Composed of 7,107 islands and with a total coastline longer than that of the USA, it’s hardly surprising that many of the Philippines’ most stunning attractions can be found in or around the sea. The warm tropical waters are ideal for snorkeling or diving, with coral gardens teeming with beautiful marine life, while unspoiled stretches of fine white sand will seduce even the most beach-averse.

There’s much more, though. The archipelago’s jungles, mountains, volcanoes and caves are ripe for exploration. But there are also the more subtle pleasures of getting to grips with Filipino culture. This isn’t a country that stages dozens of phony ‘cultural shows’ for tourists; and the festivals (of which there are many) welcome outsiders with open arms but are predominantly aimed at locals. So it’s down to individual visitors to strike up conversations and discover a country where Catholic European traditions are entwined with a vibrant Asian culture.

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