journey in Clark, Pampanga. The first stop? Mt. Pinatubo! This is something that I haven’t done before and has been always been a part of my bucket list. Emma enjoyed the authenticity of such an experience. With this, she experienced her first 4×4 jeep ride through the rocky landscape of Mt. Pinatubo. We headed there on a cloudy Wednesday, which meant that it wasn’t too hot nor energy-draining for a long trek. It was perfect for someone who had to get used to a “constant state of sweating”, as Emma put it.

Our hike to Mt. Pinatubo was followed shortly by a flight to Kalibo. The next stop? Boracay, of course. The moment Emma saw the famous white beach, she exclaimed, “How does this exist in the Philippines? It’s amazing!” After a few action-packed days of parasailing, ATV riding, swimming, and partying, we flew out to the Queen City of the South, Cebu. Our main agenda was to swim with the whalesharks in Oslob.  Since we had time to spare after that, Emma hopped on a motorcycle (In a bikini! Think she could pull that off in Canada?) as we headed to Tumalog Falls for a leisurely lunch by the waterfalls. By then, she already had a taste of well-loved Filipino meals like sisig, lechon, and adobong kangkong. Props to her for being adventurous, food and activity-wise!

From the hustle and bustle of Boracay and Cebu, Emma opted for somewhere more peaceful so we headed on to our next destination, Bohol. Aside from seeing tiny tarsiers up close, taking in the Chocolate Hills, and binging like crazy on a $10 dollar river cruise buffet, Emma enjoyed the serenity of Panglao Beach. She said that she had always wanted to have a massage by the beach. Well, wish granted! We ended our stay with a scrumptious meal in Bohol Bee Farm. Everyone thought it was an amazing dinner and worth every peso.

Since I had just arrived from a 2-month trip across Australia, it was great to say hello to my family and friends during a quick stop in Manila. Soon enough, we were on yet another plane ride to Cagayan De Oro, where we were met with Filipino hospitality by our friend, Jess.  In contrast to Emma’s love for sightseeing, tanning, and chilling by the beach, CDO forced her to face (and conquer) her fears! We started off with one of Asia’s longest ziplines in Dahilayan, Bukidnon. We then set out on an adrenaline-filled adventure atMapawa Park where we had to hike, swim, jump into the water from a 25-foot cliff, and rapel down a waterfall. Lastly, we rafted through the white water rapids of Bugsay.

Next was for Emma to appreciate the underwater riches of the Philippines. We bid goodbye to her temporarily as she flew solo to Puerto Princesa andCoron in Palawan. She hopped from island to island, from lakes to seas, and from hot to cold waters.

Finally, Emma spent her last few days in the capital of the Philippines, Manila. Here, she had her fill of shopping and bargaining, and endless pampering with massages, nail spas, hair spas, and facials (for a steal!). She also got to experience the vibrant party scene of Thrilla Manila with me and my friends, who all gave her a warm welcome.

The Verdict

Even with all these, there were still a lot of places that Emma didn’t get to see. Fortunately, she enjoyed her Filipino sampler platter so much that she wants to come back for more!

After fixing the ins and outs of this trip and all the nitty gritty details, I realized how lucky I am to be residing in such a pristine place where a lot of hidden treasures could be discovered (and for an affordable price)!

We’ll talk about each of our stops in our next posts, but for now, here’s a visual summary of what we did (and how much fun we had!). Click click click!

Video made by my dear friend, Kay Dulay 

99 thoughts on “The Philippines on a Sampler Platter: Preparing the Menu

  1. I think that’s a great way to make an itinerary! Most of the time kasi, when we make recommendations we refer the experiences WE enjoyed. I like that this puts the traveler friend first, tailor-fitting the itinerary to the person’s personality (and sometimes pushing her off her comfort zone). 🙂

    1. You got that one right! No matter how much you think you’ve explored a place, there will always be wonderful hidden spots and experiences left to come back for! Or even if you really have done it all, going back will always be different because of so many factors like the company you’re with, the time of the year, etc. Happy travels!

