Fascinating as the metropolis might be, the quick weekend getaway offers city-bound folk a great way to recharge and rediscover the charms of the of cities and towns just outside Metro Manila. There are scores of attractions that can be reached within a two- to three-hour drive, and a destination for every kind of travel hankering — from the mountain views and urbane pleasures of Tagaytay, to the beaches of Batangas or the historic and artistic towns of Laguna.
The drives themselves are pretty underrated, in our opinion. The wide-open highways leading out of Metro Manila make possible these incredible road trips where the journey itself can be as interesting and delightful as the destination. In the right vehicle, travelers might even find themselves wishing the drive were longer.
And like the routes listed here, the cars made for these road trips are also often underrated.
Suzuki’s Dzire and Ertiga 2020 releases offer upgrades on these well-received models, remaining stylish and feature-packed at affordable sticker prices. Known as reliable choices for everyday city driving, the Dzire sedans (coming in manual transmission for GA and GL variants and Auto Gear Shift for GL+) and all-new Ertiga MPVs (available in AT or MT, and in luxurious Black Edition) are also perfect vehicles for road trips out of town. With prices beginning at just Php549,900 for the Dzire, and at Php738,000 for the Ertiga, think of these Suzuki vehicles as your open-ended tickets to that impromptu road trip that you’ve always wanted to take. Bookmark these ideas for future journeys:
THREE ROADS TO TAGAYTAY
Routes: Cavite-Emilio Aguinaldo Highway-Tagaytay / SLEX-Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay / Cavitex-Nasugbu-Tagaytay
Tagaytay’s year-round mild weather and its iconic view of Taal Lake has made it possibly the most popular weekend destination for Manila-based folk, but the drive up to its famous ridge is a pleasure in itself.
The route from Cavite to Tagaytay through the Emilio Aguinaldo Highway is an easy 60-km drive through Cavite’s charming small towns, easily manageable on a subcompact sedan like the Suzuki Dzire. The flat highway is a breeze — perfect for new drivers, just like the Dzire GA and GL variants — though there are plenty of quaint stops along the way, if you’re up for a more leisurely, meandering route.
Those who like to pick up more speed can take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). Just a few kilometers after passing the Alabang exit, you’ll notice the sudden change in scenery, as the massive city highways give way to the soothing sight of expansive fields and distant mountains. These are the kinds of roads that will make you appreciate the convenience and control offered by the five-speed automatic transmission on the Dzire GL+.
The third route — our personal favorite — is also the most overlooked of all, since it takes a long detour that is well worth it. Leave Metro Manila from the Manila Bay side, and enjoy the sea view as you drive down the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex). This will take you through Ternate, and eventually up some of the most scenic (and photogenic) roads leading to the resort town of Nasugbu. From there, you can choose to stay overnight in one of the many beach resorts, or push on all the way up to Tagaytay.
It’s a long drive, but one that you won’t mind at all with the right company. It’s a popular route for families and groups of friends looking for a multi-day, multi-stop weekender with a little bit of mountain and a little bit of sea.
Suggested stops: Museo Orlina, Pink Sisters Chapel, Mahogany Market, Sky Ranch, People’s Park in the Sky, Antonio’s
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE IN LAGUNA
Routes: via Manila East Road / via SLEX
Laguna is a sprawling province, comprising 24 municipalities and 6 cities — many of which offer their own unique attractions. Because the stops are rather spread out, this is the kind of road trip where taking your own car makes sense.
Most travelers go by SLEX, which goes straight through Laguna, with exits in San Pedro, Biñan, Sta. Rosa, and Calamba. As the fastest way to the towns on the western side of the province, this route became popular as part of the Viaje del Sol tourist circuit in the mid-2000s, reacquainting travelers with this part of the country. Many road trip itineraries end in San Pablo, but a further push to Tiaong and Liliw can be very rewarding.
Less known is the Manila East Road route, also known as the Laguna de Bay Bypass. The latter, as one might guess from the name, goes around Laguna de Bay and passes through a dozen Laguna towns. This route totals about 124km, but allows for stops in the towns of Siniloan, which generations of hikers know as the site of Mt. Romelo and Buruwisan Falls; Paete, famous for its woodworking tradition; and Pagsanjan, home of eponymous waterfalls that draw tourists from all over Luzon.
Day trips from Metro Manila are possible if you aim to hit one or two stops, though there are now a number of fantastic bed-and-breakfasts that are well worth a night or two. Suzuki’s flagship Ertiga series allow flexible seating of up to 7 people, with ample luggage space — just the kind of vehicle you’ll need to explore Laguna with.
Suggested stops: (Calamba) Rizal Shrine, Pettyjohn Pottery; (Calauan) Hidden Valley Springs; (Caliraya) Lake Caliraya; (Pagsanjan) Pagsanjan Falls; (Tiaong) Villa Escudero, Ugu Bigyan Pottery; (San Pablo) Lake Pandin, Sulyap Gallery and Bed & Breakfast
KICK BACK BY THE BEACH IN ANILAO
Route: SLEX-Star Tollway-Batangas City-Anilao
Anilao in the municipality of Mabini, Batangas is no longer just a magnet destination for recreational divers. Over the past few years, there have been more resorts catering to all kinds of travelers — boutique hotels for romantic getaways, private beach houses for family vacations, and even luxury hotels for a bit of pampering by the sea.
The Star Tollway, along with continuing road-widening projects on the Bauan highway, has considerably cut down travel time from Manila to Anilao — and made the drive a lot more pleasant. Of course, in something as stylish and comfortable as the Ertiga Black Edition, the kilometers just fly by.
Suggested stops: Lilom Resort, Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort, La Chevrerie Dive Resort and Spa
This article was published in partnership with Suzuki Philippines, Inc.