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North Luzon Roadtrip Itinerary: Best Pitstops!

Aching for some mountain breeze and long drives? Going on a North Luzon Roadtrip may be what your soul needs.

Long drives such as a North Luzon roadtrip make indelible summer memories. Sure, taking the bus or toploading jeeps in remote parts of town can be fun. But there’s nothing like mere GPS and car full of week-long provisions to spell adventure! With many attractions found on a North Luzon roadtrip, there’s no need to book a flight. Here is your itinerary. We pass through sandy beaches, hand-sculpted mountains, cobblestoned cities, and artsy towns guaranteed to make the most out of your trip:

North Luzon Roadtrip #1 Surfing at La Union

For a summer fling with the crashing waves, a must-try for the sweltering season is surfing—and its soft white sands and inexpensive board rentals and instructors make La Union one of the best deals in Luzon. Found on the Western edge of the Philippines, San Juan, La Union’s waves come directly from the Pacific Ocean. Most guests who want to get sea-stoked choose to drive before daybreak. This is because morning is the best time to catch good waves. So, prepare for a long drive in the wee hours passing by NLEX, TPLEX, until reaching the road to Baguio. Plus, riding waves and beach partying aren’t the only things to do in La Union. Historical sites, La Union food trips, and concept hostels are also found not very far from the surfing beach!
Read these tips to have a safe travel in the Philippines

North Luzon Roadtrip # 2 Full View of Banaue Rice Terraces

From the surfing beach, it’s time to drive way up to the highlands of the Cordilleras. Prepare to finally lay your eyes on Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao. Your inner third grade will surely thank you for this field trip come true. Banaue’s manmade wonders can already be seen from the highway. There are multiple viewing decks at the clusters of Banaue Rice Terraces, but the currently more popular one is the amphitheater sight found in Batad. Park your car on the highway, enjoy no cellular reception, and hike amid the rice paddies on the way to Tappiya Falls. Take note, however, that the road to the Cordilleras takes navigation skills because of its long and winding trails along the mountains. Be careful of falling rocks, as well as rainy weather that can make the roads extra slippery. Read road conditions report before heading out, and never let your car break down!

Batad north luzon roadtrip

North Luzon Roadtrip#3 Surfing in Real, Quezon

Real, Quezon is one of the best destinations for a car break-in — or simply, an Eastern Luzon road trip. Not many public utility vehicles traverse all the way from Rizal, Laguna, to Quezon. What I love about this East Luzon road trip is that it’s highly doable on a normal weekend. No need to wait for long weekends and holidays! Five hours of riding is also just the right challenge for beginners — not too difficult yet not too easy, with great views ranging from mountains to fields. The sweet ending at the beach is equally rewarding.

North Luzon Roadtrip #4 Nostalgia in Baguio City

From the time travel in Vigan, we move to yet another favorite. No less than the Summer Capital of the Philippines itself. With towering pine trees, year-long cuddle weather, and sweet strawberries, Baguio is the best place to cap off your long North Luzon road trip. A city perched on the mountainous peaks of Benguet Province, Baguio City lies at the intersection of the traditional and the contemporary. You can drive to classic attractions such as Mines View Park, Camp John Hay, La Trinidad strawberry farm, and Burnham Park. Or you can check out newer artsy locations such as the BenCab Museum and Tam-Awan Village. Driving to Baguio City is usually undertaken at around two to three in the morning to avoid morning traffic. Similarly, take note of the month in which you visit. The holiday season, summer vacation, and Panagbenga season in February are often the times where traffic is heaviest and road closures happen. Although the popularity of Baguio City causes some slight traffic, the chilly temperature will hopefully help you keep your cool. Mines View Park north luzon roadtrip

North Luzon Road Trip #5 Minalungao National Park, Nueva Ecija

If you’re up for road trips near Manila and Instagrammable natural wonders without getting sweaty and haggard, this is a great destination for you. Minalungao is a recent favorite in the province known for rice farming. Standing at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in Central Luzon, I found this is one of the best ways to be with nature and the family not too far from the city. The place is teeming with places to rest beside the river, eat picnic-style, and relax under nipa huts of bamboo rafts. Even an able-bodied elderly will enjoy the hike and the fresh air. Kids will surely love swimming near a floating balsa. What’s best is that a day trip would suffice to experience all of Minalungao. The more or less 5-hour travel time from Metro Manila is manageable for a quick getaway from the city. minalungao national park

More tours to take from Manila

A North Luzon road trip shows you rich with natural and cultural wonders. If you, your car, and your friends are ready, there’s no reason watch the summer go by. Take that long drive, come home sun tanned and stoked!

This article was earlier published at Manila Bulletin’s Philippine Panorama on May 14.
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38 Comments

  • Reply
    Janvi
    January 6, 2021 at 2:39 PM

    any updates for this kind of road trip near manila during the pandemic? do you need any travel passes or medical certs in certain areas to enter?

