Philippines Tour
Terraces of the Cordillera

Philippines Tour – Terraces of the Cordillera – a 15 day Small Group Tour.

The Philippines never quite made it into the mainstream of south east Asian tourism, and that’s probably a good thing. Too edgy and unknown for fresh-faced backpackers, it’s taken a while for awareness to grow.

In its cities, an intense mix of ancient and modern, foreign and Asian, spiritual and commercial. Elsewhere, among the countryside, a brilliant green landscape of rice terraces and small villages, while on the coast brilliant white-sand beaches fringe bays of clear blue water.

If you think you’ve ‘done’ south east Asia the Philippines may make you think again.

Comprising more than 7000 islands scattered gracefully along the westernmost rim of the Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is a country known for its boundless hospitality, and the friendly smiles of its people.

A wealth of possibilities of discovery and adventure await visitors to these islands with their blend of picture postcard beaches, historic sites, natural attractions and the most important asset of all, the Filipino people. Among the many attractions we will embrace the big city excitement of Manila, the breath-taking rice terraces of Banaue, and the atmospheric cobbled streets of Vigan.

Added to this we will sample life on the island of Palawan, with the opportunity to marvel at the stunning Underground River, and enjoy the crystal clear waters and beaches of the beautiful neighbouring islands.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour Pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


Arrive in Manila and transfer from the airport to your hotel. Depending on the time of your arrival, you will meet your tour leader at the hotel and have dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at The Bayleaf Intramuros Hotel or similar. (D)

After breakfast, take a tour around within Intramuros (the walled city of Old Manila) and discover more about the country’s history through a guided. Lunch will be in a local restaurant from where we will begin a tour of Intramuros aboard a kalesa, a horse-drawn carriage. We will ride through the streets built by the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, between the city walls, which once protected the most important homes, buildings, churches, and hospitals from attacks by the Chinese, Dutch, and the British. The most notable colonial structure is the baroque church of San Agustin, the oldest in the Philippines, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. We will also drop by Rizal Park where Dr. José Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, was executed. Overnight at The Bayleaf Intramuros Hotel or similar. (BL)

Today, we take a 1.5-hour drive north of Manila, to Gawad Kalinga (GK) Enchanted Farm. This is a prototype of a sustainable community dedicated to ending poverty by empowering people to develop useful skills. We spend time discovering how the lives of the residents here have benefited from the enterprise and have the opportunity to taste some of the organic farming produce when we take lunch. Continue one hour via the North Luzon Expressway to Bacolor, Pampanga, which is among hundreds of towns and villages devastated by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991. Tour the village and visit the San Guillermo Church, which is now half-buried in lahar (a debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris and water), and see the remains of houses, which were also covered. Mount Pinatubo’s wrath continues to be a constant threat to the lives of the villagers every year as the monsoon rains carry more lahar down from the Pinatubo mountain range adding further layers. Our day ends with the chance of an afternoon dip in a warm pool in a garden setting. Overnight at Abe’s Farm. (BLD)

We leave the farm behind and drive to Banaue, which will take 7-8 hours through the countryside, backroads, and rice fields of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya. We make a short stop in San José City for lunch (payable locally) before continuing to Banaue. Along the way, we also visit Dalton Pass, a shrine to the Battle of Balete, before passing by Bagabag where picturesque mountains and rivers unfold. Arrive in Banaue late in the afternoon. Overnight at Banaue Hotel or similar. (B)

Board a local jeepney, which will bring you to Sadel, the jump-off point to start your hike to the terraces of Batad. Forming an amphitheatre, these rice terraces are truly stunning. Afterwards, visit an Ifugao village where most people still live a traditional lifestyle. Return to Banaue and overnight at Banaue Hotel or similar. Near the hotel is another village that continues to observe a traditional burial practice of keeping the bones of their dead in their homes. The bones of their ancestors are preserved and wrapped in indigenous weaving. (B)

Please note: To reach the rice terraces entails hiking up and down paths which are narrow and steep in places, without walls or rails. Those preferring not to hike may explore the very scenic area around Batad by jeepney and tricycle. Please contacts us if you have any questions or concerns.

Today, we take a local jeepney to the Hapao rice terraces, which offer a breath-taking view over stonewalled rice terraces, bisected by the sparkling water of the Hapao River. We will walk across the terraces to see them close up, and visit one of the villages to admire the traditional houses and interact with the locals. We will stop at some of the viewpoints and call into a local market on the way back to our accommodation in Banaue. Overnight at Banaue Hotel or similar. (B)

Please note: Today’s walk across the rice terraces and along the stone walls follows paths that are narrow in places and offer no support. If you’d prefer not to walk it’s also possible to view the terraces from the road. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

(Approximate driving time: three hours)

After breakfast, we will visit the Bontoc Museum where exhibits from all around the Cordillera region are curated and an outdoor museum, which is a reconstructed Bontoc village showing original structures in the grounds that allow guests to experience their old way of life before modern times. Inside the museum, there are a number of black and white photographs, which offer a fascinating glimpse into the differences and similarities among the people of the Cordilleras also collectively known as Igorot (people of the mountains). We will continue our drive to the Alpine village of Sagada and in the afternoon we will visit the ancient burial caves and also view the unusual hanging coffins from Echo Valley. Overnight at Masferré Country Inn. (B)

(Approximate driving time: five hours)

