Fall in love with the Philippines on this immersive tour

Fall in love with the Philippines on this 12-day tour, from bustling Manila to glittering coasts and rugged mountains. Begin with a bang in the capital, then change the pace in cruisy San Juan. Learn to surf (or show off pre-existing skills), then leave the beach behind for the mountains of Sagada, where you will discover the hanging coffins attached to the cliff face by the Igorot people. Whether you’re climbing to dizzying heights on cascading rice terraces or drinking rice wine while watching the sunset in El Nido, every moment here is one for the books.

This trip is for 18 to 29-year-olds

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Manila, Philippines
Finish
El Nido, Philippines
Destination
Philippines
Style
Basix
Theme
18 to 29s
Code
TOYP
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18, Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Travel solo, together

You're never alone when travelling solo with Intrepid

Why you'll love this trip

  • Get acquainted with the three Bs in San Juan – beach, beers and boards. Your leader can show you the best spot to catch the sunset.

  • Check out the hanging coffins on the cliffs of Sagada and learn about the hows and whys of this unique death ritual.

  • Navigate the narrow ledges of the Batad Rice Terraces on a morning hike through this towering cascade of bright green paddies.

  • Spend a full day island hopping in El Nido – AKA paradise! – exploring lagoons framed by limestone karsts and technicolour coral reefs.

  • When you’re travelling in the great outdoors it doesn’t make sense to micro-plan every second. This trip is a perfect mix of included highlights and free time to explore at your own pace.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip includes a few days primarily made up of travel, including in a van. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

  • Some of the best scenery in the Philippines is found on hikes. So, while this trip doesn't require you to be an athlete, it’s essential to be at least moderately fit if you want to partake in all activities.

  • This trip is called ‘Real Philippines’ for a reason. In some of the remote locations we visit the accommodation is basic. Some nights are spent in multi-share rooms with shared bathrooms with Asian-style toilets. Hot water showers will be available most nights.

  • Trekking rice terraces is sure to be a trip highlight, just keep in mind the paths can be very steep, narrow and run along sheer drops. We’ll provide you with a walking stick, but a sturdy pair of shoes with good grip is essential. If you suffer from vertigo this might not be the trip for you.

  • When picking guesthouses, we value locations in the heart of the action. The noise (whether we like it or not) is often part of the scene. Passengers may wake up to the sound of roosters or church bells in the morning, so if you’re sensitive to noise we recommend bringing earplugs to the trip.

  • The best way to experience a city is by doing as the locals do – and in this case that means using public transport in some locations. It’s better for the environment and you’ll get an authentic look at daily life; just be aware you may find yourself sharing a busy bus ride with local commuters.

Itinerary

Welcome to Manila! Your tour begins with a 6 pm welcome meeting at your central hostel in the Makati City. When the formalities out of the way, head to a nearby restaurant for an included dinner with your fellow travellers. Let your local leader take the reins when it comes to ordering, then feast on a selection of regional dishes served family style. Once you’ve lined your stomach, venture out to popular nightlife district Poblacion. Once regarded as a fairly seedy area, Poblacion has undergone a makeover in recent years and emerged as a hub for bars, art and eclectic dining.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Manila - Poblacion bar hopping tour
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information

