Our Tagaytay Budget Trip [Itinerary]

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This blog post covers a budget-friendly itinerary on how to get to these three tourist spots in one go:
– Mahogany Market (where you can eat for brunch)
– Caleruega Retreat House (where you can pray and do some self-reflection)
– Puzzle House Mansion (for an educational trip and to buy your coconut cream pie pasalubong)

***

Last May 2, Yuya and I were supposed to go to Camaya Beach Resorts in Bataan for our first out of town trip (using Metrodeal vouchers only valid for the month of May). However, a few days before that, he announced that he was assigned to an inventory count on that very day (auditor duties). Metrodeal folks said rescheduling was not possible as they were already fully booked for the whole month of May, and so we could no longer be accommodated. We had to cancel the trip and just request for a refund. Oh yeah you can just imagine my frustration. >.< I didn’t let it get me down though. I told him, “Let’s go on an impromptu trip on May 3!” And he agreed immediately. 🙂

I initially thought of going to Baguio, but it’s a bit too far and a day trip is not possible. And then I thought Tagaytay would be the next best choice, as it’s just 2 hours away from Manila. Of course I didn’t want us to go there unprepared so I did my research, as Yuya was busy with work. This blog post on Lakad Pilipinas has combined a lot of other blog posts and helped me a lot. 🙂

I found out that there are a lot of tourist spots there such as:

  • Bag of Beans — high-end cafe which offers coffee and cakes. There are two branches in Tagaytay, and tourists often eat breakfast here.
  • Mahogany Market — a bustling market where they sell various foodstuff. The second floor houses eateries that offer bulalo, with unlimited kapeng barako and bananas.
  • Sky Ranch — a theme park famous for their Sky Eye (highest Ferris Wheel in the Philippines) and Super Viking (similar to Anchors Away in Enchanted Kingdom). They also offer horseback riding.
  • Ilog Maria Bee Farm — souvenir shop that offers all-organic products. You may visit their bee farm as well.
  • Puzzle House Mansion — a puzzle museum that holds the Guinness record for the most puzzle collection. Its cafeteria also offers the famous coconut cream pie.
  • Caleruega Retreat Grounds — a solemn place perfect for a spiritual retreat, full of architectural wonders overlooking the mountains of Nasugbu.
  • Sonya’s Garden — a heavenly garden with flowers and trees and vines everywhere. Only people who availed their room accommodation are allowed to come in, but people who intend to buy products in their Panaderia are welcome (their specialty are the Hispanis bread and the cheese hopia).
  • Picnic Grove — a park where you can do activities like zipline and fly kites.
  • People’s Park/Palace in the Sky — a historical park overlooking the Taal Lake. A lot of reviews say that it is not very well-maintained.
  • Paradizoo — a colorful theme farm that showcases a huge variety of flora and fauna.
  • Pink Sisters — a convent of nuns clad in pink. They’re known for holding short Catholic masses, 45 minutes max.

Since we’re only going there for a day and we will only be commuting, I narrowed the itinerary down to this (the times include transportation to the next destination):

9:00-11:00 – Bus ride to Tagaytay (at Coastal Mall, Pasay)
11:00-12:30 – Lunch at Mahogany Market
12:30-3:00 – Visit Caleruega Retreat Grounds
3:00-4:00 – Buy some bread at Sonya’s Garden
4:00-6:00 – Visit Puzzle House Mansion and try their popular coconut cream pie
6:00-8:00 – Bus ride back to Pasay

***

When we arrived at the Coastal Mall, there were no buses yet to Tagaytay or Nasugbu, and so we first bought donuts and orange juice at a Dunkin Donuts stand nearby so we could have something to eat during the trip. After around 30 minutes, we were able to ride the bus with the “Tagaytay” signboard, and after another 15 minutes of waiting for passengers, the bus started moving. After a long ride, we were dropped off at Olivares Plaza. From there, we rode a Jeepney with the sign that says “NBI,” and after about 10 minutes, we arrived at Mahogany Market. On the way there, we passed by the Sky Ranch and the first Bag of Beans cafe.

Mahogany Market

When we got to the second floor of the open building, we were greeted by vendors who wanted to promote each of their stores. “Ate kuya dito na kayooo!” They were pretty pushy and aggressive, which was irritating, so we just immediately picked one place where they offer the free unlimited bananas. Everyone was fixated on the ongoing Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, and we went to an eatery without a television in it, so we could have the place to ourselves.

The bulalo was served on a heater, and we helped ourselves to this dish good for 3-4 persons. Yuya ordered a canned pineapple juice for P50 (twice the original price in a grocery store. meh) since the bulalo is of course a bit fatty and unhealthy.

The aftermath. By the time we finished eating, it was announced that Pacquiao lost to Mayweather. Oh well.

The aftermath. 😛 By the time we finished eating, it was announced that Pacquiao lost to Mayweather. Oh well.

After eating, we went around the market to see what they’re selling. They were selling pastillas, chicharon, and various other delicacies, as well as souvenir items such as caps, shirts, wallets, and keychains that say “Tagaytay.” Also in front of the market is a gardening store that sells little plants. In there we waited for a bus to Nasugbu.

Caleruega Retreat House

Welcome to Caleruega~

Welcome to Caleruega~

We were dropped off to an area with several tricycles parked on the side of the road. I recognized the place as it was the same place where we started our Batulao climb last year.

There was this lone backpacker girl who asked if we could ride a trike together, but the driver said it was not allowed (policy daw. hmph).

