Explore the Beautiful Islands of the Philippines

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1 Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,100 islands situated on the western fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire and bordered by the South China Seas to the west, the Philippine Sea to the east and the Celebes Sea to the south. Taiwan is located north of the Philippines across the Luzon Strait.  Mineral deposits are abundant in the Philippines and it is estimated to have the second-largest gold deposits after South Africa.

The extensive coastlines and rainforests are home to a diverse range of animals, plants, birds and sea creatures.  In the rainforests you can still find rare types of orchids. The critically endangered Philippine eagle can be found on Mindanao, Leyte, Samar and Luzon. This eagle is the largest of the extent eagles in the world and is also the national bird of the country.

The archipelago can be divided into three major island groups namely Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Luzon is home to the capital of the Philippines, Manila. Visayas is famous for its beaches and Mindanao showcases the indigenous cultures of the Philippines.

Explore the Mountainous Area of Mindanao

Traditional dance by the Lumad people

Traditional dance by the Lumad people

Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines and is home to the magnificent Mount Apo. The island, characterized by high rolling plateaus, rugged mountains and swampy plains, is surrounded by the Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea. The Philippine Deep, the greatest depth known on the earth’s surface, is a few kilometers offshore from the island.

Mindanao is known as the melting pot of cultures and also home to the Lumad people. The Lumad people consists of seventeen ethno linguistic groups, including the Bagobo, Atta, Bukidnon, Banwaon, Manobo, Higaonon, Mansaka, Tboli, Tagakaolo, Ubo and Tasaday tribes.

The Mindanao region is divided into the areas of Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen, Caraga and the Autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao. Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Zamboanga, Gingoog and Pagadian are all cities located in Mindanao.

The Crocodile Park, Riverfront Corporate City, Carlos P. Garcia Highway, Davao, is a popular tourist attraction. Ensure to also visit the Eden Nature Park about fifty kilometers from Davao. At the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao you can view about thirty of the largest eagles in the world, as well as other animals and birds.

Davao is well-known for its grapefruit and durian. Durian is regarded by most people in Southeast Asia as the king of fruits. The fruit has a strong odor and is distinctive for its large size and strong odor. Some people find the durian has a rotten onion smell while others say it has a sweet fragrance. The seeds and flesh are used in the local cuisines in Davao.

Other great attractions in Davao include the San Pedro Cathedral at San Pedro Street and the Shrine of the Holy Infant of Jesus at Shrine Hills Road, Matina. Gumamela Cave Rock Farm Resort, Purok 3 Tolosa, Barangay Matina Biao, Davao, is a well-preserved facility with a natural heated pool, waterfalls, springs and home to the world’s tallest Hibiscus.

Visiting Visayas

Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Visayas

Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Visayas

Visayas is divided into the regions of Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas. Cebu, Tacloban, Bacolod, Dumaquete, Roxas, Calbayog, Tagbilaran and Iloilo are cities in this region. Bacolod is known as the City of Smiles. Famous landmarks in this region include San Juanico Bridge, Magellan’s Shrine and Magellan’s Cross. The 1,260 Chocolate Hills in Carmen, Bohol is a popular tourist attraction. During the dry season the grass covering the hills turn brown, hence the name. The hills are a remarkable example of conical Karst topography. A romantic legend tells of a powerful giant, Arogo, who fell in love with Aloya. Aloya was a simple mortal and when she died, Arogo could not stop crying. When his tears eventually dried up, the hills were formed.

Tourist Attractions in Luzon

Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines and located in the northernmost region of the islands. Sagada offers scenic hiking trails and the Simigang Cave. Batangas, about two hours drive from Manila, is a popular destination for divers and tourist seeking beautiful beaches. Vigan is a typical Spanish colonial town and Albay is home to the cone-shaped Mayon volcano. Cities in this region include San Fernando, Angeles, Calamba, Baguio, Lagazpi, Makati, Quezon and Puerto Galera. Manila is the national capital. Batad is famed for its 2,000-year-old rice terraces and Pagudpud for its white beaches.

