Tagaytay, Taal (volcano), Philippines

Wednesday 30 May 2007 20:57
Vanila in Manila

Today was a day in the Philippines I will never forget. We left Cainta and the Metro Manila area and went into the country and to Tagaytay. 640m above sea level Tagaytay ridge overlooks Taal Lake and Taal volcano which was my destination. First we went to picnic grove (and guess what?) had a picnic. There we met Ryan, a 'tour' guide and agreed a price of just P1,500 (+ optional tip if we were happy) for a boat ride to the island. We took Ryan with us down to his boat and from there travelled across the huge lake to the island in the middle.

View of Taal from Tagaytay
with labels to show where we went

Boat trip to Taal
this volcano is not active

Upon arriving at the island we found the local village. We were flocked by young girls selling water for the trip up the mountain. They were very insistant, and a bit annoying, but the Philippines is a poor country and many people scrape a living the best way they can. We already had water, and on refusal prices soon dropped from P30 to P20. Despite our refusals the girls still followed us around. Ryan led us to book horses. This was quite expensive, but about what I expected - P750 each. We had considered walking up, but a 4km walk up a mountain in tropical heat didn't seem such a good idea once faced with it. After booking the horse came a surpirse and rather suspect 'entry' fee to the island of P150.

Three of us trekked up the volcano with a man, young girl and young boy. The young boy accompanied me and was skilled at guiding the horse despite being no more than 7. He also spoke good English. A short way up he stopped guiding the horse and got on the saddle behind me and began to make the horse go faster where possible. Its quite an experience especially if your not a seasoned horse rider like myself. At first I held on for dear life until I felt more comfortable with my balance.

The horse walked the steep areas of the path to the top which was so well travelled there were channels deep enough into the earth that I had to lift my legs to save them being scraped on the sides as the horse travelled through them. The view on the way up was stunning.

At the top you are 'invited' to buy a drink for your guide and its hard to refuse when young children are involved - although I felt quite sorry for the horse too. That's just P30. We then walked a short way to the very top using sandbag steps.

The view is simply stunning. You can see the lake withing the volcano and then turn around and see the volcano within the 30km diameter Lake Taal. The volcano is active and you can see and smell sulfur fumes coming out of the ground. Naturally I took alot of photos and some video too.

Taal volcano

Taal volcano crater from two photos I merged together

Gases come out of the ground
and up through the water

Most of the steep 4km trek
as seen from the top

The distant rumble of thunder told us it was time for the journey back. Going down is quite scarey. As the horse carefully navigates the steep slopes you are naturally tilted forward. I got my guide to stop and let me take photos on the way down, but even so, like on the way up I was first down by about 5 minutes, while my Filipino friends followed.

One of the stunning views
taken on the way down

My guide (boy on horse)
and Taal children

At the bottom I was somewhat at the mercy of the locals looking for tips. My mistake of giving out some loose change earlier came back to haunt me and I was surrounded by children. I gave my guide a P50 tip but even then his mother came out and asked me to buy him a drink. I simple pointed out that it was a good tip and would easily cover the cost of a drink also. When my friends arrived, having run out of change in pesos, I paid the other two riders in £1 coins telling them it was about P90 worth. They seemed quite happy and my guide and the children posed for a photo, for once without asking for any money.

We walked back through the village to the beach and found Ryan waiting for us. Then came the boat ride back. The rumbles of thunder were far less distant now and halfway across the lake (with about 7km to go) it was obvious that it was raining on the other side. A little further and the rain was so thick we could not see the distant shore anymore. It began to rain and heavy. Ryan grabbed some plastic sheeting and this at least kept my camera bag dry. Even in the thick rain you could still feel the tropical heat, and even though I couldn't see it, I knew I was close to shore when I felt warmer gusts of land-heated air hit me.

The boats used to ferry
visitors to and form the island

Pretty much soaking wet we returned to shore and Ryan let us use a room to change in. We had thoughtfully brought spare clothing, though more because we thought it would be soaked with sweat than rain.

All in all it was an unforgettable experience. Absolutely brilliant. The horse-ride and rain just made it even more exciting. Relatively cheap all in once you arrive, even including the P500 tip I have Ryan which, considering the cheap price of the boat trip and his efforts to keep us dry, I felt he more than deserved.

Related articles


30 Jan 2011 04:11 by kumar
I went to Tagyatay on 24th Jan 2011 and it was an amzing experience . First we took a boat then a horse up the steep mountain. The view was breathtaking and an unforgettable experince at the top.
9 Feb 2010 08:58 by foxy
just brilliant same trip and rain on the way back love it
a fish lunch to finnish the trip
23 Mar 2009 01:45 by Guddi
Our trip to Taal volcano was just superb.We enjoyed every bit of it especially the pony ride, the route and the destination. The scenery is very breathtaking and you can also experience coming thro small rocks smoke
15 Jan 2009 09:13 by the filipina girl
i've been to tagaytay and the taaln volcano and picnic grove are nice but wait till you see the different churches like pink sister and tierra madre are also great
24 Oct 2008 12:20 by aly
wow!thats sounds really cool!i wish i would go there!your really lucky to have an exiting trip!:)
28 Jul 2008 06:24 by Kevblog
Hi, I was lucky that the family I stayed with knew how to get pretty much anywhere as the Father was a driver. We pretty much turned up and found a guide in the park. Again I was lucky being with a Filipino family to negotiate a price. When we got to the island the horses were extra - but could have been arranged by our guide - can't quite remember. Hope this helps and I hope you have a great time.
9 Jul 2008 03:54 by jo
Hey = ]

Was just wondering where did you find your tour guide or book it? I go to Tagaytay a lot and I just find it strange how these people offer a boat ride for 3.5K -__- and then one minute down the road another is offering it for 1.2K... hm. I'm planning to go later this month with a couple of friends but I'm reluctant to take the 1.2k offer incase theres hidden fees lol. Also, did you organise the horses before you left from tagaytay or when you arrived at the island?
29 May 2008 08:26 by Kevblog
Hi Jeff, I made the trip on the date of that blog. I was updating my blog while in Philippines!

Hi Ria, I met the family after meeting a girl on the social networking site, www.stickham.com

Hi Doming, I'm sorry I can't remember the price of the trip except that it was one of the more expensive things (you have to get the horse ride on the island too if you want to get up the volcano). I'll try pay more attention to things like prices in future blogs.
1 May 2008 12:42 by doming
still waiting for the replay
1 May 2008 12:38 by doming
how much the fare for that ride
13 Apr 2008 10:59 by jojo
sounds amazing !!!
21 Mar 2008 03:37 by ria
I liked what you wrote about your trip to Manila. I am from Pasig, and happy to know that your trip was a pleasant one. Next time, check out the beaches in the Visayas.

I wonder how you met the family you stayed with in Cainta.
16 Mar 2008 11:31 by Jeff
I'd like to know when you made your trip to Taal Volcano. I am planning to go to that place too but I would not want to get soaked in the rain. When is the best time to go there----not crowded nor raining?