When to visit the Philippines
Filipinos have a vivacious sense of humour – as evidenced by Cebu Pacific’s mid-air passenger quizzes and bingo games that will have you chuckling in the aisles and possibly even winning a cuddly toy. The locals' easy-going demeanour helps make visiting a happy experience and lends weight to the tourist board's slogan "It's more fun in the Philippines".
Seven new wonders of the natural world
4. It has the world's longest subterranean river
PP Underground River is a 8.2km navigable river, the world's longest underground, running through a cave system before flowing into the South China Sea. A lagoon framed by ancient trees marks the mouth of the cave. It was recently named one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
5. You can eat quirky purple desserts
Ever wanted to douse a bowl of cornflakes in ice? In the Philippines you can, while adding a scoop or two of psychedelic purple yam ice cream. Halo halo is the name of the cold and crunchy dish.
A halo halo ice cream dessert
6. You can cringe at one of the world’s weirdest snack foods
At the other end of the scale is balut - a partially-developed duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in its shell. Try or avoid, it's certainly one of the world's weirdest foods.
The terraces are the only form of stone construction from the pre-colonial period
7. Rice terraces to make you swoon
Banaue’s rice terraces are majestic. Rising to nearly 3, 000 metres, the Cordillera Central mountains in North Luzon provide a dramatic but tranquil alternative for hikers. Banaue is perhaps the most famous attraction in this area, earning the tiny town a place on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites with its ancient, towering rice terraces that were so impressively sculpted from mud-walls more than 2, 000 years ago.
Tarsiers do not like being kept as pets
8. Tarsiers are the world’s cutest animal
Nocturnal mammals with rotating heads and bulbous eyes, tarsiers are one of the world’s smallest primates. Many live in Bohol and can be seen in its conservation centre. At less than six inches high, these furry little fellows are shy and endangered.
9. Some of the world's most colourful festivals
If you like riotous costumes, bizarre folklore and dancing in the streets try timing a visit to coincide with a festival like Panagbenga, in Baguio City, or alternatively try Ati-Atihan or Sinulog for religious fervour.
10. The beauty of El Nido
The karst-studded landscapes make this slither of Asia so striking
11. Some of the world’s best diving
Immerse yourself in the underwater world at Tubbataha Reefs National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site that has a 100-metre perpendicular wall, lagoons and two coral islands, or take a boat to see black coral at the Black Forest dive site off Panglao Island.
A colourful coral garden
12. Karaoke is a national sport
In the Philippines, you can belt out a tune in even the shabbiest of roadside shacks. Just don't expect your voice to compare to the dulcet (and well-practiced) tones of locals.