Disclaimer: All views expressed on this blog are my own based on my own experiences and do not represent of any entity with which I have been, are now or will be affiliated

July 20, 2022
Manila, Philippines

Date of Trip: July 16, 2022

I’m amazed by the local destinations in the Philippines especially the road less traveled . I used to see Pagsanjan falls when I was studying in elementary and high school from postcards and books. I always wanted to have my own postcard memories and this adventure made that happen.

Pagsanjan Falls, also known as Cavinti Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Philippines. Located in the province of Laguna which is South of Manila. It is an almost 3 hour trip by commute. The waterfall is reached by a river trip on dugout canoe, also known as Shooting the Rapids or by hiking trails. I tried shooting the rapids and I did not regret single ounce of it.

Restrictions

Pagsanjan Laguna is accepting leisure travelers provided that they follow the standard health protocol. No medical certificates, S-pass, RT-PCR test or vaccination card to be presented to some establishments or checkpoints. But I suggest to always bring your vaccination card and for your protection, have yourself vaccinated.

Getting Around Pagsanjan

I went on a solo trip. It’s been a while since I traveled to a place on my own. I enjoy being on my own as I can be a bit of a loner at times but of course, it’s always better with people around.

I first booked with Pagsanjan Falls Tour for my Shooting the Rapids adventure. I commuted from Buendia, Pasay terminal and rode a bus going to Sta Cruz Laguna. It took 2 hours and 30minutes going to Sta Cruz bus terminal. From Sta. Cruz terminal, you can ride jeepneys going to Pagsanjan. It took 15-30 minutes to travel to Pagsanjan via jeepney. Upon reaching Pagsanjan, I rode a tricycle to register and inquire to their tourism office just 5 minutes away from the town plaza.

Budget

My budget for this trip is Php4,500. The tour costs Php1,075 each but the boat is for pax of 2 so I have to pay for 2 so I can avail this tour. This was one of the cons of being a solo traveler, no one to share the expenses with. haha. You also have to provide tips to the driver and boatmen depending on how much you want to give. I spent Php1,000 pesos in total for just tipping. I over tipped because I was so happy, I will never do that again.

The transportation cost from Buendia to Sta Cruz is Php175. From Sta Cruz to Pagsanjan cost Php15. From Pagsanjan to Los Banos Php81 and Los Banos to Calamba Php 22. From Turbina terminal to Lipa, Batangas – Php89. Transportation cost Php382

I’d suggest to not book any agency going to Pagsanjan as it can get really crazy tipping people. Every move, you have to pay for their service. Please also bring cash all the time as establishments only accept cash but there are ATMs nearby where you can withdraw.

Language

People speak Tagalog and English.

Shooting the Rapids

I have to wait for the announcement of tourism on a Saturday morning because there was a torrential rain on Friday night but luckily I was informed that the tour will push through, I really wanted to see the falls and experience this as a solo traveler. I left Manila by 9am and arrived in Pagsanjan by almost 12 noon.

In Pagsanjan, I met my tour guide, Wernan and his son. He used to have a hostel near the Pagsanjan falls but due to pandemic they have to close down. It was unfortunate that tourism really died during pandemic and now they are slowly coming back again and I couldn’t be happier.

Once we arrived in the tourism office, I had a short briefing and met 2 boatmen who will accompany me to the falls. I was so ecstatic, it was so beautiful in the river and nature with a lot of dragon flies. It felt like a Lord of the Rings river scene movie, without Mordor haha.I enjoyed the breeze and the warmth of the day, it was really a beautiful day to be shooting the rapids. It was one for the books! I loved every single ounce of this adventure and when I saw the falls, I was mesmerized. I am actually loss for words of how wonderful my experience was.

Once we reached the falls, I had to ride a raft so I can be near falls and swim there. I had so much fun even if I was just solo, how much more if my friends were with me. Although, not everyone will enjoy this adventure, this was my definition of fun!

It took 1 hour to reach the falls and 1 hour again to go back to the land. I also met vloggers along the way who made a drone shot of me in the falls. You can follow them here.

Don’t go Chasing Waterfalls haha
Amazing Shooting the Rapids


Food in Laguna


Laguna is known for a lot of delicacies but for this blog, I’m going to speak about buko pies, buko pandesal and cassava cakes. My favorites are Orient – The Original Buko Pie Bakeshop and Mitz Cassava Cake.

I couldn’t miss to buy pasalubongs for my brother and dogs so I had to make a side trip to The Orient and Mitz, I was glad they were just along the highway so it wasn’t hard even by commute. Please note all these delicacies bakeshop only accept cash.

Buko pie (coconut pie) is said to have originated from the province of Laguna .The creators of this Filipino pastry were the Pahud sisters who were locals of the city of Los Baños, Laguna. The sisters stayed in the United States for work and when they came back to the Philippines, they started creating what they learned in the US which was apple pie. However, since apples were not native in the Philippines, they improvised and made buko as a filling and an alternative to apples since buko is one of the most important crops in the Philippines and mostly everywhere. And that is the beginning of The Orient Original Buko Pie.

The flavor of this pie is not too sweet which I liked so much, with buttery flaky crust, fresh and juicy coconut meat with custard filling. It only cost Php250/box and best served when warm.This is by far my most favorite of all the buko pies I have tasted.

Near the bakeshop was also food heaven as they cater to pandesal (soft and airy flour roll in the PHL) with buko filling, it was so delicious, the bread was soft and the filling was not too sweet! I love every bite of it.

Another Los Baños, Laguna gem is Mitz’s Cassava Cake. Cassava is a classic Filipino dessert. Mitz’s Cassava cake is cheesy, buttery, sweet nutty and melts in your mouth. I love it served warm as well. It cost Php350/box.

These bakeries are just within steps away from each other. It’s a stretch of food heaven!


Going back to Batangas

After a great trip to Pagsanjan and Los Banos, I had to move back to Batangas to be with my brother, but, it rained heavily going to Calamba where I was supposed to ride a van or bus going to province. Wernan, my guide, informed me that there was a terminal in SM Calamba. However, upon arriving in SM Calamba (a mall), unfortunately, so many people that I asked where the terminal was didn’t know how to help me and a tricycle driver cheated and took a chance to give me a ride when there was a terminal in the mall itself, that fucker. He brought me to Turbina which was 15 minutes away from Calamba and had to wait for a bus to arrive and since it was raining, it was difficult to commute and we’re already be standing in the next bus.

Although, I had a bad experience in Calamba. I met a local in Batangas who was also waiting in line for the bus to arrive. Her name is Emz, she’s gay and so funny. I loved every conversation we had. Although we waited for 30 minutes until the bus arrived and we were standing for 1 hour of our trip going to Batangas, it was still bearable as we were just having fun sharing stories in our journey. It was so so unexpected that’s why I love traveling solo, and next thing I know, I gained another friend. She was so awesome and will connect with her on her birthday soon. We reached Lipa, Batangas by 8:00pm.

I love traveling solo. Although, there are people who will take advantage of that especially if you are a female traveler. I had instances where people asked me who I was with, my response was always “I was with friends” unless they are cute. haha! But, I also learn a lot traveling solo, I am more curious, open, attentive and street smart. I also gained a lot of perspective in life and of course a lot of friends a long the way.

I will still come back to Pagsanjan Falls and I will bring my adventurous friends. It’s really a postcard of memories in Laguna. I’d repeat this experience in a heart beat.

Love,
Maria, sometimes Niskie