Taal Volcano Hike: How to do a DIY Tour of the Crater Lake

taal volcano hike

Try one of the most popular tourist destinations near Manila! Go on a Taal Volcano hike to see the crater lake and find out how to do a DIY tour.

Growing up in Cavite, Tagaytay attractions are never too far from home. It was the kind of destination my family would repeatedly visit for holidays and summers vacations that we’d like some cool weather. In fact, I’ve spent as early as my 3rd birthday here!

From afar and through the years, I’ve seen the Taal Volcano from multiple angles. It has always been omnipresent despite the developments around Taal Lake — even with condos, B&Bs, and lodges vying for an overlooking view. Yet I only recently learned that you can actually take a Taal Volcano hike and that it was a popular roadtrip near Manila.

So one day, I did just that — momentarily escape from Manila on a long weekend holiday and climb one of the most prominent landscapes of my childhood.

Taal Volcano History

Why is a Taal Volcano hike so popular? Well, it’s actually the smallest active volcano in the world. Looking at it from Tagaytay, you might mistake Taal volcano to be just the small chunk of rock that’s so widely photographed as the landmark of Tagaytay.

Truth is, Taal Volcano is the entire complex within Taal Lake, spanning the cities of Cavite and Batangas as a large caldera. Within Taal Lake is Volcano Island which you can trek to find the Taal Crater Lake –invisible from Tagaytay City. Within the Crater Lake is a tiny rock formation called Vulcan Point. It is thus a huge “lake-ception” — an island (Vulcan Point) within a lake (Taal Crater Lake) within an island (Volcano Island) within a lake (Taal Lake) within an island (Luzon). Whew!

With the Philippines being in the Pacific Ring of Fire, imagine that it is the second most active volcano locally. All eruptions are concentrated in the Volcano Island making it intensely hot for a climb even in the chilly Tagaytay weather. But at 311 meters height, the Volcano Island is almost parallel to the surface of the Taal Lake viewed from Tagaytay City.

Meanwhile, Taal Lake was formerly saltwater until large eruptions in the 18th century sealed it off from the sea, desalinating its waters. Today, it is a large freshwater lake known for tawilis, an endangered species of sardines endemic to the Philippines. There are over 30 rivers leading to Taal Lake, but it only has one outlet to the West Philippine Sea, the Pansipit River which drains to Balayan Bay.

Taal Crater Lake Facts

Because it was our first time on a Taal Volcano hike, we chose to book a private tour. From Tagaytay City, we descended to the town of Talisay where we passed the border between Cavite and Batangas until we reached the jump-off point along Taal Lake.

After snapping on our safety vests, we rode the peaceful waters of Taal Lake at 8 AM. Within a few minutes, we made it to Volcano Island to register and begin our Taal Volcano hike. There are options to ride horses going to the summit. But since we are cheap and craved some mountain climbing, we chose to take the 45-minute trek.

We found that the Taal Volcano hike is not very difficult. The challenge is the dustiness of the trail — the soil is made of loose mud that swirls all over as horses pass by. It’s also a semi-open trail, having very few trees and shade from the sun. The ground would sometimes release a sauna-like heat fume emanating from the volcano.

Finally, we made it to the summit which is a lot cooler, with vendors selling pricey cold drinks on makeshift sheds. We caught our breaths and drank lots of water before going to the Taal Crater Lake View Deck. It was so beautiful! Looking down, parts of the crater lake would boil or possess a large sulfuric swirl within its 20-meter average depth.

The lake was, we found, rainwater diluting the sulfuric acid form with a high concentration of minerals. In the middle is another mini-mountain called the Vulcan Point, which was created with the changes of the Crater Lake floor. With the chemical mix, it’s hard to believe that swimming was ever allowed in the lake.

How to go on a Taal Volcano DIY Tour

How to commute to Taal Volcano

Coming from Manila, ride Nasugbu-Tagaytay-bound bus from Araneta Bus Terminal in Cubao, Quezon City. Length of the trip is around 1.5 to 2 hours depending on city traffic and cost is around PHP 100 – 150. Get off at the Tagaytay Rotunda beside Fora Mall. From there, hail a tricycle going to Talisay. Length of the travel is 30 minutes and costs PHP 150 per tricycle with 3 pax. From the port, pay needed fees then ride the boat going to Taal Volcano Island.

If you’re riding by car, it’s best to pass through South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), take the Sta. Rosa exit. The toll fee is around PHP 60.

DIY Taal Volcano Hike Guide Fees, Boat Rental, Sample Itinerary, Contact, etc.

