When people are planning for a weekend getaway, they always choose to spend it in a popular vacation spot without even doing some research about other places that may offer comparable enjoyment and attraction and could even surpass the expectation of a fun weekend vacation. One of the off the beaten path places in the Philippines that we visited is the town of Nagcarlan in the Province of Laguna.
Nagcarlan is an inland town situated northeast of San Pablo City in the province of Laguna and just over 100 kilometers away from Manila. Even though it is not really that far from the city, it is often unnoticed by travelers due to lack of publicity.
The town offers unique attractions and activities to its tourists. It has silken crystal-like waterfalls, unblemished flowing rivers, green hills and mountains, peculiar historical sites and great cold spring resorts.
Take a bus to San Pablo City from Cubao or Buendia LRT then ride a jeepney to Nagcarlan. Travel time is around 2 ½ to 3 hours depending on the traffic situation.
If you love road trips and you want to bring your own vehicle, take SLEX then exit in Sto. Tomas and continue driving for another 40 kilometers via Pan-Philippine Highway (AH26). But if you like scenic driving, exit in Calamba then keep driving to Calauan crossing Los Baños, turn right to Provincial Road and left to Calauan-Nagcarlan Road.
Where To Stay
Along Nagcarlan-Rizal Road, there are various resorts that offer cozy rooms, exciting swimming pools and refreshing cold springs. Though our local friend recommended us to stay in Villa Gregoria Resort in Barangay Buboy. We booked a room for six and paid only Php2,600 (USD50). The accommodation rates ranges from Php1,500 (USD30) for 2 persons up to Php10,000 (USD200) for 10 persons.
Villa Gregoria Resort is a popular resort in Nagcarlan and also in the province of Laguna. It won the ‘Best and Cleanest Resort’ for many consecutive years. The resort is impressive as it has maintained its cleanliness even being in the business for 17 years.
It also offers calm and refreshing ambiance perfect for travelers who wants to escape the hurly-burly of the city. The architectural design of the resort is visibly stylish that stands out from its surrounding that is overflowing with beautiful greens.
The resort has a mini Olympic-sized swimming pool, a fun kiddie pool, a regular chilling pool and a private water park area with different water slides and Jacuzzi. Lifeguards area also around the resort to keep all the swimmers safe.
Another amazing attraction available in the resort is its running water that pours naturally from the mountain. There are pool-like structures that gather the cold spring water for the patrons to dip and swim. A small waterfall is adjoining the running water where you can do a quick bathe and take some photos.
Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
On that weekend, we also toured the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery. A visit to this place is a must as it is one of the most unique historical landmarks not only in Nagcarlan but also in the whole country. Renowned as the only underground cemetery in the Philippines, this public entombment site houses 276 niches including 36 underground.
The Underground Cemetery was built on 1845 and served as resting place for the locals while the crypts directly underneath the chapel are exclusive for the Spanish friars, prominent and elite local citizens. The underground cemetery also functioned as a hideout for the revolutionary Filipinos during the World War II.
Another highlight of the Underground Cemetery is its distinctive structural design. It has a fenced stone and brick walls with ornamental patterns and iron grills. A huge curved gate and brick lane lead to the chapel that has concave side wings forming the apartment-style niches.
Our local friend treated us for dinner in Ralphjoy’s Restaurant and Bar which is located by the National Road amidst Villa Gregoria Resort and the Underground Cemetery. The restaurant offers savoring Filipino food and special pancit which is their bestseller.
Side Trip In Liliw Laguna
The town of Liliw which is known as the Footwear Capital of the Philippines is just 15-minute drive from Nagcarlan. A short stop in Liliw allowed us to buy some slippers and sandals as they are known to have great quality with affordable price. The slippers come in different designs, colors, and sizes that will amaze you to the point that you cannot even choose which one to avail and ended up buying all.
In this weekend getaway, we actually missed to visit the Bunga Falls or Twin Falls with two identical waterfalls plummeting together. So if you have an extra time during your trip, make sure to include it in your itinerary as well.
This is another extraordinary experience with my family and going to an off the beaten path destination is really exciting. The municipality of Nagcarlan surely deserves to be in the tourist map and have more visitors.