The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

I almost missed it. Had I not put my phone down and stepped away from our table, I wouldn’t have noticed that its legs were made from the bottom half of a vintage Singer sewing machine. I love details like that.

In today’s 6-second Vine age, I wonder how many of these little details we miss on a daily basis. We’re bombarded with so much stimuli on social media that it’s easy to overlook things like that. As Prince Ea puts it in his viral video on human connectivity, it’s ironic how these touchscreens can make us lose touch.

But not here.

Not at a place like Taal Heritage Town where time stands still and yesterday is still today. Such is the magic of a place like this. It encourages you to slow down and appreciate the little things. Like the antique legs of a table. Or that family member sitting across from you.

When you drive through those arches, you’ll be taken back to a time that many of us have forgotten, but need to remember. With the world moving at 4G LTE speeds, we sometimes need to be reminded of who we are and where we come from. This town can do that for you.

Welcome to the heartland of Tagalog culture. Welcome to Taal.

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Interior of Villavicencio heritage house

GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. When to Go
  2. How to Get There
  3. How Long to Stay
  4. How Much Money to Bring
  1. Where to Stay
  2. Where to Go / What to Do
  3. Where to Eat
  4. Travel Tips

WHEN TO GO

Like the rest of the Philippines, Taal is hot, its hottest months being April and May when daytime temperatures frequent the lower 90s. This peak of summer is then followed by the monsoon season from May to October. If you aren’t a fan of such weather extremes, then I suggest avoiding these months. Instead, shoot for December to February. It’s the coolest and driest time of the year.

HOW TO GET THERE

If you’re a tourist and don’t have access to a vehicle, then you can hire a chauffeured car for the day through Klook.

Driving Directions

Via Lipa

(The fastest way to Taal from Manila. Approximate travel time – 2 hrs from SLEX Magallanes)

  1. From Manila, take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) all the way until it becomes the Star Tollway.
  2. Take the Lipa exit from Star Tollway. After the exit, turn left at the National Highway towards Taal/Lemery/Cuenca.
  3. Drive straight for about 3.5 kms until you see a Phoenix gas station on your right. Make a right at the road immediately before the gas station. This is the road to Cuenca/Taal/Lemery.
  4. Follow this winding road for about 11.5 kms and drive through Alitagtag town’s welcome arch. Around 1.7 kms after passing the arch, you’ll see a Pacific One station on your left. Veer right towards Alitagtag Poblacion (town proper).
  5. Go straight for another 3 kms until you see the welcome arch of Sta. Teresita Town. Drive through the arch and go straight for another 1.5 kms until the end of the road, until you reach the National Highway Junction. You’ll see a Petron Gas Station at the end of this road. Turn right towards the town of Taal.
  6. After around 5 kms, you’ll reach a fork with a Flying-V gas station right in the middle. Keep left of the fork and drive straight. Taal town proper will be another 2 kms from here.

Via Tagaytay

(Longer than the Lipa route, but more scenic. Approximate travel time – 3 hrs from SLEX Magallanes)

  1. From Manila, take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and exit at Sta. Rosa. Make a right towards Tagaytay after passing the toll booths. Make a right at the end and drive along the main Tagaytay National Highway towards Nasugbu.
  2. Before the Nasugbu sign, you’ll see the San Miguel Convention Center on your left. Make an immediate left on the small road after the San Miguel Convention Center (before the Petron Station on the left). This small road is called Diokno Highway and will take you to the town of Lemery. (NOTE: If you’ve passed the arch of Nasugbu, then you’ve already missed Diokno Highway so you must turn back.)
  3. After around 40 mins, make a left at the end of the road going towards Lemery town proper.
  4. Go straight until the dead end and you’ll see the river and the Pansipit Bridge, which is the entrance to Taal Heritage Town. Make a left going uphill towards Taal town proper.

