Travellers to The Philippines often miss out Manila and it’s surrounding provinces in favour of the beautiful islands such as Boracay, Cebu and Palawan. But those who do choose to stay in the bustling capital and enjoy Manila and the surrounding areas are most definitely rewarded. Just a couple of hours from the sprawling Metropolis is an absolute paradise for waterfall and adventure lovers. And the best part – hardly any tourists know about it! In the province of Laguna lies several waterfalls but the most impressive one is Hulugan Falls – a beautiful hidden tourist spot!
Hulugan Falls – hidden tourist spot in Laguna
Whilst the locals have known about Hulugan Falls for a long time, tourists have only really started visiting this spectacular waterfall in the last few years despite it’s proximity to the capital. Hulugan Falls is located in Luisiana – a sleepy town in the province of Laguna. At over 235 feet high, this waterfall is so impressive and one of the most magnificent ones I have ever visited! The water is so powerful and you can swim in the pool underneath the waterfall, it is really amazing! Read on to find more about how to get to Hulugan Falls as well as important safety information.
How to get to Hulugan Falls:
From Manila it will take you about 2.5 hours to get to Hulugan Falls. You can hire a driver (quicker) or take public transport (cheaper) to get here. Click here to see the location of Hulugan Falls on Google Maps.
Public transport from Manila:
- From either Buendia or Cubao bus terminals take a bus bound for Santa Cruz, Laguna. The journey costs 140 Philippino pesos (£2) and takes roughly 2 hours. Get off at Santa Cruz town.
- Then take a jeepney (Philippine’s most popular form of public transport) heading towards Lucban or Lucerna. The fare is 30 Philippino pesos (£0.40). There are many jeepneys available and it is a nice pleasant route. You need to get off a Barangay San Salvador. (Barangay is the Philippino word for a village/district and is often abbreviated to Brgy or Bgy).
- Get on the back of a tricycle to the Kapitan’s House. The ride is 20 PHP (£0.30) per person. At the Kapitan’s House you will need to register, which costs 30 PHP. If you need the toilet, go here at the Kapitan’s house as there is no toilet down at the falls.
Food and drink:
Try and bring some food and drinks with you as there won’t be many chances to buy it later. There are a couple of food and drink stalls along the way but they don’t have so much choice. At Hulugan Falls there is nothing so make sure you go down with enough water and food to last you.
Guide for Hulugan Falls:
Once you have registered at the Kapitan’s House a guide will lead you down the path to the falls by foot. The guide won’t bother you or hurry you up when you are down at the falls, he will just leave you to it and wait for you. The guide is primarily there for your safety. Remember you need to tip him afterwards – there is no fixed rate but give what you think is fair.
The path down to Hulugan Falls:
To reach the falls you go down a steep and slippery rocky path, and to get back you need to climb up the same way. Of course the climb back up is more challenging and it is definitely not as easy as you would think! It took us maybe 25 minutes to walk down to the falls. Our legs were a bit shaky afterwards but it was so worth it.
You’ll be able to hear the falls before you see them. When you reach the end of the path and catch a glimpse of Hulugan Falls, it’s hard for it not to take your breath away. The falls are so huge and powerful, literally it was overwhelming. It was honestly one of the most impressive waterfalls I have ever seen. What made it even more special was the fact that we were the only people there for almost 2 hours! It felt so surreal having this stunning natural beauty all to ourselves!
Swimming in Hulugan Falls:
First things first: the water is quite cold! Whilst we were hot from all the walking, it was really refreshing but still pretty cold!
- When you are getting into the water be careful as the rocks are so smooth. It’s very easy to slip when they are wet.
- Be careful as some parts of the pool are shallow but some parts are as deep as 10ft (3metres) .
- The water is not crystal clear, it can be a little bit murky if it has rained lately. Therefore do be careful when swimming that you don’t catch your leg on a rock as you won’t be able to see where it is shallow and where the water goes deeper.
- Diving is NOT allowed. This is for your safety as you cannot see how deep the water is!
- There is a rubber ring attached on a rope that you can use to help you get into the water.
- Be careful as whilst the rocks are quite smooth they can be uneven. Just look where you place your feet when you are walking as there are some big dips, like the one I am in below. You can easily fall in if you’re not looking, so be careful so you don’t fall and hurt yourself.
There are no tables or seats here, it’s literally just the falls and big rocks on the edges where you can put your belongings. It is so naturally beautiful here and even though it is bound to get busier year after year, I hope they will not make it commercialised or build any huts here. The natural beauty definitely deserves to be preserved.
