Our Highlands to Islands holiday showcases the Philippines’ diverse landscapes beyond its idyllic coastline, taking you from Luzon’s mountainous Cordillera region, past the ancient rice terraces of Banaue and the otherworldly slopes of Taal volcano, to the rolling hills of Busuanga and limestone islands of El Nido.

 

Highlights

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Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Day 1

    On arrival in the Philippines, you’ll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your Manila hotel.

  • Day 2

    Fly to Cauayan, in the heart of northern Luzon, then head to Banaue, keeping your camera close to capture the jaw-dropping views as you travel. On arrival, hop aboard a private jeepney for a tour of the rice terraces and local villages. Look out from a vantage point with panoramic views over the famous ridged terraces, before continuing to Banga-an village. Nestled in a picturesque valley, this typical Ifugao village offers an insight into traditional Luzon life. Stroll around and chat with the locals before returning to Banaue where the remainder of your day will at leisure to take in your spectacular surroundings.

  • Day 3

    Set out in a colourful, private jeepney for a day’s trekking through the rice terraces. A strenuous uphill hike follows a winding trail to Batad saddle, where the terrain becomes undulating and rocky. After a further couple of hours hiking, you’ll arrive at Batad, and be rewarded with unforgettable views of the rice terraces spread below, backed by jungle-clad mountains. Batad is a traditional village with a leisurely pace of life, where you can mingle with the villagers and enjoy a simple restaurant lunch. If you’ve got the energy, you can continue your trek downhill to Tappiya Waterfalls, before jumping back in the jeepney back to your hotel where the rest of your day will be at leisure to relax and recuperate.

  • Day 4

    Travel to the small town of Sagada, famous for its fascinating burial traditions, passing yet more stunning scenery and dramatic rice terraces along the way. Pause in Bontoc to see the museum’s collection of tribal artefacts from the Cordillera region including nose flutes, elaborate headdresses, and traditional tools, before continuing to Sagada. Ifugao beliefs hold that the spirits of the dead should be close to the gods, and Sagada communities have traditionally interred the deceased in colourfully painted coffins that hang from the surrounding limestone cliffs. Your guide will also be able to show you some of the evocative, and more easily accessible, subterranean cave burial grounds. The remainder of your day will be at leisure to relax in this sleepy town.

  • Day 5

    Head west along winding roads through pine-forested mountains, dropping down to the plains and finally following the coast to the historic, UNESCO-listed town of Vigan. Stop en-route at Bessang Pass war memorial; and make a determined visit to the fortress-like Sta. Maria Church, high on a hill surrounded by a defensive wall, and accessed by climbing steep steps. On arrival into Vigan the rest of your afternoon will be at leisure. On the west coast of northern Luzon, overlooking the South China Sea, Vigan is among the oldest, and most beautiful, towns in the Philippines, with its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and grand colonial-style mansions to explore.

  • Day 6

    Start your tour of Vigan in traditional style, travelling by ‘kalesa’ (horse-drawn carriage) to some of the immaculately preserved houses the town is famous for. Built from local stone, wood and capiz shells, many of these properties are still in use now as they were in the 18th century, with shops on the ground floor and spacious living areas upstairs. Stop at the Burgos Museum to see a vast collection of Ilocano artefacts, and visit a ‘burnay’ – earthenware pottery – workshop where the artisan methods used date back to the 16th century. Your tour finishes with lunch at Café Leona, located in a traditional Vigan house, to sample the region’s famous longganisa spicy sausage, and a few empanadas (Spanish-style filled pasties), before enjoying the rest of your afternoon at leisure.

    Vigan

  • Day 7

    Enjoy a morning at leisure catching a flight to Manila, The rest of your day will be at leisure to explore a few new corners of this enticing capital.

