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[Dear Awesome Planet #4] Out-of-town Recommendations and "Not to Miss" Restaurants

Hi!

Thanks to your blog, I have some idea where to go during my family's visit to Manila this end of July specially the restaurants. Anyway, I thought I'd check with you (because I know you have vast knowledge on this...).

I will be visiting Manila with my family (wife and 11 y/o son) end of July. Do you have a recommendation for an out-of-town weekend (maybe 2-3 nights) outside Manila but w/in driving distance to get some fresh air, good food and to relax? Hope you can give me some suggestions?

Also, if time permits, any recommendations for an island resort outside Manila? Any recommendations for restaurants "not to miss" while in Manila? Looking forward to your recommendations.

Thanks. Gaio G.

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Hi Gaio,

I hope you don't mind me sharing the answer with the rest of my readers. Also I've put in links so that you can read more information about the places I have blogged already:

Out-of-town weekend (2-3 nights),
one nice thing about the tropical island of the Philippines is that beaches are just 2-3 hours driving distance away from the city. Here are my favorites and recommendation:

1. Tagaytay and Calatagan/Nasugbu, Batangas. The nice thing about Calatagan or Nasugbu side of Batangas, aside from the beaches is that the halfway point is Tagaytay! There are a lot of itinerary choices to choose from. In Calatagan/ Nasugbu Batangas, the best places are exclusive so look for a relative who would have memberships/ access to either Tali Beach, Club Punta Fuego, or Playa Calatagan. If you don't have any, my suggestion is to go to Golden Sunset Resort. In tagaytay, there are a lot of options already and my favorite includes Antonio's (main), Cliffhouse restaurants, and Sonya's garden.

2. San Juan Batangas Beaches. The hottest resorts in this side of Batangas continues to be La Luz, and recently opened Virgin Beach. You can also try Laiya Cocogrove but it is getting mixed reviews.

3. Subic! Zoobic! -- If you want to experience a US style traffic system, decent beaches, duty free outlets and the best animal zoo in Manila, then Subic
is the place to be.

If you want an island getaway, then I would suggest these three places:
1. Puerto Galera Beach Resorts
2. Putipot island, Zambales. (I've never been here but I'm hearing raves about this place)
3. Corregidor Island -- a beach getaway with historical education.

"Not to miss" Restaurants.
These are so far the best restaurants in the Philippines for me and it never fails to amaze people :)

1. Antonio's in Tagaytay- Nothing beats an Antonio's Dinner @ Tagaytay!
2. Je Sui Gourmand, Fort Bonifacio - Aidan's Je Suis Gourmand Birthday Dinner
3. Ugu Bigyan, in Tiaong Quezon - [Viaje del Sol Series.6] Sumptuous Lunch @ Ugu Bigyan! and Quezon Culinary Series 10: Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden

I do hope these information helps you in your awesome vacation here in the Philippines.


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My two centavos worth:
1. The best zoo near Manila is not Zoobic but the Avilon Zoo near Montalban, Rizal. However given that your son is already 11, I am not sure that a zoo trip would be fun.
2. If you want to wow your son, I suggest that you go to Calatagan and go to Lago de Oro. This is the only resort in the country with a cable-pulled waterski.
3. Watersports are also plentiful in Subic. Halfway there, you could do a short stop near Clark in Angeles and have a chance to pilot your own ultralight plane. http://www.ultralighthomepage.com/clubs_RP.html
4. Must eats in Manila:
a. Red Crab -- Crabs Maritess is to die for!
b. Casa Armas -- cuchinillo and paella
c. Ilustrado -- great food, colonial ambience in Intramuros
d. Greenbelt's best: Uva, Sugi, Pepato, Chateau 1771

Thanks Rog for the suggestions!

To awesome planet readers -- let me know what you think and please add your own suggestion in the comments. Thanks in advance :)

One my favorite out of town day trips is Corregidor island. Ive been there 3 times and cant get enough of the place, sure wish they offer a 'valued client' discount.

The food aside (over-priced, not-so-memorable buffets) I like the place for its great mix of scenery and history. A lot people go their for a day trip but would suggest an overnight stay. If youre up for it, hiking is a great way to explore the island, imagine doing it in bombed out bunker at night with authentic WWII ruins to boot! Your kid will feel like his in Tomb Raider! You can also go biking, picnic, swimming or just kill time watching the sunset, lying on the grass and catching the breeze....

And its so easy to book, just go the the CCP terminal and book a package. Have fun!

Hi Gaio,

In the Tagaytay area, I would add Verbena Cafe of Discovery Suites. Really hearty bistro-style food at about 30% less the price of Antonio's.

