When the Smoke is Going Down by Storm Crypt via Flickr Creative Commons

The many islands that make up the Philippines offer visitors a host of natural wonders and historical attractions to enjoy. Whether it is hiking up volcanoes or scrambling through caves, the active tourist will find a multitude of things to do. Less challenging, but equally interesting are the manmade sites, ranging from historic churches to the large war memorial at Manila.

Mayon Volcano

Known as the ‘perfect volcano’, the Mayon is a symmetrical, cone-shaped active volcano located in Albay province of the Philippines. Climbing the behemoth is a popular challenge, with a difficult trail that moves from forest and grassland to rock deserts and boulders. The trek to the summit usually takes two days and needs to be undertaken by fit, competent climbers with a registered local guide. There are also popular daytrips which include a four-hour hike from Mayon Volcano National Park to Camp 1, the base from which the summit trips depart. The best time visibility is between late February and early May. Address: Legaspi, Luzon Phone: +63-52-820-6314 Website: http://tourism.albay.gov.ph/mayonpage.html

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

This large cemetery is the resting place of about 17,000 Americans killed in WWII. The graves are set in a circular pattern among picturesque tropical plants. In the center stands a chapel decorated with mosaics, sculptures and a terrace with four rooms containing 25 maps detailing the US military achievements in Asia. There is a visitor center which is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day except Christmas and New Year’s. Address: Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila Phone: +1-703-696-6900 Website: http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ml.php

Samaguing Cave

The Samaguing Cave system in Sagada draws archaeology enthusiasts from across the world. Needing to be explored on a guided tour, the trip begins with a descent through the small Lumiang Cave and heads down toward the Big Cave of Samaguing. It is a challenging climb, swim, and scramble, but adventurers are rewarded with spectacular rock formations, underground waterfalls, rivers, and pools. It can be very cold and wet inside so dress warm and in layers. Address: Mountain Province, Sagada, Luzon Phone: n/a Website: n/a

Hanging Coffins of Sagada

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada are a strange and unique sight in the Philippines. Balancing precariously from the side of the cliffs in the Valley of Echoes, it is said that relatives placed them here to protect them from enemies and some are accompanied by the chair in which the person died. The best view can be obtained by hiking through the valley with a guide. Address: Sagada, Luzon Phone: n/a Website: n/a

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River

The Puerto Princesa Underground River in the World Heritage site of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park has been heralded as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. A five-mile stretch that flows through limestone caves to the sea, only select segments are open to the public. Visitors can access the caves by joining a guided tour on which they will descend on foot and then by boat to see bats, swallows, and impressive rock formations such as stalactites and stalagmites. It is necessary to book in advance as you must be pre-approved for a permit. Address: Underground River Booking Office, No. 350 Rizal Avenue, Bgy. Bancao-bancao Puerto Princesa, Palawan Phone: +63-48-723-0904 Website: http://www.puerto-undergroundriver.com/

Yap Sandiego Ancestral House

The Yap Sandiego Ancestral House is a private museum in the Philippines that sits on the corner of Mabini and Lopez Jeana streets in Cebu. The charming, two-story stone-and-wood structure was built in the late 17th century by wealthy merchants. It is decorated with religious icons on the outside and filled with antiques and old furniture inside, some of which you may handle with care. The house is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day and visitors are allowed to take photographs of both the interior and exterior. Address: 155 Mabini St. Parian, Cebu City 6000 Phone: +63-32-515-9000 Website: n/a

Santo Niño Basilica

Completed around 1739, the basilica features a bell tower and façade that combine elements of neo-classical, Muslim, and Romanesque styles. Inside are attractive painted ceilings and the famous statue of Santo Niño, which was given to Queen Jeana by Magellan in 1521. Considered to be the oldest Catholic relic in the Philippines, there is also a museum detailing the history of Christianity in Cebu and displaying valuable religious antiques such as vestments and a rosary. Address: Basilica del Sto. Nino, Osmena Blvd., Cebu City Phone: n/a Website: http://basilicasantonino.org.ph/

St Augustine’s Church

The distinctive church of St Augustine at Paoay has become a UNESCO World Heritage site for its fine example of the Earthquake Baroque style of architecture, an adaptation of European Baroque to accommodate the ever present risk of earthquakes in the Philippines. The church is made from coral and brick, and features huge buttresses and a decorated façade that displays Javanese influences. The main church was completed in 1710 with a separate bell tower added 50 years later. Address: Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Luzon Phone: n/a Website: n/a

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