Living everyday to the fullest is our philosophy here at Ellry. And what better way to do that than by going on memorable adventures? They don’t have to be far and exotic to be exciting either. There’s a ton of day trip destinations near Manila waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. Just hop on a bus and you’re there!
If you’re looking for a thrill, cultural immersion, or just plain chillaxing, these spots have got you covered. The best part is, they’re all only a few hours away with multiple buses plying their routes daily. Whether it’s a weekend, a holiday, or just your day off, there’s no more excuse! It’s time to fill your Saturdays and free days with these awesome day trip destinations near Manila.
Biak-na-Bato National Park, Bulacan
Located in San Miguel, the Biak-na-Bato National Park isn’t only rich historically, but also ecologically. This is the spot where the first Philippine government was founded under Emilio Aguinaldo, and where many meetings of the Katipunan were held. These days, it’s where families and barkadas converge to do some nature tripping. Most adventurers come here to climb Mt. Manalmon and its twin peak, Mt. Gola. But its tens of caves, including the Madlum and Bayukbok Caves, and the Madlum River and its giant rock formations are not to be missed either. It’s considered by many to be an easy and scenic hike, perfect for those looking for some outdoor fun without difficulty.
Travel time: 2 hours
Bakas River, Bulacan
Named for footprint-shaped rocks said to have belonged to mythical character Bernardo Carpio, this river in Barangay Matictic, Norzagaray is a favorite among locals. With its cool, fresh water, lush surroundings, and large limestone formations, it’s not hard to see why. The giant rocks provide a perfect natural diving board into the refreshing water below. A few huts are available for rent along the river banks for daytrippers to stow their things, eat, and rest in the shade. Because it hasn’t reached mainstream status yet, it’s not as overrun with tourists on normal days, making it a convenient escape from the mad city life.
How to get there: Take a Del Carmen bus from EDSA Northbound to their terminal in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. From there, take a jeep to Garay and get off at the corner of Bayumbon Street then take a tricycle to Bakas River.
Travel time: under3 hours
SandBox by Alviera, Pampanga
If you’re looking for a little more thrill, this adventure park in Porac offers unique activities that will keep you coming back. Ever heard of a zip line roller coaster? SandBox has the first in the Philippines, and it’s every bit as fun as it sounds. They also have the country’s tallest swing, swinging at 10 meters above ground with a capacity of 3 people per ride. Speed demons can opt to go for an ATV ride along the Pasig-Potrero River. Other features included the Aerial Walk – a maze of ropes and nets that visitors have to traverse, the Adventure Tower, outdoor archery, mini golf, and a playground for kids.
How to get there: From Cubao, take a bus that passes through Dau Grand Terminal. Several bus lines pass here, including Victory Liner, Genesis, Five Star, and Philippine Rabbit going on the Olongapo, Baguio, Alaminos, and Tarlac routes. From the terminal take a jeep to SM Clark, then another jeep to Alviera.
Travel time: 2.5 hours
Historical tour in Bataan
The city of Balanga in Bataan is one of the most significant in our history. A trip here will take you back in time to when it was under the Japanese occupation. Balanga is home to the Bataan World War II Museum. It is the site where the Americans surrendered to the Japanese in World War II, and houses memorabilia from the war. It also has a well-preserved torture chamber that the public can view. About half an hour away is another famous historical landmark: the Dambana ng Kagitingan, in the town of Pilar. It is another WWII memorial and museum sitting on Mt. Samat, where visitors can commemorate our brave soldiers while enjoying spectacular views.
Meanwhile, forty five minutes away in the town of Bagac are the Zero Kilometer Death March Marker and the Philippine-Japanese Friendship Tower, celebrating the peace between both countries since the war. Also in Bagac is the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, a large compound resembling an old Filipino town where original Spanish houses are relocated, restored, and preserved. Starting early is recommended for a day trip in Bataan, to get the most of what the towns have to offer. Advanced reservations are also required at Las Casas Filipinas to ensure that you can be accommodated.
How to get there: Bataan Transport Co. and Genesis have trips to Balanga from Cubao every 15 minutes, starting at 1 am and 2:30 am respectively. From Balanga, you can take a minibus, shuttle, of FX to Bagac. Getting around Bagac is best by tricycle or jeep. To Mt. Samat, take a jeep bound for Cabog-Cabog from the Balanga Terminal. Ask the driver to drop you off at Mt. Samat, where you can take a tricycle to the peak.
