The Philippines has made a name for being a leading summer destination for travellers. White sand beaches, fruit shakes, tall palm trees and loads of water activities — we have them all! So why would one even consider leaving the country during this golden season, right? To those who love to explore, the answer is simple: why in the world not? Summertime is long enough to accommodate a couple more options, and as long as you can spare a few thousands (or hundreds if you’re lucky with promos), you can visit these other amazing summer destinations in neighbouring VISA-FREE countries. Ready?
1. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Kota Kinabalu is the closest international destination we have from the Philippines. In fact, it’s so near that you’ll feel like you’re entering a new local destination, except you have to go through Malaysian immigration. This small city in the state of Sabah is known for its tourist-friendly islands, Manukan, Gaya, and Sapi. It is also home to markets full of all kinds of grilled seafood, and the peak of Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu, whose surrounding towns enjoy cool mountain weather perfect for cooling down.
2. Koh Phangan, Thailand
Aside from the Philippines, Thailand also has a huge following of beach-goers mostly composed of Europeans and Americans. Off the province of Surat Thani in southeast Thailand, Koh Phangan is especially famous for its Full Moon Party which happens monthly, and as a location for the 2000 backpacker film “The Beach”. Those facts aside, you can also embark on a Thai cooking adventure, go on a scooter tour of the island, and explore as many beaches as you like including Mae Haad Beach, a place where two currents meet.
3. Kenting, Taiwan
Great food, endless shopping opportunities, dynamic culture and some of the friendliest people you’ll meet — it’s easy to fall in love with Taiwan. But let’s admit it, we’ve associated these things with the country’s capital city of Taipei and many parts of the country still go unnoticed. Located south of the island, Kenting is considered the opposite of Taipei. Here, it’s all about the outdoors. In Kenting National Park alone, you can explore Taiwan’s mysterious underwater world through scuba diving and snorkelling or relax at Baisha Beach or Nanwan Beach.
4. Ninh Thuan, Vietnam
Filipinos who go to Vietnam typically choose between the capital city of Hanoi or the entertainment centre Ho Chi Minh, which are both easily accessible from the Philippines. However, summer is a great time to head to a lesser known province called Ninh Thuan in the southeastern part of the country. The province is home to towering mountains with rich forests as well as sandy beaches like Vinh Hy, which is said to be best visited during the month of May when the emerald water is at its purest. Vinh Hy Bay is also home to the Rai Cave, the only place in Vietnam where you can see a fairytale-like waterfall on the sea!
5. Southern District, Hong Kong
Like Taiwan, Hong Kong is not a place that you would consider ideal for a summer trip, unless shopping in malls all day is what you have in mind. Going to the Southern District in Hong Kong Island, you’ll discover the other side of this small country-state not popularly known to quick holiday-goers. Rather than skyscrapers, this more expensive area is dominated by mountains and coastal attractions that will remind you of the Mediterranean or even California. You can surf at Big Wave Bay, wakeboard in either Tai Tam, Repulse Bay or Stanley Main Beach, or hike the Dragon’s Back trail for a fantastic view at the top (be sure to bring sufficient water and sun protection with you).
If you’re one of those people who aren’t about to let the heat ruin their summer, these places are great options to consider. They may remind you of the beauty of our own paradise here in the country, but with a slightly different crowd and vibe. I’d say go for them before it’s too late!