14 JAN - 27 JAN
About This Tour
When Spanish conquistadors came to the Philippines in the 16th century, one Spanish captain dubbed the country the “Pearl of the Orient.” Visitors soon learn this honorary title is both literal (the Philippines is a pearl-producing nation) and metaphorical, blessed as it is with abundant natural wonders. The verdant mountainsides, the deep jungles, the white sands beaches, limestone sentinels along the coast and crystal blue seas are all precious jewels to the visitor, and the archipelago numbering 7,000 islands is itself like a necklace wrapping around this portion of the South China Sea.
With so many islands, no one trip can ever possibly hope to encompass everything the nation offers, but this particular tour features some of the absolute best highlights, taking in its rich history, fascinating cultures and natural beauty. An added bonus is the fact that the Philippines is the third largest English-speaking country in the world, dating back to 1898 when the country became the United States’ only overseas colony and later served as allies during World War II. The Philippines is a fascinating destination combining Asian, European, and American influences.
- Manila, capital of the Philippines
- Intramuros, Manila’s Colonial Walled City *
- Taal Volcano
- Banaue Rice Terraces *
- Ifugao Native Village
- Batad Terrace Trek
- Hanging Coffins of Sagada
- European architecture of Vigan *
- 17th century Sinking Bell Tower
- Island of Palawan
- Archipelago island hopping
- Puerto Princesa Subterranean River * * UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Arrange your international flight to leave your home city sometime today, arriving in Manila, Philippines tomorrow. (Search for flights using the airport code: MNL). If you cannot arrive by late afternoon, we suggest you leave home a day earlier, departing on January 13th and arriving in Manila on January 14th. (Meals Aloft)
ARRIVAL IN MANILA
Your flight lands on Luzon, the largest and most populous island in the Philippines. Manila is the country’s largest city and ranks as the world’s most densely populated metropolis with more people per square mile than super cities Kolkata, Mumbai, Dhaka, Paris, Shanghai or Tokyo. The first impression of the city is one of controlled chaos, with the city serving as the country’s center of commerce, banking, tourism, retail, real estate, new media, fashion, theatre and the arts. A driver transfers you from the airport to our centrally located hotel, where the group meets for the first time over cocktail hour followed by our Welcome Dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. (Welcome Dinner included)
Founded in 1571, Manila is where the Orient meets the Occident, and the colonial era meets the modern age. Intramuros, literally translated as “within the walls,” is a massive stone fortress city complex comprised of European buildings and churches, which were later replicated in different parts of the Philippines archipelago. UNESCO designated this as a World Heritage Site in 1993. On our sightseeing tour, we will also Rizal Park, dedicated to the country’s national hero Jose Rizal, a 58-hectare reserve with lagoon, dancing fountains, both Japanese and Chinese gardens, and the National Museum. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Located 35 miles south of Manila, Taal Volcano is one of the Philippines’ unique natural sites. It is a semi-active volcano surrounded by a lake within the caldera of another prehistoric volcano. Our trek begins on the volcanic island’s shore and ends at the rim of the larger, outside caldera rim. After lunch at a nearby restaurant, we drive to Tagaytay, located on a ridge 2,250 ft. above sea level, to enjoy the breathtaking view down to the Taal Volcano before returning to Manila. (Breakfast / Lunch)
FLIGHT TO CAUAYAN / BANAUE
Take a morning flight from Manila to Cauayan in the east-central region of the island of Luzon. We board a motorcoach and make the 4-hour drive through the mountains to the town of Banaue, location of the country’s spectacular rice terraces. Hand-carved out of the mountainside using rudimentary stone tools by the Ifugao people thousands of years ago, these terraces climb to almost 5,000 feet above sea level. In some places, the rice terraces take up entire mountainsides, which the locals proudly call their “heavenly stairs.” After our long scenic drive to get here, the rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Banaue. (Breakfast / Lunch)
IFUGAO VILLAGE / BATAD TREK
Ride a local jeepney going to Batad, stopping at a high vantage point to enjoy a unique panoramic view of the rice terraces. Banga-an is a traditional village nestled among the terraces, permitting a closer look into the Ifugao lifestyle, which hasn’t changed much in over 2,000 years. We take lunch at one of the local village inns. In the afternoon, we trek up the Batad Terraces, shaped like an amphitheatre sloping up the steep hillside. We return to Banaue for another overnight stay. (Breakfast / Lunch)
HANGING COFFINS OF SAGADA
Our drive today takes us from Banaue to Sagada, stopping first at a museum founded by Belgian nuns who have been working in the regions for many decades. The small museum includes artifacts and old photos of the rice-growing families here. We continue our drive to Sagada, where we arrive at mid-day and have lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, explore this quaint town on a walk, passing through a traditional graveyard and walking through Echo Valley. Here coffins of early residents, dating back to ancient times, hang from the sides of the limestone cliffs. Finally, we descend into subterranean caves, also used as ancient burial grounds, before checking in to our hotel for the night. The evening is free. (Breakfast / Lunch)
