Been wanting to explore Metro Manila and its surroundings but don’t know where to start? Worried that you’ll end up on an organized tour from one tourist trap to the next? Well, fret not because you can start just a few hours outside of the corporate jungle! There are many travel destinations near Metro Manila which only require a day or two of your time, most likely your weekends (or long weekends!). So it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and live a little!
- Our Itinerary and Travel Guide to Intramuros and Binondo in Manila, Philippines
- Travel Guide to Popular Cities in the Philippines – 25 Day Trips That You Can Do in the Philippines
- List of the Best Budget Hotels and Beach Resort in Batangas, Philippines
- 15 Incredible Places You’ll Find in the Province of Laguna, Philippines
- Treat Yourself to Relaxation Heaven at I’m Onsen Spa in Makati
Whether you’re into historic buildings, beaches, adventure sports or mountains and volcanoes, this list of 10 Weekend Getaways near Metro Manila is sure to show you a side to the city that you didn’t know existed!
EXTRA TIP: If you’re a foreigner and planning to visit the Philippines, you’ll be asked for a full travel itinerary and a verifiable return flight ticket at the Immigration, if you don’t know when you will be leaving the country, you can just get a refundable flight itinerary from Rent a Flight Ticket.
1. Revisit Old Manila – Historic Metro Manila
Manila may get its fair share of negative press, but that wasn’t always the case, especially in its heyday. Why not start off your morning at Kilometer 0? Rizal Park, more commonly known as Luneta, is considered to be the largest urban park in Asia. Despite being photobombed by the Torre de Manila, it is still a must-see for locals and foreigners alike. Devote a few hours to Intramuros, the Walled City, either on foot, by calesa (horse-drawn carriage), or by joining a Bamboo bike tour. These bikes are unique to Asia and beautifully handmade! If you’re interested in a walking tour, there are a handful of people and groups who offer informative and entertaining tours of Intramuros and Old Manila. \
Indulge your inner foodie in Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world. Sample delicacies from Dong Bei, Sincerity Café, Masuki Mami, Ying Ying Tea House, and LGA Fastfood Estero among many others. Don’t be afraid to try the many hole-in-the-wall restaurants! To burn off that big lunch, visit Binondo Church, Cruz Church, Quiapo Church, and even San Sebastian Church (the only all-steel church in Asia) by walking around the area. Cap off the day by visiting the National Museum (free on Sundays!) to see the Spoliarium and other notable artworks up close.
If you visit just a few of the historic destinations in Metro Manila, then you’ll learn a lot about the history and cultural beginnings of the city. You can also add Manila Bay sunset cruise, Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Suggested Tour: The Big Binondo Food Wok
2. Roam around Rizal
For Antipolo, one can’t go wrong by starting the day at Antipolo Cathedral (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage) before proceeding to the famous holy week pilgrimage site, Mystical Cave, which boasts stalactite and stalagmite formations that resemble religious figures. One need not be a modern and contemporary art connoisseur to enjoy Pinto Art Museum, as the entire space is surely a feast for the eyes. Inside you will find a guided tour schedule as well as Bizu café (although if you’re on a budget, better eat elsewhere). It’s the best arts and culture destination in Metro Manila.
Be pampered with a view of Laguna de Bay and Manila’s skyline at Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa, Antipolo’s nature retreat. Loreland Farm Resort seems to really be the “place to be” with its wide array of offerings: accommodations, swimming pool, team building activities, and spa, all within a lovely green space.
Located inside a private school, PACEM Eco Park aims to raise awareness for the care of the environment and features a butterfly garden, wildlife sanctuary and aviary, herbal garden, organic farm, and greenhouse, as well as a mini-forest. Roasted cashew nuts are aplenty around Antipolo, and you even have additional variants to choose from – sweet, spicy, adobo. Be sure to eat at one of the restaurants along Sumulong Highway while enjoying the Manila cityscape.
You can also go further to Tanay to take a dip in the cold and refreshing waters of the 14-meter high Daranak Falls. Trekking in Daranak and spelunking in the nearby Calinawan Cave is also recommended for adventure destinations near Metro Manila. Adventurers can get their fix of adrenaline from trekking, spelunking, swimming, and camping at Daraitan and Tinipak River (Quezon). Check out more Extreme Activities in the Philippines here.
