1. BALER, AURORA – SURFING
One of the best vacation spots near Manila is Baler. This “surfing birthplace in the Philippines” is just 230 km from Manila (about a 6 hour drive). Baler is the famous location of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 movie “Apocalypse Now.”
Baler lies in the province of Aurora, tucked itno the Sierra Madre mountain range. The town is blessed with breathtaking rugged terrain and lush mountain landscapes. There are plenty of adventure activities to enjoy here apart from surfing. Take your pick from trekking, waterfall-hopping, or visiting interesting sites like Museo de Baler, Dona Aurora Quezon’s House, Ermita Hill, Aniao Islets, and Dicasalarin Cove.
Baler has become a bit commercialized, with lots of hotels, resorts, and restaurants catering to flocks of tourists. The array of natural wonders to drink in make it worth a trip, anyways.
2. MT. PINATUBO – TREKKING
Mt. Pinatubo is located in the central range of the Zambales mountains. It’s famous for its catastrophic eruption back in 1991, which was the second largest terrestrial eruption in the 20th century. Today, tours are being offered to explore the volcano and its crater, which offers a spectacular view. Witness the crater’s rim rise from a lake of rainwater, cross the emerald-green lake flanked by the brown and gray crater, and enjoy an overnight camp. It is really intensely beautiful. Resist the temptation to swim in the beautiful crater lake, though. It’s strictly forbidden because the depth is unknown.
To get to the base camp – your starting point for the long trek to paradise – you’ll experience a thrilling 4×4 ride. Lots of shops offer rentals. The Mt. Pinatubo trek, of course, is only recommended if you are physically fit. We don’t advise it if you have heart or respiratory problems, or any difficulty walking.
3. ANAWANGIN and NAGSASA COVE – CAMPING
Anawangin and Nagsasa Cove is a breathtaking mix of pine trees, ashen sand, and stunning views in every direction. Island hopping, swimming, and simple relaxation are all options here. The most popular activity, though, is camping. With no electricity or network signal in the area, it’s the perfect escape if you wan to unwind and unplug.
Put away your cellphone and gaze up at the billions of stars twinkling in the night sky. Or, light a crackling bonfire to cast a glow on the faces of you and your adventurous friends. With no distracting lights from digital gadgets you can fully experience the glory of nature.
If camping isn’t for you, though, there are also cottages to rent. Tents can also be rented, but pack some food – or gear for campsite cooking, if you want to be really outdoorsy.
4. TAAL VOLCANO – TREKKING
The Taal volcano and lake are a sight to behold, even from afar. So just imagine how stunning they are when you’re actually on top of the volcano itself! It’s an entirely surreal experience. To get there from Manila, take a bus from to Talisay, Batangas (a 2 to 3 hours ride), then take a small boat to the volcano island. Now you’ve reached one of the best vacation spots in the Philippines, and your hike is about to begin.
This is a challenging trek. If you have a low tolerance for sun and heat, you might want to think twice about it. Even if you trek in the early morning, the sun will be intense and clouds will be rare. Don’t forget sunscreen! Also, the very small volcano may not be steep, but it is still a tiring climb. The heat and the difficult climb are all worth it for the stunning views at the top, though.
If you really aren’t fussed about trekking but want to see those views, you can rent a horse! Ascending to the crater by horse – it’s like something out of an adventure movie.
Tagaytay, in the province of Cavite, is a famous, high-altitude getaway spot. It’s known for its cooler climate, and its stunning, dramatic views. You can take in the Taal volcano island and the surrounding lake from multiple vantage points. This is a perfect option for anyone looking to admire Taal volcano’s glory without breaking a sweat. Hey, physical activity isn’t for everyone!
Tagaytay has plenty of resorts and restaurants overlooking the iconic view of Taal volcano. They range from fancy and posh to totally affordable ones. It’s so close to Manila, you don’t even have to stay overnight — you can just enjoy your lunch or dinner in Tagaytay and return to Manila on the same day. Or just pop by for a mocha latte with a view! The sights from the Starbucks in Tagaytay make it one of the world’s best!
6. NASUGBU – BEACH
Nasugbu, Batangas, is famous for its white sand beach resorts and aqua blue waters. If you are looking for a beachy paradise where you can lounge lazily, sunbathe, or swim, then Nasugbu is your spot. The resorts along these beaches are popular shooting locations for many TV series.
Nasugbu is a first-class municipality in Batangas that offers lots of beachfront accommodations and low-cost hotels. It’s ideal for backpackers. Apart from swimming or relaxing on the beach, there are many things to do in Nasugbu, such as mountain trekking, ocean fly fishing, or camping.
Nasugbu, with its rolling terrain, virgin forests, and dreamy coastlines, has always been considered one of the country’s best vacation spots. In 2007 it was declared a special tourism zone by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
7. ANILAO, MABINI, BATANGAS – DIVING
Just 3 hours from Manila is one of the world’s best diving spots. Anilao, Mabiniis is famous for its budget scuba diving and snorkeling. Diving here will appeal to both professional drivers and amateurs wanting to learn. Anilao has plenty of diving resorts and centers, as well as snorkeling sites. Above the water too, this tourist destination features a lot of breathtaking scenery. Anilao only has a population of 44,391 (as of 2010). It’s found on the Calumpang Peninsula between Batangas Bay and Balayang Bay.
Dive shops will help you arrange trips to Anilano’s famous diving spots, like Maricaban Islands, Sombrero Islands, and Balayan Bay. The best spots for snorkeling are Red Palm Beach and Sepok Point.
8. BORAWAN AND DAMPALITAN ISLANDS, QUEZON – VARIOUS ACTIVITIES
Borawan Beach on Lipata Island is a little paradise just 4 or 5 hours from Manila. People liken it to Coron and El Nido, two famously gorgeous spots on Palawan Island. Unspoiled karst cliffs, white shores, tropical islands – this has got to be one of the best vacation spots close to Manila!
Borawan is perfect for rock-climbing and rappelling, or hermit-crab hunting. It’s also go great sites for overnight camping. you can enjoy the raw beautify of nature, go star-gazing, maybe even wait up for the sunrise. While you’re here you can also go island-hopping to Putting Buhangin and Dampalitan.
The laid-back town of Padre Burgos on Dampalitan Island has a postcard-perfect beach. Picture white sands, azure waters, and a scattering of evergreens and coconut palms. This is the perfect place to de-stress. Apart from swimming, you can also go snorkeling and cove-hopping. And if you’re a nature photography enthusiast, you will definitely not run out of creative inspiration here.
9. PAGSANJAN, LAGUNA – CANOEING AND RAFT RIDE
Some of the most famous waterfalls in the Philippines are located just a few hours’ drive from Manila. Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna are 318 feet high, and they fall in an impressive triple-drop. This is considered one of the best vacation spots around by locals and travelers alike. Pagsanjan Falls and the surrounding gorge are collectively known as The Pagsanjan Gorge National Park, which covers just over 377 acres.
Usually, your experience at a Pagsanjan Falls tour will be limited to viewing this amazing natural wonder. If you want more, though, the classic, old-fashioned way to see the falls is to take a “banca” (small canoe). The ride shoots you through 16 rapids and weaves among hundred-foot gorges with mini waterfalls. You can rent a banca from any of the resorts along Balanac River and Bumbungan. Once you get to Pagsanjan Falls, enjoy a swim.
10. MT DARAITAN AND TINIPAK RIVER, CAVE, FALLS – OUTDOOR ADVENTURE
Are you an avid mountain climber? Or maybe a beginner wanting to try trekking for the first time? Either way, Mt. Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal, is one of the best vacation spots outside Manila for you. Mt. Daraitan is an easy climb, so you can reach the summit and head back again within the day.
To get to the mountain from the town of Daraitan, cross the Daraitan River. After that, take a motorbike-cab or “tricycle” and begin your trek up the mountain to witness the glorious view from the summit. From the summit, you can descend into the hidden Tinipak River. This blue-green body of water is flanked by gorgeous white rock formations. Explore the area, including the Tinipak Cave, and swim in the underground pool. Keep an eye on the time, because you’ll want to stay here all day! We highly recommend this low-cost, easy-to-reach travel adventure outside Manila.
11. CORREGIDOR – HISTORICAL TOUR
Corregidor is an island that was fortified with ammunition magazines and coastal artillery to thwart enemy attacks during the war. It is located at the entrance of Manila Bay. This is the site of the famous Battle of Corregidor, which pitted the Americans against the Japanese. The islands of Corregidor is one of the most popular day trips near Manila.
The best-known tour provider is Sun Cruises, which offers daily ferry trips to Corregidor. Once you’re there you can explore tunnels and ruins, batteries, mortars, soldiers quarters, hospital, monuments, sculptures, parks, gardens, mile-long barracks, and beaches. If a day trip doesn’t feel like enough, then you can stay overnight at the Corregidor Inn. While you’re on Corregidor, you can explore by foot or by bike. For a small entrance fee, you can also explore the Malinta Tunnel – don’t miss the Light and Sound Show included with your ticket!
12. LA UNION – SURFING
Check out the northern province of La Union, the nearest surfing spot from Metro Manila. If you are a surfer, then the best time to hit the La Union waves is between October and April. If you’re a pro surfer, you can rent a board for 200 pesos. If you are a newbie just learning, you can pay 400 pesos for a board and a Beginners’ Lesson.
There are lots of activities in La Union for non-surfers, too. You can hit Pugo Adventure Park to enjoy zip-lining, 6×6 rides, and a reverse rappelling course called “The Australian Rundown.” You can also explore the hidden wonders of La Union, like the Tapuakan River, where you can go white-water rafting, or the Baluarte Pebble Beach (no sand, just pebbles!), or the Occalong Falls.
13. PUERTO GALERA – WHITE BEACH
Helpful articles and blog posts on the best vacation spots close to Manila:
We only recommend writers and blogs that we read regularly and believe will deliver substantial value to our readers. The following are our top picks for reviews and guides to some of the best vacation spots near Manila that we have mentioned:
- “Mt. Daraitan, Side Trip to Tinipak River and Cave Itinerary” – by Itinerary.PH
- “How to plan a weekend trip to White Beach, Puerto Galera.” – by Iza Sanchez
- “The Budget Travel Guide to Borawan Beach and Dampalitan Island, Quezon” – by The Poor Traveler
- “Day Tour at Corregidor: A Step Back in Time” – by Rojae
- “La Union: The Sun, Surf and a Happy Place” – by Jovial Wanderer
- “Capones Island and Anawangin Cove: Jewels of Zambales” – by Adrenaline Romance
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