Philippines

As the second largest archipelago in the world, the 7100 islands of the Philippines are little visited by travellers and continue to be one of South East Asia’s best kept secrets. The country is a curious mix of Asian, Spanish and American cultural influences that range from Iberian colonial architecture to ancient tribal traditions to an obsession with American rock n’ roll.

Iconised as the home of Imelda Marco‘s shoe collection and one of the most corrupt dictator regimes in the world, the country has frequently been in the news regarding its changing political climate, economic woes and frequent natural disasters. Though the Philippines is extremely westernised it still offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of its 60 ethnic minorities when you leave the traffic clogged streets of Metro Manila.

Laze away on a blinding white sand beach in Boracay or scuba dive untouched reefs off ofPalawan, a long sliver of land that is home to the countries birds nest soup collectors in El Nido. Climb the Mayon volcano, named the world’s most perfectly shaped cone, or surf some of the best waves in the world on the isolated islands of the East Coast.

As the only Catholic country in Asia, Christian religious holidays can be an interesting time to visit as fiestas bring the country to a standstill and firecrackers, dancing and drinking remind one of the country’s Spanish past.

Filipinos love to lip sync to catchy eighties tunes that time forgot, so grab a karaoke microphone, brush up on your knowledge of ‘We Are the World’ lyrics, head to the Philippines and prepare to be impressed with the world’s friendliest and most talented singers.

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