Philippines is hands down the nicest country I've ever been to and if you're planning on heading over, I'm extremely jealous.
White sandy beaches, crystal clear water and blue skies everywhere, all the time. Unless you hit monsoon season, of course.
I travelled a good bit around Asia, and the most spectacular beaches in Thailand don't come close to an average one in the Philippines.
Another massive plus is that the people are frightfully friendly. The only country that tops them for this are the Sri Lankans.
You genuinely feel like they are trying to sell you something because of the over enthusiastic friendliness but nope, they are just really interested in chatting with you.
They also bloody love karaoke, not that it's in any way important, but just get ready for constant singing.
The Philippines is made up of loads of islands, which means you are in for a different experience nearly every place you visit.
I managed to test the waters on three different islands and each one represented a theme. One was adventure, the next was partying and then finally relaxing.
I definitely recommend doing them in that order, so let's start from the start when you've just landed and you've loads of energy.
Cebu - Adventure
This little town is pretty thrown together with the walkways/roads weirdly narrow and surrounded by shops and restaurants, but that just adds to the rough and ready vibe.
It gets a little lively at night if you're looking for it but you'll probably be waking up to try some activity the next morning.
One of the big attractions here is swimming with the whale sharks. Having tried this in Mexico previously, I knew it wasn't to be missed.
Getting in the water with these giants is a breathtaking experience.
On top of this, you can also rent a snorkel and swim with an outrageous amount of sardines. Doesn't sound thrilling, but it's pretty amazing.
Last but not least we went cliff jumping at Kawasan Falls and this was definitely the highlight of Cebu.
You hop on the back of mopeds, head up to the top of a mountain and this is where the fun starts.
You then start to make your way down river by walking, climbing, swimming and of course, jumping.
Some of the waterfalls are bloody big and take a minute for a not so manly man like myself to build up the courage to jump off.
Boracay - Party Time
You've had your adventure and now it's time to let your hair down.
I recommend staying in Mad Monkey hostel if you are here for the party as it's packed with fellow backpackers.
The island has a beautiful beach completely lined with bars and restaurants and when the sun goes down, these bars just get going and don't stop until the sun rises again.
Whether you're staying in Mad Monkey or not, make sure you book into their booze cruise. Holy s**t. I think I'm still recovering after it.
They take you out to these little islands, one of which you get to dive off 20 foot diving boards into the sea, snorkel in other areas and just keep drinking.
El Nido, Palawan - And Relax
Hands down the nicest place I've ever set foot in.
The town is quite big compared to the other two places and is a lot more built up. Loads of unbelievable restaurants serving the freshest food and a rake of bars that get pretty busy.
The beach that the town lies on isn't fantastic but all you've got to do is rent mopeds and you will find paradise nearby.
There are boat tours you can go on here that won't damage your health like the ones in Boracay.
This place is just pure and utter relaxation. Head out to private islands, explore hidden beaches, snorkel and eat some fresh fish.
This hidden beach below was one we ended up on.
You will have the time of your live in El Nido without doing too much. Just enjoy walking the streets, exploring on mopeds and having a cold beer after a long day of sitting in the sun.
Manila - Good Time, Not A Long Time
We spent one night in the capital and it took us by surprise.
We really only went here to catch a flight out but we obviously made the most of it. After chatting to a local, they told us to stay in Makati.
This is the business area which holds a load of big offices and very nice hotels.
The night out, mind you, is not what we expected. It was more like Shoreditch or Williamsburg. The bars are up there with the nicest I've been to.
If you're hitting Philippines for two to three weeks, I recommend just picking three or four places you want to check out and sticking to that plan. You have to get flights to each island which realistically will take a day of travel.
This video pretty much sums it all up, from the booze cruise to chilling in El Nido: