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5 Unique Things to Do in Laguna

by Eira Gruta

Hot springs, buko pie, Pagsanjan Falls, and Enchanted Kingdom—these are the usual suspects when you talk about Laguna.

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And while it’s always nice to visit the famous tourist spots and do the usual touristy things, any local would know that there’s so much more to discover when you take the road less traveled.

Here’s what you can see, do, and eat on your next escape to the unassuming but fascinating third-biggest province of CALABARZON.

Shabby Chic Dining in Modern Sta. Cruz

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Let’s start strong with the capital of Laguna: Sta. Cruz is an urban town that prides itself in being a first-class municipality. Among all that bustle, you’ll find a quaint restaurant that exudes country chic if you know where to look.

Ted’s Kitchen, a quirky food joint with an American folk art-inspired aesthetic, serves filling comfort food that always manages to hit the spot—it’s a place that’s a treat for both your tummy and eyes. The adjoining Ted’s Warehouse, an event venue that perfectly marries industrial grit with rustic accents, is an excellent choice for parties and wedding receptions. There’s a charming bed and breakfast within the compound, too!

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Instagram and Pinterest-worthy photo ops can be found in every corner of this diner. Don’t forget to try their cakes and pastries, like the Brazo de Aurora and Brazo de Fernando (brazo de Mercedes with a chocolate twist). If you’re a fan of avocado, you'll love that they serve it in cheesecake form.

While you’re in the area, grab a bite of Bibingka de Macapuno, a local delicacy that makes for great pasalubong at only ₱20-50. Tio Casio’s Bibingka de Macapuno at Bubukal, Sta. Cruz is where to go if you’re looking for a town favorite.

Ted’s Kitchen
National Highway, Sta. Cruz, Laguna
0917 544 0820

Liliw: More than Just for Your Feet

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Famous for selling affordable native footwear, Liliw, Laguna is a favorite stopover for people going to the Pahiyas Festival in the nearby town of Lucban, and for good reason. The locals are warm, the restored old houses are authentic, and the cool mountain springs are refreshing. And of course, the more than 80 shops at Gat Tayaw Street’s tsinelas lane is a haven for any shoe lover.

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Unlike the developed Sta. Cruz, there are no big malls in the town of Liliw. What it lacks in commercial complexes though, it makes up for in hole-in-the-wall restaurants offering delicious food. One of them, Arabela Café, is known for serving excellent pizza, pasta, and salads. You can't leave without trying their Kesong Puti Pizza, and the bestselling bread pudding for dessert.

Arabela Café
503 Plaza Rizal Street, Liliw, Laguna
(049) 563 2495

Wake Up to Art in Paete

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If Liliw is famous for their tsinelas, Paete is famous for their woodcarvings. With woodwork displays and stores just about everywhere, Laguna craftsmanship thrives in this town.

Kape Kesada is a nostalgic café and bed and breakfast in Paete that welcomes you with an art gallery as you walk in. Located along Quesada St., it features work by local painters and sculptors that will fuel your creativity. Should you decide to stay at the B&B, the café serves great kesong puti pan de sal, perfect for breakfast.

Kape Kesada
Quesada St, Paete, Laguna
(049) 557 1436

Get Inspired in San Pablo

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San Pablo is famous for its seven lakes—Lake Sampaloc, Lake Bunot, Lake Pandin and Yambo (The Twin Lakes), Lake Palakpakin, Lake Mohikap, and Lake Calibato.

That’s a lot ground (or should we say, water) to cover, so it’ll probably take a couple of days to see everything. Casa San Pablo, a picturesque B&B and artist residence, provides overnight accommodations for those who seek shelter. Charming and cozy, Casa San Pablo’s eclectic vintage ambience comes to life with paintings, sculptures, vintage toys, and various interesting knickknacks.

Casa San Pablo Bed & Breakfast
Colago Avenue, Barrio San Roque, San Pablo, Laguna
0917 812 6687

Be One with Nature in Los Baños

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Near Calamba is the town of Los Baños—famous for its buko pie, rice research institute, and the University of the Philippines campus (if you hop on a bus to get here, you can say “College”, and the conductor will know exactly where you’re headed).

And since this is a university town with both local and foreign students and researchers, it’s a nice mix of urban and rural. From restaurants with authentic international cuisine, to famed local dress shops, Los Baños has somewhat become a melting pot of cultures.

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But if you really want to see what this town is proud of, visit the Makiling Botanic Gardens. This is where you’ll discover beautiful flora and fauna you might never have seen before. Fun fact: A UPLB professor once told this writer that the natural resources in this town’s forest area are so bountiful, scientists actually find new species of insects with every visit.

Science buffs will enjoy the UPLB Museum of Natural History, a block away. And for the more adventurous ones, there’s a trail in the botanical gardens that’s good if you’re up for a trek in the woods. For those who want more of a challenge, you can check out a trail going to Peak 2. Registration for the climb is only ₱10!

Makiling Botanic Gardens
College of Forestry and Natural Resources, UPLB Campus, Los Baños, Laguna
(049) 536 2637
Daily, 8 AM - 4 PM

UPLB Museum of Natural History
College of Forestry and Natural Resources, UPLB Campus, Los Baños, Laguna
(049) 536 3669
Mondays to Saturdays, 8 AM - 5 PM

BONUS: Where to Get the Best Buko Pie

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Dubbed The Original, this popular spot is located along the National Highway, right in front of Heaven’s Garden Memorial Park. Long queues every day are good indicators of how well-loved this true OG is! Another town-favorite is Lety’s Buko Pie. They have a branch right beside The Original, so if you can’t choose, you might want to get a box of both.

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About Eira
Eira writes. She like books, going to concerts, meeting new people, and traveling—anywhere there's an adventure! She thinks every one of us has wanderlust, and those who have the courage to get on their feet and see the world are some of the best people in the world.

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