From thrilling attractions to relaxing activities, the “Culinary Capital of the Philippines” has what it takes to be a fun province to call one’s home
The Province of Pampanga, one of the eight provinces that were placed under martial law when it rebelled against the Spanish government in 1896, is a buoyant province that now holds 19 municipalities and three cities. It has come a long way since the Spanish times, now being home to Angeles City, one of the country’s most exciting real estate markets, and numerous other attractions.
But Pampanga’s progress has not been without challenges. The removal of the Clark Air Base and the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the early 1990s hurt the province significantly, but like the mythical phoenix, the province rose from the ashes. Numerous Pampanga tourist attractions; its local cuisine, touted as one of the best in the Philippines; its top-notch public infrastructure; and its buoyant business climate are some of the factors that contribute to its popularity. A huge section of the North Luzon and the Subic–Clark–Tarlac expressways (NLEX and SCTEX) run through the province, ensuring that travel to neighboring provinces and Metro Manila is done with great ease. In addition, its most urbanized city Angeles is home to Clark International Airport—Metro Manila’s secondary gateway.
Below are just some of the places to visit in Pampanga that will surely entice visitors and those considering making the province their new home.
1. Puning Hot Springs, Brgy. Sapang Bato, Angeles City
Located in Brgy. Sapang Bato in an area considered an Aeta ancestral land, Puning Hot Springs is a wellness facility surrounded by lush foliage. Visitors can relax by taking a dip in one of their 11 natural hot springs or two heated pools. They also have a sand spa where visitors can cover themselves with hot sand, which is said to have therapeutic properties, or they can head to the mudpack area for a very unusual spa (using mud made from Mount Pinatubo).
2. Fontana Water Park, Clark Freeport Zone
A part of Fontana Leisure Parks & Casino, Fontana Water Park is a water-theme park for families. This tourist spot in Pampanga boasts ten water park features, the most popular of which is the wave pool that can produce six kinds of waves as high as three feet. Another favorite is the Big Horn, a slide where riders on floating tubes can twist and turn before splashing into a four-foot-deep pool. Other water park features include its lazy river, three giant aqua thrill slides, water factory, an Olympic-size pool, a hot spring and lagoon pool, water cottage slide, and a kiddie pool.
3. Aqua Planet, Mabalacat
Sitting on a 10-hectare property inside Clark Freeport Zone, Aqua Planet is one of the largest water parks in Asia! This exciting water theme park can accommodate up to 5,000 people. You can enjoy 38 water slides here, including the Aqua Loop, Tornado, and Superbowl. The water park also features two wave pools–one for adults and one for kids.
4. Pradera Verde, Lubao
If you want a premier, jam-packed adventure experience in Pampanga, check out what Pradera Verde offers. This resort is known for its top-tier facilities and amenities. Above all, it is known to be the one-stop-shop resort featuring the Golf Park, Water Park, and Wake Park sitting on an expansive 495-hectare lot. Here you can wakeboard, play golf, and swim in a wave or beach-type pool.
5. The SandBox, Porac
The SandBox is an outdoor adventure facility situated in Ayala Land’s massive Alvierra estate in Porac, Pampanga. Its most unique attraction is Avatar One, the Philippines’ first rollercoaster zipline that zigzags through a course 180 meters long and 12 meters high. The country’s tallest swing, aptly named Giant Swing, can also be found here. The Aerial Walk Challenge is an obstacle course of nets and rope walkways that will test your agility, balance, and flexibility up in the air. Another attraction that will put your courage to the test is the Adventure Tower, a 15-meter structure that offers rappelling, wall climbing, and free falling. Other attractions include ATV rides and outdoor archery.
