Tagaytay Family Holiday, Album 1

Cool, fresh air of December, blue-gray skies, and a view of the smallest active volcano en route to our destination -- Tagaytay.

It's been three long years since I last went to this beautiful and bustling city south of the metro. It was December of 2006 when we had a day trip and celebrated my mom-in-law's birthday. Fast forward to 2009, we decided to have a more relaxed stay and spent a night during the last holiday of the year. All I can say is we had an amazing family-bonding experience.  The kids just can't stop raving about this trip and kept asking to go back and ride the horse again, and again, and again!

If you've been following my blog, I just got me a spanking new dSLR for Christmas so this trip was a great opportunity for me to be click-happy and tinker with my new 'toy'. So allow me to reminisce as I share our memorable Tagaytay trip through these images.

Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City

I am not quite tech-savvy but I often use the net for the sheer convenience of doing some shopping and travel reservations. So after surfing around for kid-friendly accommodations, I finally decided to book an overnight stay at Taal Vista Hotel, one of the most prominent and historic hotels in the city. Too bad I failed to take a shot of the facade of this beautiful hotel.

As soon as we arrived at the town proper, we headed straight to the horses!  Tagaytay is best known for leisurely activities like horseback riding, picnics in the park, sightseeing by the Taal lake and volcano, aside from the gastronomic delights that will tempt you everywhere you turn. It surely makes for an exciting weekend getaway for families and groups of friends as it's only about 90 minutes away from Manila.

This is the kids' first real horse ride, and mine too! The field is just along Aguinaldo Highway just before you reach Taal Vista Hotel.

Cousins, taking a break from their horse ride

For those who are not so fond of our galloping friends, you may opt to ride the horse-drawn carriage or 'karitela', and maybe pedal your way around the field in a tricycle, more popularly known here as a 'sidecar' or 'pedicab', just like what my father did (",)

Taal lake as viewed from the horse field

Snapshots of the rest of my family

A magnificent tree that welcomes guests at the lobby of Taal Vista Hotel

After about an hour under the sunny skies with the horses, we headed to the hotel to check in and freshen up before having our lunch at Leslie's Tagaytay Restaurant.

The girl playing shutterbug with her own (toy) camera while we checked in at the hotel

With so many dining places to choose from in and around this cool city, we finally decided to dine at Leslie's with an overlooking view of the lake and famous volcano.
At the viewing deck of Leslie's, kids posing for a souvenir shot with the volcano and lake as backdrop

Leslie's serve popular Filipino fares, fresh from the grill and cooked home-style, reasonably-priced and so delicious. Everything we ordered were very tasty and filling. My side of the family are all hearty eaters, even critical at some point especially having a great cook for a mom. So for us to say the food is to our liking, then believe it, they are really good. They are far from gourmet meals, but all very satisfying nonetheless. We arrived before 12 noon, just in time as 15 minutes passed and the place was packed full and with a waiting list.

Your trip will not be complete without slurping a bowl of warm Bulalo soup, one dish which Tagaytay is famous for, as the beef is from locally grazed cattle.  The soup is boiled beef shank (with bone marrow --  the best part!) with cabbage, potatoes, green beans and corn. Ultimate Tagaytay comfort food!

Sizzling sisig is one of the most popular appetizers and beer-match side dish in the country.  Originally from the province of Pampanga, this dish has been reincarnated in so many different ways in most bars and resto-grills.  Leslie's version was dry and crunchy, and I liked it! Made from chopped pig's ears, brain, innards, sauteed in garlic and red onions, served on a sizzling hot plate. Sounds gross but tastes really yummy! Here's a related feature on this Filipino 'street food' from my friend at Folie a Deux. 

Pinakbet, native to Ilocos province, is our all-time favorite Pinoy vegatable dish, and this did not disappoint. Just the right balance of the salty bagoong (shrimp paste) flavoring the fresh mix of textures from okra, string beans, squash, eggplant and bitter gourd.

Another sizzling dish was this mildly spicy squid with sweet-salty bell-pepper sauce.  The squid was cooked perfectly, still tender. Good but nothing really special about this.
These crispy fried small Tawilis fish (Sardinella, widely abundant in Taal Lake) was really appetizing especially when dipped in onion-and-chili-spiced vinegar, eaten from head to tail!

We also ordered grilled pork belly and another dish that escapes me at this time. Sorry no photos.

I highly recommend this restaurant for those of you who plan to visit. Leslie's is located along Aguinaldo Highway and you will not miss it as you pass the restaurant row on this main road.  We left so full and happy, hehe...

Our lunch at Leslie's was even made more pleasant with a serenade by their local band as they sang popular Christmas songs, much to the kids' delight (",)

Coming next is our tour of Paradizoo and a relaxing stay at the hotel.

To learn more about the history of the city and how to get there, you may check out the official website of Tagaytay.

I apologize for a late post as our supposedly reliable Sky Broadband (DSL) failed to connect for a few hours and so I missed Friday.

Album 2 and Album 3 can now be viewed.


  1. Lovely food photos! I see someone's camera has been clicking non-stop. :)

    Tagaytay is my family's fave weekend retreat. But this summer, I have made reservations for a resort in Laiya, Batangas. Hope the kids and hubby will approve of my choice.

  2. thanks tina! trying so hard haha :) I really have you to thank for your great posts on your Tagaytay trips, and your Paradizoo trip is the main reason why I decided to have a tour there as well! Orginally, we intended to book at Acquatico (is this your choice for summer? hehe) but it was full by the time I inquired, maybe this Arpil...

  3. Home away from home. I'm sure you had a great time. The photos are gorgeous. Speaking of watermark, yours are nice too. The food is mouthwatering. Maybe you can help me. I'm not good in preparing okra but how do you prevent it from becoming slimy? The pinakbet is always a favorite whenever we order them at restaurants. The best one I had was in Boracay! And I'm sure you enjoyed your new camera too. :D

  4. Hi,
    Is Taal Vista Hotel the same one as Taal Vista Lodge? I only remember Taal Vista Lodge, but of course it's been more than a decade since I've visited Tagaytay!! Is Leslie's a new restaurant also? I don't remember a Leslie's in the 90's, hehe. I do remember eating at Gourmet's Cafe and also some resto-grill near the roundabout. Thanks for taking me back down memory lane. Memories...
    P.S. Thanks for the link as well :)

  5. Divina - thanks! this blog is still a work in progress, photos included :D About the Okra, i guess it will always be slimy, but when i cook it, i don't cut up too small and keep the head, and cook no more than 10mins. sometimes i just boil it whole and dip in bagoong-vinegar sauce, yum! i think i'll do a post on that ;)

    Fong - the Lodge and Hotel is one and the same :) the hotel was renovated after being bought by the real estate company of Henry Sy. Gourmet's Cafe and Josephines are still there, but so many good restos have opened since the 90s.


I appreciate your thoughts on this post. Thanks and do visit again!