The City of 7 Lakes- San Pablo City is just an hour away from my home but I haven’t seen them all prior to my 100 days Philippine tour. There is this thought that, “It’s near and I can just go there anytime so I guess I would go to the far places first.” Anyway, I would like to share with you a Do-It-Yourself Tour of San Pablo City, also including a short stop-over in Nagcarlan and Liliw (recommended especially if you are traveling with ladies as they love shopping).
I made a map that can serve as your guide:
The San Pablo Lakes Tour is kinda boring when done alone. So during this trip I am with friends Arvin, Emm, Aggy and Nikki. It was a nice trip because its just a spur of the moment and we don’t have any plan. Everyone experienced the trip for the first time, just relying on the Google map on Arvin’s phone and mostly asking locals for direction. It was a fun DIY tour.
If you are wondering, these 7 crater lakes are formed by phreatomagmatic eruptions, in layman’s term- an eruption where ground water comes in contact with hot magma.
1. Sampaloc Lake.
We made San Pablo City Church our meeting place. By 9am we were already at San Pablo Lake (this should be earlier but someone from the group came late). The sun is already hot so don’t forget to bring water and umbrella unless you want to get skin cancer.
Sampaloc Lake is just near the city proper and has lots of restaurants around it. Vendors can also be found around the lake so don’t worry of getting hungry. Among the seven lakes, this is the biggest. Sadly, this is also the dirtiest as illegal settlers and fish pens can be found here. If you love running, this lake is part of the route for San Pablo Milo Marathon (21K).
2. Bunot Lake.
From Sampaloc we hailed a tricycle to Bunot Lake. As this is also near Sampaloc, we found it to be dirty too still some kids are enjoying the waters for a quick dip.
3. Kalibato Lake.
We walked some meters to the highway and took a jeepney to bring us to Calibato Lake. From the highway you have to walk about 10 minutes to reach the lake. You will also find some tilapia vendors before the entrance to the lake. If you brought car and picnic stuff, you can buy for some “inihaw na tilapia” when you go to Pandin.
4. Pandin Lake.
After the Kalibato Lake, we took a jeepney to Pandin Lake. Lake Pandin offers tours on a balsa, locals call it “lamon” here, for Php200, add another Php200 for a heavy lunch of tilapia and some shrimps. We didn’t take the tour and the lunch as its over-priced.
We met kids playing in Pandin, they showed us Yambo fruit and turtles that are proved to be harmful in this lake. I don’t know what it is called, but they say that these turtles are just introduced here. They collect these turtles because it damaging the fish nets.
5. Yambo Lake
Pandin’s Twin lake is Yambo. We reached this with the help of our young guides, Clifford and Erika. The trek is kinda long- about 30 minutes and hard. I guess there is a safer but longer way but these kids told us that this is the short-cut.
Always ready, I took a quick swim here. Kinda freaky though coz I can’t see anything below, very murky water.
We returned to Pandin Lake then trek back towards the highway to look for food in the nearby carinderias as we are already hungry.
6. Palakpakin Lake
After lunch, we continued the tour by walking about 3 minutes to the tricycle terminal going to Palakpakin Lake. I like this lake and its scenic with the mountain in full view.
7. Mohikap Lake
From Palakpakin Lake, we hired a tricycle that will bring us to Lake Mohikap. This lake is the unanimous favorite of everyone. Its clean and very relaxing to the eyes. Around it are big trees that shade the tired travelers, perfect for soem family picnic.
We asked the tricycle driver to bring us back to the highway. From the highway we took the jeepney and had our side-trip to Nagcarlan and Liliw.
Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.
Nagcarlan is a cultural jem of Laguna as it is home of the famous Underground Cemetery, one of its kind in the Philippines. The cemetery can be found under the old Nagcarlan Church. This place is a National Cultural Treasure, historic in its own right as this became a secret meeting place of the Katipuneros during the war.
No entrance fee, open on Tuesdays – Sundays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Liliw Shoes and Church
Liliw is just a few kilometers away from Nagcarlan so even though we are already tired, we ended the tour in the “Shoe Capital of Laguna.”
You can definitely compared this town to Marikina. Shoes here are cheaper than in malls. You can buy espadrilles for less than Php300. Sandals range from Php100-400. Local produced like sukang tuba, fruits, rice delicacies and many more are abundant along the road too.
And since you are already in Liliw, take a peek on the old red brink church.
I suggest you don’t forget to add this on your itinerary so your girlfriends will return home smiling (shopping).
How to get to San Pablo City:
There are buses that goes to Lucena in Alimall, Cubao or Buendia Bus Terminal. Take that bus and ask the driver to drop you off at San Pablo Medical (or 711 San Pablo Highway). Travel time is between 2-2 1/2 hours depending on traffic, fare is less than Php150. From San Pablo Medical you can take the tricycle to San Pablo Lake (Php50) or you can just walk to San Pablo City proper, ask for directions (10-minute walk). From the city proper, San Pablo Lake is just a quick 5-minute walk, again ask for directions.
Expenses (in Philippine Pesos):
35 Jeepney fare (Los Banos – San Pablo City)
15 Tricycle Fare (Sampaloc Lake – Bunot Lake)
15 Merienda (Yema and Buko juice)
7 Jeepney Fare (Bunot Lake – Kalibato)
7 Jeepney (Kalibato to Pandin Lake and Yambo Lake)
50 Guide fee (I gave kids 50 as their ‘baon’)
50 Lunch at Carinderia (near Pandin Lake)
15 Tricycle Fare (Ilog highway to Palakpakin Lake)
30 Tricycle fare (Palakpakin to Mmohikap then back to Ilog highway)
15 Jeepney fare (Ilog highway to Nagcarlan)
7 Jeepney fare (Nagcarlan to Liliw)
30 Jeepney fare (Liliw to San Pablo)
30 Jeepney (San Pablo to Los Banos)
Php 306.00 (all-in expenses)
This day tour is perfect for barkadas looking for a wanderlust fix, no complex preparations needed. You don’t need to be an expert to make this trip enjoyable. And yes, this is way cheaper than travel packages you see online.
Should you find this helpful, do share it to others as well. Thanks!