22 January 2017
This fascinating six day Jewels of the North trip around the Philippines makes a great add on to any holiday in south east Asia. Beginning and ending in the capital city Manila, which is rapidly developing and has its own rich history, heritage and experiences to offer, you travel to Banaue for adventures in this mountainous region meeting the local people. Travel on through narrow winding roads to beautiful Mount Data, then it's on to historic Vigan and colonial Laoag City before returning to Manila.
Your adventure begins in Manila, the pulsating capital city of the Philippines. From here you begin the 325 mile road trip to Banaue. Today you travel north on the expressway and Cagayan Valley Road until you reach the town of Bagabag in Nueva Vizcaya, where you climb 1300m above sea level to Banaue. Check in at the Banaue Hotel in the late afternoon and go out and explore before having dinner at a local restaurant.
Today you will be picked at the hotel by jeep for a ride to Banga-an native village, which is accessible after a short hike from the main road. After spending some time in the village continue to a vantage point to view and admire the 2,000 year old terraces. Then visit the town's public market to mingle with the local people and view the vast array of local handicrafts. Later stop at another village before returning to the hotel in the late afternoon.
Drive north today along the winding mountain trail to the hinterland town of Bontoc, where you visit the museum of the Belgian sisters. Then, weather conditions permitting, visit the Ifugao burial caves in Sagada. Continue the drive through the narrow winding road passing breathtaking scenery until you reach stunning Mount Data where you stay tonight either at Mount Data lodge or a hotel in Bontoc.
After breakfast drive through spectacular mountain passes with views of the Cordilleras, past deep canyons and gorges until you reach the town of Cervantes. Continue towards Bessang Pass, once the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, then enter the flat low lying areas where the scenery transforms into idyllic agricultural towns ringed by many tobacco curing barns, rice and corn fields. Then see the coastal settlements along the Luzon Sea with craggy, grey sandy beaches lined with coconut and mangrove trees. The Abra River signals your entry into the quaint town of Viagan, where you stay tonight at the Plaza Hotel.
Stroll along the cobbled street of Mena Crisologo where old colonial houses line the road and horse drawn carriages called 'Calesa' amble by. Close by is St Paul's Cathedral, whose bell tower stands separately in Plaza Buros. Built in 1574 it has a main altar with silver panels. The stone carved Fu dogs standing at the church entrance reflect Vigan's strong Chinese heritage. Continue to Syquia Mansion which contains antique furniture and memorabilia of Elpido Quirino who became the country's president. A short Calesa ride brings you to a jar factory which Viagan is also noted for. Cap the tour with a delectable lunch in a quaint garden setting on the outskirts of the city. After lunch travel to Iocos Norte and stop at the fortress like church of St Augustine in Paoay, now a World Heritage site. Overnight at Fort Ilocandia Resort.
Today is free for you to explore Laoag City on your own seeing more of the sights and shopping for souvenirs. Later check out of your hotel and you are taken to the airport for your short flight back to Manila. Here you can stay on and extend your holiday in the Philippines or catch your flight home having explored a fascinating region of the country.
Standard fr £1155pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated