8 Adventurous Summer Destinations Near Manila

Thursday, May 05, 2016


Ang ineeeeet!

Yep. Tell me about it. Ang init abot singit! Sure, we're in the Philippines and it's summer, after all, but, my god, is it hot! We all know this off-the-charts arid weather is due in large part to the upcoming overly dramatic, highly sensationalized, masakit-sa-bangs presidential elections. And, obviously, climate change. But keep calm, my adventurous child. Let's keep our acts together, for here is a list for you thrill-seeking vacation-leave-maximizing budgetarians out there. This includes destinations that are definitely not your average summer getaway – completely devoid of beautiful beaches, but fret not. This list enumerates natural spots that offer the whole package – its proximity to Manila, affordability, and unforgettable-experience yield.

From challenging trails leading to stunning Nature's fountains to rugged paths with surreal waterways, here are 8 extraordinary locations to cool down this summer!

Nueva Ecija
A length of jade water surrounded by white boulders, Minalungao National Park in the municipality of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija is just about 4 to 5 hours away from Metro Manila. It's a declared protected area which features a diverse karst landscape dotted with shallow caves open for explorations. A zipline as well as a nature walk towards one of its highest points to a towering cross are some of the other fun activities that can be done here.
minalungao national park
A different kind of traffic jam

Jade water surrounded by white boulders

Read this DIY Guide to Minalungao for more pictures and to plan your trip.  

One of the most popular tourist spots in Tanay is the twin falls of Daranak and Batlag, and it's for a good reason. The veritable natural waterpark has not only cool refreshing waters, the falls and the surrounding forests also make for a great background. You can also couple it with a tour to Calinawan Cave.
daranak falls tanay
One of the best waterfalls in Rizal

batlag falls tanay
In Batlag Falls circa 2014

Read more about Daranak and Batlag Falls.

Another popular destination in Tanay is the beautiful Tinipak River. Its turquoise water feels its way between giant white boulders. It is also enclosed by a portion of the Sierra Madre, with nearby Mount Daraitan and Mount Mamara serving as possible additions to your itinerary. Along the banks of Tinipak, there is also a cave with a natural pool that visitors can explore. 
tinipak river tanay
The emerald water feels its way through the huge rocks of the Tinipak River

tinipak river
Tinipak river follows the winding path of the mountains

Know more about the journey to Tinipak River and other destinations featured in the 250-peso Adventure episode of GMA News TV's Good News.

Related Adventure: Guide to Paguriran Island, Sorsogon

An hour of trekking through a patch of woodlands in Luisiana, Laguna, leads to a trio of falls. The farthest is Hidden Falls. Despite being smaller compare to Hulugan, it's the most otherwordly of the three. Because of its precarious landscape, though, swimming here is not permitted. Go farther down the trail and you'll come face to face with the modest Talay Falls. A few more minutes down and Hulugan, the largest and most photographed of the trio, will come into view. The trek may be tiring but once you behold Hulugan, it'll be worth it!
hulugan falls laguna
Just look at that!

hidden falls laguna
The otherworldly Hidden Falls

Resting on the foot of Mount Banahaw is Bukal Falls or Kilangin (in Liliw) with its clear glass-like water. It can be reached by a two-hour trek from Brgy. Bukal in Majayjay. The water here is freezing. Perfect to beat the summer heat!
bukal falls laguna
The water is freezing cold in Bukal Falls

bukal falls travel guide
Bukal's water looks so delicious

Go here for a complete DIY Guide to Bukal Falls. 

Just when you thought Cavite has nothing to offer but historic sites, here comes Amadeo with Balite Falls. This is highly accessible, without the need for a trek. It's also very near Tagaytay, so cool weather for the win!
balite falls cavite
Balite Falls is perfect for a family and barkada getaway

balite falls
The area is developed and well-maintained

A fairly unheard of destination in Batangas, this duo of falls in the municipality of Laurel is sure to satisfy your hunger for a nature getaway. The trail goes through fantastical landscapes, involving scrambling over rocks and crossing streams. And like Balite Falls, it's also near Tagaytay and the Taal Lake!
malagaslas falls batangas
There are small pools where one can bathe in Malagaslas Falls
ambon-ambon falls batangas
The top tier of Ambon-ambon falls

Plan your trip with this DIY Guide to Laurel's twin falls

Once a major watershed, Wawa Dam in Rodriguez, Rizal has been converted to a tourist destination over the years. Its terrain is similar to Tinipak and Minalungao but what makes it special is the other activites you can do here. You can pair your swimming with spelunking at the historic Pamitinan Cave or get a 360-view of the Sierra Madre and the whole of Rizal by hiking to Mount Pamitinan, Mount Binicayan, or the other hosts of mountains in the area. 
wawa dam rodriguez
Massive boulders litter Wawa Dam

wawa dam
Rafting across Wawa Dam with Pamitinan and Binicayan in the background

Learn more about Wawa Dam and the adventurous activities that can be done here. 

These are some near-the-metro spots you can visit if you're looking for something more challenging that the usual beach getaway.

Don't forget to always be responsible when traveling and practice the Leave No Trace principles.

Know other nearby destinations perfect for summer? Tell your fellow adventurers about it in the comments! 

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