Philippines Adventure

15 days
from
£3,099
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Traveller ratings
5 / 5 from 2 reviews >
Trip code: 
ALBA
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Culture & Discovery Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

Explore North Luzon and Palawan islands of Philippines

The Philippines is a land of over 7000 islands that is defined by its emerald rice terraces, smouldering volcanoes, unique Spanish-Filipino colonial architecture and white sand beaches. We start our adventure in the teeming capital of Manila before making our way to the mountains and lush countryside of North Luzon, home to hundreds of ethnic groups. After admiring the volcanic crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo and the tiered agricultural land of Banaue, we journey to the island of Palawan where we explore the underground network of rivers and caves in the Puerto Princessa N.P. We spend the end of our adventure in El Nido, amongst the enchanting lagoons with tranquil turquoise water and secluded beaches.

A number of changes are being made to this product for travel after the 1st February 2018. This trip will now run on an alternative itinerary that is one day longer and features an additional day in Baguio City and a change to one of the internal flights that will result in less time driving. Please click here to view the correct version.

Highlights

  • Explore the thrilling city of Manila
  • Walk to the summit of the active volcano Mount Pinatubo
  • Visit the amphitheatre style rice terraces of Batad
  • Marvel at the firefly spectacle of the Iwahig River
  • Cruise through the underground river of Puerto Princesa
  • Explore the thousand islands and white sand beaches of El Nido, Palawan

Key information

  • Travel by private minibus, plane and boat
  • Two internal flights
  • Group normally 5 to 16 plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • 10 nights comfortable and standard hotels, 2 nights basic hotels.

What's included

  • 13 breakfasts and 4 lunches
  • All accommodation
  • London flights (if booking incl. flights)
  • Airport transfers
  • Tour leader throughout

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

  • Day 2

    Arrive Manila.

    Start Manila, a sprawling city with a unique mixture of the modern and historic. Keep an eye out for the ‘jeepney’s, these colourful and flamboyantly decorated vehicles originally made from jeeps left by the American troops after the war, are a great way to get around and experience the city as the locals do. If you aren’t too tired after the flight then it is possible to visit the National Museum of the Philippines which is close to the hotel and free to enter.

    City Garden Grand Hotel or similar

  • Day 3

    Manila city tour.

    Today we embark on a tour of one of the world’s great metropolises, Manila. We’ll visit the World Heritage listed San Augustine Church before climbing aboard a ‘calesa’, a horse drawn carriage still used as public transport, to the Manila Cathedral. After pausing at Fort Santiago we’ll continue to the famous Chinese Cemetery to learn about the various temples, memorials and halls that were designed for Chinese citizens during Spanish rule. We will then head to Quiapo, the oldest district of Manila often referred to as the underbelly of the city and is the place for bargain hunting. In the afternoon we visit Makati, the modern, cosmopolitan district of Manila known for being the financial centre of the Philippines with numerous galleries, shopping malls and restaurants. Visiting both the old and the new today highlights the diversity this eclectic city has to offer.
    City Garden Grand Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Mt Pinatubo; walk to the summit, view crater lake. Transfer to Baguio.

    An early start this morning as we journey north for approximately 3 hours to reach the stop-off point for our visit to Mount Pinatubo. This active volcano, located in the Cabusilan Mountains, last erupted in 1991 after 600 years of deep slumber. It was previously obscured from sight and covered in dense forest which supported a population of several thousand indigenous people, the Aetas, who fled to the mountains during the Spanish conquest of the Philippines.

    We will board a 4x4 jeep and enjoy a thrilling drive across Crow Valley, a moon-like terrain with vast ash fields and rocky rivers. We will walk the last section of the trail as we head up towards the summit. The walk is approximately 2 hours each way, perhaps longer if there has been heavy rainfall, and has no steep inclines. Once at the crater summit we are rewarded with views of the crater lake and its deep turquoise colour (Mount Pinatubo is in a militarized zone and can be closed at short notice). After lunch we will transfer for another approx. 4 hours through the beautiful vistas and tiny villages of the Cordillera mountain range to Baguio City. Time-permitting we will visit the superb BenCab Museum which is famed for its animist wood carvings.
    Burnham Suites or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Drive to Banaue; witness spectacular views of the rice terraces.