In the city, Lolo Dad's, Carpaccio and Florabel would be among the top of my list of really good free-standing restos. If you are visiting from another country, I would suggest you also try the better noveau Filipino restos like Sentro, Uva and Cascada all at the Greenbelt area.

Hope you enjoy your visit and that you bring back a lot of nice stories and pictures to entice others to visit Manila and its environs.

Cheers,
Jun

@Ivan -- yeah I should try that corregidor overnight one of these days... thanks for the suggestion.

@Jun -- I'll try Florabel soon... thanks for the suggestion also... very interesting mix of recommendation.

dining: le souffle, nuvo, greenbelt 2 area. for desserts, annabel lee in tomas morato. :)

oya, for crepes, cafe breton. you'll love the variations. here's a couple more places to help you out: mezze (restobar), pepato (great place/ambiance), una mas (spanish), little asia & big buddha (sulit place to dine), arya (persian), vieux chalet, bellini's, 7 corners buffet.:)

ANTON - Do share your thoughts on Florabel. I was mega disappointed with the food that I had there. The sea bass that I got was not evenly salted and worst of all, "malansa". My bro's brown rice was overcooked. So not a good experience for me :(

Hi Anton,

you have a very informative blog (new experience for me)and it is so fascinating to be reading your reviews and appreciation for local venues: resorts, restos in the country. Something which i would love to do myself. Having you as the foodie and resort critic, i would not want to go to a resort nor restaurant if your not raving about it. One question: do you have a review re wonder island (Laguna) or virgin beach resort? best regards and keep up the good work, you certainly enjoy this!

hi,

I had been working in the restaurant industry for maybe ten years now, and one that I made a purpose of myself is to share what I would know that just to my peers but also to the customers as well. We all know that not all those who can afford to dine to these fine dining restos knows exactly what they are doing or what they are suppose to do. Most of us Filipinos pretend we know. To get to my point, why is it that some women would bring a large bag( to the point that it is as big as a duffle bag!) when they know that restos in the Philippines do not provide counters where you can keep your awfully big belongings. Extra chairs for bags really is a kind of a nuisance not just for the service but for other customers as well. And some people would want these chairs exactly where the staff dont want them to be. In their way! I hope that customers specially women would understand that, we definitely want guest to be as comfortable as well, but try to be considerate. The staff needs space to manuever, so we can provide you fast and efficient service. We hope for your kind consideration. Thank you.

Musah

I haven't been to Zoobic, but Avilon is fascinating. And I'm 11 x 3 years old!

Hi!

recently I went to Virgin Island Resort in Laiya and I was very disappointed. Based from the resort's website a vacation in the island promised pampered service and comfort but we experienced anything but that. For the pros: the beach front was cleaner than the neighborhood resorts and the main restaurant was big and well furnished. for the cons: the cabanas were clean but charged for P13,000 plus vat and service for an airconditoned one was too expensive for a 2 nights stay (and the rooms were not cold at all) and the non-aircon cabanas for P6,000 for 2 nights (picture: open huts with bed plus electric fan--nothing great really), the corkage was unbelievable they charged us P300 for bringing our own water dispenser and P30 corkage for every water bottle, soda or beer. No coolers allowed here! and they charge P80 per order of beer and P30 for water bottle! for food, you are forced to choose their set menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serve you with diet portions. We got so frustrated that we decided to sneak in food and beverages bought from a near by store. everything you do, they charge. No service water either from the restaurant so we had to carry our own jugs every meal---Talk about a hassle vacation. the resort has a lot of potential i just hope that management will prioritize customer service. By the way, we came in thursday and the servers were not in uniform, some even had bodily odor serving our meals! Don't expect kind staff either.

ano nga yun parang ocenpark sa subic

hubby's coming home from abroad and he wants us to go somewhere that the whole family will enjoy. pls give recommendations.

thanks

hi again! have any of you been to puerto del sol in bolinao, pangasinan? i was told that i won a free overnight package but when hubby and i went to their office, we we're first presented w/ their program regarding rci membership. anyways, my questions are:

1. have you been to puerto del sol? how was it?
2. are you familiar w/ the rci vacation exchange program? is it worth the price?

thanks again! :)

If your looking for a place in laguna or fuego..i would suggest you visit this link
www.balaycelina.blogspot.com

Hi Grace,
I hate people who are commenting with Keywords as their name pointing to a
website.

I'll be banning BilisMedia from commenting in this blog. Please don't use
OAP's comment for your SEO purposes.

Anton

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