Shangri-la, Mactan © bingbing
More than 7000 islands make up the Philippines, where travellers can lose themselves in any number of magical adventures. Lush landscapes, sprawling cities, gorgeous beaches and underwater gardens are all on offer, meaning divers, hikers, sun-chasers and culture lovers will all find much of value.
For their part, Filipinos are warm and welcoming to a degree that more than justifies the country's tagline, 'where Asia wears a smile'. The same holds true throughout the Philippines, from bustling Manila to rural villages that lack running water.
That said, travellers should consult current safety advice before visiting the country, which has suffered high-profile terrorism and kidnapping incidents, and has a reputation for political turbulence. Tourists will also encounter unsafe ferries, poor infrastructure and dilapidated roads.
Still, the mix of festivals, friendly people, glorious food, natural beauty and Spanish colonial architecture is irresistible. The destination is a must if travellers are cautious enough when planning their visits.