Highlights of Philippines balances a handful of must-see highlights with plenty of blissful R&R downtime. Explore Manila’s eclectic metropolis, feasting on its vibrant cuisine; unwind amid the natural wonders of Palawan, cruising along the Puerto Princesa underground river; and relax on El Nido’s sundrenched island beaches.
- Discover Manila’s eclectic culture
- Graze on delicious Filipino streetfood
- Float along Palawan’s underground river
- Trek through lush jungle trails
- Island hop around El Nido
Manila, Palawan, Puerto Princesa Underground River, El Nido
On arrival in the Philippines, you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your Manila hotel.
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. Drive on to 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 into 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 tasty Filipino specialities, including chicken adobo and colourful halo-halo pudding.
Fly to Puerto Princesa, the capital of the island province of Palawan, to meet your guide and drive along the winding road to Sabang. Quieter than Palawan’s better-known destinations of El Nido and Coron, Sabang Beach sits on the edge of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean National Park, making it an excellent base from which to explore the famous Underground River. The rest of your day will be at leisure to enjoy the seaside serenity.
Navigate the Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the country’s most impressive natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start early to avoid the crowds, taking a boat ride to Sabang pier, then a short walk through the jungle to the cave entrance to board a shared paddle boat with an experienced guide at the helm. Drift through giant caverns and cathedral chambers, lit only by the boatman’s torch, home to a complex ecosystem sustaining several species of crab, giant spider and snake that can only be found here - although you’re only likely to see a few bats and swallows! Reunite with your guide at the cave entrance and trek for a couple of hours along well-worn trails through the jungle back to your hotel, where the remainder of your afternoon will be at leisure to rest after the day’s hike.
Travel to El Nido town at the tip of Palawan, where you’ll be driven to the jetty to board a shared boat to your chosen resort. The rest of your day will be at leisure to begin leaning in to El Nido’s laid back rhythm.
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.
Indulge yourself with a long stretch enjoying El Nido’s sun, sea and sand, and making the most of the barefoot luxury at your resort. Follow your instincts to discover hidden coves where you can laze in the shade and snorkel in the shallows; tear yourself away from the reefs to trekking through the lush inland jungle; and feast on fresh seafood on the shore.
Enjoy a morning at leisure soaking up a few last moments in El Nido’s tropical paradise, before heading to the airport for your onward flight.
- 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.