You may arrive at any time on the first day. Please look out for signs in your hotel telling you the details of your group meeting this evening, which is your chance to meet your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the rest of your group before heading out for an optional evening meal. The Spanish knew this city as the jewel of their Pacific Empire and Manila is a city that has to be experienced to be understood. Heavily attacked during WWII, Manila has risen again, sprawling across many distinct areas, to claim the commercial and political heart of the Philippines. To dive into the atmosphere of this predominantly Catholic nation, you might like to visit Manila Cathedral, destroyed in WWII but rebuilt in 1951, which faces out onto Plaza de Roma, once the site of a corrida (bullring). For a glimpse into the colonial past, visit Casa Manila, a reproduction of a 19th century Spanish home. Built by Imelda Marcos this is a chance to see some stunning antique furniture and artwork. If people-watching is more your thing, then there’s no better place to go than Rizal Park where, every day, locals can be seen jogging, picnicking, or simply hanging out with friends, singing and playing music. You might also chance upon some people practicing arnis de mano, the local form of martial arts which is a pre-Hispanic style of stick-fighting.
Explore the oldest part of the city - the area known as Intramuros - 'between the walls.' with a local guide. It was here that Miguel Lopez de Legazpi built a fort on the site of a ruined Islamic settlement, with walls 13 metres thick and 3km long. Within this protective enclave, the exclusive preserve of the Spanish ruling elite, were 15 churches and 6 monasteries. The imposing Roman Catholic Cathedral is here, and has been rebuilt countless times. At the height of its power, Intramuros was feared by Spain’s enemies as the only true European powerhouse in the whole of Asia, but after holding strong against Chinese pirates, Dutch forces, British, American and Japanese occupations, the large majority of the city was destroyed in the Battle of Manila in the closing days of WWII, a battle which also claimed the lives of 150,000 Filipino civilians. A walk through this area, despite the devastation (or maybe because of it) truly gives you a sense of the history of this area. Travel by bus from Manila to Batad: 9 hours
Arriving in northern Luzon we are welcomed to a beautiful world of amazing terraced paddy fields climbing the mountainsides. Sometimes called the 'Eighth Wonder of the World', the Banaue Rice Terraces have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Built 2,000 years ago by the Ifugaos and still in use today, the terraces are irrigated by mountain streams that have been channeled into canals running downhill through the rice terraces, reaching an altitude of 1500m. On Day 4 we take a breathtaking journey by 'jeepney' and on foot, using the many hiking trails that divide up the region, to discover the daily lives of the Ifugao people in one of the local villages. Day 3 estimated travel time: 3 hours Day 4 estimated travel time: 3 hours (2 hours from Jeepney to Batad and 1 hour trekking to the village)
Travelling into the mountain province of the Northern Philippines we reach Sagada. Popular as a destination for adventurers, Sagada takes us into the world of the local Igorot people, a people know for their weaving and the unusual burial system of their ancestors- hanging and stacking coffins, hewed from tree trunks, in the limestone karst cliffs and caves near town. The natural beauty of the area features caves that can be explored, hikes along an underground river system, a waterfall and delightful pool to cool off in after a day of exploring, and a quiet serenity only found off the beaten path. This is a place to sit back, relax and just enjoy.
Traveling through some lush mountain scenery we reach Baguio. This buzzing mountain town is situated at an altitude of 1,500m and has a much cooler climate than the lowlands consequently was used as the summer capital by the US. The town is famous for its faith healers and their adherents who congregate here each year with their assorted ailments in the hope of being cured. The city market has a good selection of handicrafts - baskets, textiles and jewellery. Estimated travel time: 7 hours
In the morning we depart from Baguio to head back to Manila. We will arrive in the early afternoon please do not book any onward travel before 3 pm on this day. The tour ends at the Manilla International Airport. Estimated travel time: 6 hours