10 Beginner-Friendly Hiking Destinations Near Manila

They're IG-worthy, too!

(SPOT.ph) The Philippines is home to plenty of mountains where anyone can get the best view of nature. If your Instagram hasn’t been updated yet with your latest adventure, these mountains near Manila could easily give you a week’s worth of photos. 

The best time to go on a hike is between the months of October to May. If you can, go on a weekday to avoid the hundreds of hikers climbing on weekends. Travel in small groups so you’ll create less impact on Mother Nature. Always remember the LNT principle when climbing: Leave No Trace. Support local tourism by hiring local guides, eating local delicacies or food, and teaching everyone about environmental conservation. Mother Nature is very welcoming when we visit her sites; all we have to do is love and appreciate it by taking care of our natural destinations. 

Whether you’re alone, with your significant other, or with friends, these 10 hikes are very beginner-friendly. Make sure you have the hiking essentials (e.g. day pack, water, trail food) and you’ve prepared yourself with a bit of exercise. Schedule one climb each month and by the end of the year people will be asking #HowToBeU! 


Here are 10 beginner-friendly hiking destinations near Manila:

Pico De Loro (Maragondon, Cavite, and Nasugbu, Batangas)

If you start early in the morning, you get a chance to see monkeys scavenging their surroundings for their first meal. Sometimes dogs serve as extra tour guides as they tag along in the trail. It’s a three-hour climb so it’s best to enjoy every step of this adventure. The summit offers a 360-degree view of Cavite and Batangas. You can also see the famous Parrot’s Beak or Monolith


Budget: P700 to P1,000
Travel time from Manila: Two hours
How to get there: Ride a bus at Coastal Mall going to Ternate where you can rent a jeep or tricycle to the jump-off point. 

Mt. Balagbag - Maranat (Rodriguez, Rizal)

Don’t waste your time on just an hour-long climb to the Mt. Balagbag summit. Instead, do a traverse, which means you’ll travel or hike over or across mountains. You will need a guide for this. (Help the locals out, yes?) 


First, head to the Maranat Falls where you can have a refreshing swim. Make the most out of your stay because after you take a dip, it will be a two-hour traverse going to Mt. Balagbag, with a 45-minute vertical climb. The best time to reach Mt. Balagbag is in the late afternoon before sunset. You’ll fall in love with how the sun sets over the mountain range.  

Budget: P650 to P800
Travel time from Manila: Two hours
How to get there: Hop on a bus at Cubao going to Tungko. Ride a jeep to Licao-Licao and then get a tricycle to take you to the Barangay Hall. 


Mt. Batulao (Nasugbu, Batangas)

Take Mt. Batulao’s open trails to experience its rolling slopes and bask in the scenic views of Batangas. You will go up and down the varying ridges and gullies of the mountain. Locals recommend that beginners take the new trail as it provides a faster way to reach the summit (about one to 1.5 hours). If you wish to take on a challenge, you can take the old trail of Mt. Batulao (two to 2.5 hours), and then the new trail going down. Go on a pleasant day hike to what they call “Bato sa Ilaw.” 

Budget: P600 to P900
Travel time from Manila: 2.5 hours
How to get there: Ride a Nasugbu-bound bus at Buendia, go down at K.C. Hillcrest (former Evercrest). Rent a tricycle going to the jump-off point. 


Mt. Daguldol (San Juan, Batangas)

The guides from Hugom Environmental Guides Association will take you on a smooth and gradual climb to this coastal mountain where woodlands and light forests will greet you. You can get a good view of the Laiya coastline every now and then while going up. Butterflies, palm trees, flowers, and fruits can also be seen along the trail. Even though it’s not as spectacular as other mountains in terms of views, Mt. Daguldol gives its visitors a refreshing climb courtesy of the sea breeze. You can hit the Laiya beaches after your hike, too! 

Budget: P850 to P1,150
Travel time from Manila: Four hours
How to get there: Take an ALPS Bus from Buendia to San Juan, Batangas. Ride a jeep to Barangay Hugom, and then take a tricycle to Mt. Daguldol’s jump-off point. 


Mt. Daraitan (Tanay, Rizal)

The best destinations are those that let you experience everything, such as Mt. Daraitan where you can check out other sights in one go. At the summit, you get to see the Sierra Madre Mountains, the long stretch of the Daraitan River, and other nearby mountains. Its rewarding limestone viewpoints are worth the challenging hike. After the summit, your next stop is the Tinipak River. Its beautiful limestone boulders, springs, as well as natural pools and caves should not be missed. You can also spend the night! The locals are very accommodating and organized. 

