Published: March 20, 2021 | Updated: April 11, 2021 | Posted by: Moneymax | Lifestyle
Listen up, weekend warriors: If you’re planning to go on a road trip near Manila this summer, you have a lot of wonderful destinations to choose from. Considerations include your budget, interests, and how far you’re willing to go.
Here are some awesome road trip destinations near Manila you can travel by car for a quick weekend getaway.
Disclaimer: With the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the government may implement new travel rules and restrictions. We urge you to always stay updated on these, as they may change with little notice. Check with the authorities of your city and your destination for possible requirements before going.
In case new restrictions are implemented, which may make visiting the destinations for a road trip near Manila below impossible, you can still refer to this list to plan your trip at a later time when travel rules become much more lenient.
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If you and your friends want to take on an X-Games-style adventure without flying all the way to Boracay, wakeboarding at Nuvali is for you. This is perfect for those days when you just want to get out and try something new. There’s also a fairly robust selection of activities for all ages and interests.
Republ1c Wakepark is open every Thursday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A 2-hour riding pass costs PHP 525 per person. Walk-ins are accepted, but you may book a slot (through the wakepark’s Instagram account) before visiting the site.
Republ1c Wakepark location: West Diversity Boulevard, Nuvali, Calamba, Laguna (via Mamplasan Southbound Exit, Sta. Rosa Exit/Eton Exit, or Silangan Exit)
The city of San Pablo in Laguna is famous for its seven crater lakes, namely Bunot, Calibato, Mohicap, Palakpakin, Pandin, Sampaloc, and Yambo. These enchanting lakes are located in San Pablo Volcanic Field located between Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Makiling.
Just a 2-hour drive from Manila (via SLEX Calamba Exit), the Seven Lakes of San Pablo is one of the must-visit summer destinations for people who love nature and adventure. You can go sightseeing, biking, swimming, rafting, trekking, and more. Take Insta-worthy shots as well!
There’s a hidden gem in Zambales that’s accessible from Manila for 3 to 4 hours (via NLEX and SCTEX): the captivating beach in Liwliwa. It’s got waves powerful enough for surfing. When the water is tranquil, you can either swim or just take a long walk and marvel at the stunning sunrise or sunset. Don’t forget to try the silog meal at Ate Fely’s and delicious shakes at Mommy Phoebe’s.
Traveled to Tagaytay a gazillion times already? Time to explore other exciting summer destinations in Cavite!
In just 2 to 3 hours, you can get to Katungkulan Beach Resort, formerly called Boracay de Cavite because of its fine white sand. Because it’s inside a military base, the resort implements quite many restrictions (no bonfire, no littering, no overnight stay, etc.).
There are also nearby tourist attractions for your side trips, such as the Maragondon Church and Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit.
Katungkulan Beach Resort location: General Gregorio Lim Marine Base, Sitio Calumpang, Sapang 1, Ternate, Cavite (via CAVITEX)
When it comes to Batangas beaches, what easily comes to mind are crowded resorts. Well, that’s the case for the more popular beach destinations like Anilao, Nasugbu, and Laiya.
But there are lesser-known beach resorts in Batangas that are worth visiting. Many of them can be found in Isla Verde (also called Verde Island), a secluded island known for its diverse marine life. The island is perfect for exploring the depths of the sea through diving or snorkeling.
As a tourist destination, Bulacan is famous for its historical sites, old churches, and crispy chicharon. But unknown to many travelers, the province near Manila is also home to some stunning natural wonders.
The “Baguio of Bulacan,” locally known as Hilltop, is among the little-known summer destinations in Norzagaray. No need to drive for 6 hours to Baguio, as you can drive for just a few hours from Manila to Barangay San Lorenzo, Norzagaray via NLEX. Revel in the chilly weather and cool, fresh air with a picturesque view of the Sierra Madre mountain range, Angat Dam, and Ipo Dam.
Drive a bit further to get to the Bitbit Bridge where you can take a short trail to Bitbit River. You can go for a quick, refreshing swim in the river before driving back home.
Alternatively, explore the Angat Rainforest and Eco Park located just across the Bitbit Bridge.
