Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
(top L-R) San Rafael River Adventure, Pinto Art Museum, and Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort
(middle L-R) Dona Jovita Garden Resort, Casa Alegria, and Vivere Azure
(bottom L-R) Westnuk Beach of Vista Venice Resorts, Daraitan River, and Cafe Lupe Hostel & Restaurant
Infinity pool with a river view at San Rafael River Adventure



A N D   M O R E

With a few issues in Metro Manila posing as serious challenges to travel, finding the perfect getaway has become a similar endeavor for tourists. It needs to be outside of the National Capital Region (NCR) but just far enough to check into within 3 to 4 hours. Anything more than that is frowned upon by those within the metro. For those living in the provinces though, they couldn't be more happy to finally have attractions where they reside. As for foreign tourists flying in from different parts of the globe, they don't mind the layover in a city near the airport for as long as the next getaway is accessible before the next meal.

Whatever the concern is, a quick escape has become attractive more than ever for a lot of travelers anywhere. As long as the destination can be reached by land through a bus ride or a half-tank of gas, it's a must-book.

As much as travelers have enjoyed my first list of 11 quick escapes (Part 1), another set beckoned to be tested. After a year of exhaustive research, TuristaTrails.com recommends the following destinations for your next impromptu getaway based on their potential to impress and proximity to Metro Manila:

San Rafael River Adventure's Glass House
Kayaking at the Angat River next to San Rafael River Adventure

1. San Rafael River Adventure (San Rafael, Bulacan)
Distance From Metro Manila: Less than 1 hour

Along the historic Angat River of Bulacan is where I recently discovered a sexy glass house which I called home for three pleasant days. Called San Rafael River Adventure (SRRA), the resort and events place also became my playground for some river-Jet Ski, kayak, countryside ATV and river cruise fun. Owned by a self-made man who’s also a native of the town, SRRA just opened its resort gates to the locals of Bulacan in the middle of 2014. Since then, it has catered to more than day tours and overnight stays of local and foreign tourists. And because it can accommodate 400 guests, it has also been the special venue for memorable events such as weddings and other milestone-oriented parties.

Read the full story here.

Cafe Lupe Hostel & Restaurant's Overlooking Room
Catch a view of the stunning sunset from your Cafe Lupe room

2. Cafe Lupe Hostel and Restaurant (Antipolo City, Rizal)
Distance From Metro Manila: Roughly 1 hour

My pursuit of a near-Metro Manila spot for unwinding led me an hour away from Quezon City's Cubao, up the hillside of Antipolo City's long and winding Sumulong Highway in Barangay Mambugan. Called Cafe Lupe Hostel & Restaurant, the getaway is a dining destination, budget hotel, and party venue all in one. It can easily be anybody's secret rendezvous for meaningful meetings. It can also be a great chill-out spot for friends and families who want to briefly escape the excesses of city life. The location affords guests a stunning view of the Ortigas Center skyline any time of the day and KTV rooms to belt out favorite tunes. They can also be entertained with live band performances on special nights over Mexican and Ilonggo cuisine such as Kadyos and Inasal. Its restaurant's outdoor lounge is perfect for both romantic dates and solitary moments with a cold drink. By night time, those who felt spent could check-in at OneA Building's bed and breakfast which has a hostel-type or communal ground floor to lounge in and hotel-quality rooms for restful sleep.

Read the full story here.

Pinto Art Museum
Pinto Art Museum

3. Pinto Art Museum (Antipolo City, Rizal)
Distance From Metro Manila: 1 hour and 30 minutes

The Philippines has numerous museums and resorts, but I haven't encountered, for lack of a better portmanteau, a "musort" until I stepped inside the sprawling premises of the Pinto Art Museum. The Antipolo City destination is starting to be an attraction not just for art aficionados but also lovers of photography because of its well manicured gardens, cobbled pathways, and Cycladic-inspired galleries that have monastic exteriors and industrial-style interiors. The landscaped gardens motivate contemplation which what probably inspired its designer Antonio Leaño to portray his mother, a lover of gardening, in perpetuity. There's no shortage of endemic plants and trees that display varying hues of green in different times of the day. For this alone, event organizers highly recommend the place to individuals celebrating special occasions that demand a prodigious setting for photo shoots.

Read the full story here.

The hotel room of Dona Jovita Garden Resort
Dona Jovita Garden Resort's events venue

4. Dona Jovita Garden Resort (Calamba City, Laguna)
Distance From Metro Manila: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Voracious readers of near-Metro Manila getaway updates can find it useful to know that just an hour or so away from the Philippine capital is a Calamba resort that has been in operation for more than two decades. Known by patrons as Dona Jovita Garden Resort, the place is the only natural garden-oriented resort in the city of Laguna as it’s highly vegetated with a variety of age-old trees (including a massive, hundred year-old Kapok Tree) and ornamental plants. Located between Pansol and Cabuyao, it has a total of 9 swimming pools and whirlpool rental next to its Cottage Rooms. Almost majority of the total 2.5 hectare has been developed for commercial use.

Read the full story here.

Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort's batis-inspired infinity pool
Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort rooms

5. Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort (Lucban, Quezon Province)
Distance From Metro Manila: 2 hours via Majayjay, Laguna

The result of Lucban's rich cultural past makes the municipality a sought-after dining destination with its hardinera and longganisa pride. And at its border in Barangay Iraga is where Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort just opened this 2015 to celebrate this delicious heritage. It's a countryside swath of pahiyas inspiration set against verdant hills and lush rice fields that weave through the fringes of Laguna’s Majayjay and Lucban. Conceptualized to cater to the discriminating traveler who has a penchant for communing with nature, the newly-opened attraction is neither for the homespun or the sybaritic. It’s simply designed to be an oasis of a getaway in an unhurried environment where one can wake up to the bedside view of the town’s farmland, sample sumptuous cuisines at its restaurant for memorable meals, and have a fresh spring water soak at the rice field-view infinity pool any time of the day... even in the wee hours!

Read the full story here.

The charming view of Taal Lake from Casa Alegria
The Veranda Room of Casa Alegria

6. Casa Alegria (Tagaytay City, Cavite)
Distance From Metro Manila: 2 hours

My quick weekend escape in Tagaytay City led me to discover a private space of luxury along Ligaya Drive, a short distance from the cluster of other hotels. Via the 6-room Casa Alegria, I was able to appreciate the view of the Taal Lake as it was visible from a luxurious bed with a private veranda to boot. My booked Veranda Room allowed me more intimate moments to appreciate the vastness of the terrain at night as the hotel is nestled on a cliff.

Read the full story here.

Majayjay Falls of Laguna
A hanging bridge near Majayay Falls

7. Majayjay Falls (Majayjay, Laguna)
Distance From Metro Manila: Roughly 2 hours

Mayjayjay Falls (also known as Imelda Falls) is accessible from the Majayjay-Lucban Road which can be reached from Metro Manila's Alabang in approximately 2 hours only. At the site, guests can be spotted either camping in tents pitched along the banks of the stream or booked at one of the rooms located at the distant parking lot. Visitors are known to have a frisky time at the flowing water. From the closest dry spot, the cascade looked as high as a two-storey house. I managed to take a quick dip only because the water was really biting cold. It's been said that one can leave a bottle of wine or soda there and have it considered chilled a few hours after.

Read the full story here.

Daraitan River (Agos River) in Tanay, Rizal
Tinipak Spring of Daraitan River

8. Daraitan River (Tanay, Rizal)
Distance From Metro Manila: Roughly 3 hours

Daraitan River is a 45-minute trek from the village proper of Daraitan that can turn into more than an hour during the rainy season due to the slippery trail. It's a natural attraction in Tanay, Rizal where one can camp out or rent a makeshift shelter along its Tinipak Spring, region IV's cleanest inland body of water, and the country's second cleanest according to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The highlight of the area is seeing the river's compelling limestone rock formation at the end of the short trail.

Read the full story here.

Caleruega Church grounds
Caleruega Church grounds

9. Caleruega Church and Retreat Center (Nasugbu, Batangas)
Distance From Metro Manila: 3 hours

Nestled at a romantic cliff of Nasugbu is an orange brick-finished place of worship that’s both popular for weddings and retreats in the Philippines. Called Caleruega Church, the Batangas chapel is where Catholic lovers gravitate towards for a solemn vow of forever. The hillside venue is also a sought-after retreat getaway for small and big groups of Catholic faithfuls seeking to be transfigured by God’s grace. Aside from booking for wedding ceremonies, it attracts guests who go on retreats, recollections, renewal workshops, youth camps and other leadership or liturgical seminars.

Read the full story here.

Westnuk Beach of Vista Venice Resorts
Vista Venice Resorts' guest room

10. Westnuk Beach of Vista Venice Resorts (Morong, Bataan)
Distance From Metro Manila: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Bataan is more than its rich World War II past. It has the old mountain-filled town of Morong, an hour of commute from the capital city of Balanga. Hidden there as a gem of an escape from the farming plains of the peninsula is the charming Vista Venice Resorts where I once stayed for three pleasant days. It was where I communed with nature after bearing a couple of bus commutes from Metro Manila that took no more than four hours in total. More importantly, it was where I discovered the province's white sand beach that's next to the controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Called Westnuk Beach, it's affiliated with the resort for bookings.

Read the full story here.

11. Vivere Azure (Mabini, Batangas)
Distance From Metro Manila: Roughly 4 hours

Like the rest of the resorts South of Manila that dot the meandering hillside of Mabini’s pastoral village in Batangas, Vivere Azure looks out into the sea and is accessible via the National Road from Bauan. It’s only one of a handful of resorts on the Calumpang Peninsula that offers guests a remarkable view of the nearby Maricaban Island. What’s more, it stands out in the area for having the prestige of a 5-star luxury getaway, a stunning reflection of its sister hotel in Alabang (Vivere Hotel). Its stellar reputation exudes bespoke luxury and impeccable service, two vacation gems that lure the patrician out of every suburbanite.

Read the full story here.

Didn't see what you're looking for?

Check out Part 1 of my Quick Escapes Near Metro Manila blog post here.

Also, find out hotels in Metro Manila to book for your next staycation. Check out the list here.

I just wrapped up my "I Love Negros Occidental!" Blog Series Tour. Check out my blog posts:

Sipalay City Beaches -- Sugar Beach, Poblacion Beach and Lat-asan Cove

+ Melba's Farm in Talisay City

Sipalay Suites in Sipalay City

Hiking In The Woods of Talisay City's Cabatangan

+ Exploring The Maricalum Mines of Sipalay City


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