Top 10 Game-Changing Travel Agencies in the Philippines
The Philippines has a wealth of history and natural wonders – beautiful historical architecture, the world’s best mountains, beaches, and unique wildlife. However, local travel is largely untapped and underdeveloped – how do we find the gems that would make traveling out – especially at this time – worth it?
This is where travel agencies come in. As traveling changes, so must agencies change the game. It’s no longer enough to be an all-in-one solution. Now we expect local expertise and trust. We look for end-to-end safety and convenience, for something personal, for a different kind of adventure.
With that, here are the top 10 game-changing local travel agencies in the Philippines – all local, all trusted, and most importantly, why they matter:
They might be 19 years old, but Filipino Travel Center is an agency that keeps up with the times. Founded by a Dutch pair of travelers who fell in love with the country way back in 1996, the company is a pioneer in scheduled tours to now-famous local destinations such as Boracay and Banaue. Both DOT-Accredited and received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2016, the Filipino Travel Center delivers on being a specialty travel company. They offer packages spanning from day tours to as long as 21 days. If an all-in package doesn’t work, they offer car rentals for those who prefer traveling on their itinerary.
One look at TripAdvisor and you’ll know that CTPH Tour has rounded the corner on variety and service. A play on “See the PH”, the company takes pride in its dynamic roster of local tours that truly span nationwide – from Batanes’ lighthouse tours in the far north to white water rafting in Cagayan De Oro in the south. A DOT-Accredited travel agency with 8 years of experience, CTPH Tour is credible and flexible in handling all types of groups, from educational tours to big group excursions. They even offer extra services, down to airport transfers and hotel accommodations!
(Pro tip: Their website is up but not completely running – to check their packages, look them up on TripAdvisor instead.)
Cebu Tours proves that there’s always room to grow in the world of travel. The agency is managed by DOT-Accredited Safe Trip Tours, a rental car agency based in Cebu that realized the destinations were just as good as the journeys they were serving. Focusing on their stronghold, Cebu Tours specializes in weekender trips in the Cebu and Bohol area, featuring unique activities such as swimming with the whale sharks, island hopping, and water sports. True to their travel logistics background, they also offer options for transportation and accommodation to round things off nicely. And their experience speaks volumes – their combined strengths in logistics and tours won them the 2020 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice awards.
A 2-year awardee of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
2,000+ traveler reviews.
The numbers don’t lie – travelers love what e-Philippines have to offer. Designed by a team passionate about local travel, e-Philippines is a comprehensive database of 400+ tour packages in 50+ destinations nationwide – all fully customizable and well-reviewed. They also take pride that their tours are all-local – employing local tour guides for an insider perspective and sourcing local goods if available to showcase the region.
Philippine Travel Packages came from the founders’ frustration over a lack of locally-focused agencies to support their love for the natural sights and sceneries of the Philippines. A division of DOT-Accredited YGD Travel Agency INC Corporation, the site is a modular travel agency with three types of services: comprehensive travel packages, a fully customized travel plan, and a healthy middle of “mix and match” – a combination of travel packages with sound recommendations from the agency.
What sets this site apart from the usual agency is how despite its scale, it prioritizes feedback, online engagement, and providing a personal experience. From the full comments section to the detailed inquiry form, Philippine Travel Packages stops at nothing to make sure they know you well enough to recommend your best holiday yet.
Domestic tours that are 100% tailor-made – that’s the proposition of Cebu-based Kapwa Travel. Unlike the all-in-one thrust of other sites, Kapwa chose to curate their roster. Their portfolio features tours that are more than just sightseeing, they’re attached to activities. Think snorkeling, island-hopping, and whale shark swimming.
Trust in their expertise as they are DOT-Accredited, a member of the Tourism Promotions Board, and a World Travel Awards 2021 Nominee. From luxurious to adventurous, pre-made to custom tours, they will take on any experience under the PH sun with their decades of experience and creativity.
Here at the Uncharted Philippines, touring is more than just a picture and a souvenir. Created by a group of nonconformists, this agency looks for experiences that are hidden even to the average Filipino. Their nationwide tours are diamonds in the rough and not for the faint of heart – cars and walks will be traded for hikes, camping, boat charters, scuba diving, among others. They even have tagged their tour activities and indicated challenge levels to give an idea of what to expect.
While the adventure remains uncharted, one thing’s for sure. The trips don’t come easy, but it’s worth it. TripAdvisor agrees – the agency garners a 5/5 rating out of 175 user reviews.
Husband and Wife team Al and Mae Linsangan started Calamines Expeditions and Ecotours as an extension of Corong Galeri, their souvenir shop. With their extensive local indigenous background, they were able to create community-based tours that show off the best of untouched Coron, Palawan.
There are tours to suit any palette – from 1-day walking tours to kayaking and boat wreck dives. All of these feature local guides and resources that directly support the local community. With more than a decade of experience, DOT-Accredited and affiliated with various sustainable tourism organizations, Calamines Expeditions, and Ecotours is ecotourism at its finest.
Pack up your walking shoes – you won’t need them in this unique boating adventure. Created by a pair of enthusiasts and coaches, SUP Tours Philippines crafts training courses and sightseeing tours using the Stand Up Paddle (SUP) as the primary means of transport. Paddle through the relaxing beaches and lakes in Bohol, Palawan, and Siargao from as short as one hour, to as long as two weeks.
SUP Tours Philippines is the first in the country of its kind under the Academy of Surfing Instructors (ASI), which assures all local guides and instructors are trained to world-class standards. Taking a trip through a SUP is one for the books – if their TripAdvisor 2019 Certificate of Excellence isn’t convincing enough, check their 4.5/5 TripAdvisor rating out of 502 reviews.
With Tao meaning “people” in Tagalog, Tao Expeditions undeniably puts your experience at the center. Featuring a series of castaway experiences in Palawan, Coron, and El Nido, this specialty tour agency thirsts for more than just adventure, it’s disconnection from our lives (and our devices) to reconnect – with ourselves, with others, with nature. Enjoy unique and immersive weekend-long experiences away from the city – from yoga retreats to snorkeling, island hopping, and Paraw sailing.
Interestingly, Tao Expeditions only spreads by word of mouth. It makes them a treasure, they say – to preserve the raw beauty of the travel experience even in the age of the internet. But good news spreads fast – they’ve managed to keep a TripAdvisor 5/5 rating out of a staggering 842 reviews.