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The biggest island in the Philippines, Luzon is also one of the most diverse—it’s where mountain peaks and volcanoes meet miles of coastline, and indigenous culture melds with Spanish colonial history. You can relax at the beach in Pagudpud, hike with locals up the Batad Rice Terraces, ride in a horse-drawn carriage in Vigan, and snack on street food and dance the night away in Manila. You’ll need a few days and a bus pass, but you’ll be glad you stayed.
Metropolitan Manila encompasses six cities and 12 towns. Located on Manila Bay in the South China Sea, and bisected by the Pasig River, the capital of the Philippines is historic and modern, rich and poor. A popular sight is the walled area called Intramuros. The capital during Spanish colonization, Intramuros has retained old dungeons and gunpowder rooms but added art galleries and theaters. The city is filled with museums, shops, parks and churches, plus enough nightlife to last until dawn.
Surpassed only by Manila in size, the Philippines’ second city combines colonial architecture and mountainous surrounds with a burgeoning cultural and culinary scene. As the gateway to both Bohol and Cebu Island, Cebu City impresses with chic rooftop bars and intriguing museums.
Davao City is a gateway to Mindanos, one of the Philippines’ largest islands, and home to Mt. Apo, one of the highest mountains in the archipelago. In Davao City, lovers of durian can eat their fill beneath a sculpture dedicated to the pungent fruit.
The British colonial city of Ipoh had humble beginnings, but has blossomed into a beautiful cityscape that marries old-world charm with modern amenities. This is a foodie's city, offering endless street stalls and restaurants all eager to serve up a sample of mouthwatering local fare. Walk it all off on a jaunt through breathtaking limestone caves that seem carved by the capable hands of a higher power.