Handy hints

Holiday with Kids - - Philippines -

of­fer­ing an ar­ray of in­ter­na­tional cuisines. The en­tire beach is a kids’ play­ground, of­fer­ing every­thing from swim­ming, snorkelling and div­ing to ba­nana boat rides and sun­set sails on a colour­ful paraw (an outrig­ger sail­boat).

If you’re seek­ing a less busy beach ex­pe­ri­ence, head to Palawan, one of the coun­try’s most sparsely pop­u­lated re­gions. Most trav­ellers head north to El Nido and the en­chant­ing Bacuit Ar­chi­pel­ago, an oth­er­worldly land­scape of jagged lime­stone is­lands. Bangka boats ply the crys­talline waters, of­fer­ing fam­ily-friendly is­land-hopping tours to se­cret beaches, mag­i­cal caves and hid­den la­goons amid the soar­ing lime­stone cliffs. This is the Philip­pines of­ten seen on post­cards.

For sheer va­ri­ety, beauty and kid- cen­tric ac­tiv­i­ties, Bo­hol is hard to beat. Renowned for its bug- eyed tar­siers, one of the world’s small­est – and ar­guably cutest – pri­mates, and the de­li­ciously named Choco­late Hills – a vast ex­panse of uni­formly rounded grassy hills that turn brown in the dry sea­son – this is­land prov­ince also of­fers white beaches and a wealth of wa­ter­sports for all ages. From Bo­hol, you can eas­ily ac­cess an­other Philip­pines high­light: swim­ming with whale sharks. It’s a two-hour boat ride to the site in Os­lob, Cebu, but an en­counter with these gen­tle plank­toneat­ing gi­ants is a thrilling ex­pe­ri­ence the kids will never for­get.

If your kids are up for a road trip, hire a car and driver to see the spec­tac­u­lar World Her­itage-listed rice ter­races at Banaue, a nine-hour drive north of Manila. Even young kids will be awed by these 2000-year- old ter­races, which cas­cade dra­mat­i­cally down the moun­tains in a sweep of emer­ald green. Get­ting around in the Philip­pines is a bit of an ad­ven­ture in it­self. From Manila, a short flight to your des­ti­na­tion’s near­est air­port will most of­ten be fol­lowed by a bangka or ferry ride, or a jeep­ney/mini­van/tri­cy­cle drive – or any com­bi­na­tion of the above. The most sig­nif­i­cant im­ped­i­ment to smooth travel is weather. The Philip­pines has a mon­soonal cli­mate and rain which can dis­rupt travel plans. Check re­gional fore­casts be­fore book­ing your hol­i­day.

When you’re trav­el­ling with kids, health is every­thing. You’ll find phar­ma­cies in towns and tourist hubs are usu­ally well stocked with ba­sic med­i­cal sup­plies, but it doesn’t hurt to take a sim­ple first aid kit. Dengue, a mos­quito-borne dis­ease, is preva­lent in the Philip­pines so your best de­fense is to avoid be­ing bit­ten. But never fear, a good re­pel­lent will sort that out. Drink bot­tled water, which is read­ily avail­able, and in­dulge lib­er­ally in the ubiq­ui­tous fresh buko ( young coconut) juice straight from the shell. Kids will love the mild sweet flavour and it’s a great an­ti­dote to de­hy­dra­tion. A sim­ple plea­sure; one of many that awaits fam­ily trav­ellers to this re­laxed repub­lic. www.tourism­philip­pines.com.au www.jpark­islandresort.com

Philip­pine Air­lines of­fers di­rect flights to Manila from Dar­win, Bris­bane, Syd­ney and Mel­bourne. www.philip­pineair­lines.com


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