Rizal is a mountainous province that sits to the east of the Philippines' capital, Manila. It is only a few hours away from Manila, around 19 KM, and is perched on the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain. It is named after the country's national hero, Jose Rizal.
Due to its location near the country's capital, it has become a popular destination for day tours from Manila for families and large groups looking for a weekend getaway. Its cooler weather also makes it an attractive spot for those wanting a refreshing retreat from the Philippines' generally warm atmosphere.
Among Rizal's many charms are the natural attractions nestled in the province. Visitors can hike up a mountain, explore a cave, or take a dip in a waterfall during Rizal tours. On the other hand, travelers can also simply rest and recharge in the many Rizal accommodations such as Antipolo resorts.
To help you plan your trip, we've compiled a list of the best Rizal tourist spots to add to your itinerary.
The Calinawan Cave is a series of caves located in Barangay Tandang Kutyo in Tanay, Rizal. It contains different levels and chambers that tourists can explore. It is also known as a historical site since it was used as a hideout by Filipinos during World War II. Today, it is a popular filming location for movies and TV shows. Situated about 3.5 KM from the cave is Daranak Falls.
The falls are 14-meters tall and are nestled at the foot of the Tanay mountains. It is also surrounded by lush greeneries, contributing to its cool and refreshing atmosphere. Aside from swimming here, visitors can also climb the side of the falls to jump into the water below.
Groups can also rent the picnic sheds and tables to enjoy a meal by the cascading waterfalls. Similar to Calinawan Cave, the falls have also become a go-to spot for filming all kinds of videos.
Photo by Avilon Zoo
Avilon Zoo is a 7.5-hectare facility that cares for the largest collection of animals in the Philippines. This family-friendly center is located in the town of Rodriguez and has over 3,000 specimens of exotic wildlife under its roof. Their impressive collection consists of more than 500 types of mammals, birds, reptiles, freshwater fish, amphibians, and invertebrates.
The center also houses a large array of animals that are endemic to our country. The majority of these local fauns were born in captivity under the zoo's off-site conservation program. Visitors are free to explore the facility on their own, but the staff also offers guided tours of the zoo. Among the animals they take care of are the Northern Luzon Cloud Rat, Philippine Falconet, Bornean Orangutan, and Young Philippine Carabao.
While you get a closer look at these beautiful animals, the center invites tourists to feed some species as well for a more friendly encounter.
The Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs are an important historic site because it is believed to be the oldest known artworks in the country. These ancient images were carved into a wall of solid rock in the mountainside of Angono and Binangonan.
They span 25 meters of the wall and measure up to 3.7 meters from the ground. The images depict 127 human and animal figures, which are said to be associated with magic and healing.
While archaeologists estimate that they were made during the Neolithic period, the petroglyphs were only discovered back in 1965 by the late National Artist of the Philippines, Carlos V. Francisco. He himself was a muralist and a native of Angono.
Following his breakthrough, the National Museum of the Philippines built a view deck where visitors could safely admire the ancient piece of art. Today, it is recognized as one of the Philippines' National Cultural Treasures.
Photo by ATV Adventures Rizal
Another great activity to try in this province is ATV riding across the rugged terrain and muddy trails of lush forests. Visitors can take part in this adrenaline-pumping activity at the ATV Adventures Rizal.
It is located along Sapinit Road in Antipolo, the provincial capital. Travelers, including families and large groups, can choose to ride these 4x4 vehicles across different trails and offer safety demos for beginners.
Each trail comes with the service of a tour guide who will ensure your safety as you traverse the rough paths. Certain trails also include treks to stunning rivers and waterfalls that visitors can take a refreshing dip in.
Besides swimming, you can also go fun boating along the river or even go camping in one of the campsites on their overnight trail. As you ride through the vast forests and rocky roads, you can avail of photo and video services as well to capture your thrilling adventure.
Hinulugang Taktak is a 70-feet-tall waterfall that is nestled in Antipolo City. It is one of the nearest waterfalls from Manila and is about 84 feet in width. The stunning waterscape was named as such because a large bell (taktak) was dropped (hinulog) into it in the 15th or 16th century.
The bell was thrown there because locals disliked how loud it was when it was rung. In the following years, the area surrounding the falls has been designated as a protected area and a national park.
Though pollution in the 1990s made the water unsafe for recreational purposes such as swimming, visitors can still take a dip in the pool close to the falls. A cemented viewing deck has been built as well so tourists can get a better view of the falling water.
