Villa Escudero is a Plantation turned resort about 2 hours outside of Manila. Founded in 1880 and open to the public in 1981, this is a popular tourist destination for locals.
There are options for day tours and overnight packages, depending on your time restrictions. For my family, we opted for the overnight package. The cost for a house on the river came up to 2,650 pesos per person or about $60.00.
This is an excellent deal because it includes the night stay, access to the museum, a caribou ride and a Filipino buffet lunch, dinner and breakfast the following morning. (Note that this price is only for groups of 10 or more. If it is only 1 – 2 people the price goes up to $100 per person. Still not too bad for all that it comes with!)
The house next the river is very comfortable and made in a traditional island way… i.e. using bamboo and coconut lumber. The deck area is open air and offers a great view of the river. Try viewing it while lounging in a hammock and all your worries go away.
The houses can accommodate parties from 1 – 10. There are four rooms total; two rooms in each river house, but if the weather allows it, I recommend just camping out on a hammock.
Attractions & Activities
As mentioned, your overnight entry ticket comes with just more than a place to sleep. You can ride on a cart pulled by a caribou! (It moves super slowly, so if you are in a rush just walk! Otherwise, enjoy the ride and the view.) There is an onsite museum! It looks like a Barbie dream house, but is modeled after a church in Manila. It’s only painted pink because it is the owner’s favorite color. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take photos inside. Just know that there was a vast collection of antiques that the Escudero family has collected over the years. Everything from Filipino tribal artifacts, stuffed dead animals, religious pieces, shrunken heads and even a Chinese Terracotta Warrior. You can easily spend 2 hours in here. River Paddling! You can paddle on a bamboo raft on their river. It’s probably the most labor intensive activity they have, but the views of the river houses are unbeatable! It’s also a fun way to burn some calories from all the island food you consume while in the Philippines! 😉
Lastly, the man made waterfall and lunch area is their signature attraction. Take off your shoes and walk to a table. Although the waterfall is not natural, it doesn’t make it any less fun to be around and take pictures. The food served isn’t stellar but really, you are there for the experience! Wading in water to get lunch was something different for me and is without a doubt a must do when you are at Villa Escudero.
The beauty of a local tourist destination is the lack of tourists in general. It felt as if it was just my family inhabiting the whole Villa. This was a great way to ease into my time in the Philippines! Pro tip, if you are driving back into Manila, do it as early as possible as the traffic does become horrendous. The 2 hours it took to leave turned into 4 hours trying to get home!! Besides, waking up at the crack of dawn isn’t terrible.
You can mooch off of the Café Wi-Fi without any interruption or anyone else on the network.