With the opening of new, major expressways, once far and time consuming places are now well within reach for the avid adventure seeker, most of them taking only a day to get to and back.
We take down a few of our adventures and present you with some affordable and convenient daytrip ideas in part 1 of Chokdee.info's Summer Destinations Special. Best of all they're all car friendly.
PART ONE: DAYTRIPS
LAIYA, SAN JUAN, BATANGAS
Laiya has been one of the most popular daytrip beach destinations for Manila folk, thanks to its relatively close proximity to the Metro. Opened in summer of 2008, Acuatico Beach Resort is one of the newer destinations in Laiya Beach. It is one of the more exclusive resorts in the beach strip. The main highlight of the deluxe resort is its 700 square-meter infinity pool flanked by Balinese-inspired villas with a floating bar conveniently located in the middle for you to enjoy a good drink with the nice view.
Just below the pool is a white-sand beachfront leading to the sea, which allows for activities like kayaking and snorkeling.
Overnight stays in their posh villas start at Php5,250, but you can opt for day tours at Php1,575 per person inclusive of lunch, resort use, water sports activities, and a cabana. The only disadvantage of a day trip here is you'll have to make do with a public shower room, which can use some improvement.
HOW TO GET THERE
Travel time to Laiya is approximately three hours from Manila. Take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) all the way until the Batangas exit; then head towards STAR Tollway until the Ibaan/San Jose exit. Go straight and watch out for the "Alternate Route to Lipa-Rosario" sign, turn left and head straight and turn right at the end, bear left after the Petron station heading straight through Rosario town proper. Continue following the road until you reach San Juan and turn right after the municipal hall. Go straight until almost the end of the strip of beaches and there will be a sign leading into the posh resort. It is also comforting to know that the way going to the resort is car friendly, but there is a about a few hundred meters of paved uncemented road.
SUBIC BAY, ZAMBALES
The former U.S. Naval Base has always been a popular destination ever since Good Ol' Joe left back in 1991. With the combination of a sprawling area rife with wildlife, greenery, mountains, and, of course, clean beaches, it's not hard to see why.
Nearly 2 decades later, Subic Bay has been transformed into a freeport trading zone and a haven for duty-free shoppers, but has also become a veritable leisure zone. The former base now houses a complete range of leisure activities. Love the water? There are plenty of beaches to choose from, while several businesses deal specifically in watersports like sailing, jetskiing, scuba diving and more. Along the beachfront, there are a great variety of restaurants, bars and grilleries.
Got a fast car? Head on over to the Subic International Raceway (SIR) and learn to race with the Ramirez High Performance Driving School. Want to go shopping? Pay any one of Subic's many duty free stores for the best deals on clothing, appliances, and other goods. If you care to make a wager, then Subic's casinos will suit you, while theme parks like Ocean Adventure, Treetop Adventure and Zoobic Safari have fun in store for the rest of the family.
HOW TO GET THERE
Thanks to a new series of expressways, travel time from Manila to Subic has been drastically reduced. Take EDSA northbound and turn right onto the North Luzon Expressway and drive straight on through to the Dau toll plaza. Hang a right to the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) spur road and follow the signs to straight on to Subic. Travel time is about 2.5-3 hours.
CLARK FIELD, PAMPANGA
Whereas Subic Bay was a former base for gray U.S. Navy ships, Clark used to belong to the U.S. Air Force. Abandoned in the wake of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo Eruption, it took a while for Clark to recover due to its proximity to the volcano.
Today, Clark, like Subic, is a special economic zone and a popular leisure spot. Various casinos, spas, hotels, restaurants and shopping centers occupy the former airbase grounds. Of course, having several long runways have provided unique opportunities and activities related to aviation. Once a year, the grounds host an International Hot Air Balloon festival while Omni Field gives skydiving courses for the more adventurous. Enjoy off-roading? Then Pampanga's lahar fields will offer a challenge for you. There are even guided treks going up to Mt. Pinatubo's caldera if the weather permits it. Should you desire, entertainment for more "mature" audiences is also available on Friendship Highway. Other destinations within Clark include the Nayong Pilipino, a center for Filipino culture, while motorsports enthusiasts can go to the new Clark International Speedway or try drifting at the sprawling parking lot outside the now-defunct Clark Expo.
HOW TO GET THERE
The quickest route is to take the North Luzon Expressway, on through the Dau toll plaza, then to the SCTEx spur road. After the SCTEx toll gate, turn right going towards Tarlac, then take the Clark North Exit which leads to Clark's Expo Filipino area through an access road. Depending on traffic conditions, travel time can range from 1 hour to just under 2 hours.
TAGAYTAY CITY, CAVITE
If the Metro's heat is getting to you, why not try and get some fresh air? Rising over 600 meters above sea level and overlooking the Taal Volcano, Tagaytay City offers cooler weather for city folk. By being a mere 60 kilometers from Manila, Tagaytay has become a very popular weekend or daytrip spot eversice the 1990's.
The main road of Tagaytay is peppered by a vast collection of restaurants. There's the usual fare of commercial food joints and franchised restaurants, but combined with the cool, open air atmosphere, makes for an al fresco dining experience. There are also restaurants unique to the area built around local cuisine. Being a great spot for beef, the must try food revolves around things like bulalo (beef shank soup) and steaks. Also, coffee from nearby Amadeo, Cavite is known for its flavor and strength. Most of the popular places in Tagaytay are situated on the cliffside overlooking Taal Volcano, including some nice boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. Tagaytay is also a popular place for weddings, retreats, and spas.
HOW TO GET THERE
Take the South Luzon Expressway (formerly the South Super Highway) and exit at Santa Rosa all the way up to Tagaytay. Another option would be to take the ABI/Greenfield exit, and merge with the Santa Rosa route.
LAGUNA LAKE LOOP
Looking for something to take you on an adventure and back home in one day? Then driving the Laguna de Bay loop might be just for you. It's easy to forget how much is in store for an adventurous crew with a car and a tankful of gas.
There are several towns rich in history along the way. Calamba is one, its pride being the hometown of the national hero, Jose Rizal. Expect plenty of Filipiniana, historical sites and museums containing memorabilia from the late Dr. Rizal. The architecture is definitely from the turn of the century, well, turn of the 19th century. There are also numerous old churches that serve as points of interest for the devoutly Catholic, as Laguna is a province deeply rooted in faith.
On the other hand, places like Los Banos and Pagsanjan offer relaxation thanks to numerous hot spring pools for the former and the famous Pagsanjan waterfalls for the latter, though both have have become rather saturated with commercialization. For those who desire shopping beyond the usual delicacies like buko pie, the town of Paete offer their intricate wood carvings and papier mache handicrafts while Lumban is definitely the place to go for Barong Tagalog and other embroidered fabrics.
HOW TO GET THERE
The route begins from the South Luzon Expressway. Take it all the way to the very last exit at Calamba. Head towards the town center, and turn right going to Los Banos. From there, just go straight. At all road forks, follow the center line, and that will take you through all the towns surrounding Laguna de Bay.