An archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is a haven for world travellers.
Its busiest seaports are Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga. There's a lot ot see and do in the 12th most populous country in the world -- from barrio fiestas (district festivals) to commemorate the feast days of patron saints like the Moriones Festival and Sinulog Festival, stately baroque churches like the San Agustín Church in Manila and unique examples of Spanish architecture like a central square or plaza mayor, enjoy Original Pilipino Music (also known as OPM) or local board games like sungka and Filipino martial arts.
If it's natural wonders you are looking for -- whether beaches, mountains, volcanos or rainforests -- you will find it here, coupled with an mind-boggling array of flora and fauna in one of the world's 10 most biologically megadiverse countries, including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species not thought to exist anywhere else.
Its waters encompass as much as 850,000 square miles producing unique and diverse marine life and is an important part of the Coral Triangle with 2,400 fish species and over 500 species of coral. The Apo Reef is the country's largest contiguous coral reef system and the second-largest in the world. Philippine waters also sustain the cultivation of pearls, crabs, and seaweeds.
There are many active volcanoes such as the Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century.
A more serene legacy is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River and the white sand beaches made of coral remnants that make Boracay a popular vacation getaway. The reef-protected waters off that beach is ideal for windsurfing andkiteboarding / kitesurfing. The island also has several other beaches and is lined with resorts, hotels, lodging houses and restaurants.
The highest mountain is Mount Apo measuring up to 9,692 feet above sea level on the island of Mindanao. The Galathea Depth in the Philippine Trench in the Philippine Sea is the deepest point in the country and the third deepest in the world. The trench is located . The longest river is the Cagayan River in northern Luzon. Manila Bay, upon the shore of which the capital city of Manila lies, is connected to Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines, by the Pasig River. Subic Bay, the Davao Gulf, and the Moro Gulf are other important bays. The San Juanico Strait separates the islands of Samar and Leyte but it is traversed by the San Juanico Bridge.
The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate and is usually hot and humid with an average yearly temperature is around 26.6°C. Sitting astride the typhoon belt, most of the islands experience annual torrential rains and thunderstorms from July to October, the rainy season, with about 19 typhoons every year, so come prepared.
Don't forget to try some local food. Filipino cuisine has evolved over several centuries from its Malayo-Polynesian origins to become a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences that have been adapted to local ingredients. Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to the elaborate, like the paellas and cocidos created for fiestas. Some common local ingredients include calamondins, coconuts, saba (a kind of short wide plantain),mangoes, milkfish, and fish sauce. Filipino taste buds tend to favor robust flavors but the cuisine is not as spicy as those of its neighbors and they don't use chopsticks either.