AirAsia is now offering direct flights to Manila and Cebu in the Philippines.

KUCHING: The Philippines is AirAsia’s latest destination in Southeast Asia, with capital city Manila and Cebu Province being added to its network of flights.

Located in West Pacific Ocean, the Philippines – an archipelago of over 7,000 islands – is the only Christian region in Southeast Asia.

As a tropical country with occasional torrential downpour or even cyclones, the archipelago is endowed with abundant flora and fauna, making it the perfect nature-trip.

Travelling to the Philippines is relatively easy in terms of visa for most Asian countries, in that entry is usually visa-free.

However, US citizens may enter the Philippines for purpose of tourism without a visa with valid US passports and return tickets to the US within 30 days.

Filipino, a standardised variety of Tagalog, is designated as the official language alongside English, which is widely spoken.

Travellers can opt for different types of transportation to go around different places across the country.

On land, they can use taxi, the ‘jeepney’ (army jeeps modified into a mini-bus – the most popular means of public transportation in this country), Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), or tricycles.

Travellers can opt for either small boats or ferries to go to the islands.

Alternatively, they can fly from Manila to various domestic destinations like Cebu, Davao, Kalibo, Caticlan, Tagbilaran/Panglao, Tacloban, Puerto Princessa, Iloilo and Cagayan De Oro.

From Cebu, flyers can use domestic routes to get to Manila, Davao, Puerto Princessa, Caticlan, Clark and Cagayan De Oro.

The Philippines uses Pesa (PHP), which can be easily exchanged at banks.

ATMs are easily available for cash withdrawals, while credit cards such as Visa or MasterCard are accepted in hotels, large restaurants and large stores or malls.

Located on the island of Luzon, Manila spreads along the eastern shore of Manila Bay at the mouth of the Pasig River.

Among the places of interest in the capital city are Intramuros, Manila Ocean Park, Mall of Asia, San Agustin Church, Bonifacio Global City and Poblacion Makati.

Other key attractions include Luneta Park, Pagsanjan Falls, Corregidor Island, Taal Lake, Manila Bay Sunset and National Museum of Natural History.

Relatively-active travellers can sign up for ‘bambike’ ecotours or visit the Masungi Geo-Reserve, bike playground, Taal Lake Aqua Park and Flow House Manila as well as wakeboard at Nuvali.

In Manila, do not miss out on its unique delicacies including the ‘kare-kare’, ‘adobo’, ‘sisig’, ‘bistek tagalog’, ‘halo-halo’ and ‘sinigang’.

A province of the Phillipines, Cebu comprises Cebu Island and more than 150 smaller surrounding islands and islets.

Cebu City is its prosperous port capital that retains landmarks from its 16th century Spanish colonial past.

Some recommended city attractions are Mactan Shrine, Sirao Flower Farm, Magellan’s Cross, Carcar Church, Tops and Cebu Heritage Monument, while the listed key attractions include Kawasan Falls, Bantayan Beach, Osmena Peak, Camotes Island, Malapascua and Capitancillo, Bogo.

If one travels to Cebu in January, join its Sinulog Festival. Throughout the year, visitors can do canyoneering and enjoy ‘moalboal’ diving and sardine run as well as Malapascua island-diving.

They can also sign up for Danasan Eco Adventure and Lake Danao River Cruise.

Among the must-try food in Cebu are the ‘lechon’, dried mangoes, ‘sutukil’, ‘bibingka’, ‘buwad’ (dried fish) and ‘chicharon’.

Fly to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Manila) and Mactan International Airport (Cebu) to discover the Philippines.

For AirAsia’s latest destinations and network, go to www.airasia.com.