5 great day trips from Metro Manila

Escape the manic Metro by heading out to one of these fascinating destinations in Luzon

Mount Pinatubo's crater lake (Photo: Nikka Sarthou-Lainez)

Mount Pinatubo's crater lake (Photo: Nikka Sarthou-Lainez)

Riding a 4x4 at the base of Mount Pinatubo
Riding a 4×4 at the base of Mount Pinatubo

Mount Pinatubo

Best for: Adventure seekers

The buzz: Lace up your hiking shoes and head to Mount Pinatubo for a taste of adventure. Standing tall at 1,486m, this active volcano is a popular tourist attraction, with a beautiful crater lake that formed after its last eruption in 1991. Sign up for a day tour, which will provide transport from Manila and take you on a thrilling 4×4 jeep ride across rocky rivers and ash fields. You’ll then have to hike for two hours to reach the crater lake — the going will be tough, but the picture-perfect views at the top will be worth your every effort.

Getting there: Three hours from Metro Manila by car

Tip: There are numerous group tours available, but make sure to sign up with a Department of Tourism-accredited travel agency. Rates are cheaper for big groups.

Nemiranda Arthouse & Gallery, Angono
Nemiranda Arthouse & Gallery, Angono

Angono

Best for: Art enthusiasts

The buzz: Dubbed the art capital of the Philippines, Angono is the birthplace of two late National Artists — muralist Carlos “Botong” Francisco and composer Lucio San Pedro. And the city’s artistic spirit is very much apparent — it’s filled with galleries and museums, and even the colorful jeepneys you see on the street are works of art in themselves. Must-visit places include the Nemiranda Arthouse & Gallery and the Blanco Family Museum, as well as the Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs, which date as far back as 3000 BC.

Getting there: Less than an hour from Metro Manila by car

Tip: While it’s convenient to drive, do note that parking may pose a challenge, especially with the town’s small streets.

Dining with a view in Tagaytay
Dining with a view in Tagaytay

Tagaytay

Best for: Foodies and nature lovers

The buzz: Tagaytay is best known for its cool climate and restaurants, many of which offer fantastic views of the picturesque Taal volcano and Taal Lake, which is inside the volcano’s crater. You’ll drive past Nuvali — a booming area with an array of restaurants and outlet stores — en route to the city. Once you’ve reached your destination, order a freshly brewed cup of coffee at Bag of Beans, slurp up bulalo (beef shank soup) at Leslie’s or treat yourself to a fine-dining meal at Antonio’s.

Getting there: One hour from Metro Manila by car

Tip: Roads to Tagaytay can get congested at weekends and holidays, so schedule your trip on weekdays if possible.

Pacific War Memorial, Corregidor Island
Pacific War Memorial, Corregidor Island

Corregidor Island

Best for: History buffs

The buzz: Once a military bastion, the historical island of Corregidor now partly serves a memorial for the American and Filipino soldiers who valiantly fought during World War II. We’d recommend getting a package that includes a one-hour ferry ride from Manila Bay and a guided tour of the island’s notable sites. You’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time as you walk among the ruins of the Fort Mills Post Headquarters and Chapel, Battery Way, Malinta Tunnel and the Pacific War Memorial, among others.

Getting there: One hour from Metro Manila by ferry

Tip: If you want more time to explore the island, consider signing up for an overnight package with Sun Cruises.

The Agoncillo House, Taal
The Agoncillo House, Taal

Taal

Best for: Culture vultures

The buzz: The town of Taal in Batangas is a quaint little municipality that’s well worth a visit for its many heritage sites. Here, you’ll get to explore the well-preserved ancestral homes of the prominent Agoncillo and Villavicencio families, the beautiful Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine and the Basilica of St. Martin of Tours, the largest Catholic church in Asia. Round off your trip with a visit to Taal Public Market, where you can shop for native products like the barong Tagalog — an embroidered formal shirt that’s considered the national dress of the Philippines.

Getting there: Two hours from Metro Manila by car

Tip: While it’s easy enough to visit the attractions on your own, we’d recommend joining a guided tour for more insights.

Also read: Northern Luzon road trip: A suggested itinerary

Written and Photographed

Nikka Sarthou-Lainez

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