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Joyrides for Christmas 2017.

By Eric Tipan

If you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for the holidays or your Balikbayan relative wants a change of scenery - something provincial, with lots of trees and that breath of fresh air - an out of town trip is in order.

You may want to keep things on the ground as air traffic and airports in general will be highly congested this time of year. Besides, you don't want your plans inadvertently messed up because of flight delays and cancellations.

What you need to do is drive and if you haven't been out much, let me list down some familiar places that are now more accessible because of better highways leading out of the city.

Baguio

Because of the pine trees and the cool weather, Baguio is still #1 on the list.

In case you've been buried under a ton of paperwork, the Pozzorubio exit of TPLEX (Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway) was just opened last Dec. 6, making the drive to the City of Pines shorter than ever.

That cuts an extra 30 minutes to an hour from the trip, which allows you to make it all the way up to your hotel in a little under four hours, all while driving under the speed limit.

While traffic up in the city may be as bad as Metro Manila, there are plenty of destinations to make the whole thing worthwhile.

Check out the Christmas Village at The Manor (totally worth it), the amazing artistry down at the Ifugao woodcarver's village along Asin Road, the Harrison Road night market, or just the numerous delicious new restos with majestic vistas of Baguio.

Tagaytay

If you're averse to driving some 500 kilometers (both ways), but still want that cool weather, Tagaytay is your next bet.

While the best route is on SLEX (South Luzon Expressway) out through the Greenfield exit right after Balibago, it might actually take you close to four hours to get to Tagaytay City because of the number of public and private vehicles using the old Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road this time of the year.

Using Aguinaldo Highway from Coastal is another option but travel time could be more unpredictable because of traffic conditions.

Once you get to the top, choose from any of the cafes and restaurants offering a view of Taal lake lined up along the ridge. You can also bring the kids to several parks that offer a variety of attractions from horseback to Ferris wheel rides.

Vigan

Get ready for a really long drive if you decide to take in the old city charm of Vigan.

Drive an extra four hours from the TPLEX Pozzorubio exit and you'll see one of only six UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Sites in the Philippines, Vigan City in Ilocos Sur.

Take a trip down the country's memory lane by visiting Calle Crisologo, which something even the kids will love, or take them to the zoo at Baluarte Vigan.

And since you're in Vigan, try the cuisine because you don't get food items named after you if it isn't any good.

La Union

These two locations couldn't be further apart but for the safe of brevity and if it's the beach you seek, can't go wrong with La Union up north.

I would have included Pagupud on the list but it's still a good seven-hour drive from Pozzorubio exit and with a major airport in Laoag, it's a destination you'll be more inclined to fly to unless you're really hardcore.

La Union on the other hand, is just two hours away and with a couple of beautiful beaches where you can surf or swim and several waterfalls to marvel at, can't go wrong spending the Holidays here.

Nasugbu

Another beach town down south is Nasugbu in Batangas. If you're more into private resorts and less public beach, Nasugbu is where you want to go. You can take the scenic and shorter route through Tagaytay but if you hate stop-and-go traffic, take the much longer route along Star Tollway before exiting in Lipa and taking the national road through at least five cities to Nasugbu.

Pick and choose from any of the resorts lined up along the Nasugbu-Ternate Highway facing Nasugbu Bay but bear in mind that some require membership.

The gift of drive

I know the horrendous traffic congestion this Holiday season doesn't really inspire much driving but don't be a Grinch and let that prevent you from going places, seeing people and spreading Christmas cheer.

Give yourself the best gift a motorist will ever get, a highway with no one on it and a car full of your loves ones.

Now get behind the wheel, make the effort, go for that long drive and have yourself the merriest and jolliest Christmas ever.

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Title Annotation:Motoring
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Dec 21, 2017
Words:806
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