6 Dec 2014

How to Commute to Laguna's Tourist Spots

  • 6 Dec 2014
  • Lagalag

  • This commute guide will give you commute directions to some of major destinations and spots of Laguna. As we all know, the province of Laguna is blessed with a lot of wonders, among them are the seven lakes that bestowed the city of San Pablo its title of "City of the 7 Lakes." That said, these lakes are not in the same state of cleanliness and once you arrive to a polluted and filthy one, your travel optimism might crash. So, we've...

    The beauty of Pandin Lake

    ...only selected 3 lakes for the awesomeness of the two with 6-star given to the first while the superb artificial landscaping and its proximity to the city proper are the reasons why the third lake is picked. Another thing to consider is the diversity needed to make your hopping from one spot to another more pleasurable and diverting.

    And so, using this guide, you'll find yourself within different dimensions and themes as you arrive to each destination. Talk about posing against various backgrounds for your photos. Now you wouldn't want to be photographed with only the lake as backgrounds of all your photos, right? So, below are eight destinations in Laguna that you might covered in one day.

    Big Monument or Giant Statue of Tilapia in Sampaloc Lake San Pablo Laguna

    This Laguna Trip Guide shows you...

    how to go to Pila Heritage Town from Manila
    how to go to San Pablo Cathedral from Pila
    how to go to Pandin Lake from the cathedral
    how to go to Pandin Lake direct from Manila
    how to go to Yambo Lake
    how to go to the Underground Cemetery of Nagcarlan
    how to go to the red brick church of Liliw
    how to go to the famous shoe center of Liliw

    Procession at Pila Heritage Town that starts in Saint Anthony de Padua church


    The best time to get to our first destination is early morning, so that you can arrive to the highlight of this travel as early as possible as well. It's not that enjoyable to be at the most picturesque lake during lunch time. Though you can find pleasure having lunch in a bamboo raft, except the lunch is expensive. Arriving early, there will be enough window if you decide to go bamboo-rafting, that is if the price is in your budget.

    So, I suggest to arrive at the bus terminal in Manila before sunrise and please pick a day with less traffic. If this is your first time to explore Laguna's attractions, given after the eight destination near bottom of this article is direction on how to get back to Manila from the last destination of this Laguna Trip Guide.

    First Destination - Pila Heritage Town

    Old church of Saint Anthony de Padua at Pila Heritage Site
    A version of Taal Heritage Town in a smaller scale. The usual Spanish inspired houses lined up the national road that bounded the town plaza along which on the other side Pila church, the Diocesan Shrine of Saint Anthony of Padua, stands opposite the masterfully designed municipal building. You'll find this spot a cool place for your travel to kick off. Now go get some photos. Quick and we're ready for our next destination.

    How to Get to Pila Heritage Site

    From any terminal of provincial buses headed to southern Tagalog, take a bus bound for Sta Cruz. The fare is Php 125. Ask the driver or conductor if they will pass through inside Pila town. Most buses don't get inside. However, because they don't want to lose a passenger, they will be obliged. But you must inform them that your destination is within Pila as soon as you hop in. Just mention "Simbahan ng Pila" or "Plaza" as your specific spot to get off the bus there.

    Row of Spanish houses along national road of Pila Heritage Town

    You can have your fast breakfast at the restaurant that although looks classy still serves food at low price. It is opposite 7-11 store and occupied the ground floor of one of the heritage houses in the town plaza.

    Second Destination - San Pablo Cathedral

    San Pablo Cathedral
    This is where you get off the jeepney from Pila. San Pablo Cathedral (St Paul the First Hermit Cathedral) is located opposite Rizal shrine at the plaza area of San Pablo City which is teeming with commerce. This is the city proper area and your favorite fast food chains in Manila have big branches here.

    How to Get to San Pablo City from Pila

    Wait for a jeepney with "San Pablo" sign at the opposite lane of where you alighted from the bus you've ridden from Manila. The direction of jeepney is toward Manila and it will just take a fork somewhere along the highway.

    Third Destination - Pandin Lake

    Lake Pandin
    The sight to behold! This is the highlight of your one-day adventure. Your entrance is dramatically imbued with the nature's beauty in an epic scale. I don't know but I was really awe-struck upon reaching the top of the uphill unpaved road that led to this spot from the highway, suddenly greeted by this hidden gem as if a wizard cast a spell to rid me off the tiredness, and after waving a wand the barren land and thick woods are replaced by the spectacular beauty of the most revered lake of San Pablo.

