Showcasing the country’s definitive cultural highlights, our Essential Philippines holiday combines the best city, countryside and beach moments. Begin in bustling Manila, head to the famous rice terrace of northern Luzon, see tarsiers near Bohol’s extraordinary Chocolate Hills, and relax on the picture-postcard sands of El Nido.

Highlights

  • Contrast modern Manila with its historic side

  • Trek Banaue’s verdant rice terraces

  • Discover Sagada’s unusual hanging coffins

  • See tarsiers and Chocolate Hills in Bohol

  • Watch dolphins swim around Pamilacan

  • Hop between El Nido’s island beaches

Manila, Banaue, Sagada, Batad, Bohol, Chocolate Hills, Pamilacan, El Nido

Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Day 1

    On arrival in the Philippines, you’ll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your Manila hotel.

  • Day 2

    Tour Manila’s classic landmarks and vibrant modernity, cycling through the cobbled streets of Intramuros – Manilla’s historic, 16th century original walled city – on a traditional, handmade bamboo bike. Follow your guide to the ancient San Agustin church, and the Casa Manila museum house showcasing typical Filipino colonial life. Continue to the impressive Fort Santiago, overlooking Manila Bay, containing a poignant museum dedicated to the country’s famous freedom fighter and national hero, Dr Jose Rizal. Walk through Rizal Park’s ornamental gardens, visit the unique Chinese Cemetery (with spectacular mausoleums resembling luxury homes equipped with everything from kitchens to running water!), and wander in Makati, the capital’s glittering financial, shopping and entertainment district, to see the Nielson Tower, Fort Bonifacio, and the American WWII Cemetery. The rest of your evening will be at leisure to try some typical Filipino dishes, including chicken adobo and colourful halo-halo pudding.

  • Day 3

    Journey north towards Banaue and the mountainous Cordillera region, stopping to visit the volcano-damaged (though still active) San Guillermo Church in Bacolor, and passing through the evergreen provinces of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya, glimpsing rice fields and remote villages. The landscape provides plenty of scenic distraction from the long drive, and you’ll stop for several photo opportunities to capture the scenic views as you travel further north. Take in Dalton’s Pass and the pineapple-growing town of Bagabag, before arriving in Banaue in the late afternoon. The rest of your day will be at leisure to breathe in the fresh mountain air.

    Banaue

    Banaue


    Did you mean バナウエ

  • Day 4

    Set out to explore the region’s rice terraces and villages. First stop is the village of Banga-an. Nestled in a picturesque valley, this traditional village offers an insight into rural Ifugao community life. After spending some time strolling around the village and meeting its residents, continue on to the start point for your trek in the Batad rice terraces. This region boasts the picturesque rice terrace views – in an amphitheatre shape – that are seen on postcards. It’s a challenging trek through the rice terraces, requiring balance along the narrow terraces and a good pair of walking shoes! But you’ll be rewarded with unbeatable panoramic views of the Batad rice terraces spreading out across the valley. It’s possible to continue your trek to the Tappiyah Waterfall if you’re feeling fit (it involves a steep descent). After lunch overlooking the terraces return to your hotel, where the rest of your day will be at leisure to relax and revive.

  • Day 5

    Set off for Sagada, passing through the stunning scenery and dramatic rice terraces that this region is so well-known for. Stop to see a fascinating collection of Cordillera region artefacts at the Bontoc museum, then continue to Sagada, a small town famous for its fascinating burial traditions. Traditional Ifugao beliefs state that the spirits of the dead should be close to the gods, and have traditionally interred the deceased in colourfully painted coffins suspended from the cliff side. Your guide will also show you some of the sombre subterranean caves that have been used as burial grounds, where you can learn more about these unusual traditions. If time permits, visit the waterfalls of Bomod-ok and Bokong, and Lake Danom on your way back to Banaue.

  • Day 6

    Fly to Manila, where the remainder of your afternoon will be at leisure to discover more corners of this bustling capital.

  • Day 7

    Fly from Manila to Tagbilaran, the capital of the island province of Bohol, and transfer to your hotel on Panglao Island. The remainder of your day will be at leisure to relax on the island’s clear beaches.

  • Day 8

    Head over the bridge to Bohol, driving through a pastoral landscape of coconut plantations and small villages, to the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella. Navigate through a small section of the sanctuary, keeping your eyes peeled for dozing tarsiers, and possibly meeting ‘Tarsier Man’ Carlito Pizzaras whose work with these unique creatures has been invaluable. Continue inland to a viewpoint near Carmen for panoramic views across Bohol’s famous Chocolate Hills. This unique landscape of conical hills, covering an area of 20 square miles, turns brown during winter, making them look like domes of chocolate, but is lush green during summer. Soak up the scenery before driving south to Loboc for a leisurely cruise along a picturesque section of river, with palm trees and jungle foliage lining the banks, enjoying a typical Filipino lunch as you travel downstream before meeting your driver and travelling back to your hotel.

  • Day 9

    Depart early for Pamilacan island to board a motorised outrigger spot dolphins and whales offshore. The boat crews are former fishermen who previously made an income hunting the whales but now safeguard the future of the marine life through tourism. Several cetacean species, including the playful spinner dolphins, can be spotted in these waters year round, and at least six different types of whales are seen between April and June, though these sightings are rarer. Enjoy lunch prepared by the locals on Pamilacan Island, then transfer back to your hotel where the rest of your day will be at leisure.

  • Day 10

    Head to Panglao airport to catch your flight to El Nido. From the jetty, take a shared boat to your chosen resort where the rest of your day is at leisure to explore El Nido’s beautiful coast.

  • Day 11

    An island hopping tour is the best way to experience the natural beauty of El Nido. Which specific islands you visit, and the route of your boat trip, will depend on the resort you start from, but you’re guaranteed to find plenty of the golden sands, clear water lagoons and snorkelling sites that the region is famous for.

  • Day 12

    Your day will be at leisure to relax and enjoy the beach and hotel facilities.

  • Day 13

    Your day will be at leisure until it’s time for your onward flight.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

Booking Policy

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed

  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip…)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in ‘inclusive’

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

Personalised design

We'll help plan your trip based on you like and want to do. We know a lot about the place you're gomg. so we can give you good advice. WIIether you're into history, food, or culture, ue'll make sure your trip is just right for you. With us. your travel will be easy and fun!

Authentic Experience

We carefully choose our expert guides and travel concierges to make sure you have an authentic experience. They're passionate about their work and will bring your destination to life with care and enthusiasm.

Responsible Travel

We design our luxury trips with responsible travel principles in mind. This means we prioritize experiences that benefit both you and the planet.

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