Nothing beats a good ol’ road trip with friends and family. A bag full of snacks, fun playlist, and wacky travel companions are all you need for a good time. Fortunately, old roads are being renovated and new expressways are being built making road trips safer and faster.
A good idea for road trips is to travel to the farthest destination first. then visit the interesting attractions and fun activities on your way back. This will ensure you still have energy for sightseeing and not get bored of the travel back home.
Now that you have everything prepared, here are some incredible destinations you should venture when you plan to road trip outside Manila.
The Northwest Road Trip – Ilocos
Probably one of the most popular road trips in Luzon, many undertake this 12-hour drive to the province of Ilocos northwestern part of Luzon. If you love history and relics from the past, this road trip is perfect for you. This trip might take a few days depending on how long you intend to stay at each destination. Three to four days are sufficient for most.
On your first day, head to the edge of Luzon at Pagudpud (12-hours from Manila). Take a break from the long journey by dropping by these interesting points along the way:
– Surf at San Juan, La Union
– Eat Calasiao Puto, Pigar-pigar, and Bangus at Dagupan
– Take a quick dip at Suso Beach, Ilocos Sur
Once at Pagudpud, you can then make your back to Manila passing by all the interesting places listed below:
Pagudpud, Bangui, and Burgos
The activities and sights below can be done half day, depending on how long you intend to stay at one place. If you arrive sometime in the afternoon, it is recommended you spend the night at Maira-ira Beach (Blue Lagoon) then leave early morning for the rest of the trip.
– Patapat Viaduct, Pagudpud – The 4th longest bridge in the Philippines.
– Maira-ira Beach, Pagudpud (30 minutes from Patapat) – Also known as Blue Lagoon due to its aquamarine colored waters. You will pass by the picturesque Timmantang Rock and Bantay Abot cave on your way here. Depending on your time of arrival in Pagudpud, you may opt to spend the night at Maira-ira Beach.
– Between Saud Beach and Blue Lagoon is Kingfisher where they offer water sports such as Kitesurfing and SUP.
– Bangui Windmills, Bangui (50 minutes from Blue Lagoon) – See the majestic wind turbines installed at the shoreline.
– Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, Burgos (30 minutes from Bangui Windmills)- These strange looking formations were formed from waves hammering the rock face for hundreds of years.
– Bojeador Lighthouse, Burgos (15 minutes from Kapurpurawan) – Now over a hundred years old, this lighthouse once guided ships bound for the shores of the Philippines.
Laoag City, Ilocos Norte (1 hour from Cape Bojeador)
The city of Laoag is the capital of Ilocos Norte. This city is rich in cultural history and traces of the typical life of Filipinos can still be seen. Be sure to explore the following attractions:
– Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Church of Paoay. Marvel at the former residence of the Marcos family, the Malacañang of the North.
– Go SandBoarding or ride a 4×4 on the La Paz Dunes with Ilocos Sand Adventures.
– Be amazed at the Sinking Bell Tower right at the city center.
– Travel back in time at the Museo Ilocos Norte.
– Don’t miss their famous Empanadang Iloko!
Vigan City, Ilocos Sur (2 hours from Laoag City)
Vigan City is the capital of Ilocos Sur famous for its well-preserved Spanish architecture. Here are just some of the things you can do in this historic city:
– Walk down the cobblestone street called Calle Crisologo.
– Ride a horse-drawn carriage, also called Kalesa, around town.
-Interact with the animals at Baluarte zoo.
– Climb the Bantay Bell Tower.
– Reminisce the old times at the Crisologo Museum.
– Try street foods at the Burgos Plaza.
Don’t miss the Vigan Longanisa and Chichacorn!
The Northeast Road Trip – Cagayan Valley and Aurora
This road trip will take you all the way to the world-famous Palaui Island at Sta. Ana as well as interesting places in Cagayan. To start this journey, head all the way to Sta. Ana in Cagayan at the northeastern tip of Luzon. Typical travel time from Manila is around 12 to 14 hours.
Sta. Ana, Cagayan
From there, park your car and hire a boat to take you around Palaui Island. Part of CNN’s 100 World’s Best Beaches, you may set up camp at Anguib Beach and marvel at the night sky littered with thousands of stars. The caretakers at Anguib Beach might let you rent their Kayaks if they have it on the island. Do not miss the breath-taking views at Cape Engaño and the aptly named Crocodile Island, which are usually part of the boat tour.
Tuguegarao City, Cagayan (2 hours and 45 minutes from Sta. Ana)
After your beach hopping escapade, head back to Tuguegarao City and pass by Camalaniugan Church to see the oldest bell in the Philippines.
– Eat Tuguegarao’s famous Pansit Batil Patung. Made from Miki noodles, carabao meat, pork liver, mung bean sprouts, chicharon, and eggs.
– Rest and reflect at the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Piat.
– View the sunset at the Buntun Bridge. The longest river bridge in the Philippines.