    Today we journey to Banaue, a region famed for its 2000 year-old rice terraces. Built by the Ifugao tribes and stretching as far as the eye can see, the emerald green terraces were carved out by generations of traditional farmers and remain one of Asia’s most spectacular sights, often being referred to as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. Our guesthouse this evening is perched on the edge of the small village of Banaue and the restaurant delivers spectacular views across the valley. The transfer today will take approximately 7 hours however there will be regular stops to allow us to absorb this striking mountainous terrain.
    Banaue Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Day walk through terraces and traditional villages; swim option at Tappiyah Falls.

    After a quick jeepney ride we arrive at the small village of Batad. Forming an amphitheatre, the rice terraces here are the most spectacular as the concentric circles that line the mountain-side frame the village in the middle of the valley. After a walk through the terraces we will visit the vast Tappiyah waterfall, an ideal spot for a refreshing swim for those keen. The path to the waterfall is fairly steep with lots of steps so it may not be for everyone.
    Banaue Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Transfer to Pampanga; stay in the foothills of Mt. Arayat.

    Making our way through Central Luzon towards Manila, we journey for approximately 8 hours towards Magalang, a small town located in the Pampanga province. For those who would rather relax this afternoon the hotel swimming pool provides a great space to unwind.
    Abe's Farm or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Journey back to Manila; fly to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Sunset river cruise to see the firefly spectacle.

    This morning there will be the option to start early and explore the modern town of Angeles and visit the City Museum which tells of the story of the town’s involvement in the Philippine Revolution and World War Two. We will then go to Manila airport to check in for our flight to the island of Palawan, the second leg of our Philippine adventure. Drastically different from the highlands of the north, Palawan is famed for its white sand beaches and spectacular National Parks. We will have a city tour of Puerto Princesa and then early evening drive to the Iwahig River, a clear wide river flanked by dense jungle on either side. We will meet our boat guide before boarding three-person paddleboats for a cruise through the mangroves; learning about the jungle mangroves and how to sky navigate is all the more magical as we watch the spectacle of thousands of fireflies that cluster on their favoured fragrant mangrove trees.
    One Manalo or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Visit the UNESCO site of the 8.2km underground river and cave system.

    Today we transfer to the famous World Heritage Site of Puerto Princesa underground river. This natural wonder features an 8.2km navigable river that winds through a spectacular cave before emptying into the South China Sea. ‘Cathedral’ chambers, cavernous caves and geological formations are viewed as we make our way through the river by boat. At the mouth of the cave ancient trees frame the clear lagoon and large monitor lizards are often seen along with macaque monkeys. It is a true biodiversity hotspot and a great place for tropical bird watching too. After lunch on the beach there will be the option to enjoy a mangrove paddle boat tour lead by the community to explore a deeper part of the forest.
    67th Heaven Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

    To El Nido, the gateway to the Bacuit Archipelago famous for its blue lagoons and towering limestone karst cliffs.

    Right in the north western tip of Palawan is El Nido, one of the most picturesque and iconic places in the Philippines. Made up of hundreds of limestone islands said to have formed millions of years ago, El Nido is a marine reserve with only a few islands inhabited. Our journey to El Nido town, the gateway to the Bacuit archipelago will take approximately 4-5 hours and upon arrival there will be time to explore the small town.
    El Nido Cove or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Boat trip to explore the secluded coves; swim in the aquamarine waters of the Sulu Sea.