Suggested Tour: ATV Adventure in Antipolo Rizal
3. Antique Metro Manila – Viva Bataan!
For a military history destination near Metro Manila, visit Samat and go on up Dambana ng Kagitingan, one of the final strongholds of the Filipino and American soldiers before surrendering to the Japanese during World War II. On a clear day, enjoy a panoramic view of Bataan and Corregidor atop the shrine. Fond of antique houses? You can avail of a day tour at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar where you can walk on cobblestone streets and go inside 50+ manually transported and renovated heritage houses. Overnight accommodation, spa, batis-inspired pool, bicycle, and calesa tours are also available.
Participate in the annual releasing of Pawikan hatchlings off to the sea together with other fun activities in this year’s Pawikan Festival 2015 (tentative November 29-30). Lots of athletes and fitness enthusiasts go to Bataan to train in cycling because the varied terrain makes it one of the best training destinations near Metro Manila.
Suggested Tour: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Heritage Walking Tour in Bataan
4. Scary Metro Manila – Conquering Corregidor!
This island fortress is known as “The Rock,” is a popular destination for those who only have the weekend to spare. Aside from being the last stand before the Japanese takeover during World War II, it was foremost a military paradise before becoming a seat of the Philippine Commonwealth and headquarters of the Allied Forces. Although the most popular activity remains the historical tour, you can enjoy a host of other activities on the island such as hiking, kayaking, sunrise/sunset viewing, camping, bird watching, zipline, and night lateral visit of the tunnels.
You can also explore the island onboard an ATV or your own bike. If you’re up for dark tourism, stay overnight and go ghost-hunting with your peers at the Hospital, the site of the Jabidah massacre which took place almost five decades ago. A historical, outdoors, and horror destination near Metro Manila, all in one place – how awesome is that?!
Regular ferries and tours run from the ferry terminal in Pasay City, so if you feel like visiting the city in style, why not find yourself a 5-star hotel in Malate, Manila, where you can also visit the Cultural Center of the Philippines? The Cultural Center, an imposing, modernist, concrete structure, sits on 150 acres of land and includes the Tanghalang Pambansa (National Theatre) and the Folk Arts Theater among other attractions. Be sure not to miss the Light and Sound show at Malinta Tunnel.
5. Batangas, the Land of the Valiant
Batangas has long been a favorite of weekend warriors and holiday tourists, especially when it comes to beach destinations near Metro Manila. That is why more “unspoiled” beaches are gaining popularity during the past few years due to the proliferation of tourists in the more well-known areas of the province.
Burot Beach is a must-visit in Calatagan with its crystal clear waters, fine sand, and rock formations. One caveat though, is that this beach could be closed at any time, to be developed by one of the prime real estate developers in the country. Better visit soon!
Masasa Beach, located on the fish-shaped island of Maricaban, is within the municipality of Tingloy, Batangas. It is best visited together with Anilao, one of the best diving spots in the country, and Gulugod Baboy. What was previously a famous luxury resort is now open to the public off the coast of Nasugbu.
Fortune Island is easily recognized because of the Grecian pillars and statues built atop the island. There’s also a museum commemorating the discovery of the MV San Diego Warship. Scuba diving and snorkeling are also popular activities on the island. Make sure not to leave without sampling the province’s bulalo, lomi, tapa, and kapeng barako.
Suggested Tour: Diving Experience in Anilao
6. Livin La Vida Laguna – Lakes near Metro Manila
What’s more, to see in Laguna, you ask? It’s the best lakes destination near Metro Manila, that’s what! Well, there are the seven lakes of San Pablo City, the newly reopened Cavinti Underground River and Caves Complex, river rafting, tubing, and cliff diving in Magdalena (best from June to December), Taytay falls in Majayjay, wakeboarding in Calamba, Isdaan Floating Restaurant in Calauan, Buruwisan falls in Siniloan, as well as mud springs, Flatrocks and Peak 2 in Mt. Makiling, Los Banos.
