The Philippines may be Asia's best-kept secret among travelers, a land of sun and smiling faces. Home to a culture that blends Spanish, Mexican, Malay, Chinese, Japanese, and other influences, the Philippines has been called “the melting pot” of Asia. From the modern bustle and colonial history of Manila to the islands of Cebu, Borocay, and others (the archipelago includes more than 7,000 islands), a trip to the Philippines is an adventure beyond the everyday. It is also, however, surprisingly accessible and it’s easy to feel like you fit right in and belong here when you head out in the back of a jeepney to explore the nation.
For 50 years, the Philippines were a protectorate of the United States so residents speak English (as well as Tagalog, Spanish, and local dialects). Philippine culture is friendly, family-centric and food-fueled so expect to be offered a seat at the table and plates of fish straight from the sea and spicy stews everywhere you go. The country is also home to some of the world's best diving. The island of Borocay, for instance, offers beginners as well as experienced divers the opportunity to explore pristine coral reefs teeming with a rainbow of anemones, feather stars, butterflyfish, lionfish, and other sea life. Cultural safaris include the 2,000 year-old emerald green Banaue and Batad rice terraces of the Ifugao province, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the local Ifugao people still conduct harvest rites led by local medicine men.
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