There’s so much more to the Philippines than just its gorgeous beaches. We’ve got awesome waterfalls, too, and if you like to switch things up a bit for the weekend, you can check out these must-visit hidden gems, stat.
1) Ambon-Ambon Falls
You'll have to trek through the Pangil Eco-Park to reach Ambon-Ambon Falls, which is an adventure in itself. But the big show still remains to be this 5-meter-high work of nature that's definitely a refreshing sight to behold. Hidden behind the raging waters is a cove, which can give you some sanctuary. Don’t expect to get dry in there, though, because there’s no escaping the water. In fact, this is how the falls got its name—the water from the falls crash onto a boulder, splattering all over, and creating the drizzle effect, hence ambon.
Before you get to the actual waterfalls, you’ll have to walk on a hanging bridge, get on a raft three times, and pass other interesting sights like the Biak-na-Bato, which is literally a cracked, large rock. The trek takes just 30 minutes. There’s an entrance fee for the eco-park (P40) and another for maintenance (P60). Since you’re already in the park, you might as well explore the rest of what it has to offer, like its camping grounds which will you back P160.
2) Balagbag Falls
There are mesmerizing cascading waterfalls that are a couple of hours away from Manila. Balagbag Falls features two of these cascades, with the first one being about five meters high and then gently drops off a deep catch basin. The other cascade, meanwhile, is 25 meters high and drops into a shallow pool. Whichever level you pick to hang out in, you can just sit back and enjoy the view. Or, if you’re the type that prefers putting ledges to good use, you can get up and jump off the cliff for an enjoyable splash.
You'll have to pay P20 to enter the premises. Cottages for rent are also available for gangs that want to hang out for a while. If you’re commuting, just go to the Cubao Bus Terminal and take the bus headed for Infanta or Real, Quezon. At Real-Mauban intersection, get off the bus and take a jeepney to Mauban. Just tell the driver you’re going to Balagbag Falls; they should drop you off near the trail leading up there.
3) Bunga Falls
The quiet town of Nagcarlan, Laguna boasts secret treasures that are only now being discovered by urbanites. One of these is the Bunga Twin Falls, which you can reach by crossing a bamboo bridge over a strong, flowing river. This waterfall is 15 meters high and has a trail leading up to the top. Just make sure to carefully make your way up because the trail's slippery.
There are also cottages that you can rent for P200 near the falls so you can relax. You can also rent a water tube so you can just float in the basin if you're too chicken to jump. Entrance fee is P5, inclusive of bathroom and shower room use. Ideally, you should come early; people are not encouraged to stay out too late because there are no lights installed in the premises, and it can get dark pretty fast.
4) Buntot Palos Falls
Its name translates to “eel’s tail," and there are many different stories surrounding its origin. Prepare to hike for some two hours from the jump-off point, but also look forward to being rewarded with an impressive 27-meter stunner. It’s a straight drop below, and in that height, it’s probably not advisable to do any jumping tricks. There is, however, a much lower ledge, which you definitely can have a go at.
It’s a slippery and muddy hike going to the waterfalls, so make sure to tread the path carefully. To get to the main location in Pangil, meanwhile, just get on a bus heading to Sta. Cruz Laguna from Buendia Terminal (P140). Once you get there, transfer to a jeep going to Siniloan (P35) then get off at Brgy. Balian.
5) Daranak Falls
Daranak Falls is a mere two hours away from Metro Manila. At 14 meters high, it stands tall over a cool basin of fresh water, which many tourists enjoy during the hot summer months. Rent a life vest or a water tube in case you’re not a strong swimmer because the waters are 30-foot deep.
You can have a wholesome picnic in the sheds (P300) or on the picnic table (P200) placed in the area. Also, please abide by their strict policies of not bringing in plastics, styrofoam, and alcoholic beverages.
6) Pagsanjan Falls
Probably the most well-known among all the waterfalls on this list, Pagsanjan Falls is a legit Laguna charmer. Also known as Magdapio Falls, Pagsanjan has a majestic drop of 120 meters. There are three drops to the waterfalls, actually, but one is hidden. Apart from enjoying the overwhelming sight, you can also try the “Shooting the Rapids” adventure, which is basically a trip down the river on a dugout canoe. For P125 to P1500, you can avail of the package for entrance fees, life vest rental, and roundtrip boat ride.
You can get to the popular tourist destination either through the towns of Pagsanjan or Cavinti. Firstly, take a bus from the Buendia Bus Terminal heading to Sta. Cruz, and then get off the public market. You can already take a jeep to Pagsanjan from there, and then a tricycle to the entrance.
7) Taytay Falls
Taytay Falls is not in Rizal, but rather in Majayjay, Laguna. It's also called Imelda Falls because the former First Lady funded the promotion for the locality’s tourism. It features a drop of some 10 to 15 meters—a relatively easy height to jump for thrill-seeking cliff divers—and ice-cold water.
Entrance fee is at P20, parking is P50, and food and drinks can be bought from stores within the area. As you should know by now, to get to Laguna, you take the bus from the Buendia bus terminal, get on the Sta. Cruz bus, then get off at the Sta. Cruz public market. From there, transfer to a jeep headed to Majayjay. Once you get to the very terminal, transfer to a jeep going to Taytay. Again, just tell the driver where you’re headed and they’ll get you there.