The Philippine Islands have some of the most beautiful natural getaways in the world, and it is my goal to visit as many of them as I can in my lifetime. I’ve already gotten to see some amazing beaches – The Hundred Islands national park definitely being one of the best – so for our Valentine’s Day getaway, my husband and I decided to go for a trek in a forest. We did some research to find out what great hiking places we could visit that weren’t too far from Manila, and decided Mt. Makiling in Los Banos, Laguna was the perfect place for our romantic hike!
Whenever we get to do some traveling, we always set out with a budget in mind and the goal to spend as little as possible. For our overnight trip to Laguna, we set a budget of Php1,500 and set out on our motorcycle with a picnic packed to help keep us on track and to not be tempted to spend too much on food, which is our usual downfall. Traveling by motorcycle is a great way to save money, too. Gas is minimal, and we don’t have to worry about taking cabs or jeepneys around our destination city.
We left our house at 6am and the morning was perfect for a drive. It was still dark out, traffic was minimal, it wasn’t too hot or cold and it was just overall a pleasant drive. It took us about 3 hours to get to Los Banos, Laguna, which is actually a lot faster than we thought it’d take since we can’t drive on the expressways with our bike. We only made one stop on the way. We stopped at a local eatery for a quick breakfast of bicol express and kare kare along with a bottle of coke and some hot soup for just 145 pesos. I wish I had noticed the name of the eatery because it was one of the best-tasting bicol express meals that I have tasted so far!
Once arriving in Los Banos, we proceeded to the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) where we would find the trails to Mt. Makiling. The campus is rather huge, and we had to stop and ask for directions 3 different times before we finally found the forestry department where the trails to Mt. Makiling start. We had to register there, leave an ID, and pay a minimal fee of 10 pesos each. Can’t get a much cheaper date than that!
In order to reach the trails, you have to first walk along an asphalt road. There will be three trails off of the road – to the Flat Rock Riverbed, to the Mudsprings, and lastly, to the mountain’s summit. The Flat Rock trail is the first one you will come across, just a short distance up the road. We set off on that trail first, enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings. The trail was windy, muddy, and super fun to walk along.
The Flat Rock trail is really short, just between 300-400 meters until you get to the river, which is quite a sight to behold! There are small waterfalls running everywhere, and we had so much fun climbing on the flat rocks and seeing how high up we could get. Just a couple of warnings though: 1) the rocks will be wet and slippery, so take care in where you step and 2) as tempted as you may be, don’t go in the water as we were told it is filled with leeches.