Rice terraces in Batad, Philippines

Rice terraces in Batad, Philippines

The Banaue Rice Terraces in Batad was created by the Ifugao people and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The terraces are often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. For beautiful panoramas you can go on the road to Bontoc to Viewpoint.  You can go down by foot to Banaue through the rice terraces.

Sagada and Bontoc are worth visiting. Sagada is home to the remarkable Sumaging cave and the Burial Cave with its hanging coffins. You can go by public transport to Sagada from the market square in Banaue. Bontoc boasts an outstanding museum showcasing the Ifugao culture.

Coron is a famous destination for wreck diving in the Philippines and Donsol is known among divers for its whale sharks. Ensure to also visit the Tubbataha Reefs National Park or Anilao for corals and excellent marine life.

Manila is the capital of the Philippines and offers amazing tourist attractions such as landmarks, parks, dining outlets, shopping malls and entertainment facilities.

Explore Manila

Manila has one of the largest Chinatowns in the world situated in the Binondo District. Binondo is the perfect place to find exotic ingredients such as deer horn, shark fin, ginseng and dried snakes. Moon cakes, noodle soups, fried rice and sticky rice cakes are abundant in Chinatown. A great restaurant for dumplings is Dong Bei Dumplings, Nueva Street.

5 Manila

Famous landmarks in Manila include Coconut Palace, Bonifacio Shrine, Mabini Shrine and Intramuros at the northern end of the Bay. The Bahay Chinoy, San Agustin Museum, Casa Manila and the National Museum of the Philippines at P. Burgos Avenue are all must see museums. The National Art Gallery houses the famous Spolarium painting by Juan Luna.

Outside the walled city is the well-known Rizal Park, also referred to as the Luneta. Luneta is the venue for bayside restaurants, national museums, music concerts, a planetarium and an aquarium. For a great afternoon you can visit the Manila Zoo or the Manila Ocean Park. The Arroceros Forest Park is located in the center of downtown Manila and offers a relaxing time.  Other places in downtown to visit include the Plaza Miranda, Quiapo Basilica and the Quinta Market. Ile de Toule offers an array of small shops and street vendors for souvenirs and handicrafts. Urban streets in Manila are bustling with shopping malls and centers including the Divisoria and Greenhills in Metro Manila. Shopping in Manila is cheap and flea markets offer great bargains.

Eating with your Hands in the Philippines

Local people in the Philippines eat mostly with their hands, but in the urban areas they use knives and forks. Local dishes include more garlic, ginger and onions, instead of spices. You can try Sinangag, fried garlic rice mixed with vegetables, shrimps and fish.  The popular soft rice muffins are called Puto and are especially popular in Laguna. Noodles are referred to as Pancit and some of the popular dishes include Pancit Bihon, Pancit Palabok and Pancit Molo.

Fastfood chains in the Philippines include Jollibee, Goldilocks, Greenwich Pizza, Chowking, Tapa King and GotoKing. Jollibee has about three-hundred stores in the country and you can try the Yum Burger or Chicken Joy. The condiments and salads served in the Philippines are fresh and delicious. You can order pickled papaya or banana ketchup. Radish salad tastes amazing with fish.

Coconut, mangoes, durian and bananas are abundant in the Philippines. You can buy banana chips and mouthwatering desserts such as Turron, a bar of cashew nuts with white wafer.

6 Philippine dance

Traditional Philippine dancers

Visa Requirements for the Philippines

Application for a temporary visitor’s visa must be made in person. In the case of a minor under the age of eighteen, the application may be made for him by a person who, in the opinion of the consular officer, is responsible for his/her welfare. Generally, foreign nationals who wish to enter the Philippines require a visa. Visa exempt foreign nationals may extend their stay two months per extension but not exceeding the maximum period of two years.

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