I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to Visit the Philippines last week. It truly is an untouched paradise, and yet very affordable.
Day 1. After meeting the lovely Monica from the Philippines Tourist Board and Alyanna from Baron Travel, we headed off to our first port of call was Puerto Princesa, after our hotel check in, we were off on our first hotel inspection followed by a city tour highlights including Bakers Hill- Botanical gardens, bakery and a small fun park for children. We also visited the American war memorial and a beautiful Catholic Cathedral very grand and impressive.
Day 2. Today we went on an island-hopping tour. Each island at Honda Bay offers different thrills but Luli Island, Starfish Island, Panden Island all great for swimming and snorkeling. Starfish island as its name states is the home of the Symmetric five-armed orange Star Fish along with an abundance of tropical fish and coral. Next stop was Luli island meaning Sink & Rise, which is exactly what the island does, at high tide the island disappears and at low tide, it reappears. Panden island is the last stop, it certainly was picturesque with its white sanding beaches, palm trees and wooden cottages.
The Island-Hopping tour included
Oh and let’s not forget, a massage and cocktail on the beach was also enjoyed by many and so cheap!!! Massage 1 hour 350PHP ($10.00) cocktail 149PHP ($4.00)
Day 3. Today we checked out of the lovely Best Western and headed North to Sadang a 2-hour drive from Puerto Princesa, we a couple of stops along the way, including Mount Cleopatra’s Needle, it is considered one of the Mystical mountains of Palawan, and Karst Mountain also known as Elephant Cave and the 11th Leg of “The Amazing Race” Dec 2012.
Once we were all checked in to the beautiful beachside “Sheridan Beach Hotel and Spa, we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon by the pool. We were lucky enough to walk to the resort next door Daluyon Beach & Mountain Resort for a traditional Fillipino feast with our new-found friend Elsa (stray dog who has captured the hearts of tourists)
Day 4. Today we visited the Underground River which has now been declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Travel by boat, through a massive cave on the longest underground rivers in the world, the river is more than 24km long and was formed some 16 to 20 million years ago. It consists of thick limestone creating some magnificent rock formations and chambers, it is also the home of various species of wildlife. This experience is certainly breathtaking and a must do, if travelling to Palawan.
Our next stop was the Sabang X Zipline. The Zipline is 800 meters long and 150 feet above sea level. Wow, after convincing myself I will make it home to my family in one piece, (I’m scared of heights) I took the plunge quietly screaming on the inside. What can I say this ride is unbelievable you can certainly take in the views of this beautiful paradise.
Our day ended in having lunch at a local restaurant followed by a relaxing afternoon and some pampering in the Day Spa.
Day 5. Today we made the super-fast trek back to Puerto Princesa for our outgoing flight to Manila. Upon arrival, we were met by our awesome land operators and guide, who transferred us to Grand Hyatt for our Hotel inspection and Lunch. Wow this buffet has it all, you will not go hungry, and most likely put a few kilos on. After full tummys we set of on an afternoon city tour, including Church of San Augustines, Rizal Parl, and Casa Manila Museum. After our City tour the wonderful Noi Noi (tour guide) and June (not July) our bus driver drove us to our hotel/home for the next 2 days the “Ascott” To our surprise in the heart of Makati and right in the middle of some of the biggest shopping malls Manila has to offer, we were one happy group of agents to be staying there. After a freshen up it was time to get dolled up, as we were heading to Raffles for an inspection and cocktails, followed by a lovely dinner at the Fairmont.
Day 6. Today we started off by travelling to Las Pinas City, where we had the chance to hear the world-famous Bamboo Organ, it was built in the early 1824 by a Spanish missionary Fr. Diego Cera. You can find this remarkable Philippines national treasure at the St. Joseph Parish Church 10km south of Manila City. Next, we visited the Jeepney factory where we had the chance to take a short ride, exciting! Jeepneys are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They were originally made from US military jeeps left over from World War II and are well known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating. They have also become a symbol of Philippine culture. Jeepneys prices start from 615,000PHP ($15,950).
After our visit to the Jeepney factory we headed south for a lovely organic lunch at Sonya’s Garden, located in Alfonso. It is a local bed and breakfast filled with gorgeous flowers and cottages, something you would see in a small Spanish town, I couldn’t get enough of the beauty of the landscape, the unique selection of blooms and overall feel of Romance. A popular place for Filipino men to ask their girlfriends hand in marriage.
Next stop was a scenic drive through Tagaytay for a quick stop, to look at Taal Volcano. It is a complex volcano located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It is the second most active volcano in the Philippines with 33 historical eruptions. Last eruption was in 1977. After a 3.5-hour drive, back to Manila (yes we experienced the Manila traffic) a quick freshen up we had a lovely dinner hosted by Ascott.
Day 7. Today was our last day in Manila, we all had a sleep in, and at 10:00am, it was shopping time for 2 hours. With 3 big malls surrounded around our hotel, the question was, where to start! The Malls best to visit while staying in Manila Makati are, SM Makati, The Landmark, and Greenbelt, each mall is different starting from H&M all the way to Versace. After a quick 2-hour shopping expedition we made our way to Dusit Thani for a hosted lunch and hotel inspection! Wow this hotel is amazing think Versace full of gold and purple tones. After lunch, you guessed it more shopping for another 2 hours, before heading back to our hotel Ascott for showers and packing. Before heading to the airport, we headed to Conrad Manila for a hosted dinner and hotel inspection. This hotel is connected to the Mall of Asia and overlooks Manila Bay, a perfect ending to a memorable famil to the Philippines.
I’d like to thank MWTours, Philippines airlines, Philippines Tourist Board and Baron Travel, for providing us with this opportunity to visit the beautiful Philippines, I will defiantly be back to discover more in the future!!!
Left to Right
Roslyn italktravel, Emma (me) MWTours, John Philippine Airlines, Sharon Helloworld, Patty Travel Managers, Trace MWTours (General Manager), Robyn Flight Centre, Sue MTA, Steve Flight Centre, Alyanna Baron Travel.