Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Ticao Island - Enjoy Diving, Horse-Riding, or Simply Relax...

Horse Riding at Ticao Island

Part of the Masbate province, Ticao Island is a great base from which to enjoy either Diving or Horse-Riding.

You can hire a horse on an hourly basis or “Own A Horse” for the entire duration of your stay.

This allows you unlimited horseback riding and also are able to groom and care for your horse with the assistance of a personal guide.

Ticao Island Diving

Ticao Island Resort is close to a number of dive sites. Some, like the Manta Bowl, is the cleaning and feeding station of the Oceanic Manta.

The surrounding waters are plankton rich with a constant current, which attracts Thresher Sharks, Hammerheads, Whale Sharks, and Tiger Sharks.

Ticao Island Resort’s Dive Centre is SSI Accredited and its diving tutors have PADI and/or SSI certifications.

Courses offered include:

PADI Discover Scuba Diving/ SSI Try Scuba Diving (3 hours)
PADI or SSI Open Water Diver Course (3 to 4 days)
PADI or SSI Advanced Open Water Diver Course (2 days)
PADI Rescue Diver Course/SSI Respond Right Course (4 days)
SSI Dive Guide Course
PADI or SSI Dive Master Course

Accommodation on Ticao Island

There are nine air conditioned Cabanas along the white sandy beach, all made using native materials.

They are close to the restaurant and bar, as well as the diving/activity centre.

Read more about Ticao Island HERE >>

Images © Nigel Sutherland

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Historic Buildings of Negros Occidental, Philippines...

The Ruins, Talisay
In an area that is known as "the Sugarbowl of the Philippines", (producing more than half of the country's output), there are many structural reminders of this region's past, when sugar-barons led an affluent lifestyle from the industry.

Twenty-nine of these historic buildings can be found in Silay City. Indeed, Silay has been declared a "Museum City", sharing this description with only one other Philippines City - Vigan, in Ilocos Sur, north Luzon.

Silay City's best known historic buildings include the following:

The Balay Negrense, (also known as Victor Gaston Ancestral House)

The Balay Negrense is a museum featuring a splendid collection of furniture and artefacts which show how a late 19th-century Negrense sugar baron would live. This house was the first to be opened as a museum in the province.

Hofileña Heritage House

Still occupied, Hofileña Heritage House has all the features of a Spanish dwelling. With many fascinating artefacts on show, there are also a number of rooms full of paintings and drawings created by famous Filipino artists.

The Pink House, Silay City

Bernardino Jalandoni Ancestral House is known colloquially simply as the “The Pink House”, and is one of the largest ancestral houses in Silay. It was the first heritage house to be opened in Silay.

San Diego Pro-Cathedral

Also in Silay City, the San Diego Pro-Cathedral is the only pro-cathedral outside Manila. It was designed by Italian architect, Antonio Bernasconi, and built in 1920. Its dome resembles that of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The Ruins, Talisay (pictured top)

Outside of Silay, in Talisay, can be found "The Ruins". The stark image of these Ruins is a breathtaking sight. Formerly a ten bedroom Italianate mansion, it was built by sugar baron, Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, in the early 20th century, as a memorial to his wife, who had died during pregnancy.

The building was intentionally set on fire during World War II by Filipino guerrillas to prevent Japanese forces using it as an HQ.

The walls and foundations remain solid, and the structure is now listed as being amongst the World's 12 most fascinating ruins, and is a magnet for tourists.

This region of the Philippines makes for a fascinating tour, especially if combined with Iloilo, and Panay, just across the strait of water that divides them. See more HERE >>

Images © Nigel Sutherland

Monday, 27 June 2016

Looking for a Philippines Tour or Holiday?

Are you looking for a holiday in the Philippines?

We now have compiled a selection of our popular Philippines tours and holidays on a page on our website HERE >>

The Philippine Island Tours that we offer mainly range from 7 days up to 21 days, but all can be altered to suit the number of days you wish to stay in the country.

How Long Can I Stay in the Philippines?

Most visitors to the Philippines can stay up to a maximum of 30 days without requiring a visa.

Shorter Holidays

We also arrange short Breaks and Holidays in the Philippines. Simply let us know the length of your stay,

Whatever kind of Philippines Holiday you are looking for, contact us to make the arrangements, and remember, there are a wide range of activities that can be included.

View our recommended tours HERE >>

Monday, 13 June 2016

Tagaytay - the Perfect Base for Golf in the Philippines

Tagaytay is a highly recommended base for enjoying some of the best Golfing available in the Philippines.
A great selection of nearby Golf Courses

The surrounding areas of Taal, Cavite and Batangas have some top rated Golf Courses, all within easy reach of each other.

