Taal Volcano is the smallest active volcano in the world and this is located in Luzon, Philippines. It is small but terrible with a history of several deadly eruptions. On top of that, it is a complex volcano being a "volcano within a lake within a volcano within a lake within a volcano". That sounds confusing and I found a free image to show how that works.
It is accessible from Manila and you don't have to pay expensive travel agencies to take you there. I found one that charges Php 10,000 if you're traveling alone! That's too much even if they take you there via a comfortable car. We were 3 in the group and the day trip only costs us approximately Php 1,000+ each.
*1 USD = approx. 51 PHP
How to DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and Save Money
From Pasay terminal (Metro Manila), take the bus bound to Tagaytay. You can ask the driver to stop at the terminal to the volcano. (PHP 120+)
From the terminal, you can take a traysikel / tricycle (this is the Philippines version of tuk-tuk) going down to the resorts. It is quite a long and steep ride and the tricycle costs Php 300 (Php 100 each)
There are several resorts lined up that offer a boat going there. If you can find other people to share the cost of the boat, that's better. The boat plus fees and trek guide were worth a total of Php 2,300 (Php 766 each).
The Trek to the Crater and My Quick Snaps
I was busy playing tour guide to my foreign friends and I wasn't able to take nice photos. I only took quick snaps when I got the chance just so I have some memories to take home with me. I have edited my smartphone photos through Snapseed mobile app. I will also show the before and after photos. I also added a frame on the edited ones because I realized how poor my framing was.
It was a short boat ride from the resort. You can already see the volcanic island from the port.
The view from the banca (traditional wooden boat).
This place is an easy day trip from Manila. We arrived and there were already other tour groups who have started their trek.
The trek was easy breezy as there was not much ascent. Most of the trail was flat. Some visitors also took a horse ride going there but we decided to just get there on foot as it was only an hour trek.
The trek gets more difficult as you approach the crater
The main crater lake
The trail to the Red Lava Point
The Red Lava Peak. It is called as such due to its color which was enhanced through editing.
We stayed there for an hour or so and returned to Tagaytay. You get to see a nice overlooking view from this area as well.
Lastly, we rewarded ourselves with food! We had Bulalo which is a specialty dish in Tagaytay. The weather in here is cooler and the hot beef bone marrow soup was perfect!
Photos hurriedly taken using Sony Xperia Z1 and enhanced through Snapseed