After spending a day in Manila Intramuros district, one day trip to Mount Pinatubo, on the fourth Day in Manila, I took a day trip to Taal Volcano. If you want to follow my travel to intramuros on Day-1, you can read it here. Also, you can read it here about my day trip to Mount Pinatubo.
Why Taal Volcano?
I was specifically looking for day trips that involve trekking and out in the nature, and Taal Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Pagsanjan Falls seem to be the perfect destinations around Manila that can be tackled within one day.
If Mount Pinatubo famous for its Caldera (Lake Pinatubo), Taal Volcano is famous for its Taal Lake. Taal volcano is second most active volcano in Philippines and the caldera formed after prehistoric eruptions between 140,000 and 5,380 Before Present. Taal Volcano is located in Batangas Province, about two hours’ drive from metro manila. Its highest point is 311 meters above sea (1020 ft). What makes Taal is so unique, is that the peak of the volcano is an island rising out of the Caldera. Then small caldera in the island, is now filled with rainwater making it a double lake. So yes, it’s really beautiful and it was one of the most memorable trip in Philippines.
I went to Taal Volcano on December 30th 2019, and on January 12th 2020 the volcano erupted! The volcano produced volcanic lightning above its crater with ash clouds. The eruption progressed into magmatic eruption characterized by lava fountain with thunder and lightning (source: Wikipedia). With that being said, be very cautious about the volcano activities prior to the visit. If you choose to go there on an organized tour, make sure with the tour organizer that the volcano is safe for visitors. Safety first!
The trip to Tagaytay (2 hours)
I took an organized tour via klook since I didn’t want to navigate into the public transport to get to the Taal Volcano being afraid mistaking the wrong bus or jeepney and ended up not being able to get there on time. That is also because I only had 5 days in Manila and wanted to make sure every second counts effectively.
I combed through the internet and klook, and made a price comparison before deciding to choose “Taal Private Hike from Manila by Vina Tour (비나투어)” in Klook. We were picked up at said meeting point, which is at Starbuck in SM Mall of Asia around 9 am. The driver was polite, and the car was in good condition. The car took us south to Tagaytay within an hour, and stopped for a while for a viewing point (Taal Volcano from Tagaytay) before taking us to the hotel where other guests await.
At this hotel (I forget about what the name was), a girl welcomed us and other guests (mostly Koreans) and told us to wait for the boat. The boat would take us to the volcano.
The Boat Ride (30-45 mins)
After waited for quite a while, we were told to go inside the boat and off we went. The ride was about 30-45 minutes where we can see the volcano from a far. It was such a nice ride.
At the base of the volcano, we arrived at the area where lots of horses would take us up to the peak. Of course, one can also walk/hike to the top. In my case, the price of the horse ride had already been included in the package. However, things got complicated when nobody directed us to go with what horses and whom will accompany us to the top. I had to call the tour office and she needed to call several people before eventually someone came to us and directed us to the horse that has been prepared. Without pre-arrangement by the tour agent, any tourist has to bargain for the ride and it could get very tricky. (Side note: I will write down my review on this tour agent later on this blog).
The Horse Ride (30 minutes)
I have to admit I am not a fan of horse riding or even riding a bicycle. I feel a lot of discomfort every time I have to sit on top of horse, or even bicycle. So the half an hour ride to the top was very uncomfortable to me. The path used for trekking and horse riding are different, but they are jointed at some spots. That being said, there are horse poo along the way to the top.
When we reached the horse parking spot, the view was not immediately presented. We needed to go behind the parking spot and the view started taking shape. There were free viewing spots and some paid viewing spots as well. The entrance for hiking Taal is 100 PHP, and entrance fee to the paid viewing spot is 50 PHP. I took the paid one as well as the free one and it’s worth it. There were also some hiking path going down to the different directions but I didn’t take it providing we only have hours before the horse took us back down.
I chose to walk instead of riding a horse going back down. At first, I didn’t know that the walking path was different. I just followed the horsemen and stepped on those horse poos (yep, that convenient). Also, the dust didn’t make it any easier as well. I also slipped up and hurt my bum (like a champion!). So, all the experience hiking up and down weren’t my special part of this outing. We gave the horseman some tips, went back by boat, and had a buffet lunch at the hotel. Since the tour agent we used is specialized in taking tourists from South Korea, the buffet was Korean food, and it was super delicious.
Vina Tour Review
I found this travel agent at klook because I didn’t find one with verified user based on my searching result in google at that time. I booked two tours with Vina Tour: Pagsanjan Falls Day Tour and Taal Volcano Day trip. They missed my booking on Pagsanjan Falls. On the D-day, me and my friend waited for about 15 minutes but no sign of showing up, so I had to call them via skype and that was when I knew they missed my booking. They did try to find another car and driver at that very moment, but after sometime they could not find any and promised to refund the money already paid in full. And they did.
As for this specific Taal Volcano Day Trip, the pick-up from metro Manila was smooth. The driver was friendly and polite, and the car was clean and comfortable. After we arrived at the meeting point at the Hotel in Tagaytay, we were met by the representative that was also very friendly.
But, things got messy after we arrive at the volcano. No one greeted us, we didn’t know where to go and which horses assigned to us. I had to call the office and they called someone else before a lady came to us and directed us to the assigned horse. From the pick-up and drop-off, no commentary nor information were given about the historical facts of the volcano whatsoever. So it was not as informative as I hoped for, but overall it was a great and memorable trip.
If you still want to go with this tour agent, at least manage this expectation. There is also other agents referred by this blog if you want to check it out (note: I’m not affiliated with it nor i know this guy, but as with anything, proceed with cautious)
What to bring
- Try to wear a long sleeve shirt, preferably with thin material because it was so hot out there, especially when you go in the afternoon.
- Wear a face mask as well, as combination between dust and horse poos are something you don’t want to inhale.
- Hat and sunscreen is a must, as it’s hot as it could be.
Go in the morning
Morning is best, as the place won’t be as packed. This probably will require you to depart earlier from Metro Manila, or, you can try to stay overnight in Tagaytay. When you go up/down with less visitors, it won’t be as dusty as well.
When going up to the viewing point, try several point of view, both to the left and right directions and try both free and paid areas, as they are all stunning. Be very careful if you are going with children, as the viewing points are not well fenced and quite slippery.
Last but not least, if you only have few days in Manila and looking for some adventures, there are day trips from Manila to satisfy your craving on nature. Pagsanjan Falls, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano are just some places you can have a day trip in. Philippines has volcanoes, lakes, and waterfall, go outside Metro Manila for some green adventures.