Cabanatuan City is found in the province of Nueva Ecija — the Rice Granary of the Philippines. It is a land-locked area in Central Luzon and has interesting places that families would want to explore and enjoy. It is easily accessible through a 3-hour bus ride from Metro Manila that passes through the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). From sharing a family meal and some homemade dessert to some historical and outdoor sight-seeing, Cabanatuan City has a lot to pride itself with. Read on for the top things to do in Cabanatuan City.
Cabanatuan City is quickly becoming one of the popular destinations just a few hours north of Metro Manila, and for good reasons, too. With the opening of nearby attractions and an array of affordable Novo Ecijano products and restaurants, you will surely find yourself having the time of your life in the city. Often shortened to “Cab City” by its residents, Cabanatuan has plenty of modest accommodations for every kind of traveler. Most are conveniently located within the city. Shops where you can get basic supplies are a stone’s throw away and you don’t have to travel far to cross out every destination on your itinerary.
Here are our top recommendations on where to stay:
1. Go on a family adventure at Minalungao National Park
The first on our list of what to do in Cabanatuan is a trip to Minalungao National Park. The park is one of Nueva Ecija’s natural wonders found at General Tinio, Nueva Ecija. It features the 16-meter (52.5 ft) high limestone border that the narrow Peñaranda River. Aside from sight-seeing, river rafting is definitely a must-try and it only costs around 10 USD (500 PHP) for a whole day. Imagine that! Eat and listen to your favorite music while enjoying the calm and refreshing nipa hut and table on the raft. Jumping off a cliff is also one thing to do for the thrill seekers. The only thing to be careful of is to choose which cliff to dive off from. Ask a guide to give expert advise. Spelunking and hiking is also something to enjoy at Minalungao National Park. If those aren’t enough, then go zip lining. For only 3 USD (150 PHP), you can test your limits and face your fear of heights.
To get to Minalungao National Park, simply ride a bus from Cubao, Manila to Cabanatuan City and get-off at Gapan City. From there, ride a tricycle to the Park. The whole commute from Manila only takes around an hour and a half.
Minalungao National Park
Address: General Tinio, Luzon 3104, Philippines
2. Learn about history with a visit to Camp Pangatian War Memorial Shrine
Two decades before the Japanese war, Camp Pangatian Shrine was an American military camp. When the Japanese occupation occurred in the country, it became a concentration camp used for allied prisoners. It is known as the largest prisoner-of-war camp in the Philippines. Among the veterans, this is one go-to place as a patriot and as a Filipino. The Shrine is a memorial for Filipino heroes who stopped the Japanese troops from advancing to the Pangatian Concentration Camp which freed 516 WWII prisoners. Memorabilia, monuments and a mural of the Filipino-American soldiers carrying each other are displayed to further instill the appreciation of the Philippine heritage. Camp Pangatian is found in the Nueva Ecija-Aurora Road Cabanatuan City. No entrance fee is needed to visit one of the most historical places in Cabanatuan City.
Camp Pangatian War Memorial Shrine
Address: Aurora Rd, Pangatian, Cabanatuan City, 3100 Nueva Ecija, Philippines
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3. Enjoy an authentic Novo Ecijano family meal at Hapag Vicenticos
According to the Novo Ecijanos in Cabanatuan City, if you don’t enjoy a native meal in Hapag Vicenticos, you have not really visited Cabanatuan. The restaurant is famous and highly recommended for being the only restaurant that offers the all-inclusive Pinoy style dining experience otherwise known as “Hapag Kainan.” Up front, it looks like a classic old house making it feel like any Filipino home. Enjoying the hearty meals prepared by its seasoned cooks and chefs will definitely be comforting. Among its many specialties include crispy kare-kare, bulaklak kinilaw, crispy binagoongan and chicken binakol. Hapay Vicenticos always makes sure that every item in the menu suits every palate, dietary and budget requirement for all ages. The restaurant is located at 1077 Del Pilar Street, Cabanatuan City, 3100 Nueva Ecija
Address: 1077 Del Pilar Street
Price: from 0.80 USD / ~40 PHP
Website: Hapag Vicenticos
4. Satisfy your creamy cravings at Milka Krem and Puno's Ice Cream and Sherbet
These two sweet stops are for every sweet tooth seeking a new dessert experience. Milka Krem’s dairy products are made from fresh Carabao’s milk. They have a wide array of yummy and flavorful treats like blueberry yoghurt, strawberry yoghurt, chocolate milk and coffee milk. The shop opened to give avenues for dairy farmers to have access to the commercial market for more gains. Milka Krem’s tagline, “Fresh and Natural,” comes from the assurance that their products are developed through science-based practices. The facility is located at the Philippine Carabao Center, Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija.
Puno’s Ice Cream and Sherbet is Cabanatuan’s famed ice cream brand. The ice cream factory manufactures its delicious creamy desserts using imported Italian machines. Puno’s product line includes their frozen yoghurt, frozen custard, gelato, sorbet and the simple and beloved ice cream. They have interesting flavors, too, like sili (chili), malunggay, tinutong na rice, calamansi, sapin-sapin, champorado and dilis, and mangga and bagoong at Alamang. The brand has a total of seven branches in Cabanatuan City alone and one in Aurora, Baler. Visit Maharlika Highway, Bitas, 3100 Cabanatuan City to cool off and enjoy its delightful products.
