pampanga philippines

Explore Pampanga on your next weekend getaway. What are the must-see destinations you should tick off on the Pampanga map? How and where do you enjoy the best of the local cuisine in Pampanga? Here’s a guide on what is there to eat, see, and things to do in Pampanga, the Culinary Capital of the Philippines.

Pampanga is one of the most famous provinces in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines. Why? Because it holds the delicious title of being the Culinary Capital of the Philippines. And whenever a place is regarded as one, people from all over the world would definitely come to get a taste of what it has to offer.

Pampanga is definitely a foodie’s heaven with dishes ranging from the iconic sizzling pork dish called sisig to the family favorites like pangat na ulang (sour soup with fresh water prawns). Your plate will definitely be full!

Pampanga’s modern city of Clark in the Philippines is famous for its well-preserved ancestral homes, a lineup of themed and amusement parks, and bright and colorful year-round festivals. Pampanga is also rich in natural wonders, with stunning waterfalls, majestic mountain views, and calm wetlands. You can go on a hike, swim in natural pools, and spot various migratory birds in the province.

From Aqua Planet to Zoocobia, Mt. Arayat to Miyamit Falls, and Aling Lucing’s to Razon’s, the whole province has got you covered. Whether you are visiting Pampanga for the first time or rediscovering its charms, here are some of the best things to do in Pampanga.


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Have a Blast at These Top Pampanga Tourist Spots

Top Pampanga Tourist Spots and Activities to Try in 2019

Photo from poracpampanga.gov.ph

If you are a certified adventure seeker, then Pampanga is the best place for you. The province offers a wide variety of easy and complex trails, outdoor facilities, and theme parks that will satisfy the adventurous spirit in you! Do include these top tourist spots when you go on your Pampanga trip:

1. Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Sandbox

Blow off the stress from the week and go on a weekend of thrilling activities at Sandbox in Porac, Pampanga. The outdoor adventure park has a number of adventure zones you can choose from, such as the Giant Swing, the Aerial Walk Challenge, the Avatar One (the country's first roller coaster zip line) and the Adventure Tower, which includes the wall-climbing zone and the free-fall jump-off zone.

Sandbox also offers ATV and mini-ATV rides, camping sites, and kiddie playgrounds for those who opt to stay on level ground.

2. Unleash Your Inner Child at Sky Ranch

There’s always something about amusement parks that makes even the most jaded of adults feel like an innocent, carefree child again. And a visit to the Sky Ranch will surely make you feel like a child again. Located just behind SM City San Fernando in San Fernando, Pampanga, the park has 23 rides you can choose from—the Pampanga Eye, Drop Tower, Super Viking, Loop Roller Coaster, Bungee Jump, Space Shuttle, Bumper Boat, and more. The park does not have an entrance fee, but you have to pay to get on each of the rides.

3. Cool Down with Family and Friends at Aqua Planet

A weekend getaway would not be complete without getting your feet (or your whole body) wet. Head over to Aqua Planet in Clark Freeport Zone, Clark, Pampanga and enjoy a full day exploring its 30-plus water slides and other attractions. The water park also has its own restaurants, shops, and live entertainment shows in the evenings, so you can spend the whole day chilling inside the resort!

4. Visit the Country’s Cultural Theme Park, Nayong Pilipino

Go on a field trip around the whole Philippines in just one place at Nayong Pilipino inside Clark Freeport Zone. The park features replicas of tourist spots, historical sites, ancestral homes and native villages from all over the Philippines. There’s even a replica of the Tabon Cave, where the bones of the first human settlers in the Philippines were found. Other attractions include a Money Museum and Textile Museum. Traditional dances such as the tinikling and singkil are also performed at the park. Entrance fee is PHP 150.

5. Meet and Greet the Animals at Zoocobia Fun Zoo

Zoocobia is an adventure zoo theme park in Clark, Pampanga. Zoo attractions include a Birds of Paradise enclosure, a Garden Maze, a petting section where you can experience bottle feeding baby goats and pigs, an endemic species showcase (Philippines Pride), and a taxidermy museum. There are other activities in Zoocobia as well; enjoy a camel ride up a hill, go on a thrilling ATV ride, feel the wind on your face while on the zip line, and go on a downhill drive with the gravity car (similar to the luge in Singapore)! Entrance fee is PHP295.

