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Top 15 no-match icons due for a visit!

TOP 15 ICONIC VACATION SPOTS JUST WITHIN PROXIMITY OF METRO MANILA

Source: http://www.thepoortraveler.net/2013/03/15-great-destinations-near-manila-philippines/#

1. Trek to the Crater of Taal Volcano.

If you love admiring it from afar, youíre gonna love it even more when youíre actually on the volcano. It only takes two to three hours to get to the jump off point in Talisay, Batangas. From there, you can rent a small boat to take you to the volcano island. Prep for a rigorous trek because its slopes, while not as steep, can still drain all your energy especially when the sun is harsh. (And unless youíre trekking at night, Iím telling you: clouds or no clouds, the sun is harsh!) If long treks arenít on your favorites list, thereís always the horse option, for a fee of course.

How to get there: From Manila, take the bus to Batangas and get off at Tanauan City Proper. If youíre renting a boat from Taal Lake Yacht Club, ride a jeepney to Sampaloc and get off in front of TLYC. Itís on your right side. You can also take a jeepney at Tanauan City to Talisay Town Proper.

2. Beat the Heat in Tagaytay City.

If for whatever reason (read: laziness) you donít want to trek, you can avoid getting physical and just admire the volcano and the lake from a distance, like most people do. Tagaytay offers the best views, with a lovely, cool atmosphere to boot. Visit the newly opened Sky Ranch and get into one of the coaches of their giant Ferris wheel, overlooking the lake. Not into rotating wheels? Spend a morning in one of the cityís parks and gardens. The Peopleís Park in the Sky has not been maintained well but you might still want to stay a 360-degree view of the city. Or just enter a coffee shop, order a latte, and just ponder on why the hell you donít want to trek to the crater of the volcano youíve been admiring from afar!

How to get there: From Manila, take a bus bound for Tagaytay or Nasugbu or you can also take a shuttle/van to Lemery at Starmall Alabang or Shaw. (Donít take the bus to Lemery; it doesnít pass through Tagaytay.) Either way, get off at Tagaytay Rotonda and take a trike or jeepney to your target destination from here.

3. Learn how to Dive in Anilao, Batangas.

Anilao in Mabini, Batangas is just three hours away, making it a favorite among Manila-based divers and future divers. One-day beginner courses are available to those who wish to learn how to, well, dive. Batangas waters host a wide array of marine wildlife that will blow you away.

If diving isnít your thing, you may also opt to climb Mt. Gulugod Baboy, an easy climb for professionals (probably the climb of my life if that were me) or take a boat to Sombrero Island and make love with the sun while flaunting your brand new bikini!

How to get there: Board a bus going to Batangas City and alight at Bolbok, just before Batangas pier under the flyover. Then take a jeepney to Anilao (Mabini).

4. Church-Hop from Lipa to Taal, Batangas.

From the petal shower site at Carmel Church to the sacred well of Sta. Lucia, from the magnificent Lipa Cathedral to the massive Taal Basilica, the biggest in Asia ó the road from the city of Lipa to the heritage town of Taal is milestoned by grand churches and miraculous sites. Whether youíre a believer or not, make a stop at these places and see what the fuss is about. If you have more time, roll out a bit more of your map and continue your journey to Calaca and Balayan, which also boast old, majestic churches.

Donít forget to dig in to some of the most delectable Batangueno dishes along the way! Missing bulalo, tapang Taal, lomi, and kapeng barako is a mortal sin!

How to get there: Take a bus going to Batangas City or Lemery and get off at Lipa bus stop. Most points of interest in Lipa are accessible by trike. To get to Taal Town, take the bus again or a jeepney going to Lemery and ask the driver to drop you off in Taal.

5. Hit the Beaches of San Juan, Matabungkay (Lian), Nasugbu, and Calatagan.

San Juan harbors the provinceís most popular beaches today but if itís too crowded for you, drive to the other side of Batangas. Matabungkay used to be the ďitĒ destination decades ago but it might still be a good place for a respite. Nasugbu is starting to be a great alternative, too, and the sight of Mt. Batulao is a constant invitation to awaken the dormant mountaineer in you. The barely touched shores of Calatagan offer front row seats to watch a spectacular Batangas sunrise. The Punta de Santiago Lighthouse is another point of interest.

How to get there: To get to Nasugbu, take a bus to Nasugbu. From here you can take a jeepney going to Lian or Calatagan.

6. Brush Up on History on Corregidor Island.

Corregidor is just a ferry ride away from Manila. Youíll be surprised that while many city dwellers have visited many islands in the far corners of the country, a good lot of them have never set foot on Corregidor. This tadpole-shaped island lies at the mouth of Manila Bay and was a strategic military base during World War II. The remnants of the past remain standing and are just waiting for curious, open minds to come take a look. If ghost-haunting is right up your alley, they say it is also the place to be but maybe thatís too extreme.

How to get there: From the old Hoverferry Terminal (near CCP), take a ferry to Corregidor.

7. Laze on Volcanic Ash in Anawangin and Nagsasa Cove, Zambales.

One of the provinces at the base of Mt. Pinatubo, Zambales was terribly buried when the sleeping volcano awakened two decades ago. But the disaster dumped a good amount of ash onto its the rocky shores, breathing a new life to its otherwise ordinary beaches. Today, Anawangin and Nagsasa Coves have risen as popular tourist destinations for its ashen sand and agoho trees (resembling pine trees) that foster a unique Baguio-meets-Boracay vibe. Capones and Camara Islands are also waiting!

How to get there: Take a Victory Liner bus to Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales and tell the conductor to drop you off at San Antonio public market. Take a tricycle to Pundaquit. From here, you may rent a boat to get to Anawangin or Nagsasa.

