Just a stone’s throw away from Manila, approximately one-and-a-half hours travel time or 56 kilometers south of the Philippines’ capital, Tagaytay has become a favorite weekend getaway for people who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the metro for a breath of fresh air. Tagaytay is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Philippines mainly because of its proximity to Manila and its cool weather all year round and scenic attractions.
If you’re planning to go there on a day trip, do try out the following activities to maximize your experience in the fast-becoming summer capital of the Philippines.
1. Taal Volcano trekking
If you enjoy looking at Taal Lake and volcano from afar, then why not experience seeing this famous lake and world’s smallest, active volcano up close? What also sets this small volcano apart from others is the fact that the Taal Volcano itself has a lake of its own inside its crater, which is aptly called the “Crater Lake.” If you plan trekking to the volcano’s crater, then you must be in Tagaytay as early as 6:00-7:00am so you can be back in Tagaytay by lunch time. It’s best to do the trekking at this time so you can catch the healthy morning sun.
At the Olivarez Rotonda, there are already lots of boatmen/tricycle drivers who are willing to take you to the Talisay port in Batangas, which is the major jump-off point where boats are available to get you to the volcano island for a price of approximately Php250-300 (USD 5-6). The roundtrip boat ride costs Php 1,500 (USD 30) and is already good for a maximum of six persons. Upon arrival at the other side of the lake, you will be offered the option to do horse riding all the way to the volcano’s crater for a mere price of Php 500 (USD 10), which would take at least 45 minutes. If you want to exercise your muscles, then trekking by foot is feasible but would eat up an hour-and-a-half to reach the crater, depending on your pace. Also, bear in mind that the trail is really dusty and difficult so better wear your most comfortable outfit and shoes. Face masks and water are also being sold but the prices are kind of steep so it’s always advisable to just bring your own face towel and water to keep you hydrated. Don’t forget to put on a sun block as well for protection.
Upon reaching the crater, you will be greeted by the spectacular view of the volcano’s blue–greencolored crater lake. White smoke coming out of the earth is also visible, a sign that the volcano is still active. You can also go down the highly sulfuric crater lake and swim but be sure to check first if it’s safe to swim during your time of visit. You wouldn’t want to damage your skin, would you?
For thrill seekers out there, you need not go as far as CamSur to experience the extreme water sport that is fastly becoming the newest craze for water sports lovers. Wakeboarding, a sport that uses a board and pulled by a cable, is now the newest attraction in Taal. For less than Php 2,000/hour (USD 40) (minimum of 3 hours), you can already avail of the wakeboarding lesson and a free use of the wakeboard, life vests and the speedboat.
2. Tagaytay Ridge Zipline
The Tagaytay Ridge Zipline is one of the newest attractions in Tagaytay. This new outdoor activity for adrenaline junkies is fast becoming one of the favorite tourist spots in the place. For as low as Php 200 (USD 4) per person, one can already experience the zipline and cable car ride amidst the scenic view of Taal Volcano and surrounding forest.
The 60km/hr thrilling ride, 300 feet off the ground that courses 250 meters long zipline is really a must-try for people who want to conquer their fear of heights. The single zipline harness can carry up to two tons, which is equivalent to seven sumo wrestlers so you can just imagine how safe this zipline is. All rides come with a free souvenir photo so you’ll have a keepsake of this experience.
The Tagaytay Ridge Zipline is located at Picnic Grove but is an independent company from the management of the latter.
3. Sonya’s Garden
Discover a secret garden, be a vegan for a day and indulge in a luxurious spa pampering at Sonya’s Garden. Sonya’s Garden, which is located at Barangay Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite, is just 10 to15 minutes away from Olivarez, Tagaytay. This used to be the private sanctuary of Europe and US expat, Sonya herself, who opened its doors to public on February 1998, just in time for Valentine’s Day. From then on, this hidden paradise in the rolling hills of Tagaytay has been a gracious host to lots of tourists and balikbayans who seek a simple and country-like atmosphere.
Sonya’s mouth-watering rustic cuisine is a must-try. Most of her dishes are made with fresh and organically-grown ingredients straight from the garden. Have you ever tasted fresh rose petals? Sonya’s Garden serve this on top of an organic green salad, which is a far cry from those served in commercial establishments. The all-you-can-eat salad and pasta are a majoy come on in Sonya’s—not to mention that it’s guilt-free, too.
Aside from its famous green menu, this garden also offers a bed and breakfast and a spa, where visitors enjoy the secret pleasures at Sonya’s. True to its advocacy, “The art of doing nothing,” Sonya also holds a class called “How to do nothing.” Imagine what you’ll be doing there…
Because of its rustic feel, coupled with a fragrant flower garden as backdrop, Sonya’s Garden has been a witness to hundreds of marriage proposals, pre-nuptials, weddings and honeymoons.
4. Bag of Beans
Bag of Beans is a must-try for those who want some good ambience to go along with their food. Their famous Alamid coffee is superb, but the first thing that you will really notice in this secret mini-underground paradise in Mendez, Tagaytay is its atmosphere. The famed Alamid coffee, which comes from the Philippine civet’s or musang’s droppings or waste, is said to be the most expensive coffee in the world because it undergoes a long process. The civet eats the coffee cherries. Fermentation process takes place in its digestive tract and excreted as whole beans to produce this rare and most sought-after coffee in the world. Alamid roasted beans sell for more than USD115 per kilogram.
The wooden picnic tables and benches, trees, flowers in bloom plus the sound of the chirping birds, are just the perfect elements to create a very natural atmosphere. Add up the sweet and the makes-you-wanna-fall-into-slumber instrumental music being played and you’ve got the perfect place to hang out with family, friends or a special someone on a chilly weather, while sipping a mug of hot coffee. Go for Bag of Beans’ “Kapeng Barako” and Shepherd’s Pie, which they are famous for.
Bags of Beans is a cozy place to relax especially on late afternoons and early evenings. The place is surrounded with different kinds of antique lamps so I’m sure the restaurant looks fantastic in the evening. Before going home, be sure to buy some raisin bread at their pastry shop, trust me, they’re just too good to pass up.
5. Nurture Spa
For spa-holics out there, Nurture Spa in Tagaytay is something that you should not miss. The place is kind of pricey compared to the best spas in Manila but the straight out of a magazine setting and the excellent service is worth it.
Some of the popular treatments in this spa are the Magsing-Irog Couples Massage (Php 2,800 or USD 56 for two people), a glorious blend of sandalwood, ylang-ylang, and lavender essential oils; Nilaib Spa Treatment (Php1,800 or USD 36), which makes use of steam pouches, instead of “hot stones” and is only unique to Nurture Spa; and the ultra relaxing Ginhawa Massage (Php1,800.00 or USD 36).
A trip to Nurture Spa would be perfect with your special someone or a close friend. Get a glimpse of this renowned spa, which was named as one of the Top 7 Spas in the Philippines according to Asia Spa Magazine and in the 28th Most Relaxing Spa in Asia by CNN Go Asia because of its indigenous ambience, spa healing treatments and alternative health programs.
How to get to Tagaytay:
By bus: You can ride the San Agustin Bus Lines at Cubao Station, just behind Ali Mall or you may also get a ride in Pasay bus station which is just behind McDonald’s, MRT Taft Station. Sign boards should read Tagaytay/Olivarez or Nasugbu, Batangas.
By car: Taking the SLEX Greenfields Exit is the best route to avoid heavy traffic. You’ll be passing by Pramana, Nuvali, Eton City and Paseo de Sta. Rosa.
Written for and first published on Officially Philippines