We talked to a tricycle driver and he asked us to save his number so he could pick us up later. The ride there cost us P25. We arrived at Caleruega a good 5 minutes later, and paid an entrance fee of P30. It was really worth the money, considering how much fun we had (and how much calories we burned as we explored the place. heehee).

Overlooking Mount Batulao. Heck, I almost died there several times in our climb last year!

Breathtaking scenery up here. Haaaaay.

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Overlooking Mount Batulao. Heck, I was traumatized in our climb there last year!

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The Koi pond. This area is a bit hidden, so make sure to look for it. This route leads to the hanging bridge, and finally to the tent chapel. Check the map they give you at the entrance if you can’t find it.

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The bridge is a bit wobbly, making it enjoyable to cross! Haha.

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Look! A heart-shaped stone!

The route to the tent chapel was really tiring! On the way there, there are two bahay kubos that sell fresh buko juice for P25.

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The entrance of Caleruega is near that place I encircled. Sooo far~

This place is used for prenup shoots.

This place is used for prenup shoots. In fact, there was a wedding going on when we came here.

The chapel is the final stop. Take time to catch your breath here and pray a bit. There is also a restroom nearby if you need to use it.

I told Yuya that a lot of couples do their weddings there at Caleruega, and the reception at Sonya’s since they’re a bit near to each other. He said maybe we should do ours in there as well. Yieee. XD

The church tent at the top of the hill. It was worth the climb!

The tent chapel at the top of the hill. It sure was worth the climb!

By the time we finished exploring, it was already 3:00 PM. We texted manong to pick us up, but he still wasn’t there 15 minutes later. I tried calling him, but he said, “Wait lang po.” Another 15 minutes later, the tricycle came with a different set of passengers. He kept us waiting to be be picked up because he was waiting for passengers who are going to Caleruega. Sheesh. It was a bit infuriating as we wasted 30 minutes and we should’ve gotten a different tricycle. What’s more, it was already raining when he came; if he picked us up sooner, we’d be in the bus already. Ah well, bad customer service.

It took us another 30 minutes to get on a bus (“Pasay” signboard). Since it was already quite late and it was already raining heavily, we decided to scrap the plan to go to Sonya’s and just leave it for the next trip. For P25, we asked to be dropped off at Brgy. Asisan (people won’t know if you say Puzzle House Mansion). Alternatively, you can ride a jeepney.From the drop off point, ride a tricycle (For P25). And from there, a shuttle will pick you up (pay P20 for the trip back and forth).

Puzzle House Mansion

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The museum is on the ground floor, showcasing 1000+ jigsaw puzzles, each one saying the puzzle number, the title of the picture, the artist (if any), the completion time, and the number of puzzle pieces.

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Amazing 4D jigsaw puzzles!

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So kawaii! Yuya saw this and he was like, “Polar beaaars!” XD

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There are a lot of classical paintings made into puzzles like these ones by Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh.

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A whole bunch of 4D puzzles of architectural landmarks around the world.

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It is a simple puzzle museum in one big room (1,000+ puzzles). In the 2nd floor there is an equally big room where you can buy souvenirs. It became a popular tourist spot after the owner earned the Guinness world record’s “world’s largest collection of jigsaw puzzles.”

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What I was really looking forward to was the coconut cream pie! Drew Arellano was raving about it in his travel show Byahe ni Drew. I sure wasn’t disappointed! It melts in the mouth and the filling has a texture like that of macapuno.

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The coconut cream pie is the ultimate buko pie–so creamy and tasty with just the right sweetness. Yum! We both bought a box of these tasty pastries for P370 and tried a slice while we were in the canteen.

On our way back, we were again fetched by the shuttle van, and the tricycle driver was waiting for us in the exit (now this driver is a lot more courteous than the one we met in Nasugbu!). Kudos to kuya for the great customer service. 😀

We then rode a bus with the “Pasay” signboard and headed home.

***

Total Expenses (for one person): P980.00

  • [Bus] Coastal Mall to Olivares Plaza – P74.00
  • [Jeepney] Olivares Plaza to Mahogany Market (ride a jeepney with an “NBI” signboard) – P8.50
  • Lunch at Mahogany Market (Bulalo-P350, 2 cups of rice-P20, free unlimited bananas) – P200.00
  • [Bus] Mahogany Market to Nasugbu – P25.00
  • [Tricycle] From Nasugbu drop off point to Caleruega – P12.50 (P25 for two persons)
  • Caleruega entrance fee – P30.00
  • [Tricycle] Caleruega to Nasugbu drop off point – P15 (P30 for two persons)
  • [Bus] From Nasugbu to Brgy. Asisan, Tagaytay – P25
  • [Tricycle] Brgy. Asisan drop off point to Puzzle House Mansion – P12.50 (P25 for two persons)
  • [Shuttle Van] To Puzzle House Mansion – P20, back and forth
  • Puzzle House Mansion entrance fee – P100.00
  • Coconut cream pie (box of 8 slices) – P370.00 (You can buy one slice for P60)
  • [Tricycle] Puzzle House Mansion to Brgy. Asisan drop off point – P12.50 (P25 for two persons)
  • [Bus] Brgy. Asisan drop off point to Coastal Mall – P75.00

**What made this amount go up are the food and the pasalubong: The total would only be P410.00 if we just brought packed lunch and did not buy a box of cream pie. But then again, the Tagaytay experience isn’t complete without a sumptuous bulalo meal and a buko pie for pasalubong~ 🙂

Overall, we had a great, productive day, and the effort was all worth it. It was even more fun because we felt like real backpackers who had no idea how to get to the places we wanted to go. Hopefully we can do some more out-of-town trips like this. Adventure awaits! 🙂

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