The island of Luzon is the largest in the Philippines and is the most important economically and politically. It is home to the capital, Manila, as well as many beautiful towns and cities.
The northern part of Luzon Island is home to lush hilly landscapes and Spanish style villas that emphasize the country's rich history. The city of Baguio, which lies just to the north of Central Luzon, is known as the summer capital of the Philippines. With its high altitude and low temperatures year round, it is the ideal getaway from the searing summer heat.
Tourist attractions are in abundance here with something for everyone on the island. If scuba diving is your thing, you will find many dive sites around Subic Bay. There are even ship wrecks which date back to Spanish rule. Surfers are best heading to the east coast and Baler in Aurora Province, where the Pacific Ocean comes in to meet the Philippine Sea.
Eco-tourists should head for the region of Ilocos in the north, where they can take advantage of the untouched forests and marine life and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. If you want to be more at one with yourself, the Batanes Islands off the north coast of the Philippines are perfect. With a 10-hour boat ride to some of the islands, you can shut yourself away and simply enjoy the tranquil surroundings.
Angeles City has to be the place to go if you are looking for some action. Once the area was awash with US military personnel stationed at a base just outside of town. Although the base is no longer inhabited by Americans, the entertainment is still there, and still mainly frequented by lone single males.
The old US military area near Angeles City, Clark Air Base, was evacuated in 1991 due to Mount Pinatubo's eruption. The Americans never returned and the land was used to build what is now called Clark Freeport Zone. The Philippine government set to clearing up after the eruption and set aside the area for new infrastructure and business.
Consequently, today the 16 square mile main zone is built around an airport, which will one day become Manila's main airport. Hotels, shopping malls and golf courses are just some of the recreational things on offer and with big commercial companies now occupying space in the zone, it has become one of the fastest economic growths in the Philippines.
The Philippines' only landlocked region is the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) to the north and this is home to the Banaue Rice Terraces, claimed by some to be the 'eighth wonder of the world'. These rice fields were carved out of the mountain sides thousands of years ago and truly are breathtaking to look at. Some of the very best in white water rafting can also be experienced in the region in one of many national parks.
The capital of Manila is a place all of its own. You could be forgiven for thinking that you are somewhere in the west with its skyscrapers towering up into the clouds. The business district is headquarters for the world famous San Miguel Brewery, with its produce ranking in the top 20 beers of the world.
Downtown shopping areas are home to three of the top 10 biggest shopping centers on the planet, but Manila is packed full of many smaller malls to explore if those seem too big.
Manila has an international airport with daily flights arriving from all over the world. Getting around the island of Luzon is relatively simple, with most provinces being reached on land in a day from the capital, Manila. Flights are also available on domestic airlines to get you further afield and most take no more than 3 hours.