Cagayan Valley is called the “islands and valley of fun” for good reason. While others rush to the usual suspects for their getaway vacay, DiscoverMNL traveled to the virtually unexplored landlocked region that holds abundant rural sceneries, caves, beaches, mountains, rivers, and waterfalls.
Cagayan Valley is made up of five provinces: Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Batanes. The region is skirted by the Pacific Ocean shoreline, and it’s where the lush Sierra Madre mountains can be found (Fun fact: The Sierra Madre is the longest mountain range in the Philippines).
DiscoverMNL, in partnership with Cebu Pacific Air, landed in Tuguegarao Airport and took a 4D3N trip around the Cagayan Valley (Tuguegarao-Isabela-Nueva Vizcaya) region. Our friends from Travelesque Tours created an itinerary that took our group to provinces around the region wherein different kinds of beauty lie in unequivocally stunning places.
|Arrival at Tuguegarao Airport
|Drop by Tuguegarao Cathedral
|This 18th-century Baroque church is the largest Spanish colonial church in Cagayan Valley. The facade is made of red bricks which are complemented with white columns. Take your time inside the cathedral’s immaculate nave.
|Explore Tuguegarao Museum
|The museum is just a five-minute drive away from the Tuguegarao Cathedral! Fun fact: The museum informs tourists about the recent discovery of unearthed fossils of Homo-luzonensins — an extinct human species that was found in the Callao Cave in Cagayan.
Another fun fact? It was a provincial prison before it became a museum.
|Lunch at Bassig Panciteria for Special Batil Patong
|The Special Batil Patong is Tuguegarao’s signature stir-fried dish which only goes for PHP90! We’d def recommend pouring the accompanying bowl of beef broth into the pancit filled with miki noodles, carabeef, and bean sprouts topped with an egg for a rich, meatier flavor.
|Stopover at Buntun Bridge
|The best trivia about the bridge? They say if you cross the Buntun Bridge while singing the whole Lupang Hinirang national anthem, you still won’t be halfway through the sublime red bridge.
|Sightseeing at the boundary of Cagayan and Isabela
|Cue Julie Andrews singing The Hills are Alive because the hills are definitely alive with white carabaos in the vast green meadows.
|Magat Dam Sightseeing
|Tourists can go fishing while others can opt for a boat ride.
Tip: Bring a nice picnic mat, some snacks, and loved ones to spend a nice day out while enjoying the cold breeze.
|Dinner and overnight stay at the Lower Magat Eco Tourism Park
|The in-house restaurant’s food at the Lower Magat Eco Tourism Park’s (LMET) is superb. Do not sleep on the comfort food.
If you’re booking a night here during the cold season, bring a jacket and pajamas because it gets cold, like Baguio cold at night.
Accommodation prices at the LMET are pegged at PHP1,000 to PHP5,000.
Photo of People’s Museum by Waltz Siy Photo of Magat Dam by Waltz Siy Photo of Lower Magat Eco Tourism Park by Ivan Lantin
|Breakfast and tour around Lower Magat Eco Tourism Park
|The back-to-nature park is an immense forest land filled with a lagoon with fish cages, coconut plantations, campsite, dormitories, a 5-km eco-trail, a butterfly garden, a zoo park, swimming pools, and a log cabin.
There’s also ethnic-themed cottages which can be rented out for overnight stays.
|Snacks at Lintungan Falls
|It’s fairly easy to get to the two-tier waterfalls after a 20-to-30 minute trek. There’s a bamboo hut where you and your friends can enjoy snacks while basking in the ambiance!
Bring swimming outfits and a change of clothes because you can indeed take a dip in its deep icy waters and change into dry clothes in the restrooms.
|Lunch at Capisaan Center
|Spelunking at Capisaan Cave
|This is the fifth longest cave system in the Philippines and is considered a geologist’s paradise!
You’ll need swimming gear, maybe a small flashlight, some footwear made for rough, slippery terrain, and a lot of willpower.
Going in and out of the cave without disturbing the peace is a bit of a challenge. Be sure to pack water, and follow the caving guide’s instructions as to not harm the stalactites and stalagmites.
Note: Lots of fun-looking rock formations ahead. Be sure to take photos if you can!
|Dinner at Big Eats BBQ
|A Nueva Vizcaya restaurant specializing in flavorful and tender meat.
