Go east of the metro into Rizal, and you’ll discover an abundance of not-so-hidden gems just a stone’s throw away from Manila. For one, the art scene is second to none, as you’ll see traversing from Antipolo to Angono. There’s also a thriving foodie circuit, with scenic restaurants and cosy cafes popping up everywhere in Rizal.
And for all its big city appeal, this province embraces its small-town charm: Age-old churches, small family-owned hotspots, and sweeping natural vistas of mountains, forests, rivers, and waterfalls. If you haven’t yet explored this incredible place, keep reading our Rizal travel guide for 2022 to start planning your trip east.
Given the sheer size of Rizal, there are different ways to get to the various parts of the province.
If you’re driving, there are two major access points to the Rizal Province Area: Ortigas Avenue Extension or Marikina-Infanta Highway (formerly Marcos Highway). However, it’s typically easier to get from Manila to the towns of San Mateo and Rodriguez by driving from Commonwealth Avenue to Batasan–San Mateo Road.
Commuters can ride jeepneys or vans to the various towns in Rizal. There are terminals located in Cubao, SM Megamall, Crossing, and Makati. If you’re coming from the city of Manila, buses like RRCG and G-Liner ply the Manila-Rizal route from Quiapo or Divisoria. Meanwhile, the bus terminal in Robinsons Antipolo also offers point-to-point trips to and from Robinsons Galleria and Greenhills. Recently, the terminal even opened routes going to Bicol, Samar, Leyte, and Bohol.
Where to stay in Rizal
Although most destinations in Rizal are close enough to the metro for a day trip, the province is a wonderful place for an overnight stay, too.
As the capital city of Rizal, Antipolo is a great base for exploring the province. Not only is the city accessible, but it’s also home to fantastic staycation spots. If you’re looking for hotel-style accommodations, there are options like LeBlanc Hotel and Resort, Date & Dine Resort, and Loreland Farm Resort.
But if you’d rather live like a local, we recommend finding a vacation rental for the weekend. From penthouse digs overlooking the metro to a serene family sanctuary with a private pool, you’ll find that some of the best staycations in the mountain city are beautifully designed Airbnbs. Try the secluded Anto House for an unforgettable farm stay overlooking Laguna de Bay and the hills of Angono.
For more suggestions on where to stay in Antipolo beyond our Rizal travel guide, read this.
Beyond the capital, there are endless options, too. One of the most well-known hotels in the region is Thunderbird Resorts in Binangonan, where travellers can expect a premium escape. Design lovers will fall in love with the Bali-inspired villa Balai Urunjing in Teresa, while Tata Amado in Morong is a quiet retreat with space for big groups.
Meanwhile, Tanay is a treasure trove of nature escapes in Rizal. Travel to some of our favourites: Camp Maysawa, Casa Balario, and Cabin in the Clouds. Outdoorsy types can also take the opportunity to sleep under the stars in the Sierra Madre. Treasure Mountain is an exceptional campsite that’s easily accessible.
For a complete list of our recommended Airbnbs in Tanay, read this.
Where to eat in Rizal
Food is one of the main attractions of the province, so it’s not surprising that you’ll have your pick of restaurants and cafes in Rizal. Besides the traditional kakanin sold in every town, Rizal boasts a variety of places to feast on both Filipino favourites and international fare, depending on what you’re craving. Every neighbourhood has its own hidden gem to recommend and contribute to any Rizal travel guide.
Many of the well-known dining spots are in the capital city of Antipolo. Try the tasting menu at Tahanan Bistro for Filipino fusion cuisine in a stunning house by a local artist. Crescent Moon Café and Studio Pottery is another artists’ haven serving delicious Southeast Asian dishes in a garden setting. And if it’s romance you’re after, book a table at Vieux Chalet, where you’ll savour European fare while gazing out into the glittering Manila skyline.
For more of our picks on where to eat in Antipolo, read this.
Likewise, ArtSector Gallery & Chimney Café 360 in Binangonan features all the ingredients of a quintessential Rizal getaway: good food, good art, and great views. Burrow Café is also an Instagram staple; here, you’ll savour brunch favourites surrounded by lush forests, glass windows, and pretty interiors. And make sure you visit Lutong Pugon when you’re in Tanay — not just for tasty wood-fired pizza but also to browse a small art gallery on site.
