Located just two hours away from Metro Manila, the city of Tagaytay is a popular weekend destination in Southern Luzon. It is packed with city dwellers and foreign travelers during weekends, where everyone enjoys the mild climate while sipping the soup of “bulalo” and the gorgeous view of Taal Volcano serving as their background.
Sometimes called the “Baguio of the South,” Tagaytay offers several parks and exciting recreational activities for visitors like that of its northern counterpart. If you ever find yourself craving a quick trip outside Manila, this is the best place to unwind. Here’s a list of some of the places and things you shouldn’t miss when in Tagaytay:
1. Taal Volcano
Taal Volcano, the smallest active volcano in the world, is Tagaytay’s main natural attraction. It is located within the lake of the same name and is reachable by a 30-minute boat ride. Those who are interested in hiking can hire a tour guide and trek all the way to the crater. The best time to go on a hike is during the early morning. Make sure you apply sunblock and bring enough drinks. If trekking is not your cup of tea, you can simply enjoy the view of the volcano from various viewing decks located all throughout the city.
2. Puzzle Mansion
Kids and kids at heart are welcome to visit Tagaytay’s Puzzle Mansion, home to the largest jigsaw puzzle collection in the world as recognized by Guinness World Records. The museum, which was originally a family-owned summer house, was turned into a gallery by the Filipino entrepreneur Gina Gil Lacuna. For an entrance fee of 2 USD per person, you will have access to more than a thousand jigsaw puzzles in the collection, which range from famous landscapes to religious pieces. If you need a place to stay overnight, the Puzzle Mansion also has a guesthouse offering bed and breakfast.
3. Tagaytay Picnic Grove
For a family-friendly trip, you can go to Tagaytay Picnic Grove, a park with open-air cottages and recreational facilities including ziplines and eco trails. The entrance fee is 1 USD per person, which is used to maintain the park’s facilities. Meanwhile, zipline rides range from 4 USD to 6 USD. You can also rent a horse and go horseback riding within the park’s vicinity, or take photos with the animals at the Adventure Jungle. Before leaving, you might want to check out the rows of souvenir shops where you can buy shirts and native handicrafts.
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4. Sky Ranch Theme Park
Another family-friendly destination in Tagaytay is the Sky Ranch Theme Park, a privately-owned leisure park easily accessible from most Tagaytay hotels. Its main highlight is the Sky Eye, a Ferris wheel that is considered to be the tallest in the Philippines. It provides a nice panoramic view of the whole of Tagaytay city, including the famous Taal Volcano. Other thrilling park rides include the Viking, Log Coaster, Flying Bus, and Jump Around. In case you get hungry, Sky Ranch has a wide dining selection ranging from fast food to fine dining. Other facilities include a breast-feeding station, and a clinic.
5. Nurture Wellness Village
Accredited by the country’s Department of Tourism, the Nurture Spa Village was named as one of the most relaxing spas in Asia by CNN Go and one of the Top Seven Spas of the Philippines by Asia Spa Magazine. It is surrounded by coffee orchards and filled with Ifugao native huts, while the spa treatments are all inspired by traditional Filipino treatments. One good example is the Filipino massage called “hilot”, a therapy used to prevent colds, fever, and even fatigue. Various spa packages at Nurture Wellness Village cater to couples, families and even groups of friends, and packages often include accommodation and servings of healthy organic food.
Catch a glimpse of the local farm life when you visit Paradizoo, a theme park combining a zoo and an eco-farm in one beautiful sanctuary. Recommended for nature lovers and healthy living advocates, the park features vegetable gardens, floral designs, topiaries, and a meditation garden. Meanwhile, some of the animals you may interact with include llama, ostriches, camels, miniature horses, and labrador retrievers. If you’re interested in agriculture, this is your opportunity to learn about the best practices in farming straight from the locals.
7. Bulalo at Tagaytay Mahogany Market
If there’s only one dish that you should taste when coming to Tagaytay, it would be the “bulalo.” This local dish has tender beef shanks and bone marrow in it, while the hot soup complements the chilly weather in Tagaytay. You can find “bulalo” in almost every restaurant in Tagaytay, even in the upscale ones, but the best place to order it is at Tagaytay Mahogany Market. Eat it like the locals do, which means partnering a big bowl of “bulalo” with a serving of hot white rice. And, yes, you can suck up the bone marrow if you wish!
8. Sonya’s Garden
Sonya’s Garden in Tagaytay is the perfect place for a romantic retreat. It is a bed and breakfast with Filipino-inspired cottages, and a restaurant serving delicious organic food all year round. Some of the greens they serve here come straight from the owner’s gardens. They even have a salad buffet where you can create your own salad mix. Many couples also come here to have their pre-nuptial pictures, while some rent the flower-filled gardens as their wedding or reception venue. Other facilities at Sonya’s include a spa, a country store and a panaderia where you can buy fresh Filipino pastries like “monay” and “hopia.”
9. Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm
With its mild climate year-round, it’s not surprising to find a lot of farms and gardens in almost every corner of Tagaytay. For some bee farming lessons, you can go to Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm where guests are welcome to tour their facilities and witness the honey-making processes for a minimal fee. Fragrant plants are all over the place, making it even more attractive not just to the eyes but also to the olfactory senses. Ilog Maria also has a shop selling all kinds of natural bee products such as beeswax candles, handmade soaps, honey shampoo, and natural mosquito repellants.
10. Tierra de Maria and Pink Sisters Monastery
Recreational facilities have sprouted in the city throughout the years, but Tagaytay is still considered as a spiritual destination by many. During Holy Week, pilgrims come here to visit the Pink Sisters Monastery, a religious community that is known for its resident nuns who dress in pink. You can either attend one of the 45-minute masses held here or write your heart’s desires on a piece of paper and let the nuns pray for you. There’s also Tierra de Maria, a religious shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Manaoag. Its main feature is the 50-foot-tall (16-meter-tall) statue of Mother Mary, while it also has a small chapel where you can pray and enjoy some quiet time.
Tagaytay, your weekend getaway
Easily accessible from Metro Manila, the city of Tagaytay makes for an interesting and enjoyable weekend trip whether you are travelling solo or with a big group. The peak season is from September to February, but you are welcome to spend time here all year round, there’s always something to do!
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