Located on the East Coast, Manila is the nation’s capital and hub. Intramuros, the old town, used to be completely surrounded by a massive city wall, which is still partially preserved despite the heavy fighting of the Second World War. Worth seeing are the San Agustin Church, the American Cemetery, Coconut Palace and the Manila Cathedral, from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of the 2000 square km port and the ruins of Fort Santiago. Chinatown, the Chinese quarter, is outside the city walls in the Binondo district. In the Luneta (or Rizal ) Park it saysRizal monument. The city has various museums where you can get an insight into the history, culture, anthropology, art and other aspects of the country.
Las Pinas is just outside of town, home to the famous Bamboo Organ and free visits to the Sarao Jeepney Factory. After an hour ‘s drive through coconut plantations one arrives at the Tagaytay Bridge in Cavite with a wonderful view of the lake with the Taal volcano, which in turn contains a crater lake. Tagaytay is a popular tourist destination, and countless festivals take place here in the summer. Laguna Provincenear Manila is known for its hot sulfur springs. The spas of Pansol, Los Baños and Cuyab are located here. Mineral water springs are hidden in the Hidden Valley in the 90 m deep crater of Alaminos. Spring temperatures vary from hot to cold, and secluded trails through the valley lead to a gorge with a waterfall. The 800-hectare Villa Escudero coconut plantation is still in operation; here you get an insight into one aspect of agriculture. Visitors can ride through the village on a chariot pulled by carabaos (water buffalo). Driving here from Manila takes less than 2 hours.
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Corregidor Island is accessible by hydrofoil from Manila. The famous »The Rock« memorial commemorates the Japanese invasion. Day trips with a guide and meals are available. Another day trip is to Pagsanjan, about 63 km southeast of Manila, which includes dugout canoe rides on the jungle river to Pagsanjan Falls. Baguio is 250 km north of Manila. At 1525 m above sea level i.e. M. it offers a cool change. Baguio can be reached both by plane and by land. However, the land route is more popular because of the spectacular views. Major attractions include The Mansion (the summer residence of the Philippine President), theBell Church (a cluster of different temples), the Baguio Cathedral, famous for its hundred steps, and the Crystal Cave, which was once a burial place. Banaue is north of Baguio and can be reached by bus in about 4 hours. Visitors can visit the settlements of the local mountain people. The rice terraces are particularly worth seeing.
The Hundred Islands lie off the coast of Pangasinan; the 400 islets surrounded by fine sandy beaches and coral gardens are wonderful for swimming and diving. Hundred Islands is the second largest marine reserve in the world and is home to 2000 different species of marine life. The caves and domes of the Marcos Island and Devils Kitchen are well worth a visit. The island of Mindoro , south of Manila, can be reached by ferry from Batangas Pier. There is the 2700m high Mount Halcon, Lake Naujan and Tamarao Falls. The Bicol region in the southeast has beaches, hotels and attractions such as the Mayon volcano, a near-perfect Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Tiwi Hotsprings thermal springs, Naglambong Boiling Lake and the resort village of Kalaynkay.
The Visayas are an archipelago between Luzón and Mindanao. Their largest islands are Samar, Panay, Negros, Cebú and Leyte, known as the landing site of American troops in 1944. Samar and Leyte are connected by the country’s longest bridge, the San Juanico Bridge. Cebu is the most densely populated island. Cebu City is the second largest city in the Philippines and a commercial center with an international port. Magellan’s Cross is one of the sights of the city. The triangular Fort San Pedro is the oldest and smallest Spanish fort in the country.
South of Cebu City is the town of Carcar with many preserved Castilian-style houses, gardens and churches. Hand-carved, life-size statues of Jesus and his apostles, dating from the Spanish period, can be admired in the Chapel of the Last Supper. In 1886, the Magellan Monument was erected on Mactan Island. Datu Lapu-Lapu is revered as the Philippines’ first patriot and has a memorial to him as well. Maribago is the center of guitar making in the region. In addition to places of historical interest, there are busy hotels, beach clubs and holiday centers. The island of Panay is predominantly agricultural, vegetables, cocoa, coffee and tropical fruits are grown. Iloilo City is accessible by plane. Key attractions include the beachfront resorts and the 18th -century Miagao Church, an example of colonial Baroque architecture, whose facade is decorated with reliefs of coconut trees and papaya trees. The island of Sicogon is ideal for scuba diving, and its mountains and dense forests are ideal for hiking. Boracay Island is another island paradise. You can get here by plane, landing on a sandy airstrip in the northern tip of Panay, from where you travel first by jeepney, a minibus, and then by boat. The island’s beach, with its white powdery sand, is one of the most beautiful in the world. Located between Cebu and Mindanao, the island of Bohol is home to one of the Philippines’ most fascinating natural wonders: hundreds of limestone hills, some of them 30 m high, look like oversized chocolate hemispheres in summer and are also called »Chocolate Hills«. The smooth, rounded hills are covered with thin grass that dries up in summer and turns brown in the sun. The centuries-old churches on Chocolate Hills were destroyed in an October 2013 earthquake. The ruins of some of these churches can be visited. The Baclayon Church is believed to be the oldest stone church in the Philippines and was partially destroyed by the earthquake. The Chocolate Hills are about 55 km from Tagbilaran City, the capital of the island. Bohol also has beautiful beaches and bays that are accessible via a good road network. The island can be reached by plane or ferry. The flight from Cebú to Tagbilaran takes 25 minutes.
The island of Palawan , located west of the Visayas between the Sulu Sea and the South China Sea, is ideal for adventure and discovery trips. There is still original rain forest here. The marine reserve at Puerto Galera is a diver’s paradise. The island is also famous for its underground St. Pauls River.