Time for a caffeine fix? Delicious brew is never far from where you are in Rizal. Popular cafes in the province that top our list include Kaulayaw Café, Palpitate Coffee, and Typica Coffee.
Best things to do in Rizal
1. Enjoy exploring artsy spots in Angono
Welcome to Angono, also known as the Art Capital of the Philippines. For travellers who appreciate local art and culture, this little town is a must-visit. It’s home to two renowned National Artists: Carlos “Botong” Francisco for painting and Lucio San Pedro for music.
Visitors can spend an entire day in Angono without running out of artsy places to explore. Even strolling outside is a treat, with the streets lined with vibrant murals. But start your Angono tour with the highlights, like the Blanco Family Museum which showcases an impressive collection of artworks by the Blanco family. Next, stop by the Nemiranda Arthaus to admire the works of renowned sculptor Nemecio Miranda. And, of course, you can’t miss Botong Francisco’s House for a peek at his private studio and paintings.
2. Get lost in the natural beauty of Tanay
Climbers troop to Tanay every weekend to scale the slopes of the magnificent Sierra Madre Mountain Range. It’s one of the best spots near Manila for a dose of fresh air and mountain views, so if you’re craving a nature escape, this is your stop.
Thanks to breathtaking views of a sea of clouds, Treasure Mountain is on top of many explorers’ bucket lists. Non-climbers will appreciate its accessibility; you won’t have to hike to the summit, and you can even drive your car straight to the campsite. Nagpatong Rock Formation is also popular among Insta-climbers, as the unique limestone cliffs make for unforgettable photoshoots.
Another beginner-friendly hike is the Mount Maynoba-Cayabu loop — this one’s for those willing to work up a sweat. Ready for a steeper climb? Mount Daraitan is stunning, albeit quite challenging for those unfamiliar with tougher hikes. Upon descending, make your way to Tinipak River at the foot of the mountain for one of the most picturesque rivers you’ll see in the country.
3. Find amazing bargains in Taytay
Should you find yourself bitten by the shopping bug, put Taytay on your Rizal travel itinerary. If you love ultra-cheap buys in Greenhills and Divisoria, then you’ll definitely have a ball in this town known as the Garments Capital of the Philippines. Here, you can revamp your whole wardrobe without breaking the bank. Another plus: Taytay shopping centres open much earlier than your typical mall, so you can start hoarding as early as 8 or 9am.
Drive through Taytay, and you’ll see most of the major shopping centres, including Taytay Mega Tiangge, Bagpi Garment Centre, and the Korean-inspired My Seoul Tiangge. Dresses, co-ords, sportswear, and even colourful costumes — you’ll find them all here!
4. Indulge in the great outdoors at Masungi Georeserve
A conservation area tucked in the unspoiled forests and limestone formations of Baras, Masungi Georeserve offers one of the most unique and awe-inspiring adventures in Rizal. Travel to this lush rainforest landscape to witness the natural grandeur of the province.
Here’s our tip: Be ready for a true outdoor expedition. The discovery trail will take you through hanging bridges, nature trails, rope ladders, a spiderweb, and a giant hammock — the experience may be more of an effort than you expected, but we promise the photos will be worth it! Rare animals will occasionally cross your path, like monitor lizards, monkeys, and all sorts of colourful birds.
5. Spend a day at Pinto Art Museum
Angono may be the art capital of the Philippines, but that doesn’t mean Antipolo is far behind. The mountain city is home to Pinto Art Museum, a sprawling contemporary museum and exhibition space that’s ever-evolving and a staple in any Rizal travel guide. There’s always something new here, so even if you’ve visited this artist sanctuary a few years ago, you’ll likely enjoy a second stop this year.
Paintings and sculptures by local artists fill the seven open-air galleries, each one bigger than the last. Every door leads to another hidden corner, making Pinto feel simultaneously cosy and boundless. Outside, art installations blend in the lush gardens. Even with weekend crowds and full parking outside, the museum doesn’t feel packed at all. Be mindful of the sloping terrain, though; the stairs throughout Pinto Art Museum may be difficult for the elderly to traverse.
There you have it, our Rizal travel guide for your 2022 adventure in the province. Whether you’re staying for a day, overnight, or a longer vacation, Rizal has more to offer than many people think. Ready to see what else is out there?
Featured image credit: Ladz Buhain | Unsplash