(SPOT.ph) Ask a friend for their go-to countries to visit and chances are they'll answer either one of our Asian neighbors, the U.S., or a Western European country. Hey, being able to travel is a privilege, so we're not judging their basic choices—we mean, their choices in general; we're simply here to help you widen your horizons. Quite literally.
We round up a list of 10 countries that aren't the usual pick for the average Pinoy traveler but definitely deserve a spot on your bucket list. From lush jungles to historical cities and fairy tale-like spots, these destinations are a must-visit at least once in your life. To make things even sweeter, these countries are either visa-free or are on a visa-upon-arrival status for Philippine passport holders as of writing. One less thing to think about when planning an adventure of a lifetime.
Travel with less hassle to these 10 visa-on-arrival or visa-free countries:
There's no need to apply for a visa when visiting this country. And if you're not in it for religious reasons—this land is, after all, the birthplace of many—know that there's so much modern-day Israel is about. Ride through desserts, swim in the dead sea, feast on figs, cheeses, and fresh veggies; Tel Aviv in particular is a city unlike what you probably imagine it to be. Now a start-up central—the birthplace of Viber and Waze, not religions—this thoroughly modern city balances their nowness with an appreciation of their past. Take for example the old port city of Jaffa; now overtaken by the younger parts of Tel Aviv, this historic site has become an artist's hub, complete with a promenade that'll take you right along the mediterranean.
Ah, mystic Morocco. We're sure popular media has fed you enough imagery that Morocco takes shape in your mind as an exotic destination with sands, carpets, and genies galore. Well, the country will not disappoint. See for yourself how well the magic holds up—there probably won't be a genie but a simple walk through the city of Chefchaouen, sprawling across the Rif Mountains, will feel like a wish granted. Clad in blues and white, this medina is where you'll find picturesque buildings, museums, shops, and more. Pinoys can visit this country visa-free.
The yurt. Anytime someone mentions Mongolia, we're sure your first thought is of this nomadic home. There is, of course, their hardcore lifestyle living off unforgiving lands to admire, but that is just one on the list of many things to admire about this vast landlocked country and its people. Hop on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a line that connects Russia and China through Mongolia that follows an ancient tea-caravan route, to get a full dose of Mongolia's insane landscapes. Stay up to 21 days visa-free.
There's a reason that animated kid's movie was set in this country. Heck, it's the title itself. Though we doubt you'll see any penguins, we bet the real-life lemurs are just as crazy as their cartoon counterparts, so safety first! This country is home to an incredible number of flora and fauna, ranking high on the biodiversity list. You can visit nature reserves, historical sites, and more; be sure not to miss the Avenue of the Baobabs where you can pass by and see these towering trees yourself. Not a sight you'd see anywhere else. Pinoys can get a visa on arrival.
We know, we know. This spot has been IG-ed so much you might already be sick of seeing those crystal blue waters. Well, we say go ahead and visit yourself; there's so much more to this archipelago than meets the IG feed. Make the most of their stunning seas and go snorkeling, diving, dolphin watching, and all that jazz. Don't pass up on the opportunity to go around Malé, their capital, to see what life is like in a nation that's been around for centuries. Pinoys can get a visa on arrival.
Wondering where that fairy tale castle is? That's in Armenia. The ancient monastery of Tatev has been around since the 9th Century and is one of many markers of this country's rich and long history. Best part? You can take the longest ropeway in the world, a cable car ride at 5.8 kilometers long, high above the River Vorotan with majestic views of the gorge, to reach this historic building. Pinoys can get a visa on arrival.
Don't lie. You've always wanted a funny picture with a llama—Machu Picchu is just the place to do that. This 15th Century Inca citadel is atop a mountain ridge at 2,430 meters height, so add the thin air and the site of a llama and you're in for a trip at this ancient town. A visit to this Latin American country will give you a glimpse into their culture, food, and their amazing landscapes, and oh, have we mentioned the llamas and alpacas?
You've probably seen many takes on that picture of Christ the Redeemer overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro and Sugarloaf Mountain. It's a stunning sight, to be sure, but is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this South American country. Apart from the food and their complicated history, it's the brightness of the people and their colorful lives you can't miss out on. We say party at least once here. Pinoys can visit visa-free.
If lush forests are something you want to check out, you know, while they're still here, then Costa Rica is right up there with Madagascar, with jungles of a different kind. Head on down to Monteverde, a town that lives up to its name thanks to a nature reserve nearby they've dubbed a Cloud Forest. What's so special about this spot is that it's unique environment and atmosphere means it has a consistent covering of clouds, hence the name. You can walk on bridges, trek new paths, all to check out rare trees and animals—ones that future generations will hopefully be able to witness, too. Pinoys can visit visa-free.
This is the Caribbean country that gave us Rihanna. Need we say more? Of course not, but we will anyways. This island country is a colorful spot whose culture and heritage blends together African, West Indian, and English influences. It's a complicated history, no doubt, and it's present is now a deep story you'd want to check out yourself—apart from all their stunning beaches. Check out their capital Bridgetown, a port city that bears a colorful mix of history and heritage. Pinoys can visit visa-free.
This story originally appeared on Spot.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.