MALAMBING they’re not. But Batangueños are open, friendly, and straightforward, with a temper that can be as strong and potent as the legendary kapeng barako. They are easy-going, and will always welcome a stranger who’d wander through their land steeped in culture and blessed with natural attractions.
Through the years, government efforts to develop Batangas have resulted in excellent road networks and satisfactory infrastructure facilities for transportation, telecommunications and power. All these augured well to boost the province’s eco-tourism.
Today, visitors are continually drawn to Batangas because it is conveniently near Mega Manila, making its heritage, culture, natural resources, and man-made landmarks easily accessible. Surprisingly, a day tour or even a weekend getaway is affordable to even the average Juan.
So when you’re planning a trip to the Philippines and got just a few days to spend, you don’t have to go far. South of Manila just a couple of hours or even less is a destination that’s heaped with diverse attractions. And since the province is quite huge in terms of land area, you might want to take a tour of the Batangas Lakeshore District, composed of two cities and six towns around the famed Taal Lake—Tanauan, Lipa, Malvar, Balete, Sto. Tomas, Talisay, Laurel, and San Nicolas. Its rich natural attractions—with Taal Lake, the Volcano Island, and Taal Volcano at its core—are incomparable. Its culture and heritage—vivid and intense. Its people—warm, friendly, and gracious. Here’s your all-year guide to rich Batangas.
The great escape. Your perfect getaway starts at Lima Park Hotel, cited as the 2018 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice and Top 25 Hotels for Families in the Philippines as voted by travelers worldwide. The first and only 4-star hotel in Batangas, Lima Park Hotel offers excellent service, well-appointed guest rooms, and unparalleled amenities.
Wake up to beautiful mornings. Before heading out for your day’s activities, take a few laps in the expansive Horizon Swimming Pool, pump up at the gym, take a spin on a bike, or jog amidst refreshing green pines while taking in the beauty of Mts. Makiling and Malarayat.
Celebrate the life of a hero. The son of Tanauan Apolinario Mabini is marking his 154th birthday on July 23, 2018. Know more about this genteel hero at the high-tech Museo ni Apolinario Mabini in Tanauan. One of the biggest museums under the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, this museum exhibits the life and heroic deeds of Mabini. It is open from 8 AM to 4 PM Tuesday to Sunday.
Enjoy local cuisine. You have not been to Batangas if you haven’t indulged in a huge bowl of Batangas lomi, a local noodle favorite of hot soup thickened with cassava flour made more flavorful with the generous amount of meat cuts and seafood toppings. Check out the roadside carinderias along the national highway for a taste of authentic lomi.
Relish the signature soup of Batangas Province. Easily a favorite, bulalo is a Batangueño stew of slow-cooked tender beef shanks and bone marrow in clear broth made more flavorful with vegetables like petchay, corn, potatoes, and cabbage.
Take with you the delicious goodness of Batangas. You shouldn’t miss sumang magkayakap, a local delicacy made from glutinous rice (kaning malagkit), wrapped in banana leaves, then bundled together. Best served with a special coconut caramel sauce. Yum!
Bask in architectural grandeur. Admire the beautiful Romanesque architecture of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian (San Sebastian Cathedral), established by Pope Pius X as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lipa in 1910.
Travel back in time. Visit the Casa de Segunda heritage museum in Lipa, the ancestral home of Segunda Solis Katigbak who was the first love of Philippine hero Jose Rizal.
Conquer the magnificent mountains of Batangas. Batangas is a favorite among hikers because of its breathtaking mountains and proximity to Manila. Climb through different peaks, experience the adventurous thrill, and witness the breath taking view from its mountain tops. Mt. Maculot is perfect for day hiking and for beginners.
Pedal through the extreme terrain of Balete. Take a spin on your bike through the winding, picturesque trails of Balete, known as the Biking Capital of Southern Luzon.
Go on a Bisikleta Iglesia. Are you a cycling enthusiast, a devotee, or both? Get on your bike and head out to visit the beautiful churches of the Batangas Lakeshore District. Every Saturday before Palm Sunday, witness the annual Bisikleta Iglesia, a unique pilgrimage tour on bike led by running priest Fr. Robert Reyes paticipated in by hundreds of bikers.
Discover the world’s only fresh water sardine. At the break of dawn, head to the shores of Balete to watch fishermen haul in the day’s fresh catch of tawilis, the only freshwater sardine in the world found only in the Philippines, right at Lake Taal. If you’re lucky, the womenfolk can cook tawilis that you can enjoy for breakfast.
Explore the beauty of Batangas’ world famous treasure. Hop on a Taal Lake Cruise and navigate through Lake Taal to discover the numerous islands and rock formations that dot the lake on board the 30-seater Lady of the Lake catamaran, or the more romantic Queen Fisher yacht.
Go on a lava walk. The trek along the Lava Walk on Volcano Island in San Nicolas will take you over a terrain covered in black basaltic rocks that are actually hardened volcanic materials spewed by Taal Volcano in past eruptions. Before leaving the island, bring home some dried fish that is a source of income for the small local community on the island. Choose from biya, bangus, red tilapia, even shrimps—all caught from the lake.
Taal Volcano, up-close and personal. Did you know that Taal Volcano has 47 known craters and four maars? Find out things you did not know about Taal’s lake, volcano, and the islands at the Taal Lake Conservation Center (TLCC).
Try your hand at rowing a dragon boat on Lake Taal. Want a twist? Gather the squad and try a unique tug-of-war (or tug-of-oars, if you please) on a dragon boat. It’s a great water activity for barkadas and families that fosters camaraderie and friendship.
Take a wild leap. Experience swimming in the fresh waters of Lake Taal for an extreme adventure.
Explore the beautiful gardens of Marian Orchard. Get lost in the myriad of exploding colors of flowers that blanket the instagram-worthy gardens of Marian Orchard. Or partake of the Table of Plenty, where the fruits of the Orchard are harvested which visitors can enjoy. When at Marian Orchard, spend quiet moments of prayer and reflection at the Via Crucis, a linear garden with life-size statues depicting the passion of Christ, or pray the rosary at The Rosarium.
Did you know that Balete is home to numerous honey bee farms? Drop by to see how honey is harvested, then take home a bottle of wild honey, or try the honey vinegar. Learn about honey-making, and taste authentic, pure honey harvested from the honeybee farms of Balete.
Enjoy nature at its best. Bird-watch at the bird sanctuary of San Nicolas, one of the towns under the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape. Every year, migratory herons and egrets escape the cold winters and seek shelter in San Nicolas. You’ll also find kingfishers and ducks here.
Come home to a delightful surprise. After a full day, quiet down at Lima Park Hotel’s La Terrazza Deck while watching the sky turn from fiery orange to a rich magenta before settling to the deep-set blue of the night. Take a nightcap at the La Terrazza Bar. Thursdays and Fridays are jazz and acoustics nights, while you can enjoy unlimited beer during happy hours every day of the week. When you’re ready to call it a night, our turndown service will simply lull you to a good night of blissful sleep. May all your sweet dreams come true.
Written By Rose Muñoz-Landicho
Photographs By Peter Cons, Edison Manalo of WowBatangas.com