We spent the last holiday on a very sulit day trip to Tanay Rizal. Tanay is just a few-hour drive from Manila. It was very laid back and fun. We started the day spelunking in Calinawan cave, visiting Daranak Falls and Batlag Falls and ended the afternoon visiting the recently constructed windmills in the very windy area of Barangay Halayhayin.
This Tanay Rizal day tour only costed us P650 each, excluding lunch.
Our day trip in Tanay, Rizal
While I was browsing my Facebook groups, I came across someone organizing a holiday day tour in Tanay, Rizal. I urged Hali that we go and immediately reserved slots.
Hali and I, as well as other companions that day and our tour organizer Kuya Jake (none of whom I knew in real life, this is how travel goes apparently), met up in Cubao at 6:00AM. We drove for about 3 hours to Tanay, Rizal. Even though I was asleep at times, I very much enjoyed the ride because we cruised along high mountains and, on the way to the cave, on a long rough road with densely grown trees and plants on both sides.
The tour to Calinawan cave takes only an hour or less. It’s not a strenuous activity, and guests aren’t expected to crawl (up to cave level 2 at least) or do something extreme such as tread across waist-length water to get across. You just have to be careful walking because it is dark inside and watch your head at times.
The local guide, Kuya Adam, gave us an entertaining and educational background of this nature preserve. Apparently this is where the Filipinos and Americans agreed to join arms to end the Spanish rule (a sham, but this is not the place or time for an in-depth historical discussion).
Kuya Adam also explained the difference between stalactites and stalagmites and how these are formed. We also saw fruit bats and the holes they make in the ceilings. I think I’m missing something here. How are they drilling/punching these holes?
It was nice to see that Calinawan cave is being preserved by a local organization. Sadly, before this was set up, some network and production companies filmed here and irresponsibly left silver glitters and fake stalactites. The rest of the cave remained intact, with minerals still able to produce new cave formations, which will take thousands of years to be completed.
We only explored levels 1 and 2. Levels 3-5 are open during summer and are more difficult, with some parts requiring the guest to crawl and such. Levels 6-7 are permanently inaccessible, from when the tunnels were bombed by Japanese soldiers. Once upon a time though, one can go through this tunnels and travel for 9 days to go to Montalban, Rizal! What an underground adventure that must be like.
Reminder: Bring a headlight or flashlight. The local guide has a spare one but best be sure especially if you’re a group.
Daranak Falls and Batlag Falls
Our next stop for this Tanay Rizal day tour are these two sister falls.
Not far from Calinawan cave are the twin attractions Daranak and Batlag falls. At the time of our visit, there was a large volume of water streaming from Daranak falls and it was almost picture perfect with its aqua-blue basin, but one look at the crowd and we decided we were better off in the more secluded Batlag falls just a short trek away.
There are only picnic tables in Batlag falls and none of the man-made facilities such as stores in Daranak falls. Batlag falls is a refresher from the September heat but isn’t a place for regular swimming. Similar with other falls, the stones around were smooth and slippery. The ground underneath was uneven and hid rocks of different sizes. It’s best to wear aqua shoes or trekking sandals rather than ordinary slippers or going barefoot.
We went astray from the main falls and followed the water trail down south and then on a parallel northward direction from Batlag falls. There was nobody else with us, and the water on those parts seemed undisturbed. There were water insects and cobwebs. There were flying insects that might have been butterflies or dragonflies (it was difficult to tell since the wings were bigger and vividly colored).
We also found a pool, with corners too precise to be natural, but just like the other small pools and mini-falls, it too seemed abandoned.
After several minutes of trudging across undisturbed waters, we clambered up a high slope and went back to the familiar noise of people bathing in the main falls.
We intended to stay until late in Batlag falls, but after a short discussion we agreed to visit the new Tanay windmill in Rizal as well. There was no entrance fee to the windmills, but we were asked to give a donation.
It isn’t surprising that Pililla windmills haven’t reached the ears of tourists yet. The Pililla windmills were a recent construction and only began operating summer of this year.
There was nothing to do here but relax, check out the windmills and feel the strong winds brush (in my case, terrifically blow dry) your hair. There was also a full view of the Laguna de Bay and, on the nearby hills, of tall grasses with white seed heads swaying with the wind.
