The Philippines is one of the most astounding countries in all of Asia. It is home to rich culture, tourism, biodiversity, and most hospitable people. There is much to explore and enjoy with its more than 7000 islands. Pristine marine life, world-class surf spots, beautiful beaches and mountains, rice paddies, endemic wildlife, abundant flora and fauna, colorful festivals, rich culture, and authentic, savory Filipino cuisine are just a few of the best things you can get when you visit the country.
Manila, the capital city, is the gateway to all of these experiences. There is no need to book another local flight to get a taste of Asia’s “Pearl of the Orient Seas”. Only 1 to 3 hours away from the metropolitan, you can visit historical sites, discover white beaches, and even trek a supervolcano!
Get your backpack ready and check out our 2020‘s Top 10 Tourist Spots near Manila.
1. Tagaytay City
Located 1.5 hours away from Manila, Tagaytay City in Cavite is a great place to cool off while driving through rows and rows of pineapple fields. It is popular for its cool climate and picturesque view of the Taal Volcano.
Must see places include the Sky Ranch, a five-hectare amusement park where the country’s second-tallest Ferris wheel stood. You can also visit the 1028 puzzle collections at the Puzzle Mansion. This place was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records.
For an artsy cafe experience, you should drop by at Dreamland Arts & Crafts Cafe. They serve native coffee perfectly paired with their best-selling Tortilla Wraps. Dreamland’s main selling points is their native-culture vibes and colorful displays of handcrafted artworks and souvenirs.
The People’s Park in the Sky, situated in the city’s highest point, is also a popular destination. From there, you can see Taal – a volcano that is surrounded by a freshwater lake, with a lake inside its crater and an island within that lake.
If you are still confused about how this triple island looks like, you should see Tagaytay for yourself and book this day tour package!
2. Angono Petroglyphs
Angono Petroglyphs is only 2 hours away from the capital city but it will take you a trip down the Stone Age’s memory lane. Petroglyphs are rock carvings that were formed by the scratching of soft stones with harder stones.
It is also considered as one of the oldest forms of art. The petroglyphs in Angono, Rizal are the oldest rock art discovered in the Philippines. It holds primitive-quality drawings of human and animal figures. There are a total of 127 carvings inside the cave and all were found to exist more than 4000 years ago.
You will have to make your way through an artificial tunnel before reaching the stone carvings. This tunnel is manually built by Ibanag minorities in the 1990s to protect the petroglyphs. On-site, there is a mini-museum that displays fossils and artifacts such as flake stone tools and earthenwares.
Good news! There is no entrance fee to the site. You can visit Angono Petroglyphs along with other Angono Arts & Heritage by reserving a trip her
3. Corregidor Island
Corregidor Island was one of the battle sites during World War II. Situated right at the mouth of the Manila Bay, makes it a strategic defense location against the invaders. Corregidor Island means “Island of the Corrector” as it was where warships entering Manila would stop for inspection and signal enemy intrusion.
Highlights of the Corregidor Tour includes the Malinta Tunnel and the Mile-long Barracks. The Malinta Tunnel served as a bomb shelter during the war and is connected to a network of tunnels running through the mountains.
Today, this tunnel is used as an AV theater that presents a narration of battles in Corregidor. Meanwhile, the Mile-long Barracks is the iconic skeletal remains of what has been the soldier’s houses. These ruins are located on the island’s highest point and are said to be hurricane-proof.
The best way to tour the island is to rent a bicycle. To reach the island, however, tourists will need to take a short ferry ride from Manila. Be reminded that Corregidor Island only allows guided tours. Book here now and start your historical sight-seeing.
4. Mt. Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo in Zambales once dealt a violent volcanic eruption leading a global temperature drop during the 1990s. While this volcano is yet to show signs of activeness, the disaster it caused created beautiful landscapes perfect for nature adventurers.
At the hillside, tourists will be required to ride a 4×4 jeepney to get closer to the mountain. It is a long and bumpy journey on a lahar field between valleys. The trekking starts at the end of the Crow Valley and will take approximately 2 hours to reach the crater. At the crater, there is a lake that gleams a turquoise hue, surrounded by giant rock formations.
If you wanted a bit of side-trip, do drop by at Capas Shrine. This is a memorial shrine built for the Filipino and American soldiers who died during the Bataan Death March. Also visit Telatau, a massive totem-shaped rock in Sta. Juliana.
Aside from this, you can end your day in the Bueno and Dolores Hot Springs or couple it with a relaxing volcanic ash massage at the Pinatubo Spa. This adventure is only 2 hours away from Manila.
Don’t think twice and reserve a Pinatubo Crater Tour today.
5. Masungi Georeserve
Masungi geo-reserve is a conservation spot in Rizal that sustainably protects the biodiversity in it. For just an hour, you can already experience trailing along with this nature spot. Visitors will be coursing a trail that goes through the geo-reserve, witnessing the massive rock formations and the rich forest.
The trail walk, accompanied by rope courses and uphill climbing, will take around three to four hours.
