Discover the Philippines with its 7,107 islands! Being located in the heart of Southeast Asia makes the Philippines readily accessible to the different capitals of the world. The main islands are Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
A gateway to natural wonders of the world, the Philippines is a top tourist destination with its beautiful beaches which remained unspoiled. The most famous destination is Boracay Island, off the Visayan Province of Aklan, a beautiful island of powdery white sand and tranquil waters. Visitors call the island “paradise”. Lately, it was voted as best beach in Asia, and second best in the world at “Travelers’ Choice 2011″. Its deep-blue, crystal-clear waters offer about 40,000 square kilometers of coral reefs packed with a wide variety of marine life.
Endowed with a temperate climate, the Philippines offers a perfect treat to enjoy the sunlight. Palawan, the country’s last frontier, is itself an archipelago of 2,000 unexplored islets. It is one of the most beautiful islands in the South China Sea. The island is home to the spectacular Tubbataha Reef and the breathtaking Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Puerto Princesa Underwater River), both UNESCO World Heritage sites. The latter was officially proclaimed in late January 2012 as one of the New7Wonder of Nature. A distinguishing feature of the river is that it winds through a cave before flowing directly into the West Philippine Sea. It includes major formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and several large chambers.
Generating power for the Philippines are its magnificent waterfalls, the biggest of which is Maria Cristina Falls. The most popular is Pagsanjan Falls, which can be reached only by a river trip on dugout canoe known locally as “shooting the rapids”. Another famous island is Bohol, home to one of the smallest primates in the world– the “Philippine tarsier” and the site of some 1,000 oval limestone mounds called the Chocolate Hills which turn brown during summer. Cebu, the “Queen City of the South” is another tourist destination. It is famous for its hidden secrets: amazing dive sites, island resorts, white-sand islets, waterfalls, lakes, springs, mountain trails and countless wonders.
Surfing in the Philippines is comparable to the best in the world – with the world-famous cloud 9s off the island of Siargao facing the Philippine Trench in the Western Pacific as well as the surfing destinations of La Union and Zambales (facing South China Sea). The Philippines is one of the top three best diving destinations in the world, alongside Palau and the Maldives.
Up North, in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, you will find Pagudpud, the “boracay of the north”. Here, the mountains and hills are extravagant, and the valleys are fruitful. Pagudpud, alongside with Currimao, is famous for scuba diving, kayaking, cave exploration as well as trekking.
The archipelago is also one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the world, with the most number of species concentrated in one area, and it is also home to over 270 bird species. The best dive sites in the Philippines are located in Anilao, Boracay, Malapascua, Apo Island, Balicasag, Pagudpud, Pamilacan, Tubbataha, Palawan, Puerto Galera, and Subic Bay.
You will enjoy the fresh cool air in Tagaytay, Batangas Province, a two-hour drive from Manila, where you can have a full view of Taal Volcano, a volcano within a lake and one of the smallest active volcanoes in the world. This province also offers excellent diving in Anilao and full activity resorts in Calatagan.
Rising 1,500 meters above sea level with its six-hour trek up the zigzagging Kennon Road and sweet smelling scent of pine trees and flowers is the “summer capital” of the Philippines, Baguio City. Baguio’s attractions include Burnham Park, Baguio Cathedral, Mines View Park, Philippine Military Academy, Ifugao Woodcarving Village and the Mansion. Banaue is site of the majestic Rice Terraces, which were carved by indigenous people two thousand years ago. They are often referred to as the eight Wonder of the World.
Davao City, the largest city in Mindanao, is famous for Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak at 3,144 meters and is home to the endangered Philippine Eagle. Legaspi, in Bicol Region, is home to Mount Mayon, probably the world’s most symmetrical volcano. Its near perfect cone towers 2,457 meters. Zamboanga, the city of flowers, is known for its ornamental plants, seashells, mosques, pink-sand beaches, colorful vintas, brasswares, ethnic tribes, and sea gypsies or “Badjaos”.
The Philippines also boasts of its great historical heritage: Intramuros, the walled city of Old Manila, has Fort Santiago, once the military headquarters of occupying forces and now the repository of the memorabilia of the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Rizal Park features Japanese and Chinese gardens, a topographical map of the Philippines and a monument to Dr. Jose Rizal.
Another historical place is Corregidor, also known as ”the Rock”. It was a key bastion of the Allies during World War II. It is an hour away via deluxe high speed cruiser across Manila Bay. The island fortress has two war monuments: a steel sculpture of eternal flame of freedom and a marble-dome memorial of those who perished there. Subic and Clark Freeport Zones were formerly America’s largest overseas military installations, Subic Bay and Clark Airbase, and have now become the core of sea and air transport, tourism, trade, finance and industry in Central Luzon. Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, is famous for its “Ancestral Houses”, while Angono in Rizal Province, is famous for its epic murals and oil paintings celebrating country life.
The country’s economy is principally light industry and agriculture. Traditional export products are copper, gold, sugar, coconut and copra. Top non-traditional exports are semi-conductors and electronics. March to May is hot and dry, June to October is rainy, November to February is cool. Average temperatures: 78F/25C to 90F/32C; humidity: 77%.
The Philippines has modern and efficient communication services, and has a wide selection of HI hostel accommodations readily available.