Tagaytay City: A Top Holiday Destination South of Manila
Home to the smallest yet active, world-renowned Taal Volcano, Tagaytay City is a relatively small city that is home to 16,322 people. The city is located 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Manila at the heart of the mountainous region of the Cavite province.
Going there, one would appreciate the panoramic view of Taal Volcano and its lake. In fact, this is the main attraction in Tagaytay. Almost all business establishments and parks are built around this area. One would see tourists on boat rides and others trekking the volcano. The road also offers a sight of growing wildflowers, winding roads, facilities including Casino Filipino Tagaytay, and orchards with grown fruits reminiscent of simple country living.
Situated at 2,500 feet above sea level, residents of Tagaytay City enjoy a low temperature and low humidity with an abundant amount of rainfall. All year round, the average temperature is 22.7 degrees Celsius. The air is foggy at night and remains misty in the morning. This is the kind of place where you breathe out fog, like as if you smoke.
For centuries, the summer capital of the Philippines is Baguio City, and Tagaytay only comes as an alternative to those who do not wish to visit the northern region of the country. During the day, the air is crisp and cool even under the sun. And this goes all year round. At night, Taal Lake sparkles with the lights of the fishing boats. Taal Lake is busy during the day ferrying tourists towards the volcano. At night, the lake is busy as it is a rich fishing ground.
The Department of Tourism, in partnership with the Philippine Tourism Authority, built the Picnic Groove near Taal Volcano. It is an ideal picnic spot with wide open space where children can run. The public park enjoys the patronage of tourists and is a major contributor to the city’s coffers.
How to go to Tagaytay?
From Manila, there are two ways to go to Tagaytay City. One is via the Coastal Road -Aguinaldo Highway where all public buses pass through and the second one is via the South-Luzon Expressway passing at Sta.Rosa Exit. This option is only possible when you have your own car which can take you one to two hours travel depending on the traffic situation.
When you travel to Tagaytay City using the public bus transport, you can just wait for buses at Baclaran or CCP Complex, Pasay City. Hop on buses with sign boards "Mendez–Tagaytay/ Nasugbu" of San Agustin, Golden Dragon, Erjohn, BSC, Kirby, DLTB and Saulog aircon Bus Lines. If you don't want to wait along Roxas Blvd., you can go to their bus terminals. Mostly buses bound to Tagaytay are now stationed at Coastal Mall in Baclaran, Pasay City. The fare is only P80 and travel time is usually about two to three hours. If you prefer to take the cheaper bus of the same route, take the non-aircon Celyrosa Bus lines with the same signboard at their station in Pasay Rotonda.
Driving to Tagaytay City using your own car or private vehicle is so convenient. Travel time is lesser compared to the bus route as it passes through many traffic-ridden roads of Cavite. Normally, it takes you about one to two hours only of travel. Drive through South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and exit at Sta.Rosa Exit. Then go straight ahead until you reach Tagaytay City.
What places to visit in Tagaytay?
The city of Tagaytay is a favorite tourist attraction among local and foreign visitors seeking respite from the humid weather in the lowlands with several tourist establishments providing food and accommodations, some with scenic views of the Taal Lake and Volcano. This view supports Tagaytay's main industry, which is tourism.
1. Taal Lake
You have never been to Taal without seeing this oddity of nature. It is a volcano within a lake, and within the volcano is a lake, with an island within the lake. Taal Lake is the third largest lake in the country and Taal Volcano is the world’s smallest volcano.
Taal Lake is not within the bounds of the city of Tagaytay. It is under the jurisdiction of Batangas province. Since Cavite is closer to Metro Manila and because Tagaytay is an elevated city, the view is much more appreciated from here.
A boat ride is available to Taal Lake. Other activities include mountain climbing, hiking, and horse riding. The horse riding trek will take you on top of the volcano, which can give you a breathtaking view. Unfortunately, you cannot swim in the lake within the volcano’s crater due to its hight temperature and high sulfur content. For more information, you ca visit the page, Hiking Taal.
