The daily grind can be crazy, so when there’s a long weekend coming up, a lot of us immediately start making travel plans. But when everyone else is heading out of town too, your trip stops being fun and starts being stressful, because no one wants to deal with long lines and traffic jams when they’re supposed to be relaxing. If you’re a total tito who just wants some goddamn peace and quiet, here’s where you can go:
Given the crowds and the traffic, a three-day weekend in Tagaytay is just not fun unless you’re planning to stay in the whole time. If you still want to venture south of Manila, we recommend staying in Laguna instead—the province has a surprising number of attractions for all kinds of travelers. Stay at a hot spring resort in Pansol, check out the Seven Lakes in San Pablo, and explore the province’s many waterfalls for some aquatic fun. Culture vultures shouldn’t miss the Vigan-esque Pila Heritage Site and the Rizal Shrine, while kids (and kids at heart) will have a blast at Enchanted Kingdom.
2) Camarines Norte
Camarines Norte is a beach lover’s paradise. It’s the jump-off point to the Calaguas Group of Islands, which is on everyone’s radar for its powdery white sand and clear blue waters, as well as the Mercedes Group of Islands, a cluster of seven isles each with its own distinct attractions. If you’d rather surf, you’ll definitely love the year-round waves at Bagasbag Beach in Daet. It’s also where the first-ever marker commemorating Jose Rizal is located—we bet you didn’t know that!
Quezon isn’t so far from Manila, but it’s got a surprising selection of pristine beaches and quiet islands just waiting for you to camp out on. Cagbalete Island, Jomalig Island, and Alibijaban Island are great if you’re in dire need of some peace and quiet—just bring your tent and get ready for an unplugged weekend. It’s also where Balesin is located, so if you’ve got the cash (and connections), we highly recommend splurging on a break there!
4) Nueva Ecija
It’s so easy to overlook Nueva Ecija in favor of other flashier places with cold weather and pristine beaches, but the landlocked province has a unique appeal of its own. It’s where you can find the Minalungao National Park, which showcases the mighty Penaranda River flanked by imposing limestone cliffs. Have a picnic by the water, then ride a raft on the river for a quiet afternoon. If you’re feeling brave, you can even go cliff diving or cross a hanging bridge.
Quirino is another landlocked province worth visiting, with waterfalls, mountains, caves, and rock formations worth checking out. Adventurous souls can brave the Governor’s Rapids—you can opt for a leisurely boat ride downstream, or go on an intense buwis-buhay white water rafting adventure.
Marinduque isn’t the easiest province to get to. You’ll need to ride a boat going there, or fly if you have the budget. But if you really want a quiet vacation, the tiny heart-shaped island (it’s the fifth smallest province in the Philippines) is absolutely worth the trip. It’s got several postcard-perfect white sand beaches dotted with coconut trees and clear blue waters, as well as dive sites teeming with rich marine life. Not into beaches? Check out the Bathala Caves for a spelunking adventure, and hike up the Red Mountain for an IG-worthy view of the island.
7) Metro Manila
Yes, we went there. But come on, Metro Manila is a veritable paradise on a long weekend. With everyone out of town, it’s so easy to feel like you have the city all to yourself. Book a well-deserved staycation in one of the metro’s many hotels and make yourself at home. If you do wish to venture out, we highly recommend driving along EDSA or C5 from end to end just to enjoy the sheer lack of traffic, and riding the MRT to enjoy the mercifully spacious carriages.