(SPOT.ph) With almost everyone going abroad for the long weekends, summer breaks, and vacation holidays, staying in the country is becoming quite a viable, affordable, and accessible alternative. Hit the ground running with these scenic, fun, and unique provincial sights that are sure to add heat to summer 2018.
Strike a pose on top of Nagpatong Rock Formation (Tanay, Rizal)
Hankering for a hike? Head to Tanay, Rizal to reach its famous flat-topped limestone cliff. Located at the foot of Mount Masungki, the geometric rock formation has earned quite the reputation for its angular edges and picturesque views. A guide leads you up the popular flat edge before you make your way up another rock to—of course—take that profile shot with the panoramic view of the province as your background. Treks start at dusk (as early as 4 a.m.) and will have you back where you started after six hours.
How to get there: You can drive from Manila via the Marikina-Infanta Highway or Marilaque Highway (one hour and 30 minutes). An alternative is to ride a jeep to Cogeo (one hour and 30 minutes), then a tricycle to Barangay Cuyambay (10 minutes).
Go on a Tagaytay food trip for a day (Cavite)
If you’re from Manila, chances are you’ve already had a day off to coast the scenic highways of Tagaytay. Instead of booking an overnight staycation at one of this southern town’s bed and breakfasts, turn your day trip into a food-filled adventure. Start your day with breakfast at Bag of Beans and enjoy some classic coffee concoctions or do a throwback to a classic buffet at Sonya’s Garden. Head over to Balay Dako for a big celebratory lunch and enjoy the breathtaking views while at it, and cap off the day with a fancy dinner at beautiful garden spot Antonio’s.
How to get there: You can drive from Manila via C5 and South Luzon Expressway (two to three hours).
Take on the challenge of climbing Mt. Daraitan (Tanay, Rizal)
You don’t have to go too far to say you’ve made it to the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. Mt. Daraitan sits at the border between Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon. One of the most popular eco-tourism spots to date, Mt. Daraitan offers opportunities to go through nature full-throttle in just a day through trails (including an alternate hunter’s trail that leads you deeper into the mountain). The hike, which offers perfect sunrise views of limestone formations, commences at the Tinipak River. If you’re out for even more adventure, Daranak and Batlag Falls are within close range too.
How to get there: You can drive from Manila via the Tanay-Infanta Road through the Tanay-Sampaloc Road or Marcos Highway or Marilaque Highway (two to three hours). You can also ride a jeep or van (one hour and 30 minutes) to Tanay, then take a jeep to Sampaloc (45 minutes), and a tricycle ride to Barangay Daraitan (30 minutes).
Discover the rustic rock gardens of Masungi Georeserve (Baras, Rizal)
If Masungi Georeserve’s famous sapot or spider web still hasn’t made its way to your Instagram feed, you surely haven’t been staying on top of the current see-and-be-seen spots this side of town. Popular for its sharp, limestone rock formations (you’ll be safely teetering on your toes while walking Masungi’s trails) where it takes its name from, guides lead you in, around and through the cliffs to get to jaw-dropping, tree-filled views that’ll have you forgetting you’re just a few hours away from all the traffic and bustle of the city.
How to get there: You can drive from Manila via the Marikina-Infanta Highway or Marilaque Highway (one hour and 30 minutes). An atlternative is to ride a jeep to Cogeo Gate 2 (one hour), then take a jeep to Sampaloc and ask the driver to drop you off at Kilometer 47 Masungi entrance (one hour).
Enjoy bird-watching in the city (Quezon City)
Get your binoculars ready and take a quick trip or two (or three…) around some of the city’s most popular bird-watching places. Rack up your miles by doing a Visita Iglesia-inspired round of sites within the city that offer up a wide range of species to gawk at and hunt for. It doesn’t take long to get from UP Diliman’s tree-lined avenues to La Mesa Eco Park’s protected paths and parkways—start early in the morning and your Quezon City-centric bird-watching can last you all of half a day.
How to get there: You can drive from Manila around these areas via Commonwealth Avenue or Don Mariano Marcos Avenue (one hour).
See giant windmills up close without having to go to Ilocos Norte (Pililia, Rizal)
Just two hours away from Manila, this wind farm brings an alternative energy source close to the city. What used to be a sight exclusive to Ilocos Norte is now even more accessible these days. Located in Barangay Halayhayin in Pililia, Rizal, the series of 27 wind turbines are positioned to catch the amihan winds from October to March. Surrounded by rolling landscapes, a lake, and lush greens, this first-of-its-kind operation is something new, inventive, and climate-cool to put on your road trip list.
How to get there: You can drive from Manila via the Manila East Road through Taytay, Angono, Binangonan, Cardona, Morong, Baras, and Tanay (two to three hours).
Go surfing up north (Zambales)
Driving up and around Luzon can bring water babies, beachcombers, and surf lovers a sure treat. You can skip the five-hour drive all the way up to surf capital La Union, and go for a three-hour roadtrip to Zambales instead. Eager to get in as much beach time as possible? Do the whole enchilada and cover as much ground (and surf) as possible.
How to get there: You can drive from Manila via the North Luzon Expressway (three to four hours).
Go on an underwater adventure down south (Batangas)
A popular diving destination just three hours away from Manila, Sombrero Island in Anilao, Batangas is haven to folks wanting to explore the reefs and the depths of the sea without having to travel too far. Park your cars at one of Anilao’s popular dive resorts and book a bangka to take you to this idyllic sombrero-shaped spot. Perfect for an afternoon off, the island offers stretches of sand for sunbathing and perfect waters for snorkeling.
How to get there: You can drive from Manila via Calabarzon Expressway or Star Tollway (three to four hours).
Take an art tour (Antipolo and Angono, Rizal)
Sneak a little bit of culture into your summer itinerary with the plethora of art spots you’ll find in and around Rizal. Whether it’s a road trip to popular Pinto Art Gallery (don’t forget to charge your phone or bring that camera—you’ll want to take as many photos as you can!), having lunch (ever tried crocodile?) at the famous Balaw-Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery, or traipsing through the Blanco Family Art Museum, you won’t be in want of more culture and sensory surprises by driving around this rich, beautifully textural part out of town.
How to get there: You can drive from Manila via C5 and Marikina-Infanta Highway (one to two hours).
See the sea of clouds sans the difficult trek at Treasure Mountain
Who says you need to go all the way to Mt. Pulag or Sagada to experience a sea of clouds unfold? While you could put on your hiking shoes and trek up to the vista, more casual vacationers can rest easy as the viewpoints are also accessible by car. This privately-owned property is also a trek away from Busay Falls and offers lodging for up to 40 people (team building activities are very popular here).
How to get there: You can drive from Manila via the Marikina-Infanta Highway or Marilaque Highway (one hour and 30 minutes). An alternative is to ride a jeep to Padilla or Cogeo Gate 2 (one hour and 30 minutes), then a jeepney to Sampaloc. Get off at Sitio Maysawa then take a tricycle to Treasure Mountain.