Rice paddies to reefs
Whether inland or by the coast, the Philippines has breath-taking beauty at almost every turn. Tour some of its UNESCO World Heritage Sites by starting high in the remote rice paddies lining the mountains of Cordillera, take a tour of the caves at Puerto Princesa River National Park and finally dive at the reefs just off Tubbataha.
A slice of paradise
Comprising more than 7,000 islands in the crystalline waters of the North Pacific, the Philippines has thousands of miles of coastline, making it the perfect haven for beach-dwellers. Boracay, Bohol and Palawan are all famed for their powder-soft white sands, and have easy transport connections for an island-hopping adventure.
…on the wild side
From coastline and river to forest and mountain, the Philippines teems with wildlife. Head to Panglao Island to see tiny bug-eyed tarsier monkeys, dive with whale sharks in Donsol and visit the tamaraw buffalo on Mindoro. Look up, too: the Philippine eagle is the world's largest, and Davao is great place in which to spot them.
A shock of colour
Filipino food uses fresh ingredients from across its islands, and delights the taste buds with blasts of salt, spice and sour. From meat-heavy stews like the ubiquitous adobo, to delicate fish dishes and vibrant salads, you'll get lashings of local kalamansi lime, dried shrimps or shrimp sauce, and as much chili as you can handle.
A nation of festivities
There are dozens of festivals celebrating the islands' colourful cultural diversity -- you'd actually be unlucky if you didn't catch one while you're there. There's Sinulog, with its dance ritual commemorating the nation's pagan past, Spanish-influenced fiestas in barrio towns and week-long celebrations for minority tribes.