Relax and unwind: where travellers find well-being and peace in the Philippines

A country rich with ancient healing traditions and a growing number of luxury spa hotels, the Philippines is fast becoming one of the world’s premier wellness destinations. Whether you’re looking for a holistic medical retreat, a bamboo stick massage or a private island to escape it all, the Philippines’ will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated for the year ahead.

Body scrubs in a Batangas spa© The Farm San Benito – Photo Credit: Marc Go

Wellness retreats in Batangas

The Philippines are home to several wellness retreats where travellers can relax and join programs for weight loss, infertility, insomnia, diabetes, and even cancer. Treatments such as acupuncture, ozone therapy and colonics are led by medically trained doctors, while nutritionists and fitness coaches are on hand for personalised dietary plans and private tai chi lessons. For guests who just want to relax, deep-tissue massages, body scrubs and guided meditation sessions are some of the many activities available in the country. The Province of Batangas, in particular, is the ideal location to unwind while watching sunset views over its forested mountains. For dinner, vegan food grown in the area and vegetarian dishes are the perfect way to end a relaxing day.

At a glance

Relaxation rating: 5/5

Best for: holistic medical treatments that combine relaxation and nature

Nearest airport: Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila

The islands in Palawan© TPB – Photo Credit: Erwin Lim

Private islands in El Nido

The Palawan archipelago is the perfect location for a private trip. Its islands are home to some of the densest and most biodiverse forests of the Philippines, where many endemic bird and mammal species live, including the endangered Palawan Hornbill, thanks to the resorts’ conservation efforts. To protect the wildlife, you won’t find jet skis or motorised water sports here. Instead, the local resorts encourage guests to unwind by connecting with nature through human-powered, environmentally-friendly exploration: think hiking to turquoise coves framed by forested limestone cliffs, birdwatching along forest trails, or kayaking the lagoon’s mangroves at sunset. Overwater bungalows and beachfront cottages – built with recycled timber and fitted with solar panels and energy-efficient water heaters – allow guests to fall asleep to the sound of lapping waves.

At a glance

Relaxation rating: 4.5/5

Best for: wildlife spotting, conservation and low-impact activities

Nearest airport: El Nido Airport, Palawan

The beach on Pamalican Island© TPB – Photo credit: Bien Bautista

Luxury stays in the Cuyo Islands

Arriving on a 14-seat, twin-engine turboprop via private airstrip, landing on Pamalican Island feels like you’re starring in your very own James Bond film. The private island is in the north of Palawan, where sands are silky smooth and the sea thrives with vibrant coral reefs. Sitting on the highest point of the island is a spa, where ancient wellness rituals from the Philippines to the Amazon are fused with modern techniques for ultimate relaxation. The spa’s signature treatment is the Hilot massage, a centuries-old Filipino healing ritual that uses banana leaves and cold-pressed coconut oil to relieve stress and aching muscles. The Dag-Dagay Foot Treatment – a tradition that started when Filipino children would massage their parents’ feet using bamboo sticks after a day in the fields – uses a green tea wrap and a bamboo massage to reduce swelling in the feet.

At a glance

Relaxation rating: 5/5

Best for: luxurious amenities and wellness rituals inspired by local healing traditions

Nearest airport: Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila

A beach resort in Bohol© TPB – Photo credit: Richard Ballon

Sandy beaches and fine boutiques on Bohol Island

Another cozy spot to relax is the island of Bohol, where multiple resorts and spas are located. Bohol is the Philippines’ first UNESCO global geopark and is famous for its cone-shaped Chocolate Hills. The island’s villas are spread across hectares of lush gardens and jungle, and you can even book ones with their own infinity pools and views of the Bohol sea. To treat yourself even more, you can receive luxurious treatments at a spa using ancient wellness traditions by the local Eskaya tribe. As well as facials and body scrubs that use local herbs and oils, some of the places offer indigenous-inspired rituals such as bathing in coconut milk and Ciquate, locally-made dark chocolate. European spa rituals such as thalassotherapy (“Thalassa” is Greek for “sea”), a treatment that uses seawater to rejuvenate the skin and boost your wellbeing through a combination of seawater bathing, salt scrubs and seaweed wraps, are also available.

At a glance

Relaxation rating: 4.5/5

Best for: an intimate stay and indigenous spa rituals.

Nearest airport: Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila


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