Bucket List Couples Trip: The Philippines
A few months before I left for our couples trip, I had friends asking me where we were going for vacation. Whenever I told them that for part of our trip we were visiting the Philippines, I was always welcomed with the same reaction: “The Philippines is beautiful! You’re so lucky, you’re going to love it.”
As our plane flew over the country and it’s islands, I quickly understood their enthusiastic reactions. It was gorgeous.
The first stop in the Philippines for us was Manila.
We stayed in what I’m assuming was the downtown part of Manila. When we were riding through the city, it looked just like parts of the Loop in Chicago—parks and popular coffee shops included!
The hotel we stayed at was called the Peninsula Manila and it was literally the most beautiful place I have ever been in. When you’re pulling up to the hotel, you’ll see a luxurious fountain with the hotel’s name and logo.
The Peninsula Manila is also extremely safe. Security checked the trunk of our car before we even made it up the driveway and scanned our baggage before bringing it into the hotel. Every time you enter the hotel, you go through a quick security check as well—it takes no more than 10 seconds.
The lobby is absolutely stunning. Glossy marble floors, oversized airy windows, stone-looking railings, and huge mirrors welcome you as soon as you step in the doors. The center piece in the lobby was filled with tall greenery and dozens of pink orchids. Palm trees and large potted plants also decorated the spotless area and framed the two sitting/dining areas. In the center of the ceiling is timeless artwork that pulls all of the cool neutral tones together. It was completely breathtaking.
Our room was just as beautiful and the color scheme was consistent throughout the hotel—which is something I absolutely love (aesthetics are important). After we settled into our room, I explore a bit. The hotel was huge and there was a lot to see, but one of my favorite little details they had was a piano player back in the main lobby on the second floor. He played classical music which just added to the entire ambiance. I could’ve sat there for hours, but we wanted to get out and see Manila.
One thing I learned about the Philippines is that the sun sets really quickly. In our cab ride over to the San Agustin Church, the sun set and it was pretty much entirely dark by the time we got there. Unfortunately when we did get there, the church was closed, so we couldn’t see it. Instead, we saw a sign for a place called “Barbara’s” across the street. Being a little hungry, we decided to pop in and have a quick bite.
When we walked in, we saw that there was a cultural dinner show happening, so we decided to stay and check it out. We were so happy that we did! Barbara’s ended up having a buffet of authentic Filipino food, which was delicious, and an entertaining show of heritage dances. They even invited our group up to dance. It was such a fun surprise to stumble across on. We were thrilled to experience not only some of the foods in the Philippines, but part of their culture as well! If you go to visit the San Agustin Church, try to do it on a day that you can head over to Barbara’s afterwards.
Behind the Booking
In the morning, we actually left Manila and headed to the airport to fly to Boracay. Boracay is one of the islands in the Philippines and is known for it’s resorts and beaches. We booked our resort through Bookie, which is kind of like the Philippines’ version of Expedia, but better. The seamlessly planned out everything for the couples in our trip, including our flights and transportation to and from the resort.
Bookie is really user-friendly and the company’s backstory is so cute. It was founded by a traveling couple (aw!) whose main goal is to make travel happen. The whole process is super easy—basically you fill in the blanks; “I want to visit ____ for a ____ trip on a ____ budget.” From there, you choose where you want to stay, tour options, and restaurant options. You’re also able to choose from a package option that will outline your trip for you. It’s so ridiculously simple and I absolutely recommend using it if you plan to go to the Philippines.
Our journey to our resort was quite complicated, so I was happy that Bookie planned it out for us. Once we landed, we had to take a shuttle bus to the actual airport, a different shuttle to the boat dock, a quick boat ride to the part of the island our resort was on, and then a shuttle to our resort. Trying to plan that without Bookie would’ve been really difficult, so I’m so thankful they were there to make everything so easy for us. They had an escort with us from the second we got to the airport in order to make sure we were safe and going where we were supposed to.
We decided to stay at Discovery Shores, which is a luxury resort in Boracay. It was absolutely beautiful and was steps away from the beach. The beach was also monitored by security, so we could leave our belongings by the chairs on the beach and not have to worry at all about getting anything taken. The staff also came by and folded our clothes, delivered new towels, and was ready to take any drink orders. After doing check-in (in our rooms!), we were sent up a masseuse for a welcoming foot massage and scrub—which is just what we needed after all of our exploring in Japan and Manila.
Since I had to leave early because of work, I only had two days in Boracay, but we filled it with activity and relaxing as best we could. Boracay was my favorite part of our entire trip; I definitely want to go back soon.
In Boracay, we stayed near the resort for the most part. The only times we went off the resort property was when we went out for a private boat ride and snorkeling/swimming island-hopping trip, and dinner the second night. At the hotel, we had options for activities. After settling into our hotel rooms, we wandered around the resort, had some drinks in the hot tub and pool, then headed to one of the restaurants for dinner. It was so soothing and the entire ambiance of the resort is super calm at night.
The next morning, we decided to do the island-hopping private boat trip and snorkeling/swimming. Both were so much fun and incredibly beautiful. The ocean is breathtaking and bluer than anything I’ve ever seen. The water is ice-clear and the right temperature for any beach day. We even got the chance to dock up at a beach bar to grab some drinks and enjoy the scenery.
After the boat ride, we headed back to the resort where my boyfriend and I went paddle boarding before sunset. It was an absolutely blast and we didn’t have to wait at all. The waves were so calm and the beach wasn’t too crowded. Later on that night, we walked down the beach about a mile to a little half-locals, half-tourist area. There were restaurants and bars for days—both on the beach and off the beach. Shops, massage centers, spas, and ice cream stores lined the entire area. There were so many different entertainment options that it was difficult to choose what to do. We chose to do a group dinner and walk around for a bit before my boyfriend and I headed back to spend some time together since I left early the next morning.
Definitely an A+ destination
If there’s any place in the world that I would recommend going, it would hands-down be the Philippines. Everything was so cheap, but still very clean and luxurious. We didn’t need to exchange our money at all (though I did exchange just a little bit at the hotel), and we just all felt completely relaxed. The Philippines is one of those places that you can make as busy or calm as you would like and still enjoy every minute of it. It’s the perfect vacation spot for couples that are both adventurous and active, but still love to have downtime to unwind and spend quality time together.
Thank you all so much for reading about the Philippines portion of our couples trip. If there are any other parts of the trip you would like to know about, please let me know and I’ll be happy to write more!
If you would like to read more about our trip, feel free to check out my last post, Bucket List Couples Trip: Tokyo and 8 Things to Know Before Visiting Tokyo. More pictures from this trip can be found on my Instagram: @tiffanymariegabriel.
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