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25 October 2020

Philippines - Tagaytay - life in the shadow of a volcano

Europe is changing to winter time and we in Southeast Asia are changing the season. From rain to dry. Although summer, in our opinion, lasts all year round here, the seasons change every six months. The only difference between the dry season and the rainy season is that the temperatures range up to 30 ° and it rains every day or above 30 ° C and it is hot and dry, but this is a noticeable change.

The great desire of the inhabitants of the local metropolises is to find a break in a slightly cooler environment. Natural environment.

This is how the fashion for trips outside the city was born, especially if there are hills or mountains in the vicinity. In this part of the world, only the elevation of the area over 500 meters above sea level. gives the chance to drop the temperature to 21 degrees Celsius.

Virtually every country has a place where the inhabitants of the agglomeration willingly go.

In Indonesia, Bandung is located in the Jakarta area. In Viet Nam, in the central part of the country, near Da Nang there are Bana Hill. In Malaysia, near Kula Lumpur, is the Genting Highlands, and in the Philippines, near Manila, there are hills and the city of Tagaytay located on them.

They all provide entertainment, shopping opportunities and a break from the heat. Importantly, they are available within 1.5 to 2 hours by car. Local residents are eager to go away for a long weekend, for a short vacation, for holidays or just for a day to rest from the heat. I have already written about Bandung in the context of shopping here.

Today I invite you to the land of pineapples grown in the shade of the volcano. To Tagaytay.




The city is located approximately 60 km south of Manila. The population has about 75,000 inhabitants, but during the holidays and weekends it can "absorb" thousands of tourists.

It is situated on an average of 600 m above sea level, surrounded by hills, among which there are Taal volcano and the lake of the same name. This configuration of the terrain in the tropics, when the area is located above 500 m above sea level. causes temperatures to be significantly different from those at sea level. In the case of Tagaytay, the average daily temperatures are around 21 degrees C and they greatly improve your well-being.

It is the second most popular tourist destination among the inhabitants of the Philippines.

It is a conglomeration of beautiful landscape hills, a volcano and a lake, and the proximity of Manila make its inhabitants escape here from the heat of the city.

I had the pleasure to visit this city in May, in the rainy season. It was several months before the famous eruption of Taal volcano.

As part of testing, I chose two different means of transport. I went to Tagaytay renting a Grab - 1,700 PHP (35 USD), on my way back I used a typical scheduled bus with a ticket for 200 PHP (4 USD). The journey takes a very similar amount of time regardless of the means of transport you choose. For a very simple reason. The roads are not of very good quality and there are traffic jams due to heavy traffic. So I recommend to take a bus.

After about an hour and a half, you enter the Tagaytay territory, located in the province of Cavite.



Local life

The accommodation offer is very wide. On Booking.com, you can find dozens of offers for stays in small hotels, mostly run by family premises, who rent three or four rooms in their home. All of them, of course, with bathrooms and mostly with breakfast included. Cost in the region of $ 30 to $ 50 per room per night.

The hills provide all kinds of attractions. One of the most important of course is the great climate, low temperature and also relatively low humidity. Thanks to this, you can feel great here.

Getting around the city is very easy.

First of all, because you can rent a tricycle, which is very cheap and for a few dozen Filipino pesos it will take you anywhere.

Secondly, the town itself is not big, and all attractions are concentrated around the lake and the Taal volcano.

But, interestingly, tourism is not the only source of income for residents.

Over 1,200 hectares of land rich in minerals from volcanic ash constitute quite a significant, because 20%, part of the city. Walking its streets you can see pineapple, banana and papaya trees around almost every house. It was these plantations that suffered the most during the recent eruption of Taal volcano.

There is one more interesting history of this place. Before the era of tourism, the city was also a breeding ground for gardeners producing daisies and gladiolus. Today, these flowers no longer dominate the city's landscape. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that it was one of the central production sites for these two species of cut flowers in the Philippines.



I anchored myself in the Santa Rosa hotel, from where I had a good starting point to several places important for the inhabitants of this city.

The "must" point of your stay is, of course, a visit to the ridge of the nearby hills, from which you can perfectly see the Taal volcano, the surrounding lake and where you can order boat or canoe trips on the lake.

