15 Incredible Places Near Manila Perfect for the Soulo Traveler on a Shoestring Budget

Whether it’s because of the need for an eat-pray-love kind of vacation or a journey towards self-discovery, we travel soulo for many reasons. As for myself, I go on soulo adventures because I feel like I get more connected to a place and its culture when I’m alone. I like experiencing growth in a way I wouldn’t be able to experience with a help of a friend to fall back on. I like the exhilarating feeling I get when I travel by myself. You know when you have the freedom to choose whatever you want to do, go wherever you want to go, and eat whatever you want to eat, and the best part? You’ll meet so many amazing people to share your stories with.  It is probably one of the most empowering things you will ever do.

But then again, considering that we live in a country that safety is sometimes questionable, the idea of soulo travel is sometimes discouraged, unless, otherwise, the place is secure and the locals are nice.

So here’s my attempt to listing down 15 of the most incredible places near Manila safe and perfect for your soulo adventures. This list is based on my experiences and on where I thought it was cool to spend a day or two in complete solitude. 🙂

15. Lake Muhikap, San Pablo, Laguna

Lake Muhikap

Solitude is nice. Solitude is good for the soul. It leaves you nothing but a moment to cherish, to contemplate on the goodness of life, and see the bigger picture. And if there’s any place I’d recommend to spend a day in complete solitude, it’s in Lake Muhikap.

Located in Brgy. Catalina in the city San Pablo, Lake Muhikap is one of the 7 lakes you can find in the city, including Lake Pandin, Lake Yambo, Lake Palakpakin, Lake Bunot, Lake Calibato and Sampaloc Lake. It is, however, the cleanest. My only qualm is that the path going here is a little bit tricky. Even waze can fool you around leading you to dead ends as there are also no sign boards. Best is to ask a local for directions once you arrived at Brgy. Catalina.

Budget: 600-800php 

How to get here: 

  • Ride bus from either buendia terminal or cubao terminal bound to Lucena. Tell the driver to drop you off at 711 San Pablo. Fare is 180php.
  • From 711, ride a jeepney or tricycle to Jollibee Plaza. From there, you can hire a tricycle to Lake Muhikap. It usually ranges from 150-200php round trip.

14. Buntot-Palos Falls, Pangil, Laguna

Buntot Palos

Ever had the chance to go inside a waterfall? Well, you can do it in Pangil.

Buntot-Palos falls is just one of the roaring beauties you can find in the province of Laguna. Although the 2hr trek can be quite challenging, the reward is definitely worth it! A 90ft giant awaits you after a long hike. Just avoid the rainy season because the trail can really muddy.

Budget: 600php

How to get here: 

  • Ride bus bound to Sta. Cruz, Laguna from either Buendia or Cubao Terminal. Fare is 140php.
  • From Sta. Cruz, take a jeepney to Siniloan and tell the driver to drop you off at Brgy. Balian. Fare is 35php.

Note: If you’re hiking alone, I highly recommend Kuya Ronnie Merginio as tour guide. You may contact him in this number: +63 946 131 7377. The regular rate is 300php and the registration fee is 25php. 

13. Malangaan Cave, San Rafael, Bulacan

Malangaan

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

People closest to me know how much I hate spelunking. If it weren’t for my curiosity, I wouldn’t be able to conquer the fear and consider checking out this amazing wonder hidden in San Rafael, Bulacan.

If you’re up for some day trip challenge, go visit Malangaan. Just be sure to wear proper footwear as everything is really slippery.

Budget: 600php

How to get here:

  • From Cubao Terminal, ride Baliwag Transit to Baliuag.
  • From Baliuag town proper, ride a jeep bound to Pulo, San Rafael.
  • From Pulo, hire a tricycle toMalangaan Cave in Tukod, San Rafael.

Note: Best if you’ll go there by car. It’s a lot cheaper and less hassle.

12. Masasa Beach, Tingloy, Batangas

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

Talk about beach destinations near Manila and you’d mostly hear people mention about Batangas and the stunning beaches of Laiya or San Juan. However, if off-the-beaten destinations are your kind of adventure, then this place is just the right one for you.

