Exploring Ilocandia: The Cultural and Historical Mecca of Luzon

May 18, 2009 Mango Tours 1 Comments

Located in the northernmost part of mainland Luzon, Ilocos Norte is known for its culturally-rich background and unique culinary specialties. The charm of Laoag and Vigan, for example, springs from the laid-back atmosphere of the towns as well as colonial Spanish influences, which are evident in their architecture and can be viewed in various museums around the province.

Vigan calesa, Ilocos Sur by Franklin Reyes Jr.Vigan Kalesa by Franklin Reyes Jr.

A mere two-hour drive South from Laoag is Vigan, a popular destination among tourists because of its picturesque setting: antiquated houses from the colonial Spanish Era still line its cobble streets, old-style wooden horse carriages (or calesas) are still available to take visitors on a tour around the city and several monuments and religious artifacts can be found all over town. It has been proclaimed to be a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Vigan cobble stone street at night by j.rexie.mCobblestone streets of Vigan by j.rexie.m

An hour and a half drive north from Laoag is the very first wind power plant in the Philippines, known as the Bangui Wind Farm, a group of 15 huge onshore wind turbines that supply 40% of Ilocos Norte’s electricity requirement. The future of the Philippines’ move towards being green is hopeful because of this initiative, which will lessen the country’s need for imported fuel.

Bangui Wind Farm windmills in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte by j.rexie.mBangui Wind Farm windmills by j.rexie.m

Around 45 miles north of Laoag City is the coastal town of Pagudpud that is home to several beach resorts. Still unspoiled and considered as the Boracay of the North, beachgoers can enjoy a relaxing stay in this tranquil piece of paradise.

Pagudpud beach sunset by Franklin Reyes Jr.Pagudpud sunset by Franklin Reyes Jr.

Pagudpud is one of the few spots in Northern Luzon where one can learn how to surf. Its beach break makes it ideal for beginners, so that they don’t have to worry about the danger of hitting corals as they get wiped out by the waves. Boardsailing (also known as windsurfing or sailboarding) is also a popular activity in Pagudpud because of its strong and steady winds.

Paoay Church by sergiopigoPaoay Church by sergiopigo

Paoay Church is considered one of the Philippines' most beautiful earthquake baroque churches. Also considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, Paoay Church was built by Augustinian missionaries way back in 1793. Through the years, its belfry was used by Katipuneros and guerillas in World War II to scope out enemies.

Call us now at our 24/7 US toll free number 1-866-2-MANILA and book a travel package to Ilocos with us at Mango Tours! Starting at only $389, our package is inclusive of:
  • a 3-night stay at Fort Ilocandia with breakfast
  • roundtrip airfare from Manila to Laoag
  • airport transfers
  • tours around Laoag, Vigan and Pagudpud


Mango Tours and Travel on Flickr: an online community of passionate travelers and photographers

May 17, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

Mango Tours and Travel Blog group slideshow.
Featured photograph by
Andy Bracey

Contribute to the growing pool of beautiful photographs at the Mango Tours and Travel Blog Group on Flickr! We are creating an online community of individuals who are passionate about travel, adventure and creating/finding beauty through their craft.

Join us along with our fellow travelers from around the world in our cause to showcase through our photography the unique beauty and exotic experience of the Philippine islands as well as its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.

Photographers' works will be featured on the Mango Tours Blog and website, alongside articles relating to the topic/subject of the photos.

Please note that by submitting to our pool, you are also acknowledging that, with your permission, we may use your photos on our blog and website. We will make sure, however, to acknowledge your work and place a link to your Photostream.


Mango Tours processes machine readable passports!

May 14, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

click to enlarge image

Did you know? Mango Tours processes machine readable passports at select branches! The following services are available at our Vallejo, Sacramento, San Francisco, Daly City, Newark, San Jose branches:
  • Passport renewals
  • One-way travel document
  • Philippine Visa (for US passport holders)
  • Replacement of lost passports
  • Passport renewal with change of name
  • Passport photos


China Airlines Triple Treat: book a flight + hotel in the Philippines and/or Taiwan from $799!

