Get a feel for ancient culture of the northern Philippines and more contemporary Spanish influence during this active 10-day tour of Luzon. Explore the bustling streets of Manila, marvel at the rice terraces of Batad and hanging coffins of Sagada, and bask in the culture of beautiful Vigan.
This afternoon your overnight flight arrives in Manila, an energetic city with a historic heart. Your private driver will greet you at Nino Aquino Manila International Airport and transport you to your comfortable accommodation. We’ve not planned anything for this afternoon to allow you to recover from your flight, so relax or head out for a wander.
Today you will tour the walled city of Intramuros on bamboo bicycles. Your guide will explain the history of the walled city as you cycle leisurely along on a hand-made bicycle. See the UNESCO-designated Saint Augustin Church, Fort Santiago, and other historic buildings. Exploring by bicycle allows you to see more of this historical area and absorb the sights and sounds of what was once the heart of Manila. The tour including time to reach Intramuros and return to your hotel takes approximately 4 hours. You may wish to have lunch in the old city, and the remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Rise early to beat the Manila traffic and head north to Banaue. As you venture into the Cordillera Mountains you’ll stop at historic monuments and view points along the way. This will be a long day on the road but the views as you rise into the mountains are nothing short of stunning.
Your guide today will take you out in a private jeepney to the stunning rice terraces of Batad. Visit the farming community of Banga-an to see the traditional Ifugao homes before beginning the walk to the rice terraces. These 2,000-year-old terraces are fed by an irrigation system just as old. If you’re up for more, your guide can lead you to a waterfall before you return to your jeepney and the ride back to Banaue.
Your private driver and guide will take you through more mountains to Sagada today. On the way you’ll have stunning views of the rice terraces and a stop at the Bontoc Museum. This small museum is packed with photographs and artifacts of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera region. You’ll reach Sagada in the early afternoon and have time to wander the quiet streets of this mountain town.
Sagada and other Igorot towns resisted the 16th century Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Traditional culture survived the centuries including the unique burial practices of hanging coffins. Your guide today will take you to see some of these and the Lumiang Burial Cave where more than 100 coffins are stacked in the entrance. If you want to continue your exploration, your guide can arrange a spelunking adventure into Sumaguing Cave.
Travel west to the city of Vigan, the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Walk the cobblestone streets and take in the architectural and cultural influences from China, Spain, Mexico, and indigenous Philippine peoples. You’ll have some time to relax and a little time with a private guide to see the some of the city’s historic highlights.
Travel north to Laoag for your flight to Manila. Along the way, stop at one more UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site: St. Augustine Church in Bantay. You’ll arrive in Manila during the afternoon and have the remainder of your time in the Philippines to yourself. Relax at your hotel and perhaps begin plotting your next trip to this beautiful country!
Depending on your flight, you may be able to start the journey home late at night on your 9th day. Otherwise your driver will take you to the airport today for your flight home. Safe travels!
This itinerary costs from £1250 per person B&B and is based on two people sharing during the high season (Nov-May) excluding the Christmas and New Year, Chinese New Year, Easter, and other holiday periods. The price includes all private transfers and domestic travel but not international flights.
International flights tend to cost between £400 and £700 per person return – do ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.