As times get busier and busier, and with the unrelenting traffic that Manila folk face daily, the desire to get away from it all grows stronger every day. But you may only have a weekend or three days to spare for a quick vacation, so booking a flight out of the country might be out of the question. Luckily, there are many ways to have a quick break—some are just a couple of hours away from Manila!

 

Beaches and Waterfalls

Though it’s not officially summer just yet, we’re definitely feeling the heat and sun that signal the end of the cool months. When the sun beats down on our skin and the heat envelopes us, only thoughts of dipping into cool water, basking on the sand in swimsuits, or being surrounded by quiet nature fill our heads.

 

Tanay, Rizal is just a little under two hours away from Metro Manila. It is perfect for groups of friends who want to keep active even when on a weekend getaway. You can hike Mt. Daraitan or drive 30 minutes to the Masungi Georeserve for stunning views on rope nets and bridges.

Tanay is home to the Tinipak River, which features white rock formations, rushing waters, and a natural swimming pool inside the Tinipak Cave. A guide is necessary because not all parts of the river are for swimming, and you can spend the night here if you bring your own tent and food. Be sure to keep your waste to a minimum and share your food with the local guide!

Another popular destination in Tanay is the 14-meter high Daranak Falls, a great place to go for a refreshing dip in the waters at the foot of the Tanay mountains. The waterfalls cascade into rivers and ponds surrounded by lush vegetation of the forest. You can enjoy your lunch amidst this beautiful backdrop by renting a picnic table for only PHP200, or a shed for PHP300.

While everyone’s heading to La Union or Baler to hit the waves over the weekend, try going south for a short beach trip. Calatagan and Batangas are home to many beaches where you can get your dose of sun, sand, and sea! Batangas spots like Nasugbu-Lian and Anilao are perfect for divers and snorkelers since they’re frequented by sea turtles and fish who visit the reefs and shipwrecks.

If you’re looking for white sand not too far from Manila, a popular (and therefore, quite crowded) spot would the beach of Laiya, Batangas. Despite the crowds, it’s still a good place to watch the sunset over the horizon while enjoying various Batangueño dishes like lomi and tinapa!

For more sand and sea but up north, head to Silanguin Cove in San Antonio, Zambales. This relatively untouched cove doesn’t have white sands, but the calm waters and bright red mountain soil make this a great place with a unique view. The area is also a good fishing spot so you can ask a local boatman to take you fishing, and maybe catch your own dinner!

 

History, Culture, and Nature

If you’re not feeling too confident about your beach body, or perhaps you’d like to stay on land during your weekend getaway, head to one of the many garden or old-town resorts sprinkled near Metro Manila.

 

Cintai Corito’s Garden in Balete, Batangas, is inspired by many different Asian elements. Dubbed as a “Taste of Bali”, the ornate decorations, landscaping, statues of Buddha and other deities, and ponds all allude to the famed Indonesian island. This resort also has a swimming pool and a mini sanctuary for different animals, making it friendly for families with children.

Experience Philippine food and culture while surrounded by a rushing waterfall in Villa Escudero in Tiaong, Quezon. The coconut plantation resort features a museum of Philippine antiquities, cultural shows and traditional performances, and Filipino feasts that you can enjoy in the restaurant by the waterfall.

Looking for luxury, wellness, and relaxation over the weekend? Splurge and reconnect with yourself at The Farm at San Benito, Lipa City. The 5-star resort holds yoga, Tai Chi, and similar classes amidst dense forests and lush greens. They serve healthy, organic, and vegan food, making this a place to detox both your body and your mind.

Walk among traditional Spanish-Filipino homes and really feel like you’re living in 19th century Philippines in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Bataan. These old homes have been restored to showcase the beauty and heritage of old Filipino homes during the Spanish era, winning the place an Asia Award of Excellence for Asia’s most excellent destination in 2017. You can opt for day tours and meander around the Old Manila, stay in their modern hotel, or rent a whole home for yourself.

 

Where are your favorite weekend getaway places? Write them in the comments below!

Margarita Olivares
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