Summer is the best time to plan for a vacation and luckily the Philippines isn’t short on places worth a visit. Even if you only have a few days to spare, you can have a wonderful time and explore a new part of the country each time. Day trips or short overnights in and around Manila are also extremely budget friendly and easily suitable to all kind of travelers – couples, families and even solo!
Manila offers great attractions in its own right, but is also the gateway to many other destinations. If you are planning to take a few days off, you should consider venturing out of the city itself and trying out some of these exciting places near it. Spending even a single night in any of these places can give you the refreshing feel you need.
There are many places to visit outside Manila. If you are visiting the place for the first time, you may need some help finding the best places to stay at, and how to enjoy the best it has to offer on a short time. The places listed below are the best destinations for an overnight stay or more.
If you want to witness heaven on earth, this is the place you should be. Unlike most other places in the Philippines, this is not a beach destination, but this peaceful province easily compensates for it by offering a plethora of natural attractions.
The place is densely covered by rainforests and a number of beautiful waterfalls. Other than that, Laguna’s glorious history is also worth exploring. Some of the hotspots to visit include the Seven Lakes, Hulugan Falls, and Cavinti Falls. And the added bonus is the mouth-watering dishes and very comfy resorts – either by the lakes or at Pagsanjan.
Batangas is only a few hours away from Manila. The scenic beauty of the place is very hard to ignore. If you are looking for a quick beach getaway, then head no further than Laiya – which is actually one of the nicest beaches in the Philippines. Laiya offers everything from guesthouse accommodation to luxury 5 stars resorts.
Batangas is a fairly large province and Laiya isn’t the only attraction there. If you are more into culture or hiking, you could stay at places such as Lipa, Talisay or Taal and explore ancient churches and hiking trails there. Divers can venture out to Anilao – which is the best diving destination near Manila and perfect for a quick diving excursion for those who don’t have time to visit the more remote islands.
This place is mainly famous for the hundreds of islands national parks. Other than that, you can also find a lot of other activities to get yourself involved. If you are a seafood lover, this place should be nothing less than a paradise for you.
Alaminos is perfect for families, who wish to spend a night there and explore the Hundred Islands on the following day. Longer stays usually involve a day trip to Bolinao Falls. Accommodation is fairly basic, but is quickly developing and 3 stars resort are easy to find. The major downside is travel time from Manila which is at least 5 hours by bus and can be more if there’s traffic. But if you are willing to endure the long ride, a piece of heaven awaits you when you arrive there.
Another very popular place near Manila is the Tagaytay ridge. If you want to escape the summer heat and have some fun with your family, this place could be the perfect option for you. It is also a great option for couples, as you can find fantastic hotels for cheap and enjoy the excellent restaurants and stunning panoramic view.
Thanks to the cool mountain weather and breathtaking view, the air feels clean and fresh, helping you feel totally relaxed. The main attraction here is of course the trek to Taal Volcano crater lake, but If you can manage some extra time, you should definitely also visit Sky Ranch and People’s Park in the Sky.
Subic is a popular site for all tourists. The beaches there aren’t spectacular to say the least, but Subic makes up for it in many different ways. First of all, it has some of the widest selection of beach resorts in the country, and all are very moderately priced. Then, there are also the countless attractions you can try while there, some of which are very unique.
Families can enjoy a visit to the zoo, Ocean Park or the inflatables island by the beach – the largest of its kind in Asia, while couples and anyone with a sense for adventure can go diving in the bay. Subic is known to be one of the best places for wreck diving in the entire country – second only to Coron.
Clark Pampanga used to be a large U.S military base, which has now been turned into the freezone. Many companies moved there and it has created a vibrant city full of exciting attractions. Another huge bonus is the fact everything there is much cheaper. You can find a ton of nice hotels in Clark and surrounding towns, and spend a night or two exploring the area.
The main attraction here is Mt.Pinatubo. You’ll have to wake early and drive for an hour to get there, but this is well worth it. The jeep ride and then trek to the summit is one of the most exciting adventures the Philippines has to offer. After you are done with the volcano, you can drop by the nearby hot springs in Puning to end your day with some fun and relaxation.
7. Puerto Galera
With virgin white beaches and some of the best water sports facilities, you can have a great time out at Puerto Galera. Out of all the tourist spots relatively close to Manila, this is by far the most developed. You’ll have your choice between literally hundreds of different hotels, and tons of cool activities.
To reach Puerto Galera you must first drive to Batangas and then take the ferry from there for an overall 4-5 hours journey. So, this place is better suited for long weekend vacations of at least 2-3 nights. It’s one of the places where booking a tour package from an agency might be worthwhile to save money and have an time-efficient trip. Diving and nightlife there are both fantastic, and you have no less than 40 different beaches to choose from.
Baguio city although very much urbanized is one of the most natural cities in Luzon. The place is packed with beautiful historical buildings, side by side with new and more modern ones. Some of the best places to explore in the area include the Bridal Veil Falls, Lion’s head and Baguio city market. The city is overall filled with life and can provide you with the entertainment you are looking for.
Baguio is well known for being the agricultural center of Luzon. One of the nicest attractions here is taking part in strawberries picking, if the season is right. It is also a nice place to stop by if you plan to ahead further north to places such as Banaue or even Vigan. Spending a night in Baguio can break down your road trip into two parts and make it much easier.
9. San Antonio, Zambales
Located in the northernmost part in Luzon, this is another destination that is simply going to blow your mind. You can spend a lovely time by the seaside while relishing on the delicious seafood available out here. It works well for both families or couples – you you will have a lovely time out here.
You can even think of setting a camp beside the sea in the night. The site of the beautiful night sky is going to refresh all your senses for sure. Zambales is a place where the sea meets the forest. These are the kind of places that one remembers their whole lifetime. The most recommended place for overnight camping is by far Nagsasa Cove – a chance to spend a night on a stunning private beach all by yourself.
Lastly, we have Bataan which is mainly famous for its cultural and historical attractions. For the ones who are interested to learn about the past glory of Manila and the Philippines as a whole, they should definitely visit this place for an unforgettable learning experience.
The province of Bataan is crowded with several historical structures and landmarks. You should know that the place has around 27 heritage houses for you to explore. You can also find some great hotels to spend your night at. There is also a ferry from Bataan to Manila that only takes 50 minutes.
With this list of weekend gateways from Manila, you can plan a perfect holiday for yourself. You may not be able to cover all the places but you should at least try to visit some of them! Definitely worth the few hours on the road.