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Introducing North Luzon

Generalisations fall short when describing this vast region of misty mountains, sprawling plains and endless coastline, whose population is as diverse and unique as the landscape.

The central mountain range known as the Cordillera is the region's trophy piece, with lush green forests blanketing vast areas of gloriously crooked earth. Isolated sandy beaches ring almost the entire coastline. In the rice terraces of Banaue and elsewhere, humans and nature have collaborated on one of the world's truly sublime displays of beauty and ingenuity. Off Luzon's northern tip, the grassy hills of the Batanes islands possess their own austere beauty.

The region is an adventure-lover's paradise, with mountainous networks of ancient walking trails perfect for trekking. Many of these trails lead to remote villages where tribespeople live much as they have for centuries. There are endless caves in Cagayan province, endless whitewater rapids on Kalinga's Chico River and endless surf breaks around the island. If you have your own kayak, windsurfer or surf board, undiscovered breaks, beaches and rapids await.

North Luzon offers plenty to more sedentary types as well. Culture aficionados can get their fill in Vigan, where old Spanish colonial mansions line the streets of the old town, and history buffs can follow MacArthur's men on the wide beaches around Lingayen.