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This little-known tropical island is one of Asia’s hottest destinations

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Asian tourism is come back with vengeance Traveling is now easier than it has been in years.

All the top tourist hotspots, including Indonesia’s Bali and Thailand’s Phuket, which had been effectively locked down for years, are surging again in popularity.

That said, these classic resorts aren’t the only ones responsible for reviving Asia’s battered tourism industry.there is one Lesser Known Tropical Paradise It has seen far fewer tourists in past years, but is now one of the trendiest island getaways in the region.

Tourists kayaking on karst cliffs, Palawan, Philippines, Southeast Asia
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This year, westerners have given the beautiful island of Palawan a chance, which is understandable, they’ve had enough:

A hidden gem in Southeast Asia

The Philippines is far from the most visited country in Southeast Asia, trailing countries such as Thailand, which receives 15 million tourists a year, ultra-developed Singapore and Vietnam, with its expansive sandy coastline.

A woman relaxes while swimming in the sea, Parwan, Philippines, Southeast Asia
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Overall, it’s just The sixth most visited destination in the subcontinent. That’s not to say it lacks aesthetics, or that it’s inferior in any way to its peers.

In fact, The Philippines can be considered one of the last remaining unspoilt tropical archipelagos in the world.

Scattered among thousands of fragments around the South China Sea, the archipelagic nation is literally a fragment. packed with paradise islands And undeveloped protected areas, which are increasingly rare in mainland Southeast Asia, where rapid development threatens to destroy the rich natural environment.

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Unspecified islands of the Philippines in Southeast Asia
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Aside from the “metropolitan” islands, such as Luzon, where the bustling national capital Manila is located, or Cebu, where sprawling Cebu City serves as a financial center, other smaller islands in the Philippines still retain their quaint character.

Palawan is one such islandThe population of over 900,000 is spread across the compact capital, Puerto Princesa, home to around 300,000 people, as well as smaller settlements along the coast or in the verdant, mountainous interior.

Why is Palawan so trendy right now?

Puerto Princesa Underground River, Palawan Island, Philippines, Southeast Asia
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Puerto Princesa International Airport is the main entry point into the island only a limited number of flightsmostly from within the Philippines, which helps to control tourism levels and maintain the island’s unique character.

After all, it’s known nationally as the Philippines’ “best island,” and Filipinos themselves choose Palawan as their “go-to travel destination.” According to official surveys, as many as 23 percent of respondents expressed a desire to travel to the island.

You might be wondering why this is the case.

Tropical landscape, rocky islands, lonely boat and clear water in Palawan, Philippines, Southeast Asia
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Palawan is known for its miles of calm sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, rich marine biodiversity and relaxing atmosphere. This is where you escape the crazy traffic in Manila and the urbanization that Cebu City is facing.

Compared with other Southeast Asian islands such as Phuket in Thailand, quieter and more peacefulFewer “recreation zones” and a greater focus on ecotourism and wellness will certainly put Palawan at the forefront of a tourism rebound in Asia.

In case you’ve forgotten, wellness is one of this year’s hottest travel trends.

Palawan is a force of nature

Some of Palawan’s main attractions include the capital, Puerto Princesa itself.This is Cross the Underground River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site And has some beautiful colonial-era architecture (if you need a little reminder, the Philippines was once under Spanish rule).

Huts on the coastline of Palawan, Philippines, Southeast Asia
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As the buildings remained largely unscathed in Southeast Asia’s struggle for independence from European powers, Palawan has a high concentration of historic churches, civic buildings and monuments dating back to this period.

Its greatest asset, however, is its stunning natural beauty, with miles of sandy beaches and turquoise lagoons surrounding the coast. Travelers often describe Palawan as “like Avatar,” a reference to James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster, which is set in a fantasy world with unique geological formations.

This description is not too far off, because Palawan is a extensive list of natural wonders. When looking to escape nature, tourists often head to El Nido Beach, a tranquil swimming spot surrounded by bright blue ocean and flanked by steep karst cliffs.

Three women playing on the beach during sunset
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Day trips to the smaller islands of the wider Palawan province are also a popular activity.

Palawan tourism is on the rise

as Palawan News Tourism to Philippine destinations has reportedly seen record growth this year as the country reopened to tourism and as foreigners, especially from the Western Hemisphere and Europe, rekindled their interest in Southeast Asia.

Part of the data recorded by the Department of Tourism, the Tourism Real-time Inventory and Tourist Arrival Statistics (TOURLIST) shows that a total of 765,991 tourists visited Palawan between January and June 2023, A year-on-year increase of up to 136%.

Tourists on the beach of Palawan island in Southeast Asia
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Among them, nearly half are foreigners. As the chart shows, international tourists are on the rise, but Palawan’s beaches, boutique hotels and health and wellness resorts have not yet been overwhelmed by tourists.

In addition, the most popular place for tourists to stop in Palawan is the town of El Nido, which attracted nearly 300,000 people in the first semester, accounting for nearly 4/10 of the total number of tourists.

In second place was the regional capital Puerto Princesa with 269,090 visitors, followed by Coron with 75,756 guests, San Vincente with 52,057 and finally Linapa 16,654 for Linapacan.

The top tourist destination in Palawan is El Nido Town, which attracted the most tourists with 294,065 people, accounting for 38.39% of the total number of tourists in the province.

Young woman tourist wearing blue dress smiling walking on laos latin beach in Thailand, Southeast Asia
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All of the above destinations are known for their close to natureproving once again that those vacationing in Palawan are actively looking for nature-based activities.

The most desirable islands in the world

Last year, Palawan was voted “Most Desirable Island” in the Wanderlust Readers’ Travel Awards, as voted by the public, and was voted “Most Popular Destination” in the Philippines According to a survey conducted by PUBLiCUS Asia, Inc., locals believe

Maribel Buñi’s provincial tourism offer is recorded as follows:“This requires more proactive initiatives and measures to ensure that we provide quality service and quality tourism products so that visitors have an unforgettable experience on our island.’

Aerial view of Cebu, Philippines, Southeast Asia
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As Booney points out, the aim is not only to increase arrivals, but also to facilitate longer stays and “greater spending”.

Can we expect this Philippine oasis to follow in Bali’s footsteps and launch its own long-stay visa in the near future?

That remains to be seen, but we certainly won’t be surprised.

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