On my trip to the Philippines and Australia in 2015, I spent about 1,5 week in Manila. But just before taking off to go exploring the beaches in Boracay, I decided to take a quick break form the hustle and bustle in the city! I had scanned my Philippines Lonely Planet for things to do around Manila and there seemd to be one great place to go! Off to Tagaytay and its unique things to do!
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Tagaytay, a wonderful break from Manila
Tagaytay, sometimes also called Tagaytay City, is located only about 59 kilometres from the metropolis of Manila. It’s definitely a nice place to escape for a break from the bustling city and it’s also a good location if you are looking to escape the heat. Because its altitude is higher than Manila, it enjoys a much cooler climate with less humidity as well. On top of that, it is fairly easy to get to via the highway, and usually takes about 2 1/2 hours from Manila (read more about how to get to Tagaytay at the bottom of this post!).
Along with this cooler climate Tagaytay has become a popular tourist spot (although not as well-known or crowded as other places) with many fun activities to enjoy. There are also lots of places for honeymooning, picnics and spiritual retreats. The cool breezes make it a popular spot for both casual and competitive kite flying! There is even a picnic ‘grove’; a large park with lots of huts and tables for picnicking. There are also areas where you can go horse-riding, walk along an eco-trail, ride cable cars and even a zipline. There are also numerous shrines to visit, museums, a lighthouse, a flower farm and the amazing views over the Taal Volcano. You can find out lots of information about all the many things to do in Tagaytay at this website.
But, the single one most awesome thing to do in Tagaytay is to go visit the Taal Volcano!
Tagaytay Things to Do – Hiking the Taal Volcano
One of the ‘must-dos’ in Tagaytay is seeing and perhaps hiking the Taal Volcano. Next to the city of Tagaytay, is the Taal lake. In the middle of the lake is Volcano Island, where Taal Volcano is located. Now, you know how I said the volcano is on an island in a lake? Well, there is also another lake inside the main volcano crater. So it’s a lake within a volcano, which is on an island in a lake, which is also… in an island! Makes your head hurt just thinking about it.
But let’s move on 😉 The lake was actually formed by volcanic eruptions and Taal Volcano is the second most active volcano in the Philippines! This means that you do need to be careful when you visit – even though it’s also the world’s smallest volcano! The volcano has erupted in the past and caused much loss of life, but it is also one of the most picturesque views in the Philippines. And if you’re really worried, just know that the last time Taal erupted was in 1977. Also, it is constantly being watched and studied to have fair warning if it erupts again.
A tour to the Taal Volcano
If you want to hike the volcano itself you will need to book a tour of some sort. This is because you need to use boats to get across the lake to the hiking part. It is super easy to arrange with any hotel or hostel. I took off with 3 other people staying in my hostel and we had a great day!
The boats are really colorful and the short boatride was a joy. Once on the island you can either go by foot or horse up to the top. If you choose to ride a horse it will cost a bit extra. It does not matter if you are riding or walking up – you will most definitely notice the smell which comes from lots of horses travelling the road and pooping as they go!
But all this will be worth it when you finally get to the top and can see the view. On the below pictures you can clearly see the “lake within island within lake” principle 🙂 The hike to the edge of the volcano was a bit tough, but very doable if you are a bit fit. The views are simply stunning!
Do watch out – there is some wildlife around 🙂 When we sat down on a bench, we thought a branch fell down. But it turned out to be a little snake! You should have seen us jumping up!! We were pretty scared after that and look around for other wildlife friends all the time 😉
If you want to find out more about the volcano itself, its history and most recent activity you can check out the wiki page here.
Getting to Tagaytay from Manila
Lots of the local people drive to Tagaytay, but as I was travelling by myself I had to use the public transport options.
I decided to take the bus which was quite the adventure! First, I took a taxi to the bus station Buendia. It was not really a bus station, but an entrance right off the main road to a sort of patio where tons of buses and people stood! It was so hot and busy – it was driving me nuts! But the taxi driver was so nice to help me get to the right bus and when I finally sat down I was so relieved!
The bus was full of local people who found me quite the sight 🙂 I enjoyed the 2-3 hr busride watching old pop videos of westlife on the big screen 😉 At Tagaytay, I was basically dropped in the middle of the road. There was no official bus station, but there were plenty of “jeepneys”. Kind of a variation between a jeep and a tuktuk 😀 The tuktuk driver to me to my hostel. There is a plentitude of accommodation in Tagaytay – from high end to low end. As this trip was a while ago, I’m not entirely sure anymore where I stayed! I
A perfect description on how to find your way to Tagaytay can be found here and here too.
Feel free to leave a comment on this article if you need any help planning your trip!
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