9 Things To Do In Pagsanjan, Philippines: Local Culture And Nature

things to do in pagsanjan philippines
Megan Flores
Endorsed by Local Expert
Megan Flores

The town of Pagsanjan in the province of Laguna is dubbed as the Tourist Capital of the province. Its main attraction is Pagsanjan Falls, one of the most well-known waterfalls in the country. According to history books, the beauty of Pagsanjan Falls was already being appreciated as far back as the Spanish period. The town itself is also a town with a rich history and heritage, being almost 350 years old. There is more to Pagsanjan than just the falls and our top 9 things to do in Pagsanjan will show you what else you can discover about the town.

1. Shoot the rapids to Pagsanjan Falls

Pagsanjan Falls - Pagsanjan, Laguna 1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kathleen Mae Tugano used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Famous since early times, the falls are classified as a three-drop waterfall or a waterfall with three tiers. The majestic falls is fed by water coming from Pagsanjan River (locally known as Bumbungan River). Although the falls itself is located in the nearby town of Cavinti, the best way for visitors to access it is through Pagsanjan. Locals call the boat trip to Pagsanjan “Shooting the Rapids” which involves two skilled and accredited boatmen paddling upstream on a wooden or fiberglass canoe until you reach the falls. The return boat trip to town is the more thrilling downstream ride, through fourteen rapids. Each boat can usually accommodate up to three people and the tour fee includes use of life vests, insurance, and entrance fees.

Pagsanjan Falls

Address: Pagsanjan-Cavinti, Laguna

Price: from 25 to 30 USD per person: inclusive of round-trip boat ride, use of life vests, insurance, entrance fees.

Opening Hours: 8am - 3pm. Everyday. But during rainy season, this is dependent on the weather as the strong rains will make the trip too dangerous.

Duration: around 4 hours required.

Access: Ask the Municipal Tourism Office for help in arranging the tours. Local tricycles can take you to the boating station.

Contact: +63 495013544

2. Brave the falls and enter Devil's Cave

Devil's Throat Cave 15
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Vislupus used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Once you reach the third drop of the falls and the pool at the foot of the falls, you need to ask yourself if you are brave enough to enter Devil’s Cave. It is actually the cave behind the falls and you can reach this by riding a bamboo raft that is pulled by the boatmen. You will feel the pressure of tons of water raining down on your head and back as you go through it. Some liken it to having a back massage. The cave itself is dark but you can try out how the cavern echoes any sound it picks up.

Devil's Cave

Address: Pagsanjan-Cavinti, Laguna

Price: from 5 USD as a tip to your boatman; this is not part of the standard boat tour fee

Opening Hours: 8am - 3pm. Everyday.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

3. Explore Pagsanjan's heritage: Arco Real and the Municipal Hall

Pagsanjan’s rich history can be seen in some of the town’s architecture. The Arco Real for example, is the historic town gate which was built in 1878 and completed in 1880. It is an expression of thanks from the people of the town to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who according to local lore marked the exact spot with her sword to ward off a group of bandits. To this day, the gate stands on Rizal Street, one of the town’s main roads. The Royal coat of arms of Spain with two Castilian lions are found on top of the arch, as it was originally designed.

Another place of historic interest is the Municipal Hall Building also on Rizal Street. Currently it houses the seat of government in the locality, but this building has a lot of history. It was built in the 1850s and first housed the Tribunal Court established by the Spaniards. After which it housed the first public elementary school, and also the first public high school. During the Philippine revolution, it became headquarters of revolutionary forces. The building bears a historical marker marking it as an important historic site.

Arco Real and Pagsanjan Municipal Hall

Address: J.P. Rizal Street, Pagsanjan, Laguna

Price: no admission fee

Opening Hours: Arco Real - all hours; Municipal Hall - 8am - 5pm. Closed on weekends and public holidays.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: Find yourself on Rizal Street; both structures are hard to miss.

4. Explore Pagsanjan's Heritage: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

Pagsanjan,LagunaChurchjf4256 24
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ramon FVelasquez used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The church is the only Roman Catholic Church in the town of Pagsanjan. Like many churches established by the Spanish colonizers, Our Lady of Guadalupe is more than three centuries old. It was designated as the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2012, and it holds two sacred images of the patroness, whose main basilica is found in Mexico City, where images of the Blessed Virgin were recorded. The church’s facade is of early Renaissance style and it features a three-story high bell tower. A small chapel on the side also features a mini-museum of church relics.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

Address: J.P. Rizal Street, Pagsanjan, Laguna

Price: no admission fee

Opening Hours: Mass times may change. Check the Church’s Facebook page.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: If you are in the town center of Pagsanjan, the church is just a short walk.

Contact: +63 495014121

Facebook: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

5. Try local food: dine at Calle Arco

[food]  A white bowl of pho, or beef broth with noodles, with basil, beef pieces and beef balls. The bowl is at least nine inches wide, large enough to be used as a hat.  Viet Star restaurant, Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Source: Photo by Flickr user David Jackmanson used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Calle Arco is one of the recommended food spots in town, as mentioned in many food blogs and other reviews. The restaurant is housed in an old Spanish-style house that was previously owned by the Jardin family. It was converted into the Calle Arco Hotel and Restaurant. A descendant of the Jardin family is one of the owners. Aside from the restaurant on the first floor, there is also a cafe and two rooms for guests. Because the owners did not change the interiors of the old house that much, diners still feel as if they are enjoying a meal in an ancestral house. The restaurant serves Filipino dishes family style. Their best seller is the Sinigang na Baka (Beef in Sour Broth), Garlic Chicken and Crispy Pata (Deep Fried Pork Knuckles). It’s a popular place so it is recommended you go early or make a reservation.

