The Philippines is known for its beautiful islands and fantastic diving like the Thresher sharks of Malapascua, or the unbelievable swarms of sardines in Moalboal. However, not everyone travels much around its capital. When you’re in Metro Manila, a trip to the Calabarzon region is something you can’t miss.
Located conveniently close to the NCR, Calabarzon is the perfect choice for a quick, weekend escape, a lively road trip or a longer, laid-back, leisurely vacation.
It has fabulous beaches ranging from luxury locales to budget options, exciting adventure sports, classic examples of Spanish era religious shrines and architecture, relaxing hot springs, trekking and hiking in the mountain regions and more.
Read on for more information on the best tourist spots, accommodation options and useful safety tips to ensure you have an exciting Calabarzon experience.
Why people should travel to that region?
Calabarzon is situated south of the NCR region and comprises five provinces, viz: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.
Its name is derived from an acronym of these place names. This is one of the most popular and interesting regions in the country, with amazing diversity of geography, history, culture and lifestyles.
For people in Metro Manila Calabarzon is a regular holiday destination, especially during the scorching summer season.
Apart from this, there’s something here for everyone: historical sites, scenic highlands, stunning beaches, theme parks, scuba-diving, art galleries, trekking, foodie paradise, ethnic culture, shopping, eco-tourism, mountains and volcanoes, hiking, amazing cuisine and more.
Best tourist spots in the Calabarzon
This cool mountain city just 59km from the noise, traffic and hectic lifestyle of Metro Manila is the perfect choice for a rejuvenating break.
Scenic hillsides, fresh mountain climate, unspoiled local culture and natural beauties create a treasure-trove for travelers.
For nature-enthusiasts, the active Ta’al Volcano (an incredible natural mystery) waterfall excursions in the tropical jungle and the People’s Park in the Sky are perfect choices.
Visit the magnificent 50-ft Statue of Mother Mary in the Tierra de Maria shrine and the Korean temple on Silang Road, have family fun at Picnic Grove and Sky Ranch theme park. Foodies can have their fill of a range of delicious local and international cuisines.
Soak in the sun, sea and sand at some of the most enchanting beaches in the world at Batangas.
Enjoy the Fantasy World theme park at Lemery with your family, get a taste of classical Greece at Fortune Island where you can do a Greek-themed photo-shoot, cliff-dive, snorkel and visit an exciting Spanish shipwreck.
Hiking enthusiasts can get a stunning glimpse of the Ta’al Lake from the summit of Mt Maculot.
Sample delicious, fresh seafood dishes and bulalo at the numerous restaurants in Nasugbu.
The famous Verde Island Passage, known for marine bio-diversity is also located in Batangas.
This province is located only 21km from Metro Manila, on the south shore of Manila Bay. The City of Tagaytay is located in this province, but it has several other great attractions too.
Fort San Felipe, Sangley Point, Philippine Naval Museum and various battle monuments are for history buffs.
The Aguinaldo Shrine, Imus Cathedral and several other churches provide wonderful examples of ecclesiastical architecture.
There are eight world-class golf-courses and a range of accommodation options, from luxury to budget.
Visitors can sample a variety of seafood, coffees, fresh fruits and vegetables and local cuisines all over the province.
San Pablo City
This is an attractive spot south of Laguna province, and the oldest city in the Philippines.
Surrounded by mountains and washed by fresh cool breezes, the seven lakes located here offer endless possibilities for relaxation and sports.
Lake Sampaloc is the largest one and was created by volcanic eruption. Rent a bike to get around, enjoy local barbecues and the stunning views.
Chill out at Bato Springs, get a glimpse of life on an 18th century sugarcane plantation, enjoy bamboo rafting and visit the cultural museum.
You can also visit the famous coconut plantation resort and enjoy a variety of sports and recreation.
Located almost next-door to Manila, only 21km away, is Rizal. Most tourists assume that it’s only an extension of the metropolis, but discerning travelers know better.
A prominent attraction is the Antipolo Domed Cathedral dedicated to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyages.
A touch of history and a taste of India can be encountered in Cainta with its connection to the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Famous waterfalls, rock garden here provide evidence of nature’s power: Daranak, Batlay, Hinulugang Taktak, etc.
At Masungi Georeserve Sapot you can enjoy a stunning scenario of Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines – by standing upon a spider web platform.
Extensive mountain-ranges, trekking/hiking, ancient cave paintings, and plenty of cultural attractions make this an interesting destination, with accommodation ranging from deluxe to budget.
This is the furthest province from Manila. It was designated as Calabarzon’s Tourist Destination of the Year in 2017.
Best known for its colorful Niyogyugan Festival, festival of San Isidore and other cultural events, travelers can schedule their visits according to these.
