Goway, along with members of the Vancouver-based Philippines consular staff welcomed a select group of travel agents to dinner at Steamworks in Gastown last week to learn about the country and its most popular destinations.
Manila is the first stop for almost all visitors to the Philippines. A city of almost 13 million, clients can catch a glimpse of its history in Goway’s “Old and New Manila” excursion. There are also half-day tours of Intramuros, the walled city built by the Spanish in the late 16th century. Manila is renowned as a shopping destination, with everything from budget and knock-off items to designer and luxury labels for sale. Three of the top 10 malls in the world are here.
Manila is also the jumping off point for excursions to Cebu, the oldest city in the Phlippines, where clients can trace explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s legacy, visit the country’s oldest church, Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, and the famous Taoist temples. From Cebu it’s a short ferry ride to the beautiful Chocolate Hills and the tarsier sanctuary on Bohol.
Heading north from Manila, clients can visit the breath-taking rice terraces of Banaue. It is only accessible by road, and is a 10 to 12-hour drive from the city. The 2,000-year-old agricultural formations are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
For the second year in a row, the Philippines boasts three islands on Conde Nast Traveller’s list of Best Islands In The World: Cebu ranks Number 5; Palawan is Number 2 and the Best Island in the world is Borocay.
And speaking of beaches, Palawan, a collection of 1,780 islands, boasts white sand beaches, steep limestone cliffs and an underground river in Puerto Princesa National Park, a World Heritage Site.
Philippine Consul General Neil Ferrer closed his part of the presentation with what he called a “shameless plug”.
“Our country has so many natural wonders. We have some of the best beaches and dive spots in the world. We have one of the most delicious, but underrated cuisines in the world. The Philippines is one of the most diverse marine environments in the world. I guarantee you, once you’ve experienced the Philippines, the hospitality of its people and the beauty of the various destinations, you’ll definitely want to go back for some more.”
He also noted Manila is the only Southeast Asia city with direct flights from Vancouver; Philippines Airlines flies daily.
Goway’s “Essential Philippines” is an eight-night itinerary that stops in Manila, Boracay and Cebu and includes accommodation, roundtrip airport transfers by private vehicle, meet and greet assistance at all airports and piers and sightseeing starting at $3,229.
Their Palawan El Nido packages include local flights, boat and vehicle transfers and four days at one of four resorts: Apulit Island Resort (eco adventure); Miniloc Island Resort (great for families); Lagen Island Resort (eco-sancturary); and Pangulasian Islanr Resort (eco-luxury) starting at $1,525.
Goway’s other Philippines packages include a four-day excursion to Cebu and the Chocolate Hills of Bohol; four days on the pristine beaches of Boracay; three days exploring Manila; four days touring the Banaue Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and a four-day stay at Palawan in either Puerto Princesa or Sabang.