Philippines: Three Volcanoes and a Road Trip

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“Why not?” we thought.

Why not check out volcanoes for real? What could be more educational for the kids? And crazy.  And apparently, very, very, very risky.

Taal Volcano right in the middle of the crater lake

Where do I begin? Perhaps by sharing the most compelling reason for choosing volcanoes for our year-end holiday last year.

You see, Joaquin, our then 4th-grader, had been doing research and write-ups on natural disasters and he decided that his focus would be on volcano eruptions. Every day for about two weeks, he would blurt out volcano trivia during dinner and tell us how he wished he could see the Taal Volcano, one of the smallest active volcanoes on earth. As it turned out, ‘active’ was the operative word here.*

Crater of Mount Pinatubo

The whole family eventually got involved in making Joaquin’s paper mache volcano that in the midst of pasting the sticky paper, we thought, “Why not?”  We could go to the Philippines which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, check out a volcano there, then visit our relatives and spend Christmas there as well. 

There’s the project that started it all

My hubby, the master architect for this trip, started with just one volcano on his itinerary, but got carried away, and we thus ended up with three volcanoes and a road trip.

A volcano sounded a bit daunting to me, let alone three. But smart, presenting his travel idea as a road trip, how could I object to that?

A road trip is always a good idea.

The road trip was far from just driving from one town to another or having a glimpse of the three volcanoes.

There was hiking, lots of hiking (!), plus floating on a bamboo raft in an underground river and walking inside a pitch-dark cave. But there was also some relaxing moments on the beach, heart-warming time with family and beautiful sunsets.

The three volcanoes:

1) Mount Mayon, known for its perfect cone shape;

2) Taal Volcano, a volcano within a lake in a volcano and one of the smallest active volcanoes in the world; and

3) Mount Pinatubo, whose catastrophic explosion in 1991 was recorded as the 2nd biggest eruption of the 20th century.

The road trip (Southern and Central Luzon):

Day 1 : Arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Hotel: Fairmont Hotel, Makati

Day 2 : Mass at Greenbelt Chapel, Makati. Grocery for the road trip at The Landmark Mall. Drive south to Lucena City, the first overnight stop on our way to Mount Mayon. Hotel: Hotel Rosita

Day 3 : Early morning drive to Naga City in Camarines Sur Province via Bitukang Manok route (named after chicken intestines for its winding curves). Naga is the second overnight stop to Mount Mayon. Visita iglesia to Peñafrancia Minor Basilica. Hotel: The Avenue Plaza Hotel

Day 4 : Drive to and set-up base in Legazpi City, for exploring Albay Province. ATV drive to Mount Mayon. Hotel: The Marison Hotel

Day 5: Full view of Mount Mayon from Casgawa Ruins. Day-trip to the town of Camalig to hike in Quitinday Green Hills Formation, and visit Quitinday Cave and the Jovellar Underground River. Sunset at Sumilang River; Christmas night farm experience in FarmPlate in the town of Daraga.

Day 6-8: Drive further south to the town of Bacacay for a 3N/4D downtime at Misibis Bay Resort.

Day 9 : Drive back north to Naga City. Drop by Ocampo Deer Farm located at the foot of Mount Isarog (another volcano). Hotel: The Avenue Plaza Hotel

Day 10: Drive to Lucena City, via Daet City in Camarines Norte. Hotel: Hotel Rosita, Lucena City

Day 11: Drive to Tagaytay City in Cavite Province, 2N/3D. Christmas eve with my side of the family. Hotel: Escala Tagaytay

Day 12: Christmas Day in Tagaytay City; typhoon Ursula

Day 13: Pump boat and trek Taal Volcano. Drive back to Metro Manila in the evening.

Day 14: Drive to Olongapo City for Joaquin’s tennis match. Set-base in Pampanga City with hubby’s side of the family.

Day 15: Hike to Mount Pinatubo from Tarlac base.

Day 16: Explore new developments in Pampanga.

Day 17: Drive back to Metro Manila.

Day 18/19: Hubby and kids drove back to Pampanga for NYE.

Day 20: Explore BGC area in Metro Manila. Hotel: Shangri-la BGC

Day 21: Back home to Singapore. Grateful for the opportunity to trek 3 volcanoes and to spend some time with our families in the Philippines.

