Capital of Philippine: Manila
Official Language: Filipino (Based on Tagalog) and English
Population: 91,983,000 as of 2013
Currency: Peso (PHP) (1US$ = 45.62 PHP)
Time zone: GMT + 8
Calling Code: +63
Economy: The national economy of the Philippines is the 48th largest in the world. Primary exports include semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, and fruits. Major trading partners include China, Japan, the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia.
Climate: Weather patterns in the Philippines are dictated by the prevailing winds - the habagat (southwest monsoon), which runs from May to October, and the amihan (northeast monsoon), which prevails from November to early May. The wet season starts in June, peaks in July to September, and peters out in October. Typhoons, known as bagyo, are common from June to November.
Religion: More than 90% of the populations are Christians: about 80% belong to the Roman Catholic Church while 10% belong to other Christian denominations. Between 5% to 10% of the population are Muslim.
San Agustin Church, Manila
Located in Manila, a visit to the San Agustin Church is a must see. Built in 1589, this beautiful church has survived seven earthquakes and two fires over the centuries and now remains as the oldest stone church in the Philippines. At the main entrance, there are exquisite carvings on the wooden doors. Inside the lovely, Mexican-influenced interior is designed in the shape of a Latin cross. The gorgeous ceiling was painted in the 1800s by Italian artists, Giovanni Dibella and Cesare Alberoni.
Just south of Manila is the charming coastal town of Puerto Galera, well-favored for its gorgeous beaches, excellent diving spots and wide diversity of marine species. The most popular beaches are White Beach and Sabang Beach, which also offer nearby shopping, dining, nightlife and hotel accommodation. Another popular attraction is the natural harbor of Muelle Bay with its rows of shops, restaurants and bars. Visitors can also go snorkeling to see some of Asia’s best coral reefs or dive among old shipwrecks and hundreds of fish species.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Located on the northern coast of the island of Palawa, Puerto Princesa is a nature lover’s paradise. Home to unspoiled landscapes rich in wildlife, this lovely town also lays claim to one of the world’s most unique natural phenomena, an underground river known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. Protected within a national park, this natural wonder is the world’s longest navigable underground river. Guided paddle boat tours show intriguing rock formations and fluttering bats.
Located in the province of Sorsogon, a place of pristine beaches, stunning waterfalls and unexplored caves, the sleepy fishing village of Donsol is the place in the Philippines to see whale sharks. The ocean’s gentle giants can be seen between November and June, with the numbers peaking between February and May. Tourists can also take a boat cruise along the Donsol River through mangrove and palm trees, and watch the night light up with millions of sparkling fireflies. If that’s not enough, a traditional shrimp-catching expedition with bamboos and nets, followed by a tasty dinner of the cooked catch is also available.
One of the top tourist attractions in the Philippines, The Chocolate Hills are unusual geological formations that consists of at least 1,268 individual mounds scattered throughout the interior of the island of Bohol. The almost symmetrical and same-sized formations range from 98 to 164 feet (30 to 50 meters) high and are covered in green grass. During the dry season the grass turns brow, hence the name. There is no consensus on how these giant mole hills were formed. One theory holds that the Chocolate Hills are the weathered rock formations of a kind of marine limestone on top of an impermeable layer of clay.
Boracay may be a small island, but it packs great features such as award-winning beaches, beautiful resorts and great adventures like cliff diving, parasailing, motorbiking, horse riding, snorkeling, kite surfing and scuba diving. If that is not enough, boat tours allow visitors to watch stunning sunsets, explore volcanic caves and remote coves of turquoise lagoons. When the sun sets, Boracay night-life pulsates with many bars and restaurants serving food, drinks and fun until dawn.
Useful Tips: A handshake, with a welcoming smile, is the standard greeting. Close female friends may hug and kiss when they meet. If you are invited to a Filipino home for dinner bring sweets or flowers to the hosts. You may send a fruit basket after the event as a thank you but not before or at the event, as it could be interpreted as meaning you do not think that the host will provide sufficient hospitality. If invited into a Filipino home, it is best to arrive 15 to 30 minutes later than invited for a large party.
Credit Cards: Many shops, restaurants, hotels and resorts accept payment by credit card, and credit-card cash advances are possible in larger towns and cities; in small towns and on islands rarely visited there are often no provisions for credit cards. A shop-front sign that reads 'Visa accepted' or 'MasterCard accepted' may well refer only to the Philippines-issued version, so check with the shop personnel by showing them your card.