We would recommend getting Meat Lovers (PHP790) in their Biggest Eats selection, which includes 10 barbecues (pork and chicken) and four sausages for a big group like ours (8 pax). They also have a la carte orders for smaller groups.
|Overnight stay at Reginaldo’s Farm
|You stay in one of the quaint villas which are all lined up next to the dragon fruit field!
Photo of Lower Magat Eco Tourism Park by Ivan LantinPhoto of Capisaan Cave entrance by Ivan Lantin Photo of Capisaan Cave by Waltz Siy
Photo of Big Eats Barbecue by Ivan LantinPhoto of Reginaldo’s Farm by Waltz Siy
|Breakfast at Reginaldo’s Farm
|The most important meal of the day. Get longganisa, hot dogs, fried rice, and bananas. Wash it all down with hot chocolate or coffee!
|Leisure time at Reginaldo’s Farm
|You can swim in the pool or chill in the jacuzzi. You can also explore the greeneries in the farm.
|Bayombong paragliding activity care of the International Flying Education Center (IFEC)
|One of the best parts of the trip:
You can see the panoramic view of the golden fields of grain, the groves crowning the rugged Sierra Madre mountain range, and the winding Magat River while 2,000 to 3,000 meters above sea level.
Best to wear a comfy tee or a long sleeved windstopper top (if you feel you might get cold), comfortable running or walking shoes, shorts or long pants (in the event of a tumble), and put on sunblock. The paragliding experience can last 15-to-20 minutes.
It’s relatively affordable — ranging from PHP4,000 to PHP5,000 only — which includes GoPro videos and photos of your flight; a professional pilot; paragliding or paramotor gear and equipment; and a reserve safety parachute. You can book and schedule your paragliding experience here.
|Lunch at Balai Gloria’s Cafe Angelo
|Balai Gloria’s Cafe Angelo has a selection of Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, American and Italian recipes. Of course, we went with our favorite Filipino comfort food!
P.S. The crispy pata is to die for!
|St. Dominic Cathedral and People’s Museum and Library
|This is a two-in-one hit as the two places are practically neighbors.
St. Dominic Cathedral is another 18th-century Baroque church that features an octagonal tower next to the cathedral proper. In front of the church is a park where one can sit, relax, and people-watch. We recommend sitting and just zoning out to the shouts of joy of children playing.
After that, the People’s Museum is just a short walk away (literally like 10 steps away). It’s a two-storey historical building that houses the Novo Vizcayano’s history and heritage. You can also purchase local artists’ artworks which are displayed in the gallery.
|Dinner at Reginaldo’s Farm
|Roast hot dogs over campfire at Reginaldo’s Farm
|After a full feast, sit back, relax, and roast hot dogs and/or marshmallows (if you have them!) with your friends and enjoy the stars.
You can also ask for the karaoke machine and sing the blues away in the open-air pavillion.
Photo of Balai Gloria’s Cafe Angelo by Waltz SiyPhoto of bonfire at Reginaldo’s Farm by Waltz Siy
|Travel to Cauayan Airport
|Note: You can get pasalubongs (souvenirs) for family and friends at its pasalubong center! One pack of Chicharabao is at PHP70.
Side note: it would be cheaper to get pasalubongs elsewhere since souvenir prices are always higher at airports.
|Fast food drive-thru breakfast
|Didn’t we say breakfast was the most important meal of the day? Grab a fast meal before the flight!
|Flight back to Manila
|A bittersweet goodbye to our short but fun Cagayan Valley trip.
While the region can be reached via a six-to-twelve hour car ride from Manila, the fastest and easiest way of getting to Cagayan Valley is via flight.
Cebu Pacific Air offers direct flights to Tuguegarao City in Cagayan province; Cauayan City in Isabela province; and Basco, Batanes. One-way flights from Manila to Tuguegarao or Cauayan usually only take 45 minutes-to-one hour at most, while it takes two hours to Batanes.
Save yourself the hassle of the hectic traffic and make the most of your trip by booking a roundtrip flight through the budget airline Cebu Pacific Air.
We would like to thank our friends from Travelesque Tours for creating our non-restrictive itinerary wherein we were able to explore and maximize our stay in Cagayan Valley.The Cagayan Valley provinces have so much to offer to wanderlust travelers in search of picturesque locations straight out of a computer screensaver. But don’t just take our word for it — come and explore the fun up north.