6. Conquer Deca Wakeboard Park and Pradera Verde

You don’t need to travel far if you want to learn wakeboarding, just head over to the Deca Wakeboard Park in Clark or Pradera Verde in Lubao! Both wakeboard parks feature various jumps and obstacles that cater to both beginners and expert wakeboarders. For those without equipment, they offer boards, helmets, and other equipment you can rent, so all you need to do really is to show up, go on the board, and get soaked!

Attend the Large, Fun, and Colorful Festivals of Pampanga

hot air balloon festival

Fiestas are a way of life in the Philippines, and Pampanga has some of the biggest, most colorful fiestas in the country. Make sure to consider planning your trips to Pampanga around November to February, as this is when a lot of the grandest festivals are held. Make time in your itinerary to catch these Pampanga festivals:

1. Go Up, Up, and Away at the Hot Air Balloon Festival

Dreaming of sailing across the sky on a hot air balloon? Head over to Lubao around February to catch the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival! For a more magical experience, come early to avoid the crowds (and the heat) so you can watch hundreds of brightly-colored giant balloons slowly rise towards the morning sky.

2. Brighten Up Your Holidays at the Giant Lantern Festival

It is no secret that Filipinos love Christmas, so much so that Christmas carols start playing everywhere as early as September. But Pampanga has made it into an even bigger affair. The province has a thriving parol (Christmas star lantern) industry, and people flock to the City of San Fernando not just to buy the perfect parol to hang outside their homes for the holidays, but also to catch the Giant Lantern Festival. Visit San Fernando in December to catch these huge lanterns with intricate designs and fancy dancing lights on display.

3. Treat Yourself to a Feast of the Senses at the Sinukwan Festival

Get a feel of the Kapampangan soul at the Sinukwan Festival, also held in the City of San Fernando during the first week of December. The festival memorializes the god of ancient Kapampangans, Aring Sinukwan. This week-long cultural fiesta has food fairs, traditional shows, craft showcases, and street dancing to celebrate the province’s rich heritage and culture.

4. Celebrate Pampanga’s Triumph Over Adversity at the Makatapak Festival

The Makatapak Festival (“Barefoot Festival”) commemorates the journey of Bacolor natives as they displayed the spirit of Bayanihan to escape the lahar flows brought about by the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Held every November, the locals walk barefoot on soft mud to re-enact walking over lahar and celebrate with barefoot street dancing.

Enjoy the Natural Hidden Gems of Pampanga

pampanga tourist spot

Make the most out of your Pampanga getaway by experiencing its all-natural tourist sites. Here are some natural and man-made spots you can add to your Pampanga tour itinerary:

1. Fall in Love with Miyamit Falls

Wash away your stress by taking a dip at Miyamit Falls in Porac, Pampanga. Reaching this hidden gem at the heart of the province involves a long trek, but the view is worth the sweat. It’s easy to be mesmerized by the pure nature view, and the sound of the water hitting the rocks as it makes its way down to the dipping pool. There is no entrance fee to the Miyamit Falls, but you need to secure a permit from the Porac municipal hall.

2. Test your Fitness at Mt. Arayat National Park

Pampanga’s sole mountain, Mt. Arayat, towers over the mostly flat plains of the province at 1,026 MASL. The mountain lies inside the Mt. Arayat National Park, one of the oldest national parks in the country. Non-climbers can enjoy the walking trails and natural pools at the base of the extinct volcano. Intermediate climbers can trek solo or in groups to the summit. Trail guides are available to help you with the day-long trek across Mt. Arayat. Entrance fee to the national park is PHP 75.

3. Go Birdwatching at the Candaba Swamp

See white egrets, Philippine ducks, white-breasted herons, streaked reed-warbler, and other birds at the Candaba Swamp. The swamp has about 32,000 hectares of wetland, which includes freshwater pools, marshes, and grasslands. Migratory birds usually make the trip to the Candaba Swamp from October to February, to escape the harsh winter conditions in China and Russia.

Learn More About Pampanga’s Culture and History

pampanga tourist spot

Pampanga is one of the first provinces established during the Spanish colonial era. It was also one of eight provinces placed under martial law for rebellion against Spain in 1896, and because of this, the province is represented on the Philippine flag as one of the eight rays of the sun. As such, the province boasts of a long and rich history. Take a heritage tour of Pampanga by visiting these sites:

1. Visit the Pamintuan Mansion in Angeles City

The Pamintuan Mansion is a Spanish-era colonial home that has a beautifully-preserved architecture and design. It is where the first Philippine President, Emilio Aguinaldo, stood to celebrate the first anniversary of Philippine independence from Spain. Now open to tourists as a museum, the Pamintuan Mansion offers a view of what life was like for one of the influential families in the province.

