The Tagaytay City Rundown
The City of Tagaytay is attractive as a tourist destination for all the reasons Metro Manila is not. For one, Tagaytay is barely a city and, as such, a stark contrast from the colossal urban hodgepodge that is the National Capital Region of the Philippines. Metro Manila is home to some 24 million people, whereas Tagaytay has barely 60,000. Quezon, Makati, Pasig, Mutinlupa and the other areas that comprise Metro Manila are dense, opaque agglomerations of malls, highways, vehicles and people. Tagaytay, on the other hand, is airy, verdant, scenic and pristine in comparison.
Tagaytay’s incessant popularity as a weekend and day trip destination is entirely reliant, then, on Metro Manila’s more troublesome attributes. Lack of space, smog, intense urban heat and humidity, a dearth of clean air, open dumps, industrial waste and other undesirables common to the megalopolis all drive residents to flee the National Capital Region en masse, by the tens of thousands, to Tagaytay, if only for a spell.
The obvious linchpin attraction is twofold: climate and natural environment. A hilly position and the presence, for now at least, of thick, nearby forests provide Tagaytay with a natural air conditioner and filter. Throw in one of the island of Luzon’s most spectacular points of interest, Taal Lake and Volcano, both supremely visible from Tagaytay Ridge, and you have a blithe, fun escapade a mere 55 km from Manila.
Tagaytay City’s Top 10
10. Jose P. Laurel Memorial Library is a reasonably well-run archive and historic site.
5. Filipino-Japanese Friendship Garden, Philippines Conference Center, Sungay East, is a game and picturesque attempt to reconcile historic differences between two nations.
9. Casa de Segunda Katigbak is a heritage house in Batangas, close to Tagaytay, that once sheltered all manner of intellectuals, political dissenters and artists.
4. St. Anne’s Shrine is a pretty grotto and garden in Guinhawa,Tagaytay.
8. Punta de Santiago Lighthouse is a fine beacon in Balayan Bay, Batangas that dates back to 1890.
3. The People’s Palace and Park in the Sky is a sad relic of the Marcos era in the Philippines that was apparently built to impress former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who, alas, never made it to Tagaytay. Still, one of the best vantage points from which to admire Taal lake and volcano.
7. Mabini Shrine, in Tanauan City, Batangas, is a foremost monument and shrine to Apolinario Mabini, nationalist hero and first Prime Minister of the Philippines.
2. Marcela N. Agoncillo Historical Landmark marks the birthplace of the seamstress who made the very first Filipino flag in 1897 - in Hong Kong no less - to bolster the anti-Spanish Philippine Revolution.
6. Flower Farm covers five colourful, fragrant hectares in Guinhawa,Tagaytay.
1. Taal Lake and Taal Volcano form the bedrock of tourism to Tagaytay and the best reason to visit the area by far. The view from Tagaytay Ridge is spectacular: Taal Lake encircles the active and earthquake-prone compound volcano, which itself contains a crater lake.
Tagaytay City History
- Taal Volcano – This is famous as the world’s most active volcano. It has a great photo-taking spot near the rim of the crater for tourists.
- 41st Division USAFFE Marker – This marks the landing spot of Filipino soldiers during WWII. Tagaytay was a hiding place for Filipino freedom fighters during WWII.
- Mabini Shrine – There are personal effects of the hero and author of the Filipino independence movement against Spain.
- Palace in the Sky – These unfinished ruins of Imelda Marcos’ summer guesthouse offers an interesting perspective on excess.
- Filipino–Japanese Friendship Garden – This was built to commemorate the peace and friendship between the two nations after WWII.
Tagaytay City Art & Culture
- Casa de Segunda Katigbak – This dwelling of an influential Filipino family shows Spanish colonial-style stone buildings.
- Pink Sisters Covenant -- This is a place where the local devout bring their prayer lists to entreat the nuns.
- Marcela Agonicillo Landmark – This is the birthplace of the lady who made the first Filipino flag.
- Punta de Santiago Lighthouse – This is one of the oldest lighthouses still running. Built in 1831 .
- St Anne’s Shrine – This is a quiet garden and sanctuary with a statue of the Virgin Mary, nice for meditation and rest.
Tagaytay City Shopping
- Peoples Park – Great for souvenir T-shirt designs at cheap prices.
- Picnic Grove – Handicrafts, souvenirs and T-shirts.
- Mahogany Public Market – Best place for Tagaytay dried beef, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Roadside Fruits – Tagaytay has the best fresh fruit stalls at low prices.
- Good Shepherd Jams – The covenant sells delicious ube jam and fruit preserves bottled by the nuns.
Gay & Lesbian Tagaytay City
- One Destination – Great strip of bars and restaurants. The gay nightlife centre of Tagaytay.
- Hellenic – Unique and friendly karaoke bar. Great show and conducive for making friends.
- Dencio’s – Favoured hangout. Great for food and drinking.
- One Tagaytay Place Hotel – Friendly hotel offering accommodations and service.
- Fort Bonifacio – Well-known yuppie centre with a number of gay-friendly clubs and bars.
Tagaytay City Outdoor
- Picnic Grove – Set in the hill country, offers horseback riding, nature walks and picnics.
- People’s Park in the Sky – One of the most popular tourist venues in the Philippines. Great close-up view of nearby Taal Volcano.