6. Zoocobia Fun Zoo, Mabalacat
As a 50-hectare zoo and theme park, Zoocobia is more than just a place to visit and see various species of animals. The tourist spot in Pampanga also boasts a labyrinth and garden maze full of animal topiaries as you find your way out of the garden maze. Visitors can also visit their unique gallery of stuffed real animals preserved by their expert taxidermist. And probably the most fun of all is their Zooc, the first and only gravity car track in the Philippines that is patterned after the Skyline Luge in Singapore’s Sentosa Island. With a unique steering and braking system, maneuver the gravity car down the fun 400-meter track.
7. Dinosaurs Island, Mabalacat
This is the closest thing Filipinos (or humans) could get to Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs Island offers plenty of life-size, moving dinosaur displays, which makes the experience as real as it can get. Visitors can learn more about dinosaurs when they visit the Fossil Museum and World of Fun and get up close and personal to the extinct creatures (or at least their replicas) by hopping on Adventure Ride to know what it’s like to ride a dinosaur. The park also has a Jurassic Safari Ride to feel the thrill of being chased by dinosaurs as they try to pop their heads into your tramcar. At the same time, visitors can try a different way of watching a movie with their 7D Super Screen theater. Also, visit Wonders of the World, an area of replicas of the world’s popular tourist destinations.
8. Paradise Ranch, Angeles City
This 50-hectare nature and conservation park is dedicated to protecting the environment and promoting work to support the community. The Paradise Ranch in Clark Freeport Zone sits in the same area as the Zoocobia Wildlife Sanctuary. Here, you can take a special educational tour to learn more about wildlife, nature, and the environment. Other activities here include overnight vacations, retreats, camping trips, and team-building activities.
9. Deca Clark Wakeboard Park, Angeles City
The best time to book a visit at this cable wakeboard park in Margot, Angeles City, is during the dry months of December to May, when there are fewer tropical rainstorms during this time. Deca Clark Wakeboard features a full-size five-point Rixen main cable that will pull you across the lake and its obstacles at a constant speed. The five corners of the lake are decked with obstacles, including a wedge, curved kicker, and an A-frame. Even if you are a beginner or expert at wakeboarding, you will enjoy your visit here.
10. Sky Ranch Pampanga, San Fernando City
A day filled with fun and excitement awaits at Sky Ranch Pampanga. This amusement park is known for the Double Decker Carousel, Drop Tower, Bumper Boat, Indianapolis, Tea Cup, Field Runner, and of course, the “Ferris-t wheel” of them all, the Pampanga Eye Ferris Wheel, which is around 65 meters tall. This Ferris wheel has 32 air-conditioned gondolas, which give you a perfect view of Mount Arayat.
11. Nayong Pilipino, Clark Freeport Zone
For a more historical pasyalan sa Pampanga, visit Nayong Pilipino, which is situated on a 45-hectare estate featuring replicas of the Philippines’ most famous sights. Miniature versions of famous landmarks such as Magellan’s Cross and Chocolate Hills, and even statues of our national heroes and political figures, are within the tourist spot in Pampanga. A trip to Nayong Pilipino is indeed a fun and educational experience for all ages.
12. Air Force City Park, Angeles City
A recreational facility that showcases actual fighter aircraft used during World War II, Air Force City Park in Angeles City is a place where kids and kids at heart can climb in some of the actual aircraft on display. An outdoor playground is also available for kids. At the same time, people who would instead read may head over to the park’s library. Families or friends may enjoy their meals under the afternoon sun at the picnic area.
13. Clark Museum and 4D Theatre, Clark Freeport Zone
In the newly renovated Clark Museum, you will see an expanded collection of artifacts, old photographs, murals, scenic dioramas, and true-to-life replicas that showcase the history of Metro Clark–its history and continuous progress. You can also experience a heightened museum tour with its 48-seater state-of-the-art 4D Theater, where you can see the 20-minute documentary film, Risen from the Ashes and view of the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 4D.
