Philippines Travel Guides

Affectionately referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Orient Seas', the 7,107 Filipino islands span the South China and Philippine seas like scattered pearls. After more than 300 years of Spanish rule, the islands have cultivated a unique blend of Southeast Asian and European traditions. In fact, local exuberance is often compared to the Latin zeal for life.

The Philippines is the only predominantly Christian country in Asia. This is an ideal place for Western travellers to visit as English is widely spoken and understood, and it is rarely difficult to find someone who can offer assistance or simply old-world hospitality

With landmass spread across so many islands, good transportation links are essential. Altogether, there are 112 airports that shuttle passengers between islands and across straights. Boats of all sizes ply the waters, while brightly-coloured, vintage jeepneys handle most of the land transport.

Manila was once a stronghold of Spain, and the old city (Intramuros) still retains vestiges of its colonial heritage. Despite the destruction caused in WWII, architecture dating to the 1600s can still be found in many places. Ethnic minorities in outlying villages cling to their ancient traditions, and tourists have the opportunity to trek into these remote outposts to mingle with and buy handicrafts from these unique tribes.Visit this website for further information about Private Philippine Tours

Immaculate white-sand beaches are found wherever there's a coastline. Boracay, where the resort lifestyle reigns supreme, is an ideal place to relax on the beach. Snorkelling, diving and surfing are ubiquitous activities, and travel agents in each area can arrange equipment hire and lessons for tourists. Heading inland, rugged volcanic mountains are crossed with a network of biking and hiking trails.

Wherever you venture, accommodation is readily available. There is something in every price ranging from large international chains to quaint lodgings. Hotels in Manila are often within easy access of shopping, dining and partying hotspots, though it is just as easy to find peaceful, out-of-the-way accommodation in an idyllic Filipino hideaway.

Above all, Filipinos are easy-going and hospitable people. The well-established tourism infrastructure takes good care of its patrons and offers easy access to the wealth of natural beauty awaiting visitors. Tourists often stay longer than they originally planned, and there's truly more to see and do here than any single holiday permits.

History

The Philippines have seen drastic changes in administration over the past several centuries. The archipelago entered historical records in the late 14th century, when Islam was established on the Sulu archipelago. Over the course of the following century, the Islamic regime grew into an empire that governed many of the islands that now comprise the Philippines.

Manila (then called 'Maynilad') was governed by a sultan from Borneo named Rajah Sulayman. The success of this port at the confluence of the Pasig River and the Manila Bay gained the attention of Spanish explorers; and in 1521 Ferdinand Magellan landed on these islands and staked a claim for the Spanish crown. However, Magellan was met with immediate hostility, and local chiefs executed him before he could escape.

Ruy Lopez de Villalobos arrived a few years later and named the islands 'Filipinas' in honour of Spain's King Philip II. A subsequent envoy in 1570 saw the beginning of colonisation. After a brief period of local enthusiasm for the explorers, conflict broke out.

The Spanish armada faced ongoing resistance from the Filipino-Muslims. By 1571 the struggle began to dissipate and a decided victory fell to Spain. The Muslim resistance withdrew once again to the Sulu archipelago which remained independent of Western control. The rest of the Philippines, however, became a trade hub for Spain and Mexico.

After three centuries of Spanish rule, during which time the Philippines seemed to be under constant attack from the Dutch, Chinese or Portuguese, the Filipino population grew restless. In 1898, the Philippines sided with the United States in the Spanish-American War. After defeating Spain, the US purchased the Philippines for US$20 million.

Still anxious for independence, Filipinos urged the United States to set forth a plan for autonomy, and this might have resulted in a peaceful resolution were it not for the carnage of WWII and invading Japanese forces. Japan pandered to the Philippines' desire for self-governance and declared independence. However, their ultimate refusal to withdraw after independence was granted didn't rest well with Filipinos. By the end of the war, the Philippines sided once again with the Allies and drove out the Japanese.

Full independence occurred in 1946, after which the Philippines proceeded to muddle through a series of corrupt regimes and spells of dictatorship. While corruption is still a pervasive ailment in Filipino society, the country remains independent. English is widely spoken, and tourists come as much for the beaches as for the region's prevalent hospitality and relaxed atmosphere.

Weather

The climate of the Philippines is characterised by three seasons. The cool season is most apparent in the last two months of the year, when average temperatures dip to 25°C. This is a busy season for domestic travel with locals en route to family gatherings dominating the airways and buses during the Christmas season. Significant numbers of international tourists also arrive at this time of year, as the overall climate is very pleasant.Visit this website for further information about Climate and Weather in Philippines

Temperatures rise during the following months with yearly highs between March and May. The hottest days can see temperatures climb to 35°C. If you visit at this time, it's wise to plan your activities around the heat of the day with an indoor alternative between late morning and early afternoon. The heat subsides at higher altitudes, and many tourists enjoy visiting Baguio in the Cordillera mountain range during this time.

In June, the monsoon season begins and usually reaches its climax in April. Typhoons aren't uncommon this time of year, and while these weather patterns pose few threats to visitors, flight cancellations and closed roads can complicate travel arrangements. With this in mind, it's best to avoid visiting the Philippines between the months of June and October.