The fact that the Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands should be enough to convince any traveller that all sorts of sights and adventures await those who are willing to leave the well-beaten paths of mainland Southeast Asia for this archipelago nation.
The capital city of Manila is the inevitable first stop since most international flights land here. Intramuros, its oldest district, still contains vestiges of Spanish colonial rule. Visiting its old forts, cobbled streets, and cathedrals is a good way to learn about the country’s past. Manila’s nightlife has much to offer- from the haven of unsigned bands, young artists, and indie filmmakers that is Cubao X to the cosmopolitan wine bars and restaurants at Bonifacio High Street.
The Philippines is along the path of the “Ring of Fire” or the chain of active volcanoes in the Pacific, making it an exciting destination for volcano treks. The superstars of the country’s volcanic repertoire are Pinatubo (just 90 kilometeres from Manila), Taal (situated in the resort city of Tagytay), and Mayon (renowned for its perfect conical shape).
Each Philippine island has something unique to offer. Coron is teeming with breathtaking limestone cliffs, white sand beaches, freshwater lakes with baby barracuda, and Japanese shipwreck dive sites- reportedly causing explorer Jacques Costeau that the island was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. Siargao, in the south, has one of the best surfing wave rifts in the world. Bohol is home to the curiously shaped “chocolate hills” and the Tarsier, the world’s smallest monkey.
For more information on the Philippines, visit the website of the department of tourism.
by Anne Elicaño
Philippines Essential information
Places of interest: Intramuros (in Manila), Coron, Bohol and Siargao Islands
Time Zone: GMT + 8
Languages: Filipino, English (both official)
Currency: Philippine peso (PHP). For up-to-date exchange rates visit www.xe.com/ucc
International dialling code: + 63
British Embassy: visit the website for more information