Governor’s Rapids, which forms part of the Cagayan River, is being developed by the Quirino provincial government as one of its primary tourist attractions.
Because of its crystal-clear waters and towering limestone formations, Governor’s Rapids is comparable to El Nido and Coron in Palawan, as well as Halong Bay in Vietnam.
Activities include swimming, kayaking, boating, and river tubing, which is the most recommended way to enjoy the rapids. For adventure junkies, the place is also great for white water rafting and cliff jumping.
Governor’s Rapids is one of the cheap summer destinations in Luzon, with an entrance fee of PHP 10 and a boat ride/river tubing fee of PHP 80 per person. It’s a long seven-hour drive via NLEX and SCTEX, but it will be surely worth it.
A different kind of beach experience awaits you and your group in San Antonio, Zambales, specifically at Anawangin. This is because the sands of this cove are actually volcanic ash, which came directly from Mount Pinatubo.
Bask in the cool and clear waters while appreciating the scenic views of the green mountains surrounding you. Or you can wait for the magnificent sunset at dusk.
Anawangin is actually part of the mainland, but getting there by land means that you’ll need to hike and trek. The fastest way to reach the cove is via boat (which may cost around PHP 1,200 and above). If you have the time, you can explore other destinations nearby, such as Nagsasa Cove, Talisayen Cove, and Capones Island.
Just a reminder: there are no hotels or homestays in Anawangin. You may choose to go on a day trip or have an overnight stay provided that you have a tent (there are some rentals, though).
About 40 minutes from the port town of Mauban, Quezon lies Cagbalete Island, a place with pristine and cream-colored beaches. This quiet getaway will make you realize that you don’t need to fly just to find a beautiful beach. Cagbalete Island is as rural as it gets, as there are no loud bars and over-the-top nightlife here.
Other than swimming, beach hopping, and snorkeling, you can enjoy activities, such as bird watching and horseback riding. One interesting spot to visit is the Bonsai Island, which is an islet that only appears during low tide—and when it does, you’ll see small mangroves and dead corals.
Cagbalete Island is among the beaches near Manila that you can reach via car. You can drive to Mauban, find a pay park area near the port, and then ride an island-bound boat.
If you’re after a road trip near Manila, Laguna has a wealth of destinations waiting for you. For those wanting a different pace, Paete is worth visiting. While this quaint town is under the radar, you’ll definitely find interesting spots here that excite culture vultures and artists at heart.
As it is often dubbed the Woodcarving Capital of the Philippines, you’ll find different artisanal shops that sell wood carvings and sculptures. There are also some stores that offer finely crafted hammocks, straw hats, and rocking chairs. Complete your culture trip by visiting the Saint James the Apostle Parish, a 300-year-old architectural marvel, which houses century-old paintings and wooden depictions of saints.
If you’re up for some trekking adventure, visit Tatlong Krus. After taking 500 steps uphill, you’ll be treated to a scenic view of the town and Laguna Lake. Not far from Tatlong Krus is Matabungca Falls where you can refresh yourself with some cool and clean water.
A hot spring vacation in summer? That may sound counterintuitive, but you’ll be surprised by the number of people flocking to Pansol during the sunny season. The thermal waters in the Resort Capital of the Country can relax your muscles and take your stress away.
But if you’re looking for a cold pool, you’ll still find it here. Resorts and vacation houses actually have hot and cold pool options, and you can make certain arrangements with the owner before going there.
You can’t deny that UP campuses are treasure troves of Instagrammable spots. But if you want to commune with nature, UP Los Baños or UPLB is the perfect spot for you! Once you get there, you’ll immediately get the impression that the university is housed within a massive park. Every nook and cranny is filled with lush foliage, towering trees, and pretty flowers.
You can visit the university’s most iconic spots, such as the Oblation Park and Carabao Park. Don’t miss Freedom Park (it’s not hard to miss!) where you can watch people jog or simply lie on the grass, taking their idle time. While you’re here, spot the Fertility Tree, the university’s biggest acacia tree. Adjacent to it is the Carillon Tower, the tallest building on the campus, which seriously has a Tower of Sauron appeal.
