(SPOT.ph) It’s no secret that Filipinos love to travel. Whether it’s to get away from terrible traffic jams or get a little breather from the everyday grind, we're always on the lookout for cool new spots to hit year after year. And 2018 seemed to be quite a year for the local travel scene—proving once again that our country has some pretty awesome hidden gems just waiting to be found!
Here are 10 travel destinations that caught everyone’s eye this year, from top searches on Google to most-booked places through Agoda, and internationally recognized islands. We also clue you in on which ones broke the SPOT.ph HQ Internet—we kid, of course.
Earlier this year, beachlovers got some pretty shocking news: Boracay, dubbed by President Rodrigo Duterte as a "cesspool," was closed to the public for six months. But last October, it officially reopened for business, rehabilitated and ready to take on tourists and locals alike. Fingers crossed that everyone from now on remembers to be responsible travelers so the island paradise won't get shut down again!
Giant Unicorn Island, Inflatable Island
Samba Bluewater Resort, Olongapo, Zambales
Rates start at P499
Raise your hand if you’re a proud unicorn lover! As the latest addition to the playful Inflatable Island in Subic, Zambales, the Giant Unicorn Island is a magical new floating island that promises to be as fun as it is colorful. The playground features some fun activities like a climbing wall and a huge slide.
Peanuts Hotel, Japan
1-22-26 Nakayamate-dori Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Rates start at 30,000 Japanese Yen (roughly P14,000)
It’s hard to meet anyone who doesn’t love Snoopy, the adorable cartoon dog. So it only makes sense that the Peanuts Hotel in Japan jumped onto everyone’s travel wish list when it opened in August 2018. The hotel is a nostalgic tribute to childhood icon Snoopy and the whole Peanuts gang, plus there’s a themed café right inside the hotel too! And in related news: Japan is still one of the top destinations for Filipinos this 2018, according to travel site Agoda.
2018 was a fantastic year for Bataan as the province welcomed the addition of several new beautiful resorts along its coast, like the lush Landrina Escape, the scenic Puesta de Sol Villas, and the relaxing Verde Azul, all in the municipality of Morong. The good news is it’s now easier and faster than ever to get to these spots. A ferry service that can take you from Manila right to Orion started operating in December 2017. And you can expect new routes that take you straight to the white-sand beaches of Mariveles, too.
This year, Siargao got its much-deserved turn in the spotlight after it was named one of Conde Nast Traveler’s 30 Best Islands in Asia—it managed to edge out Palawan and Boracay! With gorgeous beaches, amazing rock formations, and breathtaking caves, there’s no shortage of new things to discover here. The good news? You can get to the island with ease now that there are direct flights from Manila!
Harry Potter-Themed Airbnb, Tagaytay
Tagaytay Prime Residence, Tagaytay, Calamba Road, Tagaytay, Cavite
Rates start at P6,500
You don’t have to be a Potterhead to fully appreciate this carefully thought-out Harry Potter-themed Airbnb in Tagaytay. This is probably the closest we’ll ever get to feeling like the wizarding students at Hogwarts, with the living room designed like the Gryffindor common room and the dining area cleverly decorated like the popular Hogsmeade hangout, the Three Broomsticks Inn. Even the kitchen was made to look like the Hogwarts Express!
Happy Beach, Cebu
Mactan, Cebu near Angasil Port
Tickets start at P299
Just because Pantone officially revealed Living Coral as the new Color of the Year doesn’t mean we’re all over Millennial Pink. The newly opened Happy Beach in Cebu seems to think so too, because the whole resort is just an explosion of the ever-trendy pink and other pastel colors that suit your IG feed aesthetic. Plus it's the new home of Asia's biggest Inflatable Island, even bigger than Subic's. With the size of 12 whole basketball courts, you're surely in for an obstacle course that are all kinds of fun and exciting.
Sicogon Island was known as the Hamptons of the Philippines back in the '80s because of this its popularity to the affluent. It even had its own airstrip, ensuring exclusivity to guests. Now, Ayala Land is slowly developing the tourist destination—much like what it did with Lio Tourism Estate in Palawan—to attract more people into the island paradise. It makes a perfect staycation with its new beautiful hilltop villas, beach houses, even adventurous mountain trails and scenic ziplines!
Soler Seaside Resort, Batangas
Barangay Carenahan, Balayan, Batangas
Rates start at P5,500
When celebrity couple Robin Da Roza and Maffy Soler announced that they would be opening the Soler Seaside Resort in Batangas earlier this year, they had everybody lining up for reservations—even before the resort’s official grand opening. And it’s not hard to see why: The resort looks like a summer paradise, with big bungalows perfect for the whole family or a big group of friends. The infinity pool is also a destination in itself!
No, it wasn’t really on people’s travel bucket lists in 2018, but Mayon Volcano did trend for a completely different reason. According to Google’s yearend report under the News category, Mount Mayon was one of the top search items among Filipinos in January this year. The reason? Mocha Uson mistaking Mayon's location for Naga instead of Albay.