Often overlooked as a global travel hotspot, yet adored by those who are curious and adventurous enough to take the plunge, the Philippines really does stand out among other Asian countries, both in terms of its quantity and quality of unique selling points. Take, for example, the stunning picture-postcard rice fields of Banaue, or the gorgeous stone cobbled streets of the colonial city of Vigan - both important stops included in this seven-day itinerary. This trip also provides an insightful glimpse of the capital, Manila, as well as excursions to the cliffs of Sagada and tropical forests of Baguio.
Along the way, it’s easy to become absorbed by the country’s rich 350-year history, with diverse art, architecture, cuisine, and languages all on display to provide constant reminders of the region’s European, American and Asian influences. The famous warm and friendly attitude of the proud Filipinos will inevitably rub off on you, as you're sure to end this trip with a big smile.
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After checking into your five-star luxury Shangri-La Makati hotel, you might want want to take a rest a prepare yourself for your full schedule of travel over the coming week. However, if your energy levels are quickly replenished, you’ll be itching to see exactly what this vibrant colonial city has to offer. To make the most of the evening, head to Manila Bay, where you’ll be able to catch the stunning sunset and sample some of the local Philippine cuisine.
A drive from Manila to Banaue awaits you in the early morning. Although the journey is long, the developing landscape along the way is truly spectacular, and once you reach Banaue, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll realize it was all worth the effort. This mountain capital of northern Luzon is famed for its amazing, emerald-green, mud-walled rice terraces – some 49,000 acres of them - and you’ll have ample opportunity to explore (with your own personal tour guide) once you’ve arrived.
This morning, you’re off to visit a local family of Ifugao villagers - a great opportunity to learn about the local agricultural practises and traditional way of life. After this stop-off, your guide will take you back up above the terraces to reveal some breathtaking views. A short afternoon drive takes you to Sagada, where you’ll have the chance to explore the majestic Bomod-ok and Bokong Waterfalls, with the highest point at over 200 feet!
Don’t feel guilty about going for second helpings at your breakfast buffet this morning - today you’re going to need all the energy you can get! Your first stop of the day is the Hanging Coffins of Sagada; famous not only for its beauty, but also its 2,000-year-old ritual of hanging homemade coffins from the limestone cliffs high above the ground (corpses and all). You’ll have the chance to hike up the cliffs for a birds’-eye view. Afternoon activities include an incredible white-water rafting trip on the Upper Chico River.
A morning car journey will take you from Sagada the official summer capital of the Philippines - Baguio. After checking in to your luxury hotel, the Manor at Camp John Hay, it’s time to check out the local scenery and lush tropical landscape of the surrounding Kabadjo Forest, all from atop a horse! There is also the famous Baguio Flower Festival and several interesting museums, which are worth a visit in the afternoon.
On this penultimate day, focus switches to the beautiful, well-preserved trading city of Vigan. After your private tour through the quaint cobbled streets of this 16th century colonial city, you'll soon realize how it earned its place on UNESCO’s prestigious list of World Heritage Sites. The many sites you’ll visit reflect the area’s diverse background, with obvious architectural, culinary and linguistic influences stemming from the Filipino, Spanish and Chinese occupations.
After you’ve enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and checked-out of the charming Sitio Remedios Hotel in Vigan City, you will - perhaps a little reluctantly - start your journey home. A quick 40-minute drive takes you to Laoag International airport. From there, it’s onto another commercial flight back to Manila, you’ll connect to your international flight home or to your next exciting destination. Bon voyage!
Raffles Makati Hotel lives up to the renowned Raffles repute. This luxurious hotel is located in central Manila, making it a prime base from which to explore the vibrant city. There are just 32 opulent suites that boast cityscape views. The hotel has plenty of amenities for the discerning guest including a spa, sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room and fitness center. The four dining options combine the best of local culture and cuisine, as well as plenty of international dishes. There is a lounge bar and a pool bar mixing up tasty cocktails alongside wines, beers and light snacks. The Writers Bar, serving afternoon tea, was created in tribute to the famous novelists who have stayed at or written about Raffles. The Raffles Makati is a 30-minute drive from the airport.
Strategically placed on the corners of Ayala and Makati Avenues, The Peninsula Manila is close to premier shopping facilities and within easy access of Manila's numerous attractions. The hotel is a 30-minute drive from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) and just 20 minutes from Manila's domestic airport. Elegantly furnished in classic style, the hotel's 497 rooms and suites provide modern, technologically advanced conveniences, including complimentary broadband Internet access. The Club has been designed with the needs of business travelers in mind and offers an exclusive Club Lounge, serving complimentary continental breakfast, afternoon tea, and cocktails, as well as a boardroom, business center, and butler service. Continental and Pan-Asian cuisine is served at The Peninsula's many restaurants, including Old Manila and Spices, which are two of the top restaurants in the city. Salon de Ning, the hotel's quirky lounge, features musical entertainment on most evenings.
Located in the north of the Philippines, Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant is a very simple guesthouse in Sagada. Conveniently-located on Sagada’s prime tourist trail, the Masferre Hotel offers WiFi in public areas, laundry service, and dry cleaning, as well as a massage parlour on site, in an atmosphere reminiscent of a mountain lodge. The hotel’s restaurant is also quite renowned for its epicurean delights, with a wide-ranging menu featuring Filipino, Western, and Asian dishes, and it’s often referred to as the best restaurant in town. Another guest favorite is the selection of powerful photographs featured by the hotel, taken by the late Sagada-born photographer Eduardo Masferre.
Guests will enjoy this unique alternative forest destination, in a pine tree-covered prime location of Baguio City, Philippines, known for its refreshing, cool climate. The manor itself is four stories high, housing 177 well-appointed rooms, many of which enjoy panoramas of the majestic Cordillera mountain range. The structure was built using local stone on the exterior of the building, as well as panelled walls, wooden shuttered doors, and wooden furniture inside the rooms, evoking memories of traditional Baguio architecture and style. Highly-trained staff provide warm, friendly service, while top-notch facilities are provided for guests’ optimal comfort, from a luxurious spa ideal for a full day of pampering, to the Piano Bar, where the mood is set by live entertainment. An on-site delicatessen serves up fresh-baked goods, while Le Chef at The Manor provides guests with all-day dining. The atmosphere at The Manor is cozy, particularly accented by the large fireplace in the hotel’s lounge.
Step back in time with a stay at Hotel Luna, a unique hybrid of hotel and museum located in the city of Vigan in the Philippines. Nestled in the heart of the incredible architecture and intangible history of Vigan, a classified Heritage Village, Hotel Luna itself is a sight to be seen. Located in a decorative, four-storey colonial building, the hotel features fine pieces of Philippine art, from Juan Luna masterpieces to new items from contemporary artists. Guests can explore the artwork or spend lazy post-sightseeing afternoons lounging by the outdoor pool - located in the hotel’s courtyard - followed by a cocktail in the ornate Chula Saloon Bar. Afterwards, they may enjoy dinner at the in-house restaurant Comedor, feasting on Spanish dishes and gazing at the incredible art pieces adorning the walls, and take in a nightcap and a spectacular view of the city from Azotea, the rooftop patio.