9 Beginner and Budget Friendly Mountains Near Manila

Looking for a fresh new start this 2017? How about something Extreme? Or something that involves cardio? Or maybe, something that would let you interact with the Nature? Hiking might be the thing for you! Hiking might sound scary for a beginner, but hiking is one of the most fulfilling activities in the world. Maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration on my part, but that’s how I felt when I got into the summit of my first mountain.

So here are the recommended minor climbs for Beginners. [Be warned, it’s addicting]

1. Mt. Manabu

Location: Lipa, Batangas City
Difficulty: 2/9
760+ MASL

Batangas city is surely the best spot for mountaineers, just two hours away from Manila. Batangas is the home of some of the famous mountains for beginners. Here, I found the easiest mountain I’ve ever climbed, the Mt. Manabu. Manabu which stands for “Mataas Na Bundok” which actually not that “mataas” or difficult is located in Brgy. “Sulok” Sta. Cruz, Batangas. People usually go here and camp during Holy week since it has a big cross that stands at the peak of the Mountain. Batangas, a place known for “Kapeng barako”, but did you know that you can also find the what is so-called “alamid coffee” (civet coffee) here? Tatay Tino (a local of Mt. Manabu) offers free hot “alamid” coffee once you pass by his small house at station 5. If you liked the coffee, you can bring it home to your families. A ready-mixed coffee can be bought from Tatay Tino, they have packed of “alamid” coffees available.

How to get there?
Take a bus in Buendia or Cubao going to Lipa, Batangas and get off at SM Lipa.
From the bus terminal in SM Lipa, take a tricycle going to the jump off point. They usually stay at the back of the food stalls. Just tell the tricycle driver that you’re going to Mt. Manabu or Brgy. “Sulok” Sta. Cruz, Batangas. Just in case, you’re going early in the morning and you need a contact person beforehand, you can contact our Tour guide and tricycle driver as well. You can find it on my separate blog about Mt. Manabu here.

2. Mt. Maculot Rockies

Location: Cuenca, Batangas City
Difficulty: 3/9
706+ MASL

Another mountain in Batangas City is Mt. Maculot, I’ve mentioned the word “Rockies” because that’s the easy part, once you get to the Rockies, you can head back to the same jump off point. Rockies simply means the word itself, more rocks which are the best part of the Mountain. It’s not the summit yet, but it definitely displays one of the breathtaking views around the mountain. Mountaineers usually do a traverse (traveling across the mountain) in this mountain, which is optional. For beginners, the “Rockies” is an excellent alternative.

How to get there?
Take a bus going to Lemery, Batangas in Buendia or Cubao
Get off at Bayan ng Cuenca
Take a tricycle going to Brgy. Hall and Mountaineer’s Store in Brgy. 7 “Siete”

If you need more information and would like to try Traverse, I have a separate article about Mt. Maculot here.

3. Mt. Tagapo

Location: Binangonan, Rizal
Difficulty: 2/9
430+ MASL

Mt. Tagapo is located at the heart if Talim Island. If you haven’t heard of Talim Island, it is the largest lake island in Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines. The hilly island is within the boundaries of the Province of Rizal. The western side of it is part of the municipality of Binangonan, while the eastern section is part of Cardona, Rizal. Mt. Tagapo is also known as Mt. Susong dalaga probably because of its shape. This mountain will remind you of the Teletubbies show.

How to get there?
Take an FX from Kalayaan going to Tikling, from there take a jeepney going to Binangonan Port (or) you can find a Van/Jeepney along (Edsa crossing) going to Binangonan Port
From Binangonan Port you need to take a ferry going to Brgy. Janosa.
The boat/ferry leaves every hour, so you may want to catch the first trip which is usually around 6am or 6:30am.

For detailed info. Including the budget, click here.

4. Mt. Hapunang-Banoi

Location: Montalban, Rizal
Difficulty: 4/9
500+ MASL

Mt. Hapunang-Banoi is one of the 3 main mountains in Montalban, Rizal along with Mt. Pamitinan and Mt. Binacayan which are known for limestones. That mainly makes the class trail difficulty of this mountain to 4/9 but don’t worry, in my experience and a friend of mine who’s a beginner, this is definitely a beginner-friendly. I, though, highly recommend you to wear gloves and proper hiking shoes since you need to go through the limestones (which is a bit sharp) to reach the summit. Also, you need to take those “buwis-buhay” shots over the limestones, you don’t wanna miss that.

How to get there?

Ride an FX in Farmers, Cubao beside Jollibee, tell the driver to get you off at Puregold San Rafael. From there take a tricycle, tell them that you’re going to Mt. Hapunang-Banoi jump off point and they know what to do. The tricycle driver will get you off in DENR for registration

5. Mt. Pico de Loro

Location: Maragondon, Cavite and Nasugbu, Batangas
Difficulty: 3/9
660+ MASL

Mt. Pico de Loro, which means Parrot’s beak is also known as Mt. Palay-palay, it is popular for its Monolith which looks like a beak from afar. When we first climbed the mountain, the monolith is still open, we were able to climb on top of the monolith through rappeling. Today, it is closed to the public due to safety concerns as it continuously being flocked by people wishing to get a better view of  the mountain. The trek will be challenging, but you’ll surely enjoy the view of the Parrot’s beak once you get to the summit.

