How would you describe Las Casas? A Disneyland for history/culture loving adults. With kalesas stomping on cobble stone streets and staff in colorful costumes. Calming Spanish music playing in the background, lush gardens surrounding restored houses. It takes you back in time and creates a sense of magic where you’re back in the 18th century. That’s what Las Casas is.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar located 3 hours outside of Manila is continuously growing. Last I went, there were only 27 heritage houses open with lots of construction underway. The church and grand Hotel de Oriente were almost finished. But now, not only is the church and Hotel de Oriente complete, but there are close to 40 heritage houses spread around the property.
What is Las Casas?
Even two years ago it was a beautiful experience but before I go on and on about its beauty, what is Las Casas? In 2003, the owner, Jose Acuzar began moving “heritage” houses located from all over the island of Luzon to his property in Bagac in order to restore and preserve the history that was being lost in the unorganized chaos of the bigger cities. These were important places, full of history, including one house belonging to Jose Rizal’s mother. They were dismantled brick by brick and restored in the same order, using the original floors and doors in most of the houses.
Is Las Casas For You?
Most who travel to the Philippines don’t look past the beaches and islands thinking that’s all we have to offer. With over 7,000+ islands you’re never too far from a beach. Beaches are great, they are beautiful. But what I love even more is the culture and history scattered around the islands. I love the old houses, learning about the Spanish culture of Intramuros, Vigan (which is still on my list), and this open air museum. A day trip to Las Casas is a great way to get out of the city and breath in the fresh air. And you know those beaches? Well, there’s one located on site. In fact, if you got the time and the pesos, why keep it to a day trip? You can rent these old heritage houses or a nice room in the hotel. There is so much to do in Las Casas besides touring around the heritage houses (future post coming soon).
Will The Kids Love It?
It’s a great place for kids! If they’re not into the guided tour, Las Casas provides plenty of other entertainment to get their energy out. Tip: Avoid bringing a stroller. It was difficult for me to stroll against the cobblestone streets that I ended up putting it aside after half an hour of struggling. Besides the beach, take your loved ones on a traditional kalesa ride. A kalesa is a horse-drawn carriage popular in the 18th century. I visited on a Tuesday which happened to be the only day the kalesa isn’t available.
Read This: Top 10 Things To Do With Kids In Las Casas
When I explored Las Casas a couple of years ago, only one restaurant was open. Cafe Marivent located inside one of the heritage houses served tradition Filipino/Spanish food (my favorite). Other restaurants include La Bella Teodora, Cafe del Rio or La Panaderia for something quick. Check the schedule online to see what will be available when you go. At least one restaurant will be open, guaranteed. And if you’re lucky, the sorbetero man will be there too.
Art, Culture & History in Las Casas
Although my kids were young at the time, I enjoyed taking them through the heritage houses with me. The stories our guide told us were interesting, from the story behind the house to how it looked like before being transferred to this museum. Most of them were so taken over by the streets of the city that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish how important that piece of history was. Old beautiful Spanish houses are just my thing though, they make me feel tingly. I love the history I learned about the Philippines. I truly got introduced to my culture on this trip. It was practically empty when I went on a Tuesday so we toured the houses privately. Because some of the casas can be rented out, we couldn’t go to ALL of them.
This painting ♥♥. I have been searching for something similar online. Everything about it. You can watch as the artisans recreate pieces for the houses. Each house is unique with different paintings. There was one house specifically for displaying art. An artist even lived on the top floor of one of the casas. I’m still very curious about this piece above. P.S. I want that red dress!
Would You Spend The Night?
The casa above is Casa Byzantina. We were only able to look around the bottom floor since others were renting the rest of the house. This one is the biggest (at least at the time) heritage house. I saw a picture of how the house looked years before it was moved to Las Casas. It was crumbling, taken over by tacky advertisements and people hanging their clothes out to dry from the windows. They restored it beautifully. The bedroom on the first floor was grand. Huge bed, stand alone soaking tub – really big suite. Only thing is the first floor lacks windows and it was dark. I completely freaked out as I didn’t notice an employee sitting on a stool in the dark under doorway leading to an unknown room. My Lola (grandma in Tagalog) spent the night in that same room and was told how haunted the house was. She, of course, doesn’t believe in such things. Plus – her house in Makati is way creepier. I have tons of personal stories from my Abuelita’s house I wouldn’t mind sharing one day. If you know, you’re into that.
This open air museum is extremely photogenic. My favorite part was the bridge pictured above. Walk across the bridge and you got the beach. It was so easy to be transported back into time walking around. It might have helped that we were one of the few tourists that day. If you happen to be in Manila for more than a couple of days, Las Casas is a great way to escape the hustle, bustle and smog. For myself, this was at the top of my list of places I wanted to see while in the Philippines. More on what you can do once you get to the resort on another post.
How To Get There
If you’ve rented a car or driver, take the SCETEX or NLEX towards Bataan which will take you about 3 hours. And if you’ve been to Metro Manila then I shouldn’t have to warn you about the horrible traffic (seems to get worse every year). Take a look at this map
I would avoid public transportation unless you’re familiar with it and have used it before.
Las Casas Filipinas now offers a day tour with pick up points from New World, Makati and Astoria Plaza, Pasig City leaving early in the morning. This option is perfect if you’re only looking to do a day trip. I’m happy this area is more accessible to tourists new to Manila who choose not to drive. Driving is wild in the city.
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Have you been to Las Casas Filipinas before? Have you heard of it? Would you make the extra 3 hour trip to explore? I would love to hear what you think in the comments below! Or simply “Like” the post .