The unassuming town of Taal in Batangas province draped by well-preserved colonial-era houses exudes a timeless beauty and a graciously chilled atmosphere. Dubbed as the Balisong and Barong Tagalog Capital of the country, it has long been a magnet for pleasure seekers. Originally founded in 1572 along the bank of the Pansipit River which traverses to Balayan Bay (now known as San Nicolas town), Taal was moved to higher ground to its now current site in 1754 when Taal volcano erupted. It was once one of the most powerful municipalities during the Spanish colonial era.
Here’s a list of interesting tourist attractions you can find in Taal, Batangas. I suggest dropping by at the tourism office near the Taal Cathedral and request for a map for easier navigation:
Old House of the Agoncillo Family – You can start your Taal Batangas walking tour along Agoncillo Street after the Taal welcome arch. Nearby is the elegant heritage house of Agoncillo Family. Catch a glimpse of the bronze statue of Felipe Agoncillo, the husband of Marcela Agoncillo proudly standing at the garden.
Basilica de San Martin de Tours (Taal Cathedral) – Walk towards the main road leading to Taal town square crowned by the massive Basilica de San Martin de Tours. Hailed as the largest Catholic Church in Asia, for a minimal fee, you can also scale the bell tower housing one of the largest bells in the country. Nearby, you can also find other historical edifices such as Casa Real (Taal Municipal Hall) and Escuela Pia.
Doña Marcela Agoncillo Museum – From Taal Cathedral, continue walking towards M.Agoncillo Street dappled by gorgeous heritage houses. The eponymous seamstress of the first Philippine flag was raised in Taal and today, her house serves as a museum. Entrance fee is free but donations are encouraged for its upkeep.
Casa Gahol – It houses an interesting art gallery but unfortunately it was closed during my visit.
Villa Tortuga – You can arrange a private dinner in full colonial ambiance by booking through Camp suki website. Visitors are provided Spanish inspired costumes and take home personal antiqued sepia photos as souvenirs.
Don Leon Apacible Museum – This is the dwelling of General Emilio Aguinaldo’s finance officer- Don Leon Apacible. Open hours is from Tuesday to Sunday at 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Galleria de Taal – A heritage house turned into a museum, admission fee is Php 50. Daguerreotype cameras dating back to the 18th century as well as a collection of old photographs are proudly showcased here.
Chona’s Embroidery – Witness the art of handmade embroidery at this place. You can also find barong tagalog and hand-embroidered wedding gowns at Taal market.
Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine – This modest chapel is the sanctuary of one of the earliest Marian images in the Philippines. Based on anecdotes, it was found by a fisherman named Juan Manicad at the nearby Pansipit River.
San Lorenzo Steps – At the back of the church you will stumble on San Lorenzo Steps named after the first Filipino saint.
Miraculous Spring – Can be quite hard to find as it is tucked at the backyard of the houses in the area. Ask the locals for directions, it is located at the left side of San Lorenzo Steps (take only a few steps and look for a small mango tree with a dog house below) and follow the path. Ruins of an age-old chapel sit next to the miraculous spring where Our Lady of Caysasay is believed to have appeared.
Balisong Shops – Ride a jeepney from the town center and get off at Brgy. Balisong where balisong shops fringed the highway.
How to get to Taal, Batangas by bus from Manila:
There are several buses along Taft Avenue bound for Lipa City. If coming from Alabang, you can ride a Lipa-bound bus with Derecho AC Tex signboard at South Bus Station. Travel time is 1.5-2 hours depending on traffic. Alight at Tambo exit and cross the road. Board a jeep bound for Taal town. Travel time is about 1 hour.
How to get to Manila from Taal, Batangas:
Ride the jeepney back to Lipa and tell the driver to drop you off at Star Tollway. Take note that once you alight, you need to cross to the other side of the road and wait for the bus en route to Manila at the waiting shed.
Taal, Batangas Accommodations:
Villavicencio Wedding Gift House room rates starts at at Php 3,000.
Casa Punzalan – A colonial house turned into a hotel, room rates starts at Php 600.
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