With vaccination in the Philippines in full swing, travel plans are taking shape once again. But until the country reaches herd immunity, it’s safe to say that most of our international trips will be kept at bay for now.
It’s a good thing we can’t say the same about domestic tours, particularly to Luzon destinations that are but a quick bus ride away from Manila. With bus companies like Victory Liner around, you might even say that travelling to a number of these beautiful places near the Philippine capital is as good as a walk in the park.
Now a top courier as well, Victory Liner offers affordable passenger services to Central and Northern Luzon — a stroke of luck for budget travellers counting on their chance to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Until then, we find out exactly which of these destinations have kept them inspired while staying safely in their home.
Luzon destinations ideal for post-vaccination travel
Vance Alfonso is a 29-year-old husband and father of one who’s been to Siargao and Cagayan de Oro for domestic, and Hong Kong for international travel. After being cooped up at home during the pandemic, he plans on exploring Baguio in Benguet with his family. “It can be any destination up north, but a quick visit to Baguio will be a nice treat,” Vance told TripZilla.
Spending most of his time indoors these past months, Vance has dreamt of nothing more than to reconnect with nature. This is why he wants to visit places like Burnham Park and even the Strawberry Farm in the adjacent town of La Trinidad. “Aside from their natural offerings, these tourist attractions around Baguio bring out a sense of nostalgia,” he added, reminiscing the times he has been to the city in the past.
How to get to Benguet by bus: The best way to travel to Benguet is through Baguio. Victory Liner offers regular trips to Baguio via Cubao. Check here for the updated schedule and fare.
A resident of Bulacan, Jalel Rogador has often taken advantage of the fact that her province puts her in close proximity to Luzon destinations by travelling as much as she could before the pandemic. But one tourist spot in Luzon that she hasn’t managed to wander into is Cagayan Valley, which she hopes to visit once vaccinated.
“I’ve been meaning to go to Cagayan. I even once told myself that the moment I step foot in the region, I’ll finally be at peace,” said Jalel in an interview. “Seeing its natural attractions in photos alone makes me feel like I’m in paradise. How much more if I see them in person?” she added, and went on to enumerate her favourite spots.
According to Jalel, she finds Callao Cave to be really unique. “It’s not everyday I can experience a church inside a cave. It seems so peaceful, that I feel like a single prayer will immediately be heard by the gods up above,” the DIY traveller said. Her other must-see Cagayan attractions include Piat Church and Pancit Batil Patung. “Although far, I think the ride will be worth it!”
How to get to Cagayan by bus: The best way to travel to Cagayan is through Tuguegarao. Victory Liner offers regular trips to Tuguegarao via Caloocan, Pasay, and more; however, these are unoperational at the moment. Check here for the updated schedule and fare.
When it comes to food, Luzon destinations outside Manila offer quite a competition. Pampanga alone has been called one of the best places to taste Philippine cuisine because of its vibrant culinary heritage. This makes it a must-visit province for a foodie like Reuben Montehermoso, a software engineer formerly based in Pasig City.
“I love to try different foods,” exclaimed Reuben, “and Pampanga is known for its delicious local cuisine. In fact, it has been tagged as the culinary capital of the Philippines.” He also took notes from the late Anthony Bourdain, who once tried its local dishes himself. “In one of his shows, he tried different Kapampangan food, which inspired me to try them myself.”
Reuben is back in his hometown in Cebu for safety reasons, but has plans to return to Luzon when travel restrictions ease down. “Once this pandemic is over, I will go to Pampanga and have an awesome food trip. Just thinking about sisig makes me drool!”
How to get to Pampanga by bus: The best way to travel to Pampanga is through San Fernando. Victory Liner offers regular trips to San Fernando via Cubao and Olongapo. Check here for the updated schedule and fare.
One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is the importance of veering away from the crowds. Not just because it’s safer; but from a traveller’s perspective, it gives one the chance to truly appreciate a destination. It’s something Jennifer Ibarrola, a nutrition specialist for a local pharmaceutical company, has always been a fan of.
A beach and ocean lover, Jennifer is drawn to places like the coves in Zambales, Nagsasa in particular. “Even before the pandemic, Nagsasa Cove wasn’t as crowded as other places of its kind in the province,” she shared. “That being said, it’s quieter and the fact that it’s off the beaten path makes it feel like you own the place.”
More than the solitude Zambales attractions like Nagsasa Cove provide, they’re really a great location for beach bumming and camping, which Jennifer loves. “I especially miss bonfires, and the cove offers amazing opportunities for that,” the Manila-based wanderer added.
How to get to Zambales by bus: The best way to travel to Zambales is through Iba. Victory Liner offers regular trips to Iba via Olongapo. Check here for the updated schedule and fare.
One of the closer travel destinations outside Manila, Bataan has a bit of everything; from untouched beaches and sprawling ocean views to a fascinating history and delicious cuisine. It’s this utter versatility that continues to appeal to travellers who can’t have enough of anything all at once. Take Nueva Ecija-based Ella Uy, for example.
“I’d like to see more of the history as well as the beach,” the 26-year-old physical therapist told TripZilla. For this, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar offers stunning Spanish-Filipino houses overlooking the South China Sea. “I also want to try exploring their mountains and hiking trails. And of course, try out lots of fresh seafood!”
How to get to Bataan by bus: The best way to travel to Bataan is through Balanga. Victory Liner offers regular trips to Balanga via Olongapo. Check here for the updated schedule and fare.
Get vaccinated now, travel with Victory Liner later
With the help of strategically located Victory Liner terminals in Luzon, the country’s most trusted provincial bus service offers the following routes as of writing: Cubao to Baguio, San Fernando, and Tarlac City; Caloocan to Apalit; San Fernando to Olongapo; and Olongapo to Sta. Cruz via Iba, Balanga, Tarlac City via Dau, and Cabanatuan via Arayat.
And you know what? You’re welcome to explore all of them once you get vaccinated and set a good example for Filipino travellers like yourself. To plan your imminent trip, head to Victory Liner, which now lets you pay with cash, the Victory Liner Premiere Card, and other cashless payments. It couldn’t be easier!
For most of us, no trip is more satisfying than the kind we can easily pull off without burning a hole in our pocket. The above-mentioned places to visit in Luzon provide a great start — with plenty more Luzon destinations awaiting those who choose to get themselves protected from COVID-19.
Brought to you by Victory Liner.