Budget: P500 to P700
Travel time from Manila: Two to 2.5 hours
How to get there: Ride a jeep or van from EDSA-Shaw Crossing to Tanay. From there, get on a jeep going to Sampaloc where you can hail a tricycle going to Barangay Daraitan. You need to ride a raft to cross the Daraitan River then ride another tricycle to the Barangay Hall. 


Mt. Gulugod Baboy (Mabini, Batangas)

We’re not joking when we say that this mountain is a piece of cake. For experienced hikers, it will take only an hour going to the summit. For beginners, it will take about two to 2.5 hours with multiple stops to rest and recover. Since it’s a coastal mountain, be ready with your windbreaker jacket. The funny thing about the summit is that there’s a road on the other side. So if you don’t feel like going down by foot, you can hire a tricycle for P500. Since this will only take you about half a day, go for a swim or dive at the nearby resorts. 


Budget: P700 to P900
Travel time from Manila: Two to 2.5 hours
How to get there: Ride a DLTB Bus at Buendia going to the Batangas Grand Terminal. From there, ride a Mabini-bound jeep. You can pay to have the driver drop you off at the Crossing where you can take a tricycle or pay him extra so he can take you straight to the jump-off point (near Philpan Dive Resort). 


Mt. Maculot (Cuenca, Batangas)

The Mt. Maculot trail does not beat around the bush as the climb becomes steep and moderately difficult. It has three destinations: the Rockies (most famous), the Summit, and the Grotto, which can also be explored as a traverse day hike. The saddle, which serves as a jump-off point going to the Rockies and the Summit, also acts as the camp site for mountaineers who wish to spend the night. The famous Rockies provides one of the best views of the Taal Lake and Volcano. 

Budget: P600 to P900
Travel time from Manila: 2.5 hours
How to get there: Ride a Lemery-bound bus from Buendia and have the driver drop you off at Cuenca town. Take a tricycle to the jump-off point. 


Mt. Manalmon (San Miguel, Bulacan)

You’ll be surprised to find out that Mt. Manalmon is actually a hill, not a mountain, which is why it’s perfect for beginners. The Mamamayang May Aksyon Dulot ng Likas-Yamang Umuugnay sa Madlum guides will take you on an adventure filled with stories and fun facts about the destination. They also offer many activities for tourists like caving (Madlum Cave), spelunking, swimming (Madlum River), river crossing, monkey bridge crossing, and bird-watching. Refreshing views and rich flora and fauna await everyone at this national park. 

Budget: P650 to P950
Travel time from Manila: Three hours
How to get there: Take any Cabanatuan-bound bus from Cubao or Pasay. Tell the conductor to drop you off at Barangay Kamias, where you can take a tricycle to Barangay Madlum. 


Mt. Pinatubo (Capas, Tarlac)

Ever heard of a beautiful disaster? The 4x4 ride and trek going to and from the crater of Mt. Pinatubo is just that. After the 1991 eruption, Mt. Pinatubo became famous for its out-of-the-box hiking. Instead of mossy forests, vast grasslands, and other flora and fauna, it gives you long stretches of sand, ash, and a mix of white and gray formations. Instead of views of other mountain ranges, it has a crater lake that changes color depending on the weather. Visit Mt. Pinatubo before the landscape changes again! 

Budget: P2,000 (the 4x4 jeep ride is pricey but worth it!)
Travel time from Manila: 2.5 to three hours
How to get there: Get on a bus bound for Olongapo or Baguio and have the driver drop you off at the Capas Public Market (Capas, Tarlac). Then, ride a jeep or hire a tricycle going to Sta. Juliana. Hire a 4x4 jeep to take you to the jump-off point. 


Taal Volcano (San Nicolas, Batangas)

This hike is different from other Taal Volcano tours because you’ll be coming from the foot of Taal in Barangay San Nicolas, not in Tagaytay. You’ll need to ride a boat going to the jump-off point on the other side of the volcano. Upon arriving, you can take the Lava Walk to see the hardened black lava and go bird watching. The hike will lead you to two Taal volcano craters: the one that erupted in 1965 and another that erupted in 1911. You can hike going to these craters or ride a horse. After the hike, taste the locals’ cooking served boodle fight style for you and your friends. The grilled tilapia and liempo will make you eat five cups of rice! 


Budget: P800 to P1,000 (without the boat fare)
Travel time from Manila: Two to 2.5 hours
How to get there: The best option is to drive to San Nicolas. Follow the Metro Manila Skyway and R-3 to Talisay–Tanauan Road. Take the exit toward Tanauan City/Laurel/Talisay/Tagaytay from Calabarzon Expressway. Continue until you reach Agoncillo where you can hire a boat going to Taal Volcano. 

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