We depart early this morning, driving out of the mountains to the City of Vigan on the west coast of Luzon. Arriving in the early afternoon, we enjoy lunch in a restaurant followed by a city tour. Vigan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for the pristine state of its 15th century colonial architecture. Walking along the cobblestone streets, past colorful old stones houses and amidst horse drawn carriages is to feel like having taking a step back in time. We will visit the Conservation Complex, see how they make traditional weaving, and visit the Bantay Church. Overnight in Vigan. (Breakfast / Lunch)
We depart Vigan this morning and drive to Pagudpud, a small, sleepy beach town along the West Philippine Sea. We make a photo stop at Cape Bojeador, which has the highest elevated, still original, and still active lighthouse built during the Spanish occupation. We arrive in Laoag City, where we visit the early 17th century St. Williams Cathedral and its sinking Bell Tower, whose heavy stone weight is making it disappear into the sandy soil. We transfer to the airport in the early evening, for our flight back to Manila and an overnight stay. (Breakfast)
FLY TO PALAWAN
Enjoy breakfast this morning at our hotel, before transferring to the airport for our morning flight to the island of Palawan. Upon arrival, we make the 45-minute drive through rural countryside to Nacpan Beach. We will have time to enjoy this 2½-mile stretch of white sand beach to swim, doing some sunbathing or laze under the shade of a coconut tree. Enjoy a barbecue lunch on the beach. Later on, we trek through the jungle, crossing some streams and climbing paths, to reach Nagkalit-Kalit Falls, where you can swim in the cool crystal clear pool. In late afternoon, we drive to the town of El Nido to check in to our hotel. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Embark on a full-day excursion doing some island hopping in Bacuit Bay off of El Nido. On Miniloc Island has a Big Lagoon Island with dense tropical jungle that comes right to the shoreline; a small lagoon ringed by limestone formations, which you reach by swimming through a hole in the rock; a Secret Lagoon reached by swimming through a hidden crevice in the rock face. We visit Shimizu Island for barbecue lunch and a chance to snorkel among large schools of brightly colored fish. Finally, we cross back to Palawan and visit 7 Commandos Beach which has a little beach bar, the perfect place for cocktail hour in late afternoon. We return to our hotel in El Nido for a free evening. (Breakfast / Lunch)
SNORKEL AND KAYAK / SABANG
Take a half day tour to Cadlao Island and Helicopter Island, both close to El Nido and a great spot for snorkeling or kayaking. After lunch we return to our hotel to check out. We drive south in the island interior, stopping enroute in Taytay Town to see the 17th century Fort San Isabelle. We arrive in Sabang in late afternoon or early evening. Overnight in Sabang. (Breakfast / Lunch)
RETURN FLIGHT TO MANILA
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is one of the longest navigable underground waterways in the world, winding its way for 5 miles underneath a mountain range and coming out in the South China Sea. The entire area is a national park encompassing limestone karst formations, intact old-growth forest and distinctive wildlife. The River and its environs became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Afterwards, enjoy lunch before taking a paddleboat to explore the nearby mangrove forests. The rest of day is free back at our resort. Tonight, we have our Farewell Dinner at the resorts beachfront restaurant. (All Meals)
We check out of our resort and transfer to the airport for our return flight to Manila. There are many flights per day from Puerto Princesa. We will offer one group transfer to the airport early in the day for those who have early connections on international flights departing Manila. Our preferred flight from the Puerto Princesa airport arrives in Manila at 4:45pm. If you take this flight, we recommend that you not book any onward international flight departing Manila before 9:00pm. The tour officially ends upon arrival at the Manila Airport. If you wish to extend your stay in Manila, please let us know on your reservation form. (Breakfast)
Entry Requirements - To visit the Philippines, U.S. Citizens only require a passport, valid for at least six months past the time of your visit. No visas are required to enter the Philippines for stays not exceeding 30 days.
Immunizations and Health - No immunizations are currently required for travel to the Philippines, but it is wise to have your inoculations up-to-date. Is your tetanus booster current?
Exit Requirements - The Philippine Travel Tax is PHP1,620.00 (approximately $35.00). All passengers departing from the Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport are expected to pay the Airport Terminal Fee of PHP750.00 (approximately $17.00). No one is exempt from paying the Airport Terminal Fee.
Making Travel Arrangements to ManilaOn this tour, international airfare is NOT included. You will need to get your international air to/from Manila. We encourage you to work with Steven Goldberg at Frosch Travel in Chicago, who knows the best flights to get you to Manila.
Four internal flights within the Philippines are included in the price of this trip.
You will need to arrive in Manila by 4:00 pm on January 15, 2018. Late day departure from Manila on January 27, 2018 should be no earlier than 7:00 pm.
