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South Luzon Roadtrip Itinerary: Best Pitstops!

For travelerswho lack the gas funds and heavy-duty SUVs to undertake an expansive North Luzon trip, there is always the South Luzon Roadtrip route.

OOTD for five days, check! Adventure gears, check! Gas provisions and heavy-duty rides… problematic? You don’t have to go too far.

Largely composed of CALABARZON, a South Luzon roadtrip is teeming with scenic locations such as mountains, reefs, parks, and cultural towns. Take your barkada outdoors for some near-the-city adventure. Try mountain climbing, water sports, shopping, and nature exploring. You don’t have to go too far!

 

South Luzon Roadtrip #1 Visit Masungi Georeserve, Tanay, Rizal

After several Facebook photos showing their iconic “rope-over-limestone” attractions, Masungi Georeserve almost overnight topped the list of go-to places for 2016. In no time, their reservation was fully booked two months in advance—a feat remarkable for an eco-residential site silently conserving the land for nearly 20 years.

Masungi Georeserve is located at the border of Tanay and Baras, Rizal. It only takes an hour or two by car from Quezon City. And, being on a national highway, can easily be reached via public transportation.

A 300-hectare-wide rock garden, Masungi Georeserve’s discovery trail is a circuit around the conservation area. Aside from natural land formations, it also features man-made trails of ropes and wires. You will surely enjoy the vantage point of some of their Instagrammable spots such as sapot, duyan, and patak! Floral and wildlife species also thrive here, making wild monkeys, snakes, civet cats, and a variety of birds a regular sight.

Other Rizal attractions: Mountain climbers will find joy in Mt. Balagbag, Mt. Sembrano, Mt. Pamitinan, Mt. Tagapo, Mt. Daraitan, and Tinipak River traverse. Unwind and enjoy arts at 14Four Cafe and Pinto Art Museum.

South Luzon Roadtrip # 2 Photowalk at Liliw, Laguna

Liliw, Laguna is known for its artisan slippers sold for as low as R250. Its products’ characteristic durability for a very affordable price makes it an out-of-town destination for shoppers who want to support local shoemakers and own fashionable footwear.

Located at the foot of Mt. Banahaw, a drive to Liliw means taking winding roads darting through the mountains. The roads at the town proper are narrow and congested by foot traffic of shoppers, so it’s best to park several streets away from the main road.

Aside from shopping for slippers, you can also take a walking tour around Liliw. Near the business center is the beautiful red-bricked Liliw Church, its mysterious air beckoning admirers to saunter into the stone-walled interior. Additionally, an annual Tsinelas Festival is being held in Liliw, where shops create giant replicas of slippers and showcase them outside their store windows.

Other Laguna attractions: Go on a UPLB tour, have a picnic at Panguil River Eco Park, climb Mt. Mabilog, and stand under the ice-cold Majayjay Falls!

liliw church south luzon roadtrip

South Luzon Roadtrip #3 Scuba Dive deep down Mabini, Batangas

Who says you have to pay premium for scuba diving? In Mabini, Batangas, scuba diving can cost as low as P1,500 on your first dive. It’s no wonder this is the destination for adrenaline junkies for scuba diving training and PADI certifications.

The drive to Batangas dive spots are fairly easy, spare for the winding road that leads to Anilao town proper. From there, the road will take you to barangays of Solo, Bagalangit, and San Teodoro, where you can choose among resorts where to take your lessons.

For each dive, you will be taught how to use scuba diving gears—first on shallow waters or on a swimming pool, and then right to the sea. Although not much to see at shore, vast coral reef reserves and underwater creatures are just a few minutes’ swim from land. You’ll find that the sight of the undestroyed corals is truly breathtaking! Just cue in an underwater version of Aladdin’s “A Whole New World.”

Other Batangas attractions: Climb Mt. Batulao, Mt. Maculot, Mt. Manabu, do team building activities at Club Balai Isabel or Casa Astillero.

scuba diving batangas

 South Luzon Roadtrip #4 Climb Mt. Pico de Loro

Save the toughest for last. Just before you get back to the city, breathe some fresh air, get dust in your nails, and sweat out the stress by climbing a mountain. The most famous attraction in Cavite is Mt. Pico de Loro, considered the highest mountain in the province.

Mt. Pico de Loro’s peak is located between the towns of Ternate and Nagsugbu, but the jump-off point for the climb is at Marangondon, Cavite. From Manila, major roads such as Coastal Road, Aguinaldo Highway, or Cavitex will lead you to the jump-off point. Just follow the provincial buses heading to Ternate or Naic.

Aside from the well-established trail and the canopies of trees and bamboo, Mt. Pico de Loro is famous for its monolith—a towering 60-meter rock formation that is looks like a chess piece that fell from heaven. The hike to the summit takes about three hours to complete, and it’s guaranteed to get your blood pumping just before going back.

Other Cavite attractions: Visit the Bonifacio Shrine or stay overnight at Island Cove.

mt. pico de loro new trail

This summer, discover how beautiful the Philippines is by going on a roadtrip! You’ll find that you don’t even have to go abroad or book a domestic flight just to visit world-class attractions or go on unique adventures. Who knows? Your next best summer memory might just be around the provinces near Manila!

