Along the Shores of Tagaytay: Baguio 2.0

If you’re looking for for a place to escape the stifling heat and humidity of the Philippines, there’s a region less than 2 hours south of Manila that is rather underrated in my opinion. Tagaytay reminds me a lot of my trip to Baguio City back in 2008. It’s one of the few areas in the Philippines where I found myself actually having to wear a sweater at night.

Baguio is a city nestled in the more mountainous northern Luzon region. Upon disembarking the 7 hour bus ride 11 years ago, I recall the tall pine trees spread across the surrounding terrain as I could almost see my own breath in the cooler air. When I say cooler weather, I’m talking light sweater or even hoodie at night. I’d estimate around the mid to upper 50s Fahrenheit or 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. It came off as a relatively quiet city with plenty of family-oriented activities for visitors. It was a city that definitely left a mark in my memory for it’s weather and overall vibe. The first thing that came to mind when coming to Tagaytay for the first time was “This is similar to Baguio.”

Tagaytay is a region about 2 hours south of Manila in the southwestern part of Luzon. It’s known for it’s cooler weather and the famous Taal Volcano: a dormant Volcano that sits inside of a larger caldera. I’ve been to Tagaytay several times while visiting my parents who retired and settled down just a few miles north. Every time I’m here, I am overcome with a sense of peace and tranquility as I gaze upon the view of Taal lake off the highway. My 2018 trip to this town was quite the memory. Especially when exploring the lake itself.

On the Banka boat across Lake Taal, November 2018

Along the shores of the lake, there are docks where you can take a boat across the lake onto the inner island where the volcano lies. Once on the island, you are guided to the area where you can either hike by foot or horse up the mountain. I felt bad taking a horse up the mountain but took the opportunity since I’ve never ridden a horse before and I was less than enthused about the idea of walking up 1,200 feet in my sandals. This was probably the only part of this excursion that I didn’t care for. There is something about animals in The Philippines that give me the idea that they aren’t treated or taken care of very well. The horse that brought us up looked tired and struggled to carry my 130 pound body up the mountain. I almost wanted to say never mind and walk the rest of the way. This is probably something I won’t ever do again for the sake of the animals. At the top of the mountain, I was greeted with stunning views of the inner crater as well as the surrounding lake. It was then that I realized the humor in this — It’s a lake within an island within a lake on an island.

Pony ride up the mountain, November 2018
A Lake Within an Island Within a Lake on an Island

Overall, this was a nice afternoon activity during my first trip here. It’s something I’d recommend to anyone visiting or even just passing through this town for an afternoon. If you’re into nature, beautiful views, and a slower, more relaxed vibe, Tagaytay is a town worth seeing. I’ll always try to make a point to visit here every time I visit the Philippines.

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