TOP 15 ICONIC VACATION SPOTS JUST WITHIN PROXIMITY OF METRO MANILA
1. Trek to the Crater of Taal Volcano.
If you love admiring it from afar, you're gonna love it even more when you're 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 you'e trekking at night, I'm telling you: clouds or no clouds, the sun is harsh!) If long treks aren't on your favorites list, there's 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 you're renting a boat from Taal Lake Yacht Club, ride a jeepney to Sampaloc and get off in front of TLYC. It's 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 don't 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 city's parks and gardens. The People's 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 don't want to trek to the crater of the volcano you've 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. (Don't take the bus to Lemery; it doesn't 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 isn't 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 the road from the city of Lipa to the heritage town of Taal is milestoned by grand churches and miraculous sites. Whether you're 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.
Don't 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 province's most popular beaches today but if it's too crowded for you, drive to the other side of Batangas. Matabungkay used to be the it 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.