GMT +8 hours
An extraordinary archipelago consisting of some 7000 islands, The Philippines has been blessed with a magical collection of sights, sounds and destinations. Blessed with a forthright and dynamic culture, the people of The Philippines exude a unique, indigenous Asian outlook coloured by overtly Catholic and Hispanic habits, making the destination unlike any other in the region.
Loose yourself in one of many sublime beach resorts, such as the powder soft sands of Cebu or the vibrant beaches of Boracay, take the time to explore the many colourful reefs on a diving excursion or discover the enchanting north, where images of mind-defying landscapes will stay with you forever.
One of the world’s great metropolises, Manila is a city literally bursting at the seams. Sprawling, vibrant, dynamic and eclectic, the city also enjoys a wonderfully preserved Spanish colonial city centre.
HOLIDAYS IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines is the perfect destination for those seeking a taste of south-east Asia with a strong Spanish colonial influence, some of the world’s finest beaches, excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities and an impressive collection of world-class hotels.
Situated in the heart of the Philippines’ largest island of Luzon, and one of the world’s greatest metropolises, Manila is a city literally bursting at the seams. Sprawling, vibrant, dynamic and eclectic, the city also enjoys a wonderfully preserved Spanish colonial city centre, a variety of shopping malls to include the largest in Asia, a selection of contemporary and traditional restaurants, and the beautiful Manila Bay. Wandering north, the province of Ifugao reveals a stunning volcanic landscape, with the spectacular ancient rice terraces of Banaue. Carved by the indigenous Ifugao people, this much-loved vision of beauty would spread almost half way across the world if laid out side-by- side!
Cebu is the country’s most developed holiday island; here the magical beaches, fabulous dining opportunities and historic sights that made the island so popular vie for attention with its buzzing resort centres, as well as an abundance of luxury hotels to include Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort Cebu, where you can take time out to indulge in the opulent CHI, The Spa, or partake in a number of watersports from the resort’s private beach. The vibrant island of Boracay is a tiny spec in comparison to Cebu and enjoys sublime beaches that are frequently voted amongst the world’s finest. Entirely surrounded by reefs, you can spend your days beneath the water to discover the fascinating world below, or head to the northern part of the island for the chance to experience drift dives, cave dives and even shallow dives for beginners. Famous for its Chocolate Hills and wide-eyed tarsiers, the island of Bohol is enveloped with lush verdant forestry and rice terraces that are cocooned by soft golden sands. Just offshore lies Panglao Island, offering idyllic snorkelling and diving opportunities near to the divine beaches and small clusters of traditional towns that take pride in their colonial Spanish architecture.
Methods of transportation to and from Manila are widely available. Air-conditioned coaches travel to various locations throughout the country, whilst short journeys are best made by taxi, jeepney (a quirky converted army Jeep) or the ubiquitous tricycle (motorbike with passenger sidecar), where pre-negotiation of rates are imperative to avoid being overcharged.
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I love the diversity of the Philippines, riding in a jeepney around the bustling capital Manila with towering skyscrapers or taking an old fashioned horse drawn ‘kalesa’ around cultural districts such as Itramuros with fascinating colonial history.
Travel through the country observing spectacular scenery, learning about local tribes customs and traditions while meeting the most warm and welcoming locals. Pass through towns with long established local restaurants offering a variety of delicacies both sweet and savoury tempting you at every corner with curious smells coming from markets inviting you inside. Finish your stay with a tropical beach break on a stunning white sandy beach. There are top class diving opportunities, take a boat trip out to sea and witness unique fish and sea life in the clear waters or just sit under a palm tree and watch the sun set over the water.