Those same geological conditions have made the mountainous Philippines one of the region’s most beautiful and fertile countries, with an abundance of natural resources and rich biodiversity comparable to the Galapagos Islands. It’s estimated that it’s home to more than 510 species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds that only exist in the Philippines, like the dwarf water buffalo and Philippine Eagle. Also worth looking out for are the enormous hornbills and flying lemurs.
Each island is distinct, making the Philippines one of the region’s most diverse countries, however, while the islands lure tourists with sandy palm-lined beaches lapped by aquamarine water, cities such as the capital Manila are marked by a grittiness and chaos that can sometimes scare off all but the most intrepid at first glance!. Where to start your itinerary when there are thousands of islands to explore? Each is home to an array of indigenous and ethnic groups and cultures due to successive waves of visitors throughout history, from early Malays, Hindus and Muslims through to Chinese, Spanish and Americans, who probably left the most indelible marks.
Palawan and Bacuit Archipelago appeal to budget travellers as much as affluent jetsetters, offering wildlife galore and countless dive wrecks, including Japanese and American battleships sunk during World War II. The Visayas are home to popular party destination Borocay, continually named Asia’s best beach; Cebu, the second largest city; and Bohol Island with its ‘Chocolate Hills’. For tranquillity, try Langub Beach or Sugar Beach at Sipalay and for mountains head to Camiguin Island, which has more volcanoes than towns For diving, try Samal, which also has bat-filled caves.