14. Pamintuan Mansion, Angeles City
The Pamintuan Mansion was built in 1890 as a parents’ wedding gift to their son, who later became the mayor of Angeles during the American colonial era. This historical mansion in Angeles City was used as one of the sites of the Katipunan during the Philippine-American War. Gen. Antonio Luna also used this mansion as a headquarters and seat of the government of the First Republic. This was the site of the first anniversary of the declaration of the Philippine Independence, where Aguinaldo waved the Philippine flag from the second-floor balcony of the mansion.
15. San Fernando Train Station
This train station in San Fernando, Pampanga, was inaugurated in February 1892. In June of the same year, Jose Rizal disembarked from this station to meet the recruits for La Liga Filipina. In 1942, the San Fernando Train Station served as the ending point for the 102-kilometer Bataan Death March. This is a museum where you can find significant memorabilia, photos, posters, and war remnants.
16. Museo ning Angeles, Angeles City
Also called the Museum of Angels, Museo ning Angeles showcases exhibitions that feature the history of Angeles and the former Clark Air Base. This museum also houses clothing articles designed by the Grand Dame of Philippine Fashion, Patis Pamintuan-Tesoro, a native of Angeles, Pampanga. It also features the Culinarium, a section dedicated to Kapampangan cuisine and cooking methods.
17. Hot Air Balloon Festival, Clark Freeport Zone
Be part of the country’s biggest aviation gathering to witness a variety of colorful, and sometimes wacky, hot air balloons as they course through the sky during the Hot Air Balloon Festival. With the festival running for more than three days, guests will be exposed to a lot of flying activities, such as kite flying, gliding, skydiving, powered paragliding, aviation exercises, and aircraft exhibitions, and search and rescue flight demonstrations.
18. Giant Lantern Festival, Brgy. Sto. Rosario, San Fernando
This is an annual lantern festival held every December in San Fernando City to celebrate Christmas. Giant lanterns as high as 16 feet are displayed, bearing intricate designs infused with lighting technology. This fun festival (and the year-round availability of Christmas decorations) earned San Fernando the moniker “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.”
19. Tigtigan Terakan Keng Dalan, Angeles City
This festival is the biggest annual celebration in Central Luzon, celebrating the triumph of Angeles City over the Mt. Pinatubo tragedy in 1991. This festive celebration is often called Pampanga’s version of Mardi Gras, as the locals and visitors are in high energy all night dancing and singing on the streets. This is often celebrated on the last Friday and Saturday of October.
20. Sinukwan Festival, San Fernando City
Celebrate the whole week of the Sinukwan Festival in December, a celebration that honors King Sinukwan, an Ancient Kapampangan God, honored by residents of San Fernando through street dancing. Costumes during this joyous festival feature large crowns, headdresses, ornaments, and vibrant clothing. Feel the vibe as Kapampangans use different native musical instruments to play tribal music you can dance to.
21. El Kabayo, Clark Freeport Zone
If you’re up for horseback riding and fun outdoor activities, El Kabayo is one of the places to visit in Pampanga. Their website states that it “is a replica of an old Western town directly out of an American cowboy movie.” Complete with mockup recreations of old Western establishments such as a saloon and a telegraph office, one would feel he has been transported into another country and era. Other activities available are riding lessons, adventure and scenic trail rides, carriage tours, photo opportunities, and shopping.
22. Mount Pinatubo Trekking
Although this one’s not exactly in Pampanga, a trip to Mount Pinatubo—a volcano made famous by its massive 1991 eruption—starts in the province. As the volcano is pretty much very quiet nowadays, tourists can avail a Mount Pinatubo day tour package to see the world’s largest lahar canyon, which can be viewed via a trek to the volcano’s crater. Hikers even have lunch by the shore of the crater lake. Most of the travel packages include transfers from Manila to Mount Pinatubo and vice versa.
23. Candaba Bird Sanctuary
The Candaba Swamp or Candaba Wetlands serves as a staging and wintering area for ducks and other threatened waterbirds, making it a perfect spot for bird watching. This site is one of the Philippines’ 117 Important Bird Areas. Aside from bird watching, the Candaba Swamp helps mitigate climate change and potential disastrous floods. It is also a good source of food and livelihood.
