Tagaytay away with me, with Lake Taal - 2D1N itinerary!

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Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

Tagaytay. It is a little mesmerizing little town in Cavite, a 3 hour ride down south of Manila, and just serene, peaceful, and a thousand times slower pace of life. Everyone here is perpetually on a holiday mood, reminds me a little of the little town of Mui Ne, but then it's slightly bigger around here and with a lot more to do. We certainly didn't finish all the touristy things to do around Tagaytay, but it would certainly be a shame to be rushing around this place to see instead of just taking it slow and experiencing it as it is... well, here is our 2D1N itinerary for your reference:




All stopovers in my Tagaytay trip are marked on this map for your convenience.



Where to stay

Tagaytay is a relatively small town, and as long as you stay somewhere near the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway between the Sky Ranch and Museo Orlina, you will be fine. Everything that you'll need to do is quite easy to access from where you stay either by a walk or by a jeepney ride!


Where we stayed

If you followed my Manila adventures here, you will know that we stayed at Our Melting Pot Makati! This time at Tagaytay, we stayed at their branch right at Tagaytay as well. A private double room goes at SGD25/night (PHP870), which is a really good rate for one of the best sleeps I've had - though I must had been really tired from the day activities. The hosts helped us arranged our day trip to Lake Taal too, and we would set off from the hostel the next morning.

Our Melting Pot Tagaytay
75 Smokey Hill Drive
Maharlika East Subdivision
Tagaytay, 4120, Philippines

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

How to get to Tagaytay from Manila

From wherever you are, take the metro to Taft terminal station. There, you will see a lot of buses and pick one that heads to Nasugbu. Then, ask the driver to drop you off at Tagaytay. Alternatively, if the junction of Sen Gil Puyat (Buendia) and Taft Avenue is nearer to you, there are many buses departing for Tagaytay several times a day over there. We left Manila at 8 in the morning. The journey takes nearly three hours, and we arrived in our hostel at 11. It was drizzling a little bit, and so it was a little tempting to stay in the hostel to nap a bit, but... no, there are many interesting cafes along the way for breakfast to explore!

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

And we ended up choosing one with an amazing view - Bag of Beans! Most of the cafes and restaurants on the Lake Taal side of the road has a pretty good view, but Bag of Beans is one of those with a little balcony where you can even have pasta, croissant, soups, coffee and cake all while chilling out and admiring the view. I thought I'll never get bored of it.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

With a book and coffee, I can stay here for-ev-er!
Because... check out that sick view behind me:

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

Hello, Lake Taal!!!

It was so humongous I nearly forgot it wasn't the sea, but an impressive huge lake that fills the Taal Volcanic Caldera created from eruptions dated 500,000 years ago. That's also where we will be sailing across the next morning, so it was really fascinating to observe it from this vantage point first.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

And the other side... feeling immensely small among all these greenery!

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!


The menu at Bag of Beans is mostly dedicated for breakfast and brunch, and obviously, by the look of their name, their coffee must be pretty darn good so yes, that's something to order to start off with. A few things that caught our eye - the Shepherd's Pie (PHP130, SGD3.80) and Spaghetti with Cream Sauce (PHP260, SGD7.50) which were both splendid and absolutely mouthwatering with their intense flavours. We polished everything off super quickly and got back to admiring the view...

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

The Blueberry cheesecake (150PHP, ~SGD4.30) is just a sweet delectable dessert that mustn't be skipped regardless how full you are. It really surprised me to taste one of the best cheesecakes at Bag of Beans because I thought there ought to be some compensation for the amazing view, but no, apparently you can have the view, and eat the best cake ever.

Bag of Beans
General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway Mendez Crossing West
Tagaytay - Nasugbu Hwy, Tagaytay, Cavite, Philippines



After the super heavy breakfast and lunch, we made our way at Bodicures Spa for a full-body massage. It was still raining and there was nothing much we can do so... massage it is! It was a very no-frills, down-to-earth and solid good 2-hour massage. It was a perfect unwinding session that I looked forward to especially after the long hiking session the previous day.

Bodicures Spa
Tagaytay - Calamba Road
Tagaytay, 4120 Cavite, Philippines

Much more refreshed, we took a little turn around the Tagaytay Rotonda area to check out some of the shopping area, though it was a little disappointing. There was nothing much to buy, but a lot of people watching opportunities where the locals get their usual grocery shopping done, as well as many day to day stuff such as telecommunications services. 


Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

From Tagaytay Rotonda, we traipsed our way back to our hostel, hopefully finding a nice dinner place along the way. I didn't do much of a research for good places to eat at Tagaytay - and well, luck played a role in this as we chanced upon this excellent lookout point for sunsets - well, if the weather is much better. But the gloomy colours have their own unique watercolour palette that I really liked as well... of course, all of it against the Lake Taal as the backdrop.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

You might not be able to guess where this is because some kind of snooping is required - we followed our instincts for good views and kinda trespassed into Days Hotel, one of the more strategically located hotels in Tagaytay, to reach this pretty lawn. Everywhere else along the highway is rather non-photogenic, so this is considered a rare find... I think we probably passed off as one of the guests because none of the staff threw us out, but hey, if you don't mind spending a little more on accommodation, it's a double room for SGD113/night. Well, you get rooms with this view, so it's pretty worth it I guess!

*Not a review. Do further research yourself.

Days Hotel Tagaytay
Aguinaldo Hwy Silang Crossing
Tagaytay City, Philippines

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

Along the way, Pamana caught our eye and we went into this family-run, two-storeyed restaurant. We were on a hunt for a night view of the lake (honestly not tired of it yet) but Tagaytay at night was extremely windy and chilly, more so on the balcony on Pamana! It was nearly impossible to stay out there and eat normally, though there was a brave table of diners right out there fending off blustery winds. It was actually pretty much all dark out there. Anyway, when it comes to Pamana's food - it was a hearty, satisfying dinner. They pride themselves with generations-old recipes, and so we ordered some of Filipino's bests - lechon pork, and seafood fried rice platter, both of which were filling and delicious. They have an eye-opening lot of local options on the menu but we got to settle on a manageable amount, and that was what we chose. We washed it all down with a pandan honey iced tea, one of the most ingenious refreshing teas ever.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

Did I mention that this family has got attractive good genes based on their family pictures hung everywhere? Yes they do. It turns out that there aren't many outstanding restaurants around Tagaytay that hits the sweet spot between price, convenience and quality, and Pamana is one of them. I even got two scarves from their first-storey boutique shop for a reasonable price of about PHP500 (~SGD14) each which I absolutely can't get my hands off the next day - it was cold - and saved my life (more on that later). So - Pamana yes.

Pamana
Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway Tagaytay City
Near The Boutique Bed & Breakfast

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

There is more shopping to be had at Ayala Malls opposite Pamana, which I highly recommend for you to get a scarf if you intend to head to Lake Taal the next morning. This is because on the journey to Lake Taal, there will be an extended duration on the tricycle where you would be exposed to winds (due to speed and the weather), and that will be very harsh on your face and your respiratory tract - I got a sore throat almost immediately after because I wasn't taking care to cover my face. So yes, scarves are important, in hindsight. Get one here if you don't have one already. Besides shopping opportunities, we got an ice-cream at Cold Stone Creamery at half-price of Singapore prices. We then ransacked this baking store that has an insane amount of baking ingredients located on the second floor of Ayala Malls. All I could remember was a 1kg pack of crushed Oreo biscuits, but you can imagine all the jumbo bags of similar stuff. Phoon Huat has nothing on this one!! It is a must-stop for all baking fanatics. We basically hung out at Ayala Malls until it was time to go back on a jeepney.

 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

My eyes sprung open with anticipation the next morning - we're going to Lake Taal!!
The place we've been staring at through the light drizzle yesterday was sparkling blue and amazing - we were blessed with incredibly good weather that morning.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

Before that, we were picked up by a tricycle at the main road near our hostel. We were driven down the main highway and then down this winding twisty road (the most of Tagaytay is located on higher grounds) to the small pier where we will take a boat to the Taal Volcano for our hike! As I said, please wrap your neck with your scarf and cover your mouth on the tricycle. It was very thrilling as usual but at the same time it was somehow very unnerving because our particular tricycle was going extremely fast even round the bends! The tricycle driver was very experienced though, so no worries. Very soon, we were already at the lake, where several other tourists were waiting with us for our boat.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
  
Jumping onto the boat even before it was ready... yes this was the one we will be on to sail over to Volcano Taal!! I love the striking colours of the boat against the blue lake.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

And row row row we go!
(Actually it operates on engine)

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

Hello there, volcano! We are moving towards you...


Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
  Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

And we're on the island!