EstimateD Budget. The minimum budget for a DIY Taal Volcano tour is at PHP 1,300 depending on chosen transportation, food consumption, and size of the traveling group. The Taal Volcano hike can be quite pricey because of the logistical arrangements with the ride coming from Manila, boat, trek, or horse ride.

Guide Fee and Boat Rental. A typical price for a boat with 5-7 pax capacity is PHP 2,000 roundtrip. For the guide fee, it may cost around PHP 500 for a group of five individuals. Hiring a guide is optional, but highly recommended to gain more knowledge about the Taal Volcano.

Other Fees. If you’re eyeing at horseback riding, the cost is at PHP 500 per person. There is also an environmental fee at PHP 100 for adults and PHP 50 for children, while the Taal Port Landing fee costs PHP 50 per person. Atop the Taal Crater Lake, you can choose to climb the Red Lava Viewpoint at PHP 50 per person.

Taal Volcano Hike contact. Message me via Facebook page to get updated private contacts of Taal Volcano hike boat and guide.

Sample Itinerary. Here is a Taal Volcano hike sample day tour itinerary.

3:00 AMAssembly at bust terminal
4:00 AMETD to Tagaytay City
5:00 AMETA Tagaytay City Rotunda
5:30 AMETA Talisay Boat Station
7:00 AMETA Taal Volcano Tourism Office. Breakfast.
6:00 AMStart Hike
9:00 AMTaal Volcano Crater
10:00 AMStart Descent
11:00 AMTaal Volcano Tourism Office
12:00 NNETA Talisay Boat Station. Wash up. Lunch.
1:30 PMETD Manila
3:30 PMETA Manila

Taal Volcano Tour

If you want the convenience of a Taal Volcano tour, check out Klook’s offer:

Taal Guided Day Hike from Manila

  • Duration: 12-hour tour
  • Places to see: Taal Crater Lake boat ride and hike, Roundtrip transfers between Ortigas and Taal
  • Notes: 3-10 travelers per group; Good for beginners; excludes lunch, insurance, and horse ride (PHP 500/head); children aged 0-12, pregnant women, and guests with heart ailments are not allowed to join
  • Price: PHP 4,300 (discounted rates on my link!)
tagaytay attractions

Tip for your Taal Volcano Hike

  • Accommodations. If you’re planning to stay overnight, there’s a wide range of Tagaytay accommodations, such as hotels, small bed and breakfasts, and even AirBNB. Just be sure to book in advance especially for weekend or holiday trips, as they can actually be fully booked or you might end up paying more. The last time we walked-in very late, we slept at “candlelight” — a room with no electricity!
  • Where to eat.  There are some wayside eateries in the jump-off point of Volcano Island. Note that these can be expensive than usual because locals had to transport them to the island. And at the Taal Crater Lake, there are vendors of water, Gatorade, halo-halo, mais con hielo, and buko juice. Once you get back to Tagaytay City, there are more options to choose from.
  • What to eat. The most iconic food in a Tagaytay trip is bulalo — a Filipino beef dish made with shanks and bone marrows with the fat melting into the broth of corn, cabbage, potatoes, and Chinese cabbage. Don’t forget Batangas kapeng barako (Batangas coffee), as well as Batangas lomi, thick egg noodles soaked in lye water usually with meat, pork liver, fish balls, chives, and meat balls.
  • Best time to visit Taal Volcano. Because of the high temperatures in the area, I recommend visiting during December to February so that the weather is a bit cooler. We’ve been warned that during the summers from March to May, the heat wave emanating from the volcano can be incredibly intense.
  • Length of Taal Volcano tour. The tourism center is open as early as 4 AM for early tourists. Since it’s highly accessible from Manila, a day tour would suffice. The hike only takes 45 minutes to 1 hour, and the ride from Talisay to the Volcano Island is a maximum of 30 minutes.
  • What to bring. A Taal Volcano hike is dusty due to passing horses and loose sand. The trail is open and sweltering hot because of the heat radiating from the active volcano and lack of vegetation on the final ascent. Don’t forget to bring face masks, face towels, sufficient water for the hike, packed food, and sun protection. For safety tips, read this.
  • What to wear. While Tagaytay weather is cold, Taal Volcano climate can be intensely hot in the summer. It’s advisable to wear sun protection, lightweight or dry-fit clothes, and scarves (like ones from HeadWare). For footwear, try wearing rubber shoes or boots. You can wear sandals but your feet will be dusted from the trail.

More tours to take from Manila

I’m so grateful I finally was able to take a Taal Volcano hike! It was a rewarding experience for such a quick trip near Manila.

diy taal volcano hike
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