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Philippines travel - attractions

Things to See and Do ••
Philippines travel, activities and attractions

Several hotels in Angeles offer tours to Mt Pinatubo which erupted violently in 1991 and left an amazing landscape. Walk among the ravines, drive up in a jeep or arrange an aerial tour. You can also climb Mayon, in southern Luzon, which has been described as the world's most perfect volcanic cone. This 2450m (8036ft) active volcano has erupted four times since 1968, the last time in February 1993. It takes several days to climb and guides can be found in Legaspi. Other appealing climbs include the Mt Taal, south of Manila, described as the smallest and most dangerous volcano in the world; and the Philippines' highest peak, Mt Apo, on Mindanao.

There are wonderful trekking opportunities along Luzon's Pacific Coast, especially in Bikol and Quezon provinces. For those who want to escape motorised transport completely, nothing beats walking on Batan Island or Lubang, where the horse cart still retains its place as the primary mode of transport. Wildlife enthusiasts should visit Calauit Island, where the wildlife sanctuary has been breeding African animals successfully for nearly 20 years. Giraffes, zebras and gazelles can be seen.

With 7000 islands, the Philippines has a wealth of opportunities for diving and snorkelling. Favoured spots are Boracay, Alona Beach (Bohol), Puerto Princesa (Palawan) and the island of Apo. Canoeists can shoot the rapids in Pagsanjan, 70km (43mi) south-east of Manila. If it looks familiar in places, that's because Coppola filmed parts of Apocalypse Now on the river. Spelunkers can explore Palawan's Underground River, an 8km (5mi) long meandering network of caves.

Manila - Many people dismiss Manila as nothing more than a 12 million person-strong entry point to more interesting rural destinations in the Philippines. And while the less built-up areas of the country do offer much to the adventurous traveller, those who stop to smell the incense and the pollution find that the capital city has a few hidden treasures of its own. Manila is a modern-looking city - a result of virtual destruction during WWII - but the sprawling city boasts its fair share of colonial ruins, enough to keep those historically inclined amused for a while, anyway. If you're just looking for a good time, Manila could be just the ticket: bars and entertainment venues could keep you well fed, well greased and in the party mood for months on end.

Banaue- The spectacular rice terraces around Banaue, in north Luzon, have been described (like a lot of other places) as the eighth wonder of the world. Carved out of the hillside by Ifugao tribespeople 2000 to 3000 years ago, these remarkable terraces stretch like stepping stones to the sky - some reaching an altitude of 1500m (4920ft).

Beaches- The island of Boracay, off the north-western tip of Panay, regularly appears in those 'Best Beaches of the World' lists that travel rags are so fond of compiling. Unchecked tourist development has, however, caused waste disposal problems. Environmental tests in 1997 found the water off Boracay to be contaminated and unsafe to swim in. Follow-up tests declared the waters to be within acceptable pollution limits and Boracay's beaches certainly look pristine. Puerto Galera, on the island of Mindoro is now destined to be the place to laze around in the sun. Puraran, on Catanduanes, off Luzon, has a beautiful beach, reef and surf, but currents can be dangerous.

Other attractions- There are countless spectacular sights scattered throughout the archipelago, including the strange Chocolate Hills of Bohol in the Visayas; the volcanic crater Lake Taal, south of Manila; the burial caves of Sagada, 18km (11mi) from Bontoc; the easygoing port city of Cebu, where Magellan marked the beginning of Christianity in the Philippines by erecting a cross; and 5,000 uninhabited islands to explore.




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