- Tagaytay Highlands – Resort area for recreation and outdoor activities.
- Flower Farm – Winding hillside slopes form the gardens that keep Manila supplied with flowers.
- Island tour – Charter an outrigger boat to the nearby islands for a day of sun and surf.
Tagaytay City Sport
- Nothing like picnicking and nature walks in the Tagaytay Highlands.
- Enjoy horseback riding and outdoor scenery in Picnic Grove.
- Enjoy a donkey ride or bicycle to the rim of famous Taal Volcano.
- Take an outrigger boat ride to the outer islands.
- Go fishing, camping and skydiving in the scenic Tagaytay outdoors.
Tagaytay City Local
Tagaytay City is tiny and barely covers 65 km<sup>2</sup>. The second class Cavite province city is home to just over 60,000 permanent residents and 34 barangays, or wards. For all tourism intents and purposes, however, Tagaytay is a lot smaller than that. The vast majority of visitors concentrate on the city’s few attractions, namely Taal Lake and Volcano, and one or two popular restaurants of note.
Tagaytay City Eat & Drink
The food scene in Tagaytay is notable for provincial staples like buko tarts, ube jam and pili, for which many visitors travel from Manila specifically to procure. Aside from a few markets and roadside stalls, a few restaurants stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Antonio’s (Purok 138, Barangay Neogan) is a lush spot in the hills surrounded by gardens and trees and replete with alfresco seating. The emphasis is on French cuisine and, indeed, the plate resentations are très Parisian bistro.
Buon Giorno (Unit 4, The Cliffhouse at Tagaytay, Aguinaldo Highway) is an option for anyone in the mood for basic Italian fare.
Sonya’s Garden (Barangay Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite) is a beacon of sustainable, organic gourmet cuisine that has a fierce and loyal following with well-heeled Manila foodies.
Mano’s Greek Tavern (Calamba Road, San Jose) delivers the goods in terms of no-nonsense Greek-style fast food.
Bag of Beans (115 Aguinaldo Highway) is probably the most popular restaurant and coffeeshop in Tagaytay for typical, casual Filipino and American food.
T House (3195 Calamba Road, San Jose) has a massive all-day menu that includes a broad spectrum of items, from pancakes and chicken wings to french onion soup and tempura shrimp.
Moon Garden (SVD Road) is a lovely lunch spot with good sandwiches and drinks.
Il Gallo Nero (4 Washington Avenue, Royale Tagaytay Estates) is a quality Italian restaurant with a no-frills trattoria vibe.
Cafe Verbena (Discovery Country Suites, 300 Calamba Road) is all over the map food-wise, with Filipino, pan-Asian, continental European and American dishes, but delivers a decent meal at affordable prices.
Taj of Tagaytay (5059 Aguinaldo Highway) serves excellent Indian food by Metro Manila standards and has a bit of a following with Filipino celebs.
Tagaytay City Events
Tagaytay City offers a modest range of religious and provincial festivals throughout the year.
Santacruzan is a vital event in Tagaytay and part of the traditional month-long Flores de Mayo Catholic celebration in the Philippines. Santacruzan is a beauty pageant held on the last day of Flores de Mayo, in honour of Saint Helena and Constantine.
Every May the Pilipinyahan Festival in Tagaytay City celebrates that all-important Filipino crop and export: the pineapple. The Philippines is second only to Thailand in total pineapple production in the world.
Pista Ng Pag-Ibig is a three day festival in February that seeks to promote Tagaytay City tourism with a lineup of beauty pageants, sports and talent competitions, food stalls and “wholesome” entertainment for the entire family.
Tagaytay Liberation Day commemorates the arrival of a U.S. Airborne Division Parachute Regiment on Tagaytay Ridge on February 3, 1945, a decisive event in the subsequent surrender of Imperial Japanese forces in the Philippines.
When To Go
Tagaytay City’s climate features low temperatures and humidity relative to Metro Manila and heavy rainfall. The cool weather provides a comfortable escape from the National Capital Region - the annual average temperature is 73°F (23°C) - with the dry season from November through April the most desirable time for tourism.
Peak rainfall occurs from July to September in Tagaytay, with well over 500 mm in August alone and over 2,300 mm for the year. Forty percent of the typhoons that hit the Philippines affect Tagaytay City, most notably from June to December.
What To Miss
Tagaytay, on the whole, is little more than a breezy day or weekend escape from the brutal urban sprawl of Metro Manila. In terms of what to miss out on or avoid, the list is short because in all honesty, Tagaytay offers but a handful of attractions. Enjoy the views of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano, have a picnic or alfresco restaurant lunch, buy some local pasalubong and head back.
Ninoy Aquino International, or Manila International, is the closest airport to Tagaytay City.
Private car, van or taxi for hire from Metro Manila is the best mode of transport to Tagaytay City. Public bus is another option and available from a wide range of stops in Metro Manila. The highway to Tagaytay from the national capital is notorious for traffic, however, and ride times can easily double or triple as a result.
The usual transport suspects abound in Tagaytay City, from motor tricycles and taxis to jeepneys. As always, negotiate fares beforehand. Boats offer affordable transport to Taal Volcano but be sure to deal with owners directly and avoid persistent touts.
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