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Destination of the Month: The Philippines

Cebu Beach, Philippines

Seven thousand islands set in warm blue tropical waters, dappled around beaches, dive spots, natural splendour and awesome heritage.

Welcome to the Philippines.

The country is a contrasting blend of cultures coming from East and West. Filipinos are descendants of Indo-Malay explorers with elements of Chinese, Arab, Spanish and American lineages mixed in.

Pilipino is the national language, but seven other major dialects are spoken. English is widely spoken and remains the lingua franca of commerce and politics.

Filipinos are known for their warmth and hospitality, and nothing pleases them more than knowing that their guests are happy.

Timing your visit can depend on what you want to see.

November to February offers the year's coolest climate; March to May is summer and perfect for sun worshippers, wave riders, divers and the like; June to October is the wet, off-peak months and can offer the best bargains.

Whatever you choose, be awed by the colour and vibrancy of its festivals, revel in the warmth and charm of its people, and bask in the beauty of its landscapes. Or better still, come and explore these tropical jewels with us!


Islands & Accommodations

You can select and tailor-make any holiday you desire. Here's a suggestion of some amazing islands – including Boracay, Cebu and Palawan – and just a few of our recommended luxury resorts to start you off.


With a land area of barely 10km, Boracay might lack scale, but it certainly has beauty.

Its coastline of powdery white beaches is one of the main tourist attractions in the Philippines. The most important is the 'White Beach' along the Bulabog coastline, dotted with hotels, resorts, inns and dining options.

For travellers who want an alternative, they need not look far. Bulabog beach is a hotspot for water sports activities.

Kite boarding is the main sport, especially during the season of Amihan, where the winds are stronger on this side of the island.

Yapak, found on the northernmost part of the island, is one of the quieter areas. Luxury hotels and resorts that offer a quiet sanctuary are the primary attraction.

Recommended Accommodation: Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa

The island's first 5-star resort is situated on a beautiful cove in a quiet northern location and features private Tree Houses and Villas with their own lap pools and jacuzzis.

Facilities are housed around a secluded pristine beachfront, home to an array of rare wildlife, flora and fauna. Other highlights include seven restaurants and bars and Shangri-La’s signature wellness sanctuary CHI, The Spa.



Rich in culture and natural resources, the island of Cebu boasts of some of the Philippines’ oldest and treasured traditions, festivals and pristine beaches that have been a magnet for tourism.

Cebu is a long and narrow island close to smaller islands that are slowly gaining in popularity, like Mactan, Bantayan, Malapascua and Camotes. Diving enthusiasts continue to rave about sites rivalling those in the neighbouring Palawan islands.

Lush greenery and landscapes also dot the province, providing a growing environment of flora and fauna. Cebu City is known as the oldest city in the Philippines, the place where the first Filipino hero, Lapu-Lapu, fought against the conquistador Magellan. To this day, remnants of Spanish rule can be seen here.

Recommended Accommodation: Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort & Spa

In a lush tropical garden landscape on a beach cove, Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort and Spa provides a luxurious seafront retreat.

Many of the 537 rooms and suites have large balconies and stunning views of the gardens and ocean. CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La is one of the most luxurious in Asia and is a wonderfully rejuvenating experience.

Seven restaurant and bar choices, including the popular Cowrie Cove, ensure that all food tastes and requirements are fulfilled.

There are a wide range of water sports available for the whole family.



Palawan is the largest province in the country. Consisting of a number of islands of breathtaking natural beauty, it is a big treasure trove of immaculate beaches, unexplored coral reefs, diving and mountain sites, rock formations and an underground river.

Palawan's seashore is home to virgin and pristine beaches. The untouched environment has been protected by environmental groups to maintain its natural and exquisite beauty, making it one of the Philippines’ top attractions. Aquatic life prospers and the rich coral reefs make it a sought-after diving site.

The capital city is Puerto Princesa, home of the Subterranean River National Park . A UNESCO Heritage Site, this underground river has been named the 8th Wonder of the World. The river is also a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation and has some of the most important forests in Asia.

Of equal importance is the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, 332 square kilometers of coral reefs and lagoons that house a flourishing marine life. The park also serves as a nesting site for an abundance of avian and turtle life.

Recommended Accommodation: Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa

Tucked in between towering mountain ranges and the clear waters of the West Philippine Sea lies the picturesque town of Sabang, just 1 ½ hours from Puerto Princesa.

In the heart of this beautiful setting is the premier luxury resort of Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa, a 5-hectare beachfront property of 95 rooms and suites with 73 new rooms being added this year. Its swimming pool, at 340-feet long, is considered to be the largest in Palawan.

The resort is a mere 15 minutes by boat, to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a major attraction that continuously draws visitors from all over the world.

Guests can also embark on a paddleboat tour of Sabang’s mangrove forest. For thrill seekers, there’s the zipline crossing the Sabang seas, an ATV Jungle Track Adventure and a jungle trail that opens up to a rich and vibrant new world defined by greenery.

Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa offers exclusive beach-hopping trips. Set sail in one of the resort’s sailboats and enjoy a fine day cruising along the coastline. Also available to guests are kayaking, fishing, and water board rentals.

