As they say: it’s not getting there, but it’s the journey that really counts. If you have a car, a free weekend, and a company of good friends or family, it is easy to just take off from Manila and just drive to some of the most exciting destinations accessible on land.
The good news is that most of the roads in the island of Luzon are now mostly well-paved. It is now easy to find your ways getting there because of on-board navigation or Waze. So, why not plan a trip to these 10 destinations which you can reach by car:
This one tops my list of favorite destinations. There are so many things to see and do on this central highland. A three to four day road trip that start in Baguio City and exits from Dalton Pass takes visitors to the Highest Point on Philippine Highway System in Atok, the Hanging Coffins of Sagada, the bustling commercial center of Bontoc and the breath-taking rice terraces of Ifugao.
558. That’s the distance in kilometers between Manila and Pagudpud. Getting to Pagudpud is the ultimate road trip. This is where one takes his family or his friends to test drive his brand-new vehicle. The journey takes almost 12 hours including stop-overs in some of Ilocos most scenic spots. Visit lighthouses, sand dunes, windmills, rock formations and heritage buildings.
Whenever I drive here, “I wanna dance with Zambales!” It is one of my favorite road trip destinations. There are so many hidden coves, beaches and remote islands that can easily be accessed from many of the coastal towns. There is also the charming Casa San Miguel in San Antonio that trains local children in classical music. The regular Sunday recital makes the long drive to Zambales even more exciting.
This is the drive that I like to take when taking a relaxing road trip with friends, especially Balikbayan friends. It starts in Tiaong to visit Villa Escudero, continues to Sariaya for the visit to heritage houses, then to Tayabas for the local delicacies and lambanog, continues to Lucban for the longanisa and pansithabhab, makes a detour to Majayjay for the waterfalls and ends in Liliw for the shopping for locally-made sandals. Along the drive, one gets a refreshing view of the mythical mountain of Banahaw.
This 10 hour drive takes one to see the Philippine most beautiful volcano. The perfect cone Mayon is like a Goddess: pretty, enchanting and mysterious. The trip to Legazpi will not be complete without sampling Bicol’s volcano hot cuisine.
For a simple family day trip, there’s the Taal lakeside trip. It starts in Tagaytay, goes down via winding road of Leynes to Talisay, continues to rustic Laurel and Agoncillo before finally arriving to the heritage town of Taal. Along the way there are opportunities to go to Volcano Island to trek to crater lake, explore hidden waterfalls of Laurel and see the ruins of the old Taal church in San Nicolas.
On the north-western side of Luzon, where there road ends, is the little town of San Vicente in Cagayan, where one can drive to for almost 12 hours to visit the remotest towns on the western side of Sierra Madre. It is also the jump-off point to visit the pristine Palaui Island and Anguib Beach. On the way to San Vicente, make a stop-over in Penablanca to visit the world famous Callao Caves.
This drive to the Pacific Coast goes beyond just staying in Baler to surf. The coastal towns on the eastern side of the Sierra Madre offer so many hidden attractions. In Casiguran, visit the coast of San Ildelfonso for breath-taking view of the Pacific Ocean. In Baler, take a challenging drive to the hidden cove of Dicasalarin and climb the beautiful lighthouse.
This is everybody’s favorite destination. With the extension of the north expressways to Pozzorubio, it is now possible to get there in less than 4 hours. Bring a large vehicle as the trip to Baguio will not be complete without bringing home sacks of vegetables, walis, fresh strawberries, ube jams and the barrel man.
This 646-kilometer drive to the southern tail of Luzon Island takes one to the hidden gems of Matnog. This is the gateway to the many hidden islands of San Bernardino Strait, like the beautiful pink san Subic Island, the white sand Tikling and the Juag Marine Sanctuary. Bring a cooler box as the busy Matnog market is the best place to load on fresh seafood.