Facebook: Milka Krem
Puno’s Ice Cream and Sherbet
Facebook: Puno’s Ice Cream and Sherbet
5. Get a Glimpse of Egypt at Khaliblu Palace
Although it seems bizarre to see Egypt in such a city, it actually is a great idea. It spices things up in any vacation, most especially for the adults in the family. The Persian and Egyptian inspired hotel offers a unique experience only they can share. Aside from being the perfect place to enjoy the night in Cabanatuan City, it is also known for serving Lakan — the all-Filipino lambanog (rice wine) brand. For a night cap, visit Kapitan Pepe Avenue, Cabanatuan City, 3100 Nueva Ecija.
6. Learn the history of the rice industry at NFA Grains Industry Museum
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
If there’s one thing you should know about Filipinos and their food, it’s that they love their rice. A lot. Rice is the staple food of the agricultural country, and it just makes sense that its history is as rich as it can get. Housed by the National Food Authority (NFA), NFA Grains Industry Museum showcases the evolution of the rice industry. If you’re coming from a place where eating rice isn’t common, you may find this museum particularly interesting, and it could provide you with a layered insight into the Philippine culture!
NFA Grains Industry Museum
Address: National Food Authority (NFA) Compound, Maharlika Highway, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)
7. Take your kids to Freedom Park Cabanatuan
Anyone who’s traveling with their little ones in Cabanatuan City must bring their family to this park. Located in front of the Old Provincial Capitol and aptly named Freedom Park, it is designed by American colonization-era architect William E. Parsons. Your children will have the time of their lives running around the park and taking in the quiet charm of Cabanatuan City. One of the attractions in Freedom Park is a monument dedicated to Antonio Luna, a famed Filipino army general who was assassinated in Cabanatuan City.
Freedom Park Cabanatuan
Address: Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija
8. Attend Mass at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish Cathedral
If you happen to pass by Cabanatuan City and wish to reflect upon your days, St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish Cathedral welcomes you with open arms. This Catholic cathedral is the primary church in the city and the go-to of its locals. If you practice Catholicism, make sure to stop by the historic church and say a little prayer. St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish Cathedral is also an ideal place to take your family and attend Sunday Mass before you head out for a day of adventure in the city.
St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish Cathedral
Address: Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija
Opening hours: Mon - Wed: 5am - 7pm; Thu - Fri: 5am - 9pm; Sat: 5am - 7pm; Sun: 4am - 8pm
9. Experience a tricycle ride around the city
If you’re unfamiliar with the creative modes of transportation in the Philippines, you might find this one amusing! Motorized tricycles are one of the most commonly used public utility vehicles in the country, especially for short distances and remote roads that are not accessible to larger vehicles. Cabanatuan City is no stranger to tricycles! You’ll find them lined up outside crowded areas, ready for faring. To make your trip in Cab City much more memorable, participate in the local culture and hire a tricycle to drive you around for the day.
10. Bring home some signature batutay from Cabanatuan's Finest Longganisa
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
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In addition to bringing home souvenirs from your trip to Cabanatuan City, stop by Cabanatuan’s Finest Longganisa for some batutay! Batutay is the city’s term for the famous Filipino sausage, longganisa. Longganisa is commonly made with pork, and many cities and municipalities in the country have their own twist and take on the sausage. Cabanatuan’s batutay is unique in that their longganisa is beef-based. You can get your batutay sweet or garlicky, although both will surely be your family’s new favorite!
Cabanatuan's Finest Longganisa
Address: De Guzman Street, Kapitan Pepe, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija
Facebook: Cabanatuan's Finest Longganisa
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)
Cabanatuan City is a great destination for families
With this variety of tastes, any family visit to these tourist spots in Cabanatuan City will be an unforgettable one. If you want to go on a family excursion, the exciting Minalungao National Park is there to enjoy. If you want to travel back through memory lane, Camp Pangatian War Memorial Shrine is within reach. For those food cravings, don’t miss out on Hapag Vicenticos, Milka Krem and Puno’s Ice Cream. Finally, for some nightlife, visit Egypt at Khaliblu Palace. Nothing else keeps the family stronger than going on adventures together. It is the perfect way to celebrate the essence of home in a most tangible way.
Frequently asked question about things to do in Cabanatuan City
1. What are the best attractions to visit in Cabanatuan City?
Camp Pangatian War Memorial Shrine is one of the best attractions in the city of Cabanatuan. Make sure to include Khaliblu Palace on your itinerary, as it is also frequented by locals and tourists alike due to its resemblance to Egyptian landmarks.
2. What are the best outdoor activities in Cabanatuan City?
River rafting at Minalungao National Park is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the city, as many others also are. One of the best ways to explore the streets of Cabanatuan City is to rent a tricycle and just ride it around town.
3. What are the most popular things to do in Cabanatuan City with kids and family?
Cabanatuan City is easily one of the most visited places by families who are traveling with children. You can stop by Freedom Park for an afternoon picnic and sightseeing. Your family will also surely enjoy a quick stop at Milka Krem or Puno’s Ice Cream and Sherbet for some sweet refreshments.
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