2. Spend a Leisurely Afternoon at Museo Ning Angeles

Museo Ning Angeles used to be the Municipio del Pueblo or the Town Hall of Angeles City until 1998. Constructed in 1922, the two-story building stood guard over Angeles City, witnessing its growth and development throughout the decades. The museum, which opened in 1999, gives a glimpse of Angeles City’s history through its memorabilia display. The museum also serves as a venue for art classes, cultural performances, and exhibits of local artists. You can go here by paying an entrance fee of PHP 20.

3. Have Fun at Clark Museum and 4D Theatre

Located inside the former US Base in Clark, Pampanga, the Clark Museum showcases the history of Clark, the American occupation in the Philippines, and its significance in World War II. Its galleries contain well-preserved memorabilia, dioramas, murals, and interactive displays that will definitely spark the history buff in you.  Entrance fee is PHP 100.

4. Remember World War II Heroes at the San Fernando Train Station

As the terminus of the tragic Bataan Death March in 1942, this train station ruins served as a silent witness to the suffering of Filipino and American soldiers under the Japanese forces right after the fall of Bataan. Thousands of exhausted and dying prisoners-of-war were loaded into box carts at this station, to be sent to Camp O’Donnell in nearby Capas, Tarlac.

5. Offer a Prayer at the Holy Rosary Parish Church

Fondly called by locals as Pisambang Maragul (“Big Church”), the Holy Rosary Parish Church is a living church and a national historical site in Angeles, Pampanga. Construction of the church began in 1877 and was built under the “polo y servicio” labor system, the forced, unpaid labor system for Filipino native men imposed by the Spanish colonial government. Monday to Saturday masses are held in Kapampangan and English, from 5:30 AM to 7:30 AM and 5:30 PM. Sunday masses are held in Kapampangan, English, and Tagalog from 5:00 AM to 11:00 AM, and 2:30 PM to 8:30 PM.

Eat Your Heart Out at These Pampanga Restaurants

pampanga restaurant

As the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, Pampanga offers unique, delicious food that will make anyone crave for more. In recent years, there has been an influx of restaurants serving up Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Italian, German, and Spanish dishes, but local cuisine still takes the top spot. We recommend you include at least one Pampanga restaurant in your itinerary:

1. Taste the Original Sisig at Aling Lucing’s

When in Pampanga, make a stop at the Queen of Sisig’s restaurant in Angeles City and order the iconic sizzling pork dish. Aling Lucing’s sisig (made of chopped pork ears, cheeks, and liver seasoned with calamansi, onions, and chili peppers, served on a sizzling plate) has become such a hit, it is now a staple at many Filipino restaurants. Still, nothing beats the original, so make sure to include this in your must-try list. The average food cost here is PHP 250.00 per person.

2. Get a Private Dining Experience at Bale Dutung

If you want to try a 3- to 4-hour, 12-course menu of the best of Kapampangan cooking, get reservations at Bale Dutung in Angeles City. Run by Chef Claude Tayag and his wife Mary Ann, the private dining restaurant offers a perfect venue for quiet, intimate family gatherings. Due to popular demand, they now also have an Anthony Bourdain menu, inspired by the late chef/travel host/writer’s visit to the restaurant.

As Bale Dutung also serves as the Tayags’ home, the restaurant only opens occasionally to diners. It’s best to check their website for the latest restaurant schedule and call for reservations. But you can expect to spend approximately PHP 2000.00 per head for the special 12-course dining experience.

3. Go on a Food Adventure at Matam-ih Authentic Kapampangan Cuisine

The best way to appreciate a new place is by trying its local cuisine, and Matam-ih (meaning “delicious” in Aeta dialect) inside Clark Freeport Zone is one such place to get a taste of Kapampangan cuisine. Filipino favorites such as sinigang na baboy, kare-kare, tinola made with native chicken, and more are on the menu. Exotic, seasonal dishes such as crocodile meat, escargot, and crickets are also available for those with more adventurous palates. The average cost per person is about PHP 450.00.

4. Experience Italy at Piccolo Padre

Get your fill of authentic Italian cuisine at Piccolo Padre (“Little Father”). The restaurant is located inside the Prime Asia Hotel in Angeles City, with Italian Chef Dan Giampaolo at the helm. The interiors resemble the look of the homes and establishments in Venice, which only adds to its authentic appeal. Order some fresh oysters, risotto, and osso bucco, then top off your meal with fine wine. Set a budget of about PHP 800.00 per person for the dining experience here.

