A nation of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines offers an array of topography, culture, and sights to take in. Deciding where to go with only a two-week holiday can be daunting. There are four main island groups: Luzon, Palawan, the Visayas, and Mindanao. On a typical trip, we recommend limiting yourself to two of those, allowing time for visits to more than one island within a group.
For a first-time visitor, we recommend starting in Manila to see the old walled city of Intramuros before heading north into the Cordillera. See the rice terraces in Banaue, the hanging coffins of Sagada, and learn about the traditions of the Igorot people. If you have a few extra days, wander the town of Vigan to take in the well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture. This route requires many hours in a van and accommodation options are limited. We recommend spending the second part of your trip relaxing on one of the beaches in Palawan or the Visayas.
Palawan has been hailed the best island in the world by many visitors and is home to miles of beaches, clear waters, lush jungle, and the jutting limestone cliffs of El Nido and Coron. There’s plenty to keep you busy on land or in the water and some truly lovely resorts in which to relax and let the world melt away. For divers, the shipwrecks of Coron are well worth experiencing firsthand. Covered in healthy coral and sitting within 30 meters, most of the wrecks make for a great dive regardless whether you choose to penetrate the ship.
The Visayas presents multiple options. For those seeking a pure white sand beach, Boracay is hard to beat. While it has become quite busy in recent years, we know a few delightful places to escape the crowds and enjoy the beauty of this small island. With romantic boutique properties, excellent restaurants, and lively nightlife, Boracay is a great honeymoon destination.
If the action of Boracay isn’t appealing but the thought of a white sand beach is, Bohol is the place to head. Lovely beaches line the shores of Panglao, snorkeling and diving along neighboring Balicasag Island is excellent, and some of our favorite boutique resorts in the country can be found here. If you didn’t get enough culture and exploration in the Cordillera, spend a day seeing the Chocolate Hills, touring the Tarsier Sanctuary, and gazing at Boholano art. With an international airport in the planning stages, Bohol is likely to hit the tourist map in a major way very soon!
If you have more than two weeks, we suggesting spending additional time in Palawan or the Visayas. For divers heading to the Visayas, the area around Dumaguete on the island of Negros is our recommendation. Apo Island is a short boat ride away and the shore diving off Dauin is highly rewarding for underwater photographers. If diving isn’t a priority, Siquijor is our pick for a unique spot to unwind and experience a bit of Filipino magic. In Palawan, experience El Nido and either Coron or one of the lovely resorts on the east side of Palawan.
Take a look at our sample itineraries for suggestions of how to spend your time in the Philippines but please bear in mind these are merely ideas. We’re here to custom-design the right holiday for you so please do get in touch.
The bustling capital city is home to historic Intramuros and Rizal Park. Let us arrange a bicycle tour of the walled city so you can explore the narrow streets and learn about the nation's colonial past.
Some of the best preserved Spanish colonial architecture in the world can be found in Vigan. Wander the cobbled streets, sample the Spanish-influenced cuisine, and relax in one of the city's historic boutique hotels.
Sink your toes into the white sands of Boracay. Grab a cocktail, take it easy, and watch the clear blue water lap against the shore. When night falls, join the parties of District Two or slip away to romantic Diniwid beach.
Chocolate hills, tiny tarsiers, Boholano art, beautiful beaches, and some lovely snorkeling and diving make Bohol one of our favorite parts of the Philippines. The gorgeous boutique resorts don't hurt, either!
The island of Negros is home to world-class diving off the coast of Dauin and on neighboring Apo Island. Waterfalls and adventure are just a day trip away from the university town of Dumaguete. On neighboring Siquijor settle in to the tranquility of an island known for sorcery and healing powers.
The gateway to Palawan, Puerto Princesa sits near one of the longest subterranean rivers in the world. Let us arrange a stay for you at a beachside hotel with mountain views just a short boat ride away.
When people refer to Palawan as the most beautiful island in the world, images of El Nido come to mind. Limestone cliffs jut from aquamarine water, lush jungle fills the interior, and the coasts are lined with dazzling beaches. Some of the finest resorts in the country dot the islands around this northern bit of Palawan.
For divers, the WWII shipwrecks of Coron are one of the highlights of the Philippines. Natural hot springs, clear blue lakes, isolated beaches, and a rather surprising game reserve and wildlife sanctuary make Coron a fun destination for divers and landlubbers alike.
Fast drift dives and schools of big fish await experienced divers in Puerto Galera while shallow macro dives make for excellent underwater photography, relaxing night dives, and the perfect place to learn or improve your dive skills.