Steven Goldberg / Frosch TravelToll-Free in USA: 1-800-323-1276
International guests, please call +1-312-371-9686
When calling, please identify yourself as a Toto Tours participant. If you leave a message on Steven’s voice mail, he will return your call promptly. He will be happy to discuss your travel plans and help you decide when to purchase your ticket for the best rate.
NOTE: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible we often must turn away last minute registrants because we relinquish hotel space and air reservations 8 – 12 weeks prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.
What to BringThe Philippines lie several hundred miles north of the equator, but it is in a tropical region of Southeast Asia so it is always warm. In January, average daily temperatures in the areas we visit range from a low of 70 degrees at night to highs of 87 degrees during daytime. You won’t need a suit jacket or tie, as the tour is informal and dinner attire will be casual. Try to pack light and bring only one piece of luggage plus your carry-on. Create mix and match outfits, and think about layering! Pack any medications you require in a carry-on bag and leave expensive jewelry at home.
Suggested Packing List:
- Proof of citizenship. Passport required.
- Comfy walking shoes for day tours.
- Sandals for the boat and beach.
- Polo shirts / T-shirts (8 – 10).
- Long sleeved shirts (3-4) for sun protection.
- Shorts (1 or 2 pairs).
- Lightweight long pants for dinners.
- Jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt for cool evenings.
- Sunscreen / lip balm / sunglasses / sun hat.
- Mosquito repellent, with Deet.
- Personal toiletries.
- Camera, lots of digital memory, extra batteries.
- Ziploc Bags (sandwich size for documents, gallon size for wet items or toiletries).
- Voltage converter for 220 volts if your equipment requires it. Adaptors Click here to see examples and obtain more information.
- A good book for the long flights.
Money MattersThe official currency of the Philippines is the Philippine peso (PHP), which is made up of 100 centavos. Travelers can exchange currency at banks and exchange agencies in the major cities, and will usually be expected to present a passport. American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in larger establishments. As of March 5, 2017, the exchange rate was $1 U.S to 49.2 PHP. Click here to find the most up-to-date exchange rate.
Tipping in the Philippines:Tipping is not obligatory in the Philippines as the country does not have a tradition of receiving tips, but in some localities it is becoming more frequent. In restaurants, you may give a tip if the service is good (about 10% of the bill) and no service fee has already been added to the bill. At fast food eateries, your spare change is appreciated. To hotel bellboys, maids and cleaning staff and to taxi drivers, give at least the equivalent of $1 U.S. (50 PHP) per day per person. We will offer a group tip to our guides and drivers, and more details will be provided before departure.
The Toto SpiritToto Tours provides Adventure Travel Experiences as differentiated from tours in the traditional sense. Adventure Travel allows (even encourages) you to be an active participant. Adventurers can be identified by certain traits. They are:
- fun-loving optimists who have a sense of humor and accentuate the positive
- good natured realists who are willing to accept situations as they exist
- undaunted by the unexpected, like occasional delays or bad weather
- willing to forego some of the amenities we normally take for granted
- eager to try new things & test limits
- not whiners!
Travel InsuranceWe recommend you purchase travel insurance with Travel Guard to cover for unforeseen events prior to and during your trip. Please follow the link below or call us for more information.
Tour prices per personPrice: $3,900 in double occupancy hotel accommodations.
Private Room: $800 additional, for a total tour price of $4,700.
(Paying a single supplement is not required. Toto Tours will try to match you with a roommate if you are traveling alone and prefer to share a room. If this is not possible, a single supplement will be applied to your reservation before the final payment date.)
(Due at time of registration for the tour. May be paid with a credit card.)
Remaining Balance: $3,300 double / $4,100 single
Remaining Balance Due: October 24, 2017 (80 days prior to departure)
(Full payment required with reservation form if enrolling after this date.)
Note: The tour price does not include bank service charges for processing credit card payments, and assumes that the balance of the tour price will be paid by check. If you would like to pay the final balance with a credit card, a 4% service charge will be applied. Let us know if you wish to pay by credit card, and we will adjust your invoice accordingly.
Included: 12 nights hotel accommodations; hotel breakfasts daily plus Welcome & Farewell Dinners; other meals as listed in the itinerary; ground transportation in climate controlled motorcoach; four internal flights within the Philippines; airport pick-up and drop-off; sightseeing activities and entrances as listed in the itinerary. This is a fully escorted tour, with guides added during tours.
Not Included: International airfare to/from Manila, Philippines (MNL airport code); ground transportation for sightseeing on your own (taxis, local guides, etc.); meals and optional activities not specifically listed in the itinerary; camera fees; alcoholic beverages; insurance; laundry, telephone calls, faxes, or any other expenses of a personal nature. Tips to drivers and guides and other conveyance attendants are not included; tipping guidelines for our group tips will be provided prior to departure.
Click hotel name to read description