Updated: November 1, 2021
Laiban Falls is one of the newest attractions in Tanay, Rizal. These multi-tiered waterfalls were initially a side trip from the Mt. Lubo or Mt. Ngusong Kabayo hiking expedition. But over time, this attraction slowly garnered attention on its own due to its serene and picturesque turquoise water basins.
Now, you can visit this destination directly without the exhaustion from hiking the mentioned summits. But should you fancy an extra challenge, you can always add hiking those two mountains first in your itinerary. There are newly opened trails, too, if you prefer off the beaten path: Mt. Toyang and Mt. Kalbo.
Overall, this place is perfect for a budget-friendly getaway near Manila with your friends or family. If with a bigger group, I recommend bringing your vehicle or renting a monster jeep to ensure safety and convenience. The road to Barangay Laiban is not that developed yet, and you have to primarily rely on the expertise of habal-habal riders to get you through nine (9) river crossings and muddy trails. Ask the locals around for the jeepney rental to take you to and from the jump-off point.
This trek is easy, but you will witness four equally beautiful waterfalls and a panoramic trail. A must-try win-win escapade!
In this travel guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know to plan your trip, including a detailed breakdown of travel practicalities, what to pack, how to get there, photos to inspire you to take this trip too, and more!
READ FURTHER BELOW FOR MORE INFO
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- Location: Laiban | Sitio Mayugay Uno | 1980 Tanay, Province of Rizal, Calabarzon, Luzon, Philippines | Asia
- Duration | 1 day (2 to 3 H to reach the 4th waterfalls)
- Jump-off Point | Barangay Laiban Hall | Tanay, Philippines
- Season | Open year-round. Best months to visit: June to December (or till February)
- River Crossings | Nine (9) or more
- Rapelling/Abseiling | Two (2)
- Blood Leeches (Limatik) | Yes
- Food & Water Sources | Sari-Sari Stores (Several convenience stores near Laiban Barangay Hall) and then another 15-30 minute trek to the next and last store before the 2nd segment of the trail. See “Trip Practicalities” below.
- Fees | Register and Pay Camp/Hut Fees at the Barangay Hall (Passport/Valid ID Card isrequired) | See “Trip Practicalities” below.
- Guides: Required and Assigned at Laiban Barangay Hall | See “Trip Practicalities” below.
- Recommended For: Beginners | Casual Tourists
|Latitude:||14° 36′ 4″ N|
|Longitude:||121° 24′ 27″ E|
KNOW YOUR WATERFALLS
When you’re hiking either Mt. Lubo or Mt. Ngusong Kabayo, Laiban falls will be part of your traverse back to the jump-off point. Therefore, you’ll encounter these falls in reversed order. However, if your sole itinerary is to visit these four waterfalls, this should be the order.
Author’s note: Unluckily, falls were dry when I visited.
The name came from the Filipino word “Lapad,” which translates to “Wide” in English. Its width resembles a shower curtain from afar and will be your first bout of rappelling. Pre-pandemic, I frequent indoor climbing gyms, so I’m pretty used to rappelling. However, it’s always a different experience when outdoors. You will enjoy rappelling over this “breathing and mossy” waterfall!
The Dumagats call it Mahangin, which means “Windy” in English. As the name suggests, it’s from the cold breeze at the foot of the waterfalls paired with an equally numbing temperature of the water.
Legend has it that these waterfalls used to be the secret rendezvous spot for a young couple who fell in love. But they were cousins, so everyone’s against it! When they decided to elope, they met at this waterfall to try their luck in pursuing their forbidden love.
Tragically, they disappeared, leaving the locals dumbfounded whether they escaped and lived on happily ever after. Since then, the locals have named this waterfall “Tagpuan” (Meeting Place) to commemorate the young couple’s love.
The Dumagat dubbed this waterfall as “Panat-in” which means “hidden” in the native language. This 15-meter high waterfall is at the deepest end of the forest.
Context: Solo Adventure
Laiban falls became unintentionally special for me. A place that I would always consider as my hidden gem. Although secluded is a bit of a stretch given that it has sauntered to countless list of popular attractions these days. Still, it’s “my” hidden gem.
It wasn’t my intended destination back then, but Google Maps failed me! Okay, partly stupid on my end too. I overestimated my ETA and got dropped off in front of Martessem Mountain Resort instead of Batangasan.
