Calamba is the regional center of the CALABARZON region and the most populous city in Laguna. It is found near the southern part of Laguna de Bay, the biggest lake in the Philippines. Calamba's proximity to Metro Manila make it a favorite destination for city-dwellers during vacations; its most impressive natural treasure are its hot springs. Calamba is also a historic city and the hometown of the country's greatest hero.
When people talk about Calamba, it is impossible not to include Dr. Jose Rizal in the discussion. Born on June 19, 1861 in Calamba, Rizal is the national hero of the Philippines. He was very influential in arousing nationalism among Filipinos during the colonial period. He also made significant contributions as a doctor, writer, novelist, scientist, artist, linguist, and many more.
History buffs who want to know more about Rizal can visit the Rizal Shrine. It is one of the most important landmarks in Calamba. The 2-storey shrine is a replica of the original ancestral home of the Rizal family, which was destroyed during the World War II. It was reconstructed by the government in 1949 and opened the following year. The Rizal Shrine provides a glimpse on the life of Rizal as a young boy. On display are several memorabilia and some of the family's belongings. The remains of Rizal's parents are also enshrined in the house.
Hot springs are very common in the whole province of Laguna and Calamba has the most number of hot spring resorts. Some of the barangays to visit are Pansol, Bucal, and Bagong Kalsada.
From Metro Manila, Calamba is about two to three hours away by bus. Bus lines such as JAC Liner, HM Transport, and Green Star Express can take you there. You can find them in Pasay City, particularly in Buendia. JAC Liner offers trips to Calamba from 4:00 AM until 7:00 PM.
Aside from buses, Philippine National Railways (PNR) also offer train rides to Calamba. If you want to avoid the traffic, taking the train is a good alternative.
Meanwhile, for those who prefer to drive, Calamba is only an hour's drive away via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). Make sure to take the Calamba exit.
How to Get Around
Jeeps ply the main roads of Calamba. Riding the jeepney is the cheapest mode of getting around Calamba so it's a great transportation option if your budget is limited. However, riding jeepneys can be tricky, especially if you're not familiar with your destination. Don't hesitate to ask the locals for directions to where you want to go and which jeepney to take.
Tricycles are another mode of transportation within Calamba. While tricycle fares are slightly costlier than jeepney fares, tricycles can get you to destinations that can be hard to access. It's also a popular mode of transportation for traveler groups.
What to See
Calamba played an important role in the history of the Philippines as it is the birthplace of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. The capital of the province of Laguna is not only home to countless historical sites but also to exciting new attractions that will capture the interests of varied travelers.
Rizal Shrine is undeniably Calamba's most popular tourist spot. Within the compounds of the replica of the ancestral home of the Rizals, artifacts and familial memorabilia abound. You'll also find a gift shop inside.
Just across Rizal Shrine is St. John the Baptist Church. This Hispanic church was established in the late 1800s and is where Rizal was baptized in July 22, 1861. In fact, the baptistery where Rizal received the sacrament of baptism was preserved and hailed as a National Historical Landmark. People not only visit the church to say a little prayer but also to see where Rizal was baptized.
The Calambanga is another famous landmark. This giant clay pot located in the city plaza is designed with a map of Calamba. It is a reminder of how the town got its name: according to folk tales, a Filipino woman carrying a stove and clay pot was asked by two Spanish soldiers about their whereabouts. The woman did not understand Spanish and thought they were asking what she was holding. So she answered "kalan, (stove), banga (claypot)". The officers then assumed that the place is called "Calambanga." Over time, the name was shortened to "Calamba."
Just like the other towns in Laguna, Calamba also has a waterfall. The Matang Tubig Falls, also known as Canlubang Waterfalls, can be found in Barangay Canlubang in Calamba. After your trek to these falls, reward yourself with a refreshing dip in their natural pools. There is also a man-made cave that you can explore while there.
Calamba boasts a bounty of hot spring resorts for those looking to take a dip. Most of them are found in Brgy. Pansol and Brgy. Bucal. Some can even be exclusively rented, so you and your friends can have the whole resort for yourselves. Bliss Private Pool, Villa Marta Private Resort, and Dequito Hot Spring Resort are just some of the resorts that you can rent out.
Meanwhile, for those who want to try some watersports, head to Republic Wakepark and learn how to wakeboard.
Events and Festivals
Buhayani Festival is a fairly new event in Calamba. It started in 2014 and is held every June 19, which is also Jose Rizal's birthday. The feast serves as a tribute to Rizal's heroism as well as the heroism of the every Filipino. Like most festivals, the Buhayani is celebrated with a parade, street dance competitions, and numerous contests and games that hype up the spirits of both locals and tourists.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
For those who like to stick to safe choices when it comes to food, you'll find branches of your favorite fast food chains in Calamba, especially in the city center and in most of the malls. There's the usual Jollibee and McDonald's as well as Chowking, Greenwich, Burger King, Yellow Cab, and lots more.
Foodies will surely enjoy the gastronomic scene in Calamba since its cuisine is not only limited to Filipino food. You can also enjoy Asian food, American, European, and other dishes during your trip.
For those who are loyal to Filipino dishes, RSM Lutong Bahay and Tita Lettie's Grill are just two of the restaurants known for serving mouthwatering local dishes. Meanwhile, those craving for Asian cuisine can head to Ippon Yari for a hot bowl of ramen or sample the Chinese food at Ding-Hao. If you're in the mood for Italian fare, then you'll be delighted by the pizza and pasta offerings at Venice Restaurant Pizzeria.
Meanwhile, dine al fresco at the rooftop of Beanstalk Cafe and admire the view while enjoying some Western food and a hot cup of coffee.
For travelers on a budget, carinderias are their best friend. Not only are the meals affordable, but flavorful as well.
Where to Shop
Calamba's shopping malls each offer a plethora of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Should you feel the need to go on a shopping spree, you can head to SM City Calamba, Walter Mart Calamba, or iMall Canlubang.
Buko pie and espasol are Calamba's signature pasalubong products. Collette's Buko Pie has several branches in Calamba. As for espasol, there are many shops like Catherine's that offer this tasty treat. There are also shops like D'Vinia's and Melgian Sweets which are one-stop pasalubong shops, selling both buko pie and espasol as well as other food products.
ATMs and Money Changers
There are banks and ATMs in Calamba if you need to withdraw some cash. There are also several money changers and remittance shops around the city.
Fare: PHP 30.00 to PHP 45.00 (By PNR train); PHP 100.00++ (By bus)
From PNR's EDSA Station to its Calamba Station, the train fare costs only PHP 30.00. On the other hand, bus fares cost less than PHP 100.00.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
There is a wide variety of dining establishments in Calamba so no matter what your budget is, you're sure to enjoy satisfying delicious meals.
Shopping: PHP 50.00 to PHP 150.00
One box of espasol at Melgian Sweets costs PHP 75.00, while buko pie is at PHP 150.00. The buko pie at Collette's is also sold at more or less the same price.
Accommodation: PHP 1,500.00 (Hotel); PHP 7,500.00 to PHP 16,000.00 (Private Resort Rental)
While resorts dominate the accommodations at Calamba, it also has hotels like The Green Glass Boutique Hotel that offer an overnight stay for two people for as low as PHP 1,500.00. On the other hand, those who want to rent a private resort can spend PHP 7,500.00 for a whole day rental that can already cover a maximum of 20 people.
Activities: PHP 250.00++
Rates for one hour of wakeboarding at Republic Wakepark start at PHP 250.00.