Tagaytay City, about 60 kms south of Manila, the Philippine capital is one of the prime tourist spots in the Philippines. Up to the late 1990s, people came mainly for Tagaytay’s year-round cool climate and Taal Volcano, which, surrounded by the blue waters of Taal Lake and framed by lush mountains is quite a breathtaking vision.
There were no other sites at that time except for Picnic Grove – a picnic and horseback riding site, Palace in the Sky – abandoned mansion of deposed Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and Halfway – a mini-zoo. Dining was confined to Mushroom Burger, Taal Vista Hotel (the only hotel in the area at that time) and hole in the wall restos offering “bulalo” (boiled beef shank with bone marrow).
In 2000 under a younger administration, Tagaytay’s tourism got a boost by welcoming new establishments and franchises.
Foremost is the exclusive Highlands in Tagaytay’s northern part where golf, cable cars and world-class dining and accommodation can be enjoyed by availing of membership starting at P600, 000.00. It is an ideal site for weddings and conventions. Less expensive alternatives are Tagaytay Convention Center, Royale Tagaytay and Phinma. Mid-priced hotels like Bed & Breakfast, Days, Hotel Dominique and Royal Parc are scattered in the area. There are plenty of budget rooms and picnic huts for less than a thousand pesos.
For fine dining there’s Antonio’s (seats must be reserved at least a month before) located farther south on the way to Batangas City, Carlos Restorante which offers Spanish cuisine and Aurelio’s, famed for its steaks. Those who prefer native Philippine dishes like “sinigang” and “kare-kare” (variations of beef and pork preparations) have a wider selection of reasonably priced restaurants in the main road – Dencio’s, LZM, RSM, Leslie’s, and Josephine’s. In the same strip, a horseback riding facility is available in Viewsite’s ranch-inspired surroundings. Beside it is Taalena, where diners get to be serenaded by a string quartet. Fast food chains like Jollibee, McDonalds and Chowking coffee shops, pizza parlors and delicacy stores also abound.
The health conscious will enjoy Nurture Spa and Sonia’s Garden where message therapy is offered side by side with organic food.
Commerce is thriving with the presence of the country’s premiere banks, telecom companies, beauty salons and branches of government agencies. Students and employees from nearby towns flock here for the retreat houses tucked in the more inconspicuous areas of the city.
At night, the main streets are lined with multi-colored lamps. Live bands perform daily in Café Lupe, G-point, Chandler’s, Casino Filipino, among other bars and cafes.
Yet despite its modernization, Tagaytay City has managed to preserve its picturesque countryside ambiance. In fact, all establishments are prevented to erect anything that will obstruct the views. It’s a must-see spot that has a bit of something for everybody.