Manila is a huge, crazy, busy city – bigger than New York, with no subway and a little less organized. That can be lots of fun or a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s your first visit or you are in Manila as a newly minted expat! Fear not, there is a reason the Philippine’s tourism tagline is “It’s more fun in the Philippines”: There are lots of beautiful getaways in the Philippines and a few are in driving distance from the city, so you can escape for the weekend easily. Find out my top 3 weekend getaways from Manila, the gateway to paradise!
Nasugbu Coast: Ever since the new road through the national park was opened, the Nasugbu coast is much closer to Manila and is a quick and beautiful beach getaway. It’s mostly about relaxing away from the city, going for the swim, reading by the pool or enjoying some great food (ok, you can do that anywhere in the Philippines)! Your experience will very much depend on the hotel you stay at, as there is not really a town to hang out like in many other beach destinations. My personal favorite is Club Punta Fuego, a private community with a public hotel and lots of amenities to enjoy your stay! An alternative is Pico de Loro – a new hotel and community, that’s cheaper, but not nearly as nice!
Taal Volcano: If you prefer mountain vistas over a beach, Tagaytay at Taal Lake and Volcano is your best bet. The views of the lake (with an island and another lake and…) are stunning and you can take a boat across the lake for a hike (or donkey ride) up to the crater rim! After all that activity, you can pick from a number of great restaurants, many also with views across the lake, for a nice dinner. In the heat of summer, you’ll get the additional benefit of cooler temperatures, making it a great destination when you need to escape the Manila summer! My favorite hotel is the Taal Vista Hotel, with great views, beautiful rooms and all the amenities, including a pool and spa!
Anilao: A special gem is the Anilao coast, about 3-4 hours drive from Manila: It’s a dive destination that attracts visitors from around the world with more than 20 dive sites in reach from any of the hotels. The resorts come in all price categories, most are set on the cliff, overlooking the sea with their own beach access and many have their own dive operation! With the stunning setting on the cliffs of Anilao, the resorts couldn’t feel any more remote and are a completely different world from Manila – which makes them a great trip if you just need to get away from crazy Manila! Hotels I can recommend range from great value Buceo Anilao, the Acacia to the luxurious Vivere Azure!