By Bus

You can take the JAM Liner bus to LEMERY leaving from either their Cubao or Buendia stations. If you’re staying in the Makati area, then the Buendia station will be closer to you.

From Buendia, buses run from 4AM until 8PM and the fare each way is PHP 178. From Cubao, it’s PHP 186 each way with buses running from 4:15AM until 7:30PM. Be sure to ask the driver to drop you off at TAAL TOWN so you don’t miss your stop.

Follow the link for JAM Liner bus terminal information.

Ala eh! You made it!
The First-Timer's Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

HOW LONG TO STAY

Taal is a small town so one night should be enough. Provided you arrive before noon and leave around mid-afternoon the next day, then you should have enough time to see all the major sights. You can even pair it with a trip to Tagaytay if you like.

HOW MUCH MONEY TO BRING

Taal Heritage Town is mostly inexpensive. Assuming that you’re traveling with a companion and staying overnight, then a budget of PHP 3,000 for the entire trip should be plenty. That includes round trip bus tickets, accommodations, museum entrance fees, and food (3 meals).

The only thing pricey in Taal is the lodging. I called every bed and breakfast and rooms on average cost around PHP 2,000 a night. Unsurprising I guess since these are ancestral homes after all. You’re paying for the experience as much as the lodging. The cheapest rooms I could find are at Tampuhan Cafe. They offer air-conditioned rooms with shared bathroom and free wifi for just PHP 850 a night per person, inclusive of breakfast. Their rooms are old and a little musky (with woven solihiya beds), but this seems to be the most economical option for solo travelers.

I’m not sure how many banks and ATMs there are in town, so be sure to bring enough cash with you.

WHERE TO STAY: Paradores del Castillo

A charming 7-room bed and breakfast built in a renovated ancestral house, Paradores del Castillo is hands down the best place to stay in Taal Heritage Town. Its brand new, opening its doors just this past March 2015. We loved our stay here and would highly recommend it to anyone. The rooms are gorgeous. You can make a reservation through Booking.com or Agoda. Be sure to check both sites to find the best deal. Check out my post on Paradores del Castillo in Taal Heritage Town for more pictures and information.

If you don’t think Paradores del Castillo is the right place for you, then you can check Booking.com or AirBnB for alternate listing in Taal Town. If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get up to USD 43 free travel credit when you sign up via this link.
The First-Timer's Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

Approximate Rates: Rooms start at PHP 2,500 a night, inclusive of breakfast (as of June 2015)



Booking.com

WHERE TO GO / WHAT TO DO

1. Do the Taal Heritage Town Food & Walking Tour with Pio Goco

If you’re only in town for the day and want to see as much of it as possible in a limited time, then I highly recommend you do Pio’s tour. It starts with lunch at 11AM at the Goco ancestral home, and takes you to various key points in Taal like Caysasay Church, Galleria Taal, and Agoncillo Mansion. Lasting around 6 hours, it ends with a killer view atop the bell tower of the Basilica at sunset.

Check out my post on Pio Goco’s food and walking tour in Taal Heritage Town for more pictures and information.
The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

Length of Tour: Around 6 hours / Cost (inclusive of lunch and museum entrance fees): PHP 1,500 per person (7 pax and below), PHP 1,380 per person (8 pax and above)

2. Step Back in Time at an Ancestral House

These ancestral houses are the main reason why people come to Taal. From the hand-pressed tin ceiling tiles of Casa V, to the intricate stencil work of the Wedding Gift House, to the period costumes of Villa Tortuga, there is plenty to see and appreciate here. Beautiful stuff with much history behind it.

Check out my post on Taal Heritage Town’s ancestral houses for more pictures and information.
The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

Cost: Around PHP 80 per ancestral house

3. Visit the Biggest Church in Southeast Asia

Standing 88.6 meters (291 ft) long and 48 meters (157 ft) wide, the Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours is the largest church in all of Southeast Asia. It is a breathtaking sight, especially at sunrise or sunset.

