- 99 million
- Filipino, English
It’s got 7107 stunning islands to explore and, despite the country’s populous nature, on some you’ll be able to find your isolated Robinson Crusoe moment. Boracay is beautiful but all the beach babies have ditched their usual spots to make it top of the trending lists. Personally, we prefer Palawan for island hopping and snorkelling.
You might not expect it, but there are some decent waves here. The film crew who shot Apocalypse Now back in the seventies left their surfboard at Baler, about six hours’ drive from Manila, and Philippine’s surf culture grew from there. One of the biggest waves is Pagudpud on the northern tip of the mainland, and those who make the trek are likely to have the break almost to themselves.
Divers will also return from the Philippines satisfied customers. Good vis, warm waters and huge diversity of marine life – thresher sharks and manta rays at Malapascua Island, drift and wall dives at Anilao, and whale sharks in Donsol Bay, between November and June – make it suitable for everyone, including those who want to learn.
You’ll also find all the adventure sport staples: mountain biking, rock climbing, sea kayaking and whitewater rafting. Not to be missed is a tour to the underground river at Puerto Princesa.
Three hundred years of Spanish rule certainly left their mark on the country, with some beautiful colonial architecture still standing in Manila. This is a great city to explore for so many reasons: it’s not nearly as hectic as some of Asia’s other capitals, there is fantastic eating and shopping to be had, and the remnants of the Marcos era are, unsurprisingly, fascinating.