May 13, 2009 Mango Tours 1 Comments

Package 1: from $799.00
Single occupancy rate: $912.00

  • Round trip airfare SFO-MNL on China Airlines
  • 3-night stay at Diamond Hotel Philippines (or similar) with daily breakfast
  • One way airport transfer
  • Tax and fuel surcharge
Package 2: from $999.00
Single occupancy rate: $1,150.00

  • Round trip airfare SFO-TPE-MNL on China Airlines
  • Overnight stay at Empress Hotel Taipei (or similar) with daily breakfast
  • Round trip airport transfer Taipei
  • Half day Taipei City Tour
  • 3-night stay at Diamond Hotel Philippines (or similar) with daily breakfast
  • One way Manila airport transfer (airport/hotel)
  • Tax and fuel surcharge
Package 3: from $1,379.00
Single occupancy rate: $1,590.00

  • Round trip airfare SFO-TPE-MNL-CEB on China Airlines
  • 2-night stay at Empress Hotel Taipei (or similar) with daily breakfast
  • Half day Taipei City Tour
  • Roundtrip Taipei airport transfer
  • Overnight stay at Diamond Hotel Philippines (or similar) with breakfast
  • 2-night stay at Maribago Bluewater Resort (or similar) with daily breakfast
  • Whole day Bohol Tour with lunch and transfers
  • Round trip Manila airport transfer
  • Round trip Cebu airport transfer
  • Tax and fuel surcharge

Tour Conditions: Good for 2-month stay and not applicable during June and December. Mango Tours reserves the right to change the hotel based on availability. Alternative hotel (similar in category) will be provided at no added cost. Surcharge applies for July and August travel. Good for weekday and weekend departure. Rate is based on double occupancy and may vary depending on travel dates. Credit card payment is subject to 5 % surcharge. Promo is valid till March 31, 2010.


Mango Tours Spotlight: Palawan (Part 1)

May 12, 2009 Mango Tours and Travel 2 Comments

written by Vincent Amazona

Fresh from a whirlwind tour of the island, we’d like to give you a sneak preview of Palawan and all it has to offer so we can provide an experience for our customers that we know you’d enjoy!

Day 1:
Arriving at the airport of Puerto Princesa, we are greeted by a 9-piece band, a far cry from the sterile greetings of any other airport. These aren’t just any band members: they are the security guards that watch the airport. When was the last time a TSA agent gave you anything other than a wary look? Efforts to change the island’s image are evident, as the warm greetings and the constant construction in and around the airport show. There, we meet Hanny Enor of Hadefe Tours. He is part of an industry eager to show anyone the Palawan that deserves to be seen.

On the way to our hotel, we travel down the main thoroughfare, where Puerto Princesa City is abuzz. There is very much a small-town feel, but the billboards lining the street do well to show the town’s ambition. Shops, restaurants ranging from cafes to full on dining and even some fledgling colleges are all striving to make a name for themselves.

After about 15 minutes we take a seemingly random right turn off the road and head to our hotel: the newly-opened Microtel Palawan.

Puerto Princesa is home to hotels for any budget, and the Microtel is one to blur the lines. Value-priced but nicely appointed with rooms done up with all the modern appointments, the Microtel sits in between a private lagoon and the ocean. While the immediate area is bustling with construction, the secluded confines of the hotel are far from interrupted. This construction includes that of a pool and a snack bar/café. Watersports equipment (i.e. snorkel, scuba, and personal watercraft) will also be available for rent.

The first attraction of our trip was the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, or more lovingly known as the Crocodile farm. This institute is home to many species indigenous to both the Philippines and Palawan.

There are large boars, bearcats, ostriches and yes, crocodiles. For 30 pesos, you can see all of these creatures, get a walking tour of the hatchery and facility, as well as find out more about the local wildlife. You can even have your picture taken while holding a crocodile, if you are brave enough.

After getting up close and personal with crocodiles, we were taken to Honda Bay, a gateway to many small and private islands. Hiring an outrigger, we sampled two of the islands (some islands are actually owned by local hotels): Snake Island, which our guide assured us was named after its long and slithery shape, and Pandan Island, with its white sand and easy-access snorkel spots. Sipping on fresh buko juice, our group spent the rest of the day taking in the sights, and notably the silence, that surrounded us.

In order to preserve these islands, the local government has hired “tenders” people who watch over these small islands and take care of them, much like a park ranger. This assures preservation and longevity of the natural beauty these islands possess.

Sitting down to dinner, barefoot, at Ka Lui, one of Puerto Princesa’s most popular seafood restaurants, we recalled the day’s events and enjoyed our share of Ka Lui’s specialties like Crispy Fried Tuna Tail. As we sat in the busy nipa house, we shared our highlights as we dined on food caught and sold locally. One day down and our Palawan adventure had us begging for more. Luckily, the island was more than happy to oblige. Stayed tuned as we visit the famous Underground River!


Summer Nights at Diamond Hotel's Sky Lounge

May 11, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

Head to the Sky Lounge Music Bar, located on the 27th floor of Diamond Hotel and fill your summer nights with soulful music, great food and a spectacular view of Manila Bay.

Happy Hour Monday - Saturday
Half price on local beers, chilled juices and iced tea. Waived minimum cover charge.

