Taal Volcano Trek & Tagaytay Itinerary

When I started backpacking before moving to Singapore, the hardest part of the trip preparation was “informing” my dad that I’m off to somewhere. After graduating university, he totally changed his rule- “do whatever you want without asking for my permission but inform me. After all, I’ve walked that road before and… I’m your dad.”

I knew he likes traveling and adventures but he was too tied up with responsibilities and stereotypes. I wish I had loads of money when he was still alive, I could’ve brought him to Russia or someplace that he’d fancy. Haha. Anyway, he used to tell me that places will be different depending who you’ll be seeing it with and I tell you, a trek to Taal Volcano might not be as exciting as swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob for most Filipinos, but to me, it was one tough memorable adventure.

Our wedding’s after party last year didn’t need the tenacity to drink and dance till 6am but to be ready to trek Taal Volcano at 8am.

We were with these special bunch who survived thousands of horse poops, heavy rain and a couple of hours trek for a killer view.

Together with JMX Travel and Tours, a very friendly and reliable travel agency owned by one of favourite cousins Kuya Jodel, we’ve put together a short and sweet day trip for our friends and families!

We boarded the boat at Talisay, Batangas early in the morning.

… where our dear Singaporean friend, Wei Yi, enjoyed boating. Haha.

Weather in the Philippines is unpredictable but definitely still rainy in October. Yea, we started our trip sunny.

Oh! I love these bunch!

Seeing skyscrapers everyday is energy-sucking to me so the journey to the crater was a moment of “replenishment and rejuvenation.” 🙂
There are raincoats for sale in case it rains. Just tap your friendly guide for one! But most of us opted for a good rain shower while we faced all the horse poops along the way.
And if you’re a science geek, this trek will be a good one! They said that the volcano island sank from three to ten feet as a result of the eruption years ago. There was light smell of sulfur, which came from the gases that escape from the crater. (Not sure if it was sulphur or horse poop that Wei Yi smelled though).

There’s a small sari-sari store on top in case you need some refreshments (and slippers like us). But try to come prepared and just carry loads of drinks and tidbits cause as expected, goods there are expensive.

The package that we’ve put together for the group was inclusive of the following:

  • van rental min of 12pax (Whole day tour then from Tagaytay to Manila, SM Mall of Asia)
  • boat rental + tour guide to Taal Volcano
  • Tagaytay side trip: Puzzle Mansion, Palace in the Sky, Bag of Beans
  • Lunch

Note: Entrance Fees to side trips are not yet included (Puzzle Mansion and Palace in the Sky) estimated around 200Php each.

Here’s the itinerary for the Tagaytay Day Trip that we planned:

0830  ETA Talisay, Batangas; BRIEFING & Board boat

0915  Start of trek (45-minute walk)

1000  ETA at the main crater’s ridge view deck; photo taking

1030  ETD from the crater’s ridge view deck; trek back (45 minute walk)

1115  Board boat back to Talisay, Batangas.

1145  ETA Talisay, Batangas

1200  Lunch

1400  Go to Puzzle Mansion, maybe Coffee in Bag of Beans, grab some fresh fruits and Palace in the Sky

1700  End of tour; Travel back to Manila (SM Mall of Asia)

Some things that we thought you should bring and wear:

  • Comfortable hiking shoes and clothing
  • Sun cream/ Sun block
  • Hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Swim suits (if swimming in Taal Lake)
  • Drinking Water
  • Towel & extra clothes
  • Small back pack
  • Waterproof casing or bag for your cameras

In case you’re looking for other activities in Tagaytay, there are water sports adventures in Balai Isabel & Taal Yacht Club.

 

other-activities

If you want a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can also check out Alfonso Hotel Farm (Alfonso Hotel’s sister company). It is a resort for large groups, but guests of the hotel are free to enjoy the farm for the day. There is a minimal charge of P100/head (price was last year) for use of the pool at the farm.

On a sunny day, it is a beautiful place to just because its athletic course is enjoyable for both grown-ups and kids and you’ll witness a variety of birds soaring around the fruit trees native to Alfonso. There is also a creek on the property. If you don’t mind the steep stairs, it is absolutely rewarding to cool your feet off in this clean stream called Lilitan River (named after the plant that thrives there).

alfonso-farm

If you want to experience Tagaytay Eye, you can definitely try to check out Sky Ranch Fun Park.

For the foodies, go for the Tagaytay Food Journey by following this infographic done by ourawesomeplanet.com!

As for me, my usual Tagaytay day trip consists of a good coffee at Bag of Beans, a good meal at Alfonso’s, Il Gallenero Inn or Sonya’s Garden, a great massage at Nurture Spa and a long shopping for some daing, tawilis and much more at Mahogany Market.

For your personalised travel itinerary, please feel free to contact JMX Travel and Tours.

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Tagaytay “Peaceful” Weekend Itinerary

It’s always nice to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city every once in a while and find some time to have some time alone for reflection and meditation. 

For me, Tagaytay is still the best place for keeping in touch with your self and be aware of whatever is happening in your surroundings and relationships. Because it’s just an hour (or two if it’s traffic!) away from Manila, it’s very convenient to just take a bus from the bus station under MRT Taft to go there. 

