Arrive in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. This densely populated bay side city on the island of Luzon mixes Spanish colonial architecture with modern skyscrapers and hums with an ever-present energy.
Visit the famous Intramuros, a walled city in colonial times, in the heart of Old Manila. It is home to the baroque 16th-century San Agustin Church as well as Fort Santiago, a storied citadel and former military prison.
Manila has an impressive selection of galleries and museums. Manila Contemporary, the slicing edge of Manila's art scene, consistently hosts world-class exhibitions from the Philippines and beyond. Nearby, Silverlens exhibits superb photography, video and installation work. Also worth a visit are Museo Pambata, a child friendly interactive museum based on the Boston Children’s Museum, the National Museum and West Gallery.
To get your shopping fix, head to The Collective. A hive of creative energy and cool, this co-op brings together a collection of urban galleries, vintage shops and boutiques along with a few bars and restaurants.
Manila has an eclectic selection of food outlets. One of the more fun places to visit is the Salcedo Community Market - a great spot to hit for brunch with stalls selling everything from burgers and local desserts to a boggling array of grilled pork, and Filipino rice-flour pancakes known as bibingka.
If you have kids in tow, head to Manila Ocean Park - Manila’s latest and greatest kid-friendly attraction. It’s an impressive eco-conscious aquarium where you can get up close and personal not only with marine life but also with birds of prey and creepy crawlies too.
Time to head out of Manila into quieter pastures. Make your way 60kms south to Tagaytay where, on a clear day, you can peer straight down into the simmering, multiple craters of active Taal Volcano rising out of the middle of Lake Taal 600m beneath you.
Continue your journey for another couple of hours to Batangas where you will take a ferry to Puerto Galera on the island of Mindoro, one of the country’s top scuba diving destinations.
Puerto Galera is Spanish for ‘port of the galleons’. Its deep natural harbour, sheltered on all sides, was a favoured anchorage well before the Spanish arrived in 1572. There are plenty of options here for those who don’t scuba dive, including great snorkelling, white sandy beaches to relax on and some excellent hiking.
Day 5 - 7.
Spend your days enjoying the beaches and tropical waters of Puerto Galera.
For those who want to get out and discover Mindoro’s impressive scenery, there are two waterfalls nearby to Puerto Galera - Tamaraw and Talipanan Falls.
For a more ambitious hike, a Mangyan guide can take you up Mt Talipanan. It takes about four hours to get up and a few hours to get down, so start early.
If you fancy doing a spot of shopping, make time to visit the local Mangyan village where the locals are renowned for their intricate nito weaving and wood carving. Frontier Handicrafts, a great souvenir store tucked in among the restaurants of Sabang, also has a good array of wooden Ifugao statuettes plus local handicrafts.
Meet your guide who will drive you north to Banaue, stopping along the way to visit Yamashita’s Shrine and the lahar buried San Guillermo Church.
The famous Banaue Rice Terraces are commonly referred to as the ‘8th Wonder of the World’. These 2,000-year-old terraces were carved into the mountains of Ifugao by ancestors of the indigenous people.