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Travel Guide to Laguna: A Water Cleanse With a Bit of Suspense Edit

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Colleen Cabili  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

Cover photo by Ken Cauguiran. Graphics by Manel Solsoloy.

At a Glance

An easy, two-hour drive from Manila, Laguna revives the soul with its natural attractions like Pagsanjan Falls, Lake Caliraya, and Mt. Makiling—the source of Pansol’s numerous hot springs. For a unique cultural flavor, go visit Paete’s woodcarving workshops and Calamba’s Rizal Shrine, the birthplace of the Philippines’ National Hero.

Overview

Waterfalls, hot springs, cold springs, sulfur vents—these are the first that come to mind when we think of Laguna. The biodiverse volcano Mt. Makiling is the source of numerous hot spring resorts in Pansol, the hot spring capital of the Philippines. While from the mysterious volcano Mt. Banahaw flow cold springs reaching the towns of Majayjay, Nagcarlan, and Liliw. These waters alone are surprisingly revitalizing—the very reason people keep coming back to Laguna!


Those who prefer a more scenic ambiance can head out to Lake Caliraya, a relaxing man-made lake host to several water activities, and the Seven Lakes of San Pablo. Each of the seven lakes has a compelling myth to accompany its beauty. Two of them, Lake Pandin and Lake Yambo, offer floating rafts amidst lush surroundings. Mt. Makiling shouldn’t be missed as well. Though a challenging trek, this volcano offers botanical gardens, waterfalls, and sulfur vents at its base.


Laguna is not just about nature trips, however. History aficionados would be delighted to see Calamba’s two-storey mansion and museum Rizal Shrine, the birthplace of the country’s national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. Up north in Paete, you can explore Laguna’s woodcarving tradition, which dates all the way back to the Spanish era, and get close and personal with the masters of the trade. Whereas down south in Nagcarlan, you can check out the Underground Cemetery, an exclusive burial site for Spanish friars and members of prominent Catholic families.


Travelers young at heart and families with children can have a great time in the country’s biggest and most popular amusement parks, Enchanted Kingdom and Splash Island. Lastly, don’t forget to purchase a box of buko pie before the end of the trip! Bursting with creamy coconut milk and slow-cooked coconut meat, Laguna’s coconut pies are best served hot with a cup of tea or coffee.

8 Amazing Nature Trips to revive your soul in Laguna

Written by Colleen Cabili

Seven Lakes of San Pablo

A trip to San Pablo’s stunning lakes is a must for visitors who want to explore the great province of Laguna. In the image below, Lake Pandin offers a raft cruise with a sumptuous seafood meal on board. You can jump from the raft too and swim!

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Photo by shoestringtravelers.com.

Pansol

Known as the Hot Spring Capital of the Philippines, this quaint barangay is lined with public and private resorts that cater to all types of events and gatherings. Two of the most popular are Southwinds Resort and Sol Y Viento. 

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Photo from instagram.com/dodongtheexplorer.

Buruwisan Falls

Tucked deep within the forests of Mt. Romelo is the majestic Buruwisan Falls. It is one of the eight waterfalls that travelers can choose from as part of their hike. From the summit, it takes an hour of trekking and countless steep and slippery trails to reach the towering cascade. 

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Photo by Dennis Bacarisas.

Costales Nature Farms

Costales Nature Farms is a privately-owned farm that promotes agritourism and health and wellness. They offer tours and packages where guests can learn about organic farming and ethical animal breeding.

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Photo from facebook.com/projectgora.

Pagsanjan Falls

Also known as Cavinti Falls, this cascade is one of the biggest and oldest attractions in the province. Visitors often “shoot the rapids” to get to the falls’ pool, which involves riding a narrow canoe manned by two boatmen through a narrow gorge.

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Photo by Eliz Cuenco.

Mt. Makiling

Mt. Makiling is probably the first place that comes to mind when Laguna is mentioned. This mystical mountain is home to various species of flora and fauna. The Los Baños campus of the University of the Philippines is nestled at its foot.

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Photo from instagram.com/arwyderriet.

Makiling Botanic Gardens

Nature lovers will definitely be at their element at Makiling Botanic Gardens, a well-protected sanctuary in the upper campus of UP Los Baños where various native and endemic plants thrive. 

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Photo from twomonkeystravelgroup.com.

Hulugan Falls

Hulugan Falls is a newly discovered gem in the quiet town of Luisiana. To reach the cascade, tourists need to trek for 30 minutes in the forest of San Salvador.

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Photo by Kristine C. from looloo.com.

Where is Laguna

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Laguna is located in southern Luzon, near Metro Manila. Graphics by Manel Solsoloy.

How to get to Laguna

Laguna is easily accessible through South Luzon Expressway and Manila East Road. Various bus lines with terminals in Cubao and Taft offer daily trips to the province through SLEX, with the fare ranging from P90-P160 depending on the municipality you’re headed. Once you get to the town proper, there are plenty of jeepneys and tricycles that can take you to your destination!


If you’re bringing a car, make sure to take Calamba Exit if passing through SLEX. Just ply the National Highway since it runs through most of the province’s municipalities. Travel time can range from 3 to 5 hours if you’re coming from the metro.


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