For a quick weekend getaway, it is always a toss among Rizal, Cavite, Batangas, and Laguna. Among the four provinces, Laguna is by far the farthest from Metro Manila, about 2 to 3 hours of travel compared to the rest that only takes less than 2 hours of traveling.
Each place has its own unique offerings, but there is something in Laguna – from Alaminos to Cabuyao Laguna and to Paete and Sinolan – that is totally nonexistent in these neighboring provinces. Below are the reasons why Laguna is one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines.
Tourist destinations you can only find in Laguna
1) Rizal Shrine
This should top the list since the Philippines’ national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, is from Calamba, Laguna. Rizal Shrine is a replica of Jose Rizal’s childhood home, which was turned into a museum. Here, you will learn about his childhood until he went to Europe to finish his studies, which makes it a truly unique destination you won’t find anywhere else in the Philippines. Entrance is free, and the museum is open from Thursdays to Saturdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
2) Pagsanjan Falls
Pagsanjan Falls is synonymous to Laguna. In fact, it is the most popular destination in the province, which is also dubbed as the Tourist Capital of Laguna. The journey toward the falls is an exciting one because of the several picturesque spots you will see along the way. There may be hundreds of falls in the Philippines, but Pagsanjan Falls is the mother of all falls in the country. You cannot appreciate the others without exploring Pagsanjan Falls first. There are two routes available: shooting the rapids or trekking from Pueblo El Salvador. Round trip boat transfers are available from 8 am to 3 pm.
3) Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
A historical site, Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is one-of-a-kind. There are very few underground cemeteries in the Philippines, but they are usually found below a church since they serve as graveyards of the deceased priests. Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery used to be a place for burying common residents. Entrance is free; the Cemetery is open from 9 am to 4 pm. You can only explore, though.
4) Villa Escudero
If there is one resort that started offering a more holistic experience than just swimming it would be Villa Escudero. Indeed, since its foundation during the 1880s as a plantation first before becoming a resort, it changed the summer getaway landscape in the country. Nowadays, its focus is on letting the guests experience the best of traditional Filipino culture. Villa Escudero is mostly known for its buffet lunch at the Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant while your feet are submerged in the water. Cultural shows are also an integral part of the experience.
5) Mt. Banahaw
Mt. Banahaw, which is also a pilgrimage site apart from a famous hiking destination, is perfect for people seeking tranquility. The locals consider Mr. Banahaw in San Pablo a holy mountain because of several apparitions that happened there. Bangkong Kahoy Valley is the drop-off point and the starting point going to Mt. Banahaw.
6) Seven Lakes
San Pablo is popular for its seven lakes (Bunot, Kalibato, Palakpakin, Muhikap, Sampaloc, and Yambo and Pandin, the twin lakes). As the locals have said, the lakes are crater lakes that emerged after a volcanic eruption. Each lake offers various activities. However, if you want to do overnight camping, Yambo Lake is your best bet. Ask the locals to prepare your food for you at very affordable rates.
Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna is an estate that is open to the public. It has several areas to explore, although the main attractions are the koi fish feeding at Solenad 1, the retail strip, and Camp N. In here, you can also do birdwatching, tree planting, and offroad biking. Nuvali has several art installations especially near the lake where you can also sit and relax with your family or friends. Every December, it opens the Magical Field of Lights, a Christmas light and sound show to the delight of the locals living in the south and guests from nearby places.
Above are just seven of the best places to visit in Laguna. There are more definitely including the churches and local products such as the abaca slippers in Liliw and wooden sculptures in Paete. While you need to exert an extra hour of traveling to the province, what awaits you there in Laguna are surely worth the extra mile. So to speak.