I’ll be back with more details of our adventures. – xoxo –

* Taal Volcano erupted 2 weeks after.

Other posts on our volcano road trip in the Philippines:

Mount Mayon: The Majestic Lady and the Rugged ATVs

Mount Mayon: ATV Summit Trail Video


    1. It was Edwin and I couldn’t wait to share some other details. But after Taal erupted two weeks after, we realised how risky it has all been. I actually saw the lake in the crater bubbling but it did not occur to me that it was a sign.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Neil. What is life indeed without some adventures, right? Funny how in the recent years our kids are now the ones giving us really good holiday ideas. In 2018 when we went to Bavara to visit German cars, it was also our younger kid’s idea. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there Ju-Lyn thank you, we are all good. Still sane and very grateful. Hope all is well with you too.

      My older boy and I were quite apprehensive about this plan at first especially since we’d always prefer snow right. But, this whole volcano trip turned out a great adventure. It was also an eye-opener for the kids, and a teaching opportunity for us, because the kids got to learn how life is in the remote areas in the Philippines.

      I’m excited to share more about this trip. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by Ju-Lyn. 🙂


      1. Hey Amor – glad to hear all is well with you. It must be tough be be grounded for so long. I actually came to visit your page for a dose of travel magic – that’s what I do these days: virtual travel through this WP community!

        I hear you – our family typically prefers cooler weather as well. But a departure from the norm is always eye-opening & such an adventure! It is nerve-wrecking to know that one of the volcanoes erupted not so long after your visit …. I guess that’s part of the thrill as well.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You know what Ju-lyn, I’m actually not missing traveling right now. Crazy right? But I’m really just thankful where I am right now. I love Singapore, no other place I’d rather be right now, especially now 🙂

          I hope my previous posts that you’re browsing through give you a smile and some inspiration. 🙂 I’d be doing that soon too and in fact hopping over to your blog very soon. I hope you have new ones on your running/walking musings and sourdough? 🙂


  1. Oh my gosh. This is a bit like the tourists that got stuck in New Zealand a few months back. Mount Pinatubo. I remember seeing the eruption on the news. We have to respect the force of the natural powers of the earth. They are more than man can ever control. Which is why it is important to do what we can to mitigate climate change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh and quite foolish, indeed. But I promise you, Amanda, that would be the last time that we’d be climbing any active volcano. You’re right it did happen after the NZ incident. I saw crater lake of Taal Volcano bubbling but the ignorant me did not take it as a sign. The ground was warm too, I tried sitting but couldn’t do it for more than a minute.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh my where were these three places? Must be scary.
          But I love Japan, Amanda. Everything there works and the food is delicious. We hiked in Mt Fuji in the summer of 2018 I think, but it’s a dormant volcano I think, so this one’s okay hahah.


            1. Oh my, the earthquakes/ eruptions in those countries in the recent years were major. I’d have to search for your Iceland and Nepal posts though 🙂 I haven’t been to those countries and would love to read about them.


    1. Thank you. That’s the aim, finding happiness and meaning in travel. It was extra meaningful for me and my hubby because it was Christmastime and we got to show our boys what we have been telling them all along – that they should give not because they have something to give but because there really are people who need help.

      Speaking of Christmas, it’s coming soon and I haven’t finished this series of blog hahah I really need to hurry 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our tree is already in our living room but Fall inspired . We needed something to remind us Joy is how we make it regardless of circumstances. I have a feeling we may be on lockdown again by Winter’s peak of COVID19 & slowly preparing what we need for Christmas now in case malls & stores will close again.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh I’d like to see the autumn Christmas tree 🙂 I agree with you, we could decide to find joy and meaning amidst these difficult time. Oh yes, great idea, gotta stock up now on those Christmas decors. No Halloween decors for us this year, we’re diving straight to Christmas 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a great adventure, but you’re very brave. The only active volcano I’ve been to is Mt Krafla in Iceland. It’s such a slow burner that last time there was a big eruption, the lava spread about 20 miles but took 10 years to get that far. I was therefore confident we could outrun it, if necessary 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there Sherr! Kumusta?! Batangas is beautiful, we always go there when we visit Manila. I’m happy to know that this post sends some happy vibes because it was a fun road trip. I also wish that we’d get back to travelling again soon. 🙂 Oh, I’m looking forward to exploring your blog soon! — amor


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