Santa Rosa, known as the "Lion City of the South," is an urbanized city in the province of Laguna and the premier business district of South Luzon. It is the location of information technology (IT) centers, business processing outsourcing (BPO) offices, industrial parks and commercial districts. Santa Rosa also has high-end residential areas for its growing workforce and also the people working in Metro Manila.
People who visit Santa Rosa usually head to Enchanted Kingdom, a world-class theme park, designed after Disneyland and Universal Studios. The theme park houses exciting rides like an 11-storey rollercoaster, a 7D interactive theater, and a 40-meter high drop tower. Enchanted Kingdom is also popular for its fireworks show.
Another attraction in Santa Rosa is Nuvali Ecoliving, a commercial, residential and business district where you just won't run out of things to do. You can shop and dine in its high-end establishments or visit its recreational parks if you want to go biking, fishing, and try extreme sports like wall climbing and wakeboarding. Nuvali also has beautiful surroundings where you can just watch people and soak up the scene.
If you want to know more about the history of Santa Rosa, you can try visiting the Cuartel de Santo Domingo, declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. The two-story structure was built in 1877 by the Spaniards to serve as headquarters of the guardia civil. It is now the training camp of the Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police and a detention center for high-profile prisoners.
By Land From Metro Manila, you can ride a bus or UV Express shuttle van to Sta. Rosa. Head to either JAM Liner or JAC Liner's bus terminal and book a ticket to Sta. Rosa. If you prefer to ride a van, go to Starmall EDSA-Shaw in Mandaluyong City. There are shuttle vans there bound for Balibago Complex in Sta. Rosa. Depending on the traffic situation, the commute usually takes more or less an hour via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).
How to Get Around By Jeep
You can take the jeep when going around Santa Rosa and to the neighboring towns and cities of Laguna. The minimum fare is only PHP 7.00.
Tricycles are also convenient options for short distances as well as for destinations that are off the beaten path.
What to See Landmarks
Cuartel de Sto. Domingo was a fortress during the Spanish period that kept the town of Santa Rosa away from rebels and attackers. Built in the late 1800s, the structure features sturdy walls made of adobe. It was declared as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 2005.
The fort, referred to as the "Intramuros of Santa Rosa,” used to be open to the public until it was converted into a detainment facility for high profile criminals such as Janet Lim-Napoles.
Another Spanish-era historical treasure in Santa Rosa is the Santa Rosa de Lima Parish Church. It was built in the late 1700s and features walls made from adobe as well.
Enchanted Kingdom has become synonymous with Santa Rosa. It is the most famous attraction in the city and currently the biggest theme park in the country. This family-friendly park houses a variety of rides and attractions.
Another popular attraction is the Nuvali district. It is a residential, commercial, and leisure complex all rolled into one. There is a variety of activities and attractions to suit the fancy of visitors: sports enthusiasts will enjoy biking and running around the area. Those who are up for a more challenging sport can try wakeboarding at Republic Wakepark. Camp N also has many fun attractions like the Adventure Tower and various obstacle courses. Meanwhile, the Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary houses various species of birds and plants for those who seek some peace and quiet.
History buffs will appreciate the various displays at Gusaling Museo. Some of the artifacts and memorabilia in this museum date back to the pre-colonial era and give tourists a background of the rich history of Laguna.
Events and Festivals
Sikhayan Festival is an annual celebration that lauds the residents of Santa Rosa for being diligent workers and for playing their part in the city's progress. Held every January 18, it highlights the different livelihoods of the city such as agriculture and aquaculture. The Bayanihan Parade and street dances are just two of the much-awaited events during the feast.
Where to Eat Fast Food Chains
Since Santa Rosa is a highly urbanized city, tourists can expect branches of popular fast food chains around such as Jollibee, McDonald's, KFC, Mang Inasal, and Greenwich to name a few.
Santa Rosa's diverse gastronomic scene lets tourists enjoy various cuisines and dishes on their vacation.
One of the most popular Filipino restaurants around is Kanin Club, which specializes in local comfort food. Some of the recommended dishes are crispy dinuguan and seafood kare-kare.
For early risers, The Morning After lets you enjoy breakfast dishes all day. Aside from Filipino themed meals, they also serve American, English, and German breakfast choices. For pancakes and waffles, this is the best place to get them.
Socrates' Secret serves Greek and other Mediterranean dishes. Diners craving for flavors from this side of the world can order moussaka, gyros, souvlaki, and even lamb chops.
For more international flavors, House of Bawai Vietnamese Food serves delicious Vietnamese dishes such as Pho Ba and Banh Mi. Meanwhile, Japanese food lovers will be delighted with the freshly prepared sushi and sashimi at Ipon Yari Restaurant.
TBS Blue Corner is a turo-turo style establishment offering affordable Filipino dishes. Their most popular meals are their sizzling dishes like sisig and pusit.
Where to Shop Malls
SM City Sta. Rosa has a lot of affordable shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Meanwhile, Paseo de Sta. Rosa has many outlet stores of famous brands where you can buy designer clothes at discounted prices. It is also a popular nightlife spot because of its many bars. Lastly, Ayala Malls Solenad is a more upscale choice. It has many shops that carry designer labels as well as upscale dining choices.
You can buy Laguna's famous buko pie at Collette's branch in Santa Rosa.
ATMs and Money Changers
You'll find many banks and ATMs in Santa Rosa as well as some money changers and remittance shops.
Fare: PHP 70.00 to PHP 100.00
The bus fare to Santa Rosa costs around PHP 70.00, while the van fare is about PHP 100.00 or less.
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00
Santa Rosa has a wide variety of dining options so whether your budget is leaning toward the affordable or upscale, you'll find choices according to your range.
Shopping: PHP 150.00
A box of buko pie from Collette's costs approximately PHP 150.00.
Accommodation: PHP 1,000.00 to PHP 5,000.00
For backpackers, an overnight stay at a budget hotel or guesthouse costs PHP 1,000.00 to PHP 1,500.00. Meanwhile, guests who opt for a stay at a luxury hotel or resort need to shell out PHP 3,000.00 to PHP 5,000.00 per night.
Activities: PHP 250.00++
The rates for wakeboarding at Republic Wakepark are PHP 250.00 for an hour's day ride and PHP 350.00 for an hour's night ride. There's also a day and night pass which costs PHP 1,750.00.
Meanwhile, the entrance fee to Enchanted Kingdom is PHP 500.00 during weekdays and PHP 600.00 during weekends and holidays.