Grab a friend and go: Long weekend trips from Manila

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Manila hustles and bustles during the week, so it’s great to know that there are plenty of options for weekend trips out and away from the Philippines’ capital. From beach relaxation to cultural exploration, there are tons of options for local getaways that don’t require too much advance planning. Start planning your own weekend adventure on Cheapflights.com.ph, and then all that’s left to do is grab a friend and go.

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Coron, Palawan

Grab a friend and go: Long weekend trips from Manila 1
H.abanil, The famous view of Kayangan lake, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Many people head to Coron island for the diving – not only is there plenty of marine biodiversity, as in most of the seas surrounding the Philippines, but there is excellent wreck diving too, thanks to the American sinking of a fleet of 12 Japanese ships in Coron Bay during World War II. Reefs and caves for diving abound, and many may also enjoy a visit to Kayangan Lake, supposedly one of Asia’s cleanest.

Which friend you should take

The underwater historian or the diving enthusiast

How to get there

Fly from Manila to Busuanga Island.

Anilao, Batangas

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Jayvee Fernandez, Nudibranch in Anilao, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

A few hours drive from Manila, Anilao is also a popular spot for diving. Its waters teem with sea life and, if you’re lucky enough, you may even catch a glimpse of a whale shark as it passes by.

Which friend you should take

The diving enthusiast

How to get there

Three hours by car or, alternatively, take a bus bound for Batangas City and change at Bolbok for a jeepney to Anilao.

Bataan

Go back in time with a visit to Bataan where you can learn about the 1942 Death March. Bataan was one of the final Filipino/American strongholds during World War II before the Japanese takeover and there’s plenty to learn about this period of time here. You can also visit Mount Samat where a cross, towering 90 meters into the sky, remembers those who fell during World War II.

Which friend you should take

The history buff

How to get there

Terrible traffic on the Luzon Expressway means going by car can take a long time. The ferry from Manila’s CCP to Orion takes about an hour.

Corregidor Island

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Carmelo Bayarcal, Mile Long Barracks, Corregidor Island, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Known as The Rock, this island was the last stand before the Japanese took the Philippines in World War II, with General Douglas MacArthur holed up here for a while. There’s a historical tour taking in a number of war monuments including MacArthur’s HQ, gun batteries and a Spanish lighthouse. The Malinta Tunnel is a bunker that can be visited, and trails and paths lead around the island and can be walked or cycled, with camp sites where you can stay over. Corregidor is also a popular location for ghost-hunting.

Which friend you should take

The history  buff or the ghost-hunting aficionado

How to get there

A one-hour ferry ride from CCP jetty in Manila.

Subic Bay

There’s plenty to see and do in this former U.S. naval base northwest of Manila. Many come to dive wrecks from both World War II and the Spanish-American War in 1898, but there are plenty of aquatic sports and the opportunity to swim with dolphins, as well as shopping, nightlife and dining.

Which friend you should take

The beach lover, the diving enthusiast, the shopaholic and the foodie (there is really something for everyone)

How to get there

Take a bus to Olongapo, followed by a jeepney.

Bohol

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Jacky W, Tarsier, via Flickr CC BY 2.0

It’s got everything when it comes to nature – stunning white sand beaches, the Chocolate Hills and the rare little bug-eyed primate, the tarsier, which fits into the palm of your hand, can rotate its head almost 360 degrees and has eyes 150 times bigger than a human’s in relation to body size. There are also purple sweet potatoes galore, which you’ll find in the Filipino national halu-halo dessert.

Which friend you should take

Your nature-loving friend

How to get there

Fly to Tagbilaran from Manila. You can also take a boat, but it will take 28 hours one way, by which point your weekend will almost be over.

Baler

With swells and breaks galore, Baler, the location of the surf scene in “Apocalypse Now,” is where  surfers head for a long weekend away, and it’s great for cheap surf lessons if you are just starting out. It’s also well suited to the more adventurous weekender with trekking, kayaking, camping, biking and diving also on offer. Visit Ditumabo Falls, a 140-foot waterfall with a natural pool at its base that involves a short trek, climb the Old Balete Tree, and reward all that activity with a meal on Sabang Beach.

Which friend you should take

The surfer or the beach bum

How to get there

Take a seven-hour bus ride from Manila

Boracay 

8 spots to take a date in Boracay (that may not land you a second date) 3
Anastasia Zhebyuk, Kitesurfing in Boracay, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Boracay is a prime location for kite-surfing, there’s also amazing diving, stand-up paddle boarding and all sorts of other water sports. There’s also thriving nightlife, so once you’re done being active for the day, hit the bars and restaurants of White Beach to see the night away.

Which friend you should take

Adventure lovers and party people

How to get there

Fly from Manila to Caticlan Malay in one hour, tricycle to the pier and then it’s a 30-minute boat ride to the beauty of Boracay.

Lipa and Taal, Batangas

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Allan Jay Quesada, Basilica de San Martin de Tours, Taal, Batangas, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

There’s plenty of old Spanish colonial architecture in both Lipa and Taal, so head to the former for the impressive Lipa Cathedral, before checking out the small historic town of Taal with its enormous Basilica of San Martin de Tours. You’ll also find more grand churches and architectural wonders on the road between the two cities, as well as a good spot or two to grab a bite.

Which friend you should take

The Instagrammer will love the beautiful architecture, while the culture vulture will find lots to explore

How to get there

Take a bus heading for Batangas City and get off at Lipa, followed by another bus or jeepney to Taal.

Tagaytay and Taal Volcano

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therealbrute, Taal Volcano, via Flickr CC BY 2.0

In Tagaytay you’ll find great ridge-side views of the Philippines’ famous Taal Volcano. Morning walks, followed by excellent lunches at some of the nation’s finest restaurants – be sure to book well in advance – can prepare you for higher levels of exertion if you want to hike on the volcanic island and up to the crater.

Which friend you should take

The active foodie who will enjoy Tagaytay’s dining scene and then be keen to walk off the meal on Taal Volcano.

How to get there

Take a bus heading for Nasugbu or Mendez for Tagaytay. For the volcano, take a bus to Batangas and change for a jeepney at Tanauan to Talisay.

Which destination is on your travel list? Share with us in the comments and start your flight search on Cheapflights.com.ph.

Feature image: P199, The Chocolate Hills of Bohol, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Slider image: Alexander Vonbun, Beach, Philippines, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.5

Grab a friend and go: Long weekend trips from Manila was last modified: April 10th, 2019 by Rachel Duffell
Author: Rachel Duffell (18 posts)

Rachel Duffell is a Hong Kong-based writer and editor, who loves to discover Asia and the many adventures it has to offer, whether it's hiking volcanoes in Lombok, Indonesia, eating red ants in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, running across the hills of Hong Kong, washing elephants in Nepal, sight-seeing in Penang, Malaysia, or anything else.