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Get the thrill of a perfect escape with The Manila Driver-Guide! When you're lost in the middle of the urban jungle, your only escape route is to either head north or south. Either way, The Manila Driver-Guide will help you navigate your way as you explore and draw inspiration from the classic charm and culture of Northern and Southern Philippines.

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private tour: banaue

Located approximately 1500 meters above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside, the Banaue Rice Terraces are 2000-year old terraces that were carved in the mountains by the Ifugao ancestors. The Rice Terraces, fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces, are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. It is commonly thought that the terraces were manually built by the Indigenous People of the Cordilleras. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.

The terraces are vastly found in the province of Ifugao and the Ifugao people have been its caretakers. Ifugao culture revolves around rice and the culture displays an elaborate array of rice culture feasts linked with agricultural rites from rice cultivation to rice consumption. Harvest season generally calls for thanksgiving feasts while the concluding harvest rites entail a strict taboo of any agricultural work.

There are still several original Ifugao villages, such as Poi-Tan, that have kept their traditions and ways of living. Here, they grow the highland variety of rice. They start sowing in the second half of December, and then transplant the seedlings from mid-April to June. Harvesting takes place around July/August.

Banaue has always been known for its wood carving and basketry. Weaving has become another tourist item.The Bulol, or rice god, is found everywhere. Traditional utilitarian items like carved wooden chests, chairs and wooden bowls, fantastically carved doors and panels, are also available.

Places to See, Places to Be

A good two days should be enough for sightseeing, which includes the rice terraces in Mayoyao and Batad. More days if you explore further: Banaue Viewpoint (Aguian Viewpoint); Banga-an Valley, a good alternative place to stay overnight without trekking to Batad; Hapao Terraces, a World Heritage site which includes a hot spring; and the unique spider web terraces of Hungduan; Bogyah Hot Spring




private tour: batad

Located approximately 1500 meters above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside, the Banaue Rice Terraces are 2000-year old terraces that were carved in the mountains by the Ifugao ancestors. The Rice Terraces, fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces, are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. It is commonly thought that the terraces were manually built by the Indigenous People of the Cordilleras. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.

The terraces are vastly found in the province of Ifugao and the Ifugao people have been its caretakers. Ifugao culture revolves around rice and the culture displays an elaborate array of rice culture feasts linked with agricultural rites from rice cultivation to rice consumption. Harvest season generally calls for thanksgiving feasts while the concluding harvest rites entail a strict taboo of any agricultural work.

Locals to this day still plant rice and vegetables on the terraces, though the younger Ifugaos opt for the more lucrative hospitality industry generated by the Rice Terraces.

Places to See, Places to Be

Tappiyah (also spelled Tappia) Falls; Kinakin; Cambulo




private tour: sagada

Sagada is the best place to see in the Mountain Province. Elevated at around 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) above sea level, it is synonymous to fog: an endless blanket of white mist as thick as the air is thin. It's weather: cool and comfortable. Its environs, a green chunk of pine-covered peaks and valleys, punctuated by craggy limestone cliffs, secluded waterfalls and oddly-shaped rock formations. In this remarkably serene mountain town, you can explore the caves, go bird-watching, and view the hanging coffins. Or you can while away the hours, keep quiet company with a cup of native coffee and a plate of homemade lemon tart.

In Sagada, the most visible evidence of tribal heritage is the terraced land that surrounds much of the locale. There are counless levels of these terraces, each one built by hand centuries ago.

Places to See, Places to Be

Sumaguing Cave, most popular cave with unusual limestone formations: Dap-Ay, Pregnant Woman, the impressive Dancing Hall and King's Curtain; Lumiang Cave, here, coffins can be viewed from the large entrance; Sugong, another cave that contains a few coffins; Echo Valley has hanging coffins on limestone cliffs; Matangkib, a burial cave that will take you to Latang, which features a long, flowing underground river. Walk along the river bed for about 15 minutes and you will find yourself in Bokong Waterfall; Masferre Cafe and Inn, where photographs of Eduardo Masferre, popular in many parts of the world, are on exhibit. Prints of his old photos are for sale at the gallery; Sagada Weaving showcases a variety of export-quality products that display the unique indigenous art in weaving: wallets, blankets, tapis (Igorot skirts), shoulder bag and backpacks; The Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, built before WWII, was initially constructed using large hewn stones from the Mission quarries; The Mission Compound of American buildings (circa 1920s)




private tour: baguio

Deep in the mountain ranges of Benguet province is Baguio. There, at over 1,500 meters above sea level, the sun behaves differently, where its normally belligerent heat is held in check by the cool air. Baguio's most obvious attraction is its highland environment. With an average temperature of 20-degrees Celsius, it is the Philippine's coldest city. No other city in the Philippines is much visited by tourists as much as Baguio, the very reason it has retained its "vacation city" status.

Considered to be the summer capital in Northern Luzon, Baguio ~ whose ancient name, Kafagway, (a large open space) ~ prides itself with its tall pine trees and diverse flowers. There's also the visible hallmarks of an earlier culture ~ the tribal Ifugaos ~ whose people used to inhabit the area.

Summer is the best time to see Baguio as it provides a good respite from the heat of the lowlands. It is the only place in the country where the climate allows you to wear a leather jacket.