It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Rooms at this evening’s accommodation are shared in classic hostel style. Expect multiple beds in each (clean and comfortable) room, plus shared bathrooms and communal areas.
Rise and shine for an early check out, then take a private transfer to the bus terminal. Grab a local bus to La Union (4 hours) and check in to your accommodation. This surf town is packed with beautiful beaches just waiting to be discovered and it can be hard to decide which one to grace with your presence. That’s what your leader is for! Make sure to quiz them about the best place to catch the sunset. Take some free time this afternoon to soak up the beachside vibes of San Juan. Later, you can choose to grab a dinner with the gang at one of your leader’s favourite local spots or make your own plans.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Rooms at this evening’s accommodation are shared in classic hostel style. Expect multiple beds in each (clean and comfortable) room, plus shared bathrooms and communal areas.
Surf’s up! There’s nothing scheduled today until dinner (check with your leader for the exact time). The beaches here are famous for their waves, especially from November to March. There are plenty of beginner breaks (easy waves) and lessons are cheap, so if you’ve ever wanted to give it a try, now is the chance. If hanging ten isn’t your thing, you can always hangout on the beach and soak up some rays. About a 20-minute drive away are trails you can follow to Tangadan Falls, where a few waterfalls feed into a large natural swimming hole. Want a few moments of peace and quiet? The Ma-Cho Temple is just a 15-minute drive away and offers a little bit of Taoist tranquillity. That’s a lot of options, so grill your leader for more details about these activities. In the evening, head to a nearby town and enjoy a taste of the Philippines in more ways than one during dinner with a local family.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Juan - Dinner with local family
Optional Activities
  • San Juan - Tangadan Falls - Free
  • San Juan - Ma-Cho Temple - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Rooms at this evening’s accommodation are shared in classic hostel style. Expect multiple beds in each (clean and comfortable) room, plus shared bathrooms and communal areas.
From the beach to the mountains! Load into a private minivan for the approximate 5-hour drive to Sagada. Time spent on the road isn’t so bad when the scenery is this beautiful (and the company is so great), but it’s a good idea to have a book or podcast ready just in case you need them. There will be plenty of stops for photo ops and bathroom breaks along the way. Arrive at your accommodation for the next two nights and settle in. In the afternoon visit a pottery centre to learn some local techniques and get your hands dirty after the demo. It’s harder than it looks. Let your leader show you a nice local eatery or pick your own place for dinner. Later, why not grab a few beers with the crew. Just keep in mind most places in this sleepy mountain town shut pretty early.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sagada - Pottery Workshop
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
If you’ve heard anything about Sagada before, it was probably about the hanging coffins that decorate the mountains. Today you’ll see them for yourself and learn about the ancient ‘burial’ practice the area is famous for, which involves stringing up wooden coffins on cliff faces. Descend and enter the mouth of an impressive cave and follow the Underground River, hiking through this cool natural tunnel for about an hour. Continue to a weaving shop and stop to eat a well-deserved lunch. Once you’ve refuelled, make tracks for a waterfall and chill out for bit. Whatever time is left today is yours to do whatever you want (well, within reason). Have you developed a taste for bugnay (wild berry wine) yet? Maybe grab a few glasses with your fellow travellers tonight
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sagada - Rice terraces, hanging coffins & burial caves tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today involves a lot of walking. Make sure you’re wearing sturdy shoes with a good grip today for our exploration of the cliffs and Underground River.
Rise, shine and watch the sunrise over evergreen hillside. Any residual grumpiness about being up so early is sure to evaporate when you watch the mist give way to the light. Pack your stuff, eat some breakfast and then drive to Bontoc Museum. This sweet little centre is part gallery and part recreated village, giving insight into the daily lives of the Igorot people before colonisation. Next, check out the Banaue Rice Terraces. From a distance they almost look like grass covered pyramids, and it’s amazing to know they were made mainly by hand over 2000 years ago. Spend some time considering just how badass the ancient engineering is, then continue to your lodging where you’ve got free time until dinner. Your meal tonight is based around heirloom rice – ancient rice varieties that have been preserved throughout the ages. Chow down on history!
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Banaue - Bontoc Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Do some centring exercises, because this morning you’ll be hiking some very narrow rice terraces in Batad. Take a 1-hour transfer to the Batad Rice Terraces, then trek around this man-made amphitheatre. Your leader will school you on the intricacies of growing rice, then you can choose to visit the Tappiya Waterfall or relax and shake off any leftover dizziness from the hike. Munch on regional fare in a local restaurant for lunch, then head back to town for some free time. Tonight you’ve got a really tough decision to make: dinner with your leader at a place they recommend, or trying your luck solo. Choose wisely. There will also be an opportunity to pay a little extra for a rice wine tasting.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Batad - Rice Terraces Hike
Optional Activities
  • Batad - Tappiya Waterfall - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Dusk; Birds of Prey; After Lambana – what are these? All great books (well, one is a graphic novel) by Filipino authors. Why are we mentioning them? Because you’ve got a 10-hour drive ahead, which is a great opportunity to crack one open. If you get carsick, or just hate reading, you can always sit back and admire the countryside views, listen to a podcast or catch some Zs. You’ll stop in a local restaurant for lunch en route, arriving in Manila in the late afternoon. Check in to your accommodation, then head out for an optional dinner with your leader and travel mates.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Check out of your accommodation and catch a direct flight to El Nido (AKA paradise), which should take under 2 hours. Enjoy a day that’s as clear as the waters in El Nido’s reefs to do whatever the heck you’d like. An island-hopping adventure is included tomorrow, so today you might just want to relax. Maybe walk or hire a bike and ride to Las Cabanas beach. Keep in mind it will take over an hour if you want to go on foot, so pack water and shield yourself from the sun! For dinner it’s hard to go wrong with seafood, so maybe ask your leader for a restaurant recommendation.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning head out on a full day of snorkelling and island hopping. Witness jagged limestone islands, rocky coves, virgin rainforest and white sandy beaches. The snorkelling is just as spectacular, revealing beautiful coral and many different species of fish. After an included lunch, venture to the area’s spectacularly clear lagoons. Your evening is then free to do as you wish.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • El Nido - Island hopping boat trip & snorkelling
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Soak up El Nido however you want during a free day. If you feel like some more adventure you can pay to hire a kayak from El Nido town or book a boat out to one of the lagoons. If you want to see a picture-perfect beach, consider optional trip to Nacpan Beach where white sand and palm trees frame the blue water. Chat to your leader about organising transport to the beach (or for help booking other activities). Keen to immerse yourself in local life? Hiring a bike to pedal around town is a good option.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • El Nido - Kayak Hire - PHP700
  • El Nido - Bike hire - PHP500
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your tour comes to an end this morning, but that doesn’t mean your adventure has to. El Nido is captivating, and plenty of travellers decide to extend their time here.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
If you are departing Palawan today Air Swift have direct flights daily from El Nido to Manila.

Meals

11 breakfasts, 3 dinners

Transport

Plane, Private minibus, Public bus

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nights), Guesthouse (4 night), Hostel (4 nights)

Included activities

  • Manila - Poblacion bar hopping tour
  • San Juan - Dinner with local family
  • Sagada - Pottery Workshop
  • Sagada - Rice terraces, hanging coffins & burial caves tour
  • Banaue - Bontoc Museum
  • Batad - Rice Terraces Hike
  • El Nido - Island hopping boat trip & snorkelling

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1.Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking for the flight ticket on this trip. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket.

Essential trip information

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