The whole park spans 3.2 hectares and also features attractions such as hanging bridges amid the canopy of trees in the park.
Wawa Dam is another spot that is beloved by locals for the cool water that falls from it. The dam is located in the Montalban Gorge along the Marikina River. It was originally built to provide water to Manila back in 1909 during the American colonial period.
However, it was eventually abandoned in 1968 after the Angat Dam was opened. Since then, it has become a popular spot for swimming and hiking.
The water rushing from the top of the dam also makes it look like a large waterfall and is a great attraction to take photos of. Travelers can also take a dip in the portion of the Marikina River near the dam to enjoy the cool waters.
After swimming, you can rent one of the bamboo cottages situated at the foot of the dam to have a meal while soaking your feet in the running water. Lush greens also surround the dam as it is part of Pamitinan Protected Landscape.
Photo by Cloud 9 Antipolo Hanging Bridge 360view
To get a panoramic view of Antipolo City, the province's capital, look no further than the Cloud 9 Hotel and Resort. This resort features three buildings that contain a total of 78 rooms and a swimming pool, but its most noteworthy attraction is its 360(degree symbol) View Deck.
It sits on the top of a towering building that travelers can only reach by crossing a hanging bridge that connects to a smaller building. Once you set foot on the deck, you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the cityscape. One of the best times to visit is in the late afternoon so you can watch the sunset.
Aside from the viewing deck, visitors can also cross the resort's metal walkway. Thanks to the lush plants that grow along its railings, the path resembles a tunnel made of leaves and has become a popular spot to take photos in. After taking in the gorgeous views of the cityscape, you can then enjoy a meal at the resort's restaurant that serves an array of Filipino dishes.
Rizal is also well-known as a top destination for hiking in the Philippines. It's perfect for hikers of all levels, thanks to a multitude of mountains that are found here. Two of the best peaks in this province are the two limestone mountains called Mt. Pamitinan and Mt. Binicayan.
Mt. Pamitinan is located in the Pamitinan Protected Landscape that also consists of Wawa Dam. Meanwhile, Mt. Binicayan stands across the Marikina River.
Both peaks have their own designated hiking trails that lead up to their respective summits. Since the two paths involve climbing past rough limestone rocks, it is best to bring gloves to help you get a better grip on them.
Once you reach the summit of either mountain, you will be rewarded with a gorgeous, panoramic view of the vibrant forestry lining the Marikina River and the neighboring mountains. The best time to go on hiking tours to these peaks is in the early morning, so you can also sit back and enjoy the sunrise from more than 423 meters above sea level.
Photo by Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Mount Purro Nature Reserve is an eco-park nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. It's one of the best resorts in Antipolo, Rizal. Visitors often come here to reconnect with nature and enjoy the overall quiet atmosphere this nature reserve cultivates.
Its accommodations are heavily inspired by the Bahay Kubo, a traditional Filipino home often made from bamboo and similar materials. Travelers can stay in various cottages that can fit between 4 to 15 people, depending on the type you book.
To help you appreciate nature, this top Rizal resort does not have air-conditioning but stays cool thanks to the fresh air that breezes through the complex. It also only has a limited signal for cellphones and does not offer free WiFi to help minimize distractions during your stay here.
Visitors can also take a dip in the resort's swimming pool or enjoy the activities offered in the game room and nature playscape. The staff also offers forest hikes and river walks for those looking to explore the nature around the eco-park.
Tinipak River is another of Rizal's hidden gems that have gained recognition over the years. Tourists can find this stunning river that runs through white marble rocks in Barangay Daraitan and is one of the stops on the way to Mt. Daraitan.
Visitors often spend time here to take a dip in its pristine, clear waters before continuing the hike up to the mountain's peak or to relax after the descent.
You can also sit by the river's shore to enjoy a simple picnic. If you would like to extend your visit to appreciate the river and its surroundings more, you can choose to spend the night here as well.
Tourists can bring their own tents or rent one from the team caring for the camping grounds. Aside from swimming in the river, visitors can also explore the nearby cave that contains natural streams and pools of water.
From Tinipak River, you can then continue your adventure and make your up to the peak of Mt. Daraitan. This mountain is part of the Sierra Madre mountain range, and with a difficulty level of 4 out of 9, it is a great climb for beginners.
The designated hiking trail spans 600 meters and will take you through the mountain's abundant forest. Travelers will also pass some jagged limestones on the way up, but there are bamboo railings that you can hold on to. Your guide will show how to maneuver through the areas as well.
