Comprised of some 7,000 blue-rimmed islands, the Philippines is paradise simply-stated. Like many of its Southeast Asian neighbors, the country shares a well-known reputation for laid-back attitudes and unshakable hospitality, but the cultural distinction here stems from 350 years of life under the banner of Spain. The religious majority by staggering numbers is Catholicism; holy holidays are celebrated with elaborate festivals and the kind of colorful conviviality you’d expect in Latin America, and from Manila’s sprawling streets to the smallest of remote villages astounding architectural remnants of colonialism still stand. This mega-melting pot can only be defined as Filipino, and that distinct heritage is threaded throughout the country from its towns to even the farthest of sunny beaches.

At the center of the Philippines beats the heart of its biodiversity and natural beauty—Visayas—where the most exclusive resorts have made their home on Crusoe-style smudges of sand and lush jungle. This middle ground is top of the list for idyllic island luxury and astounding diving and snorkeling in crystalline waters. The region plays host to plenty of action too, with overwater adventures like kayaking and kiteboarding balancing the thrill of canyoning and rock climbing amidst pristine swaths of forest. To the west of Visayas’ island wonders is Palawan, with its narrow 280–mile long main island and clusters of coastal atolls, including El Nido and Busuanga—both are renowned for their coral habitats and wrecks of Japanese naval vessels from World War II.

To the north, main island Luzon is home to megacity Manila. The streets pulse with the activity of the Western world, blinking neon and brake lights mirrored by the countless shimmering skyscrapers. Beneath this busy surface a thriving arts and cultural scene is coming into its own with indie music and innovations from gallery installations, all the while keeping one foot ever in an eclectic Asian and colonial past. Respite from the modernity of Manila can be found on the northern regions of Luzon, such as the UNESCO-designated Banaue Rice Terraces and the mountain town of Sagada famous for its macabre hanging coffins and outstanding caving adventures.

In all, intrepid travelers longing to bake on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and seek out an authentic and out-of-the-ordinary cultural experience will find the Philippines nothing short of heaven on earth. Contact our Philippines luxury travel consultants to make our Philippines vacation packages part of your next custom journey.