The Philippines is a delight for beachgoers, nature lovers and watersport enthusiasts. It boasts blissful beaches, crystal-clear tropical waters, lush countryside and majestic wildlife. Ruled by the Spanish for over 300 years and governed by the U.S. before declaring independence in 1946, the Philippines has a fascinating history. Visit towns filled with colonial architecture and experience urban city life inspired by its former rulers.
Manila, a fast-paced metropolis and the nation’s capital, is for many the first port of call. See 16th-century Spanish landmarks within the walled area of Intramuros, shop at glistening malls and witness the nightlife at Baywalk. Travel north from Manila to explore the natural beauty of Luzon island. Admire the UNESCO-protected rice fields of Banaue, relax at hot springs in Baguio, go spelunking at Sagada’s Sumaguing Caves and surf at Baler Bay.
Embark on an island-hopping adventure around some of the 2,000 inhabited islands. The white-sand beaches of El Nido, on Palawan island, inspired Alex Garland when he wrote The Beach. Boracay Island attracts a backpacker and package-tour crowd while Caohagan preserves time-honored fishing traditions. Find caves, lagoons and near-perfect surf breaks on Siargao and walk to secluded beaches on tiny Malapascua Island.
Snorkel and dive at Apo Reef Natural Park, which is one of the world’s biggest single coral reefs. Join one of the dolphin-spotting boat excursions that depart from Pamilacan Island. Get within touching distance of whale sharks at Oslob Beach, on Cebu Island.
Continue your adventures amid more of the archipelago’s stunning landscapes. Hike through rainforests in Mount Apo National Park. Visit a sunken cemetery, volcanoes and waterfalls on Camiguin. Be dazzled by the conical-shaped Chocolate Hills of Bohol. On Bohol you can also see the tarsier, a primate with similarities to a frog, mouse and monkey.
Reach the Philippines by flying to Manila or Cebu’s international airports. Get around the cities via jeepney buses and between the islands aboard banca fishing boats and ferries. Due to conflicts between military and insurgent groups in some areas, it is advisable to check the latest travel advice before visiting.