With more than 7,000 islands making up the Philippines, the hardest decision will be which ones to visit. Manila is capital and main island groups are Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. A Catholic country, its people are warm, hospitable and family-minded; its cuisine a delicious blend of Chinese, Spanish, Mexican, Japanese, Indonesian and Indian.
The islands have several international gateways. Ninoy Aquino is the airport at which many flights to the Philippines (and its capital Manila) land. Mactan in Cebu handles flights from Japan, Singapore, and Australia, Davao - regular flights from Indonesia and Singapore.
Manila, on Luzon, boasts one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world. Intramuros, the walled city, covering almost 160 acres, was built by the Spanish in 1571. Damaged during the Second World War, restoration work was started by Imelda Marcos, of shoe fame. Manila Cathedral is at the centre and Fort Santiago at the northwestern tip. Its colourful Chinatown is north of the Pasig river.
The islands have some of the best diving. Internationally recognised spots include Tubbataha Reef; Malapascua Island (Cebu); Balicasag Island (Bohol); Anilao, Batangas; and Puerto Galera (Mindoro).
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