As the trip progressed strangers became friends. Particularly special was the effortlessness: perfect logistics, never having to worry about anything, and, of course, the charming and thoughtful way you organised everything.
The capital city and port of entry for most travelers. Manila can be a challenging place to love, but it provides a historical and cultural overview to the country. With a population of 12 million people, Metro Manila comprises a sprawling expanse of districts that include Makati; the central business district with its tall, glass towers and swanky shopping malls; Intramuros, the old walled city with cobblestone streets facing Manila Bay; Ortigas, a shopping center surrounded by affluent suburban communities; and Quezon City, a partly rural, partly seedy section that is also the seat of government.
Manila is a heady mix of the new and old. Young professionals from all reaches of the archipelago move here to find work, while old families with roots dating back to Spanish colonial times still hold fort over all manners of commerce and society. Though it can be overwhelming with its crowds, Manila is a vibrant place that is ultimately a great introduction to the country's colonial past, preserved in its walled city and museums, and the bright future Filipinos are fervently working towards.
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Our co-founder Jay Tindall has been visiting the Philippines for over 20 years. His favourite places? The rice terraces of Banaue, Sagada, and the beaches of Palawan.
Visit Intramuros, the walled city, where Manila was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century. In this area of cobblestone paths plied by horse-drawn carriages, you will find Manila's main cathedral, with its 4,500-pipe organ, and the St. Augustine Church, the oldest church in the Philippines and home to an antiquities museum.
Stop by Quiapo, a lively residential district known for its seemingly endless outdoor shopping bazaars, and the busy Quiapo Church, site of the annual Black Nazarene Festival: every January 9, this antiquated sculpture of a dark-skinned Christ is paraded through the streets of the city before throngs of the faithful.
Catch the sunset at Manila Bay, whether on a private yacht cruising the bay, or from the Roxas Boulevard Boardwalk, where you’ll find couples sitting on stone benches, soaking in the view.
Bars & Nightclubs
Manila is party central and often plays host to international bands, DJs and musicians. The city also has a robust local music scene, and you're never far from a bar or music venue with a live band or karaoke. Bars abound all over the metropolis, as Filipinos love to imbibe their national drink, San Miguel Beer.
Shopping & Markets
There's a shopping mall on every corner, or so it seems in this shopping-crazed culture. High-end, international retailers mix with local designers in Manila's megamalls, but for more local offerings, look to markets selling Filipiniana, or Filipino-made goods.
Philippines cuisine is a curious mix of Spanish, Chinese and American influence. Traditional Filipino food is typically very savory (and often fatty!) and can be enjoyed in a wide range of restaurants, from fine dining establishments to streetside cafes. Local chefs, many of them trained abroad, have returned to revive Philippine cuisine with an international twist.
Commissioned in 1981 by eccentric First Lady Imelda Marcos for $37 million, the octagonal structure is built entirely
of local hardwoods and coconut shells, and was intended to honor Pope John Paul II’s visit to the Philippines, a country where over 80% of the population is Roman Catholic.
Beginning in the bustling capital of Manila and finishing in the relaxing paradise of Boracay, this 13-day itinerary takes you through the Philippine’s must-see spots. Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, hike volcanoes, visit numerous UNESCO Heritage Sites and lounge on the beach on this balanced luxury getaway.
Begin your Philippines adventure by trekking to a volcano within a volcano and a lake within a lake. While the trip starts off active, finish your 13-day holiday by lounging on El Nido’s lush white-sand beaches. This is a luxurious adventure balanced with culture, history and of course, fun in the sun.
ATV rides, swimming alongside the world’s largest fish, and relaxing on lush gold-sand beaches are all in store on this 15-day luxurious adventure through the Caramoan Peninsula in the tropical Philippines chain. Enjoy helicopter rides and a full day’s pampering at an exclusive spa on this one-of-a-kind holiday.
An incredible fusion of Latin and Asian culture, the Negros is home to a fascinating atmosphere in the Philippines. This 13-day itinerary takes you to an authentic Filipino festival, inside old-world churches, into the vibrant barrier reefs and inside a culture unique the world over found only in the Negros-chain.
Divers and snorkelers alike will delight in this 17-day two-part luxurious holiday in the Philippines. The first half is spent exploring the Filipino culture, natural features and history. The second half is spent exploring the active corals, several dive sites and lush white-sand beaches from a lush cruise ship.
Embark on an exciting 12-day adventure through the Philippines, starting in Manila, where you’ll visit Intramuros city, and continue on to the cobblestone streets of historic Vigan and Bohol’s chocolate hills. Round off the trip with a luxurious stay in Hong Kong, capturing the iconic skyline from Victoria Peak.
Island hop through the idyllic Philippines on this 16-day luxury tour. Visit several of the country’s historical heritage sites, relax on serene beaches and experience Latin-Asian fusion cultures. Gorge on fresh local food in the popular markets. Search for lively fish as you snorkel Palawan's active coral reefs.
There’s no need to narrow down which heavenly island you will visit in on this 12-day trip through the Central Philippines island chain. Revel in luxury as you stay in the best hotels throughout your journey. Stroll along white-sand islets and snorkel alongside beautiful sea turtles on this exciting adventure.
Explore natural limestone caves and cliffs in Puerto Princesa, take a river cruise inside a subterranean cave and snorkel lively coral reefs. Stay in the finest hotels in the Philippines for complete relaxation as you enter the perfect gateway for discovering the country’s historical past on your 12-day luxury trip.
This National Geographic Traveler award-winning trip provides an insightful glimpse of the capital, Manila, as well as rice terrace treks in Banuae and excursions to the cliffs of Sagada and tropical forests of Baguio, across 7 adventurous days.
Located in the heart of Manila’s business and commercial district, Makati Shangri-La is a luxury hotel moments from the capital’s best shops, bars, and restaurants. The hotel’s 699 rooms have a classic feel, with wood-paneled walls, an alcove ceiling, and a muted color palette. Soothing touches like a Zen waterfall on every floor creates a feeling of serenity that’s hard to come by in the bustling area surrounding the hotel. Leisure amenities include a full-service spa, an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center and tennis courts. There is no business center, but broadband Internet access and a fax machine is available in every room. The highlight of the hotel is its restaurants, which are popular even with the locals. Of note is the dim sum and Cantonese fine dining at Shang Palace, and Sunday brunch at Circles’ extensive international buffet. Fine dining Japanese and two sophisticated lounges round out the dining scene. Shangri-La Manila is a 30-minute drive from the Manila International Airport.
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.
The Peninsula Manila
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 conveniently in the heart of Makati Central Business District, Fairmont Makati is an urban sanctuary with 280 elegantly appointed suites offering superb views of the Makati skyline. The hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, business center and dining choices that span Filipino, Malaysian, Spanish, European and Asian cuisine. The hotelâ€™s attention to detail even reaches to an exclusive Pillow Menu to suit guestsâ€™ comfort preferences. In room facilities include air-conditioning, en-suite marble bathrooms, bathrobes, bathtub and shower facility, luxury toiletries, free Wi-Fi, a safe, cable TV, a minibar, ironing facilities and a hairdryer. The hotel has many up-market additions including a hair salon, nail studio, a spa pool, an outdoor pool and a fitness center.