This article was earlier published at Manila Bulletin‘s Philippine Panorama on May 14.
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40 Comments

  • Reply
    Milton Coyne
    September 3, 2016 at 10:36 PM

    Yay! I’m from Calabarzon too but it was a shame that I have never been to any of these places! I am familiar with them though.. it’s just that, i wasn’t able to get a chance yet… I was about to hit Pico De Loro a week before they close the peak to the public but the weather was not cooperating a night before our trip so we decided to cancel… Masungi Georeserve is one of my targets and I am crossing my finger that it will push thru

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      September 5, 2016 at 7:20 PM

      Yeah. Reservation at Masungi is indeed long, but it’s worth it 🙂 Hope you can see Mt. Pico de Loro soon!

  • Reply
    jayresa03
    July 26, 2016 at 6:00 PM

    Your South Luzon road trip is as cool as the North Luzon escapade. Earlier, I wrote several places on where to travel south and this list guided me. I am currently bed resting because of some spotting and for baby’s safety, I need to rest. Once I gave birth and I’m up and running again, I’l make sure to visit all the places I listed.

  • Reply
    Berlin
    July 2, 2016 at 9:22 PM

    There are so many beautiful places just around the provinces near the metro. We just need to explore or reading blogs such as this helps a lot. To more travels and beautiful memories.

  • Reply
    mariaisquixotic
    June 20, 2016 at 9:56 PM

    I’d really want to reach Masungi. I hope you another post about how to reach there via commute 😀 Btw, your list is awesome and so are the photos!

  • Reply
    Aqib Nazir
    June 16, 2016 at 7:16 PM

    I have never gone for road trips but I think it must be really exciting to do it. Its always nice to read about your travel stories.

  • Reply
    Karen
    June 14, 2016 at 2:24 AM

    I’m having a hard time to reserve for a scheduled visit at Masungi GeoReserve. It’s always fully booked.

  • Reply
    Badet Siazon (@badudets)
    June 13, 2016 at 1:57 AM

    I’d love to try the Masungi Georeserve because it looks fun, and also the Liliw Photowalk, not mainly for the photowalk though but shopping for shoes :).

  • Reply
    Zwitsy
    June 11, 2016 at 5:59 PM

    I definitely agree on discovering places nearby instead of going to known local places that are in demand for tourists. I didn’t know that there are a lot of nice places in the south of Luzon!!!

  • Reply
    kereta sewa
    June 11, 2016 at 1:04 PM

    just discover this site from somewhere. great sharing story & experiences. i will recommend this site to my friends out there.

  • Reply
    jaimie felix
    June 11, 2016 at 6:22 AM

    All your activities looks fun and great! I can I think do all that you have stated except I think for the scuba diving- this is because Im not yet a certified diver yet – I always wanted to take the course, per hindi talaga matuloy tuloy

  • Reply
    Saswati Bhoi
    June 11, 2016 at 4:03 AM

    I simply love road trips!! It brings a lot of fun and adventure!! These are great itineraries for people who love exploring!! Hope I could make at least one of these some day!! 🙂

    Regards,
    Saswati | http://www.exploreitmyway.com

  • Reply
    momi berlin
    June 11, 2016 at 12:45 AM

    Those are all fun trips and best shared with loved ones or friends. Among all, I am quite interested trekking Mt. pico de Loro.

  • Reply
    Joie Gahum
    June 10, 2016 at 6:07 PM

    Liliw is one of the best places you have mentioned here. This is a haven for shoes and sandals so you’re love for shoes will definitely be satisfied when you stop by the area. Tagaytay is part of the southern areas that’s nice to stop by, however, the traffic is starting to build up since malls and theme parks started their operations. It’s still a great place to visit during weekdays when there’s few people visiting the area.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 10, 2016 at 6:21 PM

      True! Been there earlier this year. The traffic was just… Haha. Glad you know about Liliw! I never would have gone there if my grandma didn’t live in the next town.

  • Reply
    Stella the Travelerette
    June 10, 2016 at 7:20 AM

    What a fun trip! I can’t go on road tips because I can’t drive but I like reading about others. I would love to visit Masungi Georeserve. The photois are stunning!

  • Reply
    Nilyn EC Matugas
    June 10, 2016 at 6:47 AM

    Oh wow!!!! I looove all of it. Never been to any of this at all! lol! I wish we could visit them in the future.

  • Reply
    Milton Coyne
    June 10, 2016 at 5:10 AM

    I’m from Cavite so these places are really near from my place but I am so ashamed that until now, i never get a chance to explore them all…. the Liliw Church and the underground Cemetery is really on my list and I hope I can visit them real soon!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 10, 2016 at 6:22 PM

      Go ahead! It’s okay. You’ve been to a lot places I haven’t been to, too.

