Skip to Content

Mount Taal, The World’s Smallest Active Volcano

Conveniently located 31 miles south of metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines, Taal Lake is a haven of calm and greenery; it's also home to Mount Taal, the world's smallest active volcano.

Escaping the congestion of Manila for a quick trip to Taal in the Province of Batangas is a refreshing experience and a thrilling volcanic adventure.

Depending on the traffic conditions, it can take one to three hours to get from central Manila to the sleepy town of Tagaytay, where your adventure into Taal Volcano National Park begins.

We created this story to help you visit Mount Taal from either Tagaytay or Manila.

Pro Tip: Need a flight to the Philippines? Search Travelocity for the best deals!

Mount Taal Volcano island
Mount Taal Volcano island (photo: Mark Koester)

Highlights: Mount Taal Travel Info

Safety Check

Before planning your visit, visit the Philippine Institute of Volcanology website for the latest reports of volcanic earthquakes and eruptions at Mount Taal (and throughout the country).

Check the current alert level for volcanic activity, review seismic activity maps, and read about past explosive eruptions.

As recently as July 2021, Taal has experienced phreatomagmatic bursts, a lesser event than a phreatomagmatic eruption (which last occurred in August 1967).


Tagaytay village is the closest place in the surrounding area with a range of accommodations and, therefore, is an excellent place to stay to visit Mount Taal.

Tagaytay has several well-rated hostels and a full range of hotels and holiday apartments, many of which offer great value if you feel like splurging.

We've listed hotels here on because they offer the best deals compared to Agoda, which is also very popular in Asia. Check out coupons to see if they can save you even more money.

Alternatively, you can stay in Manila, the Philippine capital, and visit independently or as part of a full-day trip from Manila to Mount Taal.

Depending on the day and traffic, getting from Manila to Mount Taal takes one to three hours.


If you visit from Manila, you must take a bus to Tagaytay, preferably early, to avoid traffic and heat. It's not hard to do once you have the correct instructions.

Get a tricycle or jeepney from Tagaytay to Talisay Bay, and then hire a boat to take you to the island.

Alternatively, you can take an 8-hour round-trip tour from Manila for about $150. Depending on your energy levels or the time you have, this could be a good option and includes several other sights.


All prices are subject to change, but the following should give you a general idea of what it will cost to visit Mount Taal.

  • Buses from Manila to Tagaytay: 80 to 120 pesos
  • Jeepney/Tricycle from Tagaytay to Talisay Bay: 100 to 1,000 pesos, depending on your haggling skills
  • Boat from Talisay to Taal Island: 700 to 3,000 pesos, depending on your haggling skills
  • Tourist Entry Fee: 50 pesos
  • Optional Pony/Donkey Ride to the Top: 700 to 2,000 pesos, depending on your haggling skills

Total Cost: 930 to 6,170 ($18 to $121)

(If you're a good negotiator or can share the costs with others, it's cheaper to DIY the trip. If you don't like negotiating, it might be worth splurging on the round-trip organized tour from Manila.)

Filipino boat with volcano island in the distance (photo: Shankar S)
Filipino boat with volcano island in the distance (photo: Shankar S)

Where Is Mount Taal?

It's a bit of a complicated situation, so let me do my best to explain it.

Luzon is an island in the Pacific Ocean, the most populous island in the Philippines archipelago.

Tagaytay is located on the island of Luzon, nestled on a ridge of Taal Volcano and overlooking the vast Taal Lake.

Within Taal Lake is Taal Volcano Island.

Within Taal Volcano Island is yet another crater lake, Taal Volcano Main Crater Lake.

Finally, within the Main Crater Lake is Vulcan Point, a volcano outcropping.

If that didn't make sense, here is the simplified version, starting from the outside layer and proceeding to the inside:

  • Pacific Ocean
  • Luzon Island
  • Taal Volcano
  • Taal Lake
  • Volcano Island
  • Main Crater Lake
  • Vulcan Point Island

It's called a volcano complex for a reason!

Related: Mount Bromo: Hiking a Volcano in Indonesia

Horse on Mount Taal (photo: albertrcai)
Horse on Mount Taal (photo: albertrcai)

Mark's Experience at Mount Taal

In terms of climbing Mount Taal, most people take on the task of climbing the Volcano Island part of this volcanic system.

It's necessary to take a boat across Lake Taal to reach the island and be within grasping distance of the world's smallest active volcano.

The enjoyable boat ride took about 30 minutes and provided spectacular views of the lake and its rough-cut ridges.

The boat dropped us off at the base of Volcano Island, a foundation of muddy ash and volcanic sand.

As soon as the light breeze from the ride was over, the hot, humid air immediately penetrated; it's the type of thick, drenching mugginess you can feel before your body even starts to sweat.

The small village on the island seemed like a throwback in time. Wooden stilt houses were hovering over the water, an old weather-worn basketball court, and an old horse pen.

It was quiet, with no motorized vehicles and residents resting under trees to escape the day's heat.

Mount Taal Volcano crater lake (photo: Mark Koester)
Mount Taal crater lake (photo: Mark Koester)

There was a small park entrance fee and a choice to hike or hire a horse to navigate the well-defined trail to the volcano's summit. I chose to exercise, though the horse looked like an enjoyable option.

The trail to the top was a muddy mess, stirred up by the hooves of the horses and the manure they defecated when they pleased.

I was glad I had traded in my flip-flops for my tennis shoes for the first time in the Philippines.

The scenery was gorgeous: a natural tropical mixture of bright green shrubs and the occasional palm or papaya tree sprouted out of nowhere.

With every step, the spectacular view became increasingly impressive, a panorama of the surrounding Taal Lake and its outer volcanic rim.

