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The Philippines Offers You A Great Vacation

Manila & Area
Capital and hub of the nation, Manila is situated on the east coast of Luzon. Founded in 1571 on the ruins of a Muslim settlement, Manila has been a port for hundreds of years. The oldest part of the city, the Intramuros (Walled City), was protected by a massive wall, some of which still remains today despite savage fighting staged here in World War II. Places of interest include San Agustin Church and Manila Cathedral, from which there is an excellent view of the 2072 sq km (800 sq miles) of the harbor, and the ruins of Fort Santiago. Outside the Intramuros is Chinatown, a market in the district of Binondo, crowded with shops, stalls and restaurants. Luneta Park contains the Rizal Monument, a memorial to the execution of this great Filipino intellectual of the late 19th century. Other places of interest are the American Cemetery and Coconut Palace.

Manila is a good base from which to make excursions, for instance to Las Pinas, situated a little way outside the city, where the famous Bamboo Organ is located and the Sarao Jeepney factory, where people are allowed to wander around free of charge.

About one hour's drive away from Manila through coconut plantations, Tagaytay Ridge in Cavite overlooks a lake that contains Taal Volcano, which itself holds another lake. Tagaytay is a popular destination in summer, when all kinds of festivities are celebrated and roadside stalls overflow with flowering plants and fruits in season.

The series of mineral springs of Hidden Valley lie secreted in a 90m- (300ft-) deep crater in Alaminos, enclosed by rich forests. The pools vary in temperature from warm to cold, and the lush trails end up at a gorge with a waterfall. Villa Escudero, an 800-hectare coconut plantation in Quezon Province, less than two hours by road from Manila, is part of a working plantation, yielding rare glimpses into rural life. Guests are taken on a tour of a typical village on a cart drawn by a carabao, or water buffalo.

Corregidor Island, 'The Rock', has a famous memorial to those who were killed during the Japanese invasion, and is accessible by hydrofoil. Day tours include refreshments and guide. A day trip to the town of Pagsanjan, 63km (39 miles) southeast of Manila, includes dug-out canoe rides down the jungle-bordered river to the Pagsanjan Falls. This was a location for the filming of Apocalypse Now, and is a popular excursion.

Laguna, a short distance from Manila, is a province famous for hot sulphur springs. The 'Towns of Baths', Cuyab, Los Banos and Pansol are situated here.

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