The Basilica is part of Pio Goco’s food and walking tour in Taal Heritage Town.
The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

Cost: FREE

4. Take Part in a Healing Miracle at the Sacred Well of Sta. Lucia

A sacred pair of wells, the waters of Sta. Lucia Well are said to have healing powers. This was the very spot where an apparition of Our Lady of Caysasay was seen in 1611, the very first recorded sighting of the Virgin Mary in Philippine history. If you believe in miracles, then you can’t miss this.

Sta. Lucia Well and nearby Caysasay Church are also part of Pio Goco’s food and walking tour in Taal Heritage Town.
The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

Cost: FREE to drink from the sacred well, candles are PHP 20 a set

WHERE TO EAT

1. Feliza Taverna y Cafe

In our opinion, Feliza Taverna y Cafe is the most refined restaurant in Taal. It’s owned and operated by Chef Giney Villar of Adarna Food and Culture restaurant in Quezon City. With a focused menu of just 3-4 dishes per section, you’ll find interesting Spanish-Filipino dishes here like callos, chicken relleno, and suman a la Taal. Really good.

Check out my post on Feliza Tavera y Cafe in Taal Heritage Town for more pictures and information.
The First-Timer's Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

Expect to Spend: Around PHP 400 per person with drinks

2. Don Juan BBQ Boodle House

This restaurant isn’t just delicious, it’s fun too. Set in the heart of town right next to the public market, Don Juan BBQ is known for these large spreads of food called “boodles”. Served on banana leaves, they offer different types of boodles, each meant to be shared between 4-6 people. There were just two of us so we went with the inihaw (roasted) platter below that’s good for 2-3 people. It had squid, chicken, pork, fish, eggplant, and a few sides. Non-Filipino travelers who have never experienced this will surely enjoy a meal here.
The First-Timer's Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

Expect to Spend: Around PHP 350 per person with drinks

3. Tampuhan Cafe

Situated between the Apacible Museum and Villa Tortuga, the aforementioned Tampuhan Cafe is a great place to beat the midday heat. Frappés seem to be a popular choice here, as are snacks like crepes and mini-pizzas. They don’t have an extensive menu so I suggest stopping by here for merienda (afternoon snack). They offer breakfast as well.
The First-Timer's Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

Expect to Spend: Around PHP 180 per person with drinks

4. Halo-Halo by the Car Wash

So just how good is this halo-halo? Ren said that she’d go back to Taal just for this, and she doesn’t even like halo-halo! She called it the best halo-halo she’s ever had.

If you’ve never heard of halo-halo before, it’s an iconic Filipino dessert made with shaved ice, evaporated milk, and a plethora of ingredients like sweet beans, jello, candied fruits, pinipig (pounded immature rice), and leche flan (custard). What sets this halo-halo apart is that the ice is so finely shaved that it almost has the consistency of a thick milkshake. It’s delicious and refreshing, especially on a scorching summer day.
The First-Timer's Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

Expect to Spend: PHP 50 per person

I called it “Halo-Halo by the Car Wash” in the title because that’s exactly what it is. It isn’t served at a restaurant. It’s served in Jhun Estacio’s house, which is right next to a car wash fronting the Agoncillo Mansion (White House). How funny is that?! I love finds like this. 😀
The First-Timer's Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

TRAVEL TIPS

1. Rent a Pocket Wifi Device

If you’re a foreigner backpacking through the Philippines, then you’ll need to have a good wifi connection. You can either get a sim card or a pocket wifi device. Personally, I prefer pocket wifi devices because they’re simpler in spite of being more expensive.

If you book them in advance, then you can pick them up from the airport or have them delivered to your hotel. Follow the links to purchase a sim card or rent a pocket wifi device through Klook.

2. Get Travel Insurance

If you’re a non-Filipino, then I strongly suggest you get travel insurance before visiting the Philippines. Much of the infrastructure isn’t as developed and if you go to places like Sagada or Batad where you can slip and hurt yourself when hiking, having travel insurance will be a godsend.

