Join us on a travelers dream tropical vacation like no other. Why would we repeat this? Because our past group loved it with non-stop fun – even rates in my top 10 favorites. This slice of heaven oozes culture, history and stunning landscapes. The Philippines has 7,101 emerald islands. It’s a beach bum’s delight but our AFS trip is all about adventure.
This country is now hot on the tourist trail. Tourists go mad for shopping bargains, great cuisines, world class diving, UNESCO sites as well as natural wonders of volcanoes, towering mountains, rainforests and mile long white sand beaches. The best draw of all are the friendly Filipinos who love Americans and truly know how to celebrate life.
We made this dual-destination trip is extremely affordable with luxury 5 star resorts you could never get such pampering on your own! It all begins with our thrill-a-Manila Tour in crazy Jeepney’s. Imagine the fun to follow…
• Castaway to 5 different islands of tropical beauty for snorkeling coral reefs or a swim with whale sharks!
• Visit the world’s only Tarsier Sanctuary to get up close to these adorable monkeys
• Count the surreal Chocolate Hills, World Heritage Site of 1268 mysterious limestone hills
• Enjoy a jungle river cruise, AFS Beach Feast, the delightful Bohol Bee Farm, $20 massages and a stunning hotel in the heart of bustling Hong Kong.
This unique trip is packed with fun. It won’t be presented again and February is the best time to visit for perfect sunny weather. The slogan is ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’. Some say it’s too perfect to be real.Book Now!
You can arrange your own air. For Group Air, check in LAX Feb 16- 9:00PM for flight just after midnight. Fly the exquisite comfort of Cathay Pacific airlines via Hong Kong to Manila.
(Cross International date line – gain a day on way there & loose a day on return – to arrive Feb 18)
Welcome to fabulous Manila, an urban playground that blends century old streets with modern skyscrapers. There’s a Spanish and American influence. Everyone speaks English and the Filipinos are the friendliest people you can meet.
On arrival at 11:00 AM, you will be transferred to the deluxe 5-star New World in the heart of the upscale Makati district Hotel with the world’s best breakfast buffet. Glittering shopping malls abound with ridiculous prices (I bought 9 pairs of shoes $10 each), cool cafes and a nightlife that never sleeps.
Our guide will give us a briefing and offer many ideas for your free time. Nothing like an affordable massage after your jetlag. There’s plenty of great spas near-by.
Overnight: New World Makati, Manila
After a breakfast buffet you’ll never forget, we set out on a full day tour by Jeepney’s! The Jeepney is a unique transportation that can only be found in the Philippines. It was originally made from the U.S. military jeeps that were left in the country after World War II, giving it the powerful engine of an army jeep. With Filipino ingenuity, the body was remolded by adding some metal roofs and decorating it with vibrant color with chrome plated ornaments. The iconic Jeepney is colorful, customized, karaoke, air-conditioned bus. Will have 2 or a double decker.
This morning, drive by the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. Simultaneous Japanese surprise attacks at Pearl Harbor and the Philippines led to war. Japanese forces conquered parts of Asia but were set back in the Philippines islands. Fierce defense by US Army Forces Far East held off the Japanese assaults for 6 months, delayed the Japanese timetable and enabled the start of US offensive operations in the Pacific.
With a dimension of 152 acres and 17,097 headstones, this cemetery is the largest administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission in the number of graves and those missing whose names are recorded on the walls of the Memorial.
After that, the tour continues to the Intramuros or the “Walled city”. This was the site of the old settlement ruled by native chieftain, Rajah Suliman. It was conquered by Spain in 1571 and became the seat of Spanish colonial sovereignty in the Orient for over 300 years. It was the center of government, economy, culture, arts and politics of Spain’s glory in the Far East.
Lunch will be at a 16th century Spanish-Filipino house setting with live string ensemble to serenade the guests.
After lunch, return to the hotel in the Makati area, and the afternoon is at leisure to explore the area or shopping.
Overnight: New World Makati, Manila - B, L
Morning is at leisure to explore Makati and shop for souvenirs made in the Philippines. This afternoon, take a short flight on Philippines Airlines to TAGBILARAN Airport on Bohol Island. Transfer to your hotel.
Bohol Island is located in the Central Visayas and is the tenth largest island of the Philippines. The island’s many caves and limestone hills are home to some rare and endangered flora and fauna, making Bohol a premier ecotourism destination. It is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the region: from the Chocolate Hills and the tarsier to 16th century watchtowers and Jesuit Baroque mission churches. The Chocolate Hills, all of 1,268 perfectly cone-shaped hills, are undoubtedly the most famous tourist attraction in the province.
One of the rare animals found in the Philippine archipelago, the Tarsier is the smallest primate in the world. It is a nocturnal primate measuring from four to five inches, with a tail that is longer than its body.