After breakfast, we begin our drive to Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vigan, earlier known as “Ciudad Fernandina” from 1758 to the late 19th century, is the oldest surviving Spanish colonial city in the country with some of its finest architecture. After a typical Ilocano lunch at Café Leona located on the ground floor of a traditional Vigan house, we board a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) for a tour of Vigan with its well-preserved old brick houses (bahay na tisa). We visit the Burgos Museum and the historic Syquia Mansion. In the evening, join the townsfolk in the main plaza for a light and sound performance. Overnight at Hotel Felicidad or similar. (BL)

(Approximate driving time from Vigan to Laoag: one hour and a half)

After breakfast, we will continue our tour of Vigan before we depart for Laoag, stopping by to visit Sitio Remedios. This is a recreated village of traditional Ilocano houses that were sourced from different towns in the province of Ilocos Norte and are well maintained to their original glory in beautiful grounds by the coast of Currimao. Upon arrival in Laoag, we take lunch at Café Herencia to sample local cuisine before beginning our exploration of the city. We stop at the fortress-like Church of St. Augustine in Paoay and move on to Museo Ilocos Norte, housed in the old Tabacalera (tobacco factory) where government-controlled tobacco was stored in the Spanish colonial period. Drive past the Abolition of Tobacco Monopoly Monument at the town plaza and pause briefly at St. William’s Cathedral and its Sinking Bell Tower. We will then drive to visit the Malacañang of the North, the former lakeside residence of ex-dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family when they visited Ilocos Norte, his home province. Later, transfer to the airport for our flight back to Manila (PR 2199 2100/2200) where we will transfer to our hotel on arrival. Overnight at The Bayleaf Intramuros Hotel or similar. (BL)

It’s a quick turnaround, and after breakfast we return to the airport and board a flight to Puerto Princesa, acclaimed as the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines. On arrival we take a late lunch and then check-in to hotel accommodation. In the evening dinner is at a local seafood restaurant, and after our meal we drive to the Iwahig River for an unusual Firefly watching tour. The river is clear and wide, winding through dense jungles on either bank. We join a local guide to travel by kayak through the mangroves and watch hundreds of fireflies clustering on their favourite fragrant mangrove trees. It is an amazing sight! Overnight Hibiscus Garden Inn or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time: two hours)

After breakfast we drive to Sabang and take a boat to the mouth of the Underground River. A local guide will point out the features during a tour of the river. Later we continue to the town of Barangay Tagabinet and the 110-metre-high Ugong Rock which takes its name from echoing sounds produced when the rock is tapped. We climb up inside the rock, among stalagmites and stalactites. Wooden stairs lead to the top from where those so inclined may choose to descend by zip line. This is a community-based tourism project spearheaded by the private sector. We return to our hotel in Puerto Princesa in the evening. Overnight Hibiscus Inn or similar. (BL)

(Approximate driving time: six hours)

Driving north through rice plantations and along the coast we reach the town of El Nido, considered a showcase of Palawan’s geology and diverse wildlife. Majestic limestone cliffs stand guard over clear waters, with hundreds of species of tropical fish and coral, and three species of endangered sea turtles. El Nido’s forests are host to more than 100 species of birds, a large number endemic to Palawan. Later there’s free time to explore the town independently. Overnight El Nido Cove Resort or similar. (B)

Today we island-hop through the beautiful islands and beaches around El Nido. Our boat takes us through the crystal-clear waters to the Big and Small lagoons of Miniloc Island, Shimizu Island and Seven Commandos Beach, with opportunities for swimming and snorkelling. We take a picnic lunch on a suitably picturesque beach before continuing to the Secret Lagoon and later returning to El Nido. Overnight El Nido Cove Resort or similar. (BL)

The morning will be at leisure to enjoy El Nido before we transfer to the local airport for the flight back to Manila (1600/1715). On arrival in Manila, transfer to your hotel and the rest of the day will be at leisure. Overnight at The Bayleaf Intramuros Hotel or similar. (B)

After breakfast the tour ends today with transfers to the airport to meet onward flights. (B)

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

This group tour operates subject to a minimum group size of 4 travellers if not already showing as guaranteed.

Single Supplement from £625.

Return flights from London to Manila start at £510. Contact us for a quotation.

Airport transfers are included if you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation at the hotel mentioned in our tour dossier.

Extra night accommodation pre and/or post tour in Manila costs from £35 per person, per night sharing a twin/double room and £57 per person in a solo occupancy room.

Please note that the prices quoted above are for the category of accommodation and hotel used for this particular tour. Depending on the hotel eventually confirmed there may be some difference in the rate advertised by the hotel, and the prices available through Undiscovered Destinations. It should be noted we will not apply a surcharge should more expensive accommodation be used. At the same time in the event that a lower rate is available for the confirmed hotel we are unable to offer a refund.

If you do not wish to be part of a group tour then you can do the same tour on a private basis. Please contact us for prices.

Kindly note that we can also tailor a similar or totally different itinerary to meet your requirements. Please get in touch with us so that we can tailor your perfect tour of the Philippines.

Mapped itinerary.

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Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

Philippines – Terraces of the Cordillera Tour

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • All accommodation
  • Transport throughout
  • Services of English speaking guide.
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
  • Domestic flights as shown in the itinerary.

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks

A very enjoyable time.I felt that the trip was extremely well designed – busy yes! but with such variety of experiences and sights. It was great to visit the Enchanted Garden and so inspiring to witness that project. Also visiting the open prison – equally inspiring – what a lot we in the west have to learn! and they are light years ahead of us re environment and ecology. I loved the island hopping and undergroud river and climbing up inside the rock and zip wiring down again – all outside my comfort zone but so much fun! The trip was made perfect by our marvellous guide Rupert


Diana Merrylees, UK.