Quezon is equally famous for its “foodie” personality. Sweet Filipino sausage, miki noodles, pancit, yema cake, budin etc are some of the local delicacies that you shouldn’t miss.
Mauban Quezon is famous for its stunning white sand beaches at Cagbalete Island. Try your hand at pottery classes in Ugu Biggan Pottery, or find spiritual solace at the mystical Mt. Banahaw.
This city provides another convenient getaway option located only 30km south of Manila. It is built around the scenic Laguna de Bay, one of Asia’s biggest lakes.
It was the site of many historical battles and is the home of one of the greatest Filipino national heroes, Jose Rizal.
It’s also home to many ancient churches, the spectacular Pagsanjan/Cavinti Falls, Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery and Pila Heritage Site.
Garden enthusiasts will love Villa Escudero, a working coconut-plantation, the beautifully laid-out Japanese Garden and Makiling Botanical Gardens.
If woodworking fascinates you, don’t miss a visit to Paete Town. Your kids will love the Enchanted Kingdom theme park.
Retail Therapy in Calabarzon
If you’re a shopaholic, there’s no better place than the entire Calabarzon region to indulge yourself in.
Ranging from high-end luxury boutiques, haute couture designers, international big brands and opulent malls to budget shopping, plazas and arcades it’s all there.
Instagrammable hotspots like the Pinto Museum and Nuvali in Laguna, Solenad in Luzon, Ayala Malls Serin in Tagatay are places to see and be seen in.
Charming locales like the Tagatay City Fruit Market provide local color, while the Acienda Designer Outlet in Cavite is the best place to pick up quality goods at discounted rates.
This city in Quezon province is famous for its local lambanog (coconut arrack) and delicious sweets. It’s equally well-known for its festivals and ethnic events.
Filled with resorts, historical mansions, heritage landmarks and profusion of ancient stone bridges, this is a unique experience for tourists.
The gorgeous Roman Catholic basilica of St Michael, the century-old Casa Communidad de Tayabas building now lovingly restored and the ruins of several notable heritage houses make it an interesting destination.
You can grab fresh, hot budin-cakes at the Calle Budin, visit the Tayabas Racing Circuit and enjoy fun jeepney and tricycle rides through the city.
It’s in Batangas personifies the tourism tag, “It’s all here and all so near!” The heritage town of
Taal is filled with ancient properties, ancestral homes and hundreds of historical structures dating back to the Spanish colonial era.
Many of these structures are still in use by the descendants of the old families. The town is famous for its plethora of religious festivals that fill the atmosphere with color and pageantry.
Many Filipino patriots and nationalists were associated with this city and memorials to them are dotted all over the landscape.
Since farming and commerce were the main occupations, visitors can treat themselves to delicious foods, exquisitely embroidered fabrics, sweets and popular Filipino dishes.
What type of accommodations is good to stay at night?
Selecting the right accommodation is a personal choice that every traveler makes, based on their needs, preferences and budget. Available choices are:
- Condos: Finding a suitable condo for rent is the easiest thing for visitors, whether high- or mid-rise. They’re safe, and have lots of amenities.
- Houses: are great for long stays.
- Hotels: are perfect for safety, comfort and convenience.
- Hostels: good for backpackers and young people.
- Apartment: rentals available on short/long term.
- Guesthouses/Bed-n-Breakfast: cheaper and great for overnight trips.
- Motels: are a bit risky, but good in an emergency.
- Dormitories: perfect for students and youth.
- Resorts: great for longer vacations.
A few Safety tips to not make your travel experience a nightmare.
- If you’re not used to tropical climate, stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and avoid traveling in crowded areas.
- Keep children and seniors close to you.
- Avoid local taxis – opt for Uber or Grab.
- Never get into arguments with locals.
- Single women should never leave their drinks unattended.
- Avoid areas that are known for crime and terrorist activities.
- Don’t flash your cash or valuables.
- Watch out for pickpockets in busy areas, don’t walk alone after dark.
- Swim only in designated areas – there could be jellyfish.
- Drink only bottled water.
- Get assistance from your hotel concierge for transportation and keep their business-card with you.
- Avoid shopping for cheap, counterfeit goods.
Traveling through the Calabarzon region is a unique, once in a lifetime experience. The amazing blend of cultural, natural, culinary, artistic and adventurous encounters you’re bound to have will create everlasting memories.
Each region and province has its own special features and it’s wise to get all the information you can before you arrive. Plan your trip according to your tastes, health, age, budget and preferences.
However, there are genuine concerns about safety and security in some parts of the region and visitors should ensure that they take all the necessary precautions. Staying mindful and aware of your surroundings is the way to have a great holiday!
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