The tourist hordes haven’t quite infiltrated the Philippines yet, but the word is slowly spreading about South East Asia’s biggest surprise. Spanning over 7000 tropical islands, the Philippines have much to offer holiday makers including tranquil lagoons, pure white beaches and some of the world’s best snorkeling and diving spots. Experience this unique tropical paradise on a Philippines holiday.

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 honored 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.