This was actually the fourth volcano I'm coming to close contact with within a six months period - and I never seen a real life volcano before. First, Bromo; second, Semeru (although I failed); third, Pinatubo! Now, Taal. I guess now I can start introducing Taal Volcano?

It's scary to think, but Taal is still a live volcano. Since its earliest known eruption in 1572, it has erupted a grand total of 33 times until its last outburst in 1977. That's not very long ago for a history of a volcano!

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

Taal Volcano is one of the lowest volcanoes in the world, with its highest point only at 311m above sea level, on the eastern rim of the Main Crater. This island covers an area of 23km2, and is surrounded by freshwater. For the geographer buffs, you might want to know that its morphological features show that its eruptions were either phreatic or phreatomagmatic (interaction of magma and water) in nature. We observed its odd formation - with multiple rims and craters - from Bag of Beans yesterday, but reading up on it at the small museum on the island itself enlightened us a lot. The island is actually composed of at least 35 cones coalescing by several eruptions, which were created by different volcanic processes - base surges, airfalls, and effusion of lava! I could feel my geographer teachers feeling really proud of me as I read this.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

There was an option to take a 'guided paid tour' up to the crater, but actually there is no need for it as the route is very straight-forward. You can simply follow the other tourists actually, and hike your way up. There were some parts of it that was very, very slippery because there were more ashy slopes rather than rocky slopes. My boots had practically no traction on the ground, and I kept slipping. A middle-aged English man offered to hold my hand all the way down on the return trip, which I thankfully accepted because I think I would have otherwise sprained an ankle or a hip (thank you so much!!)

Honestly this hike is much harder and tougher on the knees than Mount Pinatubo, especially the return journey with mostly downward slopes. There is always an option to take the ponies up though, but they looked so overworked and sad, so I don't recommend them unless you really can't do the hike physically.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

One of the views towards Tagaytay town somewhere along the way! Views like these really push me on! The other tourists were also huffing and puffing and doing their best, so I gotta push on. I really want to see the crater!

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

Do you see where we were supposed to go? All the way... somewhere at the horizon. Let's go!!!

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

A sulfuric rock find!

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

I was obviously slower than the rest because I was so physically unfit! It is do-able, I just needed to take more rests... for example, to take more photographs while I am catching a breath...

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

How much have I climbed? Pretty good, right? Almost there...

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

AND THERE YOU ARE, crater.
That feeling of seeing it is... I don't know, quite strange. It actually feels like it has a heartbeat, some kind of pulsating with heat and the smell of sulfur permeates the air quite a bit. Magma and lava once exploded through this point, and we are so very close to it. Somehow, the feeling that it is absolutely forbidden, dangerous, and toxic to go down these slopes make it feel even more special.
A true no man's land.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

My favourite picture with the crater! I was trying so hard to look relaxed, but I only wanted to get away from the edge because it was a straight slope all the way down just a metre from me...

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
  
We could pay a small fee to have access to another side where apparently we can get slightly closer to the volcano to another cliff. I forgot how much it was, but I think it was somewhere around SGD3 per pax. What a good way to make money, after we expended a lot of energy to get here, shall we pay a bit more to get another angle of the crater? This was the angle we got:

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

Obviously trying to milk the fee as much as I could by spamming pictures.
It really was the abrupt end of the road. If you wanted to start going down, this is the place to start from because there was a slightly gentler slope from here. I think they would have try to exploit this place for tourist dollars as much as they can, so when the locals tell you it's toxic, it must really be toxic... don't go down from here please.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

Another dangerous cliff you might fall off from.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

It is really a hike that you go, and then throw yourself into nature and a hands-on geography class, then fall in love with volcanoes over again. I'm not sporty, but oh, the lengths I'll take to go to see one. The allure of these silent giant monsters is just unexplainable.

Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!
 Tagaytay away with me (Manila, Philippines) - 2D1N itinerary!

After our little adventure at Taal in the morning, we grab a late lunch at a Japanese restaurant, Santouka of Ayala Malls and French Baker for a croissant and chocolate cake before catching a bus to head back to Manila city. It was a really short but amazing trip with Tagaytay. Some of the touristy things we missed include the People's Park In The Sky, the Sky Ranch and Our Lady of Manaoag at Tierra de Maria, though I must say I literally don't know what I am missing because I had too much fun elsewhere. I am not sure when I'll be back again, Tagaytay. But you were fantastic. xx

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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @amie.hu and Facebook page!

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