The Philippines archipelago is one of Southeast Asia’s less explored tourist jewels. Visitors will find plenty to see and do in the gorgeous island chain, from lazing on palm-fringed beaches to world-class scuba diving and snorkeling sites. They will also encounter a wealth of great cultural attractions.
The Philippines Travel Guide
Visitors generally fall into two categories: package-tour holidaymakers, visiting one of the country’s excellent beach resorts (found in Bohol, Boracay or Puerto Galera); and independent adventure travelers, keen on criss-crossing the archipelago in search of excitement.
Whichever way visitors decide to experience the Philippines, they’ll come across several tourist sights and activities they simply can’t afford to miss. The capital, Manila, is a chaotic yet compelling city, with plenty to keep travelers occupied. Intramuros, the historic walled enclave full of Spanish-colonial architecture, and Binondo, one of the oldest and most vibrant Chinatowns in the world are among the many wonderful places on offer.
Regarding natural wonders, the Philippines abounds with unforgettable excursions, such as the marvellous Chocolate Hills of Bohol, and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (one of the New 7 Wonders of the World). Nature-lovers will delight in the country’s lush, captivating landscapes.
Best time to visit the Philippines
The Philippines has a tropical climate characterized by distinct dry and rainy seasons. Weather-wise, the best time to visit is between November and April. However, this is also peak tourist season, meaning flight and accommodation prices will be higher.
What to pack
Visitors should pack sunscreen and lightweight clothing, as well as a small, ideally waterproof, backpack that can hold items such as bottled water, toilet paper, insect repellent and antibacterial hand-soap while they’re on day excursions.
What to buy
Hand-woven bags, baskets and mats, embroidered shirts and skirts, hammocks and bamboo flutes.
Lechon (whole-roasted suckling pig), puchero (beef prepared with banana and tomato), kare-kare (oxtail cooked in peanut sauce) and adobo (chicken, pork or squid stewed in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves), or try balut – the national delicacy.
A final word
An archipelago blessed with great weather and astounding natural scenery, the Philippines is emerging as a great destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, as well as an all-action stop on the southeast Asian backpacking circuit.
DISTANCE FROM AIRPORT TO CITY CENTRE: Manilla: 10 kilometres, Cebu: 15 kilometres, Clark: 7 kilometres
TIME ZONE: GMT +8 hours
CURRENCY: Phillippine Peso (PHP). There are ATMs on the major islands and credit cards are widely accepted at major stores, restaurants and hotels
LANGUAGES: Filipino and English are the joint official languages.