When we are looking for destinations to travel, we always pick first the popular towns and trending cities without doing so much research about other places that may offer similar attractions or might even exceed our expectations. Well we were actually lucky to discover the town of Nagcarlan in the province of Laguna that offers peerless attractions and activities to its vacationers. It has spurting waterfalls, untainted flowing rivers, green hills and mountains, historical sites and decent resorts with cold springs.
Nagcarlan is a small municipality situated northeast of San Pablo City and just over 100 kilometers away from Manila. Though this town is not really that far from the metropolis, it is often overlooked by tourist due to lack of promotion.
Getting to Nagcarlan is quite easy. You can take a bus from Cubao, Buendia or Alabang then alight in San Pablo City and take a jeepney to Nagcarlan. Since I love road trips, I chose to drive our own vehicle to this non-touristy town.
From our place in Cavite, it took us less than three hours to reach Nagcarlan. We traversed the SLEX (South Luzon Expressway) from MCX (Muntinlupa Cavite Expressway) to Sto. Tomas exit and continued driving for another 40 kilometers via Pan-Philippine Highway (AH26).
Cold Spring Resort
Along Nagcarlan-Rizal Road, there are sundry resorts that offer great accommodation and splashing fun in the water. This time, we decided to stay in Villa Gregoria Resort located in Barangay Buboy which is nearby the town proper as suggested by a local friend.
We checked-in for a day and night instead of just relishing the splendor of a place just for several hours. We booked for a room for 6 persons for only Php2,600 (USD50). The accommodation rates range from Php1,500 (USD30) for 2 persons up to Php10,000 (USD200) for 10 persons.
Villa Gregoria Resort is not only a renowned resort in Nagcarlan but also in the entire province of Laguna winning the best and cleanest resort for several years. I am actually impressed that this resort has maintained its spotlessness even being in the business for 15 years. It offers cool, tranquil and invigorating ambiance for everyone who wants to elude the hurly-burly of the metropolis.
This paradise built at the base of Mount Banahaw has a mini Olympic pool, a kiddie pool, a regular-size swimming pool and an exclusive waterpark-like area with waterslides and Jacuzzi. They also have lifeguards and staff scattered around the pool areas which made us feel safe.
The structural design of the resort is noticeably sophisticated that stands out from its surrounding that is bursting with scenic greens. Another awesome attraction available here is its running water that flows naturally from the mountain. Several pool-like structures were made to keep enough amount of cold spring water for the visitors to soak and dip. There is also a mini waterfalls adjacent to the running water where you can take a quick bathe and for photo ops.
Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
During our weekend stay in Nagcarlan, we also visited the Underground Cemetery. You cannot say that you have been to Nagcarlan if you have never been to this historical landmark. Known as the only underground cemetery in the Philippines, this public burial site houses 276 niches including 36 niches 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 feature of the Underground Cemetery is its unique architectural design. It has an enclosed stone and brick walls with decorative patterns and wrought iron grills. An enormous hemispherical gate and brick pathway lead to the chapel that has crescentic side wings forming the apartment-style niches.
After burning some calories from swimming in Villa Gregoria Resort, our local hosts brought us for dinner in Ralphjoy’s Restaurant and Bar to replenish the lost fats. It is located along the National Road amidst the resort where we stayed and Underground Cemetery. The restaurant offers good quality Filipino food and one of their bestsellers is their Special Pancit which is absolutely delectable.
Side Trip In Liliw Laguna
Around 15-minute drive away from Nagcarlan, you will find yourself in a town labeled as the Tsinelas or Footwear Capital of the Philippines. We did a short stop in Liliw before we headed home to buy some slippers and sandals as they are known to have good quality and sold in bargain price. They all come in different colors, designs and sizes that will surprise you to the point that you cannot even decide what to buy. Well we ended up buying few pairs of slippers and sandals in a very good deal.
In this trip, we actually missed to visit the Bunga Falls or Twin Falls with two identical waterfalls descending alongside. So if you have a long weekend, then make sure to put it in your itinerary as well.
This is an extraordinary experience for us once again, disconnecting to our routine schedule and trips to find something enjoyable in a place we always assumed is not good enough. The town of Nagcarlan deserves to have more visitors and we will be back here again to adore its mellowness.