10 Travel Bloggers Share Their Favorite Getaways Near Manila (with Budget and Splurge Options!)

When I started blogging, I barely knew how to compose a travel article. Guides seemed somewhat boring and tedious to write; where-to-eat lists feel like a “forced” attempt to reach a 10-item quota; and personal stories seem corny—I mean, who cares about what you felt upon reaching that peak and seeing a sea of clouds, right? Little did I know that these things truly mattered—and still matter—to people. I should’ve known! After all, these are precisely the things I love to read about when visiting the sites of fellow bloggers.

Today in Pepe Samson, let’s stop talking about my hangover with Boracay and unending obsession with Batanes for a while and let me walk you through a few spots near Manila (around 3 hours away) that are worth checking out this summer—places selected by no less than my favorite travel bloggers, of course. April is just around the corner, the sun’s up and soon going to be on its full force, and all we have left to do is welcome it, embrace it, bask in its warmth and soak up in cool waters. So below, the 10 places near Manila you should definitely visit this Holy Week and summer:


Budget

1. Minalungao National Park, Nueva Ecija – Ramil de los Reyes of Pinas Muna

It's summertime—the best time to visit Minalungao National Park and enjoy the emerald green waters of PeƱaranda River. Situated near the foothills of the Sierra Madre, Minalungao is an underrated hideaway that any traveler should dare to explore. With less rainfall during summer, the river is clearer and calmer, making it more enjoyable for swimming, rafting and cliff jumping. The 16-meter limestone walls flanking the spotless river make it inviting for a trek; but for the less audacious, rent a raft that could take you to the center of the waters for a refreshing dip. If you're up for adventure, climb the top of the hill where a cross stands, with the Sierra Madre foliage as the background—or explore the cave at the far end of the limestone wall. There are huts that friends and families can rent; you can bring packed food or cook your own. Accessible by a 3-hour ride from Manila, Minalungao is one of the cheapest, quietest, most stunning experiences you can have this summer.


~*~
Minalungao National Park
Perfect for: solitude and adventure seekers
How to get there: from Manila, take a bus bound for Cabanatuan City and hop off in Gapan City (Cubao: ES Transport or Baliwag Transport). From Gapan, hire a tricycle (PhP600 roundtrip) along the national highway that would take you to Minalungao (contact Kuya Erning :0909-997-2393). Make sure you hire a local guide.
Price point: 2/5


2. Burot Beach, Batangas – Mervz of Pinoy AdvenTurista

If you seek tranquility and natural beauty, head over to Burot Beach in the shores of Calatagan, Batangas. A favorite among weekenders and solitude seekers like Mervz, it’s accessible via a 3-hour drive or commute from Manila. Pristine waters, stunning rock formations, semi-fine cream sand, and untouched vegetation await travelers who will see this unspoiled beauty for the first time. Set up your own tent and camp out for the day or overnight. Look for your own secluded spot and just marvel at the awe-inspiring sights—make sure you wait for the sunset! Burot Beach’s rugged charm is perfect for those who would love to unplug and disconnect from the fast-paced city life—highly recommended especially this Holy Week.


~*~
Burot Beach
Perfect for: solo travel, reconnecting with nature
How to get there: From Manila, take a Celyrosa bus from Pasay Rotonda EDSA (behind McDonald's) bound for Calatagan and get off at Calatagan Public Market. From there, hire a tricycle (PhP60/head) that would take you to the beach.
Price point: 2/5


3. Taal Heritage Town – JB Macatulad of Will Fly for Food

Who needs a 7-hour drive to Vigan when you have something like this right inside Batangas? JB of Will Fly for Food shares how he and his wife fell instantly in love with Taal Heritage Town with its beautiful architecture, ancestral homes, cheap but tasty food, and ambience that transports you back to places you can only see in your Lola’s black-and-white albums. If you are charmed by hundred-year-old knickknacks, intricate woodwork, and vintage pieces (Instantograph cameras, anyone?), an overnight stay in one of the town’s bed-and-breakfasts will surely get you your sought-after escape—plus a bonus culture fix!