Golf courses include:

Sherwood Hills Golf Club "One of the best Golf Courses in 206 countries" - Golf Digest

Eagle Ridge Golf Club (with its FOUR Golf Courses)
• Isao Aoki Course
• Andy Dye Course
• Nick Faldo Course
• Greg Norman Course

Taal Splendido Golf Club

Royale Tagaytay Golf Club

Summit Point Golf Club

Mt. Malarayat Golf Club

Royale Tagaytay Golf Club
Residents and guests dining at Royale Tagaytay
Tee-off on one of the four courses at Eagle Ridge

Tee-off at Sherwood Hills. Caddies and Umbrella Girls assist

Lucy McFadden - Planner of Philippine Trails clients' Golfing Itineraries

One of Sherwood Hills Golf Club's majestic fairways

Fountain at Sherwood Hills Golf Club

On the green at Sherwood Hills Golf Club

Villa accommodation at Sherwood Hills Golf Club

Aerial view of Splendido Golf Club, Tagaytay

So avoid the Manila traffic, and make the picturesque region of Tagaytay the base for your Philippines Golfing Vacation

Philippine Trails can arrange your Golfing Holiday to the Philippines, including airport meet-and-greet, transfers, accommodation, and all Golfing Arrangements.

See more on our website HERE >>

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Looking to Visit the Philippines, but Wishing to Avoid Manila?

Do you want to explore the Philippines, but avoid Manila?

Manila is vast, and many places of interest, but it also has a lot of traffic, and sometimes getting from A to B can take a lot of time, (not always welcome when "A" is the Airport, and "B" is the Boarding House, or Hotel!)

Manila is still the main point of entry for most visitors, so missing it altogether can be unavoidable. It's also a connecting hub for travel between different islands, or regions of the Philippines.

Thankfully, the area directly alongside Manila Airport - Newport City, has some fine hotels, as well as other amenities, and is ideal for an overnight stay, without any hassles.

Here's our list of Hotels close to Manila Airport, which have a regular airport shuttle. There are several budget hotels too. (The Go Hotels chain is also scheduled to open one before too long). #manilatraffic #hotels

The Remington Hotel

Close to the airport, this hotel also has a casino

Go to The Remington Hotel

The Belmont Hotel

The Belmont Hotel is just 7 minutes from the airport

Go to The Belmont Hotel

The Marriott Hotel

Adjacent to Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Marriott Hotel commands breathtaking views of the Villamor Golf Club.

Go to The Marriott Hotel

Read More on our Website...

Monday, 15 February 2016

Philippines Whale Shark Interaction. Good or Bad? And Where's Best - Oslob or Donsol?

We were very interested to receive some feedback from guests who had travelled to the Philippines and who had experienced whale shark interaction in both Donsol, Bicol, AND Oslob, Cebu. Their verdict made interesting reading on a subject that seems to have divided opinion, especially regarding the welfare of these magnificent creatures... Tweet this...

"We would like to share with you more information about the whale shark interaction side of things.  We had a great experience at Oslob - 40+ minutes swimming with relaxed gentle whale sharks with just five minutes in a paddled boat to get to the site from the centre / shore.

We were aware of previous concerns raised about the health of the Oslob whale sharks, we watched carefully and they seemed very healthy and in no way injured. There were 12 whale sharks in our pod which was apparently the second 'shift' for the day. 

Also the guides at Oslob were proactive in taking photos of you with your own go-pro which improved the experience even more.

Oslob contrasted markedly with Donsol with 3.5 hours of searching with twenty + other high powered, noisy boats to see nothing (four boats returned with nil result).

Their so-called 'strict' rules include allowing up to 30 high powered boats with six guests each with only six guests at a time near a shark. These dozens of boats criss-cross an area for hours to try and find one but obviously if there are any sharks there they simply dive deep.

Then there was a frantic dash to a spot with a single young 4m whale shark.  More than thirty snorkelers then jumped into the water urged on by their official Butanding Interaction Officers (who are there to protect the sharks...) to be about 30cm from the shark with GoPros and Selfie sticks and fins splashing everywhere, chasing it.  The whale shark was clearly being harassed and so it dived.

I saw the whale shark for a maximum of six seconds, maybe (out of a four hour boat search and return). Many guests could not get out of their boats fast enough so they missed out. Surprisingly, the interaction centre staff genuinely all thought this was an amazingly great experience and were very happy and smiling about it all, congratulating us on our success.

The official record for that day shows that two whale sharks were sighted (a fisherman saw another one somewhere else but not near the tourists) and guests swam with it and enjoyed it, and this looks like every other report. The reality is quite a different story when put in a more accurate perspective with the facts. Their rules about 3m exclusion zones and not touching, blocking or harassing the animals all go out the window when they only have one very brief chance to interact and the BIOs actually encouraged it.

There are virtually no sustained sightings near Donsol - either the whale sharks are not there or they are but dive deep to avoid the powerboats.  They refer to a 10 metre shark being spotted by fishermen in the area but I expect it is a loner that is smart enough to avoid the tourists.  

Talking to the very experienced guides, it seems there are no big number sightings at Donsol these days, with one to two being the norm (four is a big day)." - Mark, Australia

Thanks to Mark for taking the trouble to pass on his experiences. We continue to send guests to both Donsol and Oslob for the experience of swimming with whale sharks. We know the whale sharks are an important part of each area's local economy, so we hope they are looked after, and that the regulations that help protect these creatures are observed.