Tucked away in the island of Tingloy, is Masasa Beach, the one place I’d always recommend for camping. I like the different moods of the ocean from the rocky look during low tide to the gorgeous turquoise colored beach at high tide. This place has also a potential for surfing. Also, there is a picturesque lagoon if you’ll walk further at the right side of the island.

Here, the locals are very friendly and very approachable and even though there are no available resorts, you can stay at homestays. You may contact Ate Rosie +639196864368. Rooms are availble for 200php/night.

Budget: 500php

How to get here:

via Cubao

  • Ride bus bound to Batangas Grand Terminal. Fare is 155php.
  • From Batangas Terminal, ride a jeep bound to Talaga Port. Fare is 37php.
  • From Talaga Port, passenger boats to Tingloy are available until 4pm. Fare is 65php.
  • From Tingloy Port, ride a tricycle to Masasa Beach. Fare is 30php/person.

via Calamba, Laguna

  • Ride bus bound to Batangas Grand Terminl. Fare is 98php.
  • From Batagas Terminal, ride a jeep bound to Talaga Port. Fare is 37php.
  • From Talaga Port, passenger boats to Tingloy are available until 4pm. Fare is 65php.
  • From Tingloy Port, ride a tricycle to Masasa Beach. Fare is 30php/person.

NOTE: Please be advised that boats from the Island back to Talaga port are only available from 6am-9am. So if you are planning an overnight stay (well, you don’t have a choice really, because day trips aren’t possible), make sure to be up early and allot an hour of travel time before your preferred boat schedule. The trail going back is about a 5minute walk through rice fields and 15minute ascent. The tricycle ride could take 15mins. Keep this in mind, unless you want to be stuck on the island for another night just like i did. 

11. Anilao, Batangas

Processed with VSCO with acg preset

Snorkeling alone? Yeah, probably not your type of soulo adventure. But I tried it twice and it’s quite fun. People find it weird sometimes, but I like the different kind of solitude I get when I wander and bask at the beauty of a rich marine life on my own. But okay, if you are not as extremely adventurous like me, and you are still looking for a nice activity to try, I think you may consider learning how to dive or snorkel at Anilao, Batangas. Well, at least, you are still on a soulo adventure but with a company of a trainer. I told you. everything on this list is safe! 😉

There are a lot of diving sites including include Eagle Point, Koala, Kirby’s Rock, The Cathedral, Arthur’s Rock, Twin Rocks, Mainit Point, Layag-Layag, Red Rock, Beatrice Rock, Bahura, Darly Laut, Sepok Wall, Bethlehem, Mapating Rock, Merriel’s Rock, Devil’s Point, Red Palm. They even offer diving tours for as low as 1500php.

Budget: 1500 – 2,500php

How to get here: 

  • Ride bus bound to Batangas Grand Terminal. Fare is 155php.
  • From the terminal, ride jeepney bound to Anilao. Fare is 40php.
  • Hire a tricycle to your choice of resort. Fare ranges from 60-100php depending on the distance.

 

10. Hulugan Falls, Lusiana, Laguna

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

From the land of the great waterfalls, this 200ft giant is one that you wouldn’t want to miss. Located in Luisiana, Laguna, Hulugan falls is just one of the many waterfalls you can find in the province. However, it is (i think) the tallest and the grandest of all.

Budget: 600-700php

How to get here:

  • Ride bus bound to Sta. Cruz from Buendia Terminal. Fare is 140php.
  • From Sta. Cruz, take  jeepney bound to Brgy. San Salvador, Luisiana. Fare is 25php.
  • Register at Kapitan’s House (10php) and hire a guide to take you to the waterfall. Trek is about 1-2hrs depending on your pace.

9. Talay Falls, Lusiana, Laguna

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Okay, this waterfall is quite a favorite of mine. Especially if you are hiking early in the morning. I just love the serene beauty of the place. You know when you have those little ideas of yours and you actually want to do yoga in one of those rocks. In an instant, you could tell that the picturesque beauty of the place is enough for you to drift away from the thought of the chaotic city and just enjoy a day in complete meditation. Indeed, one of those places I’ll never grow tired of visiting.

