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

With travel being so accessible nowadays, everyone is always thinking of where to go next. Whether you love beaches and exploring islands or you seek the quietness of the mountains, the Philippines has a lot to offer to satiate our wanderlust.

The reality, however, is that majority of the country's top destinations require us to hop into our laptops and book a flight. Sometimes, you just feel that "itch"that sudden urge to pack your bag and go somewhere—and in such a case, flying is not exactly the most realistic option. Well, worry not because in this blog post, I have compiled a list of beautiful spots near Manila (less than 5 hours away) that you can spontaneously head off to! These places are recommended by no less than my favorite travel bloggers! Whether it's summer or sem break, take note of these destinations for your next solo or kaladkarin trip! 


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 waters of PeƱaranda River! Situated near the foothills of the Sierra Madre, Minalungao is accessible by a 3-hour ride from Manila. 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 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 hill atop which a cross stands, with Sierra Madre 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.

See also:
The Harvest Hotel: A Delightful Escape in Nueva Ecija (Review | Check Rates)

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Minalungao National Park
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 – Mervin Marasigan 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.


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Burot Beach
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.

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Taal Heritage Town
How to get there: Check out JB's driving directions here
Price point: 2/5


4. Puerto Galera, Mindoro  Rogelio Gabiano Jr. of Pinoy Travel Freak


For Gabz of Pinoy Travel Freak, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro is a top choice for quickie getaways. Less than 5 hours away, Puerto Galera offers a variety of activities, from nightlife and island hopping to diving and snorkeling. The main White Beach is dotted with bars and resorts and offers great parties, but if you're the type of person who wants to escape the noise and the crowd, you can explore some of the other hidden gems such as San Antonio Island, Talipanan Beach and Bayanan Beach. Puerto Galera is also known for its colorful, healthy and rich marine life!

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Puerto Galera, Mindoro
How to get there: from Manila, take a bus bound for Batangas like Ceres and JAM Transit (Cubao and Buendia terminals) and hop off at the Batangas pier. From there, there are boats and ferries which can take you directly to White Beach or Sabang.
Price point: 3/5


5. Lucban, Quezon  Estan Conrad Cabigas of Langyaw

Estan recommends veering away from the normal summer escapade; during Holy Week, specifically, he suggests visiting Lucban, Quezon for a self-inflicted immersion and witnessing how 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 Christ's rebirth.


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Lucban, Quezon
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


6. Corregidor Christian Sangoyo of Lakad Pilipinas

If you want to get immersed in a little bit of 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, Corregidor is on top of his list. The diversity of activities the island offers 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.


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Corregidor 
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


7. Baler  Angel Juarez of Lakwatsero

For the itchy feet of Angel of Lakwatsero, driving a few extra hours is no big deal. For someone who deeply loves to travel, Baler is 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. The ultimate escapade, Baler is 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.”

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Baler
How to get there: Check out Angel's comprehensive travel guide
Price point: 3/5


8. 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. 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 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.


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Nagsasa Cove
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


9. San Rafael, Bulacan (Malangaan Cave and Spring)  Ian Tapang of Ian the Brave

A quick out-of-the-metro escape awaits you in San Rafael, Bulacan where there will be a slight deviation from your usual weekend excursion. Spelunking, or exploring of caves, is one of those many experiences you need to add on your bucket list! Unknown to many, Malangaan Cave and Spring is the perfect destination for this dirty but fun adventure. The cave can be a bit more challenging during rainy season but who doesn’t love a good challenge, right?


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San Rafael, Bulacan
How to get thereTake a bus bound for Baliwag, Bulacan. From there, take a jeepney going to Pulo in San Rafael, Bulacan. Once in San Rafael, ask a tricycle to take you to the dropoff point of Malangaan.
Price point: 2/5


10. Real, Quezon  Blaine Chrian of Lost and Wonder

Blaine, a big adventure junkie, absolutely loves surfing. "Dancing with the waves brings freedom and euphoria to my senses", he says. That's why for those who share these sentiments, he recommends the municipality of Real in Quezon for a quick surfing break. Only 3-4 hours away from Manila, this coastal municipality boasts of beautiful beaches that offer swells and waves perfect for surfing. Even with a tight budget and a hectic schedule, you can spend quality time with friends and locals of Real. With proper planning and earmarking, a budget of less than ₱1000 is sufficient! Aside from surfing, you can also try water tubing/rafting or chasing the waterfalls of Balagbag in Real. As you go back to the metro, try visiting the Pililia Wind Farm in Pililia, Rizala great side trip to this quick getaway!


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Real, Quezon
How to get there: Take a Raymond bus from Legarda, Manila for only PHP 177. There are a number of available resorts in the area, but Blaine recommends the Pacific Recreation Kamp Resort (The PaRK) in Tignoan, Real, Quezon; the fees and accommodation here are surprisingly cheap.
Price point: 3/5


11. Paete, Laguna  Jaey Ashley Silva of HeyJaey

Out of all Jaey's out-of-town trips near the Metro, her favorite is Paete in Laguna. It is home to popular wood carvings and one of the most alluring churches in the Philippines, the Paete Church, which houses extremely beautiful collection of images, paintings and carvings. The town of Paete is very interesting as the location may be accessible yet the place itself can be a bit secluded surrounded by lush mountains—making it an ideal quick road trip destination.

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Paete, Laguna
How to get there: Take an HM Transport bus (Cubao terminal); a Green Star Express bus (Buendia terminal); or a DLTB bus (Cubao and Buendia terminals) bound for Sta. Cruz, Laguna. From Sta. Cruz, you can ride a jeepney with either Paete or Siniloan signboards. Hop off in Paete.
Price point: 2/5



Splurge

12. 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 Manila is achievable in less than two hours—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. The town of Rodriguez has Wawa Dam for a leisurely family hike—but for a more challenging terrain, Daraitan can offer any hiker the reward of tasting fresh water from Tinipak Spring. 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. Indeed, when it comes to surprises, Rizal offers lots.

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Baras, Rodriguez, and Tanay in Rizal
How to get there: Check out Karl's blog for more info
Price point: 4/5


13. 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 trip from Manila to the beautiful town of Calatagan, Batangas via the Tagaytay-Nasugbu-Calatagan route. This resort 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. 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.


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Stilts Resort, Batangas
How to get there: Check out the Stilts website for more info
Price point: 5/5


14. 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 lounge on the lazy chairs by the beach.


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Pico de Loro Cove (check rates)
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.

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6 comments :

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

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  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

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