Spread across an archipelago of more than 7,500 islands, there’s a veritable bounty of geographical wonders in the Philippines, from rugged volcanic landscapes and verdant mountains covered with tiered rice paddies, to sprawling megacities, charming villages and fantastic beaches. But it’s the Filipino culture and influences of centuries of Spanish and American colonial rule that set this nation apart.
The coast of the Philippines is the main appeal. With more than 22,000 miles of it, there’s a beach to suit every taste. Want fantastic diving? Head to El Nido on the western isle of Palawan for the bountiful seas of the Philippines’ largest marine reserve. Maybe surfing is more to your taste, and in recent years the Philippines has become a hotspot with some of the best surfers in the world praising the waves around Siargao island to the east. If you simply want to chill out on gorgeous expanses of white sand there are choices galore, from deserted islands to developed resorts.
Inland, the beauty of the Philippines continues. The Banaue rice terraces are one of the finest examples of tiered rice fields in the world. Almost every possible surface of the Ifugao mountains, no matter how small and seemingly inaccessible, are covered in paddies that have been cultivated for more than 1,500 years. The charming conical Chocolate Hills of Bohol and the surrounding forests are home to an amazing array of biodiversity, most notably the charismatically wide-eyed tarsiers. Even sprawling megacities such as Manila have a metropolitan magnetism that’s sure to please city slickers.
Then there’s the Filipino people and culture. There are 175 recognised ethnic groups in the Philippines and, while centuries of Catholic missionary work under Spanish rule and later the influences of American colonialism have caused their identities to be diluted, it means there’s a fascinating mix of cultures. Filipino cuisine is poised to become the next big thing, praised by critics such as Anthony Bourdain (American chef, author and television personality), and queens of healthy eating the Hemsley sisters, who are half Filipino. With Filipino people being famed for their warm hospitality, prepare to embrace the opportunity to share their food culture, traditions and celebrations.
Tempted by what you’ve read? Need a few more ideas about where to go, what to see and how to go about it? Contact us – we’re always happy to help you choose your dream stay.