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Manila to Tagaytay Day Trip Guide: Explore Scenic Beauty of Lake Taal

Embark on an unforgettable journey from Manila to Tagaytay with this ultimate day trip guide. Explore the stunning beauty of Lake Taal and immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of the region.

Discovering the Scenic Route from Manila to Tagaytay

Driving to Tagaytay from Manila

Situated 65 km south of Manila, Tagaytay is a top-notch hill resort town. Tagaytay provides the perfect escape from Manila's scorching summer temperatures, boasting a refreshing climate and a laid-back ambience. With its cool weather and numerous high-end resorts, Tagaytay is ideal for a family getaway. Tagaytay is also known for culinary adventure and plenty of outdoor activities including a scenic trip to the Lake Taal and Taal active volcano. 


As you leave Manila, you'll drive along the South Luzon Expressway, passing by urban areas and picturesque countryside. The real beauty of the journey begins as you approach Tagaytay. As you ascend the Tagaytay Ridge, you'll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

To make the best of your day trip to Tagaytay, I suggest starting around 4-5 am to beat the peak traffic in Manila. The first stop along the way as you arrive in Tagaytay is the popular lookout and picnic spot, Picnic Grove. The hilly location has thick vegetation and a very cool breeze due to the presence of pine trees. 

Picnic Grove, a popular picnic area in  Tagaytay

The Picnic Grove is a hilly picnic area with shops, restaurants, and a Ferris wheel. The picnic grove has plenty of open space, parks and a sitting area to enjoy a relaxed lunch. I recommend bringing your own food and picnic basket to enjoy this location. The views of Lake Taal are simply breathtaking. 


Some vendors from the resorts around the lake will approach you to picnic in the area and offer boat trips and day stops at the resorts. Most people plan a trip to Lake Taal book lakeside resorts offering day accommodation. I was approached by a person offering boat tours in the lake and we agreed to one one-hour boat trip in the Lake. The Bon Jovi Resort organizes several watersports in the Lake and boat tours taking you to the base of craters. 


The drive to the lake waterfront near the Ton Jovi Resort is a descent that takes approximately 15 minutes. The drive is very scenic commanding breath-taking views of the lake and the surrounding area. 

There is plenty of development along the lakefront since it is a popular tourist resort. The area is also popular with celebrities and called "Santorini of the Philippines". There are plenty of holiday homes and lakefront resorts including "Balai Isabel" where I stayed for a night. 

Lake Taal Boat Trip

The Bon Tovi Resort had a shack for a day trip and visitors who wanted to enjoy breakfast and a light meal. Before heading out on the boat tour, I ordered a basic breakfast with toast and an omelette served with hot tea. 


The boat tour costs around $2500 for one hour. The one-engine boats are beautifully painted with green and blue colour and normally have a roof to provide shade from the sun. If you plan to trek to the mouth of the crater there is an additional charge


If you are interested in hiking to the top of the crater, a mule guide can also be organized for the hike leading up to the mouth of the crater. I was, however, keen to enjoy the scenic views of the lake and Tagaytay. 

The beautiful lake is also popular for tilapia farming. The views of Tagaytay and the surrounding hills from the lake are breathtaking.


After my boat trip at the Bon Tovi Resort, I was intrigued to explore the other luxurious resorts in the area. Among them, Club Balai Isabel caught my eye with its stunning waterfront setting and a range of holiday homes and villas.


The picturesque waterfront pool, restaurant, and unique floating features make this resort an ideal choice for a relaxing weekend getaway. I couldn't resist the temptation to immerse myself in the tranquil beauty of this resort.

By midday, I was ready to head into the Tagaytay City. The hilly area has a very cool and pleasant breeze. Tagaytay is popular for plenty of nice cafes and restaurants. The luxury resorts located in the area are very popular with Manila-siders who visit Tagaytay to escape the summer heat. 


My initial pit stop on the journey was at a Starbucks situated atop a hill, offering stunning views of Lake Taal. I must admit, it stands out as one of the most picturesque Starbucks locations I have encountered during my travels in Southeast Asia.


Our journey then took us to the renowned "Pink Sisters Chapel", a stunning and awe-inspiring sanctuary. The multitude of cathedrals and churches scattered throughout the Philippines symbolizes the deep-rooted presence of Christianity in the region. I have a profound appreciation for exploring historical edifices and sacred sites, as they possess a unique charm that fosters a serene atmosphere for reflection and prayer.

A memorable lunch at Leslie's in Tagaytay

Tagaytay is not only known for its scenic beauty but also for its culinary delights. The city offers a wide range of dining options that cater to different tastes and preferences.


One of the must-try dishes in Tagaytay is the famous bulalo. This hearty beef soup is made by slow-cooking beef shanks and bone marrow with vegetables and spices. It's a comforting and delicious dish that will warm your soul.


Another popular dish in Tagaytay is tawilis. This small freshwater fish is endemic to Taal Lake and is usually served fried. It's a delicacy that you shouldn't miss during your visit.

If you're craving something sweet, try the famous buko pie. This Filipino pastry is made with young coconut meat and has a flaky crust. It's a perfect treat to satisfy your sweet tooth.


Indulging in Tagaytay's culinary delights is a delightful experience that will add flavor to your day trip. Don't forget to explore the local restaurants and try the unique dishes the city has to offer.

Visiting Tagaytay's Iconic Attractions

Tagaytay is home to several iconic attractions that are worth visiting during your day trip. One of the most famous attractions is the People's Park in the Sky. This former mansion-turned-park offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscapes. Take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the fresh air while appreciating the beauty of Tagaytay from above.

Another must-visit attraction is the Sky Ranch. This amusement park offers various rides and attractions for both kids and adults. Don't miss the Sky Eye, a giant Ferris wheel that provides a bird's-eye view of the city.

For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Museo Orlina is highly recommended. This museum showcases the works of renowned Filipino artist Ramon Orlina, who is known for his glass sculptures. Explore the galleries and admire the intricate details of the artworks.

Visiting Tagaytay's iconic attractions allows you to immerse yourself in the culture and artistry of the region. Take your time to explore these attractions and appreciate the unique beauty they offer.

Tips for a Seamless Manila to Tagaytay Day Trip

To make the most out of your Manila to Tagaytay day trip, here are some tips to ensure a seamless experience:

1. Start your day trip early to avoid heavy traffic on the road.

2. Plan your itinerary in advance and prioritize the attractions you want to visit.

3. Bring comfortable clothes and footwear, as you'll be doing a lot of walking and exploring.

4. Stay hydrated throughout the day, especially if you're visiting during the hot summer months.

5. Don't forget to bring a camera or smartphone to capture the beautiful moments and scenery.

6. Check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.

7. Try to avoid weekends and holidays if you prefer a less crowded experience.

By following these tips, you can have a seamless and enjoyable Manila to Tagaytay day trip.