It’s been a tough year, but a quick trip out of town can be just the thing to lift your spirits. The best travel destinations can re-energize you, giving you a much-deserved break from the stress of the pandemic and the monotony of spending almost 24/7 at home.
As soon as travel restrictions lifted (or at least eased a bit) in a number of tourist spots near Metro Manila, we asked ourselves, “what are the getaways and staycations near me?” And here’s what we came up with—five of the best weekend escapes that are just an easy road trip away.
Villa Escudero Plantation & Resort (Tiaong, Quezon)
Just 90 kilometers south of Metro Manila, Villa Escudero is a charming plantation in Tiaong, Quezon that’s an excellent destination for a taste of Filipino culture. Explore the vast grounds of the resort, from the beautiful pink church to the impressive collection of antiques in the resort museum. There are a lot of quintessential Filipino activities, including carabao cart rides, bamboo rafting, and even a delicious buffet lunch by a mini-waterfall!
For travelers who want to visit Villa Escudero in the “New Normal,” keep in mind that the plantation is only open from Fridays to Sundays. Guests must wear a face mask and face shield at all times, as well as undergo body temperature checks and submit a Health Declaration Form upon arrival. Reservations or pre-booking are required.
Hidden Valley Springs (Calauan, Laguna)
A lot of locals go their whole lives without visiting the enchanting Hidden Valley Springs in Laguna. Found between the famed Mount Banahaw and Mount Makiling, the private resort is nestled amid a lush tropical rainforest with chirping birds and century-old trees.
Soak in the natural springs and let the warm mineral waters soothe tired muscles. Find the perfect level of warmth in six thermal pools with varying temperatures. Surrounded by nature and away from the crowded metropolis, it’s the perfect daytime getaway from Manila.
Pagsanjan Falls (Pagsanjan, Laguna)
For Manila folks who are craving fresh air and adventure, make your way to the great Pagsanjan Falls. Just around two hours from the metro, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in southern Luzon.
Experience whitewater rafting through scenic gorges and dense greenery on the way to the magnificent waterfalls. Keep your eyes peeled for a few monkeys lurking behind the trees. Once you reach Pagsanjan Falls, wade in the cold waters and hop on a raft to pass underneath the massive waterfalls.
Tagaytay City (Cavite)
Weekends don’t get much better than a Tagaytay getaway with top-notch cuisine, historical and cultural sites, amusement parks, vibrant tourist scene, and breathtaking vistas of Taal Volcano. The chilly city offers something for everybody, whether you’re up for a thrilling zipline ride or dreaming of a delicious meal at Sonya’s Garden.
Best of all, Tagaytay is relatively easy to get to. It’s only an hour or so from Metro Manila and the popular destination is now open to tourists.
Subic Inflatable Island (Olongapo, Zambales)
Head two hours north to revel in a bouncy paradise, the Subic Inflatable Island. As Asia’s biggest floating water park, it’s the perfect playground for kids-at-heart who want to run, leap, and splash around at the beach.
The island features all kinds of super-sized inflatables, including slides, a trampoline, a human launcher, a Tarzan swing, and even an Instagram-worthy Unicorn Park. At the shore, visitors can also hang out at the Pink Bali Lounge.
Subic Inflatable Island is set to re-open on November 13, 2020. Plan your trip now!
Remember, travel may be essential, but it must be done responsibly. The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) requires face masks and face shields in public places and even private resort premises, as well as temperature checks and contact tracing forms. Before driving off to your next staycation, make sure to check local news and resort announcements for updates. And of course, stay safe!
Words by Celia Nachura
Featured image via Shutterstock