weekend away - North Luzon

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The northern half of the Philippines' largest island offers a range of rewarding getaways: from island hopping and laid-back surf resorts to one of the country's most historically rich towns.

 

Most visitors arrive from either Manila or Clark airports, and it's easiest to visit attractions on the west coast. One of the closest of these is Subic Bay, the site of a sprawling former military base, which is now renowned for its scuba diving on Second World War wrecks.


Further up the west coast is Lingayen, the access point for the Hundred Islands National Park. The three developed islands can be overrun by weekend visitors from Manila, so it's best to hire a 'service boat' for the day and find your own isolated spot for sunbathing, picnicking, and swimming.


If surfing is more your thing then your best bet is further north at Urbiztondo Beach near San Juan. Its generally a low-key scene where beginners can get lessons from patient locals, although it gets busy during events such as October's 'La Union Surfing Break'. The waves are highest from July to February.


Further north still, and at the realistic limits of a weekend road trip, the Spanish-era ambience of Vigan is well worth the journey. Walk the hushed cobbled streets at dawn, take a bumpy ride in a calesa (horse-drawn carriage), and go shopping in dusty antique shops.


Many of the attractions inland are too remote for a weekend trip, including most parts of the Cordillera Mountains, which are at the heart of North Luzon. One exception is Baguio, which was the summer capital during the US occupation thanks to its cooler climate. The former military base Camp John Hay is a leafy escape, and Baguio has an active cultural scene including the BenCab art museum and artist-run Tam-awan Village.


Rather closer to Clark and Manila is Mount Pinatubo, an active volcano, which last erupted in 1991. It's possible to take a 4WD from Tarlac, then a dusty two-hour hike up to the verdant crater lake.



 

Contact

Clark, Philippines
Qatar Airways commences flights from Doha to Clark.

> Book Now

Kahuna Beach Resort
National Highway, Barangay Urbiztondo
San Juan, La Union
Tel: +63 72 607 1040
kahunaresort.com

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