I was born and raised here in Pampanga and I’ve now spent almost 23 years in the province. Still, there’s still so much for me to see. As it’s constantly improving, growing, and becoming more urbanized and even more beautiful.
Pampanga is the culinary capital of the Philippines. It has 19 towns and 3 cities. It’s amongst the top 10 largest provinces in the country in terms of population. It was once the capital of the country! And, it was also the hometown of two of our former Presidents. The people of Pampanga have their own language and the province celebrates 17 festivals on a yearly basis.
These facts are all amazing. Especially to those who haven’t heard about them before but hear this, Pampanga is more than all these things combined. It’s a beautiful province with lovely people, rich history, numerous scenic sights, and bottomless must-see destinations that can only be appreciated in person, but most importantly, it’s one of the provinces in our country that we can truly be proud of.
Local’s Tips & Tricks When Visiting Pampanga
If you ever decide to visit the province, here’s a guide that can help you make the most out of your vacation.
Cities & Municipalities to Visit
Pampanga is home to many municipalities, each with its own unique attractions. From heritage towns to bustling metropolises, there’s something for everyone in Pampanga. Below, I’ll list some of the most popular municipalities you should visit and their famous tourist spots.
City of San Fernando
If you’re heading to Pampanga, you might as well take a look at its capital city, San Fernando. In the busy capital, you’ll be able to check out major establishments such as the longest SM mall in the Philippines and Robinson Starmills.
But, don’t get fooled by all these modern buildings and businesses. The City is also home to a lot of historic architecture from the Spanish era such as the colonial houses in Consunji St., most particularly the Lazatin house which was built around the mid-1920s.
Although the highly urbanized city is not a part of Pampanga anymore since it was made into a politically independent component of the province, it still is, in essence, a Kapampangan city. It’s a fairly busy city with lots of businesses, malls, universities, restaurants, churches, and other establishments.
The City is famous for its daring nightlife, especially on its popular Fields Avenue where you’ll find casinos and clubs at every corner.
Related: Best Arayat Pampanga Tourist Spots
If you’re tired of the city life, busy streets, and yes, smog, then you should head to Mt. Arayat where you’ll be greeted with an abundance of fresh air, towering trees, and a lot of outdoor activities. It isn’t only famous for the tales of fairies that inhabit the area, but also for its scenic views that feature a bird’s eye view of the flat lands of Pampanga.
Clark in Mabalacat
Related: Top 10 Clark Pampanga Tourist Spots
Clark in Mabalacat Pampanga is a special place with a rich history. Named after Major Harold M. Clark, a pre-World War I pilot, the area was once home to a large US military base. These days, the Clark Freeport Zone has been converted into the Philippines’ very own air base. It is also home to the new Clark Airport, a lot of casinos, and luxury resorts.
But aside from that, Clark is a thriving hub for business and tourism. The area is also well-known for its numerous tourist spots and resorts, making it a popular destination for both locals and foreigners alike. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Clark in Mabalacat Pampanga continues to be a popular destination for both business and pleasure.
When it comes to natural beauty, Floridablanca, Pampanga is hard to beat. The third-largest town of Pampanga offers a variety of stunning trails for bikers and hikers to explore. And for those who want to take in the sights at a more leisurely pace, there are plenty of tourist spots to enjoy, including the Sumuclab Lagoon, Tungab Lagoon, and Nabuklod Eco-Tourism Adventure Park.
Porac is the largest town in Pampanga and is home to many vintage chapels and Spanish-era religious structures. The town is also a natural tourist destination, with the Darabulbul Falls and hot springs of Sitio Puning being just some of the attractions on offer.
For those who enjoy a more active holiday, the SandBox outdoor adventure park is a great choice. And for those wanting to explore further afield, Porac is the perfect jump-off point to Mt Pinatubo.
You may like to read: 10 Best restaurants in Porac Pampanga
Are Kapampangans Nice?
What should you expect from Kapampangans? Are they really “mayabang” (boastful)?
It’s our distinct trait to warmly welcome outsiders. We’re known to be mayabang, headstrong and overly frank (which is true) but when it comes to welcoming our neighbors, you can count on our warmth and friendliness.
Here are some things that you should remember:
- Don’t hesitate to ask for directions. If we know where you’re heading, we’ll gladly point you to the right direction.
- Need help with a flat tire? Don’t worry about being snubbed by the side of the road. A Kapampangan will help you out if you ask. We’re pretty handy too.
- We normally talk very loud. To some, it may sound like we’re angry or arguing with someone, but that’s just how we speak.