The hike to the top took about 45 minutes. As the trail gained in elevation, the wind started to pick up, offering a blessed relief to the dripping sweat.

The trail became quite steep at the last section of the ascent, but it was an easy climb overall.

The tiny green island in the crater lake is Vulcan Point, the world's smallest volcano (photo: Shankar S.)
The tiny green island in the crater lake is Vulcan Point, the world's smallest volcano (photo: Shankar S.)

Do you see the tiny green island in the middle of that lake?

That is an island in a lake, on an island in a lake, on an island in the Pacific Ocean.

The view was a magical panorama of the entire volcanic region.

The edge of the interior crater lake was smoldering with sulfur, and one of the inner sides was leaking a murky fluid.

Though it's highly active, it's different from Iceland's fire and ice volcanic eruptions.

A guard at the top allowed me to sign a Filipino-style consent and release form (a crumpled piece of blank paper) to hike to the shore of the interior Crater Lake. Pressed for time, I didn't make it to the bottom.

Layers of complexity and depths of the surrounding beauty more than justify the Taal Volcano as the smallest active volcano in the world.

Where to Stay in Tagaytay

Our Melting Pot Tagaytay

Falling under the “cheap and cheerful” category, past guests seem to appreciate this hostel's friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere, combined with an excellent location for exploring Mount Taal.

Room options include 6-bed mixed dorms, 3-bed family rooms/shared bathrooms, doubles with shared or private bathrooms, and twin privates with shared bathrooms.

Some reviews mention more attention to the shared bathrooms would be appreciated, but overall, this place offers good value for money!

Check Pricing & Availability 

Budget Hotel with Pool

ZEN Rooms Buho Amadeo – If you're willing to up the budget, Zen Rooms offers some well-rated rooms in town, with ZEN Rooms Buho Amadeo topping the list.

This property has an on-site restaurant, TVs in the room, and an outdoor pool. At the time of writing, rooms could be had for $27, around what you'd pay in either of the hostels in town.

Check Pricing & Availability

Funky & Affordable Hotel

Tagaytay Garden Budgetel – City Center — Cheerful, bright, nicely decorated, and right in the center. This looks attractive if you don't mind shelling out $36 for a room.

Traveling as friends who don't mind sharing a bed or as a couple is probably the best option.

Past guests highlight the beautiful views, lovely garden, friendly staff, and comfortable beds.

Check Pricing & Availability

Where to Stay in Manila

Z Hostel

A large hostel with a rooftop bar provides fantastic city views. The facility has a ‘designer boutique' feel to it.

It is clean and well located with a cafe next door, a 24-hour mini-market nearby, many bars and restaurants, and the uber-modern Century City Mall just down the street.

Beds are large and comfortable with reading lights and power outlets; even the lockers have power outlets to charge your camera or phone while safely locked up.

4, 6 & 8 Bed mixed dorms, 6-bed female-only dorms, all with ensuites. Private twin rooms with private baths are also available.

Check Pricing & Availability

Bahay Kubo

Tropical-themed hostel in a mid-20th-century heritage home. Charming but basic accommodation with a good vibe and easy-to-meet people.

A past guest commented that the Wi-Fi wasn't the best, but the Wi-Fi at a café nearby was fantastic. Basic but nice beds and pillows, A/C & lockers.

It doesn't look like there are reading lights or power outlets in the bunks, but reviewers seemed to like the overall vibe and the friendly owner.

It's a place to chill and hang out with fellow travelers. It is a short walk to a vast shopping mall, a metro stop, and many cafes, bars, and restaurants.

6, 10, and 14-bed dorm rooms, all mixed, and a twin and double room with shared bathrooms are also available.

Check Pricing & Availability

Our Melting Pot

A nice little hostel located above a Korean grocery store on a quiet-ish street.

Past guests commented on the comfortable beds with privacy curtains, reading lights, and electrical outlets.

Lockers are available but bring a lock. The hostel has a no-shoe policy, so it's pretty clean.

It is near the modern Century City Mall and many small bars and restaurants.

4, 6, 7, and 9-bed dorms, a double private room with a shared bathroom and one double private with a private bathroom.

Check Pricing & Availability

Additional Tips

What Kind of Shoes Should You Wear to Climb Mount Taal?

If you've been traveling in Southeast Asia, you probably prefer wearing flip-flops/thong sandals.

These are not the best choices for this trip! If you plan on visiting or climbing Mount Taal, wear sneakers or hiking boots with a good grip on the bottom, and accept that they may get muddy.

What Should You Pack to Climb Mount Taal?

As noted above, expect hot and humid weather, and plan accordingly, especially if you plan to do the 45-minute hike up.

Bring water, sunblock, and a hat to cover your head and eyes from direct sunlight. It's probably wise to carry a basic first-aid kit, as well.

Small Group Tours of the Philippines

Want to see the Philippines as part of an organized tour? Check out these classic trips from G Adventures:

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Dan Blystone

Thursday 29th of June 2017

Wow, the volcanic lake looks truly spectacular! Strange to think it's only 50km from Manila. Where I live in Spain there is a volcanic region called Garrotxa with inactive volcanoes covered in beautiful forests.


Friday 26th of May 2017

Taal Volcano, The Hike and the location itself is really a must visit!


Friday 19th of May 2017

Somehow completely missed this during our time in the region. Will have to pencil it in for next time, as we definitely could have used some fresh air during our Manila time. Actually LOLing at the Inception references above.

Agness of Fit Travelling

Thursday 19th of January 2017

This is a dream destination Mark! Stunning landscape! Definitely worth visiting.

Deise de Oliveira

Wednesday 21st of December 2016

So cool! I really want to go there!

Comments are closed.