So after basking in my first bout of mishap, I approached a group of drivers from what appeared to be a habal habal (motorcycle) terminal. Since my original plan was to hike a mountain, I nonchalantly asked them if they had any commercial mountains nearby. As if asking for food on a menu! Luckily, they mentioned a few.
I was dead set to seize my day and go on with my adventure regardless. Second misfortune? It’s past 8 in the morning, and the drivers told me it’d take an hour for the next habal to arrive. This delay affects my decision whether to push through with my hike or otherwise.
Why? When you travel alone (especially if you’re female), you should always have a reasonable estimate of your timetable and itinerary. Plan contingencies and always prioritize safety. It would be best if you were on your way home before the sunsets.
But with another stroke of luck, one of the drivers named Don (the president of the habal association of Laiban) helped me out. Although he’s off duty then, he volunteered to take me to the jump-off area himself, so I don’t have to wait for another hour. During the habal ride, I can tell that he’s proud of his barangay and is eager to see some infrastructures to be developed soon to boost their tourism.
Crossing nine (9) rivers paired with a muddy thoroughfare is undoubtedly not a walk in the park and can turn off tourists. At times, the water will rise to an impassable level which halts the livelihood and daily chores of the locals. When I visited, they had a newly built bridge where people could safely cross during those instances, but it’s the bare minimum. I learned a lot during that spontaneous guided tour with Don.
When I arrived at Barangay Hall for registration, I chose Mt. Lubo amongst the other three options. And here comes the fun bit. I was determined to scale a mountain that day, even talking animatedly with my guide, Lyn, and talking about yesterday’s weather. All positively fired up to “send it.”
But a few assaults in, I found myself gasping. I tried to rest for a few minutes to check if it was normal and I could carry on. (Also, I’m stubborn that way. If you’ve read this blog, you probably know that I have an unhealthy relationship with unfinished things, so as much as I can, I’ll power through.)
Yet something was painfully awful that day, physically. So I chose the smart route and did not continue the hike. It’s not worth the risk that I might encounter and, in turn, compromise my guide. I won over my ego.
So yes, as per my guide’s suggestion, we settled with trekking to Laiban falls instead. The trail on the way with its panoramic view of mountain ranges and a vast field of grass with cows grazing on it made my heart flutter with excitement.
The hike to each of those four (4) waterfalls was easy, too, adding to the bliss of taking it slow. I took enough photos. I rested well on each stop. I didn’t care if there might’ve been caterpillars landing on my body as I napped under one of those shady trees. The nearby river was my lullaby.
After the hike, Lyn recommended that we stop over Puting Bato too. The place was crowded but not painfully noisy. Students gathered around a hut, studying and vying for a mobile signal for their online lectures. I chatted with some of them, and as usual, they were in disbelief when I casually mentioned that I was traveling alone.
The habal driver on the way back also told me many stories like that jeepney that fell off the cliff—3 dead among 20 passengers. The driver jumped off and saved himself. The victims were a group of volunteers who were supposed to bring relief goods to the barangay. Unfortunately, tragedy struck. It took a month before they forklifted the jeepney from the cliff. The irony of morbid storytelling while riding a habal. It makes you appreciate life more.
There are places that I’ve been to that are far more beautiful than Laiban. But if you’ve read this blog, you know how I’m not always after the beauty of a place.
I seek equanimity.
So, take that trip. You might find your inner peace there too.
I’ve covered a few practical tips/guides below to help you plan for a smooth trip in Laiban Falls:
The registration is a convenient process. The tourism personnel allows walk-ins, and you can easily arrange guides at Barangay/Tourism Hall.
Visitors are required to present the following:
- Valid ID
- Age Restriction: Only 18 – 65 yrs old are allowed to enter the jump off area.
Pandemic Related Safety Requirements:
- Vaccination Cards
- While traveling within Tanay, it’s highly encouraged to use SPASS (https://s-pass.ph/ )
- Wearing a mask while hiking is not mandatory. But please observe other safety protocols such as social distancing and sanitation.
REGISTRATION, RENTALS & OTHER FEES
- Registration Fee : Php 100.00/Head (2 USD)
- Guide (Good for 5 PAX)
PHONE RECEPTION & INTERNET
Phone reception and data connection can be a little bit patchy or sporadic throughout the trip. Better signal near the barangay but not stable as well. Set any web pages you want to reference on the trail to ‘read offline’ beforehand. You can set this blog post to read offline also.
There are several sari-sari (convenience) stores lined up near the barangay hall. I recommend that you stock up on food and other supplies there as it’s another 15-30 minute trek to the next and last store before the 2nd segment of the trail.
