TRAVEL GUIDE 2017
Hit the bike trails Looking for a taste of action and adventure? Cebu’s varied terrain is ideal for a range of activities including hiking, jeep tours, rock climbing and mountain biking. A trip to Olanga Island just off the coast allows for more sedate cycling, ideal for the whole family, but there are still plenty of trails for more hardcore bikers to follow. Belt out a tune Karaoke is big in the Philippines, and for good reason: a Filipino was instrumental in its development (Roberto Del Rosario, who in 1975 created a kind of equipment prototype that he named the “Sing Along System”). But there’s more to the nightlife than karaoke bars – particularly in Manila. Makati, in the city centre, is the first port of call for many tourists; it’s there you’ll find the enormous Greenbelt complex of shopping malls and eateries – arguably the most salubrious entertainment district in the country. Close to the airport is Resorts World Manila, a sister property of Singapore’s own Resorts World Sentosa, with plenty of drinking spots, live music and gaming. For something more eclectic, head to Quezon City, further north in Metro Manila, where the vibe is a little more young and laidback; most of the action is around Timog Avenue and Eastwood City. Stay in style There’s a plethora of award-winning hotels in Philippines, including stunning Amanpulo on a private island in Palawan, and Discovery Shores Boracay, which sits on the aforementioned White Beach; Cebu’s Shangri-La Mactan has its very own marine sanctuary, and luxe treatments at CHI, the hotel spa. Or, for a detoxifying retreat, visit The Farm at San Benito, the Philippines’ only five-star health and wellness retreat. There are six styles of accommodation here, from tree houses to suites and villas, and, of course, all kinds of treatments including colon hydrotherapy, ionising footbaths, and guided nutrition and medical advice for those who need it.
Go tropical The Philippines has some world-class stretches of sand; Camiguin, El Nido, Coron, Puerto Galera and Caramoan are just a few of the names you’re likely to see when you’re researching the country’s best beach destinations. But none of them has captured the imagination of tourists like Boracay. Around 300km south of Manila (and relatively easily reached by a short domestic flight from the capital or Cebu, followed by a bus connection), Boracay is a small dumbbell-shaped island whose famed White Beach is as much about its soft sand and palm trees as it is the party vibe; there are hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants and bars galore. (For a little respite, head to quieter Puka Beach at Boracay’s northern end.) In our opinion, though, beach-lovers are better off making for Palawan, the Philippines’ western-most archipelago. There’s not a lot there for night owls, but from a nature perspective it’s really got the wow factor.
Get festive Venture off the beaten path and experience the wonders of the Western Visayas region through Iloilo, a city with an interesting past. (Cebu Pacific Air flies there directly from Singapore.) Known as the Queen City of the South in its glory days, Iloilo was the last Spanish-colonial capital of the Philippines when Manila surrendered to the US. Remnants of this history include the American- period customs building, the Aduana, as well as stunning churches such as The Parish of St Anne, the only gothic church outside Manila. It also hosts one of the most colourful and vibrant parties in the country, the Dinagyang Festival, an annual celebration held on the fourth weekend in January. The whole city is awash in colour, music and dancing, to honour Santo Niño, the child Jesus.
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