You can also visit the upper campus and be in the company of super tall trees. If you have all day for your tour, try to spend some time at the Makiling Botanic Gardens (in case it’s already open to the public) or visit the National Arts Center. Don’t forget to pick up some freshly baked buko pies or cassava cakes on your way home!
A lot of us have dreamt of being a haciendero or haciendera. Well, it’s not too late to live that dream at Villa Escudero Plantation in Quezon Province. This lavish plantation has not only a resort but also a museum and a chapel. It also treats you to an enchanting view of the pristine river flowing from Mount Banahaw. You can enjoy a wide range of activities, such as biking, carabao cart riding, rafting, and swimming. There are also cultural shows to look forward to.
The plantation is also made for foodies. One of its iconic offerings is the lunch buffet at the foot of the man-made waterfalls. After a filling meal, you may enjoy the rest of the afternoon at a leisurely pace by riding a bamboo raft at Labasin Lake or strolling around the coconut farm.
During the summer months (March to May), the plantation’s day tour package costs PHP 1,450 (Monday to Wednesday) or PHP 1,600 (Thursday to Sunday and holidays). This is already inclusive of the following: museum tour, carabao car ride, waterfall lunch, and use of outdoor recreational facilities.
In the southern of Bataan lies a historic island named Corregidor (Note that this is part of Cavite City). This island played an important role during the Second World War, and the remnants and will show you that. History buffs or those who want to escape the metro’s hustle and bustle will get to marvel at the bare ruins of the military barracks and the eeriness of tunnels.
Because the attractions are resting at an elevated point, you’ll get to view the serene sea and some parts of the island. Don’t forget to take pictures of the Corregidor sunset (in case you decide to book an overnight package)!
The prices of day tour packages may range from PHP 2,500 to PHP 2,700 depending on the day of the week. The package includes ferry transfers, buffet lunch, island tour, and guide fees. You may need to leave home a little earlier than usual, as the ferry departs from Manila at 7:00 a.m.
Vigan is the first place that may pop into your mind when it comes to old houses and Spanish aesthetics. But you don’t have to endure a 12-hour car ride just to enjoy such sights. A great similar road trip destination near Manila is the Taal Heritage Town.
The ancestral houses in this picturesque town are well-preserved. Just looking at them will make you imagine the town’s opulence during the Spanish era. Good thing, some houses can be toured for a fee. Be a Don or Doña for a day at Casa Villavicencio or Casa V.
If you have spare time, you can visit the Villavicencio Wedding Gift House, which is just a few steps from Casa V. Walk around the casa to appreciate the ingenious marriage of European aesthetics and Pinoy sensibilities.
One of the main attractions in the town is the Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, also known as the Taal Basilica. Built in 1572, it is said to be the largest Catholic church in the Philippines and in Asia. Its architecture is simply stunning, but wait until you get inside, as the interiors will remind you of the ornate churches in the Vatican.
While you’re in town, go on a mini food adventure and try tapang Taal and tawilis for lunch. End the meal on a sweet note with suman con tsokolate, which is rice cake served with chocolate sauce.
Since the last few destinations in this list are all about history, let’s go all the way with Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. Stepping into this sprawling estate will make you think of two things: it’s either you’re transported back in time or you’re inside a larger-than-life museum.
Las Casas is actually a hotel complex that features heritage houses. All the ancestral houses here are actually restored Spanish-Filipino houses, which showcase the architectural geniuses coming from different parts of the country. Historical structures, such as Hotel de Oriente and Casa Bizantina, were either transferred or resurrected here.
But Las Casas is not just about sightseeing; there are also a lot of activities here, such as watching cultural shows, playing heritage games, dining, souvenir shopping, swimming, wakeboarding, and banana boat riding. If you want to go full-on with your experience, you may schedule a photoshoot with the hotel’s in-house photographer where you’ll wear traditional costumes.
The pandemic has really changed travel since 2020. And if you’re planning to visit some of the places listed above this summer, you’ll need to continue being careful.
Here are some reminders:
As you can see, there’s more to a road trip near Manila than the go-to summer destinations like Baguio, Tagaytay, and Subic. Our country has so many natural wonders to offer. Plenty of marvelous places await tourists who crave new experiences and adventures with their loved ones. Consider these underrated summer destinations when you plan your next road trip!
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