- Water source is a available at the jump-off area. You can buy extra bottled water or refill your containers thru several stores lined up along the residential vicinity
- Personally, I bring loads of water from home then carry them on the trail. I consider the extra weight as “training”. But if you’re not up for that self-induced struggle and also want to be extra careful, you may also sterilize your water sourced from the trail by using Steripen or any of those purification tablets.
There are no easily accessible ATMs near the trail. I recommend that you withdraw enough cash while in the town/city proper as there will be fees to be paid on-site before and after the trip. Plus, it’s always a good idea to have some cash with you in case you need to pay for a tricycle/motorcycle to/from the trailhead, or for emergencies.
I use either my phone’s native weather app or you can equally check reports and updates from the sources below:
- PAG-ASA DOST (The official Twitter account of Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration)
- ACCUWEATHER (This is an American media company that provides commercial weather forecasting services worldwide.)
MAPS & NAVIGATION
- Google Maps – This one’s a given. Just make sure to download the relevant map online beforehand, and switch to flight mode to conserve battery.
- Maps.Me – Another good option when it comes to offline maps. But I seldom use this and only get by with Google Maps alone.
- Waze – Download the app (available both IOS and Android) and look for Martessem Mountain Resort as pin.
RECOMMENDED TOUR GUIDE
I recommend Lyn as a guide for this trip. She took killer photos, and when I tapped out for Mt. Lubo, she was considerate enough to suggest this place instead. She’s a positive human being to be around and knows how to direct creatively on more scenic spots. You may reach out to her via this number: +63963-546-0167.
Alternatively, you may contact Kaka Munoz via his Facebook profile or at +63998-494-3595.
For other updates about travel restrictions within Tanay, check their official tourism page on Facebook: Tanay Tourism.
WHEN TO GO THERE?
The best hiking season in the Philippines is from January to May. However, attractions such as this are more scenic, with cold rushing water amplifying its beauty. Hence, June to December should be ideal. While this trail is accessible year-round, I highly advise constantly checking the weather advisories and other regional restrictions for safety and convenience.
HOW TO GET THERE?
By Private Transportation
Search and pin Martessem Mountain Resort in Google Maps or Waze. Or look for Laiban, Tanay, Rizal. Also, see notes in the 3rd option.
By Public Transportation
Route 1 – Via Cogeo
Ride a van or jeepney going to Cogeo Gate 2 | Php 70 (1.5 USD). Take another jeep bound to Sampaloc, Tanay. The terminal is beside CityMall. | Php 80 (> 2USD). Get off on Mayagay 1. Landmark is Martessem. From here, you can take a habal-habal to the jump-off point. This costs around Php 150-200 (3-4 USD).
Route 2 – Via Tanay
Ride a jeepney going to Tanay town proper and get off at Tanay Public Market. Next, take another jeep going to Sampaloc (Php 80) | (> 1 USD). Then, get off on Mayagay 1. Landmark is Martessem. From here, you can take a habal-habal to the jump-off point. This costs around Php 150-200 (3-4 USD).
By Monster Jeep
If with a bigger group, I recommend bringing your vehicle (can withstand river crossings and rough roads) or renting a monster jeep to ensure safety and convenience. The road to Barangay Laiban is not that developed yet, and you have to primarily rely on the expertise of habal-habal riders to get you through nine (9) river crossings and muddy trails. Vans won’t cut it. Should you opt to bring that, you need to leave it at Mayagay Uno and ride the habal habal after. Ask the locals around for the jeepney rental to take you to and from the jump-off point.
Suppose you are renting a monster jeep from Cogeo; no need to take the habal-habal. They will take you straight to Barangay Laiban. Costs around Php 3000-5000 (pax dependent) | 60-100 USD
WHAT TO PACK?
I’m a minimalist outdoor explorer. I only carry what’s necessary for the trip to ensure comfortability and safety. But keep in mind that any adventure outdoors can get unpredictable, so you should always be prepared. Outdoors is not a joke, Jim!
Prepare for all weather eventualities. As much as you can, you should stick to sweat-wicking material. Avoid jeans or any cotton fabrics – if they get wet, they are heavy, take forever to dry, and you’ll get cold quickly. Also, you don’t want to mess with Hypothermia.
- Sunblock sunblock sunblock!
