The province of Rizal may be just a few hours away from Metro Manila, but it’s a worthwhile travel destination where art, nature, and deeply rooted traditions meet. It’s a sprawling expanse with plenty of awesome tourist attractions, both popular ones and little-known gems. Municipalities in the province of Rizal include: Angono, Antipolo, Baras, Binangonan, Cainta, Cardona, Jalajala, Morong, Pililla, Montalban, San Mateo, Tanay, Taytay, and Teresa. Planning a trip to one of these areas? Keep reading for our guide to visiting Rizal in 2022.
COVID-19 Regulations In Rizal
Rizal is currently on Alert Level 3 until January 15, 2022. Under this classification, intrazonal and interzonal travel are allowed, subject to restrictions determined by the LGU.
When traveling, make sure you have your vaccination card with you at all times. Border control points are set up at various points throughout the Greater Manila Area, with officers checking the vaccination cards of motorists and passengers crossing municipal borders. Keep in mind that a lot of resorts only accept fully vaccinated guests—so make sure to get vaxxed ASAP!
If you’re expecting to enter public establishments like malls, restaurants, and even convenience stores, set up the contact tracing app Stay Safe on your mobile phone and generate a QR code for quick and easy entry. The use of face masks is strictly implemented throughout the Philippines, particularly in indoor and outdoor public areas. Face shields remain optional.
How To Get There
By car: From Manila, there are a couple of roads travelers can take to Rizal. From the C5-Ortigas Avenue Interchange, take the Ortigas Avenue Extension that will take you to Cainta and the rest of the Rizal Province area. Another route is going from Aurora Boulevard to Marcos Highway, also known as Marikina-Infanta Highway, which winds through Cainta, Antipolo, and Tanay. If you’re on your way to San Mateo or Montalban, you may also go from Commonwealth Avenue to Batasan-San Mateo Road. The C6 Expressway is another alternative to Taytay, Angono, and Antipolo, among other municipalities.
By public transportation: Jeepneys, vans, and city buses make regular journeys to Rizal from terminals in Quezon City, Mandaluyong, Makati, and Manila.
Where To Stay In Rizal
Balai Tanay (Tanay)
Nestled in lush tropical gardens, this rustic yet stylishly designed Airbnb in Tanay is a tranquil escape where you can bask in the cool Sierra Madre climes that the mountain town is famous for. Lodging options in the property is a large house dubbed as Balai Tanay that can host up to 20 people, but smaller groups can also rent the Jeepney Camper, Kubo Tiny Home, or Alitaptap Cottage. At night, gather ‘round the campfire pit for smores and scary stories.
The Grounds Resort (Antipolo)
Another enchanting garden escape in Rizal is The Grounds Resort, a postcard-pretty private resort that’s a beloved wedding destination in Antipolo. Step inside the serene gardens that feel like worlds away from the bustling city—few resorts in the province are as Instagrammable as this one! Each room features rustic and romantic décor, while the outdoor pool is perfect for refreshing dips on hot summer days. As a bonus for Lord of the Rings fans, there’s a Hobbit House in the property that looks straight out of the Shire.
Timberland Highlands Resort (San Mateo)
For travelers who prefer a classic hotel experience, the new Timberland Highlands Resort is an excellent option. The premier business and leisure hotel in San Mateo is a sprawling mountain destination with stunning views of Metro Manila, Laguna de Bay, and the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. Tip: book on the official website for great promos and discounts!
Where To Eat In Rizal
Crescent Moon Café (Antipolo)
Crescent Moon Café is a Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant, pottery store, and art space in Antipolo that’s been around for over two decades. Fresh and well-prepared dishes, flourishing gardens, beautiful ceramic pieces by artist Lanelle Abueva-Fernando, and a newly built open-air dining area make it easy to see why metro folks regularly make the drive to this local gem. Reservations are a must.