The greatest variety of marine life in the Philippines is within Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park; only accessible for diving mid-March to mid-June
Have a question about holidays in the Philippines? Call Marbree on (UK) 0207 112 0019, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Travel with your tastebuds
Travel the world, one meal at a time, with this collection of recipes gathered from our favourite destinations.
Weekend after weekend seems to disappear into a haze of creative lockdown activities. We’re making the most of extra time at home and whipping up dishes from our favourite destinations, filling homes with the smells of markets, street food stalls and family favourites…
Our team have shared the recipes that make them think of their travels, and hope they’ll inspire you to turn your hand to something new!
What distinguishes Turkish ice cream from others is its stretchy, almost chewy texture which is derived from mastika, the gummy resin from the acacia tree. Another unique ingredient is salep, ground orchid root from Eastern Anatolia which give the ice cream a subtle flowery flavour. Ice cream sellers are renowned across Turkey for their elaborate shows when serving ice cream, teasing and cajoling buyers by pretending to pass over the cone just to snatch it back, it’s quite a performance!
We love this recipe, as although it requires some specialist ingredients you may need to hunt down, it’s very quick and easy and lots of fun for all the family to enjoy.
900ml full fat milk, 300ml double cream, 225g sugar, 3 tablespoons ground salep and 1 piece of mastika, crushed with a little sugar.
In a bowl, mix the salep with a little milk. Put the rest of the milk into a saucepan with the cream and sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, stir a few spoonfuls of the hot liquid into the salep and add it slowly to the pan, constantly stirring until smooth. Beat in the mastika and simmer gently for 10-15 mins.
Pour the liquid into a bowl and cover with a dry towel and leave to cool. Replace the towel and cover bowl with foil and place in the freezer to set, beating at intervals to disperse the ice crystals. Before serving, place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
One of our favourite boutique hotels in the Sri Lankan tea country has kindly shared this family recipe with us. It’s a bit more time consuming than some curry recipes, so perfect as a lockdown project and one that rewards you richly as it’s simply divine.
This curry would typically be served with lots of other dishes, including a fragrant rice, a meat based curry and some other side dishes made with lentils, vegetables and even fruit. But no need for that (perhaps save that treat for a visit to Rosyth Estate House and let the lovely chef take care of it!) – we love this with just the rice and perhaps some popadoms. It transports us straight back to Sri Lanka.
250g aubergine julienne cut – best made with the baby aubergines rather than large ones
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for deep frying 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion finely sliced
2 cloves garlic finely sliced
1” cinnamon stick
3-4 cardamoms bruised
1 tablespoon of vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons mango chutney
4 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon mustard (Dijon Smooth works well)
1 tablespoon chilli powder (reduce to taste)
2 tablespoons unroasted curry powder
1 sprig of curry leaves (if available)
1 tomato finely chopped
1 cup coconut milk
Salt to taste
1. Add salt and turmeric to the aubergine and mix well .
Deep fry the aubergines in small batches and set aside. Alternatively bake on a high oven until browned and soft – uses less oil
Deep fry half the onion, garlic and curry leaves.
Remove excess oil from the deep fried ingredients.
Sauté the onions and whole spices.
When onions are soft add sugar, vinegar, mango chutney, tomato sauce and coconut milk.
Add the aubergine to the sauce.
Garnish with the deep fried onion, tomato, garlic and curry leaves.
Anna says: The tagine is by far the most popular cooking item in Morocco. No matter where you are in the country, you will find one in the kitchen. The word “tagine” specifically refers to a clay pot with a cone-shaped lid that slowly cooks meats and vegetables until they are moist and oh so tender.
1 large red onion 1 tomato 2 carrots 1 potato or turnip 1 courgette or squash 1⁄2 a bell pepper 3 glugs of olive oil 2 teaspoons ground ginger 2 teaspoons turmeric 1 teaspoon paprika 1⁄8 teaspoon ground saffron 3 garlic cloves A small handful of chopped fresh parsley and coriander Salt and pepper, to taste
Slice the red onion, tomato, carrots, bell pepper, and peeled potato/turnip. Quarter the courgette/squash. Arrange the red onion on the bottom of a medium-sized tagine, and top with the rest of the vegetables. Then, grab a glass and pour in 125 millilitres of water. Mince the garlic and add it to the water with the spices, parsley, coriander, and a few glugs of olive oil. Give it a good stir, then pour atop the tagine. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for about an hour, or until the vegetables are cooked through. Garnish with a slice of lime and serve warm with khobz.
Eva says: Every time I am in Thailand, the first thing I want to do is eat! And most of the times a simple Pad Thai satisfies my Thai food cravings immediately: with its typically Thai flavour combinations and the street-food freshness kick.
