The Christmas season is when most Filipinos get to spend time with family or catch up with friends. What better way to do so than go on a road trip for a fun bonding experience.
However, going on a road trip means sitting inside a vehicle for a long time. That’s why we at AutoDeal didn’t just list down the destinations you can go to this Yuletide season, but also paired it with cars that we think could help you have a better time on the road.
One of the more popular and closest beach havens to Metro Manila can be found in Batangas. It takes approximately 2 hours to get there by car, depending on which part of the province you're headed to. Batangas boasts a wide array of hotels and resorts that would fit anyone’s budget. You can either visit Burot beach and go camping or relax at the upscale Anilao Beach Club.
To get to Batangas, take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and continue to STAR Tollway. Your exit, either Lipa City or Batangas (Balagtas), which will again depend on the area of Batangas you're going to.
Roads going down to the beach can get steep at times that’s why we think the Subaru XV crossover could be one of the best cars to use for this trip. Aside from its 310 L worth of cargo space, its symmetrical all-wheel-drive can come in handy for extra grip especially on hill ascents/descents. The XV’s 6.2-inch touchscreen, leather trim, and climate control add up for a more entertaining and relaxing ride.
Fancy a quick, cool get away with the barkada? Head over to Tagaytay as it offers many tourist attractions, restaurants, and hotels overlooking the picturesque Taal Volcano all in just an hour and a half worth of driving.
There are good places to visit in Tagaytay such as the iconic Mushroom Burger, Bag of Beans Coffee Shop, Green Ats Bulalohan and Restaurant, and SkyRanch amusement park. All these don’t just offer great food or a place to catch up, it also has a beautiful view of the Taal Volcano/Lake.
Getting there is fairly easy as travellers can simply take SLEX and exit at ETON City (Greenfield), then follow the signs pointing to Sta. Rosa and, finally, to Tagaytay.
However, the problem with Tagaytay is the holiday traffic and its tight uphill roads. With this, having a compact yet torque-ish car such as the Hyundai Accent sedan (or hatchback version for a sporty look) would be a good choice. It offers consumers a subcompact sedan that has a 1.6 L diesel engine with 260 Nm of torque to easily pull its weight over a steep hill. Furthermore, it also has 387 L worth of cargo space in its trunk for a day or overnight trip.
Laguna (Nuvali and Enchanted Kingdom)
For those searching for a nearer option, Nuvali and Enchanted Kingdom are 2 destinations well within an hour’s reach from Makati. The former offers a good mix of outdoor sports, recreation, and stores while the later has exciting rides and fun activities.
To get to both places take SLEX. Exit at Greenfields if you’re headed to Nuvali and follow the signs pointing to Nuvali/Tagaytay. On the other hand, exit at Sta. Rosa then turn left to Sta. Rosa – Tagaytay road. Then, turn right to San Lorenzo Road and you’ll see the Enchanted Kingdom on your right.
A good vehicle to use for quick trips like these could be the Volkswagen Touran 7-seater MPV. Aside from its generous legroom and plenty storage compartments, the Touran has foldable 3rd row seats for 2 more passengers or added cargo space. Moreover, this German MPV boasts an impressive fuel economy of 19.6 km/l at an average speed of 80 km/h.
For larger groups, the Nissan NV350 Urvan and its many seating options could also be a suitable option.
Urbiztondo, La Union
If you would like to detox and have a relaxing time at the beach, we highly recommend going to Urbiztondo, La Union. The fine sand, clear blue sea, good food, and relatively slow pace are perfect for those who like to get away from the busy life in the metro. In case the adrenaline junky in you kicks in, worry not as ‘Elyu’ is also one of the well-known surf spots in the Philippines.
It’s a long 6 hour drive via NLEX, SCTEX, and TPLEX to La Union which makes having a car with good fuel-efficiency and entertainment system such as the Chevrolet Sail would be a nice choice. The new Sail has a fuel economy of 18.26 km/l and a 9-inch touchscreen head unit with Waze and Spotify. In addition, it is also the only subcompact sedan that has a sunroof as standard.
Baguio’s cold weather and abundant tourist spots provide a retreat from the heat and humidity of Manila even during Christmas time. Visitors can choose to take a leisurely stroll on parks such as Burnham and Mines View or go on a gastric adventure down along the famed Session Road.
However, getting there requires long hours on the road, passing through several national highways, and steep uphill roads. A powerful and spacious SUV packed with a premium entertainment system like the Ford Everest could be the ideal vehicle for the job.
The top-of-the-line Everest has a 3.2L diesel engine that can come up with 200 hp and 470 Nm of torque, mated to an automatic transmission and routed to all four wheels. Inside, an 8-inch touchscreen head unit loaded with Ford SYNC in-car connectivity connected to 10 speakers could keep its 7 passengers entertained for the long journey ahead.
BONUS: City of San Fernando, Pampanga
Just 66 km north of Manila, the City of San Fernando, Pampanga is known for the intricate and giant lanterns made there. Moreover, the city also holds an annual Giant Lantern Festival every December inviting flocks of tourists that want to see the light show.
Those who want to see the spectacle by car must head to NLEX and exit at San Fernando. Merge into Jose Abad Santos Avenue and take a slight right to MacArthur Highway straight onto the City of San Fernando.
Our top pick for this trip would be the Mazda 2 sedan. Apart from its eye-catching looks, this subcompact sedan comes loaded with SkyActiv technology. In a nutshell, it's a series of technologies, which include the engine, transmission, and body, developed by Mazda that will not only make your driving experience better but increase fuel efficiency and engine output as well.
Its top variant has comfort and entertainment features such as electronic automatic single zone temperature control, 7-inch touchscreen LCD routed to 6 speakers with Bluetooth connectivity, and leather upholstery as standard.
While each destination has its own way of giving you wonderful memories with your family or friends, wouldn’t it be better if the fun starts inside the car? After all, every moment with them count.