They call them "the PI" because the Philippines is a country composed of over 7,000 islands. Stretching from Borneo to Taiwan, the island group has three main areas, all different in scope and cultural identity. Luzon, the most modern of the island groups, is home to Manila and the Philippines' urban business centers. Active volcanoes coexist with nearby skyscrapers. The Visayas in the South are made up of beautiful beaches. The earliest Western settlers dropped their anchors in these bays. Lastly, the Mindanao is home to the Philippine's incredible rain forests and natural preserves.
Although the wet season lasts from June to October, some great deals can be had to the grand capital of Manila and the beautiful surrounding island areas. Rich with modern history intertwined with the West and splendid architectural sites with sprawling avenues mixing the old and new, the Philippines is a perfect trip for history buffs, antique furniture treasure hunters and nature lovers.
Philippine Airlines (tel. 800/747-1959; www.philippineairlines.com) has some web only promotional fares that will get you to Manila from all over the world, including several U.S. locations. Close to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Bangkok, Manila is often used as a starting point for travel to the Far East. Round-trip flights from Honolulu to Manila start from $1,032 with travel good from now until June 30, 2005. You need to reserve eight days in advance with travel out of Honolulu good from Sunday to Wednesday and travel out of Manila good from Monday to Thursday. From Las Vegas, round-trip airfare starts from $1,092 with travel good from now until August 10, 2005 if you book eight days in advance. From Los Angeles or San Francisco, round-trip to Manila starts from $1,072 with an eight-day advance purchase and travel good from now till August 10, 2005. Check back at the airline's website for new fares and specials throughout the summer. Security fees and departure taxes are not included.
Asia Travel (tel. 877/367-6577; www.asiatravel.com/philippines/philippinepackages/discovery.html) has several deals to many destinations in the PI. A land-only four-day three-night trip to Davoa, a natural wonderland complete with floral species and beachfront areas, starts from $450 for a double occupancy at the Marco Polo Hotel and a full-day tour/stay at the Pearl Farm Beach Resort. The trip includes airport transfers, all intra-Philippine travel, daily breakfast starting on the second day, and the day trip to the beach resort. Additional nights cost $56. See the site for other land-only short trips and inland excursions.
If you're looking for some American comfort while strutting through Asia, Microtel (tel. 800/771-7171; www.microtelinn.com/index.asp) has some great offerings in the PI. Known in the U.S. as a no frills but heavy on comfort and amenities (built-in work space in every room, free wireless Internet in every room, free local and long distance calling, just to name a few), Microtel has several properties in the PI with well-priced nightly rates. Starting as low as $49.50, the Microtel Inn and Suites General Trias Cavite is a great alternative to other business hotels in the Manila area. Located at the entrance to Manila Bay across from the Bataan Peninsula, the hotel is a good launching pad for business or pleasure excursions. You can get similar rates at the Microtel in St. Tomas, Batangas, located close to the banking district and just south of central Manila. For the business traveler, Microtel is a solid choice for your Philippine experience.
If you want to be in the center of the Manila and lay your head down where Presidents and Ambassadors slept, the Summit Hotel and Resorts' Manila Hotel (tel. 800/457-4000; www.summithotels.com/hotel_horizontal.cfm?id=16699&CLIENTRECORDACCOUNTIATA=XL864692) has rates starting from $85. Located near Club Intramuros Golf Course and Manila's main shopping district, the "aristocrat of the Orient," as the hotel is called, offers luxury amidst convenience. The international airport is only twenty minutes away and the hotel's excellent concierge can direct you to the city's furniture and bamboo shops.
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