Right off the boundary of Quezon and Laguna province is Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort, a favorite destination of the balikbayan (a Filipino visiting or returning to the Philippines after a period of living in another country). It’s a two- to three-hour drive from Manila or Cavite, and I visited the place for the first time in 2015. After blogging about Villa Escudero that year, this became one of my most popular blog posts—until the pandemic halted travel in 2020.
Fast-forward to February 2022, Villa Escudero has returned to regular operations—with health protocols in place.
The day-pass price ranges from ₱1,100 to ₱1,600, depending on what day of the week and what month of the year you visit. Whenever people ask me, I just say it’s an average of ₱1,400 per person. Click here for updated ticket prices. As you scroll down below for my day trip guide, please note that the photos were taken before the pandemic.
It’s best to arrive at 10 a.m. or earlier. After paying for your day-trip entrance fee (this DOES NOT include an overnight stay), keep your ticket stub and sip your welcome drink. The typical route is as follows:
1. Carabao ride
2. One-hour visit to the Memorial Museum
3. Village tour
4. Waterfall restaurant for lunch
5. Cultural show at 2 p.m.
6. Bamboo rafting
7. Other recreational activities, like swimming at the pool or bird watching
I blame it on those edited viral videos. If you’re expecting to see a jaw-dropping gift from Mother Nature like I did, you need to know the cold, hard truth: Villa Escudero’s waterfall is man-made. It was structured to blend in with the plantation river. The lunch area is strategically placed next to the artificial falls so that you may enjoy eating while spring water flows under your feet.
I wouldn’t call it a disappointment, especially since the owners never actually gave false advertising about the waterfall. I find it ludicrous how many tourists unleashed their wrath at Trip Advisor for this. Relax, people. For the ₱1,400 (US $27) all-in entrance fee, did you really expect to have an orgasmic Niagara Falls experience?
A few tips when hanging out by the falls:
1. Wear shorts because your legs will be submerged in water throughout lunch.
2. Pack extra clothes and apply sunscreen because you will get tempted to bathe under the falls.
3. Walk carefully to avoid slipping on the algae that naturally forms on the cement.
4. Don’t be scared when you feel something slithering by your feet. They’re just fish.
Eat as much lunch as you want at the waterfall restaurant, but don’t expect a five-star luxury meal. Instead, you’ll experience a typical Filipino salu-salo (get together or party) where you can eat rice and ulam (entrées) with your hands on a banana leaf plate. Bagoong (fermented shrimp paste), sliced green mangoes, sinigang (hot soup), inihaw na tilapia (smoked fish), and many other Filipino dishes are served on the native-style buffet table. For an extra fee, order fresh buko (coconut).
Ask your friends to take pictures of you having lunch with the cascading waters as your backdrop and a flowing stream of spring water under your feet. They also have in-house photographers, who will take your photos using their camera and then sell you the printed photos a la ’90s Pinoy wedding. Man-made or otherwise, this waterfall experience is one for the books.
The Filipino Experience
For tourists and foreigners, the 2 p.m. cultural show is a great introduction to Filipino culture. The dancers and musicians will present our country’s customs and brief colonial history with a series of performances narrated in English. The show covers the basics of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, and it reminded me of the history lessons I learned back in grade school.
The cultural show happens only on Thursdays to Sundays and holidays, so if you’re taking tourists to see this show, make sure you book accordingly.
When you leave the show and walk around Villa Escudero, you’ll notice a lot of statues that depict Filipinos in traditional costumes reenacting Filipino customs such as pangliligaw or courtship.
Raft and Explore
Other free activities include bird watching and swimming at the pool. Don’t miss paddling down Lake Labasin on a bamboo raft. Walk around the resort and admire the Escudero clan’s collection of historical artifacts, including a rundown plane and World War tank.
But Wait, There’s More!
If you’re still hopping like an Energizer Bunny by late afternoon, there’s a slew of activities you can do, like fishing, table tennis, hiking, and biking. Yes, they’re all still part of the day ticket.
Villa Escudero is located at Villa Escudero, Km 91, Tiaong, Quezon.
Telephone numbers: +63 (02) 8-523-0392, +63 (02) 8-521-0830, +63 (02) 8-523-2944, and +63 917-583-7727. Walk-ins are allowed, but you may also reserve tickets online.
“Villa Escudero: A ₱1,400 Deal” was originally published on April 16, 2015.
Blog post updated on June 10, 2019.
Blog post updated on April 30, 2022.