It was a perfect way to end our day trip.
Day Trip Guide to Tanay, Rizal
Ever since I posted this, I’d received tons of inquiries. This section is an update so you can also plan your own Tanay Rizal day tour.
Alternatively, you can simply go on a joiner tour. We do not have any particular tour agency to recommend, but it’s easy to do a simple search in Facebook for Tanay Rizal tour packages. As of January 2020, rate is usually P799-999 per person for a joiner day tour.
How to get to Tanay
From EDSA, it takes about 2 hours to get to Tanay, Rizal.
- From EDSA Shaw, head to the terminal in front of Starmall and ride a van to Tanay (P70 per person). Alternatively, you may also ride a jeep (about P50 per person).
How to get around
If you know your way around Tanay, you can commute via jeepneys to your destination.
You can also charter a tricycle for the tour. Head to the public market or supermarket and look for the tricycle lines.
Personal suggestion: While commuting is possible, it’s a little inconvenient and it may be difficult to find a tricycle driver that will agree to take you to Calinawan Cave and the twin falls and then to other attractions in Tanay, Rizal. The Pililla Windmills in particular is quite far, as it’s not technically in Tanay but in Pililla municipality.
The easiest way to get around is via private car, so I suggest bringing your own wheels or forming a group so you can rent a van.
Day Trip Itinerary in Tanay, Rizal
Here’s an updated sample day trip itinerary to Tanay, Rizal:
|3AM – 5AM||Departure from Manila to Tanay|
|5:30AM – 7AM||Sunrise watching at Treasure Mountain|
|7AM – 8AM||Breakfast|
|8AM – 8:30AM||Head to Regina Rica|
|8:30AM – 9:30AM||Explore Regina Rica|
|9:30AM – 10:15AM||Head to Pillila Windmills|
|10:15AM – 10:45AM||Picture taking at Pililla Windmills|
|11AM – 12PM||Lunch|
|12PM – 12:45PM||Head to Calinawan Cave|
|1PM – 2PM||Spelunking at Calinawan Cave|
|2PM – 2:30PM||Head to Daranak Falls|
|2:30PM – 4:30PM||Swim at Daranak Falls and/or Batlag Falls|
|Optional: Bali of Tanay or Pasalubong Center|
|5PM – 7PM||Travel back to Manila|
Again, this is just a sample itinerary and you can customize it however you want. There are a few rising destinations in Tanay that you might want to include in your day trip as well, including the kawa hot bath in El Patio Razon.
P.S. Don’t forget to read our guide on the Top Things to Do in Tanay, Rizal.
Rates and expenses
Here are the current rates in Tanay, Rizal (Updated as of 2020):
- Calinawan Cave: Entrance fee: P20 per person / Guide fee: P200
- Daranak Falls: Entrance fee: P50 per person, kids below 3 feet are free of charge / Picnic shed – P300/picnic table – P200
- Batlag Falls: Entrance fee: P100 per person / Picnic table: P250
- Pililla Windmills: Entrance fee: None, donation only
- Tricycle tour: Around P400 or depending on your haggling skills
Budget depends on how many you are in a group. If you’re a group going in a van, a safe budget would be P1000-1500 per person.
There are also travel agencies offering convenient day trips in Tanay for around P999 per person.
Other things you have to know
Daranak Falls and Batlag Falls are managed by separate groups. Daranak Falls is a government-owned park, while Batlag Falls is privately owned by a family. You have to pass through Daranak Falls to get to Batlag Falls, which means you have to pay another entrance fee to get to Batlag Falls.
Daranak Falls is the more popular choice — in fact it’s the top destination in Tanay, Rizal. It’s also more developed, with a canteen where you can buy meals and a function room for large groups. That saying, Daranak Falls can get noisy and crowded on weekends and holidays. Batlag Falls is the better choice if you want a quieter commune with nature. There are picnic tables available where you can store your bags, though I’ve read some people just leave their bags under the trees.
Things to bring
Here are the things you should bring for this activity:
- Durable sandals for caving
- Swimwear and change of clothes
- Snacks and drinking water
Here are some contact information
- Calinawan Cave: 0936 246 3735
- Daranak Falls: Facebook
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