Finally, it’s a Thursday – you and your colleagues had a rough week. It’s going to be weekend soon and you are looking into getting into something that will take away the stresses of the week. You think of a number of ways to de-stress – and road trip wins. Where to next? The beach? Too far for just a weekend hangout. Want to go somewhere cold and get away from the Metro’s heat? Baguio seems like a good idea but still too far. The next best suggestion would be a two-hour drive from Manila, but definitely does not feel too close to Manila.
This is a plan that most young professionals as well as families make. Want a weekend trip that’s far enough to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but at the same time close enough to get there the soonest time possible – The answer is Tagaytay.
For many years this has been the destination for weekend hangouts, and over the years, the place has been very much developed to accommodate the needs of the market. What is with Tagaytay that makes it so desirable up to this day? There are at least three (3) main reasons why:
Whether it’s a family weekend trip, a friendship bonding or a romantic getaway, Tagaytay serves the perfect climate. Since the place is on high ground, it is relatively cooler than Metro Manila, which gives that relaxing vibe to those who come to the place.
The city has set-up a number of lookout points that are perfect for romantic moments like such as The Ridge, which is the first thing you will see once you hit Tagaytay, there is also the People’s Park in the Sky where you have to hike up, but discover a hike-worthy view at the top. There are also spas that transports you to a paradise-like place and lets you temporarily forget about the stresses of the city. Some suggestions include The Nurture Wellness Village, Sonya’s Garden and Qiwellness Living; each of which offer something unique depending on your preference and taste. And if you are looking for some spiritual guidance, the place is also popular for some convents that you can visit and have a retreat, like the Pink Sisters Convent, The Angels Hills Retreat Center or the Betania Retreat House.
In group conversations, you will often hear groups of friends telling stories about their impromptu Tagaytay trip after a night of drinking either to have coffee or to eat bulalo. These two things are actually the top two things that you can do in Tagaytay.
Aside from the usual Starbucks, which are strategically located on ridges overlooking the Taal Lake and volcano, there are also other popular coffee shops in Tagaytay. One of which is Bag of Beans where the coffee is strong and the food is fresh. There are also the hole in the wall cafes in Tagaytay that are the up and coming favorites of the Manilenans. Some of it include Tsokolateria where they serve chocolate-infused dishes, the café is located in The Boutique Bed and Breakfast along Aguinaldo Highway. Another suggestion is the Bohemian-inspired art café, Dreamland Arts and Café, which is open 24/7. You can visit this café at Tagaytay-Calamba Road. For those that want to try more unique flavors, you can check out Filibeans at Silang Crossing West. This café that uses all-Filipino coffee beans is popular for their Malunggay Frappe. For the more musically inclined, there is also the Java Jazz Coffee Shop, aside from the obvious Jazz music, this place also features local artists through Sining sa Sahig (art on the floor).
Now for the main course, the famous bulalo. Aside from the popular Mushroom Burger, which originated in Tagaytay, and the famous Josephine’s where you will eat to your heart’s content and leave with a full stomach and happy memories, there is also Leslie’s, the authority in bulalo in Tagaytay. Visit Leslie’s along Aguinaldo Highway and experience for yourself. Why bulalo? It’s because this Filipino beef bone marrow stew is the perfect pair to the cool weather in Tagaytay. Other bulalo spots you can visit are Bulalo Capital along Aguinaldo Highway, Aozora in Domicillo Hotel along Aguinaldo Highway – where they put a different twist to bulalo as they serve it as a flavor of ramen. Another one would be Balay Dako along Aguinaldo Highway as well, where they serve traditional Filipino food, as well as one of the Filipino favorites – bulalo. There are many other – at least ten more – restaurants in Tagaytay that serve great bulalo. You can actually list them all down and try them out one by one and rate which one serves the best bulalo.
Because Tagaytay has a fairly cold climate, it is also nice to grow plants and vegetables. That is also why there are restaurants that offer the best vegetable dishes in Tagaytay. One of the most popular would be Sonya’s Garden, which is very well-known for its organically grown vegetables served from farm to table so it’s guaranteed fresh. There are several organic farms in the city that you can visit aside from Sonya’s. If you want to see the first organic farm in the country, you can go to Gourmet Farms located along Aguinaldo Highway. Aside from vegetables, they also have their coffee plantation as well as a factory. Another one is Yoki’s Farm that uses hydroponics. Aside from a farm, there is also a mini zoo, an orchid farm and an artifact museum. You can visit this farm along Tabluan Road in Mendez.
Of course, saving the best for last would be the sights. Not only commercial establishments but houses are built having the view of the Taal Lake in mind. You can go to any establishment, a restaurant, a hotel, a spa, even a coffee shop and they offer not only warm meals but as well as a magnificent view. If not the volcano or the lake, you can also have access to view lush greens of the hills and at night, the endless lights of the Metro.
On your way back to Manila, do not forget to pass by Rowena’s and get their famous buko tarts to bring home and have a taste of Tagaytay in your busy Metro life. If you are more on the dairy side, you should stop by a Mr. Moo store and get white cheese or carabao’s milk or even pastillas. Truly, a weekend in Tagaytay is the perfect place to rewind, recharge and get yourself ready for the challenges of the week ahead.