Traveling can be very addicting. Most of us who are obsessed about going to some place new whenever we have free time can relate to the common problem that frequent travelers have: financial constraints.
If you have to satisfy your itchy feet, where will you go if you only have a budget of P1,000? Will you be able to go out of Manila with only that much in your pocket?
Actually, you can. There’s a lot of cheap travel options to choose from, and one of them is Montalban, Rizal. It’s only 2 hours from Manila (add one more hour if there’s heavy traffic), and there are a number of things you can do there. Here are just two of them: visit the Avilon Zoo and have a relaxing time in Wawa Dam.
Avilon Zoo, Montalban
I live in Montalban, and almost every single day, I see busloads of people going to Avilon. I saw the reason why when I finally had the chance to go there. Avilon is the biggest zoological institution in the Philippines in terms of land area!
It has 3,000 live specimens in its 7.5-hectare facility, with over 500 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and a variety of freshwater fish. No wonder a lot of local and even foreign visitors go all the way to Montalban to see it!
Frankly, I don’t like zoos. I much prefer to see the animals in the wild. However, I can appreciate the reasons why they exist, and seeing the animals in Avilon made me wish that all zoos in Metro Manila were as big and as well maintained as Avilon.
The word Avilon means “land of birds,” and in fact, there are a lot of birds there, from parrots and cockatoos, to canaries, hornbills, and graceful flamingos.
There were birds of prey like hawks, eagles, and kites, and you can see the world’s largest pigeon here too, the Victoria Crown Pigeon, as well as some endangered species like the Cassowary and the Emu from Australia.
There are farm animals in the zoo, too, including carabaos, chickens, horses, and sheep. For those who like to be creeped out, you will certainly enjoy their exhibit of spiders and snakes!
I loved the primates exhibit. There were tarsiers, monkeys, and even a huge orangutan. Mostly though, I enjoyed the big cats. There were sunbears, tigers, and leopards. I wish they could be free though! They looked so cooped up in their cages.
There’s a tour hourly from 8am to 3pm, and I highly recommend taking it. Most of the cages don’t have name tags, so it will be quite difficult to identify the animals on your own.
Eating during the 2-hour tour is not allowed as there’s a separate area designated for picnics. Bring a lot of water and observe the no picture taking rules in some areas.
How to go to Avilon Zoo: From Cubao, Quezon City, take the FX vans bound for Eastwood parked in front of either Tropical Hut or in front of Jollibee, in Farmer’s along EDSA. One way costs P50 each. Once in Eastwood, take the orange tricycles to Avilon for P40.
Entrance: P400 for adults, P300 for children, free for infants
Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 8am-5pm, Weekends: 8am-6pm
For more info, call: +632 942.5960
Extreme Adventures in Montalban
Aside from Avilon Zoo, Montalban is also known for Wawa Dam, which used to be Manila’s primary water source until it was replaced by bigger and newer watershed systems.
Nowadays, Wawa serves mostly as a family vacation getaway—from Avilon, you can go swimming in the river (free), rafting (P100, the whole day), or just chilling in the numerous beach cottages there (P50-80 per day).
Those who are more into extreme sports adventures can also go rock climbing, mountain biking, or caving in Wawa Dam. The tourism office there has guides which can take you to some of the open cave systems that had been used as a hideaway by Filipino rebels in the 1900s.
There are numerous pool resorts too, and entrance can cost as low as P50 per head. Two of the cheapest ones (which means they can be very crowded during the summer season and on weekends!) are Dado’s Resort (+632 222-2781 and +632 389-8208) and Blue Water Resort (+63921-259-8154). They don’t have a website, so just call for details.
How to go to Wawa Dam, Montalban: Once you arrive in Eastwood Subdivision in Montalban, take the jeepney bound for Wawa or Yagit for only P7.