~*~
Taal Heritage Town
Perfect for: people looking for cultural travels
How to get there: Check out JB's driving directions here
Price point: 2/5



4. Lucban, Quezon  Estan Conrad Cabigas of Langyaw

Estan of Langyaw recommends veering away from the normal summer escapade most of us look for; this Holy Week, he suggests visiting Lucban, Quezon for a self-inflicted immersion and witnessing how the locals celebrate Semana Santa. During this time of the year, age-old rituals resurface and envelop the town in solemnity and devotion. Listen to a Pabasa that has adapted to the times—modern and lively instead of the ancient droning we usually associate with this ritual chanting. Watch the Pagpapako (crucifixion) and Pagtatanggal (removal from the cross) and relive the sacrifices of Jesus Christ. Participate in a different kind of Salubong where locals throw water bombs at each other—all in the spirit of celebrating the rebirth of Christ.


~*~
Lucban, Quezon
Perfect for: people seeking for a different experience this summer/Holy Week
How to get there: from LRT-1 Buendia, take a Green Star, HM Transport, JAM, or Tritran bus to Sta. Cruz, Laguna, and ask the conductor to drop you off at the Town Plaza in Sta. Cruz. From the Sta. Cruz Town Plaza, ride a jeep to Lucban. (source: ph-commute.com)
Price point: 2/5


5. Corregidor Christian Sangoyo of Lakad Pilipinas

If you want to get immersed in a little bit of Philippine history, a trip to Corregidor in the province of Cavite is in order.  Christian, the blogger behind Lakad Pilipinas, is a self-confessed history buff; among a number of quick weekend getaways near Manila, Corregidor is definitely on top of this list. The diversity of activities the island has to offer is what endears him most to The Rock: a rich past from the days of World War II; pristine nature trails; wildlife; and the fact that it also has its own beach. “Best of all, it’s only an hour away from Manila by boat. Plus it’s also ideal for ghost hunters and solitude seekers,” he adds.


~*~
Corregidor 
Perfect for: history junkies
How to get there: Take a ferry  boat from Sun Cruises (PhP2,200) that would get you to Corregidor Island. Once there, contact Old Manila Walks for a walking tour. Details here.
Price point: 3/5


6. Baler  Angel Juarez of Lakwatsero

For the itchy feet of Angel of Lakwatsero, driving a few extra hours is no big deal. “How could a destination five hours away from Manila be considered near?” he asks. Or far, depending on your perspective. Well, for someone who deeply loves to travel, it’s a relatively short ride: hop into the sleeper bus at midnight, get a good sleep, and wake up at sunrise in a totally different world: Baler. The ultimate escapade, it’s a perfect synergy of history, nature, culture and adventure. “Here, I can go surfing, trekking, rappelling, kayaking, camping, biking or scuba diving! If I want something more relaxed, I can laze on its numerous beaches, wander around town, or just go on a food trip. Who would not fall in love with the place when it simply has it all? Baler is my favorite quick escape.”


~*~
Baler
Perfect for: the more adventurous folks
How to get there: Check out Angel's comprehensive travel guide
Price point: 3/5


7. Nagsasa Cove, Zambales  Mark Rodel Uy of Kurtzky

A mere five-hour travel from Manila, Nagsasa Cove in Zambales is the perfect getaway for those who want to spend more time with nature—and a favorite of Mark of Kurtzky.com. (Another entry past the 3-hour-away-from-Manila limit ... these travel bloggers can't be stopped, can they? LOL!) Nagsasa is a remote area devoid of electricity and mobile phone signal, so travelers can expect a relaxing, fun stay with fellow overnight beach campers without the eternal presence of social media. Here you can pitch your tents amid towering agoho trees, cook your own camp food, and even set up a bonfire and chill out with friends until the wee hours. During the day, you can swim in the beach, climb up the surrounding grassy hills, or go further afield to the islands of Capones and Camara.