  • Reply
    Joanne Laurilla
    December 29, 2018 at 12:02 PM

    Hi Sam. Thanks for this article. Is it easy to self drive in northern luzon? Hows the road condition? Is it generally safe?

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      December 30, 2018 at 2:02 PM

      Hi Joanne, thanks for your comment.

      Driving is safe in North Luzon since you can take expressways. The roads in TPLEX, NLEX, etc. are overall great. For the mountainside north like going to Baguio, Sagada, etc., you will have to have some skill with zigzag roads. Some of these roads last hours long. It’s not as common, but during the rainy season, I advise you to be extra careful of landslides that might block the road. But the road itself is in good condition. 🙂

      Happy travels!

      • Reply
        Joanne Laurilla
        December 30, 2018 at 4:26 PM

        Hey Sam! Thanks for your inputs again. I’m travelling in April 2019. Weather should be fine. Thanks again.

  • Reply
    Mark
    December 11, 2018 at 1:55 AM

    Hi im mark. Youre blogs for north luzon keep me quite excited.I live in bolinao pangasinan and im planning to make a road trip with my wife and 3 kids in north luzon loop. I’ll be home on april and i want to have a really memorable days of vacation with my fam. I’ll just like to askic you can give the best iterinaries in a 10 days escapade with my family in north loop also f you dont mind i prefer some part of the iterinaries with out hotels. I am fully packed of everything. Thanks hope to hear you soon. More power

    Fromthe sea of atlantic

    Mark

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      December 11, 2018 at 1:53 PM

      Hi Mark! That’s great to know. May I ask what kind of trips do you like?

      The North is mostly mountainous areas and not many beaches, unlike Bolinao. If you’re okay with that, I would recommend doing Buscalan, Sagada, Batad Rice Terraces (you can stay overnight at the community), La Union (surfing beach), and Baguio City. If your family is up for mountain climbing, try doing Mt. Pulag because it’s the highest peak in Luzon.

      I hope this helps. Would love to know where you guys ended up going!

      • Reply
        Mark
        December 12, 2018 at 2:20 AM

        Hello sam. Thanks for some ideas. I do appreciate. Ahh is mt. Pulag open already? Im not sure for the kids if they do like mt climbing, ive got 3,5, and 12 yrs old roadtrippers. Baguio sagada la union vigan maybe pagudpud and if i had chance siargao. If you dont mind can you give me some more inputs and best stop overs on those iterinaries that my kids will might like.thanks sam more power and god bless.

        Mark

        • Reply
          Sam Coronado
          December 12, 2018 at 10:29 AM

          Hi Mark,

          I think you do know that Siargao is not in the North, but that’s also an okay place though mostly the crowd there are backpackers. Mt. Pulag is open and the beginner trail only takes around a 3-4 hour climb, if the kids are up to it. There’s a lot of story there in terms of flora and fauna, plus there’s a sea of clouds. You have to bring winter gear though because it can get pretty cold.

          Vigan and Pagudpud are also great. Though if you’re looking for overall good destination, El Nido is always on my #1.

  • Reply
    Kareen Liez Datoy
    April 8, 2017 at 10:13 AM

    I think a road trip would be so much fun! Love the places you visited. Baguio is a lovely place. One day, I will bring my kids there so they can see how beautiful it is. When I was in college, I always visit Baguio every year because of seminars and trainings. Very lovely place!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 10, 2017 at 7:37 AM

      Hi Kareen. That’s great! I hope Baguio will stay mysterious until your kids will get to see it 🙂

  • Reply
    Freelancer Philippines
    September 9, 2016 at 12:11 AM

    ever since we discussed about the ifugao rice terraces in class way back in my elementary days.. I have always wondered how it looks like and feels like in person. wish I could go there soon.. The only place I reached here is, of course, Baguio.. been there thrice I think. and I really miss the place..

  • Reply
    rowenarose
    July 31, 2016 at 8:47 PM

    Been to Vigan, rice terraces and baguio. One more to go hehehehe. I love north luzon. It has lots to offer. Will plan to revisit this places soon

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      August 1, 2016 at 8:14 PM

      Thanks for sharing Rowena! I love the North too. 🙂

  • Reply
    Bernadette Angelie Pangilinan
    July 30, 2016 at 4:29 PM

    Oh. You got a great list there! I grew up in the north and you should do Roadtrips at Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and Pampanga next time! 🙂

  • Reply
    The Jerny
    June 23, 2016 at 12:27 AM

    Mejo naLate ng konti ang pagPost mo xD eto hinahanap ko nung nakaraan for my aunt. She’s going back to the ship so she wanted to explore north of Luzon. xD

  • Reply
    Postcard Pretty
    June 22, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    Breathtaking!
    As someone coming from Mindanao and then moved to the Visayas, I’ve traveled very frequently here–but except for NCR and Baguio, I’m pretty much a Luzon virgin! I must see these places. I always wanted to surf in Baler and get a Wang od Tattoo in Kalinga. Breathtaking views!

    http://postcardpretty.com

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 22, 2016 at 8:42 PM

      I actually envy you for living in Mindanao and then Visayas. I’m a Mindanao virgin so to speak. Haha

  • Reply
    Charlotte Anne
    June 20, 2016 at 11:30 AM

    Wow! I can’t believe you went to 4 different locations already in northern luzon. I’m from Baguio City but I only visited 2 places here in northern luzon.