At that time, I did not know that the volcano was going to erupt. However, today I know that you have to be very careful with this type of trip. Especially in the area of volcanoes. Volcanic eruptions are unpredictable. Just because a volcano has been dormant for hundreds of years does not guarantee that it will not erupt. As late as January 10, no one could have predicted that on January 13 the volcano would violently erupt and destroy all crops in the area.



An equally beautiful view of the lake and the volcano extends from the Sky Ranch theme park. The offer of attractions is quite rich. Roller Coaster, the so-called "Ferris wheel", merry-go-rounds, shooting ranges and many other standard amusement parks. The gastronomic offer is also rich and everyone will find something for themselves.

Within 15 minutes by tricycle, you will find Park in the Sky. This is where the picnic areas stretch out and one of the more interesting attractions is the zip line and the rope park between the trees. The whole family can settle down here with their food, drink and admire the wonderful views from the hills, take a break from the hot Manila.

The countless streets are lined with small vegetable stalls and shops selling all kinds of fruit grown in the surrounding orchards and fields. Here you can also eat the unusual “bulalo” soup, which I mentioned earlier in this article.

Another 15 minutes by tricycle and you are at the top of Woodridge. It is here that you will see the pineapple monument, the meteorological observatory and above all, the wonderful panoramas of the surrounding area, Manila and the bay.

A large influx of tourists occurs during the Christmas and Easter period. Let me remind you that the Philippines is a Christian country, where the Roman Catholic Church dominates, but the Orthodox Church has quite a large diaspora, as well as Protestants.

Summing up the attractions in the form of a priority list, I recommend you:

1. a visit to the park "Sky Ranch" - fun on Roller Coasters or driving a "Ferris wheel" are obligatory points

2. A visit to the ridge of the hills - you will be able to admire the volcano, the surrounding lakes and the opposite hills

3. the number "three" is "Park in te Sky" with a picnic area, where you can not only slip on a rope, but also rest, eat a meal and buy souvenirs.

An attraction itself is a ride in a yellow diesel tricycle that will take you back to your hotel after a day full of attractions. Of course, an additional pleasure will be the consumption of fresh, sun-heated fruit that is grown in the area.




The stay in Tagaytay should last at least two days. This is the minimum to visit all these attractions and have a moment to admire the views of the surrounding hills, volcano and lake.

I would add one more day to experience what simply captivated me. Afternoon and evening with the local community. In a hotel or guesthouse, where the owners create a unique atmosphere, where you can sit down and talk about local life. Pet a local dog or kitten. Eat a modest dinner and drink some great local San Miguel beer. Sometimes such conversations are a challenge. English is quite common in the Philippines, after all it is the second official language, so it's easy to get in touch. Sometimes, however, a person does not speak English and that's when the fun begins. Interestingly, you can get along without any particular knowledge of the English language. You just have to want.

And that's how we live here in Southeast Asia. When we want to take a break from the daily heat, from the city's sultry, we choose the closest neighborhood, which in most countries is accessible within an hour and a half by car, and we simply enjoy the beautiful landscape, lower temperature and local food.


Finally, I will tell you a legend thanks to which you will learn the origin of the name of the city of Tagaytay.

Well, a long time ago, in the surrounding forests, the inhabitants were hunting.

On one of the hunts that a father and son went on, they were unexpectedly attacked by a boar. Basically a big boar. Big beast with knife-sharp incisors. The father, to save his son, focused the boar's attention. Unfortunately, he was attacked and died. The boy, however, seeing the whole tragedy, called for help, shouting two words in Tagalog - the local language.

One was "taga" and the other was "itay". "Taga" means "cut" and "itay" means "father". "Taga itay, taga itay!"

The boy's screams and crying were heard all over the neighborhood, in the nearby hills and in human settlements. The local community discussed the whole event for months. This is probably where the name of the city comes from, as the place where the boy's screams came from.

The etymology of the name may also have a different source. The entire city is situated on a mountain ridge, on the crest of hills. In the Tagalog language, the exact transcription of this position, meaning the edge, or ridge, is "tagaytay". So maybe this is the most likely origin of the city's name?

Nevertheless, the legend lives on in the memory of the inhabitants of this region, and I personally like it very much.


Maligayang pagdating sa Tagaytay!

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