Where should tourists explore in Manila?

1. Intramuros Citadel

Intramuros District of Manila is one of the most « must – visit » tourist attractions in Manila. And if you visit Intramuros, I suggest you get there on Sunday. It is because you will definitely immerse yourself in the quiet atmosphere, then, wander around rows of conserving Spanish architecture, from windows, balconies, street lights, to the roads. In the afternoon, you might feel as if you were sauntering around an old street of the ancient Europe amid drizzly weather.

2. The Manila Cathedral

I did not find temples in Manila but I was overwhelmed by the unique architecture of churches. Of course, there is no shortage of churches that you might visit, but for the reason of the most impressive one, I would recommend The Manila Cathedral. Additionally, you might make a visit to San Augustin Church which is named the most famous church in Malila. They promise to satisfy your « thirst » for admiration and exploration of architecture and religion.

3. Taal Volcano

Taal Volcano has been alway at top « worthy – visiting » destination during your journey to the Philippines. However, all tours to this geological wonder will be canceled for the reason of safety during hurricane season. Fortunately, we had a chance to visit one of the most picturesque and attractive views of the Philippines.  Sounds amazing!

We woke up in the early morning to begin our journey to Taal Volcano. Interestingly, the weather was sunny at that day. My other two friends and I got to the bus station to take a bus to Tagaytay. We firstly planned to go around it, then, come back to the hotel. This is a highland city is 60 km from Manila and 600 meters above sea level. Seeing the three of us waiting for the bus, some locals enthusiastically gave us a help. However, we still got on the wrong bus and had to take the next bus route. In the end, we took the right bus to Tagaytay.

It took us 2 hours to get to Tagaytay From Manila. The bus in the Philippines is large and clean. One of my friends sat next to an Filipino young girl, so they chatted to each other a bit. The point is that when she got off the bus, she was eager to find a tricycle, bargaining the price, gave an enthusiastic guide on going to the volcano. Moreover, she did give us her name card to contact her in case we have troubles. How nice and kind she is ! In the end, thanks to her great help, we took a tricycle to go over the pass for 150 peso (75,000 VND).

The pass is quiet and the weather was as cold as that in Bao Loc, Vietnam. We were immediately overwhelmed by the extraordinary scenery, especially turquoise lake the bottom of the mountain. Interestingly, small mountains intertwine with lakes. Crossing the pass by tricycle is such an adventuring experience because our body had to follow the way of driving of the driver amid the strong wind blows up the ear.  Finally, we stepped onto the lake after nearly 40 minutes of traveling by tricycle.

Reaching the lake, you have to get on a bangka (kind of boats of the eyes – catching shape) to go to the mountain inside the lake. Furthermore, after getting to the mountain, you must ride house to set foot in the lake inside the mountain. The package price for bangka and horse was 3,500 pesos for 3 three (about 80$).

The feeling of sitting on a horse's back does not like driving a motorbike. It is because we can not keep balance control under the circumstance that the horse is not much strong. Additionally, the trail was narrow and eroded by rain few days ago. Moreover, we crossed the route that is the abyass in one side and cliff in the other side. Thus, if the horse makes an « off – the – track » step, we might definitely « kick the bucket ». How adventuring! It really scared the hell out of me. Luckily, the horse instructors sat behind my back to reassure me when seeing the « high » tense in my face. My face must have been so serious that the instructor kept repeating « Are u ok? ».

This horse guide was such a mischievous woman. She kept complaining her poverty and misfortune along the way to our destination. More interestingly, when I felt sorry for the poor horse, she said it was under  2 – month pregnancy. I nearly lost my words for that situation. On the way back, they changed a new horse (I just guessed that it got exhausted because of having to carry me and the guide). The later horse seemed stronger than the first one. I asked her whether it as male of female, she apparently said that it was also a female horse and pregnant, too. So, I answered that all the female horses must be pregnant. 

The point was that she asked me for tip at the middle of the way. Ok, I did. However, she begged for tip for the horse, too for the « ever -  smartest -. reason » that it had nothing to eat. Yep, of course, it was the second time I got kind of frustrated.

After we went down the mountain and got on bus, it started raining heavily. We couldn’t imagine how we would be if we were stranded on it. The road is very steep and slippery after the rain, so you need to be extremely carefully unless your number will be up.

Objectively, we had a memorable trip. However, honestly, it still scared the hell out of me when I thought of it again. It is because we are only three girls who go with a bunch of men on the pass. Just for kidding but if they intend to kill us, they might do it easily. Horrible!

Latest news about Taal Volcano: This is one of the most active volcanoes in Philippines. 

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