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Adventures up north

Everyone wants to travel, but no one’s got the time. But, if you had a bit of time, just where exactly would you want to go?

Typically known as “the rice bowl of the Philippines,” majority of Northern Luzon is composed of plains and valleys, which is why it’s famous for its rich harvest of palay. Only in recent years did the north begin upending its tourism, receiving much attention in the process. This region, once clandestine about its identity as a tourist destination, now offers different activities to satisfy the demands of people looking for an adventure that is just on the brink of Metro Manila.

Here are just a few of the many adventure activities that you can enjoy while you’re staying in Tarlac, Zambales, Pampanga, or just passing by on a journey further up north.

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Kart City, Tarlac

Known as the entryway between Northern Luzon and Metro Manila, the beautiful city of Tarlac is usually come upon only in passing ‒ this is often the case for travelers on their way to La Union, the Benguet Provinces, Pangasinan, and Ilocos. Although it used to be just a “passage” to more popular destinations in Luzon, this city has slowly made a name for itself as one of the fastest growing tourist spots in the country because of the various leisure and adventure activities it offers.

Non-Tarlaqueños may or may not be familiar with a go-kart race track in Tarlac, but Kart City just happens to be the first ever go-kart race track established in Northern and Central Luzon. Launched in 2003, Kart City rose from humble beginnings, becoming one of the most popular tourist spots in Tarlac.

While the idea of go-karting may seem like a no-brainer for most people (right pedal to go, left pedal to stop), it can be especially nerve-wracking for someone trying it out for the first time. Thrill-seekers passing by will surely not want to miss the experience.

After a ride on the go-karts, travelers may want to check out Chaps Diner and Cafe, another reason Kart City has become a hotspot for tourism. Serving a fusion of Filipino and international cuisines, the ambiance in Chaps is both relaxed and comfortable, making it the most suitable place for customers to hang out in after an exhilarating drive on the race track.



Crystal Beach Resort, Zambales

So you want to walk on water like Jesus, but you don’t know how, then surfing is your best bet! You might think that surfing is just catching waves, but there’s a lot more to it than just that. The adrenaline rush that surfing offers is unlike any other, and once you catch your first wave, you just might start proclaiming yourself a surf convert for life.

Fun as surfing may be, though, one disconcerting problem that might turn people off is the location. Don’t have the time for a 23-hour road trip to Siargao? Crystal Beach is your saving grace.

Although the resort offers a whole range of activities, the highlight of Crystal Beach is definitely the surfing. Stationed in San Narciso, Zambales, this resort just might be the new favorite destination of travelers looking to catch some waves! No need to travel to Surigao del Norte when you can surf right here in the north.

New to surfing, you say? It’s not so daunting, especially when surf lessons are offered here by their very own instructors. These experts are dedicated to teaching you the basics of surfing and won’t stop encouraging you until you manage to get on your board without falling. Surf’s up, dudes!


Capones Island Lighthouse, Zambales

To reach Capones lighthouse, you need to take a 45-minute boat ride ‒ expect to get splashed with salt water along the way! For those prone to motion sickness, though, take heed ‒ the boat ride to the island is bumpy, but it’s nothing that a pop of Dramamine can’t fix.

The Capones lighthouse is a historic landmark, built in the 19th century during the Spanish era. Although the lighthouse is still fully functional, the ruins and abandoned brick houses left to deteriorate give an uncanny effect to the mere sightseer.

Guests that are brave enough are allowed to climb up the lighthouse and experience a 360 degree view of Capones. If heights aren’t your thing, you can opt to stay in the eastern part of the island and take a nap on the sand, collect smooth white stones as keepsakes, or wait (ala-Castaways) for the boats to come back.



Decawake Clark Cable Park, Pampanga

Ever heard of wakeboarding? Although alien to some, wakeboarding is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. Coined as the cousin of skateboarding, snowboarding, waterskiing, and surfing, wakeboarding has finally reached the country, accessible in Clark, Pampanga. Because of its close proximity to Metro Manila, sports enthusiasts and adventure junkies alike flock to Decawake Clark Cable Park to try out this thrilling surface water sport.

Unlike waterskiing, the wakeboard rider is pulled by a cable ski system instead of a motorboat, and uses a single board with fastenings for each foot. Once you feel the cable tugging, you need to squat and let it pull you across the water without yanking the cable. It may look like child’s play, but it’ll take you a few nosedives on the water before you get it right. The moment you master the basics and perfected your balance, you’ll find yourself game enough to try out the “Big Bro” facility, which involves faster pulling speed and obstacles, giving you a more challenging and exhilarating wakeboard experience!



These are just a few of the various adventure-filled activities that you can try out when you’re journeying around Tarlac, Zambales, Pampanga, and other nearby areas. Their close proximity to Manila and easy accessibility via NLEX is also an advantage, making Northern Luzon a potential favorite among the young (and young at heart!) travelers, especially those that do not have much time on their hands, but still want to get their adrenaline pumping.

Still thinking that you can’t go on an adventure with limited time? Now you can. Grab your travel bags and explore the north. Sometimes, having an adventure just means opening your eyes to the brilliance of the unnoticed.




Cody Cepeda

By Cody Cepeda

52 replies on “Adventures up north”

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The Absent Game

Concerning me and my husband we’ve owned additional MP3 players over time than I can count, which include Sansas, iRivers, iPods (common & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few many years I’ve settled down to one line of players.

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