After a few days in Manila, Tagaytay might be just the tonic you need. Just 60km away from the capital, the city sits on the side of a volcanic ridge. And the volcano isn’t the only natural attraction here, although it probably is the most impressive. There are rolling hills, wide-open parks, and emerald green lakes in the area.
Still a bit of a secret to the Western tourist, Tagaytay will show you authentic Filipino culture at a fraction of the cost of some other tourist sites in the Phillippines. It’s got an awesome food scene, exciting night markets, and lots of places to eat and drink. Most tourists spend a couple of days here, but there’s lots to see and do if you’re planning to stay a little longer.
To help you out, our expert travel writers have compiled a list of the best things to do in Tagaytay. We’ll take a look at some stuff that’s absolutely unmissable, some that’s a little weird, but all are well worth a spot on your Tagaytay itinerary. So, let’s take a closer look at the best things to do in Tagaytay!
Top Things to Do in Tagaytay
Let’s kick off our list of the best things to do in Tagaytay with the most popular activity. Period. Taal Volcano and Lake are the centrepieces of the city – there are very few places where you won’t get a reminder of this stunning natural wonder. The volcano is actually inside a lake, with another lake inside the volcano… And in that lake there’s another island. Confused? Go check it out for yourself and see what we mean. The best way to do so is with a guided tour. Make sure that yours is with an accredited guide – the volcano is the second most active in the Phillippines, most recently showing signs of life in 2020.
2. People’s Park in the Sky
If you’d prefer to see not only Taal Volcano and lake from above but also the city, then you’d best head for the People’s Park in the Sky. The hilltop park is at the highest point in the city, but it’s so much more than just a green space. There are places to stop and admire the view from gazeboes or multiple benches. You can make your way around on wooden footbridges too! One of the park’s unique quirks is a giant life-sized pineapple. No, we’re not sure why it’s there either… Make sure to take a sweater up here – Tagaytay’s cool climate is felt no more clearly than high above the city!
3. Museo Orlina
For culture vultures visiting Tagaytay, the first stop has to be the Museo Orlina. The unique glass sculptures here are the work of Ramon Orlina, the internationally acclaimed artist and pioneer of glass sculpture in the Phillippines. The modern three storey building is a work of art itself, allowing floods of natural light in through the wall to wall windows which give panoramic views of – you guessed it – Taal Volcano and Lake! The entry fee is just £2, so it’s a very cheap way to fill a couple of hours. There’s a coffee shop on the roof too. Museo Orlina is closed on Mondays.
4. Twin Lakes Shopping Village
Now, we wouldn’t usually recommend doing something that you can do all the time at home while on vacation. However, Twin Lakes Shopping Village’s spectacular location means it shoots right up the Tagaytay itinerary! It sits on a ridge overlooking a valley, which you can enjoy from the Starbucks branch here – we challenge you to find one in a prettier location! There are restaurants and shops which will keep you busy for a couple of hours. Come up in the afternoon so that once you’ve seen everything there is to see, you can watch the sunset from up here.
Drive for just over quarter of an hour from Tagaytay and you’ll find Paradizoo – a zoo and theme park which is perfect for visiting families. It has several domesticated farm animals that you won’t find in your average zoo – including llamas, miniatures horses, and ostriches. There are more than just animals to see though – the agricultural and botanical stations are pretty spectacular too. There’s a vegetable garden, flower garden, and Orchid Pavilion to name a few. There are outdoor educational programmes too, if you wish to make your trip more meaningful.
6. Tierra de Maria and Our Lady of Manaoag
One of the most breath-taking shrines in the Philippines, Our Lady of Manaoag is a 50 foot recreation of Mary, Mother of God. Next to a serene and tranquil church, take some quiet time here to meditate and light a candle. As well as the church, there’s also a flea market where you can pick up souvenirs. Many have a religious flavour – including statues of Jesus on the cross and even some Christmas lights. You can also buy refreshing snacks and drinks, if religious artwork isn’t really your thing. We guarantee you’ll still find the statue impressive!