  • Day 8

    Tour Manila’s classic landmarks and vibrant modernity, cycling through the cobbled streets of Intramuros – Manilla’s historic, 16th century original walled city – on a traditional, handmade bamboo bike. Follow your guide to the ancient San Agustin church, and the Casa Manila museum house showcasing typical Filipino colonial life. Continue to the impressive, stone Fort Santiago, overlooking Manila Bay, containing a poignant museum dedicated to the country’s famous freedom fighter and national hero, Dr Jose Rizal. Drive on to walk through Rizal Park’s ornamental gardens, visit the unique Chinese Cemetery (with spectacular mausoleums resembling luxury homes equipped with everything from kitchens to running water!), and wander into Makati, the capital’s glittering financial, shopping and entertainment district, to see the Nielson Tower, Fort Bonifacio, and the American WWII Cemetery. The rest of your evening will be at leisure to try some Filipino dishes, including chicken adobo and colourful halo-halo pudding.

  • Day 9

    Head south through the Manila’s suburbs to Taal Lake and Volcano. Reputed to be the world’s smallest active volcano, last erupting in 1965, it sits, rather uniquely, within a large crater lake, on an island, within another lake! Hop aboard an outrigger boat to cruise across the water to Taal Volcano Island. Trek uphill to the rim of the crater for impressive panoramic views across the green crater lake, to the mountains in the distance and down into the centre of the volcano itself. Visit the heritage town of Taal: one of the best-preserved Spanish colonial settlements in the country, home to some beautifully restored 18th and 19th century ancestral houses, as well as the imposing Basilica de San Martin de Tours, allegedly the largest church in Asia.

  • Day 10

    Fly to Busuanga Island, where you’ll meet your guide, and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.

  • Day 11

    Take an afternoon tour of Coron, a small fishing town with a laid back, ramshackle vibe, and the main centre of Busuanga Island. Stroll around the market, learning about local cashew nut farming directly from the producers, then climb over 700 steps to the top of Mount Tapyas, for panoramic views over the town and Coron Bay. As the sun sets, take a restorative dip in the Maquinit hot springs, the nearby natural, salt water baths, washing away the aches of the trail under the twilight sky.

  • Day 12

    Board a boat at Coron Town to begin a full day exploring Busuanga’s natural wonders. A short journey brings you to Siete Pecados Marine Park, a protected coral reef teeming with marine life; don snorkelling gear and explore this colourful underwater world. Hop back on the boat and travel past majestic limestone islets on your way to Kayangan Lake, an inland lagoon on Coron Island. Climb to the island’s summit, from where you can enjoy picture-postcard views over the lagoon, then descend to the shore for a refreshing swim. The geological formations below the water are as impressive as those above, and can be easily viewed through the lake’s crystal-clear waters. Cruise to Calachuchi Beach to relax on the white sands and enjoy a picnic lunch, then continue island hopping throughout the afternoon, interspersed with swimming and snorkelling at Coral Eden and the ethereal Twin Lagoons.

  • Day 13

    Catch a flight to El Nido, then continue by shared boat to your chosen resort where the remainder of your day will be at leisure to relax in the beautiful natural surroundings.

  • Day 14

    An island hopping tour is the best way to experience the natural beauty of El Nido. Which specific islands you visit, and the route of your boat trip, will depend on the resort you start from, but you’re guaranteed to find the golden sands, clear water lagoons and snorkelling sites that the region is famous for.

  • Day 15

    Your day will be at leisure to relax and enjoy your tropical surroundings.

  • Day 16

    Your day will be at leisure until it’s time for your onward flight.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

Booking Policy

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed

  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip…)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in ‘inclusive’

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

Personalised design

We'll help plan your trip based on you like and want to do. We know a lot about the place you're gomg. so we can give you good advice. WIIether you're into history, food, or culture, ue'll make sure your trip is just right for you. With us. your travel will be easy and fun!

Authentic Experience

We carefully choose our expert guides and travel concierges to make sure you have an authentic experience. They're passionate about their work and will bring your destination to life with care and enthusiasm.

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We design our luxury trips with responsible travel principles in mind. This means we prioritize experiences that benefit both you and the planet.

It is easy to customize your Highlights of Vietnam tours with us

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Connect with a certified specialist to begin planning your trip.

Feel free to call one of our experts or schedule a video appointment for personalized ideas and advice.

    • Matt
    • Asia Specialist
    • Laura
    • Asia Specialist and New Zealand Specialist
    • Emily
    • Thailand and Asia Specialist

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