FEATURE STORIES

2010 Summer Overnight Getaways

2010 Summer Overnight Getaways image

Text: AI Editiorial Team / Photos: Brent Co, Vince Pornelos, Dinno Sandoval | posted March 29, 2010 18:17

Part two of the best car-friendly summer destinations

So, you now want to venture a little further this summer?

Well, after bringing you the adventures you can do in just one day in Part 1, we now present you with some destinations that will take a bit more planning and where staying a night or two is the definite choice, as the drive will consume 4 hours of your day at the very least.

Pack your bags, stock the coolers and fuel up, as we get set for Part 2 of the AutoIndustriya.com Summer Destination Guide: the Overnighters.

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VIAJE DEL SOL

Viaje Del Sol, directly translated as "The Way of the Sun", is a unique adventure that takes you through Laguna, Quezon and Batangas provinces. Imagine the novelty of staying in country inns, sampling the locally brewed coffee of off-beaten path cafes, and enjoying the hospitality of Filipino artists as they chat with you and even show you how they work. Viaje Del Sol is also a trip that lets you explore the special cuisines of Southern Luzon. Indeed, no other trip is as good as a soulful food trip!

WHAT'S THERE

The workshop of sculptor Carlito Ortega who works with welded steel, brass and old hardwood. For Php150 per head, watch the artist at work and end the session with a sip of exotic rice coffee plus afternoon snack. Potter Ugu Bigyan offers lessons in his workshop, Potter's Garden. The place is a cluster of quaint huts surrounded by a garden and connected by brick paths. If you like his work, the bowls, plates, chimes and jewelry are for sale.

Tickle your taste buds with a culinary sampling of contemporary Filipino cuisine from Chef Paul Poblador and fashion designer Patis Tesoro's Kusina Salud. Sunday lunch buffet is served at Php400 per head. Among the attractions are the mini aviary and garden for nature lovers and art exhibits at Galleria Esperanza.

WHERE TO STAY

Casa San Pablo, a charming country inn located in the heart of San Pablo, Laguna, is operated by avid art collector and hobby enthusiast Boots Alcantara and his writer/magazine editor wife An Mercado-Alcantara. Rates are Php1,500 per head for a room of 2-4 persons inclusive of breakfast.

Kinabuhayan Cafe also offers homey accommodations at Php1,800 per person which includes 3-course meals each for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

HOW TO GET THERE

Via South Luzon Expressway, go up to Batangas Exit towards the STAR Tollway until the Ibaan/San Jose exit. Go straight and watch out for the "Alternate Route to Lipa-Rosario" sign where you'll turn left. Follow the road and turn right at the end. Bear left after the Petron station which will take you through Rosario town proper. Wait until you see a Shell station on your right and you come across a Y-road. Take a left going to Padre Garcia and make a right when you reach the market; this leads you through Tiaong, Quezon.

DRIVE TIME: 3 hours

Visit www.viajedelsol.org for more information. Some of the locations do not have signs, make sure to list the numbers to ask for exact directions.

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CAMARINES SUR

Camarines Sur is one the premiere provinces of the Bicol region in Southern Luzon. It prides itself with many breath-taking natural scenery and for being the home of the famous Pili nut. To add to its attractions, a world-class cable-park was recently built in the provincial capitol complex.

WHAT'S THERE

The Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC, a world-class watersports park designed for wakeboarding, wakeskating and waterskiing located in the provincial capitol in Pili town. The wakepark also has a skate park for those who prefer to stay on dry land. Nature lovers can trek to Mount Isarog for a view of the waterfalls and various animals and fauna. Beachcombers can go to the Caramoan Islands. Don't miss a visit to the 300-year-old church, Our Lady of Penafrancia Basilica, which is also a popular destination for religious devotees.

WHERE TO STAY

The CWC offers accommodations in the form of posh Villas, Cabanas, Wood Cabins, and Tiki Huts. Rates start at Php800 to Php5,000. Another option for accommodations is the Villa Caceres Hotel which calls itself "The Gem of Bicolandia". Located along Magsaysay Avenue in Naga City, room rates here start at Php1,000 to Php5,000.

HOW TO GET THERE

Travel time to Camarines Sur is approximately 8 hours by car. Via South Luzon Expressway, go up to Batangas Exit towards the STAR Tollway until the Ibaan/San Jose exit. Go straight and watch out for the "Alternate Route to Lipa-Rosario" sign where you'll turn left. Follow the road and turn right at the end. Bear left after the Petron station which will take you through Rosario town proper. Wait until you see a Shell station on your right and you come across a Y-road. Take a left going to Padre Garcia and make a right when you reach the market; this leads you through Tiaong, Quezon.

Take the Maharlika Highway by making a right at the end of the bypass road. The Eme Road diversion will take you through the scenic Quezon National Forest Park more commonly known as the "Bitukang Manok", ending at the Atimonan Port. Make a right going through Atimonan Town and follow the signs going to Bicol. Go further via the Rolando Andaya Highway and make a right at the very end where you'll see a road straight to CWC.