By the way, you’ll pass by Talay falls during your hike to Hulugan Falls. So same budget and directions apply. Just refer to the details above. 🙂

8. Sisiman Bay, Mariveles, Bataan

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset

The sound of the waves as an afternoon lullaby, the rocky mountains, the constant sound of a ship passing by. As I sleep inside my tent, I then wake up to the tide kissing my toes. It is only then that I will begin to realize that it was already high tide and if I don’t move fast, the waters will soon flood my tent –these are the things I remember about Sisiman Bay. Such a very lazy day just relaxing inside the little shelter I now call home.

Aside from the gorgeous views, Sisiman Bay is also a photographer’s favorite. The scenic view of the lighthouse is what lures people to visit. As for myself, I like the stillness, the good people, and the long hours of complete solitude. My favorite moments would be watching the sunset with Young the Giant serenading me in the background. It could be yours too, you know.

Budget: 600php

How to get here: 

  • Ride Genesis bus bound to Mariveles, Bataan. Fare is 200php. Alight in BASECO building.
  • From BASECO Building, take a tricycle to Sisiman Bay. Fare is 50php.

Note: If you are planning a day trip, make sure to be back at the bus terminal by 6pm or you’ll miss the last trip to Manila.

7. Capones Island, Zambales

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

The next time I’d visit this place, I wish to camp overnight. I heard stories from a friend that this one is a perfect place to watch both the sunrise and the sunset. The views are just really breathtaking.

Aside from the white powdery sand that you always look forward to seeing in any beach, this island has a lighthouse you can visit for a nice panoramic view of the place. Plus, this trip is very affordable. My tip, however, if you’re going soulo and you want to save more, is to arrive early at Brgy. Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zmbales and wait for other travelers visiting the island. Arrange with them and ask if you can share with the boat fees. It works, everytime!

If you’re already convinced, then you can also visit…

6. Nagsasa Cove, Zambales

N

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

If you love camping, Nagsasa cove is a complete haven! But of course, only if you move away from the crowd and stay in the left far side of the Island where you’ll find a nearby lake and a quieter place to pitch a tent. With Agoho trees surrounding the beach, it is a nice contained environment where you can just relax, forget about everything behind (because clearly, you won’t have any choice as there are no signal around the island), and enjoy the simple pleasures of life at the beach.

Budget: 1500php 

How to get here:

  • Ride a Victory Liner bus bound to Iba, Zambales and tell the driver to drop you off at San Antonio. Fare is 280php.
  • From San Antonio, take a tricycle to Brgy. Pundaquit. Fare is 30php/person.
  • From Brgy. Pundaquit, you can hire a boat to Nagsasa Cove for 1500php standard rate. If you are going soulo, best is to wait for other travelers that are also visiting the island and arrange with them so you can all split the costs.

Note: You can do both Capones and Nagsasa Island in one trip. Just inform your boatman. Tour Package of Capones-Nagsasa is 2,000php.

5. Saysain Beach, Bataan

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Surprise! Surprise! Bataan is more than just the famous Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

I happen to discover this hidden gem when I was looking for Stella Mariz resort in Bagac, Bataan. Long story cut short, I got lost and I ended up in a place I never imagined myself visiting. True enough, sometimes, you find the most amazing discoveries after getting lost on a trip and taking a ride with no idea of where you are going. Hence, this trip is one that I will always remember. My soulo adventure led me to spending the night with a local family in the quaint little town of Saysain and then exploring a hidden cove with a gorgeous view of the rice fields.

If you like to appreciate the charm of a simple, laid-back country side, you can never go wrong with this place. From the locals to the sceneries, I’d stay here for weeks.

Budget: 500php

How to get here:

  • From Cubao Terminal, ride a bus bound to Balanga, Bataan. Fare is 200php.
  • From Balanga Terminal, ride a jeepney to Saysain. Fare is 35php.
  • From Brgy. Saysain, the trek down to the beach is just about a 15min walk.