Here is my favourite recipe for you to cook it at home. If you follow a vegan diet, there is a version without the fish sauce as well!
Marbree says: Like most Asian countries, rice is a staple in the Philippines and at breakfast, Sinangag is the savory base for starting the day.
With its crispy bits of fried garlic and the pungent flavour infused in the rice, my mouth waters just thinking about it It’s always the first thing I eat when I visit the Philippines, no matter what time of day it is.
Alba says: Egyptians are very proud of their falafel but why? Don’t all falafel taste the same?
The answer is simple: no! Egyptian falafel is made out of fava beans (instead of chickpeas) which gives its special texture and flavour. For some it’s the best in the world! Check out the recipe and try for yourself…
Gosia says: Imagine dinner under the stars, where cooks dig up a pot of Bedouin Zaarb, which been gently cooking for hours. A delicious mix of meat and vegetables, cooked beneath the desert sand.
Finish your feast with hot, sweet & salty dessert – Knafeh. A sumptuous and filling pastry made with creamy sweet goat’s cheese and surrounded by buttery, shredded pastry, layered with melted cheese, covered with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pistachios… just perfect!
Marbree says: Choosing one recipe from Malaysia and calling it a favourite is impossible but lately I’m loving the fun of making Teh Tarik. Letting the taste transport me to the vibrant streets of Penang where I first saw the hot liquid fly from one mug to another.
Malaysian-grown black tea, a salt-soaked spoon for adding condensed milk, and the joy of “pulling” the tea so it foams and cools. It’s simple to make yet feels delightfully decadent and on a cold winter day, and there’s nothing like smelling the sweet, spicy aromas of southeast Asia.
Gosia says: Drinks, drinks, drinks… We would like to share a secret we discovered while travelling to Cuba – delicious Canchanchara. It is a drink made of rum, honey, lemon juice and ice, and the best place to taste it is a colonial town of Trinidad.
For coffee lovers we have a special recipe which includes: rum (of course!), honey and coffee. We found this amazing drink right on the slopes of Sierra del Escambray in the national park Topes de Collantes, near Trinidad. Come, taste it yourself and tell us which one is your favourite!
Thea says: Even with a whole week I wouldn’t be able to tell you all my favourite Greek recipes! If I had to choose one though, it would be the humble Gigantes Plaki – giant beans cooked in olive oil and a thick tomato sauce. I always add feta and dill, too.
This store-cupboard standby is big on flavour but small on effort. It reminds me of very early spring season sailing in Greece, when a steaming bowl of Gigantes and warm crusty bread is the perfect antidote to a chilly evening after a day’s sailing.
Alba says: Japanese cuisine is recognised as one of the most sophisticated in the world.
The quality of the ingredients, mix of textures and presentation makes it a full sensory experience.
Some of our favourites are included in this list, from the easier hot pots to more complex combinations of flavours in sushi and glazes. Spend a happy few hours and transport yourself to the exceptional world of Japanese cookery.
Daphne says: In these weird times, I am so happy that I bought an original South African cookbook on my last visit to Stellenbosch in the winelands!
One of my many favourites is the beef potjie, a great beef stew for colder days. Pap is the best side dish to make this dinner perfect.
Pour yourself a Wilderer Fynbos Gin & Tonic and if you close your eyes the smell of your stew cooking and the taste of the G&T will beam you back to South Africa
Itineraries on Iphones!
Today we officially launch our new system whereby all our customers have the option to have their travel documents delivered to their phone or tablet using the Vamoos app. It includes interactive maps, real time weather forecast plus of course our famous destination guides. Currently available on iphone and ipad and soon to follow on other devices. If you are travelling this summer don’t forget to ask us
JUST 2 DAYS LEFT TO VOTE!!!
We’re looking for people to take two mins to vote for Fleewinter in this years Guardian Travel Awards! Just click on the following link – http://www.global-research.net/guta/start.asp and under tour operator type in ‘fleewinter’ and rate our performance! You can pretty much ignore all other boxes and click submit at the end! Thank you so much!
Guardian Travel Awards 2014
This year we are in the running for the Guardian’s ‘Best Small Tour Operator’ Award and we would REALLY, REALLY, REALLY like to win! So provided you think we deserve it, we would be so grateful if you would take 2 minutes to fill out the following questionnaire – http://www.global-research.net/guta/start.asp There are just three important boxes and the closing date is Friday 6th June: 1. Scroll down to the Tour Operator section and type Fleewinter into the ‘specify other’ box 2. Rate our performance 3. Then click through to the last page (ignoring the other questions if you wish). Thank you all so very much!!