The provinces to the south of Manila – Cavite, Laguna and Batangas – are prime day-trip territory, easy to get to and rich in attractions. The star is Lake Taal, a mesmerizing volcanic lake with its own mini volcanic island in the centre, but there are plenty of less visited natural wonders that provide a break from the city; you can ride down the river to the Pagsanjan Falls, soak in the Laguna hot springs or clamber up forested Mount Makiling for scintillating views. Divers should check out Anilao for the best reef action near the capital.
The region also serves up a healthy dose of history. The romantic houses where national heroes Emilio Aguinaldo and José Rizal were born have been preserved as museums, Paete has retained its woodworking heritage and Taal itself is one of the most beautiful colonial towns in the Philippines. Lastly, many Manileños come here just to eat; buko pie is an especially prized treat made in Laguna.
Getting around the area is straightforward by bus, though you’ll save a lot of time with a car. The easiest places to reach by public transport are the attractions to the south of Laguna de Bay, though Batangas City and Tagaytay are also well served by buses.