Santa Rosa is one of the largest cities in Laguna, forming the urban sprawl along the western coast of Laguna de Bay. The city has a population of over 350,000, one of the densest in Laguna, ahead of San Pedro. Despite the industrial and commercial developments in the city, Santa Rosa still serves as a bedroom community 38 km (24 mi) south of Manila.
It is best known as a regional industrial center, home to major producers like Toyota Motors Philippines, Monde Nissin and Coca-Cola Philippines, lending its nickname "Lion City of the Philippines". There are also industrial parks and major residential communities. Major tourist draws are the Enchanted Kingdom theme park, the Nuvali mixed-use development, and shopping spots like SM City Santa Rosa and Paseo de Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is a major stopover for travelers to Tagaytay via Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road (Route 420).
The city is founded from parts of the pueblo of Tabuko (present-day Cabuyao), and first named Bukol (Bucol), soon to be renamed as Santa Rosa, after Saint Rose of Lima, in 1792. Agriculture and family businesses once served a major component in the local economy until urbanization began in the 1970s, which gave the city's present appearance.
The local population is mostly Tagalog, but there are also expat communities formed by Chinese and Americans. Significant local migrant populations of Visayans also exist. Most Western expats live in affluent communities, generally gated subdivisions.
Santa Rosa's growth is horizontal, just like the other sprawling cities nearby, and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) can serve as an important boundary between the industrialized and commercialized west and residential east. The sides of the city shows contrasts: eastern Santa Rosa is the crowded, noisy and ordinarily Filipino city, while western Santa Rosa is mostly industrial and affluent in character (exceptions are barangays Pulong Santa Cruz and Santo Domingo, which are crowded barangays).
The Balibago area is home to cheap shopping and the major transport terminal. The Poblacion, rather a lumping of five barangays, contains the old downtown and government offices. National Highway (Route 1) is the main commercial street, home to large malls like SM City Santa Rosa and Robinsons Santa Rosa Market. Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road (Route 420) hosts most of the city's industries, and the section between Paseo de Santa Rosa and Nuvali houses classy shopping and dining.
Information for tourists about sights and places to eat can be found at the Visit Santa Rosa page of the city government.
Provincial bus service is indefinitely suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The only city bus connection is by way of Biñan. Take Route 15 Ayala-Biñan, and transfer to the Biñan-Balibago jeepney route
By premium busEdit
- UBE Express operates point-to-point buses from Ninoy Aquino International Airport and get down at either Seda Nuvali or Robinson's Santa Rosa Market. Fares cost at about ₱190.
- TAS Transport operates point-to-point buses to Nuvali from Circuit Makati, for ₱150 one-way. Buses depart every 20 minutes from 7-8 AM, half-hourly from 8-9 AM, hourly from 9AM-5PM, and 20 minutes from 5-8PM
From Alabang in Muntinlupa, you can take a express jeepney from South Station into Balibago terminal. The whole trip costs ₱38, but taking a provincial bus is far cheaper (but you need to wait at the bus stop under the Alabang Viaduct). On the terminal in Balibago, transfers to local jeepneys or tricycles are available.
If you drive, you can take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), which has 2 exits serving the city:
- Santa Rosa Exit (exit 38) - Enchanted Kingdom, Balibago Complex, Paseo de Santa Rosa and Nuvali. This can get packed during weekends and holidays when many travelers head to Enchanted Kingdom, Nuvali, and Tagaytay.
- ETON City Exit - Alternative exit if going to Paseo de Santa Rosa or Nuvali
You can take Mamplasan Exit (exit 36) in nearby Biñan if you are going to SM City Santa Rosa. Once you exit in Mamplasan, drive Greenfield Avenue for a distance, then turn to Santa Rosa Access Road. Note that the access road is closed at some times.
There is one station, Santa Rosa Station, along the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Metro Commuter Line, but train services are only available in the evening (#1807 and #1937) and the early morning (#456 and #546). Travel by train is not practical until the new electrified railway line to Los Baños opens at around 2022 or 2024.
