The fusion of cultures evident in modern day Philippines is a result of the country’s diverse colonial history. The early Austronesian settlement traded with the Chinese, Arabs and Indians, eventually adopting religions such as Buddhism and Islam. The explorer Magellan and his Spanish expedition discovered the Philippines in 1521. Following this settlement, the Spanish later went on to claim the country and converted the colony to Catholicism. The Philippines remained a Spanish colony for over 300 years until 1899 when it was taken over by the US and then by Japan, following numerous wars. In 1946 the Philippines became independent, but a multicultural population of Malay, Indian, Spanish, Japanese and American remained.
Like most of Asia, the Philippines enjoy humid and tropical weather all year round. Though warm weather is constant, the islands experience three distinct seasons; the wet season, the dry season and the hot season. From May to November the wet season brings heavy rainfall and tropical storms. The dry season also experiences slightly cool weather and runs from December to February, while the hot season takes place in March through to May. Average temperatures in the Philippines range from 24 to 31 degrees.
Each year in early January, Filipinos from all around the country head to Kalibo to celebrate the Ati-Atihan Festival. The festival’s actual origins are unconfirmed yet legend has it that the first festival occurred in 1210 when the Atis and the Malays traded gold, brass and cloth for land. When the Spanish settled in the Philippines, religious meaning was added to the celebrations where in which the festival honoured Santo Nino, the oldest religious image in the Philippines. Today Ati-Atihan Festival features tribal dances, music, traditional costumes, feasts and parades, forming a vibrant street party.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manilla is the main travel hub of the Philippines.
Airlines that fly from Australia to Philippines include:
Direct flights are available from Sydney to Manila and take just over 8 hours. Many airlines stopover in regional Asian transit hubs such as Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing before proceeding onto Manilla.
All Inclusive Resorts
Experience true relaxation and tropical bliss at a luxurious all inclusive beach resort in the Philippines. Nestled behind lush rainforests and overlooking azure oceans, Filipino beach resorts embrace the country’s natural beauty while offering high levels of comfort and luxury. View Resort options
To find out more about the range of holiday accommodation available with Travel Associates call 1800 017 849 or enquire online.
Sights to See
There are numerous attractions in Manilla, but the best way to experience the city is by wandering the bustling streets. Spend a day at the vibrant Divisoria market district where the streets are lined with a dazzling array of stalls selling everything and anything. Try the street food, test out your haggling skills and get caught up in the energy of it all.
Away from the crowds and towards the Philippines’ more peaceful side, the Banaue Rice Terraces are a must see. The rice terraces were carved into the mountains of Ifugao over 2000 years ago and are commonly referred to as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ by locals. Covering over 10,000 square kilometres, the rice paddies are fed by an ancient irrigation system that utilizes the flow on water from the neighbouring rainforests.
Boracay Island is a favourite amongst holiday goers seeking sun and sand. The island’s beaches boast fine white sand and are amongst some of the most beautiful in the world. If you can drag yourself away from lazing on the beach in the shade of a palm tree, be sure to venture below the ocean’s surface. Scuba diving is incredibly popular here and with dozens of dive centres and over 25 diving sights located a short boat ride away, there’s no excuse not to explore the island’s surrounding reefs.
Don't leave home without...
Leave some room in your suitcase for the journey home. The Philippines have some of the biggest shopping malls in the world so it’s recommended not to bring too much with you as you will probably be tempted by the clothing, electrical goods and antiques on offer.
Although you can find sun protection and insect repellent in the Philippines, the SPF and quality can be a little unreliable. Pack an ample amount with you and don’t forget to re-apply your sun protection every few hours.
Spanish, Chinese and American culture have all influenced Filipino customs and traditions. Of all the customs, hospitality is the most valued. In the Philippines, a house visitor is treated like royalty and locals will commonly go out of their way to help tourists.
Things to be careful of…
Taxi drivers in Manilla are known to take advantage of travellers. When catching a taxi, particularly from the airport to your hotel, insist that the driver turn on the metre or agree on a price before you get in.
Err on the side of caution and opt for bottled water over tap water.
Like any large city, be weary of pick-pockets, particularly in crowded tourist areas. Always keep your valuables close to you and stay alert.