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 UnionFor 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 TerracesFrom 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!
- Read this travel guide to the Banaue Rice Terraces
North Luzon Roadtrip#3 Surfing in Real, QuezonReal, 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.
- Read this road trip guide to Real, Quezon
North Luzon Roadtrip #4 Nostalgia in Baguio CityFrom 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.
- Other North Luzon attractions. Try visiting Baguio City, Mt. Pulag, Mt. Ulap, Buscalan, Sagada, and more!
North Luzon Road Trip #5 Minalungao National Park, Nueva EcijaIf 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.
- Read this road trip guide to 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.