Recommended Accommodation: Amanpulo

Absolute exclusivity typifies this peaceful island. Amanpulo truly is the ideal luxury romantic hideaway and is set amongst the remote Cuyo islands in northeastern Palawan.

Guests reach the resort by private charter plane, with seaplane or helicopter flights also available.

The 51 Casitas and Villas are discreetly nestled amongst the greenery.

The private island is surrounded by white sands, startling blue waters and is fringed by perfect reefs. Lazy days can be spent sunbathing and beachcombing and for the more active there is scuba diving, tennis and spa facilities all provided by the class of Aman resorts.

Recommended Accommodation : Huma Island Resort & Spa

Cradled in the turquoise waters of one of Southeast Asia’s last frontiers is a pendant island called Huma Island Resort and Spa, a premium holiday destination for those seeking a personalised experience of exploration and discovery.

Located in Busuanga, this is a remote tropical paradise renowned for its wildlife and natural splendor. Surrounded by sparkling waters teeming with colourful marine life and cloaking the mysterious sunken wrecks of dozens of Japanese warships and planes, it has been hailed as one of the top 10 diving sites in the world.

On the island sit 81 thatched roof villas, 64 of which rise on stilts over the Pacific. Thoroughly contemporary in furnishing and amenities, each features an open-air Jacuzzi, luxury bathroom facilities, complimentary Wi-Fi and other modern conveniences.

The resort hosts 8 global gastronomic experiences. From exceptional Lebanese cuisine at Al Fairuz, exquisite Italian dishes at Al Dente, the impeccably fresh seafood grilling away at On The Harbour, a superb wine & cheese collection at Rudi's, to luscious cocktails at the Blu Bar and all-day international fare at Waves.

Relax in unique over-water spa pavilions with floors of glass that allow you views of the colourful marine life underfoot and enjoy treatments inspired by the ancient healing philosophies of Ayurveda, Asian-inspired and traditional Filipino therapies, and an authentic Arabic Hammam.


Philippine Spa & Wellness

Mandala Spa & Villas Boracay (photo by Raymond Saldana)

The Philippines, rich in natural resources, is home to some of Asia’s finest Spa and Wellness retreats. Natural healing treatments offer authentic therapies and organic amenities. Traditional and modern methods are offered in most spa facilities, combining eastern and western influences that encapsulate the true sense of wellness. Here are a few to impress:

Mandala Spa & Villas

On a green tropical canopy of Boracay Island, Mandala Spa is a haven of tranquility and serenity. Centered on health, wellness and renewal, it offers a wide selection of holistic therapies and indulgent pampering. Yoga and meditation compliment the treatments on offer. The 12 large luxurious Resort Villas with private gardens or sea views provide an exclusive and private sanctuary.

CHI, The Spa

Shangri-La’s own spa brand, draws inspiration from the origins of the Shangri-La legend, a place of personal peace, enchantment and well-being. In traditional Chinese philosophy, "chi" or "Qi" is the universal life force that governs well-being and personal vitality.

Treatments are based on authentic natural healing methods found in the traditional well-being practices shared by many Asian cultures. With roots set in the Chinese theory of the Five Elements of metal, water, wood, fire and earth to harmonise the body's energy, experience this unique journey in Shangri-La hotels located in Manila, Cebu and Boracay.

The Farm at San Benito

The Farm at San Benito is one of the few truly medical and wellness resorts in the world. Located an easy 90-minute drive south of Manila, this 48-hectare resort offers an exceptional healing environment for the holistic treatment of the body, mind and soul. They provide the environment, guidance, and support needed to achieve optimum health.

Tirta Spa, Boracay

Perched on a windswept hill overlooking Crocodile Island and the Sibuyan Sea, Tirta Spa is a holistic retreat to rejuvenate and redress imbalances in body, mind and spirit.

Focusing on the art of cleansing oneself from negativity, the Tirta Spa experience starts as a unique journey towards self-rejuvenation with treatments drawn from a diverse Asian culture inspiration matched with spa architecture that will calm and warm the soul.


Tours & Activities

A wide range of private tours and activities are available throughout the islands. These vary in length and encompass themes such as city, culture, wildlife, water and history.

Highlights include trips to the remote Cordillera mountain region in the north, a home to the Banaue rice terraces and local tribes, kayaking safaris in the pristine islands of Palawan, island hopping in the central Visayas that provide a perfect combination of beach and windows to the past and finally city activities such as shopping, nightlife and golf.

Philippines Diving Adventures

The Philippines is home to a vast array of marine life with many species unique to the region. Attractions include some of the most accessible wreck diving in the world, exhilarating wall and drift dives and live aboard trips.

Many visitors are attracted to world class macro diving and underwater photography opportunities whilst others seek the attractions of the larger species to be found in deeper waters.

Diving in the Philippines

For more on the Philippines and to tailor make your own perfect trip, contact, book an appointment online, call 0208 989 9445 or visit the shop at 134 George Lane, South Woodford, E18 1BA.

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