The Philippines is known for its incredible landscape, delicious fruits, unique culture, and some rather diverse weather. However, have you ever wondered why this remarkable place is called the Pearl of the Orient Sea?

The phrase itself is widely known throughout the world, but the actual definition behind it can be challenging to find. Being the travel enthusiast I am, I quickly became intrigued with this “saying” and decided to research the topic. 

Since the 1750’s the Philippines has been called the “Pearl of the Orient Sea” (Perla del Mar de Oriente) because of the elegant organic beauty it contained. This term originated from the thought of Jose Rizal in his last poem Mi último adios.

It goes to show, people back in the 1700s believed that this archipelagic country was incredible. In this article, we’re going to dive deeper into the meaning of “Pearl of the Orient Sea.” You’ll be surprised that many other locations in Asia are also referred to as this phrase, so let’s find out who and why. 

What Else Does Pearl of the Orient Sea Refer to? 

As mentioned above, various other locations in Asia are also referred to as the Pearl of the Orient Sea. To further understand why these areas have such an extravagant name, see below. 


City of Dreams Manila

Located on the largest island in the Philippines is the capital, Manila. Manila has been crowned Pearl of the Orient Sea since its development because of its picturesque location and remarkable sunsets. 

All the way up to the second World War, Manila was deemed the most beautiful city in Asia. However, during the war, after Asia attacked Warsaw in Poland, soon came destruction from the U.S forces. The repercussions from attacking Poland were rather devastating for the nation. When the U.S retaliated with their carpet-bombing technique and house-to-house fighting, Manila quickly became flattened and stripped from its beauty. 

But since then, they have been developing this picturesque city back to its original state. For a city of this caliber, you’ll be surprised at how cheap it is to visit. Although they’re home to many fast-food chains that are located worldwide, such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, you can expect to pay a fraction of the price for these in Manila.  


On the central coast of China is Shanghai. This is another city that’s deemed Pearl of the Orient Sea because of its pleasant climate, vibrant cultural scenes, and absolutely thriving commercial centers.

Shanghai brings in a lot of the country’s overall revenue and is home to one of the busiest ports in the entire world. It’s estimated that the port makes roughly 5.2 billion dollars each year. The reason this port has established itself so well was during the coal era. Around 90% of all the coal harvested worldwide was from China, making this port a vital connection point for many countries. 

However, now the coal times are slowly dying out, China has made itself prominent in the manufacturing industry for many years. Therefore, the port continues to grow, making it a valuable asset to the country. 

Hong Kong

Since 1997 when the British colony handed back this city to the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), it has been known as the Pearl of the Orient Sea ever since. As you’re able to grasp from this post, countries, cities, or any location to be deemed Pearl of the Orient Sea must look aesthetically pleasing. 

So, as you can imagine, Hong Kong was labeled this because of the beauty it held within the city. Nowadays, it’s tightly packed with tall high-rise buildings that tower over people below. During the day, this can look like an eye saw, but at night, a completely different story. As the sun sets and the skyscrapers light up, you’re transferred into a dreamy city that is full of color. 


Next on the list is Penang Island, and it is highly known to be a great tourist attraction, honeymoon vacation, and long-term living space. The locals of this island crowned it the Pearl of the Orient Sea due to the multitude of different visitors it attracts. 

This highly cultural island is packed with beautiful beaches, rice fields, and exotic fruits. It’s a rich land known by many around the world, and it will continue to increase in popularity in the future. Without a doubt, if you’re looking for a getaway that encounters soft sandy beaches, delicious food, and some rather interesting cultural sites, then this Pearl of the Orient Sea is definitely worth thinking about. 


Saigon, or newly known as Ho Chi Minh City, is located in South Vietnam, and it’s a luscious city filled with beauty and entertainment. From 1954 to 1975 Saigon was known as the Pearl of the Orient Sea because it held joy and magnificence inside the city. 

However, this was only short-lived due to the communist taking over Saigon and renaming it Ho Chi Minh City. Soon after the transfer, the communist started to undo the city and began destroying everything the South Asians built. Because of this, the reputation of this city has rapidly declined, and the locals have stripped it from the name Pearl of the Orient Sea. 

Sri Lanka

The country of Sri Lanka has many nicknames, the teardrop of India, the Island of Dharma, Ceylon, the Resplendent Island, and of course, the Pearl of the Orient Sea. Sri Lanka is filled with rich culture and history dating back to the beginning of time. Within this maritime country in Asia, there is an abundance of seamless blends of religion, city, and beaches, making it the perfect place for any travel enthusiast to visit. 


Goa is a state located in western India, and it has been named the Pearl of the Orient Sea because of its countless natural beauties. Many people are unaware of this location, but it is a trendy holiday destination for many people in India and Russia. 

It’s home to beautifully sun-kissed beaches, cashew plantations, prominent historical forts, Portuguese cathedrals, spice farms, festivals, and much more. The state of Goa is truly remarkable and is packed with cultural aspects and flourished with extraordinary scenery. 


As you can see from the above, there are many countries, islands, and cities named the Pearl of the Orient Sea. Although they’re located in different areas within Asia, they all share the same characteristics to gain this title. This is that they’re all packed with visually pleasing sights, culture, and much other exotic wildlife that comes along with this type of climate. 

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