Northern Explorations

Landing in Manila you’ll be greeted by skyscrapers, a frenetic atmosphere, and a million-and-one things to look at. It’s really quite something to enter this city for the first time, vast and seemingly impenetrable as it is. With a private guide to hand, however, we’ll ensure you make the most of your time in this sprawling subwaypolis, digging deep into the very foundations of Manila’s past and present.

Places to tick off the list will include the enchanting Intramuros, an old walled city from the 16th Century Spanish Manila. Over the years, this historic centerpiece has served as a thriving city, a WW2 prisoner of war camp, and is now a fascinating tourist attraction. Home to intricately carved bastions, insightful museums and the incredible Church and monastery of San Agustin, you’ll quickly find yourself completely immersed in the history of Manila.

The city has many other attractions, which we’ll make sure you get time to visit on an insightful bike tour. The Chinese quarter, or Binondo as its otherwise known, is rich in culture, cuisine and authentic markets, whilst Manila’s modern side can be discovered in any of its world-class eateries, huge storeping malls or busy side streets.


A few hours from Manila you’ll find the Pampanga province, a region that defined the culinary heritage of the Philippines. Wake up early for your transfer to the quaint towns of Pampanga and a day full of food tastings, delicious flavors and interesting tours. You’ll discover a cuisine that has been sculpted by a history of colonisation and local creativity.

The day after this epic food tour, you’ll fly from Manila to Laoag for a historic tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Vigan. Old stone houses, intriguing museums, pottery stores and famous local delicacies will keep you occupied for hours.

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Your days of outdoor exploration won’t stop in Laoag. From there you’ll be taken further north to Sagada, a quaint little town with a lot of character and some of the Philippines’ most interesting highlights. Home to cave networks that can be explored on any number of caving tours depending on your ability/courage; Sagada is yet another stop that will encourage you to test yourself and make the most of the natural beauty around you. It’s a town that also lays claim to a unique draw – the hanging coffins of Echo Valley. A unique ritual followed by the Ifugao tribe; the coffins of the dead are hung on the side of a sheer rock face in accordance with the belief that the higher the dead are rested, the closer they’ll be to their ancestral spirit. It’s a slightly morbid, yet no less fascinating sight that you’ll reach after a short hike down an easy trail with your local guide leading the way.


Over the next few days you will be introduced to life in Kalinga and Banaue. Sleepy destinations of astounding beauty, your time here will be spent interacting with local villages, trekking through rice paddies and absorbing this rural culture.  Having been transferred privately to this next part of your adventure, relax for a while before beginning your foray into tribal life and  your discovery of the vast rice terraces of Batad that abound here. These few days will be ones of cultural immersion, leisurely hikes to incredible vantage points and spectacular journeys to idyllic waterfalls.


End your incredible Philippine adventure on a high – quite literally. Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano that will provide you with an exciting morning of hiking trails and spectacular views. After the trek, enjoy an authentic local lunch before climbing into a jeep and driving across the moon-like terrain of Crow Valley. The views of the Crater Lake and the desolate beauty will leave you mesmerised. It’s a world away from Manila, where you’ll spend one more night before your flight home.

Images courtesy of Alex Robinson and Erwin Lim.
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