- There are words in the Kapampangan language that resemble words in Tagalog but mean different things. If you think we said something offensive for no reason, it may just be a Kapampangan word that kind of sounds offensive.
Pampanga is part of the Philippines’ central plain region and is mostly composed of lowlands. It’s 9.9 meters above sea level and experiences both wet and dry seasons. Temperatures can reach up to an average of 28.5°C during its hottest month, April and can dip to an average of 26.5°C in the month of November.
With all these things in mind, there really isn’t much to worry about when visiting the Province, just remember to bring an umbrella because it’s only going to be either hot or rainy.
What to Wear
Now that you know how hot and how cold it can be in the province, you now have an idea of what to wear. Unlike Baguio, it doesn’t really get that cold in the lowlands, so you’ll be safe wearing just a casual getup. A pair of shorts or a shirt will do. You can also get comfy with slippers especially if you’re heading to the rural parts of the province where it can get muddy and wet.
If you’re visiting Arayat and you’re up to some adventurous outdoor fun, better wear your best hiking attire. Don’t forget your trekking sandals.
Your trip to Pampanga won’t be complete if you won’t buy any pasalubongs or take-homes for your family and friends back home.
Here are some places/stores where you will be able to find Pampanga’s specialties/delicacies:
- Susie’s Cuisine is known for its original Kapampangan kakanin and desserts.
- LA Bakeshop makes the best cheese bread in town.
- Aling Lucing’s Sisig is popular for its original pork sisig recipe.
- Pampanga’s Best is the original maker of the popular Kapampangan tocino.
- Everybody’s Cafe has one of the best murcons in Pampanga.
- You can also visit local markets for delicacies like buro, bringhi, and tabang talangka among many others.
Commuting in the Province
When it comes to commuting in Pampanga, you’re presented with numerous choices. You can either catch a jeepney, call a “trike,” ride a kalesa, rent a car or in some places, ride a tri-wheeler.
Here’s a short guide that can help you decide which public transport you can use:
No matter where you’re from in the Philippines, you surely have heard about tricycles, they’re the second most popular way of commuting in the country second to Jeepneys. In the province, you’ll find them almost at every corner waiting for passengers who couldn’t catch Jeepneys during rush hour or those who prefer to commute in a more private manner away from the crowds. The minimum fare ranges from 25-30 pesos for the first 1 kilometer and an additional 10 pesos for the succeeding kilometers.
Kalesas can also be found in Pampanga, just like the ones in Intramuros. In fact, they were among the first types of public transport introduced by the Spaniards in the 1700s. Until today, there are still some parts of the country that still use horses for public and private transport.
In Pampanga, kalesas are usually found in San Fernando, the capital of the province, particularly in the Downtown area near the Metropolitan Cathedral. You can ask your kutsero to take you for a ride around the heritage district for 100-200 pesos.
Tri-wheelers or wheelers are a popular way to travel in Pampanga, especially in the City of San Fernando. They are basically the Kapampangan version of pedicabs, but with the sidecar attached not on the side, but at the rear part of the vehicle.
They are a popular way to get around the inner parts of the province, typically in barangays waiting by the street corner for passengers dropped by PUVs, in front of schools, public markets, and malls. There isn’t really a fixed rate when it comes to tri-wheeler commuting, but the accepted minimum fare hovers around 30 pesos and an additional 10 pesos for the succeeding kilometers.
Of course, Jeepneys. Commuting anywhere in the country won’t be complete without Jeepneys. They’re just the most convenient way to travel from point to point without having to break the bank with the minimum being 10 pesos (as of writing).
There are also air-conditioned jeepneys in the Province as part of the PUV modernization caravan which was launched in 2019. The going minimum rate for air-conditioned jeepneys today (as of writing) is 11 pesos.
If you really want to enjoy your visit to the Province and you don’t have a personal vehicle, renting one may be your best bet. Car rentals are really becoming a thing today now that commuting is becoming more and more cumbersome considering the increasing number of cars on the road. For as low as 2000, you can rent a decent sedan for a day in Pampanga.
Gabriel is a freelance writer and a Civil Engineering student from the Philippines. He is specializing in Construction Management and aims to one day create a positive impact in the construction industry and the world.
He is an advocate for environmentally responsible construction, the conservation of the natural environment and the protection of the Earth from unsustainable human activities. When he is not writing for his clients or doing his schoolwork, he is either reading his favorite non-fiction books, playing online games or travelling with his family!