The Philippines: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Characterized by emerald rice fields, busy mega-cities, raging volcanoes and smiling friendly people, the Philippines is an archipelago in the South-East Asia is made up of more than seven thousands islands situated in between the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea. The myriad beaches from virgin patches of sand in the middle of the ocean to sprawling large islands like Mindanao and Luzon appeal to many travellers. But there is a lot more to the Philippines than just sand and sunshine. The combination of the Malayo-Polynesians migrants that settled on the isles, 350 years of Spanish rule and the following American influence has lead to a unique spiritual and cultural group of people, very different from mainland Southeast Asia.
The Philippines feature unique Spanish-Filipino colonial architecture, including stunning centuries old churches, mansions, and stunning museums spread across the country. The landscape offers numerous adventure opportunities for tourists from canyoning and spelunking to kayaking and kyteboarding. The islands offer water sports like rafting and wakeboarding, while numerous diving opportunities await off coast.
Regions of the Philippines
Luzon is the largest and most populated island of the Philippines. Its northern regions stretching from the far off reaches of the Batanes Islands and the coasts of Ilocos, to the mist shrouded mountains of Sagada and the dramatic rice terraces of Banaue.
South-Central Luzon is home to the Philippines capital Manila, which has a lot to offer in terms of cultural tourism, including beautiful colonial architecture, old Spanish forts, several interesting museums and the oldest Chinatown in the world. The mountainous settings of Tagaytay and the jungles of the heart shaped Marinduque Island offer countless outdoor adventures, while the modern city of Lucena stands as a major commercial center for the country.
The island of Palawan is the most sparsely populated region of the Philippines featuring pristine beaches and untouched wildlife. Puerto Princesa located in the center of the island, is the primary gateway to nearby settlements as well as the culinary capital of this region. Coron town and El Nido in the north attract the most visitors due to the diving and snorkeling opportunities in the Bacuit archipelago.
Visayas, or the Visayan Islands, in the central Philippines offer a variety of resorts, diving spots, caves, waterfalls white beaches and coral reefs. The urbanized regional capital of Bacolod hosts the annual Masskara Festival and features many interesting monuments, museums and parks. The island of Cebu, located between Bohol and Negros, is one of the country’s major tourist destinations. The small volcanic island of Apo, south of Negros Island, offers world class diving spots.
The second largest island of the Philippines has a troubled and violent history due to widespread poverty and religious differences. Nevertheless the northern coastline from Cagayan de Oro to Surigao, famous for its white water rafting, is largely spared spared from the violence.
Getting around the Philippines
The Philippines have several international airports throughout its islands to make them easily accessible. Open jaw tickets are the best option for traveling in between islands, as they can save a lot back-tracking time. Ferry services and cruise ships link most islands of the country. Buses and trains are available to traverse the larger islands, however the Philippine National Railways currently only operates on Luzon, between Manila and Naga. Luzon also has the best road network in the country. Road networks outside of Luzon converge on the largest cities of each island.