Places to See, Places to Be

Burnham Park, excellent playground for children where bicycles can be rented. Boat rides for those who want to scull around the artificial lake; Baguio City Market, for big bargains on fruits and vegetables, silver jewelry, basket ware, woven articles, woodcraft; Woodcarving Village, about 5 km. west of Baguio City along Asin Road; Sunshine Park, for an excellent collection of flowers in bloom; Baguio Botanical Garden, another flower spectacle; Wright Park, for horseback riding; Mines View Park, overlooking the mountainside; Club John Hay, a sprawling par 68 golf course at 5,000 feet above sea level that offers charm, greenery, the change to smell the scent of its 250,000 pine trees and the many romantic and meditative moods it can trigger; Tam-Awan Village, established by Filipino painter Ben Cabrera (BenCab), is intended to make the Village the center of an artists' community in Baguio. It is a place where individual or group creativity is free to put together activities that benefit the heart, mind, body and soul.




private tour: vigan

The construction of Vigan, Ilocos Sur's capital, dates back in 1572. Having been the establishment for the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo, Vigan now exudes a rich historical culture: antique houses, their facades bedecked with the graceful curves of colonial architecture that silently keep vigil over a narrow, cobbled street. A horse-drawn calesa clip-clops by, inviting one to travel in the laid-back manner of turn-of-the-century Philippines. It is a living relic of Spanish influence, and by far, the most preserved Philippine Spanish town in the Philippines.

Today, the streets of Vigan have retained features of its glorious past. Along the cobblestone-paved Calle Crisologo that belongs to the Kamestizoan district, or Chinese Quarter are centuries-old Spanish residential houses. Known as the Heritage Village, the street leads to another marvel: the Baroque-styled St. Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral. At Plaza Burgos, undoubtedly the merienda center of Vigan, the tired and the hungry can partake culinary delights like okoy, empanada (meat pie) and longanisa (pork sausage) from the food stalls around the area.

However casual the atmosphere is in Plaza Burgos, the residents of Vigan cannot deny the fact that it used to be an execution place for lawbreakers. The revolutionary heroine Gabriela Silang was, in fact, hanged there, and so were a few other Filipino martyrs who were similarly brought to the gallows just because they were up in arms against Spain.

Places to See, Places to Be

Atop the 300-year-old Bantay Bell Tower, a visitor can have a 360-degree view of Vigan; Plaza Burgos, merienda center for those craving for okoy, empanada (meat pie) and where visitors can buy souvenirs and longanisa (Ilokano sausage); St. Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral, one of the largest churches in the Philippines built by the Augustinians; RG Pottery, seller of the famous burnay or Ilokano jars used for storing vinegar); you can also visit Paraiso ni Juan in Narvacan, an unusual rock formation that can be reached by navigating a land bridge during low tide. It is attributed to the Spanish soldiers under Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo, who got shipwrecked in the area.




private tour: laoag

Ilocos Norte remains a destination of choice for most tourists looking for traces of the genteel past that is still etched even in the capital city, Laoag. Icons of Spanish influence ranging from colonial houses, tabacaleras (brick tobacco warehouses) and churches stand proud as reminders of the rich Ilocos history.

One of such historical edifices is the Museo Iloco that is housed in the centuries-old Spanish brick warehouse originally known as the Camarin de Tabacco dela Tabacalera. Sitting next to the provincial capitol, the brick structure is now the only functional edifice among five such structures built around Ilocos Norte during the Spanish period. All other tabacaleras built in the towns of San Nicolas, Currimao, Bacarra and Dingras have become mere icons of Spanish occupation.

Close to St. William's Cathedral is a 399-year-old, 45-meter Sinking Belltower. Story has it that the entrance to the tower was high enough to let a man on horseback through. Now, one has to stoop to get in.

While in Laoag, sports aficionados can explore the seaside La Paz Sand Dunes, or take a dip in the sea.

Places to See, Places to Be

Malacanang of the North; Cafe Herencia, home of the original Pinakbet and Dinuguan pizzas; Sitio Remedios, a heritage resort reminiscent of mid-20th century Ilocos; San Nicolas, the Damli center in the North where the ancient art of terra cotta pottery still exists; Pasuquin, home of the famous Biscocho bread and site of Ilocos Norte's salt-making industry; North of Laoag is a small town of Bacara, famous for its hand-carved 17-string wooden harps. Also, the town has the historic leaning bell tower. Just 10 km south of Laoag is Lake Paoay. Legend has it that an old town was submerged in this mystical lake. Found in the area is one of the four UNESCO World Heritage-listed Baroque Churches of the Philippines, Paoay Church, a successful hybrid creation of coral clocks and stucco-plastered bricks, designed in Gothic, Baroque, and Oriental styles. Nearby is the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel, complete with an 18-hole golf course.




private tour: pagudpud

Places to See, Places to Be

Burgos, site of the tallest and functional lighthouse in the Philippines. Situated at the extreme northwestern tip of Luzon island, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse towers over South China Sea and Bangui Bay; Saoit Coral Formations; Capurpuraoan Rock; Bangui Bay, located about 60 km north of Laoag City, is the best place to be in summer; Bangui Windmills, the first commercial "green energy" wind farm in the country and in Southeast Asia; Baruyen zigzag road; Dos Hermanos Island; Bulu River, a 20-km long stretch that is great for swimming, kayaking, and white water rafting.



are you organizing a tour for a group of 5 or more pax?

E-mail your requirement to maniladriverguide@gmail.com and we'll send you a quote and/or customize a day tour to your specific liking.



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Faces of the Philippines