8. Get Lost in the Colors of Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon.

Mark your calendars! May 15 is when Pahiyas Festival happens in Lucban. One of the most vibrant in the country, this festival is a celebration of the good harvest, in honor of San Isidro de Labrador. A parade roams around town passing by houses that are creatively decorated with vegetables and kiping, a colorful ornament made from rice (and yes, theyíre edible)! If you get hungry, thereís always longganisang Lucban and pansit habhab! Traffic can be as dense as your former boss so you might also consider staying overnight in Lucban or neighboring town.

9. Camp Overnight in Borawan and Dampalitan Island, Quezon.

They say that Borawan is a portmanteau, Boracay and Palawan. The more believable origin of the name however is bulawan, which means gold. But screw etymology, just get yourself to this paradise on your next holiday break!

The towering karst cliffs hug the white shores of Borawan, reminiscent of many islands in El Nido and Coron. Except, Borawan is only four to five hours away. It is one of the many islands off the coast of Padre Burgos, Quezon that nestle gorgeous white sand beaches! Other places to visit: Dampalitan Island and Putting Buhangin. There are no resorts here so camping is the way to go! Want your own Borawan getaway?

How to get there: Ride a bus to Lucena City and alight at Lucena Grand Terminal. Take another bus to Unisan, get off at QCRB Bank (Padre Burgos), then take a tricycle to Aplaya, where you can hire boats to take you on an island hopping tour.

10. Appreciate Art and Get Cultured in Angono, Rizal and Paete, Laguna.

Known as the art capital of the Philippines, Angono is as interesting as it is accessible. See the Angono-Binangonan petroglyphs, a prehistoric artwork that is considered the oldest in the country. Pay a visit to the house of Carlos ďBotongĒ Francisco and get to know the national artist better. For the adventurous eater, try Soup No. 5 and fried itik in some of the more famous restaurants in the area!

One of the most underrated destinations in the country, Laguna holds a number of surprises for those who will take a step into its overlooked territory. Learn the art of sculpture and witness how this craft has become the center of the lives of the people of Paete! Go on a bakya shopping spree in Liliw!

Overcome your fears and descend into the Underground Cemetery in Nagcarlan. The province is also dotted with several historic churches, ancestral houses, and unique restaurants!

11. Chase Waterfalls in Pagsanjan and Pangil, Laguna.

Pagsanjan Falls may be just another waterfall to many but it is the getting there that makes a visit an unforgettable experience. Board a small boat and be amazed with how the boatmen masterfully conquer the rapids and the rocky stream on the way to the waterfall! Buntot Palos Falls is another best-kept secret of Laguna that may be attractive to the thrill-seeking adventurer!
Tired of chasing waterfalls? Choose one of the seven lakes of San Pablo!

12. Go Bird-watching in Freedom Islands.

This one is not near Metro Manila, it is in it! Freedom Island and Long Island, collectively called Freedom Islands, lie off the coast of Paranaque and Las Pinas. More formally known as Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, the Freedom Islands have a huge ecological role in the area. It is the last remaining mangrove forest and salt marsh frontier in Metro Manila. These two islands also serve as a sanctuary for many marine lifeforms and a refuge for more than 80 species of birds, both local and migratory.

However, the Freedom Islands are under threat. The garbage the city produces has found its way to the islands.

You cannot swim here but if birdwatching makes your day, you donít need to travel to Pampanga or Batangas for it. The closest site is within Metro Manila.

13. Be Blown Away by Mt. Pinatubo.

Figuratively, of course! Take a bus to Tarlac; proceed to Capas, onto Brgy. Sta. Juliana, ride a 4◊4 jeep, and trek to the crater of Mt. Pinatubo! Itís a long way but the view is definitely worth the time and effort. See the rim of the crater slope up from a lakeful of rainwater, accumulated over the years! Be mesmerized by the majestic beauty of Mother Nature. You can even boat across the crater lake and camp overnight (Note: swimming or boating not recommended by DOT as the crater is sacred to the indigenous people called Aetas!)

On your way back, pass by Angeles City to sample Pampangaís rich and irresistible cuisine!

14. Retrace the Death March in Bataan.

Sounds like an emotional torture but this activity can be very enlightening and rewarding to history buffs! And since youíre already in Bataan, donít miss the chance to visit Mt. Samat and some of the provinceís beaches. If you can also visit in November, take part in Pawikan Festival and witness the turtle hatchlingsí return to the sea.

15. Make a Splash in Puerto Galera.

A bus and a ferry ride away, Puerto Galera has been the go-to summer destination among city-dwellers for beach activities such as swimming and beach bumming. (Ha, I know what youíre thinking!) But thereís more to this Mindoro paradise than whatís above the surface! Puerto Galera is a great diving destination. Declared a Man and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO in 1973, it is one of the destinations with the richest marine biodiversity in the world.

When doors open, we tend to overlook whatís right in our own front lawn. Manila itself is blessed with many culturally and historically rich sites but if you want more, the surrounding provinces can definitely deliver.

WARNING: IT'S MORE THAN JUST A RELAXING VACATION!

Emailcast by:

Department of Tourism - Region III (Central Luzon)
Paskuhan Village, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines
Ronaldo "Ronnie" Tiotuico - Regional Director
Phone: (63 45) 961-2612 / 5617 / 625-8525
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]
Recipient (Best Ecotourism Project - Mt. Pinatubo): PATA Gold Intl Award 2001, Kalakbay Natl Award 2001, ASEANTA Intl Award 2002
Log on: www.visitmyphilippines.com
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