  2. I love the video compilation you made of your adventures! The energy is so infectious it looked like a blast! I like how much you were able to fit into the itinerary – you literally covered everything from hiking trips and plane rides all the way to salons and night life. Even if you weren’t able to fit everything it sounds like the trip of a lifetime

  3. Very nice video which captured your friendship and happiness as you were travelling. She really made the most of her time here, experiencing most of the best places in our country. – Fred

  4. That’s so true! Even Filipinos living here find that there is a wealth of things to see that it’s difficult to go visit every beautiful spot. The Philippines is truly blessed.

  5. Yes, all these places mentioned are paradise just not include Manila in your itinerary or else you’ll spend most of your time in the middle of the streets caught up in the heavy traffic.

  6. so emma got to pick what she wants to do without a care of their locations? wow, what if her picks ended up all far away from each other, how would planning the itinerary turn out? anyway, it sounded really fun!

  7. I havent been in Pinatubo. I wanted to try their off road advebture but I vanr coz I have allergies on dust and smoke

  8. I went to Boracay years (and years!) ago when there was very little there, it remains one of my favourite beaches! I’d love to go back to The Philippines as I didn’t get to see many other places – thanks for the recommendations in this post!

  9. One of the things I like the most about traveling is trying new foods. Sounds like you guys had a great day.

  10. I had trouble reading this post, but only because I really want to go to the Philippines and I am tempted by these places you mentioned! And you are so awesome for giving your friend so many itinerary options! I sometimes wish someone would just do that for me!

  11. Wow, that’s a great itinerary you have for someone who likes to know more about the Philippines in a short period of time. Mt. Pinatubo is a great site for those who love hiking and seeing incredibly beautiful views. Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol are all places that have significant impression to foreigners as well.

  12. I would love to visit Philippines they have an nice culture and such a many place to visit. if i have a choice i would love to stayed there for good.

  13. Great idea! I’m not much of a traveler myself but my husband is at heart and we’re bound to go where he wants to visit, specially the beautiful ones here in the PH, will list the down these wonderful place you’ve mentioned!

  14. How long was she here? I’m so jealous because you got to explore our country even more than I did. I’d better take notes for when friends from overseas plan to come here, just like how you did with Emma 🙂

  15. Woowww
    By the end of your post I was tired and thrilled.
    We are planning our second trip to Philippines. We already visited Boracay and Bohol, so your travel itinerary gave me great tips for new destinations.
    Cheers, and maybe see you soon, in one of the Philippines paradise islands!


  16. Your friend is indeed blessed to be able to explore Philippines with the help of a local like yourself. I agree that PH has wonderful and beautiful secrets worth discovering, even as backyard tourists 🙂

  17. I know what you mean, traveling seems so easy, just buy a ticket and go!? I wish! It takes me so much time to plan the ideal itinerary to fit in the short period of time and to see everything I want.. traveling is a lot of work

  18. This post made me more excited on me and my hubby’s December escapade. Philippines is such a beautiful country with so many amazing places to visit. Can’t wait to see them all soon 🙂

  19. This is Genius! i also promote ph here where i stay, i cooked adobo and shared it with different cultures, i bought some spanish bread and pandecoco also shared it, i share everything even dried mango fruits! <3

  20. mt pinatubo trek! my friends have been asking me to try that with them. still haven’t gotten around to that. haha! i really should do that soon.

  21. My husband went to the Phiippines on his first overseas trip when he was quite young. It made quite an impression on him. I hope someday we get to travel there together. Thanks for all the tips on what to do. It looks fantastic.

  22. Wow, you travel like I do. Squeeze as much as humanly possible into alloted time! Way to go! Massage by the beach, yes please.

  23. Wow, what an amazing time you both must have had.
    Great idea with the ‘menu’. Love that 🙂
    There is so much I’d love to see and do there myself. When I eventually make it I may have to pick your brain for all the best bits. Great post!

  24. Ahhhhh those places sounds amazing to me. I’ve visited some of them but the rest are on my buckelist. Every time I cam to visit Philippines I always try to visit as many as I can. Therés’s just too many BEAUTIFUL places in PH. Safe travels and Enjoy! Cheers!


  25. GREAT title – a sampler platter Love!! I have not been to the Philippines but I so want to go. It looks like a really beautiful place for an adventure!

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