Laguna is located at the southern shores of the largest lake in the Philippines, Laguna de Bay. It has many natural wonders, from hot springs to imposing mountains. Its economy thrives on both tourism and the major companies that operate in the province. It is also the home province of the country's national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. There are just too many amazing things to see and discover in Laguna, and its proximity to Metro Manila make it one of the most-visited provinces by tourists from the bustling cities.
Enchanted Kingdom is a world-class theme park, designed after Disneyland and Universal Studios. It houses a collection of exciting rides like an 11-story rollercoaster, a 7D interactive theater, and a 40-meter high drop tower. Children of all ages visit Enchanted Kingdom on weekends and even on weekdays during field trips. The theme park is also popular for its fireworks show.
Standing at around 3,576 feet, Mt. Makiling can be seen while approaching Laguna along South Luzon Expressway. According to legend, the dormant volcano is protected by its guardian Maria Makiling, a beautiful forest fairy or "diwata," and a famous character in Filipino folklore. The mountain is under the care of the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, which uses it for forestry education. Hiking, camping, and sightseeing are popular activities in Mt. Makiling.
Standing at 91 feet, the impressive Pagsanjan Falls is one of the major tourist draws in Laguna. A tour of the waterfalls includes a thrilling boat ride, and exploring the cave at the bottom of the falls called the "Devil's Cave."
A two to three-hour drive or commute is all it takes to reach Laguna from Metro Manila. Most of the province's town and cities are easily accessible via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). For commuters, the terminals for Laguna-bound buses can be found in Buendia near the LRT 1 Gil Puyat Station in Pasay and in Cubao, Quezon City. Some of the bus lines that offer trips to Laguna include JAC Liner, JAM Liner, Greenstar Express and HM Transport.
If you don't have a car of your own, there are taxis, especially the ones at the airports, that you can take to get there. If you have a driver's license, you can rent vehicles like cars and vans at rental shops. These two options are ideal if you don't mind paying a hefty amount for a comfortable and more private means of getting to Laguna.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys in Laguna not only take you to some of the province’s main destinations but also to the neighboring towns and cities. Jeepney is considered the most efficient way of getting around Laguna as well as in other destinations in the country.
Tricycles are another favorite public mode of transportation in Laguna. There are tricycles that can take you to the resorts, landmarks, and even the remote places in Laguna. You can also ask a tricycle driver for the most efficient way to get to your destination.
What to See
Laguna has a lot to offer when it comes to attractions and activities. Expect a mishmash of natural wonders, historical sites, gastronomic experiences, and adrenaline-pumping activities when you visit this Southern Luzon province.
The City of Calamba is the birthplace of the country's national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, and where you'll find the Rizal Shrine, a replica of the ancestral home of his family. Just across the shrine is Saint John the Baptist Parish Church, which was established in the 1800s. The area where Rizal was baptized is also preserved there. Another of Calamba's popular landmarks is the Calambanga. Constructed in the 1930s, it is considered as the world's largest clay pot and was built to commemorate the story of how Calamba got its name. According to the tale, two Spanish officers asked a lady carrying a kalan (clay stove) and banga (clay pot) the name of the place they're in. The lady, who did not understand Spanish, thought they were asking about the items and so she answered “kalan-banga.”
In the town of Nagcarlan lies what is considered as the only underground cemetery in the country. The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery served as the burial site of prominent Catholic families and Spanish friars during the Spanish occupation. It was also proclaimed as a national historical landmark in 1978 for supposedly being a meeting place for key members of the Katipunan while planning the Pact of Biak-na-Bato.
Another notable landmark can be found in the town of Liliw. The Saint John the Baptist Parish Church is a Spanish-era church that boasts a unique exterior designed with red bricks. It is one of Liliw's most famous tourist spots.
Pagsanjan Falls is probably Laguna's most famous natural wonder. Although its name suggests its location to be in Pagsanjan, the falls are actually part of Cavinti. Aside from boating and swimming in the waterfalls, you can also explore Devil's Cave while you're there. More waterfalls worthy of a visit include Hulugan Falls in Luisina, Buruwisan Falls in Siniloan, and the Taytay and Botocan Falls in Majayjay.
Another famous natural attraction in Laguna are the hot springs of Pansol in Calamba. The hot springs are said to be heated by Mt. Makiling, a dormant volcano. The resorts in Pansol are popular among tourists and visitors from Metro Manila who wish to relax in the warm waters every weekend or vacation season.