ArtSector Gallery and Chimney Café 360º (Binangonan)
Perched on a hilly location in Binangonan, Art Sector Gallery & Chimney Café 360º is a great place for art, food, and amazing scenery of Sierra Madre, Laguna Lake, and Pililla Windmills. (Hint: the views are extra beautiful during sunset!) Artsy travelers will fall in love with ArtSector’s impressive collection of local contemporary art—and after exploring the galleries, a meal and a cup of coffee at the Chimney Café 360º is the perfect way to unwind. Like the acclaimed Pinto Art Museum, ArtSector was designed by multi-awarded artist Antonio Leaño, so expect to be wowed by the architecture as well. Walk-ins only, no reservations available.
Lutong Pugon (Tanay)
Along the winding Marilaque Highway is Lutong Pugon, a beautiful restaurant in the mountains owned by artist Jun Tiongco. It’s best known for its decadent wood-fired pizzas, but the Lutong Pugon also serves meat dishes, pasta, and a nice selection of fresh fruit juices. For art lovers stopping by, there’s a charming gallery by the restaurant showcasing the works of Tiongco and other local artists.
Yeyi’s Pizzaria & Café (Tanay)
We don’t know why pizzas are a hit in Tanay, but we’re definitely glad that’s the case! Yeyi’s is another great place for wood-fired pizza, as well as pasta and other meals like the newly debuted Salisbury Steak. With delicious (and reasonably priced) dishes, stunning sunset views, and a breezy alfresco dining area, Yeyi’s is a must-visit spot in Tanay.
Balaw Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery (Angono)
Since Angono is the Art Capital of the Philippines, it’s not surprising that its most popular restaurant doubles as an art gallery. The gallery features paintings and sculptures by the late owner Perdigon Vocalan and other local artists. In the restaurant area, expect traditional Filipino cuisine. For adventurous foodies, Balaw Balaw’s exotic dishes are worth trying like itik (native duck), ginataang kuhol (snail stew), sinabawang balut (fertilized duck egg), and the paella-like minaluto.
Things To Do
Embrace Your Inner Art Lover
The creative spirit runs deep in Rizal. As the country’s Art Capital, the relatively small town of Angono should be your first stop if you and your friends are on the hunt for amazing local art. Botong’s Studio is the home museum and studio of National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, while Nemiranda Arthouse showcases the stunning works of famous painter and sculptor Nemesio “Nemiranda” Miranda Jr. The Blanco Family Museum is also a must-see for the amazing volume of works by Jose Blanco and his family. Even the street murals along Doña Aurora Street are a vibrant tribute to Botong Francisco. And did you know that the oldest known artworks in the Philippines are found here? Drop by the Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs for a peek at stone carvings dating back to the third millennium B.C.
Other must-visit galleries in Rizal include the uber-popular Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo and Rafael Pacheco Art Gallery in Morong.
Explore The Great Outdoors
Embraced by the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, Tanay is one of the best places near Metro Manila where nature lovers can get lost in the wilderness. Tinipak River, Mount Daraitan, Daranak Falls, and Calinawan Cave are only five of the popular outdoor attractions in Tanay—trust us, there are many, many more. And if you want to spend the night under the stars, there are a wide array of camping spots to choose from. As a no-hike peak, Treasure Mountain is a destination that suits all kinds of outdoor lovers. Here, you get to wake up to a breathtaking sea of clouds in the morning.
And of course, the rest of Rizal offers more natural gems: Mount Pamitinan and Wawa Dam in Montalban, Hinulugang Taktak in Antipolo, and Masungi Georeserve in Baras.
Chase Your Next Adrenaline Rush
If you’re up for something more thrilling than a hike, then an ATV adventure through the province may be exactly what you need to spice up your vacation. The rough road ride will take you deep in Rizal and Manila, through rivers, jungles, valleys, and muddy terrain—definitely an experience for the books!
Visit Historic Churches And Monuments
The Antipolo Cathedral is popular among many devout Catholics, but there are plenty of other significant churches in the province that are worth a visit, including St. Jerome Parish in Morong and St. Joseph Parish in Baras. In fact, a tour through these churches is a popular activity during Holy Week with many tourists even going all the way to Laguna and Quezon.
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*Featured photo via The Grounds Facebook page and KKday suppliers