    We take a boat tour today of the lagoons and beaches of El Nido. The Big and Small Lagoon’s tranquil turquoise-green waters, surrounded by orchid-lined limestone walls, showcase a kaleidoscope of marine life. We will also visit the ‘Secret Lagoon’; surrounded by limestone karst cliffs this secluded lagoon is only witnessed by entering through a tiny crack in the cliff that was once a vast cave. The final destination is Seven Commandos Beach named after the seven remaining Japanese commandos who remained on the island after World War II. The island has a long white sandy beach lined with palm trees. There will be ample opportunity to snorkel throughout the day and explore the amazing underwater ecosystem consisting of over 100 types of coral.
    El Nido Cove or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 12

    Free time to relax in this tropical paradise.

    Today is a full free day to further explore this dramatic coastline. Options available include hiring a bicycle to discover more of the coastline, a fishing tour to catch your own lunch, a kayaking tour of the archipelago or simply chose to relax in a hammock admiring the view from our beachside hotel.
    El Nido Cove or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Transfer to airport; fly to Manila.

    We spend the morning driving back to the south of Palawan to Puerto Princesa airport for our return flight to Manila. The journey will take approximately 6 hours and passes through lush greenery and agricultural land. Upon arrival we will transfer to our centrally located hotel in Manila. There will be a final optional group dinner at a local restaurant.
    City Garden Grand Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Depart Manila.

    End Manila.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Philippines

No visa required for British passport holders. Citizens of most countries are allowed to enter the Philippines without a visa for a stay of up to 21 days, provided they hold a valid return ticket.

Vaccinations

Philippines

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Diphtheria, Yellow Fever.

Malaria prophylaxis is essential on this trip, and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take.

Zika fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Bilharzia is known to occur in some of the lakes or rivers visited on this itinerary, we therefore advise all to take advice from your guide or leader locally before venturing for a swim.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 4 lunches included.

Filipino food is an exotic, tasteful fusion of Chinese, Spanish and American with Malay culinary influences. There is a wide variety of fresh seafood available throughout. The national dish is adobo, which is either chicken or pork, or both, simmered in soy and vinegar with garlic and black pepper. Another delicacy is Lechon de leche; roasted suckling pig. Almost every dish is served with portions of plain steamed rice (kanin). Coconut, soy, vinegar and fish sauce are widely used to add flavour.

Western food will be available in some areas but cannot be guaranteed. Vegetarian food is available in the Philippines, however the concept of vegetarianism can be misunderstood so if you are a vegetarian please be clear and state that you don't eat meat, chicken or fish.The best beer to try is San Miguel although a fresh coconut juice is a refreshing alternative. Locally made rum is called Tanduay rum and it is worth trying Tapuy, a very strong rice wine.

Is this trip for you?

The Philippines is a huge country and whilst this tour focuses on the islands of North Luzon and Palawan there is still a considerable amount of ground to cover in just over 2 weeks. The itinerary is scheduled in such a way as to not feel too rushed and there are various activities scheduled every day. Most drives are reasonably short but there are, however, longer drives of between 5 and 8 hours. On the longer driving days the journeys will be broken up with regular stops and meal breaks and the leader will of course be discussing the landscape and highlights we pass through.

The walks through villages and rice paddies are not very strenuous and accessible to everyone with a moderate level of fitness. We recommend that you should be comfortable walking for a couple of hours at a time with some undulations but there are no steep inclines. When travelling in some areas of the country, service may not be as fast or reliable as you are used to in other countries and Filipino attitude towards certain things such as animal welfare and food may differ from your own. That said, if you come ready for an experience the country's rewards will not fail to deliver.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

We use a mixture of hotels of varying standard. Most are ‘standard’ or ‘comfortable’ (3/4 star type hotels) but we do have few nights in ‘basic’ guesthouses, in Banaue and Barangay. Our accommodation at Mt. Arayat, may have different room types and we will generally try to allocate the better rooms to the members of the group who booked earlier. Tourism is still relatively new to the Philippines and as such you should be prepared for the service and the quality of the hotels to be less than in neighbouring south‐east Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand. Wi‐Fi is available at most of the accommodation but this can sometimes be limited just to the communal areas.

