A Short Trip To Tagaytay: Exploring Taal Volcano

I recently took a day trip to Taal Volcano from Manila with a local friend of mine and I have to say that it was absolutely amazing.  I love hiking for two reasons, you get to be active and take in amazing views at the same time. If you are in the Manila area and looking to do something fun nearby, I highly recommend taking this trip.

Taal Volcano is located in the city of Tagaytay about 2 and half hours from Manila. It is an active volcano that last went off in 1977 and has a total death toll of over 5000 people. Taal is referred to as “an island within a lake, that is on an island within a lake, that is on an island.” This is because Vulcan Point Island sits within Crater Lake, which is on Volcano island that is located on Taal Lake which is located on the Island of Luzon. It is a really beautiful place with amazing views once you reach the top.

How To Get There

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The best place to catch a bus to Tagaytay where Taal Volcano is located is to go to the MMDA Southwest Integrated Bus Terminal in Pasay City.  It’s located at the Coastal Mall.  The bus ride costs 70 Pesos and takes roughly 1.5-2 hours to arrive.  It’s best to get on the San Agustin bus line and tell the bus driver that you want to go to Taal Volcano.  When you Arrive, you can practice your negotiating skills and hire a tricycle to take you down to Taal Lake for anywhere between 100-250 pesos (2-5 USD).  If you can find someone who gets a commission from the boats, you will pay a little less.

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When you arrive down at Taal Lake.  You will catch a boat across to Taal Volcano.  The cost is somewhere between 1500-2000 pesos (30-40 USD) for roundtrip.  Congratulations, you have arrived to the historic Taal Volcano, let the journey begin.

Horse Or Trek

When you get to the bottom of Taal Volcano, you have a few options. You can rent a horse for somewhere around 350-500 pesos (7-10 USD).  If you choose this option, you will get a guide to lead you up, give you some history and show you the views.  It’s a good experience either way.

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You can also decide to take on the challenge of tackling the mountain by trekking on foot. There are several factors that make this a difficult task. Depending on the time of day that you decide to trek the Taal Volcano, it can be ridiculously hot. There are also some steep inclines that make it a little tricky.  If you are an active person in moderate shape, it shouldn’t be too difficult.  Even if you’re not, it’s just a slower pace. I personally found hiking up more rewarding and you can stop and enjoy the view whenever you want with no interruption.  The choice is really yours.   

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How To Prepare

Whether you are going to be hiking up Taal Volcano by foot or taking a horse up to the top, there are some things you should do to prepare ahead of time.  First off ensure you drink plenty of water.  I’m talking a minimum of 64 ounces the day before and keep hydrating the day of.  It’s very easy to get heat exhaustion so hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  Also, you will want to have proper shoes with not so much wear and tear that allow for good footing.  You don’t necessarily need any fancy hiking shoes or boots, but you’ll want to ensure you make it up without any problems.

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Make sure to bring plenty of snacks to eat on the way to the top of this beautiful place in case you need a little extra fuel to get you there.  You may also want to bring a hat to protect yourself from the sun and a handkerchief or something to cover your face since there is a lot of dust from the horses that are making their way up and down the trail.  Lastly, I highly recommend eating somewhere before making your way to Taal Lake. Once you make it to the other side to where Taal Volcano is located, you have very limited food options, and honestly, it didn’t look very appetizing.  Once you have all of your preparation done, you will be ready to go!

Costs

There are two different ways to go about taking a trip to Tagaytay and visiting Taal Volcano. Keep in mind these prices are for just taking a day trip from Manila to Tagaytay and back. Therefore there is no food or accommodation included.  If you wish to stay longer, you will have to factor that into your costs.

Option 1 is to book a tour that is a flat rate with everything bundled in one package.  Choosing to do this is more convenient with less headache but is more expensive all together.  Option 2 is to go on your own and pay for each part of the trip along the way.  I chose option 2, however, I can certainly see an argument for getting all the logistics handled in one transaction.  Here is a complete breakdown of costs:

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Option 1:

Tour Package- 3000-4000 Pesos per person (Depending on How Many People in Your Party)

The more people, the cheaper it is per person.  Keep in mind, different packages include various different options so the prices will vary based on that. Due to the nature of the ever changing tour packages and company information, I suggest doing a quick Google search to get accurate and up-to-date information. You can also check with your local hotel or hostel and see if they have an all-inclusive package for Taal Volcano.

Option 2:

Bus Ride from Manila to Tagaytay: 70 Pesos x 2
Tricycle to Taal Lake:        100-250 Pesos (Negotiable) x 2
Roundtrip Boat Ride to Taal        1500-2000 Pesos (Somewhat Negotiable)
Horse w/ Tour Guide        350-500 Pesos (Negotiable)
Entrance to Red Lava:        50 Pesos (Highly Recommend)

Total        2240-3190 Pesos     

The Views & Other Info

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1 of 14 crosses used as waypoints to track your progress along the way

The higher you go up Taal Volcano, the better the view gets.  The have 14 crosses along the way as checkpoints to know where you are in the process of getting to the top.  I think there are also two points along the way where you can buy beer or water. Once you arrive at the top, there are a couple of things going on.

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Halo-Halo I purchased from the top

You can go to the left side and buy food, drinks, refreshments, etc which I highly recommend so you can get something in your stomach before the walk back down.  I choose to have some halo-halo which is a famous Filipino dessert. If you go to the very far left of the entrance to the top, you can hit golf balls into the canyon for 50 pesos per ball (1 USD).  There were a bunch of Japanese tourists obsessed with it when we were there. They were just hitting golf balls for about an hour.  

You can also go all the way to the far right and go up to a higher point of the volcano called “Red Lava.” This is where you will see the very best view.  If you plan on taking any kind of pictures whatsoever, I highly recommend you go to Red Lava.  The view is phenomenal, and it’ll give you a chance to rest a bit before heading back to the bottom.

Final Thoughts

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My friend Will and I at the top of Taal Volcano. check his blog: adventurouswill.com

Lots of tourists, expats, backpackers, and digital nomads go the the island of Luzon only to explore Manila and leave the island.  Manila can be fun for city life and exploring Intramuros, but outside of that, there really isn’t much to do.  There are hidden gems on every island and in every city in The Philippines that constantly gets overlooked. Don’t get me wrong I love the popular tourist attractions as well, but there is always more exploring to do on and off the beaten path if you really talk to the locals, do your research and get to know where you are. Taal Volcano, its history, the views and the overall experience is something I wouldn’t pass up. I recommend you go if you ever get the chance.

Have you been to Taal Volcano before?  What did you think of it?  Are there some other attractions in the area that you visited and thoroughly enjoyed?  I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below!

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