  • Reply
    The Jerny
    June 10, 2016 at 3:27 AM

    Love this south luzon trip of yours! I had plenty of travels in South Luzon too and as what you did, I’ll put them on the blog. Scuba / Free diving in Mabini, Batangas is the best 😀 😀 😀

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 10, 2016 at 6:23 PM

      Yes! I hope I get to dive to other places 🙂

  • Reply
    Sebastian Bisnath
    June 10, 2016 at 2:05 AM

    That last photography! Breathtaking! How was it hiking this ROCK/mountain? I would like to try something like that here in Mauritius.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 10, 2016 at 6:23 PM

      It’s fairly difficult. But once you’re there you really have no choice but to make it to the top, so… Haha.

  • Reply
    Marge Gavan
    June 10, 2016 at 2:01 AM

    The only thing I’ve done on this list is the Mt. Pico De Loro climb. Until now I still haven’t reserved a slot to Masungi but I really really want to. I just need to ask a few friends to go with me.

    Calabarzon has so much to offer and it is only recently that I’ve discovered it. I’d like to do the other activities that you mentioned here especially the scuba diving in Batangas.

  • Reply
    Jessica Ayun
    June 10, 2016 at 12:15 AM

    I grew up Metro Manily but I did explore more places in Visayas and Mindanao than in Luzon. Haha. Now, you inspire me to take this awesome roadtrip too!

  • Reply
    melissaungco
    June 9, 2016 at 11:55 PM

    Actually also your Masungi post on IG last month, or was that March? And I’m really jealous. Huhu. My friends and I tried reserving the a slot but it will take us 5 months for the next earlier slot. 🙁 Hmmm, for now, I might check Liliw or Batangas since that’s near our place. Thanks for the cool suggestions though. Always a big fan of your posts!

  • Reply
    Joanna
    June 9, 2016 at 9:10 PM

    How do you manage to climb that peak? It looks so steep, impossible to conquer. That is very impressive!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 9, 2016 at 9:31 PM

      It WAS steep, at about 60 degrees. Haha. It was also my first climb. To date, I’ve climbed it five times. Never fails to take my breath away. 🙂 (except, it’s far more crowded now)

  • Reply
    Mrs_Daaku
    June 9, 2016 at 5:21 PM

    Hey, this road trip seemed like a lot of fun. Great pictures as well, but I have never been to Philippines. I recently did a road trip in India as well but it surely did not have so much adventure.

  • Reply
    Louisa Mercado
    June 9, 2016 at 4:36 PM

    I can’t even fathom visiting Masungi Georeserve or climbing Mt. Pico de Loro. I’ve lost my nerve in my old age! I think I’ll stick with the photowalk.! Excellent adventure though and I think my teens would enjoy this tremendously.

  • Reply
    Dominic
    June 9, 2016 at 2:36 PM

    You’re one ACTIVE Gal! I thought the places you were posting were all just along the way but some are miles apart. Anyway, I’ve seen the Masungi Georeserve posts in facebook months ago and I really want to try it out. I’ve heard that it costs a thousand bucks. I love that you were able to climb Mt Pico de Loro. Were you in that photo? Who took them?

    http://thetopknotters.com

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 9, 2016 at 9:32 PM

      I took the photo, but I’ve been there! They ARE miles apart unfortunately. Haha.

  • Reply
    Kim
    June 9, 2016 at 1:56 PM

    You are really brave in terms if the scuba diving and the hike to Mt. Pico de loro, I would love to try that out myself once i gather enough courage. I had been to pico but that was to enjoy their beach. Masungi is on my bucket list of places to travel to by next month.

  • Reply
    Janine Ella
    June 9, 2016 at 1:43 PM

    When I was looking for places to visit in Rizal before we went to Manila last April, I saw the website of Masungi Georeserve. I have really really wanted to go there pero dapat pala may reservation. And it was quite pricey too. So maybe next time na lang. Haha. And WOW hindi ko kaya yung Mt. Pico de Loro. Sobrang taas and feeling ko mahuhulog ako. Hahaha

  • Reply
    ROBERT LEE
    June 9, 2016 at 12:37 PM

    SAM! WOW! Of all the great things you did, I like the scuba dive! Being a dive instructor and technical diver a decade ago, that activity is close to my heart!

  • Reply
    rollcoastermom
    June 9, 2016 at 11:31 AM

    I’m from the southern part of Metro Manila so I’ve definitely traveled more in South Luzon rather than the north. But I have to admit that I’ve only been to one out of four on this list. There’s so much more to see!

  • Reply
    Michelle Solee (@michisolee)
    June 9, 2016 at 7:03 AM

    I’ve been to Mt. Pico De loro but was not able to reach the peak because of bad weather. I envy my husband because he was able to reach the peak, may ganyan picture din sila. hehehe!

  • Reply
    Maaya Legaspi
    June 9, 2016 at 2:01 AM

    I really wanted to visit masungi but I think it’s still fullybooked. Also wanted to climb pico de loro but i think im not yet equipped to try it. Hahahahah

  • Reply
    Franc Ramon
    June 8, 2016 at 9:12 PM

    I was able to visit Masungi early last month. It’s really worth visiting and they really give premium to guest experience by not overcrowding the place.

  • Reply
    FX777 Classified Articles
    June 8, 2016 at 8:14 PM

    Great roadtrip itinerary for exploring the tourist’s spot here in the Philippines. Likewise, promoting these places means tourist awareness altogether. Fernando Lachica

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