Cooling off in Tagaytay

Cooling off in Tagaytay
By Danny Tariman

My family always wanted the cool weather of Tagaytay. I can no longer count the number of times my family drove up to this city just to leisurely pass the time. We started going up to this mountain city since my kids were still toddlers. And up to now, we still go whenever we like to have a quick and easy picnic.

Tagaytay Picnic Grove.
Tagaytay Picnic Grove.

Tagaytay City is perched on top of the mountain lining the edge of Taal volcano. Its Baguio-City-like climate attracts a lot of tourists specially during summer months, less the hassle of long travel. It is very accessible from Metro Manila via bus or if you drive a car, it is just 1 ½ hours drive.

The Taal lake and volcano as seen from Tagaytag
The Taal lake and volcano as seen from Tagaytay

The iconic view of the city is the Taal lake with an island in the middle the water. That small island is actually the Taal volcano. The volcano is a destination in itself. This is not easily accessible from the city. You need to drive down to the lake, take a boat across, and climb the volcano hiking or riding a horse. I will tell you more about this adventure in another blog.

Tagaytay offers a lot of tourist spots. The most popular one is the Picnic Grove which has a stunning view of the lake and the volcano. It has a spacious picnic grounds with several huts where you can have barbecue, kite flying, or simply playing around with the family. It also has an eco-trail where you can take a walk on its 20-minute trail with a gorgeous view of the mountain cliff, passing through a hanging bridge. On one end, there is a zip line for the more adventurous people.

The Sky Ranch ferries wheel
The Sky Ranch ferries wheel

For those who wanted some quite time with the Lord, the Pink Sisters’ convent is one of the places to go. It has landscaped gardens, a chapel, and a souvenir shop. You may want to attend Mass also at St Francis church just along the main road, or try the many convents and chapels in the area.

Sonia’s Garden is another ‘must’ when you are in Tagaytay. The entire place is flower garden with accommodation that is truly unique – bedrooms furnished with antique furniture, with the toilet and bath just hiding from “plants screen” (yes, there are no walls!) The meal is fantastic – green salads and other healthy food. For those who are health conscious, this is highly recommended.

Sonia's Garden
Sonia’s Garden

For those who are on budget, the Alfonso Market is the place to eat. Aside from being the market for Batangas beef and fresh fruits, this market is very popular – even to the high-end consumers – as it offers the very popular “bulalo” at almost half the price of restaurants along the main road. The “carinderias” has a lot to offer aside from bulalo. It also offers (on season) eat-all-you-can banana, or if this fruit if out-of-season, it offers free, refillable Batangas brewed coffee (a ‘must’ try!)

Eating lunch at the public market: tasty bulalo at very good price.
Eating lunch at the public market: tasty bulalo at very good price

Other places to dine and taste local food for mid-market – Leslies’ or Taaleña, or for high-end – Taal Vista or Josephine’s. But anywhere you dine, a must-try dish are bulalo, tawilis (which is only available in Taal Lake), and “adobong dilaw”. The main road is lined with Manila-based restaurant brands, if you like to go for the more common dining.

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One cool day at the Picnic Grove.

Other places to visit in Tagaytay. The Sky Ranch park beside the Taal Vista Hotel that offer ferries wheel and horse back riding. Calleruega is nice place for family bonding time too. It has a chapel (a good venue to wedding), function rooms, cottages both small and big and very spacious lawns. Of course, not to be missed is the “Palace in the Sky” and old structure which was built during the Marcos regime, supposed to be the guest house for a US president’s visit.

Before you go back home from Tagaytay, take some specialty food at the Good Shepherd Convent Store. Take also fruits that are always available in the city – pineapple, banana (“senorita” variety), and of course papaya. You may also buy some Batangas beef, and dried tawilis at Alfonso market. Tip: prices of dried tawilis, and sweets from street vendors are expensive compared to market price.

Oh, so much story to tell. I have to close this now.

It is so much fun exploring these places together as a family!

Thr eco-trail at Picnic Grove
The eco-trail at Picnic Grove
An early morning shot with the Taal Volcano at the background
An early morning shot with the Taal Volcano at the background
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