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, RizalAfter 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.
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South Luzon Roadtrip # 2 Photowalk at Liliw, LagunaLiliw, 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!
South Luzon Roadtrip #3 Scuba Dive deep down Mabini, BatangasWho 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.
South Luzon Roadtrip #4 Climb Mt. Pico de LoroSave 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, stay overnight at Island Cove, or go on a Taal Volcano hike.
South Luzon Roadtrip #5 ATV adventure in Legazpi City, AlbayAlbay makes for a great city tour destination because many great attractions are situated very near each other. Traveling within Legazpi City to the satellite towns are also easy, the entrance fees are not so expensive, and you can go on a Bicol food trip! Get as close as you can to the famous perfect cone volcano, going on various rough rides via all-terrain vehicles. Various trails are available and can be finished within 3 hours at most, which includes rivers and lahar. I highly recommend Mayon SkyDrive because they make their own trails. But for starters, try Combo Trail (6 in 1: forest trail, snake trail, Cagsawa trail, grassland, short trail, and their exclusive SkyDrive trail!). You can also go on long trails to Black Lava, Green Lava, and Summit.
More tours to take from Manila
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!