A tropical haven of natural beauty, the coastline of the province is skimmed by gentle coves and white sand beaches. You can find some of the country’s great dive sights here. Balicasag in Bohol is one of the very best and most popular dives in the Visayas. A black coral forest is among its main attractions but virtually anywhere you drop in is sure to be rewarding. Another major attraction, Cabilao is renowned for the hammerhead sharks that swim around the clear waters. Large pelagics are very common here, and if you are really lucky, you can find yourself swimming with a passing school of dolphins.
This is a water lovers haven with anything you can dream of both over and under water! Our resort gives us a delightful escape. 54 elegant rooms with balconies are nestled on white sand beaches and marine statuary. Enjoy Amuma Spa for special Filipino massage treatments. The Aquamania provides all watersport equipment.
Tonight, enjoy a BBQ dinner under the stars at beachside. You will be entertained by a troupe of Filipino dancers featuring cultural dancers from various places of the country. It is a 45-minute dance performance with audience participation and photo opportunities. We all danced past midnight.
Overnight: Bluewater Panglao Island Resort - B, D
Today the Bohol Countryside tour takes you to the highlights of this scenic island.
Visit Baclayon – the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception – one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. Unfortunately, like many of the old churches on Bohol, it was damaged by a severe earthquake in 2013.
Then drive to the Tarsier Conservation Area, where you can have a close encounter with one of the smallest primates in the world. Most active at night, their diet consists of insects. It is rumored to have inspired Steven Spielberg’s famous ET character. Set in a 3-mile manmade forest, you’ll love seeing these endangered 6’’ species.
Relax on a river cruise up the Loboc River, where you will enjoy lunch onboard, while serenaded by a Filipino band. Then drive to the famous Chocolate Hills area. The most famous tourist attraction of Bohol boasts 1,268 cone-shaped hills, spread over an area of 50 square kilometers. A geologist commented that the brown hills during the dry season reminded him of Hersey’s Chocolate kisses and the name stuck. This is a sweet tour of a landscape with limestone domes identical in shape and height.
We will visit a local kindergarten to interact with the children This will be 50-60 kids (average number per class due to lack of classrooms. Time permitting we will stop at, Chocolate Hills Adventure Park (CHAP) Bohol’s latest Eco-tourism adventure park. CHAP offers over 20 thrilling adventure activities.
Drive back to the Pangalo area and visit the world renowned Bohol Bee Farm – it is an organic farm that serves as a center for livelihood and sustainable development. This Agro-heaven is a relaxing retreat from city life. Meet the “friendly bees”, by great bee products and walk the organic gardens. Enjoy a delicious farm-to-table dinner, before returning to the hotel.
Overnight: Bluewater Panglao Island Resort - B, L, D
Early morning Island Hopping Tour to Balicasag Island and/or Pamilacan Island for dolphin and whale watching. Located in the middle of the Philippines archipelago, you’ll find these pristine islands rural, serine, urban and festive.
Balicasag Island is a 1.5 acre island that is famous as a marine sanctuary and an excellent spot for snorkeling and diving. It is a 30-45 minute boat ride from Alona beach, Panglao Island. Balicasag Island boasts of some of the best dive sites in the Philippines. You can also spot corals and fish in shallow waters. Balicasag is perfect for snorkeling as the water is shallow and there are beautiful corals around. About a hundred meters away from the shoreline, there is a sudden dip and it is good for scuba diving.
Another popular activity is dolphin watching. There are many dolphins seen between Balicasag Island and nearby Pamilcana Island. The waters around the island of Pamilacan is home to at least 11 species of dolphins and whales, including the playful Spinner Dolphins and Gigantic Sperm Whale. A picnic lunch will be served by the local villagers on beach.
Overnight: Bluewater Panglao Island Resort - B, L
This morning you will be transferred to the Pier to take a jetfoil to Cebu Island. (Takes about 2 hours)
Cebu: It was in the province of Cebu that Ferdinand Magellan first set foot in Philippines soil back in 1521. Even before the Spaniards came, trade with the Chinese already flourished in the province. Prosperity has continued, and today, Cebu City, known as the Queen City of the South, has become a thriving, highly urbanized center that rivals Manila’s bustling metropolis. Only a few minutes away from the city are numerous white sand beaches, crystal blue waters and swaying palms. Mactan Island, where our resort is located is a coral island and famous scuba diving and beach area.
Upon arrival, you will be taken on a sightseeing tour of Cebu City including Magallanes St. Time permitting, visit Magellan’s Cross - planted in April 14, 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, believed to be the spot where the first 800 Christian Filipinos were baptized into the Catholic faith.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant to taste the famous “Lechon”, Anthony Bourdain’s favorite dish featured on his show No Reservations…“this is the best roasted suckling pig ever!” says Anthony Bourdain.
After lunch, Dance for a Cause with the inmates will rock your world! It’s a sensational chance to share the dance floor with these enigmatic Cebu dancing inmates. Dance to the Beat of Michael Jackson or learn Psy’s Gand Nam Style with over 2,000 inmates that started with marching drills, it eventually evolved into fully choreographed routines and has become an instant internet sensation with over 3 million hits on YouTube.