To start, visitors will be greeted by a rope net, which they will have climb to get to a rock wall and onto the rest of the trail. Other rope courses include the Duyan, which is a giant rope hammock, Sapot, which is a metallic platform that hangs above the fairy chimney rocks, and the Patak, a cable car connected by a hanging bridge. The tallest peaks in the reserve are called Nanay and Tatay which are natural limestone formations. A man-made bridge is used to connect the two.
To preserve the site, the Masungi Geo-reserve only accepts advance booking and accommodates a maximum of four groups per day.
Book a group package now and have an awesome nature trip.
6. Capones Island
Three hours away from Manila, the Capones Islands in Zambales will surely make your hearts leap for an island hopping. This island is the largest among the three islands which during low tides, are connected by a sand bar. Like most of the Philippine coasts, Capones Island also has a creamy white sand shore and clear blue waters. Surrounding the island are rocky cliffs, where the Capones Lighthouse stood.
Plan and prepare in advance if you wish to visit this place. There is no internet connection, no house to rent, and nowhere to buy goods. So, make sure to bring a tent and enough food and water for your overnight stay. It’s more fun if you bring diving equipment with you to explore its pristine waters.
To reach the island, you will have to book a tour that includes visiting the Nagsasa Cove and Anawangin Cove.
Book this island hopping tour here.
7. Pagsanjan Falls
Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna is one of the most famous falls in the Philippines. From Manila, you will be traveling for 2.5 hours to reach Pagsanjan’s jump-off point. From there, you are to take an hour-long canoe ride through lush greenery among the gigantic rock formations. After reaching the lagoon, you can ride a bamboo raft to get closer to the raging falls and into the Devil’s cave.
The Devil’s cave is the shallow opening behind falls that you can enter in. You are also allowed to swim in the lagoon for a couple of minutes.
The canoe ride back is the most exciting part because you will be experiencing Pagsanjan’s famous water rapids, also known as “Shooting the Rapids.”
Alternatively, you can opt to reach the falls from the top through trekking the forests of the Pueblo El Salvador Nature Park. This is an hour-long of rappelling down metal ladders before reaching the falls.
Remember that there are no food stalls out there, bring some snacks and water with you. Get that splash on and reserve this trip now!
Anilao in Batangas is famed for its underwater sports and endemic marine life. The first scuba-diving experiences started here during the 1960s. There are more than 20 diving sites scattered in this place including the Balayan Bay, Sombrero, and Maricaban islands. The most famous diving site is the Cathedral Rock, a marine sanctuary that is only 23 meters from the shore.
Don’t be sad if you can’t go diving, you may try windsurfing and kayaking. Although swimming is not promoted because of its rocky shores, you can rent bamboo rafts, cabins, and picnic huts. They offer island hopping especially to make you see and enjoy Sombrero Island (a hat-shaped rocky island with white sand shores.)
Alternatively, trekking is also an option. This easy trek to Anilao Mountains includes the hills of Pinagbanderahan, Gitna and Gulugud Baboy.
Random fact: Anilao has gained an international reputation for muck diving and underwater macro photography for its rich marine biodiversity. Anilao is only two hours away from Manila! Book this trip to start exploring underwater.
9. Subic Bay
Subic Bay was formerly an American Navy facility but is now synonymous with weekend day trips from Manila. This place is two hours away from Manila. It offers many experiences: from an Ocean Adventure to Survival Training Camps, every destination is definitely worth the visit!
Ocean Adventures is a marine park, almost like the Manila Ocean Park, in offering lists of aqua-related activities. You can swim with sea animals and even have up-close encounters with the dolphins. If the kids can’t still get enough from these animals, let them visit the Magaul Bird Park. This nature park holds bird shows including the segments Survival Demo, Talk and Feeding Times, and Winged Wonders.
Meanwhile, sharpen your survival skills by enrolling at the JEST Camp. JEST is short for Jungle Environment Survival Training, is the best survival school in the Philippines. You can come with your kid in their Wild Child program, a survival course designed for kids.
You can do all of these by booking here now.
10. Hidden Valley Springs
Give yourself a break and take a refreshing dip in mountain-fresh waters of the Hidden Valley Springs. This destination is situated between Mount Makiling and Mount Banahaw and is blessed with virgin forest, giant ferns, and wild orchids. Only 1.5 hours away from Manila, this resort blends in with a natural jungle setting.
Hidden Valley Springs highlights its secret waterfall, hot and cold springs, and six natural pools. There is also a Jacuzzi, known as the Soda Pool, which massages your back using the force of water. The water from this resort is said to have rejuvenating power coming from the mountain minerals.
Aside from these, you can also hike around the forest park and follow a hidden path to a secret waterfall.
Complete this experience by enjoying a buffet lunch of traditional Filipino specialties by booking a trip here.
Experiencing the Philippines does not have to be far! You can enjoy historical sightseeing at the Angono Petroglyphs and reminisce the war-ravaged past at Corregidor Island. You can also escape the summer heat at the cold city of Tagaytay or be refreshed at the Hidden Valley Springs. If you are in the mood for some beach-vitamins, visit Capones Island or dive the waters of Anilao.
Looking for a trekking adventure within a couple of hours of Manila? The lahar roads of Mt. Pinatubo and the forest trails of Pagsanjan Falls is the way to go.
What are you waiting for? Start booking now and enjoy these quick escapes. Truly, it is much fun in the Philippines!