Luzon, where Metro
Manila is situated. is the largest island in the Philippine
archipelago and is home to almost half of the country's population.
Because of its solid mass and the availability of roads and infrastructure,
Metro Manila's environs and the many provinces a few hours' drive
away are perfect weekend getaways. An overland tour is the most
insightful way of getting to know Luzon.
North of Manila lies Baguio at 1500 meters
above sea level, a cool mountain retreat known as the 'Summer
Capital of the Philippines'. On the northeast of Baguio, one
will find the majestic grandeur of the Banaue Rice Terraces,
created more than 2000 years ago by the Ifugao people using
a few primitive tools and their bare hands. La Union, washed
by the placid waters of the South China Sea is a haven for water
sports enthusiasts. Across the Manila Bay looms the island fortress
of Corregidor, a tribute to the last bastion of freedom
in the Pacific during World War II. Further south, the breathtaking
length of Tagaytay Ridge affords a view of the world's smallest
active volcano, Taal - a volcano within a lake within another
The rugged south coast of Luzon, around Batangas
and around Puerto Galera on Oriental Mindoro, contain some
of the best dive sites. The island of Palawan, described as the
last frontier, is dedicated to ecotourism with stunning subterranean
caves, unexplored dive sites, unspoiled beaches and verdant tropical
jungles for trekkers.
Visayas, like emerald
jewels scattered in the warm sea of middle Philippines, beckon
with the allure of sun, sand and sea - ideal setting for island-hopping
vacations; its dive sites offer ample opportunities for underwater
The charms of the Visayas lie not only in these
modern-day pursuits, but also in the way the past blends with
the present. The oldest cities and churches in the Philippines
are located in the Visayas. In Cebu, go on a cultural tour
of the many scenic attractions of this historic province, hunt
for bargains in handicrafts, preserved foods and guitars, or delve
into the roots of this oldest Spanish settlement in the country.
Kalibo in Aklan is the jump-off point
to the island paradise of Boracay. Marvel at the Chocolate
Hills of Bohol, then walk through its man-made forests, home
of the rare endangered tarsier, the world's oldest insect-eating
Mindanao is the second largest island in the
Philippines comprising 34% of the national territory. It is situated
in the typhoon-free southern part of the country. It is a land
of towering mosques and malong-clad women, where boldly-striped
vintas ply the waters between houses perched precariously on stilts.
Here, ethnic tribes weave glorious tales of brave warriors and
haughty princesses into colorful tapestries and fabrics.
Mindanao is also a nature lover's paradise,
with its picturesque plains and breathtaking highland lakes: a
destination for flora and fauna. The adventurous traveler would
probably wish to conquer Mindanao's vast mountain wilderness or
explore the many forests and wildlife reserves. Mt. Apo in
Davao del Sur is the country's highest peak. A plethora of
waterfalls awaits the visitor to Lanao del Norte where
the legendary Maria Cristina Falls, 100 feet higher than
Niagara, may be viewed.