9 Best Day Trips from Manila

Amid the many hidden gems of Manila, the city also provides a strategic location from where a traveler can set out to explore nearby destinations for a day. ‘Day trips’—as most would call it—is a popular activity among travelers pressed for time and young professionals seeking to escape the toxicity of work. Surrounded by a number of provinces dotted with scenic countryside, rolling mountains and fine sandy beaches, you can never ran out of day trip locations to choose from. To help you plan your next quick escape from the city, here are some best day trips from Manila.

Manila as seen from the Manila Hotel

Taal Town in Batangas

A three hour drive from Manila will bring you to Taal Town in Batangas. This is where numerous centuries-old heritage houses and the architecturally impressive Taal Basilica are located. A day trip here shall give you a glimpse of our country’s storied heritage and make you learn more fascinating historical tidbits about the Basilica.

Aside from enjoying a historical tour, you can also indulge on a gastronomic quest as nearby eateries serve a sumptuous plate of tapa and of course—the famous Batangas Lomi. Taal Town is also known for its many stores that creates and sells Filipiniana gowns.

Corregidor Island

Visiting the place where many members of our country’s greatest generation fought bravely and died heroically, should be a must for every Filipino. Fortunately for those living and visiting Metro Manila, Corregidor is only a couple of hours away via Sun Cruise ferry from Manila Bay.

Inside the Malinta Tunnel
Also known as “The Rock”, the island is well managed to cater to tourists. Upon arrival, there is already a tram complete with a tour guide waiting for you. Expect to be shown the important places where Filipino and American forces fought side by side. These includes the ruins of the old US bases and the Malinta Tunnel where the many survivors took refuge from the constant bombing during World War II. The whole tour lasts until sunset with a buffet lunch also included in the daytrip tour package. Visitors are also given the option to spend the night at Corregidor Inn.

Mount Daraitan, Mount Mamara and Tinipak River in Tanay, Rizal

The municipality of Tanay in the province of Rizal is gifted with an abundance of nature where rising mountains can be easily hiked—thanks to its high elevated jump-off areas—where one can witness a sea of clouds during the early morning. A trio of popular daytrip destination bunched together here are Mount Daraitan, Mount Mamara and Tinipak River.

Mt Mamara
at the summit of Mount Mamara
Part of the Sierra Madre mountain range, Mount Daraitan rises 739 meters above sea level and can be reached after a 3-4 hour hike. It features a lush forested trail highlighted by stunning karst formations. What makes Daraitan an even better daytrip destination is the presence of the clear fresh waters of Tinipak River which streams at the foot of the mountain. After a successful summit of Daraitan, one can enjoy a refreshing dip at the river which is in itself, is already a spectacular location because of its surrounding magnificent boulder formations. If you prefer a more relaxed hike, then the adjacent Mount Mamara, which situates in the borders of Rizal, Laguna and Quezon, is the perfect hike for you as it also offers a sweeping view of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges. 

Artists Village and the Petroglyphs in Angono, Rizal

Learning about art and history for a day isn’t a bad idea. In fact, it makes up for a truly wonderful plan. Angono’s art culture is very much in display at its famed artist village where you can find the works of Angono natives and National Artists Carlos “Botong” Francisco and Lucio San Pedro. Other artists whose works are also present in the village includes: Jose “Pitok” Blanco, Nemi Miranda, Perdigon Vocalan plus many more up and coming local artists.

The Petroglyphs of Angono is seen carved on the boulder walls
Places you must visit here are: Carlos “Botong” Francisco Museum, Balaw-Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery, Nemiranda Art House and Museum and the many street arts and murals on display.

Afterwards, you can visit the Angono Petroglyphs where you can find some of the oldest art works in the country. Here, you can see ancient rock graffiti believed to date back to the late Neolithic period (around 2,000 B.C.), according to expert analysis of the stone tools excavated inside the cave.

Mount Sawi, Nueva Ecija

Camp Sawi

Not to be mistaken as a mountain exclusively for broken-hearted people, Mount Sawi offers a relaxed trail perfect for a day hike. Sawi - a tagalog word often used to describe one who had gone through a failed relationship, is the opposite of what this mountain offers to hiker. Reaching the top will make you feel complete and in love with Mother Nature, thanks to the arresting 360 degree view of the scenic farmlands below.

Dingalan View Hill, Aurora

Jomie Naynes

After your day hike to Mount Sawi, you can include a side trip to Dingalan, Aurora. Dingalan Port is located an hour away the jump-off of Mount Sawi and from here you can board a boat to the “white beach” for an afternoon swim. A shorter hike will take you to the lighthouse which sits atop a grassy hill. A few meters away is a lookout view that dishes a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and the massive rocks formation below. Most travelers compare the scenery in Dingalan to those in Batanes and Palaui Island in Cagayan Valley.

Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal

The Masungi Georeserve is the Philippines’ first ever nature conservation project located in the Sierra Madre mountain range in the municipality of Baras, Rizal. Spread over some of the most spectacular limestone karst peak formations, where visitors can walk over trail pathways made of durable materials to protect the actual karst formations from human movements. Such features includes: the “Sapot” (Spiderweb), a platform where visitors usually drop their jaws at the striking 360 degree scenery and the hammock-like “Duyan”. Masungi Georeserve succeeds in showing to visitors the grandness and beauty of nature up close, while at the same time advocating for its conservation and proper care.

Photo credit: Celineism
Visitors are limited per day and each small group of hikers are accompanied by a well-trained and knowledgeable park ranger who will lecture the guests about the need for more sustainable tourism practices in the country.

Minalungao National Park in Nueva Ecija

Nature at its finest seems to be in full display at Minalungao National Park. Crystal clear river streams, jaw dropping karst peaks, numerous cave systems to explore and a lush forest surrounding it. 

Sandra Santiago

This is the reason why Minalungao has become a popular destination for daytrip travelers coming from Metro Manila and nearby provinces. A relaxing dip in the river instantly cures an over fatigued body. To the more adventurous souls, cliff diving from one of the massive protruding boulders makes the experience more memorable. Afterward, bond with family or friends over a picnic by the built-in wooden cottages nearby to cap a wonderful day away from the big city.

The Seven Lakes of San Pablo in Laguna

The seven crater lakes of San Pablo City in Laguna, namely: Lake Bunot, Lake Calibato, Lake Palakpakin, Lake Muhikap, Lake Sampaloc and the twin lakes of Yambo and Pandin can all be visited in a day.

Bamboo rafting at Lake Pandin
While you cannot swim in all seven lakes, Lake Pandin is where you can spend the most time. Visitors here can take a 2-3 hour raft tour for 360 pesos inclusive of lunch. From the raft you can jump into the lake with the required life vest and enjoy a refreshing swim. Across the edge of Lake Pandin, you can even hike a short trail across the adjacent Lake Yambo.

This day trip can be done by afternoon and by that time, you will still have extra time to make a side trip to the town of Liliw, also in Laguna. Famous for its slippers and shoe products made from indigenous materials.

Lunch at Arabela
Make sure to stop by the town’s famous local restaurant called Arabela, for some tasteful fusion of local and foreign cuisine. Before reaching Liliw, you can also stop by the town of Nagcarlan to visit the roadside underground cemetery.