– See the chapel inside Callao Caves. A series of caverns and a chapel inside makes it a unique place. Be prepared for the 184 steps to reach it though.
Baler, Aurora (6 hours and 30 minutes from Tuguegarao City)
On the way back to Manila, don’t miss Baler in Aurora. One of the famous surfing spots in the Philippines. There are a lot to see here too!
– Take a dip at the ice-cold waters of the Ditumabo Falls.
– Marvel at the Diguisit Rock Formations and Falls.
– Get your beach fix at the following locations Dicasalarin Cove, Diguisit, Ampere, Lukso-lukso and Cemento. The great thing is all of these beaches can be reached by land without a need to rent a boat.
– Learn to surf at the Sabang Beach.
– Explore the 600-year old Balete (Banyan) Tree. The largest in Asia.
The Highlands Road Trip – Mountain Province and Benguet
This road trip will take you to the mountains of Luzon. Perfect relief from the hot weather of Manila. From Manila, it will take you about 8 to 12 hours to reach Sagada.
Sagada, Mountain Province
Sagada is a quiet town up in the Cordillera Mountains. A 12-hour drive from Manila, it has gained much attention after being showcased in the film, That Thing Called Tadhana.
There are a lot of things to do here in Sagada and it is generally recommended to spend at least 2 days to visit the attractions. More if you intend to experience all that Sagada has to offer. Here are the most recommended places to visit and activities to do:
– See the majestic sunrise at Kiltepan.
– Listen to the echo of your voice and see the Hanging Coffins at Echo Valley.
– Try spelunking at the Sumaguing Cave or take it a notch higher and do the cave connection from Lumiang.
– Take a breather at Lake Danum and watch the sunset.
– Dip in the ice-cold water of Bomod-ok falls.
– Pick oranges at the Rock Farm.
Banaue, Ifugao Province (2 hours from Sagada)
Banaue is a two-hour drive from Sagada. It is home to the 2,000-year old eighth wonder of the world, the Banaue Rice Terraces.
– Marvel at the sheer scale and beauty of the Banaue Rice Terraces.
– Hike the lesser known Batad and Hapao Rice Terraces.
– Take a dip at the majestic Tappiyah Falls.
Baguio City, Benguet (5 hours and 30 minutes from Banaue)
The last stop on the highlands road trip, the city of Baguio is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicity from all over Luzon. You won’t run out of things to do here either.
– Appreciate art at the BenCab museum.
– Shop for fresh fruits and produce at the Public Market.
– Stroll and chill at the Burnham Park, Botanical Garden, and Camp John Hay.
– Taste the famous delicacies of Good Shepherd Convent.
– Take pictures at the presidential residence, The Mansion.
– See the countryside from the Mines View Park.
Before heading back to Manila, don’t forget to pick up pasalubong such Ube, Peanut Brittle, Lengua, coffee, and Strawberries!
Road Trip Down South – Laguna, Cavite and Batangas
Perhaps the easiest to get to, this road trip takes you across Laguna and Batangas which can easily be done in a day or over the weekend. It is a good idea to start early to avoid traffic at the cities and towns along the way. Nasugbu, Batangas is only about 2 hours away from Manila via the Star Tollway.
If you are up for a challenge, try hiking Mt. Batulao and enjoy the magnificent view at its summit. Be sure to arrive here early as the trail is open with little shade from the sun. If you hike early and finish at a moderate pace, you can finish the hike at less than 4 hours. You can then visit Caleruega. A popular church run by the Dominicans. It is often booked for retreats and weddings.
You might remember Batangas for its famous beaches but there is more to Batangas! Check out other activities in Batangas here.
Tagaytay City, Cavite (30 minutes from Batulao, Batangas)
From Nasugbu, make your way to Tagaytay City. A place famous for its awesome views of the Taal lake and volcano. Its mild climate offers a quick relief from the scorching Manila weather. The city offers plenty of things to do and places to eat but if you’re looking for more experiences to do, read more here.
– Attend mass at the Pink Sisters.
– Try the Zipline and horseback riding at the Picnic Grove.
– Eat at the restaurants overlooking the Taal lake.
– Shop for fresh meat, fruits, vegetables, and plants at the Mahogany Market.
– Try the famous Bulalo and crispy, fried Tawilis.
– Grab a cup of coffee from Bag of Beans.
Santa Rosa, Laguna (45 minutes to an hour from Tagaytay City)
After Tagaytay, drive through to Santa Rosa in Laguna for a shopping and a hearty meal to end the day. Drop by the Paseo de Sta. Rosa for great bargains on clothes and shoes on popular brands.
– Feed hundreds of hungry Coi fishes at the man-made lake in Nuvali.
– Ride a speedboat around the lake.
– Rent a bike and pedal your way around.
– If you still have energy, try Wake Boarding at the Republ1c Wake Park.
– Shop for less at the outlet stores in Paseo de Santa Rosa.