- Hat, gloves and sunglasses
- Sun Protect Jacket
- Bandana and/or Buff
Blood Leech Protection
Yes, those notorious blood-sucking Limatik are present in one of the trail segments. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any when I visited. But to prepare, wear appropriate clothing to protect you from the bites. And apply insect repellent before trekking. For other tips on how to avoid Limatik, I recommend this source.
Nothing ruins a hike more than ill-fitted or inappropriate hiking shoes. Make sure they are broken in already! You don’t want to suffer from blisters and other discomforts while hiking. It should be a fun experience for you more than a struggle. Ideally, it would help if you had a good pair of hiking boots. But personally, I settle with lightweight running shoes with good traction. I have an old pair of Nike that I am not yet willing to retire soon. I bought it for less than 60 USD and summited ten or so mountains with it.
For this Laiban falls trip, you may want to pack a pair of sandals or slippers for crossing multiple rivers, wearing around camp, or when you want your feet to breathe.
I don’t have a complete list of camping equipment yet but will gradually invest soon. As a minimum, though, the following should get you covered for a good day of camping:
- Sleeping mat, bag and liner
- Pillow (Mine’s just my bag ’cause I’m paranoid but hey a decent pillow wouldn’t hurt you!)
- Cooking: Small burner, gas canister and other cooking supplies.
You’ll need the usual hiking gear below, depending on your itinerary (Day Trip or Overnight Camping).
- Hiking Poles
- Refillable Water Bottle or Water Bladder (I carry both. 3L gang here!)
- Water purification method
- First Aid Kit (As much as possible, don’t settle with “prepared kits” alone. Instead, please customize your own according to your medical needs and other emergencies you can think of.)
- Rubbish bags for carrying out all your waste
- Head Torch
- Basic toiletries (Also, tissue & toilet trowels for digging a hole and burying human waste are necessary.)
I’m not a heavy eater on the trail and can survive on small snacks such as below. Just make sure to pack food high in calories, but low in weight and have a good mix of proteins and carbohydrates.
- Trail Mix
Obviously, I like documenting my adventures through photos and videos. But who doesn’t these days? So below is the list of electronics you should take with you to capture your special moments too:
- Appropriate Cables
- DSLR/Mirrorless/Point and Shoot Cameras
- Extra Batteries for Camera
- Extra Memory Cards for Camera
- Add Ons Only – Solar Panel for Charging & Satellite Communication device for Emergencies
Additional Note: In the Philippines, we usually have trained mountain guides that carry portable two-way radios to communicate to/from Barangay halls. I recommend double-checking if they are taking one as there are instances that they will leave it on-site out of complacency and an easy hiking trail. Ensure they have it with them at all times so appropriate authority and rescue will attend to you in case of emergencies.
WHERE TO STAY
Although Rizal is one of the most popular destinations near Manila, finding a place to stay is quite a difficult feat. For this trip, you have two (2) options for accommodations:
- If overnight, you may opt for the nearest accommodations offered by Buhay Paraiso, a newly built farm and resort. They offer tent and kubo (hut) rentals for as low as Php 300 (6 USD) and Php 3000 (60 USD), respectively.
- Other comfortable options for you would be to book accommodations via Booking.com. I recommend this if you have other valuable luggage items to store and avoid the hassle of carrying them at the trail camp.
MORE PHOTOS TO INSPIRE YOU
I hope some of these photos will inspire you to take this trip and experience the beauty of nature and the province of Rizal.
These are the tools I used for these photos:
- Fujifilm X-S10 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18-55 MM Kit Lens
- iPhone XS MAX (256 GB)
- Adobe Creative Cloud for Post Processing
TIPS AND OTHER NOTES
- Observe the Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles. Since you are one lucky gem to experience the beauty of nature, be a good steward. I encourage you to read this link first before doing any outdoor activity: https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/.
- To avoid crowds, it’s better if you visit on a weekday.
- Yes, you may fly your drones and get sick aerial views.
- Parking spaces are available. (Laiban Barangay Hall or at Buhay Paraiso)
- If they went above and beyond and you’re satisfied with their service, please tip your guide. Usually, they are locals, and guiding is their primary source of livelihood.
- Challenge yourself. You can share your photos with me if you feel like celebrating after your trip.
- Enjoy life. You owe it to yourself.
That’s all! If you have any helpful info to add or stories to share, get in touch through the comments section below or email at: email@example.com.
If you have any questions, let me know, and I’ll try my best to help you. Good luck and enjoy your trip!
OTHER ACTIVITIES FOR YOU IN RIZAL
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