8 travel destination ideas for your next road trip

Joshua Berida
Where to go tubing, try your first climb, cool off under a waterfall, and more – plus, all of these destinations are hours away from Manila

CHASING WATERFALLS. Ready for a new adventure?

The Philippines has several pristine beaches of a rainbow of colors – white, golden brown, pink, gray, even black. It is easy to board a plane, boat or drive to your favorite beach destination. However, you’re looking for an alternative to beach trips, there are several other destinations to discover and explore for your weekend escapade.

There are a number of waterfalls that are a few hours away from Metro Manila, two of which are in Laguna, namely Hulugan and Aliw Falls.

Hulugan Falls is the more spectacular of the two, with its steep drop from high above a cliff. The short trek to the waterfall is part of the adventure. The surrounding rock formations and vegetation crawling up, add a touch of wildness to an otherwise touristy destination. Visitors have to trek an hour or so through concrete, then rocks, grass and dirt roads before getting to the falls. There is also a short walk down makeshift stairs. The refreshing waters of Hulugan revitalize tired and aching muscles.

MAJESTIC. Despite the crowds, Hulugan Falls will elicit awe from visitors. Photo by Joshua Berida

NATURE'S WONDER. The falls is nature's work of art. Photo by Joshua Berida

For those who still have enough strength or time, a trip to nearby Aliw Falls is a must. This multi-tiered wonder of nature requires a shorter trek through rocks, grass and dirt roads. The cool, refreshing waters sliding down steps of boulders are a sight to behold and a great place to cool off.

STONE STEPS. Aliw Falls is a multi-tiered wonder of nature. Photo by Joshua Berida

Visitors can climb up to get an overlooking view of the landscape or spend an hour or so wading in the waters, or getting a shower and massage in one of the higher tiers of Aliw Falls.

REFRESHING. The cool waters of the falls is a great place to relax and unwind. Photo by Joshua Berida

How to get to Hulugan and Aliw Falls: To get to Hulugan Falls, ride a bus bound for Sta. Cruz Laguna from Taft Avenue, the fare is around P140 one-way. From Sta. Cruz, get on a jeep bound for Luisiana and tell the driver you will alight at San Salvador, fare is around P25 one-way. Once there, you can either rent a tricycle to take you to the registration area, there is an entrance fee of P10 per person. You will also be given a guide the payment depends on how much you want to give.

From Hulugan Falls, you can rent a tricycle to take you to Aliw Falls since it is near. The waterfall also has a registration fee of P10.

Minalungao Park in Nueva Ecija is an ideal weekend getaway destination because of its proximity to Metro Manila.

The jagged and towering rock formations hugging the river create an impressive sight. The emerald waters, invite visitors to just jump in or, for the less adventurous, take their time dipping in slowly. There is also a small cave in the park where we can enjoy caving even for a few minutes.

COURSING THROUGH THE RIVER. Visitors of Minalungao Park can swim in the river or ride a raft. Photo by Joshua Berida

Another activity is a climb up a flight of stairs on a nearby mountain, wherein upon reaching the top, we can see a glass cross overlooking the park.

UP THE STAIRS. The park has a flight of stairs on a mountain that lead to a cross at the top. Photo by Joshua Berida

REFLECTION. The cross atop the mountain reflects the color of the sky and provides a respite after a tiring climb up. Photo by Joshua Berida

How to get to Minalungao Park: Ride a bus bound for Gapan from Cubao, fare is around P150 one-way. From Gapan, it is better to rent a tricycle that will directly take you to the park and take you back; this will cost around P600, including waiting time. There is a P20 registration fee and P20 fee for the tricycle or vehicle you bring into the park.

Quirino is a landlocked province that has plenty of eco-adventures waiting just for us. Go tubing down a river or climb up a cliff and jump off. 

TUBING. One of the things you can do in the province is tube down a river. Photo by Joshua Berida

The province has caves to explore such as Aglipay Cave. The latter has multiple chambers open for visitors wherein you can see different rock formations taking on the forms of people, animals and things.

LET THE LIGHT IN. Caving is an adventure worth doing while in Quirino. Photo by Joshua Berida

The majestic view of the lush mountains and the river piercing through the province at the Landingan View Deck completes the journey to Quirino.

VIEW FROM ABOVE. The view deck gave our group a bird's eye view of the river that pierced through the rolling, verdant hills. Photo by Joshua Berida

Quirino provides visitors with a frontier-like experience. The few tourists and less developed areas attract adventure-seekers.

How to get to Quirino: There are bus terminals in Cubao and Sampaloc, Manila that travel to Quirino. Some of your options are Five Star, GV Florida and Northern Luzon Bus Line. The fare is approximately P500 one-way. You can rent a jeep to visit the different attractions in the province for around P3,000. For more information about things to do, contact Tony Misagal 0998-2580860.

For those who visit Quezon, their first destination might be Borawan, Cagbalete or other beaches nearby. However, this province is rich in culture for visitors looking for something else to do. The province has several old churches and houses that date back to Spanish colonial times.

