Most people who come to Manila choose to either explore the city itself or go out for a quick excursion in one the nearby, beautiful beach resorts near Manila.
While both options are certainly great, there’s also another option which should not be overlooked as well – exploring the many wonderful locations of Luzon island.
Those of you who have more time to spare will do well to venture out of the city to discover the many surrounding sites.
The island of Luzon offers a perfect combination of nature, culture and heritage which is hard to find anywhere else in the Philippines.
The Best Activities Near Manila to Fully Utilise Your Time in the Philippines
Some of the locations below can be seen as a day tour going out of Manila, while others require staying overnight.
Either way, once you finish reading this article, I assure you there’s no chance you’ll even consider skipping this part of the country when you visit.
The city is the perfect place to get yourself familiar with the local culture and way of life. For this, head to the National Museum, Quiapo Church, San Agustin Church and Museum, Fort Santiago and Manila Cathedral. All of these can be found inside or just near Intramuros – the old Spanish district.
You can admire the beauty of sunset beyond the horizons at the cruise-filled harbour or Manila Bay. Treat yourself to local delicacies at Chinatown and street food stalls at every nook. If you are someone who loves shopping, you could visit Divisoria’s Market and the Mall of Asia which is also nearby.
All of these attractions can be easily done within a single day, as they are all very close to one another. This is a classic DIY tour, but it booking a guided tour of Manila will enhance the experience even further.
One and a half hours away from Manila, Tagaytay is a hub of fun activities! Sky Ranch, overlooking the entire city, is unquestionably the first stop for you and your family here. If you are in for an adventure, you may take a trek along the Taal Volcano that encompasses a lake or ride a Zip-line that is 300 metres long!
For art-lovers, the next step could be the Museo Orlina or the Glass Museum. For rejuvenation, head on to Nature Wellness Village or Qiwellness Living. Don’t forget to explore the Picnic Grove for the good old love of picnicking.
It would be a sin for any adventure junkie to miss out on exploring scenic beauty in this destination that is one and a half hours away from Manila. You can go scuba-diving or island hopping in the serene waters.
Other water sports include jet-ski, banana boat riding and speed-boating. This is also the best choice for those looking for a beach near the city for a quick weekend getaway.
Rejuvenate and relax in the therapeutic hot-springs in Laguna that is at a distance of two and a half hours from Manila. You can travel to the city of seven lakes, San Pablo.
There are plenty of waterfalls, with Pagsanjan falls being the most famous ones. The botanical gardens and the underground cemetery are also a must.
5. Subic and Anawangin cove
Subic Bay is 2 hours away from Manila and is considered a good place for families. It offers fantastic beach resorts overlooking a serene bay, as well as numerous child-friendly activities. Out of these, the most recommended are the Ocean Adventure, the Safari, and the inflatable island – the largest of its kind in Asia.
For couples in search of romance and privacy, it is better to travel a bit further north and spend the night at Anawangin cove. It is one of the most beautiful and private beaches anywhere in the Philippines, and getting there is a wonderful experience in its own – hiking and climbing through the cliffs and jungles.
Staying the night at Clark allows you to explore Mt. Pinatubo and Puning hot springs on the same day. Clark is just 2 hours from Manila and has an extremely wide selection of accommodation – anything from dorms to 5-star luxury hotels.
Mt.Pinatubo is a large and impressive active volcano. You need to get to the staying point of the tour around 6 AM, then ride a 4X4 vehicle, followed by a hike of nearly 2 hours.
It is well worth it though when you reach the crater itself and enjoy the stunning volcanic landscape and the breathtaking view. The nearby Puning hot springs and spa offer a much-needed relaxation after a long day of hiking.
7. Banaue rice terraces
The famous rice terraces are not near manila per-se as they require a gruelling 8 hours drive to reach. Still, this is well worth it if you have the time, as the place is considered one of the most special and exciting locations in the whole country. This is the best destinations for those who want to learn about the local tribes of the Philippines.
It is possible to explore the rice terraces in a single day, but booking an overnight trek is much better. You will spend the night as a guest of a local family in a traditional village setting and there’s just no better way to truly experience the warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people.
All this while exploring a stunning UNESCO world heritage site – this is why stopping by Banaue is worth the long drive!