The pandemic may still be ongoing and travel restrictions are limiting movement internationally and locally, but it can never hurt to plan your next outing with your family, friends, or even a solo trip for yourself. The province of Pampanga, located in Central Luzon, is one of the popular tourist destinations in the Philippines and it is known to be the “Culinary Capital” of the country.
But, take note because this place is more than just its authentic Filipino dishes that are known to draw both tourists and locals. From thrilling attractions to scenic views, Pampanga has both and everything in between. So, whether you are looking for an adventurous retreat or a chill getaway on your next trip, Pampanga sure has got you covered.
There are numerous places to explore in this province, but here are the top five tourist spots you can check out for yourself.
1. THE SANDBOX
If you want to awaken the daredevil in you and get your heart pumping with adrenaline, one must-visit tourist spot in Pampanga is The Sandbox. Located in Porac, this outdoor attraction covers two hectares of land big enough to accommodate numerous of activities for goers to choose from. The Sandbox will challenge one’s balance, flexibility, and motor skills; hence, expect that you will get tired but it will be worth the adventure.
One of the zones in this destination is not for the faint of heart. The Avatar One is the infamous zipline that’s very much like a rollercoaster and it extends up to 180 meters. This roller coaster zipline is in fact iconic because it is the first ever in Asia.
Now if you’re feeling a little scared to go alone on something like that but still want that thrill in the air, maybe you can give the Giant Swing a try. Take a friend or loved one with you high up in the air as this ride can seat three people simultaneously and swing ten meters above the ground.
For those who are into climbing or maybe you would just like to experience what it’s like to climb, the Adventure Tower is the match for you. Here, guests can try out activities such as wall climbing, free falling, and rappelling. If you’re feeling a little bit more up to the challenge and you think you have acrobatic skills in you, the Aerial Walk Challenge is the way to go.
If you’ve tried all the exciting activities mentioned above and you still find yourself game for more fun adventures, good news! The Sandbox also offers ATV and UTV rides. You can explore the property and even go nearby waterways of the Pasig-Portero River.
For those who would like to chill and stay on level ground because the adventures are too challenging, it’s good to know that there are camping sites in The Sandbox and even kiddie playgrounds for children to hang out at. Indeed, The Sandbox in Pampanga is quite the place for your barkada outdoor trip, fambam session, or for your workplace’s team building.
2. ALING LUCING
As mentioned earlier, Pampanga is the culinary capital of the Philippines. Your visit to this province would not be complete if you do not try its renowned dishes. The one specific must try dish is none other than the sizzling sisig. Sisig is probably one of the most famous “ulam” and go to “pulutan” of Filipinos and it’s available in many restaurants all over the country. But, nothing compares to the product from the very home of the original sisig in Pampanga. Aling Lucing’s Sisig is as authentic as it gets.
Lucía “Aling Lucing” Lagman Cunanan, also known as the Sisig Queen, started her restaurant business back in 1974. It was her hard work and creativity that put her special sisig to the top. As she reinvented the sisig dish, her business continually grew and it expanded to several branches all over Pampanga. As for Angeles City, it earned the title of “Sisig Capital of the Philippines.”
Aling Lucing’s Sisig is made of chopped pork ears, cheeks, and liver seasoned with calamansi, onions, and chili peppers, served on a sizzling plate. It may sound ordinary and just like the usual sisig that you can get in any Filipino restaurant, but as many have said, there’s nothing like the original and authentic sisig of Aling Lucing. For those who love sisig, Aling Lucing’s Sisig is definitely a must try if you happen to find yourself in the province of Pampanga.
3. AQUA PLANET
With the warm season just around the corner, a must have in your summer escapade bucket list is none other than a waterpark. But Pampanga doesn’t just offer an ordinary waterpark because Aqua Planet is the largest waterpark in the country. It covers over ten hectares of property and its spacious land has the capacity of 5,000 people. You can imagine this water playground houses various attractions to keep you, your family, and friends busy under the sun.
Aqua Planet is located in the northwest portion of the Clark Freeport Zone, which is mostly in Mabalacat, Pampanga. This tourist spot has thirty-eight slides and some of which will surely get your heart pumping. Moreover, there are two wave pools, one for adults and another for children. If you are bringing kids with you or if you are not an experienced swimmer, there’s no need to worry then.
When you get tired from the exciting activities, fret not because there are cabanas for rent. You can chill in the Vista Cabanas. These are enclosed cottages that offer hotel amenities such as air conditioning, mini refrigerator, toiletries, and complimentary drinks. On the other hand, if you are on a bit of a budget, you can settle for their open cottages. These have fans and comfy cushions sure to keep you cozy enough.
This waterpark also offers its visitors a spectacular setting to take eye-catching photos and videos for your social media. Aqua Planet has shops and restaurants where you can purchase snacks and meals, as well. In the evenings, there are also live shows to keep guests entertained. In addition, guests are given reloadable wristbands which they can use for cashless transactions, suitable for this time of pandemic.