20% Discount Thursday - Saturday
Come in a group of 10 and get a 20% off on your total food bill. Celebrate your birthday and get a 20% discount on the total food and beverage bill upon presentation of ID for proof of birth.

Industry Night Mondays
If you work in any industry whether it's banking, manpower, government--Monday night is your night! Get a 50% discount on your total bill when you show your company ID.

Be My Company Tuesdays
Enjoy a 50% discount on your total food bill every Tuesday if you work in any establishment nearby, just present your company ID.

Ladies Night Wednesdays
All the ladies can drink all the local beers, chilled juices, iced tea and house wine for only P500 net.
Retro Thursdays
Groove to the beat of retro tunes with the energetic Hyperbeat Band and feast on a selection of our hearty tapas platter.

Latin Fridays
Sway your hips to samba music with lessons by Eileen Sison with Guarana and get a chance to win raffle prizes.

Sizzling Saturdays
It's a laugh trip all night with the stand-up comedy act and music of Arpie & the Multivitamins. Raffle prizes are up for grabs from Vodka Ice and Vodka Cruiser.

Entertainment starts at 9:00PM.
Diamond Hotel is located on Roxas Boulevard corner Dr. J. Quintos Street, Manila.

For inquiries, please call Mango Tours at our Makati office 893-0002 to 03


from The Wall Street Journal: Ten Rules of the Road for Air Travel

May 06, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

Face it, international travel can get real complicated at times: changing flight schedules is a headache, airport delays happen all the time everywhere you go, different travel sites claim to have the best airfare rates..

Scott McCartney's "The Wall Street Journal Guide to Power Travel: How to Arrive with Your Dignity, Sanity and Wallet Intact" (see above photo) attempts to untangle the complexities of international travel by sharing tips and techniques on how to avoid delays, avail of airport upgrades and minimize the chances of lost luggage.

"Ten Rules of the Road for Air Travel" , an article posted on The Wall Street Journal website is adapted from the book and is a practical and simple 10-point guide on how to improve your next travel experience.

Luckily, Mango Tours makes your comfort an utmost priority, from the moment that you book a flight, to when your plane lands and until you are safely transported to your home or hotel through our car transfers.

Book a flight today by visiting our website at www.mangotours.com or by calling our 24/7 US toll free number 1-866-2-MANILA!

"Thank you for the reminders, we are well aware of this overnight layover and we are looking forward to this trip. We really appreciate the concern and reminders, every year we spend our vacation in Philippines, we book our reservations online and Mango Tours is the only one who cares enough to send reminders like this one."

- a very satisfied Mango Tours customer


$999 Philippine Stimulus Package: Extended until June 10, 2009!

May 05, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

Due to popular demand, the Philippine stimulus package has now been extended until June 10, 2009!

The stimulus package offers:
  1. 1 roundtrip ticket from San Francisco, Los Angeles or Las Vegas to Manila via Philippine Airlines
  2. 2-night* stay in Manila at the luxury hotel of your choice with daily breakfast
  3. one-way transfer from the airport to your hotel.

Offer is applicable for double occupancy.
Transfer will be valid if it is an immediate connection to or from the airport.

*Stay 2 nights at Dusit Thani Manila (Makati City), Discovery Suites (Ortigas, Pasig City) and/or Diamond Hotel (Roxas Boulevard, Manila) and get the third night free.

Reserve now through our own special stimulus booking engine!


InterContinental Manila: an amazing fusion of contemporary and old Filipino elegance

May 04, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

Located in the center of the country’s central business and shopping districts, InterContinental Manila offers its guests the best amenities for their business and recreational needs. Its 335 newly-refurbished guestrooms give off an unmistakable feeling of having your very own home office – the perfect place for a sojourn from a busy day, and also a perfect environment for getting business done.

The hotel itself is a place for foreign guests to introduce themselves to the unique Filipino culture—all over the hotel one can find the works of local artists and antique pieces that portray the richness of Filipino history. Its earth tones and walnut finish, as well as influences of the local culture in the room interior will truly give you an authentic Filipino experience.

Club Rooms and Lounge

InterContinental’s remarkable and spacious club rooms are also available if you want exclusivity in services and facilities. As a club guest, you are given access to the lounge, which is located on the topmost floor of the hotel, giving you a fantastic panoramic view of the city.

A perfect place for having a relaxing and quiet time to think, the lounge offers buffet breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails exclusively to its Club guests. A conference room is also available if you want to do business formally within the hotel premises, along with an LCD projector for your presentations.

The Prince Albert Rotisserie is recognized as one of the best fine dining restaurants in the city. It serves French and continental cuisine, with 3 private salons available for more personal meetings and gatherings.

