The latest political tensions in Bangkok aside notwithstanding, Thailand is a less exciting destination than the Philippines. The dramatic karst formations of El Nido on the island of Palawan would have made a more striking backdrop for Leonardo DiCaprio's escapades in 'The Beach' than Thailand's Ko Phi Phi. Palawan, it seems, sits pretty much smack dab at the epicenter of marine biodiversity. The underwater life is downright flamboyant. Dive safaris of six days or longer on the S/Y Philippine Siren take you to explore sunken Japanese wrecks, deepwater pinnacles, the critter hot spot of Anilao, and Apo Reef – the second largest contiguous reef system in the world. The other option: Opt for a more sedentary vacation along the lines of sipping a San Miguel beer on a spectacular beach like Sipalay on the island of Negros, where bungalows rent for next to nothing.
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