The Philippines: Beyond the beaches

The Philippines: Beyond the beaches

The Philippines is still one of Asia’s relatively undiscovered countries, and only now are people beginning to discover its paradisiacal islands, golden beaches and aqua marine seas, the perfect place for a beach holiday in the sun. Although its beaches are one of its major draws, the Philippines has many other stunning and interesting sights waiting to be explored. Here are our pick of the best:

The Banaue Rice Terraces – The UNESCO World Heritage Banaue Rice Terraces are said to be the eighth Wonder of the World. Situated in northern Luzon, in the Cordillera Mountains, the rice terraces are over 2000 years old and span for miles across the emerald mountain range. The terraces were built by the Ifugo ethnic minority group who passed on their knowledge of terracing down through the generations for thousands of years. Travellers can hire guides that will take them hiking through the terraces, staying in small local tribal villages along the way.

Rice terraces

The Chocolate Hills – Located on the small island of Bohol, the Chocolate Hills are an unusual geological formation, comprising thousands of perfectly formed smooth hills, which look almost surreal. The hills are covered by a soft dark green carpet, however by the end of the dry season they have turned a chocolate brown colour, hence the name Chocolate Hills. Legend has it that the hills came into existence when a young giant name Arogo fell in love with an ordinary mortal girl called Aloya. When the girl eventually died, the giant cried bitterly and his tears turned into the hills, which are a lasting reminder of his grief.

Chocolate hills on Bohol Island, Philippines.

Puerto Princesa Underground River – Now officially one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, located on the island of Palawan is the world’s longest underground river. It is easily navigable up until 4.3km and visitors can take boats through the river to see beautiful stalactites, strange cave formations and plenty of bats.

Puerto Princesa Underground River Philippines

Mt. Pinatubo – The devastating Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption occurred on June 15 1991, killing thousands and covering everything for miles in a thick white ash. Today, visitors can take a day trip from the capital, Manila to see the volcano. Guests will drive across the lunar-like landscape of the Crow Valley ash fields, then hike up to the crater, where they can swim in the crater lake at the top. Nearby is the Mt. Pinatubo Spa Town, where you can laze in the hot springs and buy sculptures made from the volcanic ash itself.

Mount Pinatubo Crater

Villa Escudero – To experience the rustic countryside life of the Philippines, albeit in a kind of colonial theme park way, then Villa Escudero is the best place to head. This elegant plantation and resort, founded by a wealthy Filipino in the 1880s, showcases the best of the rich Philippine cultural heritage with cultural shows, bamboo raft tours, a museum and rural villages, all set in lush manicured gardens. The highlight of any trip here though, is a visit to the plantation restaurant, actually set within a waterfall. Sit down at your table in the middle of the waterfall and dine on traditional Filipino food, while the cool water rushes over your feet.