You can bring your car with you to visit most attractions in the city, but beware: traffic jams and driving behaviors are not for the faint-hearted. Most tourist spots like Enchanted Kingdom, Paseo de Santa Rosa and Nuvali can be easily reached by car, but alternatives are available.
You can also take a jeepney once you get down the bus or express jeepney in Balibago, and it will bring you to most locations in the city. Fares start at ₱8 for the first 4 km (2.5 mi) and an additional ₱2 for each additional kilometer.
The Poblacion area is best accessed through tricycles and foot, but the roads are narrow and watch out for vehicles if you walk.
- 1 Enchanted Kingdom, San Lorenzo Road, San Jose, ☏ . M-T: closed; W-Th: 11AM-7PM; Fri: noon-7PM; Sat: 11AM-9PM; Sun 10AM-9PM. Opened in 1995, this fantasy-themed amusement park is the city's number one tourist draw, drawing locals and foreigners (generally Chinese and Koreans) alike. The park is built with Filipino values in mind, and not just for amusement and thrill-seeking. Go ride the Wheel of Fate and see the wide views of the city and surrounding area, spin around in the Space Shuttle roller coaster, get wet at the Jungle Log Jam, drive a go-kart on their tracks, or take pictures with the park's mascots Eldar and Princess Victoria.
- 2 Santa Rosa Arch, J.P. Rizal Avenue, Malusak. 19th-century welcome arch based on Paris's Arc de Triomphe, with the current arch being Art Deco, built in the 1930s. It is a local symbol, found in the city's official seal.
- Balibago Complex, National Highway, Balibago. The traditional commercial heart of the city, which also hosts the bus terminals.
- Paseo de Santa Rosa. 10AM-11PM. Lifestyle mall, part of the Greenfield City development which spreads into neighboring Cabuyao. Shops and restaurants are spread out in 9 buildings, with their own parking lots.
- 1 SM City Santa Rosa, National Highway, Tagapo (About 3 km from the bus terminal. Most jeepneys traveling the National Highway stop here.). 10AM-9PM. A huge two-storey mall with a vast collection of shops and restaurants, cinemas, a department store, and supermarket. Since 2017, it hosts tower blocks housing call centers, and ongoing is the construction of a public transport terminal, proposed to remove the remaining provincial bus terminals in south Metro Manila.
- Robinsons Santa Rosa Market, National Highway, Tagapo (Past the junction leading to the old downtown. UBE Express buses from NAIA stop here.). Three-storey mall, with fewer shops and restaurants. Has a supermarket and cinema, but no department store. Used to be frequented by locals before the opening of its rival, SM City Santa Rosa.
- El Cielito Inn, Sta. Rosa Tagaytay Road, Sta. Rosa, ☏ . The El Cielito Inn, a member of the respected family of Philippine low-cost, high-quality inns, is conveniently located near the Convention Center and SM City. From ₱2000.
- 1 Seda Nuvali, Evozone Avenue, Nuvali, Don Jose (Near Nuvali Lake), ☏ . Part of chain of luxury hotels owned by Ayala. Rooms have cable TV, iPad docks, a small bar, and tea and coffee makers. Amenities include outdoor pool, laundry, free breakfast, kids playroom and restaurant. The rooms provide a view of Nuvali and surrounding area. There is a bus connection fron Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and also free parking if you drive. Its location is not too far from the other tourist draws of Nuvali, which stretches into Cabuyao and Calamba. From ₱3765.
- 2 Hotel Sogo Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road, Pulong Santa Cruz (In front of Wilcon Depot), ☏ . Part of motel chain with distinctive red and yellow buildings. A/C rooms with cable TV, bathroom and WiFi. Parking is available, and you can also order meals inside. ₱1150.
|Routes through Santa Rosa|
|Manila ← Biñan ←||N S||→ Cabuyao → Calamba|
|Alabang ← Biñan ←||N S||→ Cabuyao → Calamba|
|END ←||E W||→ Silang → Tagaytay|