My idea of a “peaceful vacation” are having the following: coffee, books, pen and notebook to write random things and more and more quiet time. Here’s my Tagaytay Peaceful Weekend Itinerary:

DAY 1

Saturday AM:

As soon as you get there, breathe in and out. Feel the cool and fresh air. Starbucks got the nice spot where you could see Taal Lake and Volcano but quite noisy sometimes because many people prefer to stay there.

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Saturday Dinner: CAFE VERBANA 

This is one of the best restaurants in the Philippines. 🙂 The service is superb, food is really good and the place is just so serene. It would be nice to have another peaceful getaway by staying in Country Suites so I could just eat at Cafe Verbana over and over! 

MUST TRY: Bulalo 

QUALITY TIME: Taal Vista Hotel

With the Live Band playing familiar songs, a bottle of Champagne is surely the best complement to a wonderful conversation. Cheers!

DAY 2

SUNDAY BREAKFAST: Bag of Beans

I’ll never get tired of the “bottomless” house-blended coffee together with the apple pie and the beautiful view of Taal Lake.

My idea of peace is reading while having coffee in Bag of Beans. Haha.

Please be reminded that there are two Bag of Beans in Tagaytay. The photos were taken in the new branch near Olivarez. Don’t forget to bring home some cookies too!

Sunday Lunch: Sonya’s Garden


Aside from the famous spa that Sonya’s Garden offers, the food which the ingredients are all from their garden is my favorite. 

This is the menu for our Eat All You Can Lunch/Dinner for Php 683 per person:

  • Garden Salad Greens (create your own salad)
  • Bread (one of the best I’ve ever tried!)
  • Pasta
  • Dessert
  • Beverages (I want to bring home!)

It’s also open for breakfast from 8am to 10am for Php 427 per person where they serve Filipino and Continental dishes.

I always like the bricks in Sonya’s Garden, full of history. 

Finally, on the way back to Manila, maybe you want to drop by Ilog Maria for some souvenirs and for “personal toiletries” but don’t forget that you need to hike just a little bit:

Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm is very dedicated in proper beekeeping and advocates living “naturally.” Their neatly handmade soaps smell really good but aside from the soaps, my favorite is their lip balm. The bee pollen will definitely guard your health and increase your immunity.

Don’t forget to spend some time alone and reflect. Remember, this is peaceful weekend itinerary. Haha.

I crave for KOREAN. Haha.


           Koreans are everywhere in the Philippines, even in television. Filipinos are so much into Korean Culture that upon riding a cab, you’ll hear Korean songs being played on the local radio and hear people talking about Korean dramas or Korean Novelas when you pass by the Filipino Sari-Sari store!
         There was a time that I had a business trip in Cebu and I was astonished upon noticing that almost 80% of the hotel and resort guests in Mactan and Cebu City were Koreans! English tutorials and schools are everywhere catering to the growing market of Koreans considering the cheap and effective way of learning English. 

          Philippine Primer, a monthly Japanese Magazine with a readership of 40,000, that promotes the Philippines to the Japanese community, even took a step last year to support the growing market of Koreans in the Philippines by introducing Korean restaurants, spas, performing arts schools, and other businesses in the country to supply everyone’s craving for the taste of the culture!

         Six months ago, I thought I wasn’t influenced by anything about Korea but I realised that I was craving a lot for Kimchi and Bibimbop! I even spent 24 hours watching a Korean drama Personal Preference or known in the Philippines as Perfect Match, and spent the next day dreaming of finding my “Gino” (Lee Min Ho)! (Well, not a long time but I actually found my Gino. Wohoo!)

      Anyway, I spent a day in Tagaytay to have a taste of the famous Raja– Korean supermarket, internet café, spa, and AUTHENTIC KOREAN RESTAURANT! Yehey!

with Ms. Helena Kim of Raja Tagaytay and  Ms. Mimi Endo.
          The owner and General Manager of Raja, Ms. Helena Kim, is so accommodating and fun. She even have this special pool villa in Puerto Azul that you can rent for a getaway and she’s into golf too so you can ask for her assistance in Golf Booking anytime at +63.917.880.0917.


          What I love about Korean restaurants is the unlimited side dishes that are served before the main dish, I swear I can request for the waitress to get me 5 sets of side dishes the whole time I’m eating! Haha.

This is actually the “BEFORE” when my Japanese friend, Mimi, and me ate at Raja:

Mimi san posed in her before pig-out moment. haha.

And here’s what happened after…
the lighting is crazy! haha.


In the city, I love Bada Korean Restaurant and Song Do Korean Restaurant at the 2nd Level of El Pueblo Real, ADB Avenue cor Julia Vargas St. Ortigas Center, Pasig City. You can always call them at +63.2.636.4821 or +63.2.636.3626. I love their Bibimbop and yakiniku.

with the ever-friendly Song Do staffs





ARA Korean Restaurant in Malugay St. Brgy Bel Air, Makati, is a very nice Korean Restaurant also that offers not just good food, but also a very classy and gorgeous venue for your special occasions!

Sometimes, I go Korean at home by ordering the healthiest Kimchi in town (I think! Haha) but be careful because they deliver by bulk! Haha. I had to eat various Kimchi for a week last month because I ordered a lot, at Royal Palace Kimchi! Call them at +63.2.836.8282 or at +63.915.888.3333! I personally recommend the Cucumber and Spring Onion Kimchi though Youlmoo, pogi, cabbage and kaktugi are good also.

I love Kimchi! Thank you, bow.