Calle Arco Restaurant

Address: 57 J.P. Rizal Street, Pagsanjan, Laguna

Price: from 6 USD per person for a full meal (three main courses, 1 vegetable dish and rice)

Opening Hours: 10am - 10pm. Everyday.

Access: If you are in the town center, you can walk to Calle Arco. It is located on the same street as the Church.

Contact: +63 495014135

Facebook: Calle Arco

Travel tip by Luzon Local Expert - Megan
Posted on: Nov 14, 2019

A less popular but definite must-try at this restaurant is their pako (fern) salad. Fresh pako is served with kesong puti (white cheese)--which is a common cheese around Laguna. With a honey-vinegar dressing, this salad will leave you wanting to re-create the dish at home--and you can! Pako and kesong puti are typically peddled around in the towns so you can take a piece of Laguna home.

6. Around Pagsanjan: Pueblo El Salvador Nature Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you are on a budget and you want to go to the falls without the boat ride, it can be done through the Pueblo El Salvador Nature Park in the nearby town of Cavinti, Laguna. The park was established in 2007, in the village of Tibatib, Cavinti. Through this route, visitors will approach the falls from above, through trekking and rappelling via metal ladders. The only boat ride you will need to do is when you reach the falls and ride the raft to Devil’s Cave. There are two sections for rappelling, with treks in between and it usually takes between 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the falls. Take note that you will have to exit the same way as you came in, so it means climbing and rappelling back up to the park.

Pueblo El Salvador Nature Park

Address: Tibatib, Cavinti, Laguna

Price: from 6 USD admission fee per person for the trekking and rappelling package inclusive of raft ride

Opening Hours: 7am - 5pm. Everyday.

Duration: around 3 hours required.

Access: From Pagsanjan town, drive to Cavinti town proper. From there, take a tricycle to the park.

Contact: [email protected]

7. Around Pagsanjan: Bumbungan Eco Park

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Daniel melpas used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Bumbungan Eco Park is located in the same village as Pueblo El Salvador. Under the auspices of the Cavinti Tourism Office, this small park features an interesting man-made falls on Bumbungan River. The park is found near the area where the river was dammed and a spillway was created. The spillway became a wet bridge along the Lumban-Caliraya-Cavinti Road, but when another bridge was constructed, the area near the spillway was converted to an eco-park with picnic huts and bathroom facilities. Visitors can wade or bath at the overflow area.

Bumbungan Eco Park

Address: Tibatib, Cavinti, Laguna

Price: from 0.25 USD environmetal fee during the daytime, 3 USD for a picnic hut

Opening Hours: 8am - 8pm. Everday.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: Take a tricycle from Cavinti town proper.

Contact: +63 9055174371

8. Around Pagsanjan: Kalakal-Pandan Sambalilo Weaving Center

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Give more werpa to your OOTD by using this hand-woven pandan Sambalilo from KPWH! Stylish na, eco-friendly pa!

Posted by Kalakal Cavinti - Pandan Weaving and Handicraft on Thursday, November 16, 2017

If shopping for local products is your thing, this is the place for you. The weaving center can be found in Cavinti, Laguna, under a covered basketball court right before you reach the town center. Operated by a local cooperative, it has women weavers who make pandan leaves into summer hats, bags and mats. If you want to catch some of the weavers in action, it is best that you arrange it with the Cavinti Tourism Office. You will catch a glimpse of the pandan leaves as they are processed from raw materials to the final product. You may also buy finished products at the center.

Kalakal-Pandan Sambalilo Weaving Center

Address: Covered Basketball Court, Cavinti, Laguna

Price: from 0.75 USD for plain colored hats, 1 USD for colored hats, and 1.5 USD for multi-colored hats.

Opening Hours: 8am - 5pm. Everyday but prior arrangement is encouraged.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: Take a tricycle to the center from the town proper.

9. Around Pagsanjan: Japanese Garden near Caliraya Lake

Cavinti,Lagunajf8227 08
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ramon FVelasquez used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Japanese Garden is so named because it is a memorial park built by the Japanese government in the 1970s in memory of the Japanese soldiers who died during World War 2. There is a memorial shrine in the park where Japanese usually make offerings and prayers for the soldiers. The garden reportedly occupies 11 hectares (27.2 acres) of land located next to Caliraya Lake in the town of Cavinti. For less than 1 USD, you can spend the day strolling around the park, having a picnic in one of the many picnic huts and go up a flight of stairs to see a magnificent view of Caliraya Lake.

Japanese Garden

Address: Talaongan, Cavinti, Laguna

Price: from 0.50 USD admission fee

Opening Hours: 7am - 5pm. Everyday.

Access: Public jeepneys do not have a regular route that goes to Caliraya Lake, so access is mainly via private car or vehicle.

Travel tip by Luzon Local Expert - Megan
Posted on: Nov 13, 2019

On your way to the Japanese Garden, be sure to take in the sights around Caliraya Lake. The verdant roads along this large man-made lake actually make for scenic drives, especially by sundown. If you've got time, make a stopover at the lakeshore and walk along the reddish clay soil. Have a breather while appreciating Caliraya Lake's natural splendor. There are loads of resorts around the lake where you can enjoy water activities such as boating, kayaking, jet ski riding, and zip lining, among others, should you fancy a stay in this part of Laguna.

Come to Pagsanjan for different kinds of adventures

Pagsanjanjf4165 14
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ramon FVelasquez used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Pagsanjan is only a few hours drive from Manila, so a day trip is quite possible for you to try out old and new things to do in town. In Pagsanjan, adventure also begins when you open your mind to discover local culture and history.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.
This article has been endorsed by Luzon local expert Megan Flores

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I am a freelance writer living in the summer capital of the Philippines, Baguio City. I am passionate about writing and living and anything in between.

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