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Referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, this archipelago in Southeast Asia has so much to offer to those looking to find a slice of tropical escapism. Sometimes overlooked for its neighbouring counterparts, the 7000+ island nation of the Philippines, nestled beautifully between the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea, offers intrepid travellers a bevy of experiences.

As 2022 draws to a close and travellers look ahead to 2023 (and what will probably be the freest year of travel since the start of the pandemic) here’s a guide to the latest happenings in the Philippines.

The hottest accommodation offerings

Admiral Hotel Manila MGallery is ready to welcome guests to the Filipino capital. The country’s first MGallery property, the hotel features a beautiful blend of modern Filipino-Spanish and Art Deco design, honouring the building’s former legacy as an iconic and historical pre-war hotel and social hub. Set along Roxas Boulevard, the hotel is a perfect boutique option located on the city’s famous waterfront promenade near various iconic landmarks including the historic Intramuros precinct.

Dryft Camp is a one-of-a-kind glamping island adventure in the north of El Nido. This eco-friendly glamping camp is located on a remote island only a 45-minute shuttle ride from El Nido town and a 20-minute boat ride from the mainland of Teneguiban. Truly a private paradise, all-inclusive meals consist of healthy local island cuisine served in a 4-story treehouse.

All glamping huts are built and designed by local artists entirely from native and recycled materials. With long private white beaches, clear blue waters, and vibrant coral reefs, this secluded part of the Palawan archipelago is home to pristine islands, blonde beaches, sea caves, deserted coves, and soaring limestone cliffs – and there’s barely another tourist in sight.

Amanpulo has a new guest adventure, The Golden South Sea Pearl Journey. Guests can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Palawan waters guests on a 45-minute flight to the Jewelmer pearl farm at Malotamban Island in Taytay, Palawan. Here, guests will see rare gold-lipped oysters that produce golden pearls, as well as witness local divers on their daily trip to the underwater farm. After the comprehensive tour, a speedboat takes guests to a nearby secluded beach for a Filipino-style picnic lunch and snorkelling adventure.

Fun and frivolous events and festivals

The Sinulog Festival returns to Cebu in full force after a pandemic hiatus. Held the third weekend in January, the festival sees up to 2 million visitors flood the streets for nine days of revelry, the event culminating with the Grand Parade which is celebrated with dancing, music, and beauty pageants. Sinulog is well-known for its Mardi Gras like street parties which draw in partygoers from all over the country and the world.

The Philippines’ Wanderland Festival has confirmed the dates for its 2023 comeback. March 4 and 5 will see the music festival return to the Filinvest City Event Grounds in Alabang, Manila for its first edition since 2019. A line-up for Wanderland 2023 has yet to be announced, but it was headlined in 2019 by Two Door Cinema Club and The Kooks and featured a diverse range of regional and international acts including Honne, SG Lewis, Clairo, Adoy, Mac Ayres, Charlie Lim and Clara Benin.

Cultural and foodie adventures

Star Filipino chef Charles Montañez has revamped the slick Alegria Manila. Still sticking to its signature 16-course tasting menu, the restaurant, which specialises in Filipino and Latin American dishes cooked in South American techniques, has been reimagined in a cool new uptown BGC spot. Meanwhile, sister venue, Alegria Cantina, which just opened in June, is the chef’s new brash two-story restaurant that dishes up a more casual take on Montañez’s signature cuisine.

Elote (grilled corn, chipotle mayo, and furikake) at Alegria Manila

Local lifestyle website Best of Bicol has launched a 4-day food tour of the region. Aside from being home to the perfectly shaped Mayon Volcano and other stunning tourist spots, Bicol, located in the southern section of the Philippine’s Luzon Island, has earned culinary fame across the country thanks to the distinct use of coconut and chillies. This foodie tour gives a taste of some of the region’s most popular dishes including the Bicol Express, a coconut-based stew made of pork chunks, chilli, and shrimp paste.

Museo de Intramuros has opened at Intramuros. Also known as the Walled City, Intramuros is one of the most historic sites in Manila. The seat of power during the Spanish Period, the area was heavily devastated during the infamous Battle of Manila. In an effort to share more about this past, the Intramuros Administration has opened Museo de Intramuros at the reconstructed San Ignacio Church. It houses over 500 religious artifacts found in old churches near and around Intramuros.

Museo de Intramuros has opened at Intramuros, Manila

Tours of boutique tea plantation and farm Yamang Bukid in Puerto Princesa have launched. Yamang Bukid started as a small tea business just outside the Palawan city of Puerto Princesa, gradually expanding to occupy 20 hectares of land and employing over 300 farmers. The plantation’s recently launched tours showcase the farm’s most famous product, turmeric tea, as well as papaya, strawberries, sunflowers, and other medicinal plants.