Manila, the Philippines’ capital, is a city of exciting contrasts, but even its greatest advocate will admit that in the height of summer, the heat and humidity can be stifling. Fortunately for the visitor with a little extra time, it’s easy to escape the furnace of the city and cool off in the surrounding countryside, while enjoying some remarkable natural sights. Here are just four excursions you can take in a day from your Manila base.
At an elevation of 4,875 feet, this active volcano dominates its immediate area, and the cooler air on the slopes provides a welcome respite from the blazing city. You can reach the lower part of the mountain by jeep, but the real joy comes in the hike up to the crater, which rewards the visitor with a spectacular natural scene.
Pinatubo hasn’t erupted since 1991, and in the meantime the caldera has filled with rainwater to form a majestic high-altitude lake measuring about 1.6 miles across. The sight of the crater rims rising from the turquoise water is truly impressive, and to enjoy the full experience, take advantage of one of the many boat hires available. Floating over an active volcanic is an experience to remember.
If you start early, this is an excursion from Manila that can be done in a single day, although many people choose to spend the night camping near the summit to enjoy the view at sunset and sunrise.
Tagaytay City is a well-established and popular holiday town just to the south of Manila. One of its major attractions as a summer retreat is its relatively cool climate, reputed to boast some the cleanest air in Asia. Enjoy the views of the Taal volcano and lake, or while away a relaxing and cooling afternoon in one of the town’s many perfectly kept parks and gardens.
What could be a better antidote to the searing summer heat than a cascade of water filling the forest air with cool spray? The Pagsanjan offers exactly this, with the 390-foot-high falls dashing huge volumes of water over sheer rock faces. Reaching the falls is part of the experience; try taking a ride with a local boatman who will expertly navigate the forest rapids to bring you to the base of the falls. There you can admire the beauty and coolness from the natural pool below, or even take a raft through the cascade to Devil’s Cave behind.
Anawagnin and Nagsasa Coves
These extraordinary seaside locations were made uniquely special by the power of Mount Pinatubo. The eruption of 1991 caused widespread devastation, but the resulting carpet of volcanic ash transformed this stretch of shoreline forest into one huge beach. The result is a cool, shady haven with a relaxed, atmospheric feel that’s a world away from the bustle of Manila.
All four of these destinations are within reach of a day excursion from Manila by public transport, but for convenience and air-conditioned comfort, ask at your hotel for details of tours, whether fully guided or transport only. Manila may be an intriguing city of contrasts, but in the height of summer, a short escape to a cooler location will make for a reviving and restorative change of pace.