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Philippines travel guide

About four million visitors take cheap flights to the Philippines each year. For those searching now, the biggest question will be which one of these 7,000 islands to visit.

There are three main groupings of islands in this archipelago - Luzon (on which Manila is located), Visayas and Mindanao - all beautiful. Rainforest-topped mountains give way to sandy beaches that are framed by palm trees. With one of the longest coastlines in the world, the diving and snorkelling are, as you'd imagine, pretty spectacular.

The Philippines' Catholicism marks it out from other countries in Asia. Filippinos are friendly and fiercely family-minded and they celebrate religious holidays in serious style. Their Christmas preparations start in earnest at the end of October and go until January 6 (the Feast of the Three Kings). For Easter, some penitents will reenact the crucifixion, carrying heavy wooden crosses and getting nailed to crosses.

Manila, the capital, often gets a bad rep for being a sprawling, centreless city, but it has one of the world's best preserved medieval cities. Intramuros, the walled city, was built by the Spanish in the 16th century. Damaged during World War II, restoration work was started by Imelda Marcos, she of the-many-pairs-of-shoes fame. Manila Cathedral is at the centre and Fort Santiago at the northwestern tip, and Chinatown, a super-colourful part of town, lies north of the Pasig River.

Go to the Philippines travel guide