Unusual Things to Do in Tagaytay
7. Fantasy World Lemery
Originally intended as the Phillippines answer to Disneyland, Fantasy World Lemery never actually opened. However, travel around 40 minutes south of the city, and you can see one of the more unusual attractions in Tagaytay. Sitting atop a green hill, the setting is certainly picturesque. The colourful fairytale castles will catch the eyes of passers by. Although none of the rides work, you can still visit Fantasy World to wander around and take pictures of this forgotten landmark. There is a small fee.
8. Vulcan Point
For those who are hiking or horse-riding on Taal Lake and Volcano, this may well be included on your tour. One thing’s for sure, we don’t recommend going here under your own steam. However, with an expert guide, it’s very cool to be able to say you’ve been to Vulcan point, the very central point of the volcano inside multiple lakes and islands. And who could forget the Pacific Ocean?! In case you’ve forgotten from our number 1 activity on this list, Taal is an active volcano – so don’t try and do this without a guide if they’re not taking people. You could be putting yourself in danger!
9. Waterfalls Restaurant
Head 50 kilometres east of Tagaytay (it should take you about 1.5 hours in a car or a jeepney) for one of the most memorable dining experiences of your life. In the middle of the Villa Escudero resort plantation, you’ll be able to dine in the middle of a river and waterfall. Remove your shoes as you’ll be sitting at bamboo tables at the foot of a waterfall. Not only is this a chance to enjoy a completely unique eating experience but you’ll also have the chance to sample a traditional Filipino kamayan style buffet – including rice, fish, and barbecued chicken!
Safety in Tagaytay
Tagaytay is a safe destination for travellers, but there are a few things to look out for. First of all is the Taal Volcano. It’s still active, and in January 2020 ash fell on the city. It’s important to keep an eye on the volcano’s activity when planning a visit and only visit with registered guides. When it comes to the more mundane side of safety, be mindful of your possessions in Tagaytay, as petty theft is one of the biggest dangers for backpackers in any part of the world.
Taking safety measures and ensuring you have everything on your Philippines packing list can ensure you enjoy your time in paradise. Check out our roundup of the best travel insurance.
Things to Do in Tagaytay at Night
10. Mahogany Beef Market & Bulalohan
Many of the activities we’ve shown you so far are best during the day (and some with awesome views can be good at sunset). But what about when night falls? Well, our first recommendation is a beef market, of course. This night market serves one of the top authentic Tagaytay dishes – bulalo. It’s a light beef shank stew cooked in vegetables, and it’s delicious. Expect the meat to melt in your mouth like butter! If you can, we’d suggest going with others. One serving of bulalo is enough for between three and five people!
11. Hellenic Videoke and Karaoke
Have you even had a night out in the Phillippines if you haven’t had a go at Videoke? Probably not… Hellenic is one of the top bars in Tagaytay and offers a completely unique night out. Located in Magallanes Square, the bar has more than 50,000 high-quality recordings, so there’s a good chance you’ll find your favourite song in there. We’re sure that you’ll dazzle the other guests with your singing skills! If you’d prefer not to get up and sing, you can still enjoy Hellenic. They have a dance show every hour with professionals!