    Bamboo rafting in Lake Pandin is cheaper if you are in a group
    Maybe because of the bad weather then, with the downpour not showing of letting up. Alone, with my shoes full of mud and the small umbrella barely protecting me from the strong rain, I traversed the muddy winding road that at times goes steep. I've also experienced getting the wrong way as not far from the highway the road splits and I had chosen the wide one but it was dead-end. So I had to comeback and enter the narrow trail on the left hand side of the unpaved roadway which became so muddy. And then there's a crossroad up ahead. But I just went straight up.

    a bamboo raft is leaving from the bank of Lake Pandin
    It's good that the rain finally stopped as I reached the top of the road and that's when all the doubts and fears gone, upon seeing that immaculate beauty of nature. From the tip of that road, the path to the lake is another steep slope. So, you can imagine at that height, the vantage view is so amazingly great. Guest what? Right there and then, I took the photos and enjoy the view before going downhill to the lake bank where lots of good things are happening, with the bamboo rafts, the locals, the guides, the vendors, those kinds of stuffs.

    a bamboo raft has left for a tour of Lake Pandin
    Before long, I could hear travelers in groups arriving one after another. And the first words uttered from their mouth were all the same, upon seeing the view: "Wow!", I even heard "Sulit!" and "Ang gandaaaa!"

    Note: I've posted photos of the trail you need to take from the highway to Pandin Lake. They are towards the end of this article, next to How to Return to Manila from San Pablo City Plaza and How to go to Lake Pandin from Metro Manila

    How to Get to Pandin Lake from San Pablo City Proper

    the beautiful view of Pandin Lake
    If you're facing San Pablo Cathedral, there's a 7-11 Convenience Store at the right hand side of the church. At the corner of 7-11 is a terminal of jeepneys with "Ilog" sign. Take that jeepney and ask the driver to drop you off at "Sambat". Tell him that you're going to Pandin Lake. The jeepney's route ends exactly there. The fare is 15 pesos. You need to walk further along the highway until you see the sign that reads "Yambo Lake" and that's your jump-off point. Here's the good news. A lot of kids are waiting for tourists and they offer themselves as guides. So, even if the signs are gone, the kids are there. I didn't take the offer because I wanted to challenge myself in exploring the route which for me was uncharted. For me it was fun, or was it? The truth is traveling alone as an adult I am not comfortable with the idea of having a 7 year old as guide. If I was in a group, that's different. And if you're in a group, you might as well accepted the kids' offer as the amount you're going to give will help them a lot. Take that path and once you see the road splits, still near the highway, take the trail on the left. Follow the trail which initially passes through a small barangay where houses are scarce. It snakes its way through the woods and jungle, passing some bunchgrass areas where the soil could easily become muddy. You will encounter a crossroad before the road goes a bit more uphill where some sort of unfinished galvanized and concrete fencing on both sides are built. Reach the top and you'll find yourself a surprise.

    the most beautiful picture of Lake Pandin

    How to Get to Yambo Lake

    As your fourth destination, Yambo Lake is just next to Pandin Lake. Just walk further from Pandin. I never went there as I was petrified by the beauty of Pandin until it's time for me to return to the highway for lunch. Don't ask me the price of food in Pandin as it was hilarious, for solo traveler, that is. Planning to go bamboo rafting and eating in Pandin Lake in budget? Here's a tip: Go in a group, the more the cheaper.

    Fifth Destination - Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery

    the facade of Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
    Just fresh from your adventure in the beauty of Pandin and Yambo Lakes and the strenuous hike needed to reach them, it's time for a chilling experience - below the ground, and it's a cemetery, an over one and a half century old cemetery. But above it, you'll find yourself entering a different era. You'll be walking from the gate that depicts Spanish time architecture and in front of you is the actual church built in 1800s. Well, the underground cemetery was built in 1845 by a Franciscan Friar named Vicente Velloc.

    tombs inside the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
    So, the church which is actually a size of a chapel might had been bit later. Sorry, as I am not good in memorizing. But hey, the whole territory - from the gate, to walls that enclosed the inner frontage, to the church itself, it is something that will make you think of Spanish colonialism in a far-flung part of the Philippines. And actually viewing those crypts first hand and underground, with dates of deaths as old as 1886, wouldn't that be not enough for a different spice of your travel adventure?

    How to Get to Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery

    crypts of underground cemetery of Nagcarlan
    As soon as you return to the highway from the lakes, cross the road and wait for a jeepney bound for "Nagcarlan". From San Pablo City, the terminal is on the left hand side of San Pablo Cathedral when you're facing the church. It is just alongside the Fire Brigade building of San Pablo City. The fare from San Pablo City to the Underground Cemetery is 25 pesos. The driver will drop you off there if you ask him the favor.