5. Fall in Love with Kapampangan Cuisine at Binulo Restaurant

Another restaurant serving up authentic Kapampangan cuisine is Binulo Restaurant, located inside Clark Freeport Zone. The name of the restaurant is derived from the word “binulo”, meaning to cook food inside a bamboo stalk. Try the pangat na ulang, which is sinigang made with fresh water prawns, served straight out of the bamboo stalk where it was cooked; binukadkad na hito, a filleted, deep-fried catfish dish served with buro (fermented rice) and vegetables; and sisig. The average budget per person is PHP 500.00.

6. Eat Gourmet Filipino Cuisine at Café Fleur

An ancestral home got a new lease of life when local celebrity chef Sau del Rosario opened Café Fleur in Angeles City in Pampanga. The restaurant offers iconic Filipino dishes such as kare-kare and tamales with a twist, as well as deconstructed Kapampangan delicacies. Dessert and coffee are also on the menu, and best enjoyed after a long, leisurely lunch. The restaurant also uses garden-grown edible flowers in its dishes, which puts the “fleur” in Café Fleur. Expect to spend about PHP 350.00 per person at this restaurant.

7. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Razon’s Halo-Halo

It’s a simple dessert made with shaved ice, creamy milk, leche flan, macapuno, and saging na saba. But hands down, it is one of the best (if not the best) halo-halo recipes in the Philippines. Razon’s of Guagua shops can be found all over Pampanga, so you can get your halo-halo fix at any time during your trip. For approximately PHP 110.00  per person, you can enjoy the famous Razon’s halo-halo.

Unwind at These Hotels and Resorts in Pampanga

Because of its proximity to Metro Manila, Pampanga has become one of the go-to provinces for vacationing families and friends, as well as a team building destination for companies. The province has a long list of resort options to choose from. Here are some accommodation options that will make the most out of your stay in Pampanga:

1. Go Green at Prado Farms Eco Resort

Detach yourself from the concrete jungle and breathe in some fresh air at Prado Farms Eco Resort in Lubao, Pampanga. The eco-resort is dotted with upcycled décor, starting with its LPG tank gate. Apart from its quirky décor, the resort also has complete facilities, from pools to bike paths, so you can maximize your stay. You can also have healthy home-cooked meals, made with Prado Farms’ own farm-grown vegetables. Make your Pampanga trip a healing and relaxing one by booking a stay at Prado Farms Eco Resort.

2. Stay Within the City at Savannah Resort Hotel

Savannah Resort hotel in Angeles City is centrally located, making it an ideal place to stay for those looking to go around the city on foot. The hotel has its own restaurant and bar, swimming pool, business center, function hall, and gym. The hotel also offers roundtrip airport transfers to Clark International Airport.

3. Have a Lavish Stay at Widus Hotel and Casino

Widus Hotel and Casino in Clark Pampanga offers luxurious accommodations for when you feel the urge to splurge. Its location inside the Clark Freeport Zone makes it accessible to restaurants, malls, and even the Clark International Airport. Take a refreshing dip in the pool, get a massage at the spa to soothe tense muscles, and just take the time to unwind and zone out in your room.  

4. Enjoy No-Frills Family Fun at Armando’s Wellness Resort

This family-friendly resort in San Fernando, Pampanga offers its visitors a welcome break from the noise, stress, and heat of the city. The resort has something for every member of the family. It has two swimming pools, a fishing area, lush gardens, playgrounds, and even a basketball court. It is also close to SM City San Fernando and Sky Ranch.

5. Stay Classy at Prime City Resort Hotel

Prime City Resort Hotel is primarily a business hotel, but its proximity to transport hubs and malls make it convenient for small groups as well. The hotel also has an indoor pool—so you can take a dip without being exposed to the harsh afternoon sun. Airport transfers to and from Clark International Airport are also available.

Add Pampanga Your Travel List This Year!

You will definitely get your fill of the best local dishes, exciting theme parks and resorts, must-visit historical sites, and enchanting natural tourist spots only found in the Philippines. Whether you are traveling solo or with family and friends, add Pampanga to your list of must-visit provinces in Central Luzon in the Philippines.

There is so much to see, experience, and bring home with you. And it’s not just the realization that Pampanga really is the Culinary Capital of the Philippines (and that the sisig here absolutely mind-blowing!), but also the fact that it is one of the top summer destinations for the whole family.

Planning a trip to Pampanga? Explore Pampanga tours and activities to help you maximize your perfect weekend getaway!