2. Sky Ranch
One of the most popular spots in Tagaytay, the Sky Ranch is an amusement park of all sorts that features the Sky Eye, a Ferris wheel in steroids. It has 32 gondolas and a height of 63 meters. This pales in comparison with Singapore Flyer, which towers to 163 meters. If you consider the city’s elevation of 2,500 feet, the view from the sky is still magnificent.
Sky Ranch offers new attractions such as Log Coaster, Drop Tower, Safari Splash, Play Zone, Lobster Pot and High Striker. As to its amenities, it has the following:
Parking Flat Rates:
Bike – Php30.00
Car – Php50.00
Bus – Php150.00
P80.00 – Weekdays (Mon to Fri)
P100.00 – Weekends & Holidays
P750.00 – Weekdays (Mon to Fri)
P1,000.00 – Weekends & Holidays
10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. – Weekdays (Mon to Fri)
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. – Weekends & Holidays
3. Puzzle Mansion
The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Puzzle Museum to have the largest collection of jigsaw puzzles in the whole world. It stands in Cuadra Street, Barangay Asisan, within Tagaytay City.
The owner, Gina Gil-Llacuna, collected and assembled all these puzzles. It took her 25 years to collect all these and she has amassed 1028 puzzles, all of which are displayed in the museum.
The puzzles come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. They come in cardboard form, paper, and carton. The puzzles are a variety of ordinary and 3D. For only PHP 100, you can spend hours to solve these puzzles!
4. Picnic Grove
This is the most popular area to spread out your lunch and take a break before moving on to other locations. The picnic site has cottages and tables. Other activities are also available such as zip line, cable ride, eco trail, and horseback riding. And yes, Taal Volcano is visible, too! Entrance fee is only PHP 50.
5. People's Park in the Sky
This is a popular park with yet another view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano. Located in the tallest mountain in Cavite, Mount Sungay, the edifice used to be a guest house for U.S. President Ronald Reagan, built in the 1970s, but the late president never went there.
The palace is known for Chuck Norris’s movie, Delta Force 2: the Columbian Connection, where several scenes were taken here, specifically as a hide out of the movie character Ramon Cota.
Based out in Mendez, Cavite, Paradizoo is a theme-based farm where children can interact with animals. The place has an animal farm typical of country living. It has ducks, hens, cows, and goats. It also has a vegetable farm, a butterfly farm where children may witness a pupa turning into a butterfly. Another attraction is a honey bee farm in which children may have the opportunity to see how people harvest honey. Children also have the option to participate in a program called Plant Me Home. The children can select specific vegetables or flowers that they can pick and plant at home.
7. Tagaytay Highland
Away from the city’s noise, Tagaytay Highland has a pleasant weather all year round. It is home to 20 international restaurants that cater to golf enthusiasts nearby. The Orchard Golf Club earned its popularity due to its classic architecture and interior design. It hosts an annual 18-hole championship.
8. 11th Airborne Marker
Tagaytay has an important place in Philippine history, particularly in the Second World War. The mountain’s forest provided a safe haven for refugees and soldiers alike. U.S. paratroopers also landed here during the war.
It was on February 3, 1945 that Lt. Gen. William Krueger made history as he led the 11th Airborne Division to drop military supplies in the area, along with some paratroopers. The mission was to secure Tagaytay to ensure that it is an available route to supply soldiers in Manila and nearby provinces.
9. Orlina Glass Museum
Baguio City is to Ben Cab as Tagaytay City is to Ramon Orlina. Ramon is known around the world as a masterful glass sculptor. He hails from the town of Taal, where he pioneered the art of carving solid slabs of glass. The traditional method is to blow-mold or hand-mold molten glass to your desired shape. But Ramon took it a step further and carved glass at its fragile state. His techniques are unique and one cannot help but appreciate his artistic genius.
It was in 2014 when he first opened the doors of Museo Orlina. His old residence now stands as a testimony of his hard work. The museum is a three-story building which overlooks Taal Lake. The collection ranges from artistic masterpieces to aesthetic yet functional furniture. Apart from the glittering glasses, one can also see metal sculpture, metal furniture, and paintings. Although Orlina created most of the wonders in the museum, there are also some displays from Ben Cab and other famous artists in the Philippines.