4. Pantabangan Dam, Nueva Ecija

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset

Who knows Nueva Ecija could hold such an amazing beauty? Well, if you’ve known her for all those rice fields and only rice fields, I tell you, this is one of those places perfect for some scenic road trips. With only just 3-4hours drive from Manila, you’d be surprised with what this province has to offer. Pantabangan Dam is just one of the stunning places to visit, scroll down some more and you’ll see why.

3. Minalungao National Park

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Mostly overlooked by travelers and even locals, this marvelous beauty is probably the best kept secret of Nueva Ecija. It outshines all the beach destinations you have on your calendar. The place is an eye-catcher for those people craving for something new. From towering limestones to crossing a bridge suspended above a turquoise-colored river, it is certainly a very interesting place to visit. You can also try the 50peso zip line, or go cliff diving, or eat lunch on a bamboo raft. The place is just 3-4 hours away from the Metro, you can visit, this weekend if you like.

How to get here: 

  • Ride a bus bound to Cabanatuan. Fare is 150php.
  • From Gapan, hire a trycycle to Minalungao National Park. It usually ranges from 200-300php good for 4 people.

Note: If you also want to visit Pantabangan Dam, I suggest you go there by car. As Pantabangan Dam is about 85km from Minalungao National Park.

2. Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

A lot of people would probably disagree. Batad? Near Manila? That’s like 8hours on the road! Okay fine. But I still consider it near because it would only require you two trips to get there: a bus and a topload jeepney ride! Change your mind! How cool is that?! Topload jeepney ride!

Batad will always be my favorite when it comes to spending some time in the mountains, drinking coffee and experiencing the richness of the Philippine culture.

If you are planning to visit, buy one of those pandesal that they sell in Banaue market. It’s the best I’ve ever tasted. (see, I’m not really good at food reviews, so let’s leave it here. But listen to me when I say this: DO NOT EVER FORGET TO TRY BANAUE’S PANDESAL. I swear. Love at first bite!!!)

Budget: 1,500php

How to get here:

  • Ride Ohayami Bus in Sampaloc, Manila (near UST) to Banaue. Fare is 450php.
  • From Banaue, first buy a pack of pandesal and then ride a jeepney bound to Batad at the public market. Fare is 150php.

Note: I highly recommend you to stay in one of those traditional huts. Find Kuya Ramon’s Homestay, it is the best place to stay in Batad where you can also get to know other travelers during the bonfire sessions at night. Traditional huts are available for 1,500php/night, while regular rooms are available for 200php/night.

1. Jomalig Island, Quezon

jomalig

Jomalig. Oh Jomalig. I wouldn’t put this first on the list for nothing. Believe me, of all the places I visited in Luzon, this one will always have the special place in my heart. Don’t even think about the 6hours terrifying boat ride that the other blogs would try to tell you. True enough, 6 hours in open seas, yes, and it takes a lot of bravery to go soulo, but the rewards are breathtaking. From the gold and pink sands to the incredible rock formations to the friendliest people on earth, this place is highly recommendable for your eat-pray-love journey.

I did a soulo trip here last April (2016) and I only planned on staying for 3 days. Guess what? I ended up staying for one week. If it weren’t for my sunburn, I won’t go home. It’s an island of no return. It was such an amazing place. I could write  lots of good things about it and consume half of this article, but then there won’t be any place left for surprises. I swear, go beyond Salibungot beach, explore the island, and I am not exaggerating, but think about combining Palaui, Batanes, and Biri Island together—this place deserves a spot on your bucket list.

Budget: 1,500 – 2,000php

How to get here:

  • Ride a bus bound to Real, Quezon from Legarda. Fare is 198php.
  • From Real, the regular schedule of boats that travel to Jomalig everyday is at 9am. Best if you can be there as early as 7am, because depending on the number of passengers, the boat can leave early if it’s already full. The fare is 350php inclusive of lunch. Travel time is about 4-6hours.

 


There you have it folks! I hope this list inspired you in planning your next adventure! See you on the road!!!

Advertisements

One thought on “15 Incredible Places Near Manila Perfect for the Soulo Traveler on a Shoestring Budget

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s