In my previous post, I’ve talked about escaping the heat in the Philippines during summer by going to the mountain city Baguio. We’ve discovered that the place has a temperature comparable Europe (except winters) and that houses there don’t have any air conditioners or electric fans and has fireplaces instead.

It’s a great city getaway during summer but the problem is–it’s a seven hour ride from the country’s capital Manila. Going there requires a long preparation and is a bit costly.

The good news is–there’s another option.

First, this option is only an hour and a half to two hours drive from Manila.

Second, its temperature is somewhere in-between Manila’s temperature and Baguio’s temperature.

Third, it’s not as high as Baguio which is 5,000 ft above sea level but high enough to give you that cool and relaxing feeling as its 2,000 ft above sea level and there’s no need to endure a dizzying zigzag road climbing up the mountain.

Fourth, if you’re a budget traveler, you can take advantage of bringing your packed lunch because they have a Picnic Grove where you can enjoy home cooked meals with the family.

Fifth, it has a superb view of the Taal Volcano which had its most recent eruption way back in 1977.

Finally, this place is loaded with fun outdoor activities which is worth every second of your stay.

So now we know that aside from Baguio City, we have another great way to escape the summer heat by going to Tagaytay City.

Some of you in North America or in Europe might be wondering why I’m talking about summer heat as early as March. Yes, summer here in the Philippines is from March to May and classes starts in the first week of June.

Where to Stay?

The temperature in this mountainous city is just right that you can even put up your own tent and have a great sleep in their camping site. If you don’t have a tent, you can rent one for around $3.00.

If you want a budget hotel room, this place has plenty to offer but one you can try is the Golden Rooms for Rent hotel which would only cost you $19.00 complete with TV and air conditioner. Yes, there’s an AC because unlike Baguio, the climate is not cool enough to penetrate the indoors in the height of summer heat especially in the afternoon but there isn’t a need to use it in most parts of the year.

If you’re on a honeymoon or is celebrating a wedding anniversary and you feel like spending bit more, among the many options in Tagaytay City, I recommend that you try the Taal Vista Hotel because it has a spectacular view of the Taal Volcano, a lush garden with colorful flowers and the interior is grand and well decorated.

This city offers you plenty of options on where you can spend the night from budget to grand.

Where to Eat?

As I mentioned earlier, if you live near the place and can bring your own packed lunch for a short day tour, you can take advantage of using Tagaytay’s Picnic Grove which we’ve done in one occasion because there’s like ten of us who went there. We only had to buy an ice cream for my baby’s dessert.

On one occasion, we had our lunch in Balinsasayaw Cottage Restaurant was a wonderful experience. This restaurant has several open air cottages in a hill where you can enjoy a great view of the city while enjoying fresh air and great food.

What to do?

This place has a lot to offer but here are some popular ones you can try.

Horseback Riding

Tagaytay Ridge Zipline and Cable Car

Sightseeing in Picnic Grove

Enjoy a boat ride in Taal Lake going to Taal Volcano 

Visit the Palace in the Sky which is now known as the People’s Park in the Sky 

City Explorers Tip

When renting a car to go in this city, make sure to take the EDSA, South Super Highway then Sta. Rosa path which is the closest path to this place and has less or no traffic. A lot of people make the mistake of taking the Coastal Road and Imus, Cavite router only to get frustrated by a heavy traffic.

A Day Off the Beaten Path:

Here in the Philippines we have what we call Pasalubong which is a homecoming gift expected from you mostly by friends or relatives after coming back from a trip. One Pasalubong stop shop you can’t afford to miss is Rowena’s–yes just plain Rowena’s. They offer different fruit tart options boxed in a dozen like donuts. My favorite of them all is their blueberry tart which has a heavenly taste.

Sometimes our best memories of travel are from being in the right place at the right time. Here, Candace remembers a new adventure on the east coast of New Zealand, all while overcoming an old fear.

Tikitiki on New Zealand's East Coast

Sam nudged me awake at a quarter to six. The sky was still dark and I fumbled blindly around for a sweatshirt. I followed him and Alex to the stable, where we collected the horses: Major, Daisy and Wai, the older mare I’d be riding. We mounted them quickly and set off.

We didn’t want to miss the sun.

I was in the middle of a month-long roadtrip around New Zealand’s North Island, and had just reached the remote East Coast, famously known as the first inhabited place in the world to see the sunrise. I was running behind, as so easily happens on the road when the best-laid plans of our itineraries go awry. The night before, I’d located Eastender Backpackers, one of only two hostels in the area.

Just inside the fence, five figures sporting cowboy hats were lounging around a fire pit when I arrived. Had I somehow stumbled upon the Wild East of New Zealand? I joined them as stars appeared above and made an off-handed remark that the only thing missing was a guitar. Miraculously, one was produced from inside the lodge. Acoustic strumming soon filled the air.

Tikitiki on New Zealand's East Coast

We slept outside, raiding the dormitories for thin mattresses and old duvets from which to build cocoons of warmth for ourselves. Sam donned a headlamp and cut a stock of firewood. We built piles in front of everyone, so that we could keep the fire going through the night without having to get up. I fell asleep tracing the four points of the Southern Cross.

The stars were gone in the morning, I noticed, my hips moving in sync with Wai’s steps. We reached the top of the cliff just in time to see the sun break over the horizon. There wasn’t a cloud in sight, just an endless ocean set ablaze, and the primeval cliffs glowing, distant hills shrouded in the early morning mist. We watched the sunrise on horseback, the moment augmented by the knowledge that we were the first in the world to witness it.

Tikitiki on New Zealand's East Coast

But our adventure didn’t end there. Sam headed down a path that seemed too steep to be safe until we leveled out on the gloriously deserted beach.

“You ready for this?” he asked me.

Truth was, I wasn’t. It’d been a long time–six years–since I’d last been on horseback. Much of this had to do with a college friend of mine who was paralysed from the waist down after being bucked by her horse. Unsettled by her accident, I hadn’t yet attempted to ride again.

And yet here I was, making Sam wait until I could shakily nod my head and pretend I wasn’t afraid. Sam edged Major up to me and Wai until we were side by side. Suddenly, he took off down the beach before I could manage to protest.

Wai was harder to get going. “Give her a kick!” Sam yelled out in front of me. I stood up in the saddle, digging my heels into her side, leaning forward like a jockey until I was flying. My fingers clutched Wai’s mane like the fear surging through my chest gripped my heart.

“C’mon, get into it!” Sam shouted, louder this time.

“Yah! Yah!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. Soon I was laughing, soaring through the surf on a cantering horse, imagining that I alone was responsible for ushering in the sun.

Sometimes, all it takes is giving our fears a little kick in the side…

Tikitiki on the East Coast of New Zealand