The museum’s rooftop is a coffee shop that boasts of a view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano under a sunny blue sky. It is perfect for taking pictures with the family. The museum operates from 10 AM to 6 PM from Tuesday to Sunday and charges a modest fee of PHP 100. For more information, you can visit the website at www.museo-orlina.org.
Where to Eat and Dine?
Tagaytay City has several selections of restaurants to dine after a couple of hours of sight seeing. So here are some of the following restaurants you need to try and include into your itinerary that offers an unforgettable experience.
1. Antonio's Breakfast
An all-day breakfast, Antonio’s Garden owes its success to Chef Tony Escalante. He created a spin-off of Antonio’s Breakfast. The restaurant serves classic breakfast meals coupled with elegant home-style dining set-up. The place is ideal for couples or families who want a view of the volcano.
The restaurant does not accept bookings. And since it is always packed, you have to wait for a table. Highly recommended dishes are Chorizo Bilbao with Mushroom Omelet, Fresh Corned Beef, and Daing na Gindara. The hot chocolate is also awesome. On your way out, it is best that you buy their baked goodies to take home.
2. Bags of Beans
This is a huge and cozy restaurant that tourists do not want to miss. There are various set-ups to dine like the gazebo, indoors, or by the fireplace. The main specialty of Bag of Beans is American-Asian cuisine. You will find tasty pies, bread, and local coffee. This is a great area for people who just want to hang out without the close attention of the servers.
Highly recommended are the Shepherd’s Pie ad Blueberry Cheesecake. The house blend coffee is also excellent. Bag of Beans has a second branch at the rotunda and another at the new Twin Lakes. These three branches should allow you to select one that is not crowded if you have no time to wait for a table. The third offers a panoramic view of the mountains.
3. Sonya's Garden
The owner’s first business is Secret Garden, which turned out to be a very successful business enterprise. Her friends asked her to put up another restaurant that has a mini hotel where guests can stay overnight. Guests receive a unique kind of country treatment here. There are 14 cottages available, all named after herbs.
The specialization of Sonya’s Garden is organic food. It offers an all-you-can-eat menu which starts with fresh arugula and lettuce. It comes with mango, eggs, cucumber, jackfruit, edible flowers, and broad beans, all of which came from her garden. What makes this vegetable salad so invigorating is Sonya’s Secret Salad Dressing. Pasta is also a great choice. It has sundried tomatoes, mangoes, and chicken cream. If you are adventurous, you can order this with salmon belly, black olives, ratatouille, shiitake, and parmesan cheese.
The restaurant also has a bakery, Panaderia, that serves an array of bread, spread, and dips such as mushroom pate, bruschetta tomato toppings, anchovies, white cheese, and black olive tapenade. All of these are home made.
4. Silver Buckets
Silver Bucket stands proudly in Twin Lakes with its refreshing interior decors. It specializes in seafood concoctions and this is what draws the crowd. It is always exciting to eat seafood up in the mountain.
Some dishes are prepared as you watch the open kitchen. The most popular dish is Seafood in a Bucket, which is a collection of fresh catch seafood combined with a homemade secret spice mix. An expensive dish that you can try is the Lobster Termidor, served with a rich serving of cream. Currently, Silver Bucket only has one branch.
5. Mahogany Market
If a bowl of steaming hot bulalo is in your list, this is the place to be. Mahogany Market is an area that houses several pantries, locally known as carinderia, that serve homemade local dishes. Going to this place means ditching your formal or smart casual attire. It is a rugged dining experience where you can slurp your soup and no one will care. At Mahogany Market, you always come in hungry but you leave full.
6. Gourmet Farm
If fiber is what you need, Gourmet Farm has it. The restaurant serves food rich in vitamin and minerals without the horrid taste of vegetables found in vegetarian restaurants. The salads have ingredients freshly picked from their farm with multiple dressings to choose from. If you are not too crazy about vegetables and salads, they also serve pizza, kebab, and sandwiches.
7. Mushroom Burger
Fast food is the way to go if you have no time waiting for a table. Mushroom Burger offers a variety of hamburgers, all delectable and tasty. Apart from hamburgers, you also have options between rice toppings, noodles, a variety of mushroom dishes, and sandwiches.