Where We Travel: The Philippines with Kim Filip

Hi Kim! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What brought you out to Shanghai?

I moved to Asia over 10 years ago(!), starting out in South Korea and then to Japan, each for 2 years. After that, China was the next logical step. I had never been to Shanghai but knew in my heart that it was the city for me. What was going to be a 2 year stay quickly has turned into 6 years and counting.

Traveling is one of our favorite things to do. What was your favorite place you’ve ever been? Can you tell us a little more about why you chose to go there?

What a great question! I’ve been on some amazing trips but one that stands out is my Christmas holiday to Bohol, in the Philippines, with a girlfriend. We wanted a tropical getaway for the holidays and escape the Shanghai winter for a bit. I also wanted to get my open water scuba diving certification, and the Philippines has extremely reasonable course prices. I did most of the coursework online before my trip so I could start diving as soon as I got there.

Where would you recommend we stay, if we go?

Definitely stay on Panglao Island, just off of the main island of Bohol. I found a great villa on Airbnb and though it was a tuktuk ride to the beach, the property was gorgeous and all decked out for Christmas. Breakfast was included, full of fresh pastries, local fruit and juice, and we arranged for the owner to cook us Christmas Eve dinner. He went to the market that morning and made us a spectacular 3 course meal. It was the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit.

What sort of activities did you do? What was your favorite?

Ocean activities are a big draw- with water visibility up to 25 meters and a few reefs nearby, the scuba diving and snorkeling was incredible. The Chocolate Mountains are on Bohol, so depending on the season they are a chocolate-y color, or in our case, a lush green. There is also a tarsier conservatory on Bohol, a habitat dedicated to the world’s smallest microprimate. We went shortly after the earthquake in 2013 and could see the damage to the buildings on the mainland, including a colonial church.

Was this place easy to get to? How long would you recommend making a trip for?

Getting to Panglao Island from Shanghai was surprisingly easy. I flew to Manila, then caught a connecting flight to Bohol. Once there, it was a taxi ride to Panglao, or you could stay on the mainland. Plan for at least a week to get a good balance of activities and relaxation on the beach.

What was your favorite part of your trip? Any good stories you can share?

Getting certified to scuba dive was definitely a highlight of the trip, but we also hired a boat to go to Cebu and swim with whale sharks! It was such a surreal experience to be snorkeling with these huge creatures all around us. On the boat ride back, we kept pace with a pod of dolphins. It was a day I’ll never forget.

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