Travel time: 2-2.5 hours (to Balanga)
Taal Heritage Town, Batangas
While Bataan’s Las Casas Filipinas is a collection of relocated old houses from all over the country, all of Taal’s Spanish houses are originally built where they still stand. Next to Vigan, it is perhaps the best preserved colonial architecture and heritage site in the Philippines. Many of these are also open to the public as museums, such as the Agoncillo Mansion, Casa Villavicencio –which has a secret room where revolutionaries used to meet and strategize, and the Goco Ancestral House. The Marcela Agoncillo Heritage House meanwhile was designated as a National Historical Landmark, since it is where one of our flag makers was born and raised. The Basilica of St. Martin de Tours and the Shrine of the Lady of Kaysasay are also worth a look for the impeccably preserved architecture.
How to get there: JAM Liner buses in both their Cubao and Pasay terminals will get you to Taal town. Take the Lemery-bound bus which travels daily starting from 4:15 am to 7:30 pm. Make sure to inform the driver to drop you off at the town so as not to miss your stop.
Travel time: around 2 hours
Lucban food trip, Quezon
Lucban is undoubtedly best known for the Pahiyas Festival. On a regular day, however, Lucban isn’t top of mind when thinking of day trip destinations near Manila. With the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish at its heart, the surrounding town holds its unique charm. The narrow streets and Spanish colonial houses give it a very quaint old world vibe. But the true hidden gems of this town are its delicacies.
Start your day at Buddy’s, a homegrown restaurant that’s now made it to Manila. Buddy’s arguably has the best pancit habhab in town, among many other tasty dishes. Have afternoon coffee and snacks in Café San Luis, a rustic garden café known for its tablea chocolate, coffee, and pastries. Finally, cap off your day at Mustiola’s, the reigning “best carinderia in Lucban”. Not only is its home-style comfort food famous, but its quirky, bright yellow interiors within the old Spanish house brings a lot of character. Of course, you can’t leave Lucban empty handed. Eker and Ely’s Lucban longganisa are something of a legend, while broas, cassava cake, and pastillas satiate the sweet tooth.
How to get there: Take a bus to Lucena Grand Terminal. JAC Liner and Lucena Lines ply this route from their EDSA/Kamuning terminals, while Philtranco has trips here from their EDSA/Pasay terminals. From Lucena, take a jeep or minibus bound for Lucban
Travel time: 3 hours
Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna
Interestingly enough, Pagsanjan Falls is known to locals as Magdapio Falls, and it’s located in Cavinti, Laguna, a town beside Pagsanjan. Whatever its real name and location are, however, it remains as one of the most popular day trip destinations near Manila. The most popular way to get to the falls is by shooting the rapids on a guided banca from Pagsanjan. This method costs roughly P1250-1500 depending on the inclusions of your package. A more affordable and more challenging method is a steep hike from Pueblo El Salvador Nature Park, located in Barangay Tibatib, Cavinti. Both routes end in Magdapio Falls and allow tourists to swim in its surrounding pool and have a raft ride into the cave beyond the water.
How to get there: JAC Liner buses go to Sta. Cruz, Laguna from 3am to 12 midnight. From the station, take a jeep bound for Pagsanjan for the Pagsanjan route, or a jeep to Cavinti if you opt for the hike. Get off at the town proper and take a tricycle to the Pueblo El Salvador Nature Park.
Travel time: 1.5-2 hours
Bukal Falls, Laguna
With both Pagsanjan and Majayjay Falls getting constantly overrun by tourists, Bukal Falls – also located in Majayjay, Laguna – is a breath of fresh air. Thanks to smaller crowds, Bukal Falls’ waters are crystal clear, and its surroundings are still pristine. This is the reward for a 45-minute hike through the jungles (although the hike itself isn’t difficult, just long). The falls have several pools where visitors can swim. If you’re lucky you might even get a pool, if not the whole falls, to yourself making it an even more memorable experience. Unlike Pagsanjan and Majayjay, the hike here isn’t lined with sari-sari stores to address the visitors’ needs, so bring everything you need. Guides are required and will be provided upon registration at the Barangay Bukal Registration Hall.
How to get there: Get on a bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Laguna and get off at Pagsawitan. JAC Liner, Jam Liner, and HM Transport all have buses for this route. From here take a jeep bound for Majayjay and get off at Barangay Bukal or take a tricycle straight to the Barangay Bukal Registration Hall. It’s best to leave very early to avoid the traffic in Los Baños.
Travel time: 1.5 hours