*Important note: There has been no clear information as to whether the DENR closed the Monolith only or the whole Mountain itself. I suggest you to do some research before going to Mt. Pico de loro.

How to get there?

From Manila you need to get to Costal Mall, from there take a bus going to Maragondon, Cavite. Get off at Tarnate bus station and take a tricycle going to DENR (jump-off point).

6. Mt. Talamitam

Location: Nasugbu, Batangas
Difficulty: 3/9
630+ MASL

Mt. Talamitam offers a wide open-trail, grassland slopes and 360 degree view of other mountains and towns around at the summit. Mt. Talamitam is considered as “chill-hike” and can be done half-day, this mountain is usually partnered for a twin-hike with other nearby mountains like Batulao and Apayang but you can always  enjoy the view at the summit as long as you want. It is named after Talamitam trees which used to stand and grow in the mountain. You’ll get a lot of sunlight along the open trail, so better ready your sun protection.

How to get there?

Take a bus bound to Nasugbu, Batangas from Coastal Mall. Tell the driver/conductor to drop you off at KM83. From there, secure a Guide and register.

7. Mt. Batulao

Location: Nasugbu, Batangas
Difficulty: 4/9
810+ MASL

Mt. Batulao is a more popular Mountain compared to its sister Mt. Talamitam though they have their own unique features that make them both beautiful. This mountain features multiple assaults which makes it difficult, but the hilly-rolling slopes, the wind and the view of the neighboring cities will leave you in awe. Every turn is picture perfect and pleasing to the eyes. There are 4 ways to hike Mt. Batulao:
1. The old trail (Difficult)
2. The new trail (Medium)
3. The new to old (Difficult)
4. The old to New (Medium)

Always choose the Medium difficulty if you’re new to hiking, this would give you more time to enjoy the mountain rather than exhausting yourself. To know more, click here.

How to get there?

Take a bus bound to Nasugbu, Batangas from Coastal mall in Pasay City. Your stop will be “Hillcrest”, it is right after exiting Tagaytay City.

8. Mt. Maynoba-Cayabu and 8 waterfalls

Location: Tanay, Rizal
Difficulty: 4/9
720+ MASL

If you’ve been hearing the words “twin-hikes”, this is one example of it. You need to pass through Mt. Cayabu to get to Mt. Maynoba so it’s advisable to do a twin-hike to these mountains. The mountain offers beautiful grassland, vegetable gardens along the trail and there are 8 waterfalls that are wonderful. You can bring a change of clothes so you can enjoy and swim in the waterfalls. This mountain is also popular for its “sea of clouds”, if you want to catch it, private transport is essential since public transports are not always available before dawn. Night trek is also suggested, you can set up your tent on the camp overnight and wake up to sea of clouds.

How to get there?

From Cubao, aurora, take a jeepney going to Cogeo Gate 2. Get off at Cogeo gate 2 and walk towards another jeepney station going to Batangasan (you can ask direction to the locals), tell the driver to drop you off at Batangasan. From there, you need to rent a tricycle going to the Jump-off point. Just tell the driver that you’re going to Mt. Cayabu-Maynoba.

9. Mt. Pinatubo

Location: Botolan, Zambales
Difficulty: 2/9
960+ MASL

The last one on the list is the furthest of all, but if you think of it, it’s not that really far with 2-3 hours trip from manila. Although, it will take you another hour to get to the Jump off point via 4×4 ride. Mt. Pinatubo is considered as one of the best destinations near the metro, since its last eruption in 1991, the place has been attracting not just mountaineers, but regular tourists from all over the Philippines. It showcases different landscapes, some covered with lahar and boulder, sand that makes you feel like you’re in a desert and a 4×4 ride of your lifetime. That’s not even the best part, Mt. Pinatubo is also a home to Aeta tribesmen, you can visit their villages and donate food, clothing and other useful/school materials for the kids. It will take you 2 hours to reach the crater which is the end of the trek. The Summit crater lake or simply Lake Pinatubo is the best lake I’ve ever seen in my life, it is described as “a wide jewel of blue and green” but people say the color of the lake changes depending on the season.

How to get there?

From Manila, take a bus from Pasay or Cubao going to Capas, Tarlac. Get off at McDonalds in Capas or Public Market. From there, hire a tricycle and head to the Tourism’s office in Sta. Juliana. The fun starts when you take a 4×4 ride that will take you to the jump-off point for an hour.

To help you with your preparation, here’s the top 10 list to bring on your first hike. Click here.


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