GMT +8 hours
An extraordinary archipelago consisting of some 7000 islands, The Philippines has been blessed with a magical collection of sights, sounds and destinations. Blessed with a forthright and dynamic culture, the people of The Philippines exude a unique, indigenous Asian outlook coloured by overtly Catholic and Hispanic habits, making the destination unlike any other in the region.
Loose yourself in one of many sublime beach resorts, such as the powder soft sands of Cebu or the vibrant beaches of Boracay, take the time to explore the many colourful reefs on a diving excursion or discover the enchanting north, where images of mind-defying landscapes will stay with you forever.
Holidays in the Philippines
Whether you’re looking for a few weeks of sunshine and rest upon undiscovered shores, whether you seek adventures sports such as cave diving, kayaking through subterranean rivers and deep sea diving within world-class wrecks – the Philippines has it all. We can help you plan your perfect Philippines itinerary, simply call one of Personal Travel Experts.
One of the world’s great metropolises, Manila is literally bursting at its seams. Sprawling, vibrant, dynamic and eclectic, the city also enjoys a wonderfully preserved Spanish colonial city centre and the famous Manila Bay.
Getting around Manila is best done by car as the pavements tend to overflow with pedestrians and street vendors. Although traffic is renowned in Manila, travelling at the right time or hailing a tricycle (tuk-tuk), jeepney (converted army Jeep) or a standard taxi will get you faster than you think as back-roads are of abundance and traffic is at its worst in the areas surrounding the airport.
Wander southwest to the exclusive district of Makati and explore a world of art galleries, shopping malls - which includes the largest in Asia – plus a world of trendy restaurants, bars and luxury hotels. The XX Star Fairmont Makati (p262) is a stylish hotel commanding prime location in the heart of the shopping and restaurant district. Guests staying here can use the dining facilities of its sister hotel, Raffles Makati (see our website for details) which is liked by a shared lobby. Sitting at the famous Long Bar and ordering Makati Sling is a must, and for the added luxury why not upgrade your stay to Raffles for an ultimate Makati experience.
Manila is a fabulous gateway to the Philippines’ pristine beach resorts and we highly recommend stopping a few nights in this bustling city before spending some time relaxing, snorkelling and simply exploring the rest of the Philippines’ fabulous islands.
Think platinum sands lined with palm trees with a cosmopolitan city in the background and you’re in Cebu. Here, you can expect fabulous dining opportunities and historic sights that have come to make this island so popular. An abundance of luxury hotels include Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort Cebu, where you can take time out to indulge in the opulent CHI, The Spa, or partake in a number of watersports from the resort’s private beach. Don’t leave without tasting one of Cebu’s juicy mangoes – renowned as the finest in the Philippines.
The vibrant island of Boracay is a tiny spec in comparison to the city of Cebu, but has become the nation’s most famous beach resort - frequently voted amongst the world’s finest with dazzling sands and turquoise waters.
Chose to be as active as you like here, as an array of adventure sports and exploring combines with lazy beach days and vibrant evenings of live entertainment and a buzzing atmosphere from the moment the stunning sunset disappears beneath the horizon.
Entirely surrounded by reefs, you could spend your days beneath the water to discover the fascinating world below, or head to the northern part of the island for the chance to experience drift dives, cave dives and even shallow dives for beginners. To get to Boracay, you’ll need to fly from Manila to Caticlan airport in Maklan, followed by boat transfer to the island.
Bohol Famous for its Chocolate Hills - named after the cocoa-coloured tinge the hills take on during the summer months - and the adorable wide-eyed tarsiers – one of the smallest primates on earth; the island of Bohol is an up-and-coming holiday resort boasting a verdant backdrop of forestry and rice terraces that are cocooned by soft golden sands. Just offshore lies Panglao Island - offering idyllic snorkelling and diving opportunities near to the divine beaches and small clusters of traditional towns that take pride in its colonial Spanish architecture. This island is ideal for those seeking a taste of tradition with a the chance to truly unwind.
The island of Palawan is a fantastic retreat for those seeking natural splendours such as imposing cliffsides, secluded bays and brightly coloured coral reefs. The most famous in Palawan is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, an underground waterway that stretches over five miles beneath limestone caves. Kayaking through here is one for the bucket list, and with plenty of excursions available, it’s impossible to miss out.
An archipelago or eco-resorts found in northern Palawan, El Nido Resorts – our latest addition to our Philippines featured properties – boast their very own private island-style setting, giving you a sense of exclusivity, seclusion and a better understanding of country’s contrasting and natural surrounds. Choose from Four Star El Nido (p259) or Five Star Pangulasian Island Resort (see our website for details). A stay in Coron is perfect for those looking for world-class diving and a true ‘no shoes, no news’ experience.
Casual divers or beginners should head to Alona Beach on the island of Panglao as the visible marine life is incredible and easy to find due to the clear waters. Here, sea walls and shallow underwater caverns make exciting opportunities for exploring at your leisure.
Often compared to the beauty and luxury of the Maldives, Huma Island Resort & Spa (p258) is an island in Coron and offers a true sense of an opulent island escape with villas over clear waters or on pristine sands, and luxurious facilities to entertain. An ideal haven for serious divers, you can dive deep to explore over a dozen sunken Japanese warships and planes which have lead the island to become one of the top 10 best diving sites in the world.
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I love the diversity of the Philippines, riding in a jeepney around the bustling capital Manila with towering skyscrapers or taking an old fashioned horse drawn ‘kalesa’ around cultural districts such as Itramuros with fascinating colonial history.
Travel through the country observing spectacular scenery, learning about local tribes customs and traditions while meeting the most warm and welcoming locals. Pass through towns with long established local restaurants offering a variety of delicacies both sweet and savoury tempting you at every corner with curious smells coming from markets inviting you inside. Finish your stay with a tropical beach break on a stunning white sandy beach. There are top class diving opportunities, take a boat trip out to sea and witness unique fish and sea life in the clear waters or just sit under a palm tree and watch the sun set over the water.