Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Taal Trek Experience (Tagytay/ Batangas)

Hello! If you haven't seen my first post about our Tagaytay Roadtrip, click HERE

So it's now our 2nd day in Tagaytay and we dedicated this day to our Taal trek.

First off, all Taal trek tours start in Talisay, Batangas.You can go there either coming from Picnic Grove area or in the Tagaytay-Batangas area.

We pre-paid our trek with the Taal Yacht Club at P1,900 for 5 persons. If you don't pay beforehand, they'll charge you P2,200. Also, companions not part of the trek will have to pay an entrance fee of P100 per head, but we were able to successfully haggle. And another good news, the trip was supposedly for 5pax only, but the caretaker allowed us to add another person because of the good weather.

Tours usually cost P1,500 but we happily agreed to pay the additional amount for the use of their amenities (shower room, clean comfort rooms, and nipa hut). Crazily, our group expected yachts to welcome us but apparently, yachts come and go from the place but park in other clubs. 

Upon reaching the island, a lot of locals will try to sell you bottled water (P30) and face mask (P15), or maybe have you rent a sombrero. They will also try to convince you to use a horse for the whole trek (P500). Apparently, there are a lot of horses in the community which they use for their chores/ livelihood. So watch your steps carefully, there are a lot of horse poop!
Warning: The ground is dusty/ sandy so you might want to use closed shoes/ rubber shoes.

At first, you see a lot of grass and trees. but as you go to the top, it becomes hotter and more barren.
Check out the stations of the cross.
And steam coming out of the rocks!

On top of the crater, there are souvenir items for sale. But BEWARE-- a small bottled water now costs P50, as well as halo-halo, buko, or a small soda bottle. We had to buy because we ran out of supplies, so better go up with lots and lots of hydration even if it's gonna be heavy.

The view on top of the crater was beautiful! Too bad they're charging additional P50 to see the red rocks formation. And I was hoping that I could swim in the crater but nobody told me that the trail we got (Regular Trail) is too far from the crater itself. I guess the more expensive tours go to the crater so better ask your guide for the trail that would suit your wants.

After appreciating the view, we headed downhill and back to the Club. We were able to finish the whole trek from 7:00am to 11:00am. Just in time for lunch because we're hungry!

P.S. If you have extra money to spend, try the town's specialty fish Maliputo which lives only in the Taal Lake. If you buy it per kilo, it will cost you around P700. (Les Montilla, Cherry Tadeo, Editha Buendia, Jenina Pulumbarit, Chrissdale Gagan-Lipit)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

15 Things to do While on a Tagaytay Daytrip/ Roadtrip

My office mates decided to have our team building in Tagaytay.

But let's face it, there aren't that much to do in Tagaytay except for trekking, eating, and enjoying the cool weather. So the challenge is to come up with an itinerary that would maximize our time and budget.

We left Makati at around 7:00 am and (with minimal traffic) arrived at the city proper by 9:00 am.

Here are the places we went to:

1) KOREAN TEMPLE (Entrance Fee: FREE)

This is located along Silang Road (the road before you reach town proper). Just look for the "Korean Temple" sign to your right. Once you enter the street, it will take some 5 minutes more. The place is very relaxing. Quiet and windy. Lots of trees and places to sit down. Perfect for meditation.

After the temple (or around 15 minutes later), you'd reach the city market (to your right) and Econo Inn (to your front), and you will have to choose between the left road which leads to Picnic Grove and People's Park in the Sky OR the right road which leads to everything else. Of course we went right.

2) MUSHROOM BURGER (Price: P90-200)

Better get your mushroom burgers here because their other branch in Katipunan is now closed. Check out their mushroom fries!


After Mushroom Burger, we went straight to the end of Tagaytay nearing Batangas because the sun was too harsh for strolling in Sky Ranch.

So you'll pass Residence Inn (which is an old zoo) to your left, Casino Filipino to your right, and Splendido to your left-- then you'll know that you have to watch out for the Sonya's Garden sign to your right.

Don't forget to stop by their bakery! Their cookies are good! 


Back in the main road, you'd reach a "Welcome to Nasugbu" arc. It's time to watch out for a huge subdivision-like-entrance to your left (slightly uphill and without any signage) and turn left there. It will take about 10 minutes to reach the church.

You'll have to pay P30 to get in and they would give you a map of the area. When we reached the Church (which is mid-way), we didn't explore further but I suggest that you do because there is a hanging bridge, japanese garden, more chapels, a "grand staircase", koi ponds, etc.

5) FANTASY WORLD IN LEMERY, BATANGAS (Entrance Fee: P1,000.00 for a group of 10 even if you're going alone (for non-members) and P100.00 per head (if with a member), although members get to bring 4 more guests in for free)
Over a decade ago, Fantasy World aimed to be the first theme park in the Philippines which would be exclusive to members and their guests. However, for unknown reasons, operations stopped and the once lively castle has turned into a lonely one with its faded colors and empty halls. 

Anyway, with your entrance fee, you could roam around the premises, have picnic with your family and/or friends, or take a swim in their pool. If you want privacy, you got it here!

After this, we headed back to Tagaytay. But if you still have time, you can also check out Casa Corazon's Motorcycle Museum (if you love motorcycles!) and the Taal Heritage Park-- which I THINK are near the area because both are in Lemery. Better ask around because I only came to know of those places after the trip.

6) MAHOGANY MARKET (Price: P350 for their bulalo, good for 3 persons; P300 for their sisig, also good for 3)

Mahogany Market offers you fresh but really cheap meat, fruits, garden plants, and pasalubongs.We ate at Len's Kitchen and their bulalo and sisig were love at first taste! We loved their food (which comes with unlimited bananas and barako coffee) and we couldn't stop talking about it. We even ate there again for lunch the following day!

P.S. If you're used to the old location, they're not there anymore because they transferred to the second floor of a new building (which holds the meat section)

7) TAAL VISTA TAGAYTAY (Entrance Fee: P50 per head to view)

Brought to you by Henry Sy, et al., Taal Vista gives you a good view of Taal volcano. But if you've already gotten a good look at it, no need to go here. Unless you want your photo taken with the hotel itself.

After Taal Vista, you can go to Sky Ranch although they have an entrance fee of around P100. So if you're not going to try their rides (which are P50 to P100 per ride, per person), then I suggest that you don't go there anymore because aside from that you only get to see Manila-based restaurants.

AAAAND, that's that. We finished our whole road trip by 4:30pm.

From Taal Vista, you can go back home or you can consider other nearby places like:
8) Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm (check their schedule for walk-ins)
9) Puzzle Mansion (I heard their entrance fee is expensive!)
10) Picnic Grove (not much to see if you have little time because the good views are located at the back and will take some minutes of walking)
11) People's Park in the Sky a.k.a. Palace in the Sky (which is an unfinished mansion for the Marcoses)
13) Zoos like the new Paradizoo or the classic Residence Inn

14) Don't forget to also try Bag of Beans and the beautifully-situated Starbucks for some Tagaytay-coffee experience. LOL.

15) Before heading home, buy your pasalubongs at Good Shepherd (all the way from Baguio!) and your pies from Loumar's or Rowena's (I prefer the pies and tarts of Loumar, but Rowena, being more mainstream, offers more choices).

For us, we had to stay because of our Taal Trek the next day (different blog post). :)

[Credits to Les Montilla, Cherry Tadeo, and Jenina Pulumbarit for the photos]