A trip to Sariaya will remind you of the region’s vibrant past; with many ancestral homes built by barons who made their fortune through the booming demand for oil extracted from copra. The rich flaunted their prominence and affluence with stone houses, of which the Natalio Marquez mansion is the most beautiful of them all. With its castle-like exterior and spires, the house symbolizes a distinct age amidst the modernization of the area. Andres Luna de San Pedro, the son of Juan Luna, designed the house.

MAGNIFICENT. The Natalio Enriquez Mansion is the most beautiful of the heritage houses in Sariaya. Photo by Joshua Berida

Travel further back in time and visit Lucban Church, one of the oldest in the province. First built in the 1590s, the church withstood the test of time and calamities to become one of the most prominent symbols of Quezon. It plays an important role during the town’s Pahiyas Festival.

HISTORY. The Tayabas Basilica is one of the many remnants of Spanish times in the province. Photo by Joshua Berida

The Tayabas Basilica is another notable structure that is a remnant of the halcyon days of the Spaniards in the country. The towering, key-shaped church is a national cultural treasure with its baroque design.

FESTIVE. The Lucban Church is not only a historical monument, but it also welcomes the Pahiyas Festival. Photo by Joshua Berida

How to get to Lucban and Sariaya: There are many buses bound for Lucena to Lucban from EDSA-Kamuning, Cubao or Buendia-Taft; the fare will vary depending on where you came from. From Lucena Grand Terminal, ride a jeep bound for Lucban.

To get to Sariaya, ride a bus bound for Lucena as the town is on the way. Tell the driver you will alight at Sariaya.

Batangas is a famous diving and beach destination for weekend escapades. The province also has many mountains for adventurers looking to get a (literal) natural high. Mount Talamitam, Batulao and Maculot are nearby mountains to visit for beginners and fun also for experienced hikers.

Mount Batulao’s rolling hills and verdant landscape is worth every photo we take. The ascending and descending trek challenges our legs and makes us question why we went hiking in the first place. Vendors selling buko juice provide visitors with plenty of opportunities to quench their thirst.

ROLLING. The rolling hills make for an easy and enjoyable climb for both beginners and experienced hikers. Photo by Joshua Berida

The rock formations and the adrenaline rush of reaching the peak are rewards for pushing through with the adventure.

STONE FACES. Mt. Batulao is not just greenery, it also has rock formations. Photo by Joshua Berida

THE CLIMB. Even from a distance, one can see the ascents and descents of the mountain. Photo by Joshua Berida

How to get to Mount Batulao: Ride a bus bound for Nasugbu from the terminal near MRT Taft, the fare is approximately P111 one-way. 

Mount Talamitam’s bareness and wildness give it a certain charm. The scorching sun with hardly any shade will make you think twice of making the trek.

JOURNEY. The beginning of the trek goes through areas where there is little to no shade. Photo by Joshua Berida

However, the landscapes and overlooking views of nature are worth the adventure and potential sunburn. The steep assault to the summit tests our leg muscles, but once we reach the top, all our efforts will be rewarded.

VIEW. Mt. Talamitam may be bare but it provides a spectacular view at the peak. Photo by Joshua Berida

ON A HIGH. After reaching the summit, one can't help but embrace the moment. Photo by Joshua Berida

How to get to Mount Talamitam: Go to MRT Taft Station and ride a bus bound for Nasugbu, tell the conductor you will alight at Barangay Bayabasan, the fare is around P124 one-way. There is a guide fee of approximately P300+++, if you choose to get one.

Mount Maculot immediately challenges hikers with its steep assault up to the rockies or summit during the first part of the mountain.

ROCKIES. Some climbers can't help but risk going to the rockies to get a bird's eye view. Photo by Sheila Mei (adrenalineromance.com)

However, once we reach the top or the rockies, we get a spectacular view of Batangas and get a glimpse of Taal Volcano.

SUMMIT. Mt. Maculot provides excellent views of Batangas. Photo by Sheila Mei (adrenalineromance.com)

How to get to Mount Maculot: Ride a bus from Buendia terminal bound for Batangas and tell the conductor you will alight at Tambo exit, fare is around P116 one-way. From there, take a jeep bound for Lemery, and alight at Cuenca, fare is around P22 one-way.

Ride a tricycle that will take you to the jump-off point or walk to it. There is a registration fee of P20 to enter the mountain. You can also hire a guide for a certain fee, this will depend on the size of your group and if you will go to the summit and/or rockies, or traverse.

With the many beach destinations of the Philippines, we will never tire of those pristine, white sand beaches to sink our feet in or cerulean waters to swim in. However, we have several other options when it comes to weekend getaways. Whether we like the thrill of reaching the summit of a mountain or just remembering our history, there are many places to rediscover or uncover new things to do. – Rappler.com

Joshua Berida is a full time writer, part-time wanderer with insatiable wanderlust. He plans his next trip during a current one. He plans on exploring the Philippines and beyond. Read about his adventures on thewanderingjuan.net

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