Weekendate: Tagaytay’s Best

By , on August 20, 2013

Got roughly 36 hours to burn? Pack an overnight bag and head on south to Tagaytay City.

Tagaytay is mostly famous for its proximity to Manila, just about two hours away from the capital. The town is highly accessible by public transport or private vehicle. It has a gazillion attractions – from food to art to relaxation and meditation to bargain hunting (seen those giant ukay-ukay stores near the Tagaytay rotonda lately?).

Let us do the planning for you so all you have to do is ride off to your weekend getaway.

Where to Stay

Tagaytay is a home away from Manila. Filled with southern country charm, Tagaytay never fails to make one feel like he or she is on a real vacation – even if the office is just a two-hour bus ride away. Though rustic and quaint, Tagaytay still continues to evolve and boast of city conveniences. But one thing we could all agree on is that finding a room for the night in Tagaytay can be quite a chore, especially on weekends.

The tip is: stay away from high end, high profile hotels. Why not stay at Keni Po Rooms in Brgy. Sungay West? It’s really easy to spot. Just drive along Calamba Road and slow down when you see the Ina ng Laging Saklolo Parish. Right beside the parish is Keni Po, and right beside Keni Po is another affordable accommodation option: 5R Rooms.

Room with a balcony: too posh for the author
Room with a balcony: too posh for the author

For just PhP 1,500 a night (Can $35.51), you can stay at Keni Po’s fully loaded room. You’ll have a mini fridge stocked with drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), a hair dryer (because really, you’ll need it if you’re staying in a cold place), and a smart LED TV where you can surf the internet or connect your smartphone.

Keni Po's pool as seen from the room balcony
Keni Po’s pool as seen from the room balcony

The room also has a balcony with a stunning view of Keni Po’s quaint and well-kept pool. All of their staff members are friendly and accommodating as well, so really, how can your stay get any better? Well, free WiFi of course! And if you get the munchies in the middle of the night, you can just grab a bag of chips or crackers from the stuffed food tray in your room – for a fee, of course. But I mean, that’s convenient.

Where to Dine

A trip to Tagaytay wouldn’t be complete without diving into a giant bowl of steaming Bulalo with reckless abandon, armed with a spoon on one hand and a fork in the other.

Glory in a bowl: Leslie's Special Bulalo
Glory in a bowl: Leslie’s Special Bulalo

Bulalo is not just any food, it’s an experience. It’s not just a gigantic joint of a cow served in a bowl bigger than your face – it’s a rite of passage when you visit Tagaytay. You didn’t go to Tagaytay if you didn’t eat Bulalo, if you didn’t savor the juicy tender meat as it falls off the bone, if your did not tip your bowl to your lips and sip the hearty broth all the way to the last drop.

If you’re on a budget, head on to Mahogany Public Market (any bus or jeepney going to “Alfonso”) and look for the strip of canteens called “Bulalo Point.” Most locals will tell you that they haven’t tasted bad Bulalo from any of the joints there, so just randomly pick one and enjoy. But if your budget permits, you should experience the Bulalo at Leslie’s.

Leslie's huge dining hall
Leslie’s huge dining hall

For PhP 599.00 (around Can $14.18), you get to enjoy a gargantuan bowl of steaming hot flavorful broth with an equally massive beef shank. The veggies, for some reason, have imbibed a sweet and delicate flavor that goes really well with the beef. Drizzle a little bit of patis and calamansi (fish sauce and calamansi) over your broth and you’re good to go.

For those with the stomach to do it: dining by the cliff
For those with the stomach to do it: dining by the cliff

At Leslie’s you can dine in their huge dining hall or choose to have your meals served under one of the many huts by the cliff side to enjoy the glorious view of the Taal Lake and Taal Volcano that never gets old.

Runaway bestseller: Good Shepherd Ube Jam from Mary Ridge Convent
Runaway bestseller: Good Shepherd Ube Jam from Mary Ridge Convent
What to Take Home

Never go home from Tagaytay without visiting Mary Ridge Convent where you can buy various goodies to take home. Their runaway bestseller is their Ube Jam (PhP190 / 900 grams or Can $4.50) Also, don’t forget to buy a jar or two of their Angel Cookies (cloister cookies made from ostia) and Choco Flakes. It’s ironic that a convent would produce and sell such sinfully delicious delicacies.

All photos by Ching Dee