An enchanting archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines serves up mist-shrouded mountains, white-sand beaches, and jewel-toned water in Southeast Asia. Often lesser-known than its Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai neighbors, the Philippines attracts travelers looking to stray from the beaten path. Both cities and less populated areas beckon: Get a healthy dose of colonial history and metropolitan chaos on a tour of Manila; hike amid staggering natural scenery on guided trips to the Taal volcano and Tagaytay Ridge; marvel at Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; or escape from the madness of modern life in Palawan, where Coron Island and Kayangan Lake provide a serene retreat on an ecotour. The caves of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park provide ample wildlife watching opportunities; while Cebu City, the thriving port capital of the Cebu province, serves as an excellent jumping-off point for Moalboal, where backpackers flock to dive, drink, and dine. From Manila, tours of Fort Santiago (built by a Spanish conquistador) and Corregidor Island (long fortified against attack) reveal the Philippines’ rich history. From Oslob, strong swimmers can snorkel alongside whale sharks in crystal-clear waters. And from Malay, sun-worshippers can spend the day hopping between the islets surrounding Boracay island, the epitome of a coastal paradise.