Philippines : The Nasugbu Trilogy of Day Hikes
Mt.Pico De Loro – Mt. Batulao – Mt.Talamitam
If you are looking for a cheap and short get-away with fresh air and easy mountain hikes, look no further than the Philippines and the Nasugbu Trilogy.
This is a good 3-4 day DIY short trip itinerary from Manila that involves only day hikes. It consists of 3 mountains and all of them are easy to hike, have nice views and are easily accessible from Manila. Do all these in less than 350 SGD! That is including flights.
This is a great short getaway from the urban jungle and city stress of Singapore, or from whichever city you are in. It was an extremely memorable trip over the weekend. For those who love mountains and love including hiking in your travelling, this is for you!
Just around 2 hours off Metro Manila lie three of the famous hiking destinations in Nasugbu, a municipal part of the Batangas region in Philippines. These includes Mount Pico de Loro,Talamitam and Batulao.
Nasugbu is not just home to many beautiful beaches and resorts, but also to scenic mountains. The 3 mountains are also quite distinct from each other, both in location and type of treks and they are often used as day hikes from Manila. The fun of it is to combine them in a day (possible but stressful), or in 2 days ( which I recommend).
Some people like to include Mount Apayang as well as Layon Bilog River as part of the Trilogy. However, a river isn’t a mountain and Mount Apayang is often hiked as a route from Mt. Talamitam as they are like sister mountains. So just choose Mount Talamitam as it has a nicer view and route in my opinion and decide if you wish to go to Apayang. If you include Mount Apayang, you could call it the quadruplet of mountains but it honestly does not sound as nice.
Day 1 : Land in Manila
Day 2 : Mount Pico De Loro : Start at 4.30am. (5h hike day)
Day 3 : Morning – Mount Batulao (6h)
Afternoon – Mount Talamitam (4h) + Apayang (optional 1h )
Day 4 : Leave Manila
What to bring
You don’t require extensive equipment as all of them are day hikes.
Just bring and wear long sleeves + long pants as there are long grass and forested areas (avoid insect bites etc). You would want proper shoes to make the trek more comfortable but sport shoes are fine too. A cap or something to shade yourself will be really useful as most of the hikes are in open grassland and are not sheltered.
A small day pack will be good for the hikes for water, raincoat/umbrella and some snacks. Enough water, at least 1.5L (I always suggest 3L) is required as it can get really hot.
Total Budget from Singapore : ~350 SGD
Flights : ~ 200 SGD.
Flights from Singapore to Manila are not the cheapest amongst South-East Asia. Having said that, they are not exorbitant. Many people pay much more to go to Bali than to Manila.
There are several budget airlines which fly to Manila, mainly Scoot and Jetstar from what I know. I flew Jetstar to Manila. Malaysia Airlines sometimes have very good deals too!
Transport : ~1020 php / 28 SGD
Bus will be your best friend here, followed by the tricycles (tuk tuks). They are the cheapest way of getting around.
You can take buses to Pico De Loro, Batulao and Tamalitam. They go mainly along the same expressways.
The tricycles cost are per pax based on the assumption of 2 persons. If you have more, it will much cheaper. They are not cheap if you compare to how crazy cheap the buses are.
Alternatively, you could hire a driver. We got a driver (Russell) as we met him the day before in Pico De Loro. Russell is more than a driver, he is also a part-time entertainer with really good English. The good thing about having a driver which you can communicate with is that he can be your guide, help you take photographs and bring you to other places on the way.
To contact Russell, you can contact him at 0927-434-0078 or on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/wtch.box.
Total Bus Cost : 480 php / 13 SGD.
Pico De Loro : 240php return trip from Manlia Batulao : 120 php Talamitam : 120php back to Manila
Total Tricycle Cost : 540php / 14 SGD
Pico De Loro (2 trips) : 300 php Batulao (1 trip) : 120 php Talamitam (1 trip) : 120 php
Total Registration Cost : 125 php / 3.5 SGD
Pico De Loro : 25 Php Batulao : 60 php Talamitam : 40 php
Accommodation : 90 SGD per pax for 3 nights
We stayed at aurumOne Makati in Manila. It was 60 SGD a night for 1 room. It is a decent clean place to stay at night and there is a family mart right at the hotel lobby! Really awesome and convenient! There is also a local supermarket just outside the street. It is not the cheapest place, but definitely comfortable enough and convenient!
How to get there/The Treks
Read the other posts for more details on how to get there coupled with pictures on the treks!
One of the unexpected adventures came about when we met Russell at Pico De Loro. He was at the summit of Pico De Loro and we struck up a conversation with him and Annemieke van Dort whom he was guiding around for a day.
This led to us just hopping onto his vehicle and having a whirlwind trip. We went to see beaches, went to eat fresh oysters, and even tried Balut!
Balut, in case you didn’t realize is like a half-developed embroyo of usually a duck egg or a chicken egg. Man, just don’t look at the pictures or look at it when you eat it. It was really tough for me, even though I am a glutton and love to challenge myself. I used to say I can eat almost anything, but Balut was really tough. It makes quite a few people gag and I admit I almost did! The challenge was not to simply take a bite, but finish it! The juice at the bottom of the egg………..
Russell is also a great cook. We even had dinner at his place where he cooked awesome local dishes for us and we sat there together with Annemieke and had beer at the rooftop. It was great time with Russell.
So for the next day, we used him for both Batulao and Talamitam! We took so many pictures and did many crazy antics together.
If you are intending to do the Nasugbu Trilogy, do consider approaching him! I assure you that you will have a crazy time as Russell is full of energy, extremely talkative and fun! On a side note, if you are the kind who wishes to have some alone time, let him know in advance maybe =)
If you are interested in what others have to say about the Nasugbu Trilogy, here are some other blogs :