It might be overwhelming to choose from Cebu Pacific’s 37 domestic and 25 international destinations, but we’ve done the leg work for you
13. Witness snowy excellence in Pyeongchang
The 23rd Olympic Winter Games will be an unbeatable sporting spectacle, with over 4,500 athletes and officials participating in 15 separate disciplines covering snowboarding, figure skating, bobsledding and alpine skiing, among others. A new high-speed railway connects travelers arriving at Seoul to the host city of Pyeongchang, taking an hour and a half to cover the 180km between the two cities. The 23rd Olympic Winter Games will begin on February 9 with the closing ceremony taking place on February 25.
14. Live local in Puerto Princesa
Princesa airport runway, and we don’t just mean the brand-new airport terminal that opened in May 2017. Canvas Hotel, located just outside the new terminal’s entrance, embodies a newer, more tuned-in tourism outlook that shuns the usual luxuries of older hotels. “People’s travel behavior has changed,” explains Belle Camarsi, head of marketing at Oak Drive Hotels and Resorts. “They don’t stay in their rooms as much. They want to experience the destination.” This is why the rooms at Canvas are less cushy than traditional hotels. The bathrooms are more spartan, and room service is not available. “We tried to connect as much of it as we could to the local community, the local culture and the destination,” explains Belle. The open-air lobby features a chandelier inspired by the Puerto Princesa Underground River’s stalactites, and each room in the hotel has a mural created by a Filipino artist collective. Some of the furniture was built by inmates at the nearby Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm. “Almost everything here has meaning,” Belle says.
15. See street art in Singapore
Singapore feels like the last place for graffiti artist Banksy to find an avid following, but 2018’s Singapore Art Week, which runs from January 17 to 28, aims to upend those expectations. In Southeast Asia’s first major street art retrospective, Banksy, Obama portraitist Shepard Fairey and an array of notable graffiti maestros will take the spotlight at Art from the Streets. The show presents 40 years of street art with over 200 examples taken from around the world. The exhibit at Marina Bay Sands’ ArtScience Museum covers paintings, sketches, installations and on-site projects.
16. Fly high in Kota Kinabalu
Paragliding is hardly a new sport in Kota Kinabalu, but launching a paraglider from 4,000m — now that’s a first. Organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah and Sabah Parks, a new paragliding project, test-flown back in November and projected to launch this year, involves taking a helicopter service up to Mount Kinabalu’s Summit Pluton and gliding magnificently down to Kundasang which, depending on wind conditions, takes about an hour. Among the highest paragliding launching bases in the world, Summit Pluton is located close to Ranau, one of the world’s best sites for air sports thanks to its favorable wind conditions and natural beauty. Just last year, Ranau saw some 14,000 paragliders, and with the new base, numbers to the area are set to soar as well.
17. Test your strength in Davao
Set to take place on March 25, the Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao triathlon isn’t just the first official Ironman in Mindanao; it also marks 10 years of Ironman events in the Philippines. Slots for the individual and relay events are already sold out, but you can still register for the waitlist or simply catch all the action of the race as a spectator.
18. Get off the beaten path in Leyte
French cruise ship company Compagnie du Ponant will be adding Leyte’s Cuatro Islas to their route map in 2018, according to the Department of Tourism. The four islands — Apid, Digyo, Himokilan and Mahaba — comprise 12,500ha of protected landscape and seascape, and offer tourists a blissful experience that’s hard to find on more popular beaches. Sandbars and crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life should put Cuatro Islas high on any traveler’s list of top beach experiences. You can beat the crowds to these paradisiacal islands by flying in via Ormoc or Tacloban and hiring a ride from there.
This story first appeared in the January 2018 issue of Smile magazine.