What to bring to Hulugan Falls:
Swimsuit & towel
Obviously. There are no changing rooms here and not many places to hide, so try to have your swimming costume on underneath your clothes. Alternatively when you use the toilet at the Kapitan’s House, change there.
The spray from Hulugan Falls is strong and you really need a waterproof camera/go-pro or a waterproof phone case so it won’t get damaged! Even if you don’t get in the water you will get wet from the spray as it falls is so powerful!!
Bring food and drinks with you as there won’t be much chance to buy anything when you are here.
Definitely wear proper shoes. Depending on when it last rained will determine just how slippy the trails are. If it has rained lately they will be especially slippy.
If you have water shoes bring them! We didn’t have any but because the rocks were so slippy my friend slipped on one of the rocks when we were getting into the water and went flying!
The sun is strong in the Philippines and there is minimal shade at Hulugan Falls so make sure you are protected form the sun!
Best time to visit Hulugan Falls:
June – October is the rainy season in the Philippines. As with the majority of waterfalls, just after the rainy season is the best time to visit waterfalls as there will be plenty of water, it won’t be so crowded, and the walking trails are less muddy. For Hulugan Falls this makes November to January the perfect time to visit.
If you happen to visit during the rainy season months just make sure to not visit the waterfall right after it has rained as the water will be murky and the paths will be difficult to walk on because of the mud.
The dry season is late November until May, so this is when the weather is the best in the Philippines (particularly March to May). If you are visiting at this time however, before you go make sure you check when it last rained. If it hasn’t rained for a long time there may not be much water at the falls which would be very disappointing.
We went at the beginning of December which seemed like the perfect time to visit as the weather was good, there was a lot of water at the falls and there was nobody else there.
In regards to which day of the week to go: avoid weekends! Even though Hulugan Falls is still relatively unknown to tourists, it is very well known amongst the local people. Therefore it gets quite busy here at the weekends with local families so do try to go mid-week if possible. We were here mid-morning one weekday and it was only us for the 2 hours we spent there. It was so amazing to have the place to ourselves and I can imagine that if there are a lot of people there it definitely wouldn’t feel as special. Plus I have heard that at busier times there is a lifeguard here blowing his whistle, so go mid-week for a more authentic experience.
Other waterfalls in Luisiana:
There are a few other waterfalls near to Hulugan Falls. You can actually visit several in the same day if you set out early enough and plan your day out well. Due to time restrictions however, we only had time to visit one. Therefore we picked Hulugan Falls as it looked like the most impressive.
Nearby falls include Talay Falls, Hidden Falls and Aliw Falls. If you have the time you can actually hike from Talay Falls to Hidden Falls and then onto Hulugan Falls.
Aliw Falls however is the most impressive out of these three. It is also quite near to Hulugan Falls so I would definitely recommend visiting here over Talay Falls and Hidden Falls. Aliw Falls is certainly not as tall as Hulugan Falls at only 65 feet but it is very beautiful with several different tiers of rocks, so the water cascades down beautifully.
The waterfalls in Luisiana are much less well-known than the ones at Pagsanjan, a town just a few kilometres away. This means though that they are less touristy and cheaper to visit (at least for the time being!) – bonus! On a previous trip I had visited Pagsanjan, and whilst Pagsanjan and Cavinti Falls were beautiful, I much preferred Hulugan Falls. It was far more impressive and far less crowded (and cheaper)!!
Where to stay in Luisiana:
Accommodation options in Luisiana are very limited as the town is still adapting to the increase in tourism. If you want to stay nearby and don’t want to head back to Manila, the towns of Lucban and Pagsanjan offers accommodation and are fairly close to Luisiana.
Other day trips from Manila:
Manila is a great place to base yourself to explore some really stunning and easy to reach places!
Another place really worth a visit is Taal Volcano Island. Taal Volcano is an active volcano surrounded by the Taal lake. It is one of the most dangerous volcanoes on earth but you can hike to the top! You can see the crater behind and to the right of me in the picture, it is very beautiful. To reach Taal Volcano you need to take a boat across the lake. From there do the trek or take a horse up (they don’t treat the horses too nicely – just warning you).
It will take at least an hour to hike up on foot, the sun is strong and there is no shade. I highly recommend bringing a hat or buying one there (the ladies sell them at the start of the trek). I didn’t think I needed one and I actually caught sunstroke and so was in bed all the next day, not cool.
Visa Options for Philippines
If you’d like to take your time travelling around or even move here for a while there is a long-stay visa for The Philippines that you can get.
CLICK HERE to check out my favourite waterfall ever – Iguazu Falls!
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