Meanwhile, Mt. Makiling itself is a popular destination for hiking and nature tripping. The mountain is also an imposing sight when traveling to Laguna via SLEX. Other mountains worth checking out are Mt. Mabilog in San Pablo and Mt. Kalisungan in Calauan.
San Pablo's Seven Lakes are also must-see spots for nature lovers in Laguna. Though the most visited are the Twin Lakes of Pandin and Yambo, you should also make time to see Sampaloc, Palakpakin, Bunot, Calibato, and Mojicap.
There's no shortage of fun activities and adventures in Laguna. It offers all sorts of activities and attractions that will capture the attention of every traveler. For kids and kids at heart, Laguna has several amusement and fun parks. Enchanted Kingdom in Sta. Rosa is the country's largest amusement park where you ride roller coasters and even enjoy unique attractions like horror houses and a 7D theater. Meanwhile, Splash Island is one of the famous waterparks in the city of Biñan. More than just a resort with fun slides and swimming pools, Splash Island also offers adventure attractions like zip-lines and ATV rides.
Nuvali in Santa Rosa has become a bustling destination for tourists in Laguna. Visitors can expect a nature experience along with sports adventures, shopping, and dining trips. You can ride bicycles, feed some fishes, ride a water taxi, and even go wakeboarding.
Events and Festivals
Anilag Festival or "Ani ng Laguna" Festival is Laguna's province-wide festival that highlights the unique products and exports of each individual city and town. Held every May, it features colorful street parades, various competitions, and trade and food fairs.
Apart from the provincial fiesta, some of the famous festivals that tourists must witness in Laguna include San Pablo's Coco Festival every January and its Festival of Lights during Christmas season, Liliw's Gat Tayaw Festival and Nagcarlan's Ana Kalang Festival every April, Pagsanjan's Bangkero Festival every February, and Cabuyao's Batingaw Festival every January.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
You'll find several branches of the different fast food chains all over Laguna. Whether you’re craving for burgers, fries, or fried chicken, you can have it here in Laguna.
There are lots of restaurants all over Laguna that offer different kinds of dishes—from Western to Asian and local cuisine.
Arabela Restaurant is one of the well-loved dining places in Liliw for its sumptuous Italian dishes and homey ambiance. In Los Baños, there's Baan Thai for authentic Thai dishes and Herb Republic for delicious dishes made from organic ingredients. If you're craving for Chinese dishes, head to Calamba's Ding Hao Chinese Restaurant. And for some exotic choices like frogs or bayawak (monitor lizard), the aptly named Exotik Restaurant in Kalayaan is definitely the place to go.
Eateries are the practical dining choice for travelers on a budget. Not only will you be able to save a lot on meals, but you'll also experience how the locals eat. Aling Ely's Carinderia in Calamba is one of the popular eateries there because of its sinfully delicious lechon and other Filipino dishes. Meanwhile, Maciang's Pancitan has become famous for its take on the usual pancit—topped with egg and catsup.
Where to Shop
You'll find several SM and Robinsons malls in Laguna. SM has three: SM City San Pablo, SM City Calamba, and SM City Sta, while Robinsons has two: Robinsons Place Sta. Rosa and Robinsons Town Mall Los Baños. Both mall brands are favorite hangouts among Filipinos for their various shopping, dining, and entertainment options. In addition, the Ayala Malls Solenad at Nuvali offer high-end shopping and dining choices.
Markets and Street Vendors
Buying from markets and street vendors will save you lots of money since the items that are sold there are usually cheaper than in malls.
Food products are the usual pasalubong of tourists from Laguna. Several pasalubong shops are spread all over the province so tourists will have no problems in finding one.
Buko pie is one of the most popular delicacies that you can bring home. You can choose among Collette's and El Mare which are both found in San Pablo or The Original Buko Pie and Lety's in Los Baños.
Aside from buko pie, Los Baños is also famous for the yummy chocolate cake sold at Mer-nel's. It is also one of the best places to buy espasol, another delicacy.
Meanwhile, if you are looking to buy kesong puti for pasalubong, head to Sta. Cruz. For delectable rice cakes or kakanin, Biñan has their own special creations. Head to Nila's Puto or other shops that sell puto Biñan and bring home a box of this sweet treat.
Aside from these food products, the slippers from Liliw are also favored pasalubong items.
ATMs and Money Changers
Withdrawing money in Laguna won't be a hassle at all with the abundance of banks and ATMs in the city and town centers and in shopping malls. There are also remittance shops and pawnshops as well as money changers.
