Tour operator Western & Oriental (www.westernoriental.com) has introduced the Philippines to its portfolio, launching a selection of tailor-made beach, multi-centre and touring holidays to the country.
Made up of over 7,000 islands, the Philippines has elements to appeal to all different types of travellers. Pristine beaches are in no short supply, with the clear waters home to 2,000 species of fish and 400 types of coral. Adventure seekers can explore mountain ranges, volcanic lakes, waterfalls and rivers; and for those interested in Filipino culture, the country is home to half a dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, bustling cities and a heritage revealing Malay, Chinese, Middle Eastern, American and Spanish influences.
“There’s great potential in the Philippines, but right now it’s still quite off the radar for British holidaymakers – particularly when compared to destinations like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia,” comments Erica Moore, Far East product manager at Western & Oriental. “Our suggested itineraries will help travellers understand what there is to see and do in the different regions and our destination specialists will then help to craft a journey that’s as relaxing, as intrepid or as far-reaching as the client wants.”
Western & Oriental is initially featuring accommodation in ten different regions of the Philippines:
- Palawan – A paradise island with fantastic diving and snorkelling, as well as the world’s longest navigable subterranean river
- Banaue – Home to colossal rice terraces dating back 2,000 years which can be explored by sure-footed walkers with a decent level of fitness
- Sagada – The practice of fixing coffins to teetering cliff edges – which predates Spanish colonialism in the Philippines – remains in practice here and presents a unique sight
- Vigan – One of the oldest towns in the Philippines and a great place to discover local crafts such as traditional basi wine, jewellery, hand-woven fabrics and antiques
- Cebu – The vibrant heart of the Visaya islands which is a gateway to other islands including Bohol and Siargao
- Siargao – A haven for surfers of all levels with a suitably laid-back atmosphere to match, this is also a great base for island-hopping and exploring geographical features such as the Magpupungko rock pools
- Southern Luzon – The active Taal Volcano is the highlight here – a volcano within a lake within a volcano which affords amazing views to hikers
- Manila – Nicknamed ‘the pearl of the orient’, the Filipino capital offers a lively atmosphere, luxury hotels, great shopping and historic points of interest
- Bohol – Wildlife lovers can spot dolphins here year-round, along with Sperm and Blue whales in certain months, plus visit the Tarsier Foundation to encounter these pint-sized, big-eyed primates. The distinctive dome-shaped Chocolate Hills are another must-see attraction
- Boracay – Full of life and a vibrant party atmosphere, Boracay offers picturesque beaches, varied options for water sports and a great selection of restaurants and bars
Western & Oriental’s suggested itineraries include the following:
- Highlights of the Philippines – This 12-night trip begins in Manila, where visitors can take a tour of the historical area of Intramuros or go shopping during their two-night stay before taking a trip to Lake Taal for one night. They will then spend three nights each in Bohol, Boracay and Palawan to give a flavour of the Philippines’ different regions. This trip costs from £2,699 per person based on two adults sharing. This price includes international and domestic flights, ferry tickets, 12 nights’ accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis and private transfers. For full details, see here. Book with Western & Oriental (020 3588 6130, westernoriental.com)
- Discover the North – This week-long touring itinerary unlocks Filipino heritage with visits to rural areas and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as a trek through traditional villages of Batad before a visit to the Bangaan rice terraces. On the way to Sagada, guests will stop at the Bontoc Museum, home to exhibits on the indigenous culture of the Cordillera region; and the historic centre of Vigan will be explored by horse-drawn carriage. The final UNESCO site visited is Paoay Church in Laoag, a Roman Catholic church dating back over 300 years and famous for its distinct architecture. This trip costs from £2,175 per person based on two adults sharing and including international and domestic flights, six nights’ accommodation, all meals, a private vehicle during transfers and tours, entrance fees and an English-speaking guide. For full details, see here. Book with Western & Oriental (020 3588 6130, westernoriental.com)
- The Philippines for Families – After a long flight with the family, spend a few nights relaxing in Cebu, take in a round of golf or go snorkelling. Take the ferry to Bohol where family-friendly activities include watching dolphins, snorkelling, visiting the tarsiers or embarking on a river cruise. The final stop on this 12-night trip is Manila, where families can visit historical sites on bamboo bikes. This trip costs from £1,899 per adult and from £949 per child, including international and domestic flights, ferry tickets, 12 nights’ accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis (three nights in Cebu, seven nights in Bohol, two nights in Manila) and private transfers. For full details, see here. Book with Western & Oriental (020 3588 6130, westernoriental.com)
Western & Oriental also offers options for combining the Philippines with Dubai, with Hong Kong and with Singapore.
To browse Western & Oriental’s full programme of Philippines holidays, please visit https://www.westernoriental.com/holidays/far-east/philippines.