12. Station 15
One of the best places for a night out in Tagaytay is Station 15. Begin the night here with delicious Filipino food… After dessert and a little break, it’s time to head up to the dancefloor where a local DJ will have some of the top tunes on! Stay up ’til the early hours before heading back to your accommodation. Speaking of which…
Where to Stay in Tagaytay
- Country Living Hostel – Tagaytay Center
- Farm In the City
- Casa de Miguelitos
Best Hostel in Tagaytay – Country Living Hostel – Tagaytay Center
If you want the best hostel in Tagaytay, look no further than Country Living Hostel, right in the city centre. It’s easy to get to pretty much all of the must-see attractions on our list from here with a minimum of fuss. There are regular events which will make it easy for you to meet and get to know other travellers – great news for solo backpackers.View on Hostelworld
Best Airbnb in Tagaytay – Farm In the City
Tagaytay Airbnbs are a great way to get an authentic local experience. Take this ulog house for example. This accommodation is affordable and unique, and each house fits between 3 – 5 people. Perfect for a small group of friends or family travelling together. The farmstay has an excellent on-site restaurant with home cooked food and chances to take a quiet moment for meditation and reflection.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Tagaytay – Casa de Miguelitos
Another unique place to stay in Tagaytay, this hotel offers something a little different. Your choices are tents and holiday homes, and this resort style hotel comes with lots of activities on site – excellent for those travelling with children. There’s a kid’s playground, swimming pool, and games room with a billiards table. Free parking is included too.View on Booking.com
Romantic Things to Do in Tagaytay
13. Sonya’s Secret Garden
When you travel to Tagaytay with your other half, you’re going to want to take them somewhere a little special. Sonya’s Secret Garden definitely ticks that box! It’s a restaurant, bed and breakfast, and spa. It’s also a wedding venue if you want to spring a REAL surprise! Whichever of its facilities you want to use, it’s hidden away in a tropical garden bedecked with colourful flowers, with lovely wooden furniture perfect for relaxing on. There’s a mixture of local and international dishes which will get your lips smacking!
14. Nurture Wellness Village
What says romance more than a spa and a massage? Especially if you’ve spent time up at the People’s Park in the Sky or trekking on the Taal Volcano. You don’t have to be a resident to use the services of Nurture Wellness Village. There’s a beautiful restaurant on-site, but you’re more likely to be here for the spa. You can enjoy traditional Filipino massage using oils, stones, and leaves. For those looking for a proper detox, multi-day programmes are offered.
Always Be Insured
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Best Free Things to Do in Tagaytay
15. Tagaytay Picnic Grove
Okay, so if you do this properly you’re going to have to spend a little on preparing your picnic… or at least picking up some last minute street food. However, the location is completely free. Head on from Our Lady of Manaoag (mentioned earlier) to the Tagaytay Picnic Grove. This sprawling grassy hill has several covered tables where you can enjoy a picnic with your partner, family, or friends. Local families love to come here to fly kites and enjoy other outdoor activities. One of the nicest place to sightsee in Tagaytay for half a day!
16. Adoration Convent of Divine Mercy – Pink Sisters Convent
Our Lady of Manaoag isn’t the only religious site worth putting on your Tagaytay itinerary. The Pink Sisters Convent, or to give it its full name, the Adoration Convent of Divine Mercy, is a calming church which benefits from the cooling breeze up in the highlands. It’s not just the chapel that is likely to calm and soothe you, but the surrounding gardens packed with statues and pathways through the pine trees!
17. Take in panoramic views
Wherever you go in Tagaytay, you simply can’t escape from the panoramic views. It’s not just Taal Lake and Volcano, but the many surrounding valleys too. Some of the best places to go for views we’ve already mentioned in our list, such as the Picnic Grove, Twin Lakes Shopping Village, and the People’s park in the sky. But wherever you are in Tagaytay, there’s a view. So make sure to have your camera at the ready!
Tagaytay Packing List
1. Travel Water Bottle: Always travel with a water bottle – it’ll save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. AR bottles are tough, lightweight, and maintain the temperature of your beverage – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are. For every AR bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an initiative to reduce plastic in our oceans!
2. Microfibre Towel: It’s always worth packing a proper towel. Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
3. Security Belt with Hidden Pocket: I never hit the road without my security belt. This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off. This is hands down the best way to hide your cash.
4. Camera or Cell Phone Camera Accessories: One thing’s for sure – Japan is a picturesque destination! Get perfect shots from your phone using clip-on-lenses with wide-angle, close-up and optical zoom. With the ability to turn travel pictures from basic to professional, this universal lens sits neatly over any phone camera and comes with a durable, travel-friendly case!
5. International Adapter: Japanese outlets accommodate typical US two-pronged plugs, but for electronics that have three prongs, or if your plugs are of a different variety, you’ll need an adapter. Save yourself the hassle of trying to track down an adapter at your destination and paying twice as much than planning ahead by buying one online.