Personally, we don’t buy insurance before every trip but when we do, we buy it from World Nomads or SafetyWing. They’re both leading travel medical insurance providers often used by many long-term travelers. Check out my article on why we buy travel insurance for more information and a description of the two. You can follow the links to get a free quote from World Nomads or SafetyWing.

Have fun!

I’m not an expert on Taal but I do hope this guide can help you plan your trip. If you have any questions or suggestions, then please feel free to let us know in the comment section below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well.

For your convenience, I’ve included a map of Taal Heritage Town that you can download and print. All places mentioned in this guide are included there. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your trip!
The First-Timer's Travel Guide to Taal Heritage Town, Batangas, Philippines

Original map from taal.com.ph.

OUR GEAR

These are some of the things we brought with us to Taal Heritage Town. Check out our “What’s in Our Backpack?” post for a complete list of our gear. (NOTE: The following links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Disclosure

This post contains affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you!

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There are 57 comments for this article
  1. Elsa A. Rivera at 11:57 am

    I noticed some museums and ancestral houses. Do they have entrance fees? If yes, how much?

  2. JB Macatulad at 12:03 pm

    Hi Elsa, yes they do but fees are minimal. They normally range between PHP 50-100. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you find your way to Taal Heritage Town! 🙂

  3. Winnie Ann Nery at 8:49 pm

    Hi Sir JB! I just want to know if a local tour guide is a must before the caretakers or house/museum facilitators will take us in?

  4. JB Macatulad at 9:18 am

    Hi Winnie, no local tour guides aren’t a must. The houses are open to the public. Have a great time! 🙂

  5. Winnie Ann Nery at 11:21 am

    Yey thanks Sir! Your blog is a big help for me! I loved you r taipei, bagtad and the latest turkey trip! Keep it up Sir!!

  6. mikes at 10:42 am

    The halo halo was a great experience. Thank you. Hope it is ok to share your blog about this.

  7. bmed at 6:53 pm

    Hi! We have guests flying in and their only free time is on January 1. Do you have any idea if the sites are open on Jan. 1 please?

  8. JB Macatulad at 7:52 am

    Sorry bmed, but according to the Gocos the mansions won’t reopen until the 2nd of January. Might still be nice to visit though on the 1st. I’m guessing at least the basilica will be open?

  9. Joel at 8:57 am

    Thanks to this guide, we were able to go around Taal with more than enough information. Taal, indeed, is a great town and worth visiting.

  10. Raffy at 1:09 pm

    Planning to visit Taal, Batangas this Semana Santa 2016

  11. Mark Liu at 7:55 am

    A tour guide friend in Manila strongly recommend Taal as a Historical city which is very near by Manila. Nice to have your post that offer useful guide for my next travel to Philippines.

  12. JB Macatulad at 9:18 am

    Happy that you found the guide useful Mark. Have a great time in Taal. I suggest doing Pio’s tour if you have the time. 🙂

  13. Shirly at 3:11 pm

    Thank you so much for this one! Kasado na ang lakwatsa namin this May! Reminds me of the Silay Heritage Site in Bacolod. <3 <3 <3

  14. Gillan at 2:33 pm

    Hi! Can we just like, go there and take a tour by ourselves? Thanks!

  15. JB Macatulad at 9:10 am

    Hi Gillian, of course! That’s what we did the second time we went. Have a good time. 🙂

  16. Willie at 1:44 pm

    very informative blog i find it’s going to be very useful when i go there ???
    any suggestions where to go first then where to go next?
    btw I’m planning to bring my bike w me..

  17. JB Macatulad at 9:38 am

    Hi Willie, you mean where to go first in Taal Town? The Agoncillo Mansion (White House) is the first ancestral house you’ll see soon as you enter the town so that would be a good place to start. After that, you’ll see the Basilica on your right. You can then ride into town and visit the other ancestral homes. Hope that helps and enjoy Taal. 🙂

  18. Arlene Martin at 7:37 am

    Can you get bed and breakfast easily around Taal?

