Batangas is one of the nearest and most accessible weekend vacation destinations to Metro Manila. It is a choice destination for work-torn city dwellers who occasionally want to seek solace from the chaotic urban living and pack their bags for a restful weekend getaway somewhere not far-off from the city. So, yeah, Batangas may be your best refuge.
Before packing that weekend bag, though, you may want to consider our list of things to do in Batangas when you have limited time and/or budget. Most of these places can be explored in a day or two.
Go shell picking at the shallow waters of Calatagan or spend summer fun time at the shorelines of Laiya.
Batangas boasts of a wide range of beaches: white, black, deep, shallow, and what-not. But the most family-friendly beaches are mostly located in Calatagan and Laiya in San Juan.
Photo courtesy of Virgin Beach Resort, Laiya
What’s particularly striking in Calatagan is the presence of many privately-owned beach houses, which can be rented for a perfect family beach vacation. As an option, there are also a number of high-end and middle-range beach hotels and resorts in Calatagan for those who prefer these types of accommodations.
The long stretch of Laiya cove offers a wide range of beach resort accommodations that would surely fit anyone’s budget. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Beach Resort, Laiya)
The beach resorts of various price ranges are lined up in the long stretch of Laiya cove in San Juan. Although the water in Laiya is not as clear as that of some other summer destinations in the country, the proximity and accessibility of the place to Metro Manila and CALABARZON makes it a highly compelling alternative.
If you have time, you may want to visit the Calatagan Lighthouse or Faro de Punta Santiago in Parola, Calatagan, overlooking the Balayan Bay for some scenic photo opportunities.
Relive the past at the Taal Heritage Town.
Be transformed and travel through time as you tread this quaint town located at the poblacion of Taal. Main attractions are the well-preserved old houses built during the Spanish colonial period that were converted and reused as museums. Noted historical luminaries in the Spanish era such as Marcela Agoncillo, Don Felipe Agoncillo, Eulalio and Gliceria Villavicencio, and Vicente Ilustre, among others, have ancestral houses in Taal. Most of these houses are open to the public and included in the walking tour packages.
Located on top of a hill, overlooking the town, the St. Martin of Tours Basilica stands tall and proud—a Taal landmark that couldn’t be missed. (Batangas Provincial Government)
Aside from the old houses and churches, there are other places of interest in Taal, such as Lucia’s Well, said to be with miraculously healing water, and San Lorenzo Ruiz’s Steps, which used to be known as hagdan-hagdan before it got renamed in honor of the first Filipino saint, Lorenzo Ruiz. The flight of stairs contains 125 steps connecting Lucia’s Well with Caysasay Shrine and the town center.
San Lorenzon Ruiz’s Steps (above) connecting Lucia’s Well (below) with Caysasay Shrine and the town proper.
Visit the magical albeit nearly abandoned Fantasy World.
On your way to and from Taal, along the Diokno highway, you will never miss the palaces, castles, and towers of the Fantasy World. It was supposed to be an amusement park with residential and hotel complexes originally intended to be the local version of Disneyworld, until investment prospects went sour.
The main palace at the Fantasy World at Lemery, Batangas.
Although the place still bears the promises it used to hold, it is showing traces of decay. It’s so unfortunate because even in its present state, it is still surprisingly photo-worthy. In fact, the kids or even the kids-at-heart will surely still feel the magic of the place. It’s worth a few hours of visit before you finally drive down through the winding road of Diokno highway to Nasugbu. The chilly, windy, and cool weather is also a surprisingly pleasant treat worth side-tripping to.
The palace grounds at the Fantasy World at Lemery, Batangas.
Fantasy World is now primarily operated and managed by homeowners and members for their exclusive access. Non-members pay Php1000 entrance fee for a group of 10.
Make a side trip to Batangas Provincial Capitol Complex in Batangas City.
Governor Vilma Santos, who started as a film actress before entering government service, is probably one of the best attractions of Batangas City. A former Lipa City mayor, she was known to attend the flag ceremony every Monday morning as a mayor. Try to catch a glimpse of Ate Vi, the governor’s showbiz name, as she sings “Lupang Hinirang” at the complex grounds.
The Batangas Provincial Capitol Complex is probably one of the biggest in the country; a bonus feature would be that a prominent celebrity is holding office in it. (Photo courtesy of Batangas Provincial Government)
If you’re not a Vilmanian, the complex is nonetheless worth navigating and exploring because it’s probably one of the biggest in the country. When you’re done with that, try exploring the city to observe how the people of Batangas spend an ordinary day.
Tips to Travelers
Taal is a two-to-three-hour drive from Manila and can be reached via Tagaytay or SLEX. Taking the Tagaytay route is longer by almost three hours, but more picturesque as you would pass through Diokno highway*, where the Fantasy World, Canyon Woods, and Pacific Heights Subdivision can be seen along the way. Meanwhile, going to Taal through SLEX will take at least two hours.
“Before departing Metro Manila or Tagaytay, check for the status of road repairs as this route to Taal may not yet be passable. The Diokno Highway in Tagaytay has been closed for road rehabilitation, as of January, 2016.” - Advisory from Taal.ph