Books to Read in Tagaytay
The Backpacker Bible – Get it for free! Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on just $10 a day whilst building a life of long-term travel with an online income. To inspire and help the next generation of Broke Backpackers, you can now grab ‘How to Travel the World on $10 a Day’ for free! Get your copy here.
Playing with Water: Passion and Solitude on a Philippine Island: Ever wondered what life on a deserted island would be like? Well, James experiments with this, spending months on uninhabited islands in the Philippines, going back to the basics of survival and diving into the ‘real Philippines’.
History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos: For the history nerds, this is an awesome background of The Philippines, the culture and what went into making it the incredible country it is today. Seriously, well worth a read!
Best Things to Do in Tagaytay with Kids
18. Sky Ranch Tagaytay
We’ve already shown you the never-opened Filipino Disneyland. But for those who want to visit an actual, working Tagaytay theme park (with views, of course), then head for the Sky Ranch. If its position on the hill wasn’t enough, you can enjoy a trip on the 63 metre Ferris wheel. Or, take the Sky Cruiser, a pedal bike on an aerial track up in the air. If these don’t sound like they’ll get the adrenaline flowing enough, then how about the 300-meter zipline? That should do the job!
19. Puzzle Mansion Bed and Breakfast
You’d think we’d have a bed and breakfast in the where to stay section, right? Well, normally yes. However, this one is a little different – and it’s one of the top places to visit in Tagaytay if you’re travelling with kids. Back in 2012, Puzzle Mansion won an award for having the largest collection of jigsaws in the world. Kids will be able to see their favourite characters, and might even be able to do one of the jigsaws themselves. That might mean staying quite a while though… For those who are staying here, there’s a lovely blue pool out back.
Other Things to Do in Tagaytay
20. Tagaytay Ridge
Anyone who arrives in Tagaytay will travel along the ridge to get to the city. Along the ridge, you’ll see stunning views of the Taal Volcano and caldera whether you’re travelling by car, jeepney, or even on a hike. There are various attractions on the ridge including ziplines and churches.
21. Caleruega Church
If you’re happy to travel out of Tagaytay, an easy trip just half an hour away is the beautiful Caleruega Church. Just across the boundary of Cavite and Batangas provinces, it’s a great romantic spot if you’re travelling with the other half. Lots of couples come here to take photo shoots or even get married. The replica of the original chapel in Caleruega, Spain, the surrounding grounds are packed with tranquil places to relax – including koi carp ponds, tree-lined paths, and even a basketball net.
22. Pagsanjan Falls
A great day trip from Tagaytay, Pagsanjan Falls are a two hour drive East into the Laguna district. We’d recommend this one if you’re staying in Tagaytay for a few days. Pagsanjan Falls are also known as the Cavinti or Magdapio falls, and are one of the top tourist attractions on Luzon. The waterfalls have three tiers and while you can reach the top falls on a hike, it’s more common to do in an exhilarating dugout canoe trip along the river from Pagsanjan town. The falls are a national park, which covers over 150 acres.
23. Ayala Malls Serin
Last but not least on our list of the best things to do in Tagaytay are the Ayala Malls Serin. It may seem like just another mall, but this one really shows off Tagaytay’s character. The open-air mall is laid out around a garden and lets in lots of natural light. Across its three levels, you can stock up on goods for the next part of your trip or simply just sample food from the Philippines, China, and Japan. And yes, there are stops for coffee and ice cream too!
Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do in Tagaytay
So, that concludes our list of the best things to do in Tagaytay. We hope you’ve found it helpful! It’s a wonderful place to escape from the hustle, bustle, and humidity of Manila. While it makes a great day trip from the capital, there’s more than enough to do to spend longer here.
Whether you want to go trekking on a volcano, see hidden waterfalls, or hit the markets and shopping centres in an awesome location, there’s something for you in Tagaytay.
Now that we’ve helped you to plan out your Tagaytay itinerary, our work here is done. All that’s left is for us to wish you an amazing vacation in the Phillippines. We hope you have a great time!
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