Evidence of the Philippines long and complex history is sprinkled all over the archipelago, but northern Luzon is the most evocative of its tribal and colonial past, with handsome old cities and enigmatic remains. This itinerary could be completed in under a fortnight (ten days minimum), especially if you take some flights, but as with the others, you’ll get a lot more out of it if you tackle it more slowly.
1 Intramuros, Manila
The oldest part of Manila drips with history, from Spanish churches and forts to illuminating museums.
Take a tour of this beautiful old town, home to the biggest church in Southeast Asia and bahay na bato architecture still redolent of colonial Spain.
The nation’s woodcarving capital makes for an intriguing detour, sprinkled with the stores of local craftsmen.
The oft-overlooked capital of Bulacan province is crammed with colonial remnants, from the elegant Barasoain Church to a smattering of preserved sixteenth-century Spanish homes.
The best-preserved colonial town in the Philippines is a treasure-trove of tiny museums, chapels and crumbling villas.
The capital of Ilocos Norte boasts plenty of historic attractions of its own, while the Malacañang of the North, former holiday residence of the Marcoses, is a short ride away.
Head into the mountainous heart of Luzon, where Sagada is a focus for the Igorots (Cordillera tribes) and the enigmatic hanging coffins.
8 Banaue and Batad
You’d be remiss to travel up here and not spend time among the legendary rice terraces, fantastical ridges in the mountains often shrouded in mist.