Example Itinerary

Classic Philippines

Duration
12 days / 11 nights
Price Per Person
From $7,400
Destinations
Philippines
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The Philippines, an archipleagic nation consisting of over 7,000 islands and islets, is a tropical destination offering some of the world's most stunning beaches, mountains, diverse cultures, indigenous traditions, and rich history. Discover some of the Philippines' classic destinations on this 11-day journey which takes you from the bustling capital Manila to stunning hand-carved ancient rice terraces in the northern mountains, indigenous cliff-side burials of Sagada, and down to the beach paradise of El Nido where sunshine, warm clear waters, and pristine white sands round out your trip.

This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.

Highlights

  • Ancient Rice Terraces: Carved by hand into the mountainside over 2,000 years ago by the Ifugao tribe, the dramatic Banaue rice terraces are a striking sight to behold and a must-see wonder of the world.
  • Macabre Rituals: The remote mountain town of Sagada is best known for the centuries-old coffins hanging along cliff faces.
  • Karsts and Lagoons: A beach destination worlds-away from the party-central likes of Boracay, El Nido offers stunning green-carpeted karsts, turquoise waters, and plentiful small islands with quiet beaches.

Day-by-Day

Begin your journey through this archipelagic nation in the densely-populated capital city, Manila. You will be met upon arrival at the airport and transferred via private car to your hotel. Check in and freshen up before heading out to explore the city. Head to the oldest Chinatown in the world which dates back to the early 1590s and tells of the history of Chinese traders who came before the Spanish period. Nowadays, this neighborhood is a popular spot to buy affordable quick and tasty Chinese-Filipino foods. After a few snacks and visiting a couple of old Chinese temples, get a taste of modern day Manila at Bonifacio Global City, a lifestyle district with megamalls, interesting history and entertainment museums, golf club, spas, restaurants, and boutiques. Here, get a whirlwind history lesson at the Ayala Museum which has exhibits showcase different periods from the country's rich and varied past. In the late afternoon, you get can a sense of how the after-work crowd unwinds at Mercato Centrale, a food park with plenty of food stalls and casual seating under a large tented area. While you are here, why not get a taste of local favorites such as halo-halo and sisig.

This morning, take a walking tour of historic Intramuros. The original 16th century walls of this fortified old city still stand, and the area’s period buildings make for a fascinating walk through time. Highlights in this area include Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, and Manila Cathedral. Then, head to the heart of the old city and explore Quiapo district, known for its church and market, one of the biggest in the country. Make a stop at the Coconut Palace, originally commissioned by former First Lady Imelda Marcos as a government guest house. It was offered to the Pope upon his visit in 1981 but was refused as it was too opulent. It has, however, housed other prominent visitors including Brooke Shields and Muammar al-Gaddafi. Round out the day with a stroll along the Manila Baywalk, the premier place to watch the sunset in the city.

Manila
Manila

Today you travel north to Banaue. What once was a nine-hour drive is now made a quicker journey with a flight to Cauayan and three-hour drive to the terraces. Upon arrival, have lunch and freshen up at your hotel before taking to the lush terraces of Hapao for a leisurely hike along its gentle slopes. Enjoy the bucolic views as you pass through small friendly communities and witness the locals tending to their paddies.

Experience the full majesty of this UNESCO-protected area at Batad rice terrace, an immense and impressive sight. This hand-carved amphitheatre of rice fields curve in long layers around the valley as far as the eye can see. The terraces here have stone walls, unlike others in the region that have mud walls. Enjoy a morning of leisurely hiking and exploring this amazing area. Today you will also visit Bangaan Village, a small farming community with traditional wooden homes snuggled into lush misty terraces. Meet and talk with the villagers, and share a cup of tea or coffee while taking in the idyllic setting.

Banaue
Banaue

Travel onward by car to the small town of Sagada, a few hours away. Enroute, stop by the Bontoc Museum which showcases the rich culture of the ancient Igorot tribes of the area. Upon arrival, head to Echo Valley to see the hanging coffins, a tradition practiced by the animist Sagadans. It was believed that putting their dead along the cliffside brought the deceased closer to the gods, and this method of burial was reserved for select tribespeople. Then, visit Lumiang Cave, a different burial site that holds 100 ancient coffins stacked on top of each other. The tradition of placing coffins in caves is still practiced today by a sub-group of the Igorot but it is seldom practiced as it is a costly burial method involving animal sacrifices.

Most of today is spent traveling to Vigan, taking in the beautiful mountain scenery on the way. Arrive in town by late afternoon. Stretch your legs with a walking tour around town. Vigan is a well-preserved colonial Spanish town and a World Heritage Site, with largely intact architectural influences from the Philippines, China and Europe. Pick up a memento at a pottery boutique and enjoy authentic Ilocano cuisine in a local restaurant.

Vigan
Vigan

This morning, drive two hours north to Laoag airport to fly back to Manila. Spend the rest of your day at leisure. We recommend stepping out in the evening for a nightlife tour around the trendy Poblacion neighborhood, a burgeoning artist hub packed with intimate cafes, hidden bars, art workshops, and contemporary restaurants.

Manila
Manila

Day 8

Map

El Nido

Finally today you begin the last leg of your Philippines journey, rounding out your trip with a tropical beach stay in the south. Fly to El Nido, located on the northern tip of Palawan island. A short drive to the pier and a speedboat ride later, you arrive at El Nido Pangulasian Island resort, a luxury island hideaway with well-appointed villas, a pristine 750-meter stretch of white sand beach, and backdrop of tropical forest. With only 42 villas on the whole island, you can unwind in paradise undisturbed.

Day 9

Map

El Nido

Spend your day at leisure. El Nido is famed for its clear turquoise waters, limestone formations, hidden lagoons, and many islands with white sand beaches. Get to know the reefs around your resort or charter a boat and go island-hopping. Pangulasian Island resort also curates intimate activities upon request such as a private dinner on the beach, private sunset cruise with canapes, and ocean activities.

Day 10

Map

El Nido

On your penultimate day in paradise, and the last full day on your Philippines adventure, the day is in your hands. Idle on the beach to your heart's content or continue exploring El Nido's islands as you wish. For a unique experience, rent a clear kayak and explore around Cadlao island which is home to wildlife such as monkeys, big lizards, and hornbill birds.

Squeeze in one last dip in the waters before you make your way back to the mainland for your flight to Manila and connection onward.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.

Why Remote Lands?

Exclusively Asia

With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

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