DRIVE TIME: 7-8 hours

Take caution while on the treacherous Eme Road with its tight twists and slippery portions. On the Andaya Highway, watch out for potholes in the concrete part as rehabilitation is still ongoing.

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ZAMBALES

WHAT'S THERE

Unlike party beaches like Boracay or Puerto Galera, Zambales's beaches are far quieter and more, well, natural, as opposed to being littered with numerous bars and grilleries. The waves in this province are a little higher than most, and thus provide a good learning ground for budding and learning surfers.

Though most usually know Zambales for Subic Bay, there are some very nice secluded treasures in this province. For a fee, boatmen will take you to Capones Island, known for pristine beaches and crystal clear waters. Try going to the Capones lighthouse, though be prepared for the walk up the steps.

Anawangin Cove is by far the most popular spot here. Truly hidden and accessible by boat, Anawangin will wow you with it's white sand and picturesque vistas.

WHERE TO STAY

Pundaquit is one of the best starting points, and has the Punta De Uian resort for clean rooms and soft beds. Generally though, if you'd like to explore places like Capones, Anawangin or Potipot Island, pack some camping gear, as there are no resorts in those locations.

HOW TO GET THERE

Take the entire length of the NLEX and enter the SCTEx, exiting at Subic. Enter the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, turn right at Rizal Highway, left at Manila Avenue, then turn right at Dewey Avenue. Exit the gate at Dewey Avenue then turn left to the National Highway. Follow the road and it will take you through Castillejos and San Marcelino.

At San Marcelino, turn left to the National Road heading towards San Antonio and Pundaquit. Once there, you'll have to ask the locals for directions to the particular resort that you're staying at.

DRIVE TIME: 4-5 hours

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LA UNION

WHAT'S THERE

La Union has been a mainstay for beachgoers in the past, though have been recently overshadowed by the beaches of Batangas in terms of sand quality and proximity to Manila. Lately, however, with the growing popularity of surfing, La Union is on the rise again.

The province caters to a lot of beachgoers and for watersports like diving, snorkeling and surfing. La Union's northerly beaches offer a good variety of waves for surfers of different skill levels, with a few surf schools setting up shop there like the Philippine Surfing Academy. Over at Poro Point, golfers can enjoy the cliffside 9-hole course, some shopping or a night at the casino.

WHERE TO STAY

The coast of La Union is peppered with a good variety of beach resorts and clubs, ranging in price from something as affordable as Php1,000 per night to about Php6,000. The town of Bauang has several resorts for beach goers, while in San Fernando's Poro Point Freeport Zone is the highly acclaimed 5-star Thunderbirds Resort.

HOW TO GET THERE

Take the entire length of the North Expressway, then hop on the SCTEx, and take the very last exit at Tarlac. After the toll gate take MacArthur highway northbound, and hang a left at the fork heading to Rosario, Pangasinan. Afterwards, just keep following the road until you reach the different towns of La Union.

DRIVE TIME: 5-6 hours

Advisory: Agat Bridge, the long bridge that connects Pangasinan and La Union, is out of commission after the 2009 typhoon season. A detour on the dry riverbed beside allows you to cross during the dry summer months.

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BAGUIO

WHAT'S THERE

If the summer heat is getting to be too much, why not make a break for Baguio's cooler climate?

The Summer Capital of the Philippines has always been a favorite for families to visit. The city in the clouds is a reprieve from the metro's heat, and has plenty of activities for the whole family. There's a great array of shopping locations, from Session Road's famous ukay-ukay (the thrift shop of thrift shops) and a variety of outlet stores. Baguio also has some of the freshest vegetables around, and often cars heading back to Manila are laden with bags full of fresh picked greens.

For the kids, head on over to Wright Park for a little horseback riding, while Burnham Park makes for a relaxing time with the whole family. Street peddlers hawk anything from silver jewelry to wall paintings. The nightlife in Baguio is quite extensive, and Nevada Square has an assortment of bars and clubs for the young at heart.

For the more adventurous types, try hiking or, if you brought your own mountain bikes, try out the challenging trails once in Baguio.

WHERE TO STAY

There are many places to choose from. For entire families, renting a house is the more practical choice. There are a lot of more affordable transient houses and hotels in the city, though for a better Baguio experience, try The Suites and The Manor in Camp John Hay.

HOW TO GET THERE

Take the entire length of the North Expressway, then hop on the SCTEx, and take the very last exit at Tarlac. After the toll gate at Tarlac, you can make a left that takes you immediately to MacArthur Highway (which is busier), or you can make a right and bypass a good portion of MacArthur highway through the backroads, following the signs to Baguio.

Upon arriving at the foot of the mountains after Agat Bridge, the long bridge that connects Pangasinan and La Union, you can take either Kennon Road, Marcos Highway or Naguilian Road. Marcos Highway is a tad longer than Kennon, though has gentler turns, wider lanes and easier inclines.

DRIVE TIME: 5-6 hours

Advisory: Agat Bridge, the long bridge that connects Pangasinan and La Union, is out of commission after the 2009 typhoon season. A detour on the dry riverbed beside allows you to cross during the dry summer months.