  • Reply
    Amazing Life Daily
    June 19, 2016 at 7:48 PM

    Hello, Sam. I like your post and it brought back memories. A long time ago, I went to the north, Vigan, Laoag, etc. Two years ago, I went to Angeles, Tarlac, La Union, San Juan, Baguio.

    I love road trips and the last time, I went on several road trips and it was good for soul searching. Driving alone and stopping where I ended up. At the same time, just absorb the scenery and the simple life of people living in the provinces.

    I think of all places I have seen on travel blogs, if I decide to do a long road trip, it will be all the way to Baler.

  • Reply
    Dorothy Mae C. Torretijo
    June 19, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    Wow! What a beautiful guide for travel junkies out there! North Luzon has a lot of beautiful places to visit, food trips to try and good people.

  • Reply
    Arrianne Guzman
    June 18, 2016 at 2:23 PM

    After more than a decade, i was happy to finally visit Baguio recently! Looking forward to see Banaue and Vigan So many amazing places in the North!

  • Reply
    Erik
    June 18, 2016 at 2:17 PM

    Nice! Sana nilibot nyo rin ang Nueva Ecija. Anyway, how much you spend on this North Luzon Itenary?

  • Reply
    jaimie felix
    June 18, 2016 at 4:06 AM

    Baler is a favourite go to place of our family even if the land ride takes forever hehe. I haven’t been to Banaue Rice and to Cobblestone – Will include it in our itinerary on our next trip up north 🙂

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 18, 2016 at 6:01 AM

      I agree though. The land travel’s a pain!

  • Reply
    Lea Malanum
    June 17, 2016 at 11:21 PM

    This girl from Baguio City says hi! 🙂 Looks like you’ve had a blast! Since I’m from the north, I do wish I could experience a road trip along south.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 18, 2016 at 6:01 AM

      You’re lucky to be so near many beautiful places. Haha. I actually considered relocating to Baguio.

  • Reply
    den
    June 17, 2016 at 11:09 PM

    Done with VIgan. Next up on our list is Baguio! Not sure for Baler though, my worrisome heart is hesitant on trying out surfing. Haha!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 18, 2016 at 6:02 AM

      Take your time. My mom took 52 years! Haha.

  • Reply
    Kat
    June 17, 2016 at 9:57 PM

    Cool! I’m looking forward to more road trip articles. Last summer we went on a road trip to south. It was fantastic. We joined a group tour; next time I’d like to do it with friends instead, with a GPS as you say. 🙂

    In case you want to read about our road trip from Manila to the south, all the way to Leyte: http://www.taraletsanywhere.com/sorsogon-samar-leyte-road-trip/

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 18, 2016 at 6:02 AM

      Thanks for the link! I do hope to do a backpacking Bicol stint.

  • Reply
    Saswati Bhoi
    June 17, 2016 at 7:14 AM

    Beautiful photographs!! I wish I could plan my visit here soon!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Carlo Andrew Olano
    June 16, 2016 at 11:48 PM

    I have never been to the north and I would love to do all your suggested trips. I really regret not going there when I was still based in Metro Manila. Hopefully, I can do it soon.

  • Reply
    Rowena Rose Conde
    June 16, 2016 at 6:50 PM

    I love North Luzon! Great places to go to and to find adventure as well

  • Reply
    theresa
    June 16, 2016 at 5:57 PM

    I missed the chance of exploring this summer because of my preggy belly but I am really eyeing North too since it’s near our province here in Pampanga. Hopefully I can explore it next year. 🙂

  • Reply
    John paul quiambao
    June 16, 2016 at 3:54 PM

    This is such a nice guide for travel junkies.. I wanna go to baler to.. Hope i get the chance soon enough

  • Reply
    Mirriam (Mirriam Dictionary)
    June 16, 2016 at 11:25 AM

    What a long but awesome trip! I must agree, GPS is really necessary for out-of-town trips. How much gas did you consumer for the entire trip? 🙂

  • Reply
    Charm Gamboa
    June 16, 2016 at 7:56 AM

    My friends and I are planning to visit places in the north, this will be a good source. Your article made me want to go there now. 🙂

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