  19. JB Macatulad at 5:57 pm

    Hi Arlene, it shouldn’t be difficult since you have a few choices but it would be best to make advanced reservations to be sure. 🙂

  20. Abish Dagal at 6:00 pm

    This blog is really helpful! Me and my bf are actually planning to go to Taal Town but don’t know how and what to do. This blog is so great! More power to you. 🙂

  21. P at 10:04 pm

    Hi! Do you know if there are bike rentals there at Taal? We would love to go around the town biking.

  22. JB Macatulad at 8:28 am

    Hi P, not that I know of but that’s a great idea! You might want to ask Pio Goco. His contact details are in this post. He’d know. 🙂

  23. JJ Recierdo at 1:02 pm

    Hi, great post! really informative. How far is this from Tagaytay?

  24. Ria de Lara at 4:35 pm

    thanks so much for this JB. i read your kyoto and osaka trip posts and i patterned most of my japan
    trip after yours. now, i’m gonna try to do taal. thank you for being one of my travel inspirations. 🙂

  25. Quervin Buco at 3:37 am

    Very informative blog post. Now I have the perfect itinerary for my weekend trip with the family this year. 🙂

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  28. ivan at 9:38 am

    thank you for your blog,big big help. im planning to visit this place maybe next week

  29. Emzi at 3:38 pm

    Been looking for a place to go to for my solo birthday trip. Your blog posts about Taal Heritage Town sealed the deal for me. Thank you so much! I’m so excited! <3

  30. Oyette Mora at 4:54 pm

    Hi, your blog was such a blessing! You might probably be asking why? You see, I just love anything that is old, particularly, old houses. So when i accidentally read this article, I was so happy that I wanted to visit Taal asap. Thanks, really for sharing, all the while I thought it was only in Vigan where I can feel and taste the past!

  31. JB Macatulad at 9:08 pm

    Happy to hear that Oyette! I enjoy exploring heritage houses too. They have so much character. 🙂 Hope you get to visit Taal soon!

  32. Marcia at 3:44 pm

    Thanks so much for this very informative article which I chanced upon when I was googling about new places to go to in nearby towns. I’ll be home in Manila for a few days only to visit my Mom on her birthday. I wanted to bring her somewhere new while at the same time do a pre-holy week visita Iglesia with her as we drive up to Tagaytay. This place is just perfect and I’m hoping the heritage houses have been well maintained 2 years after you have visited. Regards to your beautiful wife Ren.

  33. JB Macatulad at 10:48 pm

    You’re welcome Marcia! We went back to Taal in December and it looks even better now. It seems the residents recognize the potential so more people are getting involved with the restoration. Have a great time in Taal and I’ll tell Ren you said that. It’ll make her day. 😀

  34. vivian at 7:09 am

    Good morning JB. We will be going to Taal next month and thank you so much for your blog.

  35. Dennis at 1:35 am

    Is Diokno Highway passable again? I would love to use that route going to the heritage town. If not. What would be the best option coming from Tagaytay.

  36. JB Macatulad at 2:09 pm

    Hi Dennis, I’m sorry but I don’t know if Diokno Highway is already passable. I’m not aware of an alternate route from Tagaytay either. I suggest contacting Pio Goco. He may be able to help you with this.

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  38. MIKE B at 9:06 am

    Hi,
    Passed through this town quickly last time. I noticed that there seemed to be limited parking areas there.
    Where can we park our vehicle for a longer time period?
    Thanks,
    Mike

  39. JB Macatulad at 9:12 am

    Hi Mike, yes we usually just park on the street when we’re there. I think you can park in the church parking lot. There’s ample space there.

  40. angel at 12:05 pm

    hi! are there any tricycles or jeepneys from taal to lemery leisure farms?

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