5 must-climb mountains near Manila for first-time hikers

Jul 6, 2019

THE season of staying under the sun is over. After spending moments on the beach, now’s a great time to explore the great outdoors.

Trekking and climbing high peaks is a great activity to do during these cooler days. Aside from the views that you’ll see and the Instagram-worthy pictures you get to take, mountain climbing also gives your body the flexing and stretching that you never knew you need. So if you detest sedentary lifestyle, we highly suggest you jumpstart the mountain climbing life.

And to make your first time more memorable, we listed five mountains that are not just beginner-friendly, but also offer mini-adventures in between, for maximum fun! Whether you want to chase some waterfalls, ride a horse, or hit the beach (still can’t get over summer, we understand), believe it or not, you can do any of these while conquering your first ever peak.

Mt. Pinatubo

Hours away from Metro Manila: 3 hours; Trek time: 2.5 hours; Side activity: 4x4 jeep riding

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If you’re a first-timer looking for that rugged adventure, Mt. Pinatubo’s easy yet exciting trail is for you. But unlike other mountains which have the usual trees lining up the trail and touch-the-sky view of the summit, Mt. Pinatubo offers quite the opposite. Once there, you’ll see the remnants of lahar, which you have to traverse for 1 to 1.5 hours while riding a 4x4 jeep. No greens, just lahar formations, and boulders for you to see. The ride leads to the foot of Mt. Pinatubo, which is about three kilometers from the mountain’s famous crater lake. What’s more mesmerizing is that the water from the crater lake changes color depending on the season — from green to blue to brown!

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How to get there: From Cubao, ride a bus going to Capas, Tarlac (or ones from Baguio, Ilocos, or Pangasinan), and get off at the Capas Public Market. Travel time is 3 hours. From Capas Public Market, ride a jeepney or trike to Sta. Juliana. Mt. Pinatubo’s tourism office and base camp are located here.

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Mt. Tagapo

Hours away from Metro Manila: 2 hours; Trek time: 2 hours; Side activity: Pumpboat riding

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If you’re from the East, there’s a hidden gem waiting for you to discover in Binangonan, Rizal. Mt. Tagapo (a.k.a. Mt. Susong Dalaga) is located in Talim Island, right smack in the middle of Laguna de Bay. To reach its jump-off point in Talim Island, you must ride a pump boat from Binangonan Port, which takes about 45 minutes. The pump boat ride along the way is an adventure in itself. You’ll see various fishing villages located in the scenic lake. Make sure you have enough batteries because for sure, you’ll be taking a lot of pictures while here.

After the ride, you’ll then start the trek towards Mt. Tagapo’s summit. It usually takes about two hours. The trail is filled with bamboo trees and tall grasses all throughout, so best to wear leggings or jogging pants instead of your favorite basketballs shorts to protect yourself from insect bites. Prepare to see a 360 view of the country’s largest lake once you’re up in the summit.

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How to get there: From Cubao, ride a van or jeepney going to Binangonan, and get off at Binangonan Port. Travel time takes about an hour. Once there, ride a ferry boat to Mt. Tagapo’s jump-off point, Brgy. Janosa, located in Talim Island.

Taal Volcano

Hours away from Metro Manila: 2 hours; Trek time: 45 minutes; Side activity: Horseback riding

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If you’ve been admiring Taal Volcano’s view while eating Tagaytay’s popular bulalo for quite some time now, why not take your Tagaytay trip a notch higher the next time you visit this cool city and climb the country’s smallest active volcano? Taal Volcano is a favorite among beginner mountain climbers for it's an easy hike. It only takes roughly 45 minutes to reach the summit, and the path towards it is pretty straightforward (it's so straight that some say you don’t even need a guide). If you have money to spare, you could get the horseback riding package to get you to the summit for roughly around P2,000.

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How to get there: From Starmall Shaw, take a van to Tagaytay. From Lemery, Tagaytay, ride a jeep or tricycle going to Talisay Bay. Rent a boat going to Taal Volcano from there.

Mt. Daguldul

Hours away from Metro Manila: 3 hours; Trek time: 3 hours Side activity: Beach bonding

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Meanwhile, if you want to squeeze in some beach time while on the way there, Batangas’ Mt. Daguldul is the place to be. You’ll be greeted by the stunning view of San Juan beach at the start of the trail. Towards the summit, there are forests, woodlands, and even streams and waterfalls, so you can take quick breaks in between. After a three-hour climb, you can head over the beach again to swim and wash up.

How to get there: From Cubao, ride a bus going to San Juan, Batangas. Travel time is 2.5 hours. From San Juan, take a jeep to Brgy. Hugom, the trek’s jump-off point.

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Mt. Romelo

Hours away from Metro Manila: 3 hours Trek time: 2 to 3 hours Side activity: Waterfalls hopping

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Mt. Romelo has 21 waterfalls that you can visit after the trek, the most visited of which are Lanzones Falls, Buruwisan Falls, Sapang Labo, Sampaloc Falls, Batya-Batya Falls, Diwata Falls, Binaytuan Falls, Sebakon Falls, and Twin Falls. You can trek around four waterfalls, depending on your schedule and stamina. Hiking to the summit of Mt. Romelo is quite easy. The trek is already flat and paved. Of course, the view of the waterfalls and the dip after a tiring climb is nothing short of rewarding.

How to get there: From Starmall Shaw, ride a van going to Tanay, Rizal. Once in Tanay, ride a jeepney going to Siniloan. Once there, ride a tricycle going to Mt. Romelo’s jump-off point.

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