Visiting and dancing with the inmates here are ways of giving them joy! They are so happy to receive guests and have a sense of acceptance and purpose. At the same time, dancing has evolved to become a livelihood program for them. These dancing inmates dance in CPDRC (Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center). What a rare opportunity for exceptional fun, exclusive for AFS.
Afterwards, we will visit Avatar an awesome wholesale fashion accessories store if traffic allows.
Transfer to the hotel for overnight (2 Nights) You’ll love this place!
Overnight: - Bluewater Maribago Resort - B, L
Today is at leisure for you to enjoy the Bluewater Resort and the many activities it offers. The resort is known for its Marine Wildlife Saltwater Lagoons filled with assorted tropical fish, including black tip reef sharks, grouper, and clown fish. Fish feeding daily at 4:00pm.
There’s opportunities for paddle boards, sea kayaks, banana boat, parasailing, glass bottom boat, catamaran tour and more. There is also as a private island - a 1.1-hectare private island (65 meters away from the beachfront) provides resort guests with an additional area to bask under the sun. The white sand island can be reached by swimming, paddle boating or wading through shallow water at low tide. The island, spotted with palm and cabanas, gives a private and ideal way to view the cove and open sea.
OPTIONAL: FULL DAY SWIMMING WITH THE WHALESHARKS! (05:00am – 3:30pm, you must be fit for this water activity) $125 per person, depending on group size, lunch included
Have the thrill of your life! Experience swimming with the gentle giants of the sea and have your picture taken too.
Overnight: Bluewater Maribago Resort - B
Fly Cathay from Cebu to the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong. Transfer to your deluxe 5-star hotel in the heart of all the action. Rest of day is at leisure.
We couldn’t take you this far without a stop in wonderful HK. HK is about dizzying heights, the buzz, the bustle, the bigger the better. But it’s also home to wonderful history, verdant peaks and quiet islands with dramatic vistas.
There’s so much to do! Arrive 3pm and depart next evening at 11pm. Our groups love the Harbor Grand Hotel for its comfortable elegance and location. The 828 room hotel sits right on the Harbor in the center of all the action. Explore on your own. Ride the Star Ferry for $1 between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Or we can arrange a city tour for our group to Stanley Market, Repulse Bay, the tram up Victoria Peak and more.
Overnight Harbour Grand Kowloon - B
You have a full day to enjoy the many attractions in Hong Kong. Your flight departs late at night for the US.
Air departs Feb 27 just after midnight, but due to Int'l Dateline, you arrive LAX Feb 27 8:40pm
2. I have no trouble walking and if necessary, can walk for 3+ miles. Uneven surfaces are not a problem. I do not need a cane or walking device.
A $400 deposit will secure your reservation. Limited to 38 participants. Detailed Trip Tips later.
Land Cost: $1895 + $96 internal domestic flight
Includes 8 nights first class accommodation, daily guided tours with entrance fees, licensed English speaking guides, private coach, meals as stated, AFS GTL.
Not included: Gratuities, international air.
Based on a minimum of 24 participants.
SAMPLE: International Group Air – Roundtrip LAX-Manila - HK price $895+140 tax = $1035 (min 12 needed for group air.)
Visiting the Philippines was BIG fun. From the beaches to the friendly locals to the beautiful nature landscapes. My favorite part were the Filipino people. They were kind and friendly. They were so happy and always smiling. Music and singing are such a part of their lives. If you are singing with friends, you can't help but have happiness in your heart.
The water surrounding those 7,107 islands is beautiful. Turquoise crystal-clear water surrounded me as I swam with the whale sharks. What a breathtaking experience. And I did it- another item checked off my Bucket List. I swam with those huge gentle giants. After the water and the nature part of our day- there was always shopping AND plenty of it. The prices were great and the styles were so fashion forward. Philippines has amazing wildlife. One of my high points was seeing the Tarsier Monkeys. They are the smallest primates and they were sleeping in the trees. It was so easy to capture a great picture while they were sleeping during the day. The guides helped us locate them.
Every vacation needs a little time to pamper yourself. And the massages were everywhere -on the beaches and inside the spas. The prices were so inexpensive in comparison to what we are used to paying in the US. Everyone spoke English. You had no trouble communicating with 90 % of the people. So I felt very comfortable everywhere. I will never forget my trip to the Philippines. I smile as I say that. So many memories are dancing in my head. But the biggest chuckle of all comes when I think of us singing Karaoke in our jeepney on the crowded Manilla streets. What a fun way to pass the time.
Yes, I do believe there is More Fun in the Philippines!
This 'option' is a required additional charge for this trip.
This 'option' is a required additional charge for this trip.
Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS. Group air - Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and are ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until we either group air is set or we advise - dates can change! Itineraries are prepared often a year in advance. Though not likely, AFS and our suppliers reserve the right to change or modify such to meet local conditions. Although rare, hotels can change – all hotel rooms are run of the house. Our prices are based on current taxation structures. In case any revision in taxes, sudden fluctuation in currency levels, change in Visa fees or increase in fuel charges, we will amend our prices and inform you accordingly. Land price is based on minimum number of trip participants.