A quick day trip would get you away from the noisy metropolis and into a relaxing tour of the neighbouring region, from the cold city of Tagaytay to the inviting waters of Subic. You can either book private tour guide with van, drive your own hire car or simply take any of the cross-country buses, which is best if you are on a budget.
The highland city of Tagaytay is particularly famous for its off the ridge location, making it cooler than the lowlands and a nice respite from the heat of Manila. The city also offers wild views of the nearby Taal Volcano and the idyllic Taal Lake. Around the city are lines of cliffside restaurants serving exquisite cuisine and Filipino specialties.
Start off your tour at the Tagaytay City Tourism Office, where you can get maps and brochures (Tagaytay City Hall, Building, Kaybagal South, Tagaytay City, tel: +63 46 413 1220loc.320, website: www.tagaytay.gov.ph). You can also go to the Tagaytay Tourist Information Centre.
To get to Tagaytay City by bus, take the CROWN bus line, which has a terminal by the MRT Taft Avenue Station, behind the Chowking restaurant. All CROWN buses going to Batangas typically pass through Tagaytay City. The fare is cheap but the buses are not air-conditioned.
The heritage town of Taal in Batangas is also one of the best sites to discover the Spanish Colonial history of the Philippines. Here you will see many Spanish-period homes, some of which have been made into heritage museums. The town is also a good place to gaze upon the breathtaking Taal Volcano. To get brochures and/or to book a tour guide to Taal, visit the Batangas Tourism Office.
Another hilltop town, Antipolo City is one of the more common vacation spots for most Manilenos. The city is home to the spectacular Hinulugang Taktak waterfalls. It is also where the glorious shrine of Nuestra Senora dela Paz y Buenviaje or Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage is located. This beautiful church is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in Luzon, and many locals drive up to it during Holy Week. Some even undergo the extra strain of walking or biking to the church, which is on top of a rather steep hill.
Regular buses to Antipolo City are available in Divisoria (operated by EMBC). You can also get there by jeepney. There are terminals in Farmer’s Market in Cubao, Quezon City and at EDSA Crossing in Mandaluyong.
Subic Freeport Zone
A major eco-tourism zone, the Subic Freeport is a city in itself. Here you will find white sand beaches, forests, spas, shopping areas, and other tourist attractions. Forests around the zone provide great spots for survival trekking adventures, which you can take with native Aetas as guides. The white sand beaches are ideal for baking in the sun. Wreck diving is also a popular activity, while sea parks offer a glimpse of the rich marine life in the area.
More cosmopolitan attractions are also at hand, from spa to massage parlors to lively bars and shopping outlets and casinos. You may also enjoy the Zoobic Safari, which has an impressive collection of animals. Start your Subic Tour at the Subic Bay Tourism Department. (website: www.sbma.com).