    Sixth & Seventh Destinations - The red brick Church and Liliw's Shoe center

    the popular street of Liliw where row of shoe stores lined up the opposite road
    As soon as the jeepney turns right and enter the one-way town street of Liliw lined up with newly built stores of shoes on both sides, you will wonder, "some stores look like boutiques." Don't get off yet and wait until you reach the top of the uphill town's main street where Saint John the Baptist church is located. The jeepney turns left to take the paralleled road back to San Pablo City. You can go window-shop after your church visit. You will be amazed at different arrays of footwear, handmade shoes, and giant displays of sandals. Going to the church first, you don't get exhausted as you will be in the downhill direction later. And the jeepney back to San Pablo City is waiting at the bottom end of the street. You must see this church for its uniqueness and the landscape and view of the expanse of the pastoral landscape of Laguna.

    How to Get To Liliw from Nagcarlan or San Pablo City

    Liliw red brick Saint John the Baptist Church Laguna
    Actually, the Nagcarlan bound jeepneys are headed to Liliw. Though the prominent sign of the jeepney is "Nagcarlan" there's a secondary sign that reads "Liliw." So, from San Pablo, follow the direction to the terminal. And from Underground Cemetery, cross the road in front of the gate and wait for the same jeepney. The fare is minimum from the Underground Cemetery. Soon, you will have known that you've already arrived in Liliw Shoe street. That's the paradox there. Liliw is so small and Nagcarlan is larger.

    modernized and Contemporary buildings in Liliw Laguna occupied by stores that sold shoes and sandals at low prices making Liliw the shoe capital of Laguna
    But the shoe commercial area looks contemporary and modernized that they're seemed to be in a city. And I don't think you can find those stylish facades of shoe stores in Marikina City today. You will be enticed to enter each store. So, if your weakness is buying shoes and sandals, make sure you bring extra cash as they are cheap, based on what I heard. I never actually asked as I was busy with the design and architecture of the buildings along the street. I wonder, maybe its the shoes that make them so classy. Or maybe because before getting to see them, I've been to road that all I saw was the opposite.

    Eight Destination - Sampaloc Lake

    Back in the city proper, your last destination, Sampaloc Lake is so near. Just hail a trike and for 20 pesos for a single person, you'll be there in minutes. Just asked the driver for you to be taken to "Taas" where you get to see the blending of baluster landscaping and the lake as well as the mountains below it with the concrete stairs that connects it to the lake bank below. Another road which I presume called "Baba" area also runs along the entire stretch of the lake side. The beautiful landscaping is capped by a promenade below it and built above the water.

    With the giant tilapia statue as the centerpiece, it's a landscape design like no other. The big tilapia monument of Sampaloc Lake would surely catch your attention. It's best to place this attraction last on the list. And the best time to come here is when the day is about to end because you can spend time sitting in a promenade bench looking out to the lake. And you don't have to hurry and worry about being in the wilderness at dusk. Your hotel is near and you can get late checking in. There are also food establishments and cheap food stalls around the area. When its time to go, you can go check out the nightlife along Rizal Ave though I've noticed what I thought to be a bar & restaurant by the lake itself.

    How to Return to Manila from San Pablo City Plaza

    In front of Jollibee, wait for a jeepney with "SM" wording along with other signage but avoid "SM Calamba" as it will take you to Calamba Laguna. All buses bound for Manila, e.g., "Cubao", "Buendia", "Pasay", pass by the frontage of SM City San Pablo. Do not cross the highway. Right on the spot where you get off the jeepney from the plaza, wait for the bus to Manila.

    How to go to Pandin Lake from Metro Manila

    If you want to get to Lake Pandin straight from Manila, take a bus bound for "San Pablo City" and get off at SM City San Pablo. Right on the lane where you get off, opposite SM is the spot where a jeepney will park and a barker will call out its destination which is "San Pablo" (proper) or "Plaza". Ride this jeepney, get off at city plaza and follow direction to the terminal of jeepney headed to the lake vicinity that I've already given, under third destination - Pandin. You don't need to wait for a jeepney to arrive at SM, you can ride one that passes by, with "San Pablo" sign, of course.

    The Trail to Lake Pandin

    On the way back to the highway and the sky had already cleared, I took photos of the trail. Here they are, arranged in the order from the jump-off point along the highway to the tip of the trail which once reached, a roller-coaster like decent will suddenly appear and the picture-perfect Lake Pandin comes into full view.

    Jump-off Point to Pandin Lake

    The trail to Pandin Lake

    Pandin Lake jumping-off point

    How to get to Pandin Lake

    Guide on how to to to Pandin Lake

    Looking from the distance below as you climb, the peak of the trail is unassuming. But once you get there, you will be stunned at what you'll see.


    1. This is great! Thanks for sharing, I just want you to check my blog Where to go in Laguna

      1. It's my pleasure. There's a bunch of directional guides here on various attractions in the Philippines. Feel free to explore :)