Imagine this – You’ve already spent a couple of days sightseeing in Manila and still have a few more days left in the city. Or maybe you’ve planned a stay in Manila for a few days but don’t want to get entangled in the city’s never-ending traffic. What do you do then? You head out and go on day trips outside the city!
Manila is undoubtedly an exciting place to be, but we wouldn’t blame you if you felt like getting away from the city once in a while. Thankfully for us, Manila happens to be located on the Philippines’ largest island, Luzon, giving us plenty of opportunities to find places to visit for day trips.
Depending on how much time you want to spend traveling in a day, there are lots of options to explore. Whether you are looking to quickly get somewhere within an hour’s drive or you want to venture farther away, there is no shortage of places you can visit. With beaches, mountains, lakes, and volcanoes aplenty, there’s an adventure out there for every kind of day-tripper.
A taste of Filipino culture: Villa Escudero Plantation
Distance from Manila: 100 Km
Approximate travel time: 2 hours
Price range: PHP 1,450 – 1,600 ($28.05 – $30.96), see official day tour packages here
Located in the south of Manila, the Villa Escudero Plantation gives its visitors a glimpse of Filipino history, culture, and life. Walk into an 800-hectare coconut plantation, cut off from the hustle and bustle of the city amidst lush greenery. But that’s not all. The Villa Escudero Plantation also houses a massive museum that is home to artifacts showcasing Filipino heritage. But the biggest highlight of this visit is the Philippines Experience Show that familiarises the audience with the local culture through music and dance performances. Top this up with an authentic Filipino meal at the in-house restaurant to complete your experience.
How to get here: If you want to take public transportation to Villa Escudero from Manila, hop on a bus to Lucena city. There are buses heading to Lucena throughout the day, every 20-30 minutes and the one-way journey takes about 2.5 hours. Once you board the bus, make sure to inform the driver about your destination so they know exactly where to stop.
Time for some sun, sand & sea: Subic Bay
Distance from Manila: 160 Km
Approximate travel time: 2.5 hours
Located on the west coast of Luzon island, to the north-west of Manila, Subic Bay is technically a former U.S. Naval Base which has now been transformed into a port and a major hub of tourism. Known for its endless blue sea, stunning coastline and water sporting activities, Subic Bay opens up to the South China Sea, making it the perfect beach getaway from Manila.
How to get here: The most convenient way to get from Manila to Subic Bay is by hiring a private car or taxi for the day. Alternatively, you can also take a public bus from Manila to Olongapo, the town nearest to Subic Bay. This is much cheaper than taking a cab, but do keep in mind that the journey can take a lot longer, up to 4 hours each way.
Break for lunch: Meat Plus for delicious steaks and a variety of meats [Average price: Php 250-350 ($4.84 – $6.77) per dish].
Magic Lagoon for their lakeside location and great Filipino food [Average price: Php 150-350 ($2.90 – $6.77) per dish].
Texas Joe’s for the best ribs in town [Prices start at Php 300 ($5.80) per dish].
Far from the crowds: Tagaytay city
Distance from Manila: 65 Km
Approximate travel time: 1.5 hours
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines, Tagaytay City is loved for its hilly terrain and pleasant climate, a glaring contrast to the Philippines’ usual hot and humid weather. Located south of Manila, only a little more than an hour’s drive away, the biggest attraction of this hill town is the famous Taal Volcano and Lake. Known to be the second-most active volcano in the country, the Taal Volcano and Lake are spectacular to look at! The city itself looks straight out of a postcard with its rolling hills and dreamy valleys, making it a perfect spot for a day trip from Manila.
How to get here: The easiest and cheapest way to get to Tagaytay from Manila is to take a public bus from Manila’s Pasay terminal. Although Tagaytay doesn’t have a bus stop of its own, you can take the bus with the destination that says Nasugbu via Tagaytay. Alternatively, opt for a private transfer to Tagaytay city.
Break for lunch: Nanay Cirilas Kapeng Barako for a unique homestyle dining experience with authentic Filipino food [Prices start at Php 350 ($6.77) per dish].
To the land of fairy tales & adventures: Enchanted Kingdom
Distance from Manila: 43 Km
Approximate travel time: 50 minutes
Ticket range: Php 500 ($9.67) for children and Php 800 ($15.48) for adults on weekdays. Php 600 ($11.61) for children and Php 900 ($17.41) for adults on weekends and holidays
Opening hours: Check out complete timing/schedule for the park for various months of the year
The country’s answer to all of the Disneylands and Universal Studios of the world, Enchanted Kingdom is the Philippines’ first and only amusement park, located less than an hour away from Manila. Perfect for a day out with family and kids, Enchanted Kingdom is more than just a regular theme park. With its latest ride Agila: The EKsperience, the Philippines’ first flying theatre, visitors have the opportunity to get a glimpse of the country’s famous beaches, mountains and natural beauty, all through one experiential ride. In a place like this, we wouldn’t be surprised if you lose track of time and keep going back for more!
How to get here: Getting to Enchanted Kingdom is very easy with their designated shuttle bus that runs between Manila and the theme park at a nominal price. You can find all information about bus schedules and ticket pricing here. Alternatively, you can also opt to take a public bus from the Pasay bus terminal to Balibago or a private cab directly to the Enchanted Kingdom.
An offbeat island getaway: Talim Island
Distance from Manila: Approximately 53 Km
Approximate travel time: 2.5 hours (including ferry ride)
Located bang in the middle of the Philippines’ largest lake, the Laguna Lake, Talim island’s biggest attraction is Mt. Tagapo. A trip to the island promises a day of both relaxation and adventure. The journey to reach Talim island itself is quite an experience, involving a ferry ride across the lake. Top this up with either a hike up to Mt. Tagapo or simply spend a day of leisure biking around the island and watching the sunset on the beach.
How to get here: Reaching Talim island from Manila is a two-part affair. The first part of the journey involves reaching Binangonan, the town closest to Laguna Lake. A public bus from Manila takes about an hour to get here. Or, you could also hire a private car to get there. The next half of the journey requires taking a ferry from Binangonan to reach Talim island, which takes about 60-90 minutes.
With a fairly well-connected public transportation system in place, taking day trips from Manila is an exciting way to see more of the Philippines, beyond its capital city and the popular islands. Day trips allow you to experience more of the local life and to get off the same old touristy track. Although there are plenty more places to visit outside of Manila, these five destinations are good to get you started, especially if you have limited time on hand. So on your next trip to Manila, keep a day or two aside to escape the city and rediscover the charm of this beautiful country!