06DAYS 05NIGHT - MANILA & PUERTO PRINCESSA TOUR
DAY 01: Arrival Manila – Puerto Princessa (L/D)
Arrive in Manila via 5J 760 at 05:30am. Meet and check-in at Cebu Pacific Airways counter for flight to Puerto Princesa 5J 637 at 08:10am. Breakfast at NAIA terminal 3 (own arrangement). Upon arrival in Puerto Princesa at 09:30am, meet and transfer to hotel. Check-in is still at 02:00pm (Early check-in on request, subject to availability). Pick-up at 11:30am for lunch at local restaurant. Then, proceed to Puerto Princesa City tour - Crocodile Farm, Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (learn how the prisoners live without bars, rehabilitated instead of being punished), Baker's Hill, Mitra's Ranch, Binuatan Creations (weaving), Baywalk, Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral, Plaza Cuartel, Princess Eulalia Park, Provincial Capital, City Coliseum and Pasalubong Center (souvenir shops). In the evening, dinner at local restaurant with transfers.
DAY 02: Puerto Princessa – Underground River Tour – Puerto Princessa (B/L/D)
Breakfast at hotel. You will be picked up for your Underground river tour. Travel for 2 hours to Sabang Beach and 20 minutes by outrigger boat ride to the Subterranean River National Park, one of the official New 7 Wonders of Nature. Walk part of the "Monkey" trail to the Ranger's Hut and board a small paddleboat for a 45 minutes tour inside the bat filled caverns, an amazing show of nature's scupture featuring very spectacular limestone landscape displays in its navigable underground river. Lunch at a local restaurant in Sabang is included. In the evening, dinner at local restaurant with transfers
DAY 03: Puerto Princessa – Honda Bay Tour – Puerto Princessa (B/L/D)
Breakfast at hotel. Just 30 minutes north of the city proper, travel to Sta. Lourdes wharf where you will board a motor boat for your Honda Bay Island hopping tour with picnic lunch. This is a whole day swimming, snorkeling and fish feeding at Pambato Reef, Lu-li Island and Pandan Island where picnic lunch is served. In the evening, dinner at local restaurant with transfers.
DAY 04: Puerto Princessa – Manila (B/L/D)
Breakfast at hotel. Check-out. Transfer to Puerto Princesa airport for your flight to Manila via 5J 636 at 11:55am. Arrive in Manila at 01:15pm. Meet and proceed to a local restaurant for late lunch. In the evening, dinner with Philippine Folkdance show and transfer at a local restaurant. A showcase of Filipino culture: traditional dance from North to South. Here is an opportunity to experience the hospitality that Filipinos are famous for. In an atmosphere of a typical "barrio fiesta", exotic dishes and delicacies are served for you to sample and savor. This evening affair is highlighted by a special presentation of folk dances by graceful maidens and dashing lads in authentic native costumes. From symbolic ceremonial dances of the northern mountain tribes to romantic Spanish-influenced reels and the expressive tribal dances of the Muslim South. The presentation showcases the heart and soul of the Filipino. The audience will be given a chance to prove that they can also perform the dances at the end of the show.Overnight accommodation.
DAY 05: Manila – Pagsanjan Falls Tour – Manila (B/L/D)
Breakfast at hotel. Pagsanjan Falls tour with lunch & boatride - "Shoot the rapids" on dug-out canoes and experience nature's wonder. A two and a half hour's drive south of Manila through the countryside takes you to Pagsanjan, Laguna. Be prepared to board a native canoe skillfully driven by two boatmen and maneuvered upstream through rocks and boulders amidst steep gorges and lush tropical vegetation. Your destination: the magnificent Pagsanjan Falls. Take a swim or board a bamboo raft through the falls into a cave right behind its veil of water. Don't forget to bring your favorite swimsuit and a towel! Your ride downstream is an exciting rush through the same rocks and boulders you passed on your way upriver. Lunch included. In the evening, dinner at local restaurant with transfers.
DAY 06: Manila – City Tour – Departure (B/L)
Breakfast at hotel. Manila City tour allows you to discover and see the historic areas in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Visit Rizal Park - a landmark dedicated to our National hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. In Intramuros (old walled city), visit Fort Santiago, a pre-Spanish Malay Settlement which later became the Spanish position of defense and houses the Rizal Shrine as a tribute to Dr. Rizal who was imprisoned at The Fort prior to his execution; Casa Manila, a restored colonial house representing the typical "Bahay na Bato" (Antillan house) complete with turn of the century furnishings; San Agustin Church, the oldest stone church in Metro Manila and a favorite spot for weddings; and a handicraft center. Also, a running tour of the country's financial center - Makati and to the American War Memorial Cemetery - the largest and most beautiful of American memorials outside the Continental U.S. After lunch at a local restaurant, remaining hours will be alloted for shopping at SM Mall of Asia (MOA), dubbed as the largest mall in Asia with a variety of stores, eateries and entertainment options. Early dinner at a local restaurant before transfer to NAIA for flight back to Jakarta via 5J 760 at 08:55pm.
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