Philippines or Thailand
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Nov 20, 2012 2:51 PM Last Post By: dutchpickle
Nov 19, 2012 11:50 AM
I used to be a fairly avid traveler but haven't had the time to take a trip for about four years now. I've taken quite a few treks to central and south america, as well as touring around the middle east, but I've never been to Asia. I finally have about a month and a half off in January/early February of next year and I'm looking at going to one of either Thailand or the Philippines. I was hoping for a bit of advice to people who have been to these places before as to which might be a better fit for this trip.
A bit about my travel style. I enjoy beaches, but not for TOO too long (you can only take so much sun). I love water sports. Diving, snorkeling, sailing, etc. I'd love to learn how to surf or windsurf, or try parasailing, or really anything water-related. I'm not too into the loud party scene, though I enjoy being able to sit around and share a beer and a story with fellow travelers. I enjoy trekking, vising historical sites and ruins, seeing wildlife, or just enjoying unique scenery and views. I'm not an uber-elite trekker by any stretch of the imagination though, so no super intense hikes please, but I definitely want to get away from the cities and beaches and explore the outdoors.
I understand the Philippines is a bit more costly than Thailand, and that's fine with me. I'm a fairly frugal traveler, but I don't mind laying down a little extra cash where it's needed. If I choose to go to the Philippines I would love to have the chance to swim with the whale sharks. If I choose to go to Thailand I'd love to take a few days (not sure how long is best?) to travel into Cambodia and visit Angkor.
Any advice you can provide that may assist with making this decision will be much appreciated :)
Edited by: illudium
Nov 19, 2012 12:56 PM
1Hi there! Based on your post I do believe that you will love it here in the Philippines. You can try water rafting in Davao, CDO or in Kalinga (nearer to Manila). There are also a lot of beaches near Manila. If you want to swim with the whale sharks, you can go to Bicol which, if im not mistaken, is a 4-5 hour bus ride from Manila. There's also a water park sports complex near Bicol. You can check out their site here http://www.camsur.com/ :)
Nov 19, 2012 1:08 PM
2either option will be great
The Philippines is an island group so there is plenty of diving, snorkeling, shoreling -
...possible surfing choice Siargao Island Philippines
be sure to visit Palawan -
reasonably accessible to Angkor ruins direct from Bangkok or
possibly travel north and cross into Laos - take a boat down the Mekong - pretty cool
cross back into Thailand and travel down to the border town (Aranyprathet) where buses go to Siem Reip the town near the ruins of Angkor Wat
lots of diving on the coasts of Thailand in the south
either choice is a winner
February is an ok month for whale sharks in Donsol, Luzon- Philippines
The whale shark circus is being developed near Oslob Cebu, Philippines by feeding juvenile whale sharks - I have not kept up with this
usually later in the year- April and later - whalesharks are seen in Sogod Bay Leyte and Limasawa Island Leyte
Palawan gets a few too
I do not know anything about the Thailand whale shark situation
if you did choose the Philippines - a trip to the rice terraces in Northern Luzon might be rewarding
Sagada, Banaue, Batad etc
Nov 19, 2012 1:11 PM
Donsol, in Bicol Luzon is more likely 14-15 hours from Manila or more
you get off the bus in Putiao and take a Jeepney the rest of the way
Donsol - misc
Oslob - whaleshark nibbling on seaweed
Nov 19, 2012 9:32 PM
Nov 20, 2012 3:37 AM
5" If I choose to go to Thailand I'd love to take a few days (not sure how long is best?) to travel into Cambodia and visit Angkor. "
- I would suggest you visit Bangkok and Koh Chang . You can stay in Bangkok for 6 days and Koh Chang for 7 days. It's worth sees.
You can travel then to Cambodia and other nearest country of Thailand without much effort :)
Edited by: cherrybb
Edited by: cherrybb
Nov 20, 2012 4:59 AM
6Ideal time of year to swim with the whale sharks in Donsol is January - March, so there you are. Guaranteed sighting, and what a thrill it is! The firefly river tour there is magical, unforgettable. You can fly to Legazpi and take local transport from there, cutting down on the transport time. While in the area, Catanduanes offers many active opportunities -- unfortunately I believe your timing is not surfing season there. Siargao to the south might be better for surfing (you did say you had lots of time to move around?) It will be easier to find excellent diving in the Philippines than in Thailand - Apo Island, Dauin, Puerto Galera, Malapascua, southern Leyte, Coron for WW II wrecks, Anilao, Bohol. . . that's just for starters. Trekking - lots of choice, including spectacular but manageable walks in the rice terraces of the Cordillera and other hilly journeys nearer to Manila, such as what's left of Mt. Pinatubo and Pagsanjan Falls.
Easy to get around, cheap domestic flights, many people speak English and you can read the signage :-). World's biggest smiles.
Wildlife -- the Bohol tarsier sanctuary comes to mind, but there would be plenty of other opportunities for birding. If you like the occasional party, late January is when the Santo Nino festivals pop up all over the Visayas - Dinagyang in Iloilo, Ati-Atihan in Kalibo (near Boracay which I understand has a beach or two :-) ) and Sinulog in Cebu, take your pick. My eardrums took days to recover from Dinagyang, but the dances were amazing. Book accommodation now-now for any of those.
Architecture and a more visible ancient culture is where Thailand would win, mind you. Crumbling -- very crumbling -- Catholic churches and WWII souvenirs are about it for the Philippines, traditional architecture having been of the perishable kind. Thailand has beautiful working temples everywhere. And Angkor Wat is a lifetime must-see. It is just possible that the beer is better in Thailand as well.
Nov 20, 2012 12:06 PM
7Thanks you so much for your replies everybody! I think I will opt for the Philippines. A friend of mine spent a year there some time ago doing volunteer work and he highly recommended it. The opportunity to swim with whale sharks is a huge temptation for me (I tried when I was in Honduras a few years ago but it wasn't quite the right time of year). I've always had a lot of fear of things in the water (ANY things!) and taking up scuba diving about 6 years ago helped me work through a lot of that irrational fear. Getting in the water with whale sharks might be the final test to see if I've gotten over my phobia :)
If there are any other folks who will be in the Philippines during January and are looking for a travel buddy for any period of time, please let me know, I always enjoy meeting and spending time with new people.
Nov 20, 2012 2:51 PM
8good choice !
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