The summit is 739 meters above sea level and offers a grand view of the Tinipak River and other mountains in the Sierra Madre range. Travelers can also set up camp here to watch the sunset and sunrise from this mountaintop.
The best time to go on a day hike up Mt. Daraitan is on the weekdays so that you can avoid the larger crowds on weekends. You can also join a Mt. Daraitan hiking tour that includes a trip to Tinipak River.
On the rolling hills of Pililla sit 27 giant wind turbines that provide clean energy to Manila. These large structures are as tall as 33-story buildings or 125 meters and bring clean wind energy to approximately 66,000 households in our country's capital city. Tourists go here to enjoy the cool, strong gusts of wind that the turbines turn into electricity and to admire the towering fans as well.
During Holy Week, which typically takes place between March and April every year, an average of 130,000 tourists come to see the turbines up close. Aside from providing renewable energy, the Pililla Wind Farm also helps the local businesses by bringing in new customers to the area.
After gazing at the turbines, you can also drop by the visitor's center to learn more about the site and the benefits of wind energy. Here, tourists can view 18 information panels that explain and celebrate the effects of renewable power.
Photo by Cyril Vidal (from Antipolo Cathedral's Facebook Page)
The Antipolo Cathedral sits atop a hill in Antipolo City from where visitors can get a panoramic view of the cityscape below. This church was completed in 1632 and has been a well-known destination for travelers since it houses the image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.
Among the many visitors who paid respect to the wooden sculpture was our country's national hero, the late Jose Rizal, who came with his father back in 1868. Locals also go there to get their new cars blessed or before a long trip in hopes of getting to their destinations safely.
However, the cathedral also had its fair share of troubles and was destroyed during World War II. Following the war, architect Jose L. de Ocampo designed a new shrine that was completed in 1954.
One of the most important events that are celebrated here is the commemorative thanksgiving mass that takes place on the first Tuesday of May. This holy ceremony marks the start of the pilgrimage season and started back in 1947.
Photo by the Department of Tourism - Philippines
Pinto Art Museum is an open-air exhibition space that is located inside a two-hectare botanical garden in Antipolo City. This gallery was founded back in 2010 by Filipino neurologist Dr. Joven Cuanang so he could share his large art collection with the public. It's also one of the top tourist spots in Antipolo.
As an avid advocate of the arts, Dr. Cuanang's collection features paintings and sculptures from Filipino artists such as Elmer Borlongan, Geraldine Javier, and Marina Cruz, among others. The museum also consists of artworks that date back to the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines.
The whole collection is also spread across various white buildings that resemble Mediterranean architecture. While you are free to roam around the museum, the staff also offers guided tours for those looking to dive deeper into the history of the pieces.
As you make your way through the various exhibits, you can also enjoy a delicious meal and a rich cup of coffee at the in-house coffee shop called Cafe Rizal. Travelers can also visit a minimalist chapel inside the museum grounds that contain unique statues.
The Masungi Georeserve is a nature conservation center situated in the Sierra Madre mountain range in Baras, Rizal. The complex features stunning limestone peaks, lush rainforests, and caves with stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Visitors can explore the whole area by walking on hanging bridges above the limestone formations. The paths are made of sturdy metal to ensure the safety of travelers and the natural landscape as well.
The most popular attraction here is the Sapot (Cobweb in English), a suspended metal netting above limestones. From here, you can get a 360-degree view of the Sierra Madre mountain range and the Laguna de Bay. Travelers can also rest in an open-air bamboo house that sits in the middle of a long bridge and is suspended above tree crowns.
After exploring the diverse landscape, you can then look over the city skyline while enjoying a tasty meal at a hilltop glass hut inside the complex. To properly care for the natural landscape, the center only accepts a limited number of visitors per day, so make sure to call ahead to secure a spot.
Escape to the Breathtaking Tourist Spots of Rizal
Home to an array of natural wonders, Rizal continues to prove itself as an attractive destination for weekend getaways in the country. Along with its vivid forestries and grand waterfalls, this province also boasts cultural and religious sites that have been integral to the Philippines' history.
Because of its wide array of attractions, Rizal is an excellent choice for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the Philippines. Whether you're in the mood for some well-deserved peace and quiet or a thrilling adventure, Rizal's outdoors has the perfect match for you. Check out Rizal tours that you can book for a hassle-free getaway.