4. SKY RANCH
If you want to stay dry, skip the waterpark, not get too tired from thrilling activities, but still want to have fun, an amusement park shall do the trick. The Sky Ranch is one of the go-to and popular tourist spots in Pampanga. As some of you may know, Sky Ranch has three branches in Luzon, one of each in Tagaytay, Baguio, and Pampanga.
You really cannot miss the Sky Ranch here because whether you are coming from the North or the South, you will definitely see its legendary landmark, the Pampanga Eye. This big boy stands at 213 feet and is considered to be the tallest Ferris wheel in the country! Upon riding this Ferris wheel, you get a spectacular view of the Luzon Archipelago. Make sure that when you ride this, the weather is clear so you don’t miss that great view.
As for the other rides in this attraction, there are twenty-three in total and they vary of extreme levels which is suitable for any age bracket. Thrill-seekers may opt for the Drop Tower, Space Shuttle, Super Viking, Loop Roller Coaster, and Bungee Jump, while the kids can enjoy the Canoe River and Safari Train. There are also rides fun for the rest of the family such as the Bumper Boat, Double Decker Carousel, and the Dragon Parade. Moreover, this amusement park does not have an entrance fee. You only pay per ride; hence, this is quite convenient for those on a budget. In this case, you don’t even have to worry about paying for an entrance fee if you won’t be going on most of the rides.
Just in case you visit Sky Ranch Pampanga during the month of December, it’s good to know that you may get to witness the fireworks show. For the last couple of years, this tourist spot holds fireworks shows on the Saturdays of December and they are for free.
Located in the city of San Fernando, it is nearby other sites such as SM Pampanga, Robinsons Starmills, and many more. This is perfect if you’re planning to do some shopping at the mall. In fact, Sky Ranch can be found just behind SM Pampanga. Amusement Park plus shopping? This tourist spot checks both with its convenient location.
5. SKY GARDEN CAFÉ
In almost every barkada road trip, finding a cool café is always something that’s looked forward to because café hoping, as it seems, is a real thing now. With the trends and fads these days, something Korean-inspired is a hit amongst the young generation. In the city of Angeles, Pampanga, you can find a not so ordinary hang out spot that will surely exceed your expectations. Sky Garden Café and Resto, located in Pampanga’s “Koreatown” just opened its doors to guests last year and it is becoming a hotspot especially with millennials and gen Z.
What makes this café worth the visit and a spot to this top five list? There are numerous reasons why. Sure, Sky Garden Café and Resto offers delicious food like other restaurants. But what makes this place unique is all the other amenities and features. Also, whether you are going solo or you have an entire group of friends and family along with you, you will surely find a perfect spot in this spacious three floored café.
First off, visitors will definitely appreciate the classy and modern interiors of this tourist spot. Floor-to-ceiling windows, a gigantic chandelier, and K-inspired designs make Sky Garden Café and Resto very much IG-worthy or as some of us call it, instagramable. Guests are welcomed to the main indoor dining area located on the ground floor of the café. You and your friends can hang out at the lounge area or the café bar. On some days, guests are serenaded with live music while dining in.
As for food recommendations, you may try their Spicy Arrabiata, Steak Medallion, Salmon Steak, and Osso Buco Alla Milance. For dessert, Sky Garden boasts of its Gateau Au Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Truffle Amuse, Chiffon Cake, and Macaroons.
If you’re going solo to this giant café, no problem! There’s a workplace area on the second floor where solo tables are found. You can enjoy “me time” comfortably in this spot. You can also do some work or studying since there are lamps found on each table in the workplace area. What’s more, the Sky Garden Café and Resto has a mini library in the mezzanine. This is such a treat for the bookworms out there because you get to enjoy the coffee shop vibe while getting in the zone with your favorite book.
Finally, on the third level of this café, guests may opt for al fresco dining. This is perfect especially in the time of pandemic because open air dining gives us a much safer environment. During the day, you can enjoy the view of the towns nearby, while at nighttime, fairy lights brighten up the roof deck. Date nights can be extra special in this area.
Sky Garden Café and Resto is also considerate of smoking guests; they have a dedicated smoking area located in the mezzanine. Lastly, in case you are planning to have an intimate celebration, this café can also accommodate that for it has private function rooms. And there you have it; this massive dining facility gives you all the reasons why you should include it in your must go-to checklist when visiting Pampanga.
Time and time again, the province of Pampanga proves itself to be more than just the culinary capital of the Philippines. It has become an exciting destination with countless tourist spots for both locals and visitors to enjoy. So, on your next trip, whether it’s adventure you seek or a chill escapade or maybe a little bit of both, you sure have a roster of attractions to choose from in Pampanga.