24. Miyamit Falls, Porac
Miyamit Falls is one of Pampanga’s most famous natural tourist attractions. Numerous extreme sports and ultra-marathons have been done here since it is known for its rock formations and strong water surges. Other falls you will find in Pampanga include Haduan Falls in Mabalacat; Darabulbul Falls, Sapang Angka Falls, and Mt. Pinatubo Twin Falls in Porac; Pau Falls and Mt. Arayat Park Falls in Arayat; and 3rd Falls in Sapang Bato.
25. Puning Hot Spring, Angeles City
If you want to relax and meditate in nature, head to Puning Hot Spring. Amidst the lahar, rock formations is a warm thermal spring of Mt. Pinatubo where you can take a therapeutic bath. Aside from soaking in the warm water, you can also ride 4×4 jeepneys across rugged roads, terrains, and narrow streams.
26. Mt. Arayat National Park
If you would like to go on a hike, Mt. Arayat National Park is an ideal place to do so. This mountain is a good hiking place for beginner hikers and mountaineers, as you can reach its summit within four hours. Mt. Arayat is a potentially active stratovolcano in Arayat, Pampanga, with a height of 1,026 meters above sea level. Aside from hiking, you can also camp, trek, swim, and watch birds here.
27. Aling Lucing’s Sisig
Sisig is one of the favorite Filipino dishes made from different parts of a pig’s face and belly, and chicken liver. If you want to eat an original recipe, head to Aling Lucing’s Sisig in Angeles City, Pampanga. While you’re there, take advantage of ordering pinaputok na pusit, chicharon bulaklak, and pinaputok na bangus. Aling Lucing’s sisig is simple, the same way the restaurant is simple and homey. Its simplicity makes it one of the best dishes you’ll ever taste in Pampanga.
28. Bale Dutung Restaurant
If you want to sample authentic Kapampangan dishes, Bale Dutung is the place to be. The atmosphere in this restaurant is rustic and serene. It has a garden you can look at while dining for a more relaxing ambiance. Order the 10-course Kapampangan meal here if you want to go on a gastronomic adventure while in Pampanga.
29. Kusinang Matua ng Atching Lillian Borromeo
This open-air restaurant is also known as the “Old Kitchen of Atching Lillian.” It is operated by one of Pampanga’s well-known culinary personalities, Lillian Lising-Borromeo, who is dubbed “The Guardian Angel of Kapampangan Cooking.” Once you’re here, you can watch some baking demonstrations of San Nicolas cookies and other classic Kapampangan dishes. Here you can taste traditional adobo, Carabao tocino, and Mexican-inspired tamales. Reservation is needed if you want to visit and dine in this restaurant.
30. Abe’s Farm
At the foothills of Mt. Arayat is Abe’s Farm, a lifestyle destination where you can dine, relax, and stay. This farm also offers therapeutic spa treatments. However, it is also a good place to dine and enjoy the culinary delights offered by Pampanga while surrounded by nature. Their best sellers include Arobong Kamaru, Paco Fern & Tomato Salad, Sinigang na Bangus sa Bayabas, Inihaw na Liempo, Spicy Sizzling Sisig Pampanga, and Butete.
Main image via Shutterstock
This article was sponsored by Hausland Development Corp.
Hausland Development Corporation started as a single-proprietorship company named Haus-Land Assets and Realty in 1986, and is now a full-fledged corporation committed to building affordable housing in Central Luzon. The company has successfully pursued real estate projects with the assistance of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation and the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) on its business ventures in Tarlac and Pangasinan, and in 2003, it was recognized as the First Kabalikat sa Pabahay Developer of the Year. A mere decade after its birth Hausland successfully built more than 3,500 housing units in 10 fully developed subdivisions.