Phillipines tour, small group

“Two week small group tour of Luzon - the largest island in the Philippines. Cultural tours, achievable hikes and terraced rice fields aplenty. ”


Manila | Taal Heritage Village | Summit Mount Pinatubo (3.30am start) | Banaue rice terraces | Batad Rice Terraces | Cordillera Range | Echo Valley | UNESCO-listed Heritage Village of Vigan | Laoag | Pagudpud Beach |

Description of Phillipines tour, small group

This active two week tour of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, invites travellers to become part of a small group as they journey from Manila to Taal in the south and onwards to Pagudpud in the north.

Very early morning treks to the caldera of Mount Pinatubo ensure an incredible experience although as the two hour climb to the summit is relatively flat it’s easily achievable with amazing views over the crater lake upon reaching the top.

Further hikes take you to waterfalls and rice terraces with alternative trails offered for any travellers looking for slightly less challenging adventures. Meeting indigenous Ifugao communities allows travellers to learn more about the rural lifestyles of those managing the rice terraces whilst visits to the UNESCO town of Vigan unveil the Philippine’s cultural heritage and traditional handicrafts.

Of course, no trip to the Philippines would be complete without a day at the beach and, on this occasion, it’s Pagudpud Beach that provides the place to be prior to a flight from Laoag to Manila, and the start of your journey home.

Travel Team

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21 Dec 2019
including UK flights
8 spaces left
Click here to enquire about or book the 21 Dec 2019 departure
11 Jan 2020
including UK flights
8 spaces left
Click here to enquire about or book the 11 Jan 2020 departure
Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Phillipines tour, small group

Accomodation and meals:
On this trip, we will spend most nights in various hotels and a night in an eco-resort. All accomodation employs local staff and uses locally sourced produce wherever possible. This ensures that our visit contributes to the local community by providing a sustainable income and employment opportunities to the residents. We spend a night at the Green Canyon Art Resort which combines green living and art to create an unforgettable experience for their guest without the expense of the environment. They are passionate about preserving nature by adhering to the principles of responsible travel and green living through their hospitality and building. A big portion of the resort was developed from existing resources such as volcanic ash and boulders for walls and fallen trees from a typhoon for furniture. Additionally, the resort also harvest their own produce encouraging clients be more conscious of their consumption.

When meals are not provided, our local guides will encourage and recommend clients to visit local restaruants and cafes to try some local delicacies. Phillipines national dish is adobo, which is either chicken or pork or both, simmered in soy and vinegar with garlic and black pepper as well as lechon which is roasted suckling pig.

Local craft and culture:
This tour includes visits to historic sites including Intramuros, Taal Heritage Village and colonial Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we also have a home-cooked meal inside one of the ancestral homes. By visiting, we are suporting the preservation of these important historic stes and learning about the local cultyra as we go. There are lots of opportunities for chance encounters with locals and to support local businesses, for example, the group will visit a lechon factory, a famous empanada place, a salt farms and a dragon fruit plantation in Pasuquin, and a "lambanog" distillery in Taal. Lambanog is an alcoholic liquor made from the sap of unopened coconut flowers - the sap is harvested into bamboo receptacles and distilled.

There are plenty of opportunities to support local craft and discover local delicacies from the various villages. The Taal heritage village is known for its crafts, specifically “Burdang Taal” which is a fine hand-embroided fabric made from pineapple fibre, mainly used for traditional costumes which can be found in workshops and stores as well as local public markets. Panutsa (peanut candy) and suman sa lihiya (made from boiled sticky rice) are famous food and sweets in the area and clients are encouraged to give it a try. We also visit Vigan city where we get to witness the weaving of the Abel, a Vigan traditional craft made from yarns of cotton or sagut sourced locally. We also encourage clients to purchase one of these beautifully handcrafted abel as a form of support for local craft. Of course, our local guides will advise clients on what to buy and what to avoid as products made with sea shells are discouraged as it is not sustainable to the environment.

Our local partner actively supports the Chosen Children Village Foundation which is a home for physically and mentally challenged children to aid in their growth and development. Their school provides an environment in which the children are being given pre-vocational training as well as physical therapy to assist in their education and journey towards being independent.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help clients understand how they can help reduce their impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from our visit.

Group Size:
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

UK Office:
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.

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