Fare: PHP 80.00++
Bus fares from Metro Manila to Laguna cost less than a hundred pesos. You can also take the cab which will cost you about PHP 2,000.00. Meanwhile, for transportation around Laguna, the minimum fare for jeepney rides is PHP 7.00. On the other hand, a short distance tricycle ride costs about PHP 10.00 per person.
Food: PHP 50.00++
If you're going to eat at a carinderia, full meals (rice and viand) usually cost about PHP 50.00 to PHP 80.00. But if you're dining at a mid-range restaurant, expect to shell out about PHP 300.00 to PHP 500.00.
Shopping: PHP 50.00++
One box of buko pie ranges from PHP 150.00 to PHP 200.00. Meanwhile, a pack of espasol is less than PHP 100.00.
Accommodation: PHP 900.00 to PHP 3,000.00
There is a wide variety of accommodations in Laguna that will suit every traveler's budget. There are inns and lodges for backpackers as well as some hotels and resorts.
Activities: PHP 150.00++
Going on a historical tour is the best way to save up money when traveling since most sites in Laguna don't require entrance fees. For those visiting some waterfalls, be prepared to pay entrance fees that don't go over PHP 50.00. Enchanted Kingdom's Weekend Pass costs PHP 600.00, while a Weekday Pass is PHP 500.00. Unlimited use of rides is already included in the pass. Splash Island's entrance fee also costs about PHP 500.00. Lastly, if you plan on "shooting the rapids" of Pagsanjan Falls, be prepared to pay less than PHP 2,000.00.
||Arrive in the town of Liliw. Head to the St. John the Baptist Parish Church to see its beautiful facade and offer a prayer.
||Visit some of the slipper stores in Liliw and purchase a pair for a souvenir. Liliw is known as the "Tsinelas Capital of the Philippines" so expect to find quality yet affordable slippers there.
||Arrive at Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery. Explore this national historical site and snap a few photos.
||Arrive in San Pablo City. Hire a tricycle to take you to the jumping-off point to the twin lakes of Lake Pandin and Lake Yambo.
||Arrive in Lake Pandin. Enjoy swimming and raft rides.
||Feast on Filipino dishes for lunch on board a floating cottage, inclusive of the Twin Lakes Tour. You can also just bring packed lunch if you opt to DIY.
||Arrive at Lake Yambo.
||Arrive at Bunga Falls in Nagcarlan. Enjoy swimming and cliff diving.
||Arrive in Los Baños. Check in at your desired accommodation. Some of the most popular places to stay in town are resorts since some of them feature hot spring pools. Freshen up before heading downtown.
||Have a hearty dinner at Dal Cielo.
||Start trekking at Mt. Makiling. Enjoy a scenic view of the forests while walking along the trail to the peak.
||Reach the summit. Enjoy the magnificent view and take lots of photos.
||Arrival at your accommodation. Have an early check-out to so you can explore more of Laguna. Before leaving, head to Lety's Buko Pie or The Original Buko Pie and pick up a box or two for pasalubong. Make sure to buy some espasol as well.
||Arrive in Calamba. Visit the Rizal Shrine, the St. John the Baptist Parish Church, and the Calambanga.
||Enjoy a hearty lunch at RSM Lutong Bahay.
||Arrive in Nuvali in Sta. Rosa. Try different activities such as wakeboarding, fish feeding, and even riding a water taxi. For afternoon snacks, Ayala Malls Solenad has several dining options.
||Have a stopover in Nila's Puto in Biñan to pick up a box of this yummy kakanin for pasalubong before heading back to Manila.
Like most tropical countries, the Philippines only has two seasons: the dry season which usually occurs from June to November and the wet or rainy season running from December to May. Since it's a tropical country, expect the temperature to be warmer. In any case, you should bring these essentials on your trip in case of unexpected weather changes: sunscreen and sunblock and an umbrella.
There are pharmacies around Laguna so you won't have any problem if you need medicine. But it's still best to bring your own, especially if you have certain conditions. If you need medical attention, there are a good number of both private and government hospitals in Laguna.
There is no general rule in the country about the amount you can give your server for a tip. Most people would usually give a PHP 20.00 PHP or PHP 50.00 bill as a tip, while others choose to just leave some loose change. Make sure to view your bill because some restaurants already include a service charge to your total. In that case, leaving a tip is no longer necessary.
Safety and Security
While Laguna may be a generally safe area, there's no harm in taking measures when it comes to your safety. Remember to be vigilant in any destination you are visiting. Always keep an eye on your belongings as well.