~*~
Nagsasa Cove
Perfect for: nature lovers
How to get there: Take a bus (around PhP300 one-way) from Victory Liner (Cubao) bound for Iba or Sta. Cruz in Zambales, and ask the driver to drop you off at San Antonio. From there, you can take a tricycle (PhP30 one-way) to Pundaquit, where there's a port going to Nagsasa Cove.
Price point: 3/5


Splurge

8. Baras, Rodriguez, and Tanay in Rizal  Karl Ace of Turista Trails

If you like variety, Rizal is the perfect quick getaway for you. Reaching this province from anywhere in Metro Manila is achievable in less than two hours—even on a weekday; you can easily reach the pastoral towns of Baras, Rodriguez, and Tanay without spending much time on commute. Baras has a hilltop infinity pool via Punta De Fabian that looks out to the expanse of Laguna De Bay with sensual abandon. The town of Rodriguez has Wawa Dam for a leisurely family hike—but for a more challenging terrain, the village of Daraitan can offer any hiker the reward of tasting fresh water from Tinipak Spring. While checked in at Momarco Resort, you can have breezy strolls in Tanay’s Sitio Bathala compound. Or why not appease your tranquil sensibilities with the pilgrimage site of Regina Rica? Take a scenic road trip along Marcos Highway and stop by the Sierra Madre Hotel to see the mighty Luzon-based mountain range named after it. For Karl of Turista Trails, the allure of a quick escape is enough to make the heart skip a beat for more surprises—and when it comes to surprises, Rizal offers lots.


~*~
Baras, Rodriguez, and Tanay in Rizal
Perfect for: people who prefer to have lots of accessible choices
How to get there: Check out Karl's blog for more info
Price point: 4/5


9. Stilts Resort in Calatagan, Batangas  Angelo of Angelo the Explorer

Stilts Resort, the top choice for Angelo of Angelo the Explorer, is a 3-hour (150km) trip from Manila to the beautiful town of Calatagan, Batangas via the Tagaytay-Nasugbu-Calatagan route. This resort, which you’ve probably never heard of, has three beautiful beaches: Harmony Beach, where beachfront lodgings are situated; Destiny Beach, which boasts of Cabanas and Pavilions; and Serenity Beach, where you can find the Tree Cottage and the picnic area. Stroll over to the stilts-supported wooden walkway on the water and admire the floating cottages. Get inspired with motivational quotes spread around the vicinity. The resort is also pet-friendly, sparing guests the heartbreak of leaving their babies at home. If you are looking for a blissful holiday away from the city buzz, Stilts is the perfect place.


~*~
Stilts Resort, Batangas
Perfect for: people who seek a more private and posh hideaway; bonus points for being pet-friendly
How to get there: Check out the Stilts website for more info
Price point: 5/5


10. Pico de Loro  Julius of Lakwatserong Tsinelas

For a luxurious getaway near Manila, Julius of Lakwatserong Tsinelas recommends Pico de Loro Cove in Hamilo Coast, Batangas. The resort is a vast expanse (5,900 hectares) of land, coastlines, coves, flora, fauna, and relaxation facilities perfect for any traveler who likes to get pampered. Start with the scenic mountains and coastal highways en route to Nasugbu; after checking in, indulge in Pico de Loro’s comfortable suites and soak up some sun in its lavish pools. A wide selection of food is available in Pico’s restaurants as well—making it ideal for hardcore foodies too. Make sure to check out the charming residential communities, and of course, lounge on the lazy chairs by the beach.



~*~
Pico de Loro Cove
Perfect for: pampered staycations; drinking all you can while waiting for the sunset
How to get there: Check out Lakwatserong Tsinelas for more info
Price point: 5/5


Have you visited any of these places? What other quickie getaways can you recommend? Drop a comment in the Disqus feed below!

Photos are owned by the respective bloggers unless bearing the Pepe Samson watermark. These photos were obtained from the corresponding owners with permission.

If you like my posts and would love regular updates on travel photos, food finds, restaurant reviews, dance articles, and drunken tales, follow Pepe Samson on Facebook!

pepe samson

About Pepe Samson

This is a short description in the author block about the author. You edit it by entering text in the "Biographical Info" field in the user admin panel.
    Disqus Comment
    Facebook Comment

6 comments :

  1. Thank you so much Pepe Samson! It's a great privilege to be part of this article!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much for including us Pepe! This is a great post. We'll be checking out a few of these places for sure, starting with Minalungao National Park. Been wanting to go there for some time now. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. You're welcome, Mervz! Thanks sa contribution! :) Travel soon XD

    ReplyDelete

Let me know what you think!