Single accommodation (available on request)

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

  • Reviewed March 2017
    Jill Thompson

    Philippines Adventure

    One of our group said it was like all the best bits of all the trips you've ever done, but they are all here in one place! Volcanoes, lakes, mountains, Karsts, forest, caves, sea: you've got everything under one sky.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the walk on the rice terraces. I have a fear of open heights you can throw yourself off, so proud that I did it!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bryan is one of the best leaders I have ever been on a trip with. Knowledgeable, funny, helpful and patient. Brilliant leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trip is classed as leisurely/moderate and whilst I would agree with that, the rice terrace walk may be a bit of challenge for some. I'm late 50s, reasonably fit and did fine, but only 4 out of 7 of us wanted to complete the full walk to the waterfall - it's entirely voluntary! We had a lovely partly cloudy day in March and I suspect this would be quite hard work in full sun. Mount Pinatubo was a great trip - miles of arid landscape covered in a Land Rover (not quite what you'd get at home) then the walk up to the crater lake, which is a stunning place. The boat Day at El Nido was fabulous, but it depends on the tide as to whether you walk or swim to shore. I would advise you to take rubber shoes for this as the rocks could be pretty tricky and a rash vest is useful if there are jellyfish around! The scenery throughout the trip is simply stunning so the long days travelling passed quickly, with numerous stops for photos, food, comfort stops or a quick leg stretch.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'm a pescatarian and found plenty of great vegetarian food and of course, the fabulous fresh fish. Like me, you may need to adjust your thinking about animals in general as the culture is very different, but don't let that put you off going. This is the best trip we've ever been on.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Robert Bates

    Philippines Trip

    Great trip which gives you an over view of the inland and coast of this large country. I would recommend this trip if you wish to see the rural and urban aspects of the country and the contrast between them.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking through the rice terraces. You see them in pictures but to be among them is something else. I enjoyed the snorkelling at El Nido as well.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bryan was brilliant. he really wanted the trip to work for us and it did. He was very approachable and social. I would happily travel with him again. Very well organised.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Philippines is a large country with an infrastructure that struggles at times. The road journeys are long but the scenery is lovely and you stop quite a few times. It is such a lush green country. There weren't many western tourists there at the time we were but that was a good thing for me. Changing money was easy at the airport, I just use the ATM, between 2 of us we spent 25,000 pesos, you can only withdraw 10,000 at a time. There are banks etc in places you go but that can be time consuming and some don't accept sterling. Meal prices are pretty reasonable and drink is cheap. The boat trip around the islands at El Nido was done in seas that weren't that calm, one of our party went a bit green but on whole everyone was fine and it was a great day. You can do another boat trip the next day which I would recommend. The food is pretty good, lovely fish as you would expect. If you like sweet things visit any Mall, they are huge and have many kiosks selling all sorts of wares to satisfy your sugar cravings. In fact the Malls are really cheap places to eat but probably you would only get the chance to go there if you have a spare day. A good pair of walking trainers is recommended, no need for full boots, you may get wet if you slip when crossing small streams at Mt Pinatubo. The guides help you across for balance. The snorkelling gear you get as El Nido is good, no need to bring your own. No problems with insects except for 67th Resort but they were trying to spray the beach to alleviate the little flies that crept up on us! Saw about 2 mosquitoes all trip. The temperature was lovely all day (January) just a bit cooler in the evenings at the rice terraces. Need a top for that. The day you go to Mt Pinatubo you get up around 3.30am!! But if you flew from the UK then you will probably be wide awake then anyway but be warned. Most other days it was a reasonable start but I got up every day to see the sun come up, beautiful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    WiFi connections were fine 90% of the time if you really can't live without it. The rice terraces walk would be very hard if it was over 30C. You do a fair bit of up and down and getting to the waterfall was not completed by half of our group. One thing I would add is that I feel we were lucky in that we managed to do everything planned but if there was inclement weather then it may affect your ability to do them. I'm not sure how that would be dealt with but hopefully that won't happen. Rough seas can cancel all the activities that use the seas but March and April are much calmer but very much hotter!

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 0208 772 3936