All photos taken with Cherry Mobile Flare.

On May 15, 1754, at about 9 or 10 o’clock in the evening, the volcano quite unexpectedly commenced to roar and emit sky-high, formidable flames intermixed with glowing rocks which, falling back upon the island and rolling down the slopes of the mountain, created the impression of a large river of fire. **

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That was how an Augustinian priest recounted Taal’s eruption more than two centuries ago. The present-day Taal, however, the world’s smallest active volcano, has no inch of a clue that it once drew fear and terror. It’s an adorable sight up close and afar, Katy Perry even made it a background for her music video. No matter how, and no matter how far you look at it, you can’t look at Taal without admiration. As you dine at Leslie’s in the company of friends and that steaming bulalo, and while you’re up in the air in the giant ferris wheel at Sky Ranch, you’ll wonder what story lies behind the size of Taal. Before you know it, you’ve already gotten on a boat, ready to cross that lake to see for yourself what has captured the hearts of many.

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How to Get There

There are many roads leading to Taal Volcano. The most popular, especially for those who have private cars, is the way from Tagaytay. Why not, it’s hitting two birds in one stone. Perhaps a day of exploring Tagaytay and an overnight stay in one of its hotels, then a morning trek to Taal will be perfect for a weekend.

The road past the rotunda has a number of signages offering boat rides to the volcano. Some men hold cardboards and clearbooks, ready to pitch their sales talk to you anytime. Be very good at haggling or you’ll feel ripped off even before the adventure starts. Some hotels like Club Balai Isabel and Taal Yacht Club also offer tours to Taal.

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Just as many tourists do, you can always take the winding road from Tagaytay down to Talisay, a fishing village right on the shores of Taal Lake. This may be the best option if you have a car, or if you’re touring as a group, since the tricycle ride to Talisay can cost you several hundreds of pesos. If you’re a bit short in budget, this route may work well for you:

  1. From the terminal in Buendia, take a bus (e.g. JAC Liner, JAM Liner) to Lipa City. The bus fare is about P100, and travel time takes roughly 2 hours.
  2. Get off at Tanauan City, and take a short tricycle ride to McDo for P10. There, you will find jeepneys bound for Talisay. For less than P50, you’ll embark on a 30-minute ride until you see the signs for boat rental, which starts at P1500. Or tell the driver you need a boat and he’ll probably know where to drop you off.
  3. From Talisay, crossing the lake can take about 45 minutes.

When you reach the foot of Taal, you need to register at the tourist center for P50 per head. You can also arrange with them the rental for a horse, usually priced at P500-P750, and a guide for P350 to take you to the crater. To scrap this from your expenses, drop the guide and the horse and find your way up to the crater. The easy trail can normally take you 45 minutes, but longer when you get lost. Well, just follow the horses (and the horse poo), and you will eventually get to the viewing deck.

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From the viewdeck at the mouth of the volcano, everything is breathtaking. Right there and then, it will finally dawn on you that you’re looking at an island (Vulcan Point), that small solitary island in the middle of a lake on an island (Taal Volcano) within a lake (Taal Lake) on an island (the island of Luzon). A mouthful, huh. When you look down, out of curiosity, you try to fine-tune your sight to check if the water is boiling, but you’re actually a little too far, all you can figure out is a wide emerald lake reflecting the sky. You notice some tint of copper on the surface of the lake. Steam rises from its shallow muddy shores. Right there and then, your hobbit-blood jumps for joy, because down there lies more adventures.

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WORD OF MOUTH

10432130_981289631899977_6553641754076428719_nMELISSA–A trip to Tagaytay and Taal is a quick fix to escape from the busy metro. For those with cars, the roadtrip will definitely be great. While watching Taal from afar can already wow you, trekking is surely more fun especially for climbing enthusiasts. So, by all means, go down and experience Taal on foot.

472014_3055534394066_504463912_oSYCEYLLGoing to Taal Volcano was not in the itinerary of my 30-day vacation. But, in a snap, we found ourselves on horseback to the crater of Taal after a tour guide won us with his sales talk. I didn’t expect much, but I was wrong! The road to the top was a series of steep, narrow, and man-made clearings literally sitting at the edge of a cliff. At the mouth of the volcano, it was a picturesque view that I will never forget.

10438460_981447085199555_3707042057044810_nRANDOLPH–Trekking in Taal Volcano is a sure way to unplug from city life. At the crater where you get a 360 degree view of Taal, you will get glued to the sight of the green lake, the trees, and the community at the foot of the volcano. Don’t miss the view from the Red Lava or Pulang Lupa. It’s awesome.

603827_10151523871932550_1229951813_nJOY–The Calauit trail is easy. For the more adventurous (and earth science virtuoso), the Tabaro trail offers greater thrill. That’s where you’ll see a variety of metamorphic rocks, which are remnants of the volcano’s last eruption. Experiencing Taal face to face, that close, where right before your eyes you see sulfuric fumes come out of the earth and the blue-green water shine in its crater–is indeed worth every minute of the climb. 

11201608_678429632302330_8620939555527680962_nKAT–If you want outdoor adventure without spending a lot of money, look no further than Taal Volcano. It’s an island in a lake within an island–that alone can make you want to see this natural wonder. It literally takes your breath away, especially right after that uphill trek, but the view from the crater is terrific you’ll want to spend hours there to relax, take photos, and just be one with nature.

** Quoted from a Rappler article, When Taal Volcano Erupted for 6 Months by Pia Rañada

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ArisMape

ArisMape is a travel insider at ABS-CBN's Choose Philippines. He loves orange, halo-halo, and PowerPoint, and hates beef, slow internet, and long taxi lines. His pastime is watching people watch other people. He swears on the power of smartphone. His half-life? Thirty.