The lobby lounge also offers a la carte dining and a relaxing view of the hotel’s spacious pool garden and live music.

Club Jeepney features both creative and traditional variations of the famous Filipino cuisine—their pancit palabok is a popular choice among foreign and local guests alike.

Other Amenities
For meetings and events, InterContinental has 8 function rooms and a grand ballroom that can be divided into three sections. An executive chef can prepare a customized menu for events in any of the meeting rooms. The grand ballroom is breathtaking, with its elegant chandeliers and the natural lighting that comes from the terrace.

Within the hotel premises is Gold’s Gym, the largest co-ed gym chain in the world, where you can get a workout using the latest gym equipment.

If you feel like pampering yourself, you can head to Suriya Spa where you can get a relaxing back massage or a spa treatment from one of the hotel’s highly skilled therapists.

Excellent Service
Just as hospitality is one of the most defining characteristics of Filipino culture, you will find that your comfortable stay at InterContinental is an utmost priority. The concierge, from the time you enter the lobby until you check out, will always make sure that you are well taken care of.

Visit us at www.mangotours .com or call Mango Tours today at 24/7 US toll-free number 1-866-2-MANILA to avail of InterContinental Manila’s special room rate, inclusive of daily breakfast!


Feature Destination: Bangkok, the busy and exotic side of Asia

May 01, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

By Onin Cartagena

We often hear similarities between Bangkok and Manila. For one thing, our currencies are closely pegged to each other. If the baht devalues, the peso normally follows suit. Then there is the obvious similarity in the geographical terrain and the physical features of our people. In fact, I remember one movie (Brokedown Palace) which was filmed, or rather, had to be filmed in the Philippines due to its unfavorable portrayal of Thailand. Lastly, who has not heard of the notorious Bangkok gridlock, which some people say is even worse than Manila’s traffic jam?

above: Bangkok skyline

Apparently, as the above examples show, we do have lots of things in common. To its credit though, Bangkok has more to offer than the usual stereotypes. The moment I stepped into the newly built, ultra-modern Suvarnabhumi (pronounced soo-wana-pom) irport, it felt like Thailand has fast-forwarded into the future. It’s a vibrant and dynamic city with no qualms embracing the trappings of the modern world. It’s true that Thais had their fair share of political turmoil. Still, I am under the impression that the Thais have done a great job in making their country progressive.

Bangkok is a city of contrasts. It is modern, yet was able to preserve its ancient charm. It’s exotic. It’s warm. It’s friendly. No wonder it is one of the world’s favorite tourist destinations. Since tourism is one of Thailand’s largest industries, it only makes sense to invest in its promotion and development. The Thai government built modern, world-class infrastructures that rival the best in the world, for this purpose.

above: Bangkok's floating market

Bangkok is a shopping haven. There is a proliferation of shopping malls and night bazaars that cater to different classes. There are trendy malls that cater to the high-end consumers. Believe it or not, there is an Hermes shop here. I saw one in Pratunam, in the Siam Paragon Mall. Then there are those Divisoria/Greenhills-type such as Suan Loum where you can buy souvenirs, goodies and almost any type of item you want, for less. Bargaining is an experience here.

Of course, it won’t be a complete experience without tasting the local fare. A word of caution though, Thai food is generally spicy. In fact, if you don’t request for a milder or subtler version, they would normally assume that you prefer your food extra hot, just the way they like it, I suppose. That is why when you go to restaurants, for example, the rule of thumb is to ask first if the food you are ordering is too spicy, otherwise, you’ll be in for a big shock. We actually find this obsession with incorporating spiciness to Thai food both amazing and absurd at the same time. Amazing, for clearly, Thai food is one of the best in the world.

above: tasty and exotic street snacks

Another interesting part of the trip was the Chao Phrya River Tour. It’s definitely an experience since it’s not something we can do, at least for now, on our own Pasig River. Along the Chao Phrya’s banks are the dozens of temples that represent thousands of years of Thai history. The temples are a display of grandeur and superb architecture. You’ll be amazed at it’s excellent craftsmanship. It’s like traveling back in time and experiencing this kingdom’s Golden Age.

above: some of Bangkok's numerous Buddhas

Not only have I experienced Bangkok, known for the positive and sunny demeanor of its people, earning it the title “City of Smiles”, but also made new friends. More importantly, being able to spend it with my companions, who are remarkably fun and outgoing has made this whole experience worthwhile.


Book a tour package to Bangkok with Mango Tours and fly to Amazing Thailand! Call us at our 24/7 US toll free number 1-866-2-MANILA for inquiries and/or bookings.