There are also various cold and hot spring resorts available, as well as private pools for rent. Specialty food products include kesong puti, buko pie, bibingka de macapuno, puto Binan, kinulob na itik, Mer-nel’s cake as well as espasol.
Suggested Tour: Mountain Lake Resort Day Access in Laguna
7. Bountiful Bulacan – Cave destination of Metro Manila
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Gear up for a weekend of eco-adventure at Biak na Bato National Park, aptly named because it is the place where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo established the first Republic of the Philippines, the Biak-na-Bato Republic. The park, with its cave network and river system, is also a DENR-protected area due to its ecological importance. Popular attractions include the Aguinaldo Cave, Bahay Paniki Cave, Madlum Cave and River, Tanggapan cave, Tilandong Falls, Hospital Cave, Imbakan Cave, Ambush Cave, Bukal Cave, Bayukbok Cave, and Mt. Manalmon.
Challenging rock formations, hanging bridges, spelunking, camping, river traverse, trekking, bird watching, swimming, and picnicking are what await the adrenaline junkie. The park is best accessed via San Miguel. There is also an assortment of water parks with various theme attractions around the province that families can enjoy. Bulacan is also famous for Pastillas de leche, Malolos ensaymada and inipit, sukang Paombong as well as crunchy chicharon. And it’s all only one hour away from Metro Manila!
8. Rediscovering Nueva Ecija – Nature near Metro Manila
Marvel at the towering limestone formations of Minalungao National Park in General Tinio, either by foot or by bamboo raft along Penaranda River. One can also fish, picnic, swim, camp, spelunk, and cliff dive in the park. After spending a few hours beside the river, challenge yourself to climb the 1,000 steps to the summit where a man-made cross is built overlooking the whole area. If you would like to see more of Nueva Ecija, visit one of the largest reservoirs in Southeast Asia, Pantabangan Dam. Sport-fishing or game-fishing aficionados can get their fix in Pantabangan Lake, while others can hire a boat to tour around the lake. This is clearly your one-stop nature destination near Metro Manila. You can also add: Gabaldon Falls and Eco Park, and Dupinga River.
9. Pampanga Adventure – Volcanoes and food near Metro Manila!
Aside from a day hike to Mt. Pinatubo’s crater, foodies will surely love going to the Culinary Capital of the Philippines. Just in Angeles alone, gastronomical delight awaits you in Historic Camalig Restaurant, Aling Lucing’s sisig, Binulo Restaurant, Didi’s Pizza, and 19 Copung Copung to name a few. It’s best to combine all the eating with some walking around Bayanihan Park, Clark Museum, Clark Memorial, and Founder’s residence.
Newbies and experienced wakeboarders alike will find exhilaration at Deca Wakeboard Park. Try out the new outdoor fun facility at Porac and get your excitement rolling with the Giant Swing, Aerial Walk Challenge, Avatar One (first roller coaster zip line), Adventure Tower, Archery, and ATVs.
Check out the Zooc ride in Zoocobia, the first and only gravity car in the country, and be a kid for the day. Only 2 hours from Manila, this is a destination near Metro Manila that has pretty much everything!
Suggested Tour: Mt. Pinatubo Hiking Day Tour from Manila
10. Sojourn in Quezon – Festival destination near Metro Manila
Come and celebrate one of the most famous and colorful festivals in the country on May 15th, Pahiyas! Try spending a day in Dolores at Bangkong Kahoy, a retreat resort midway to the summit of Mt. Banahaw, the province’s sacred mountain. Experience eating lunch with your feet partially underwater and a man-made waterfalls in front of you at Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant inside the popular plantation and resort, Villa Escudero.
Discover the “unspoiled” beaches of Cagbalete, Puting Buhangin, Borawan, and Dampalitan, and experience camping overnight by the beach. A trip to Quezon wouldn’t be complete without Pancit Habhab, Chami, Pansit Balibag, Rodillas’ yema cake, and Longganisang Lucban. Quezon is probably the most unique destination near Metro Manila!
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