These places made it to my list of Best Road Trip Destinations Near Manila because they passed my criteria for accessibility, affordability, pet-friendly, unique and enjoyable. It’s officially summer 2019 and families are most likely planning where to go for their next road trip destinations near Manila. What they are usually looking for are places where they can bring the whole family including their pets to chill and escape the scorching heat that summer brings, budget-friendly places and just 2 to 4 hours away from Manila.
Tagaytay is a city in the province of Cavite. Just a 2-hour drive away from Manila, the town of Tagaytay is a favorite destination among families, friends, and couples due to its temperate climate, scenic views, and good food. If you have 2 days to spare and have a limited budget but are looking forward to having so much fun, here are my recommendations. You have to wake up early so you can reach Tagaytay in time for breakfast. There are plenty of restaurants to make your breakfast experience worthwhile. Still one of my favorites is Bag of Beans. They’ve opened more branches around Tagaytay. My fave remains their main branch but their Twin Lakes branch offers the best view of Taal Lake and their interior design is so chic and posh, every spot is Instagram worthy. There are far more restaurant choices to check out for your gastronomic adventure ranging from cheap eats to fine dining. After breakfast, you can check Calaruega Church which is just 10 minutes away from Bag of Beans, Twin Lakes branch. Calaruega Church boasts of lush surroundings with the most photographed Transfiguracion Chapel as its main attraction. It’s the perfect place to relax and reflect for a moment while checking out the whole place for some photo op sessions. The amusement park, Sky Ranch is another place you can explore. You can ride the Sky Eye Ferris wheel and have a 360 degrees view of Tagaytay. There’s also aerial pedal bike, zip line, and many more rides to enjoy. Staying for the night is a good option and if your a big group and haven’t tried camping, spending the night at one of this, Nature’s Camp Discovery, Camp Pugad or La VeryOl’s Mountain View Garden is an adventure in itself.
Natures Camp Discovery, Tagaytay (© Shie Zarate)
Laguna offers diverse attractions that it has became one favorite road trip destination among Filipinos planning a quick weekend escape. From hot springs to majestic waterfalls, lakes, natural and manmade, to old Spanish houses and historical churches, Laguna has a lot to offer. In Sta Rosa, just 1 hour away, you can go to the Enchanted Kingdom and enjoy the rides like a kid or go to Nuvali for wakeboarding. In Calamba, you can visit the Jose Rizal Shrine to reacquaint yourself with our national hero or you can swim in one of Calamba’s famous hot springs. In San Pablo, my most favorite activity is eating. Go board a bamboo raft and enjoy a sumptuous feast while circling around one of San Pablo’s Seven Lakes. It’s best you stay for the night at one of the many charming Bed and Breakfast places the city offers. Highly recommended is Sulyap Cafe. In the morning head to Nagcarlan and visit the historical Underground Cemetery. Enjoy lunch in Liliw at Arabela and don’t forget to shop for footwear along the way. On to the next town, you can go river rafting in Majayjay or just freshen up in its cold water springs. In Pagsanjan, go boating and enjoy the scenic views along the way until you reach Cavinti where you will witness the famous waterfalls popularly known as Pagsanjan Falls but in real terms is called Cavinti Falls. Staying for the night in Cavinti is your best option before heading home. Be sure to book an accommodation where you will wake up to the awesome view of Caliraya Lake.
Porta Verde Resort, Cavinti, Laguna (© Shie Zarate)
Rizal province remains underrated when we speak of popular road trip destination near Manila but you’ll be surprised to find out there are plenty of things to do and see in this province. Just like Laguna, Rizal’s diverse landscape is good news to nature lovers. Rizal’s provincial capital, Antipolo is just less than an hour away from Manila by car sans traffic. It’s a popular pilgrimage site among the Catholic faithful. Owing to its beautiful mountain scenery, most visitors opt to dine in restaurants there with an overlooking view of the metropolis. There’s also this Luljetta’s Hanging Garden and Spa, the first and only one in the country that provides an awesome mountain view while getting pampered like a queen. The place has so many beautiful spots that all you have to do is to soak in the beauty around you. You can also drop by at one of Antipolo’ popular landmark, Hinulugang Taktak. In TANAY, adventure seekers will have their fill without spending much. They can go trekking at Nagpatong Rock, go spelunking at Calinawan Cave and freshen up at Daranak Falls and Batlag Falls. At the neighboring town, visit the newly constructed Pililla Wind Farm. The Palaya Eco Natural Farm is also worth a visit where guests can indulge in their fresh produced for a minimal amount and then drive up to Treasure Mountain and enjoy the sea of clouds without the hike. You can also stay there for the night. Also on my list to do in Tanay is to hike the trail in Masungi Georeserve. It’s perfect for a group of 7-14 family and friends. The place offers amazing trails and breathtaking scenery for a fee. It’s a must you make a reservation on their website before you go. Go on a food trip in Angono and then visit the Angono Petroglyphs to witness the oldest known artwork in the Philippines.
Masungi Georeserve, Rizal (© Shie Zarate)
With its proximity to Manila, the province of Batangas is usually the first choice when Filipinos are planning for a beach outing. Usually less than 2 hrs sans traffic you can reach NASUGBU beach. The beaches in LAIYA, San Juan are also a favorite among Manila dwellers. There are numerous resorts along the wide stretch of sand you can pick according to your budget. If you’re up for scuba diving, ANILAO, declared as the world’s center of extraordinary marine biodiversity is the best place to hit. Going there usually takes 3 hours. Aside from hitting the beach, consider a heritage tour of Taal’s Heritage Village and relive the 19th-century Spanish colonial era as you visit heritage structures like ancestral houses, museums, and Taal Basilica Minore de San Martin. If you’re up for some adventure, visit the Taal Lake and hike to the crater lake of Taal Volcano where you can dip in to get a feel of its healing properties.
TAAL, Batangas Heritage Tour – pixabay image by aanova
SUBIC is a 1st class municipality in the province of Zambales and has since been a favorite weekend road trip destination for most family. It’s only 3 hours away from Manila. There are lots of activities you can do with your family while in Subic. Zoobic Safari is an ideal place to bring the whole family and kids would love it. From Subic Freeport Zone, it will take 30 minutes to reach the place. Go visit the dolphins and other sea creatures in Ocean Adventure. Afterward, try the Tree Top Adventures and then visit Funtastic Park for more enjoyable activities. Every activity has a fee, so its best to check your budget beforehand. Watersports in Subic is my favorite. You can go jet skiing or flyboarding and just have fun. Island hopping is also a good way to explore the neighboring places near Subic. Hire a boat and visit, Camara Island, Capones Island, Anawangin and Nagsasa Cove. Just bring your own food and have a picnic while on this awesome islands.
Subic Island Hopping – Nagsasa Cove (© Shie Zarate)
Stay overnight at one of the resorts in Subic so you can hang around more and enjoy the nightlife, having a few beers and good music before calling it a night. And don’t forget to shop in Subic’s Duty-free shops. It’s a freeport zone and you’ll get good deals for sure. What are you waiting for? The list is good not just for summer but all year round. Make your plan now and head to the best road trip destinations near Manila.