Scorching temperatures are common in the Philippines especially during summer and no province has had its share of warm days than Tuguegarao. The highest temperature in the Philippines was recorded twice in the province and its average remains one of the hottest. But the weather does not stop visitors from exploring the province especially the historic churches, the man-made attractions, and the natural wonders too. And apart from the temperature, the other thing that remains warm in Tuguegarao are the friendly locals.
The Saint Peter Metropolitan Cathedral or the Tuguegarao Cathedral is the center of the Catholic faith in the province. It was built in 1768, and is one of the oldest and biggest churches in Northern Luzon. The baroque-style cathedral is made of red bricks while the intricate design is considered one of the finest architectural creations in the country.
The Buntun Bridge is the second longest bridge in the Philippines. This man-made wonder connects the city to the other municipalities of the Cagayan Province. It is also considered as the country's longest river bridge. The Buntun Bridge also features an impressive view of the Cagayan River.
An hour's drive away from the city proper is the impressive Callao Cave, the country's largest cave system. It is located inside the Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape, and home to mystical and stunning rock formations. A rock chamber in the cave was even turned into a one-of-a-kind chapel. The mystery of the Callao Cave continues to intrigue explorers and scientists until now. One of the discoveries found here is the 67,000-year old human fossil called the "Callao Man."
Air travel is the quickest way to get to Tuguegarao. From Metro Manila, it only takes about an hour's flight to the city. Airlines like Cebu Pacific Air and the nation's flag carrier Philippine Airlines serve flights from major domestic destinations like Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao to Tuguegarao Airport.
If you have a limited budget for transportation, riding a bus to Cagayan is a more affordable choice. However, this option usually takes about 12 to 13 hours. GV Florida Bus serves the Manila-Tuguegarao Route. You can find its terminals in Cubao in Quezon City and in Sampaloc in Manila.
Meanwhile, driving to Tuguegarao from Metro Manila is also possible. Travel time should be around 10 hours if you take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).
How to Get Around
Riding the jeepney is the most economical way in getting around Tuguegarao. You can find these vehicles plying the roads of Tuguegarao. Like most jeepneys in the country, the minimum fare is priced at PHP 7.00. Commuting via jeepney can get confusing so make sure to familiarize yourself with the routes by asking the locals or your accommodation.
The tricycle is another popular transportation mode when going around Tugegarao. Although the fare is slightly more expensive than that of a jeepney's, riding a tricycle is a more comfortable means of getting around. It is also favorable for a small group of travelers since it can accommodate a maximum of four passengers.
For an old-school way of sightseeing around Tuguegarao, you can ride a kalesa. You can hire this horse-drawn carriage for a tour around the city.
What to See
Tuguegarao has a rich culture and history, which is evident in the bounty of historical sites and attractions. But it's not just history buffs who will have an enjoyable time in Tuguegarao as nature lovers will also be captivated by the natural wonders of this city and its neighboring towns.
The St. Peter and Paul Metropolitan Cathedral is one of Tuguegarao's most prized landmarks. Also known as Tuguegarao Cathedral, it was built in the 18th century. Its red-bricked facade is the subject of most travelers' photographs.
Another notable landmark is the Buntun Bridge, the second longest bridge in the Philippines, next to the San Juanico Bridge. This river bridge links to Tuguegarao to the rest of Cagayan.
Just 24 kilometers northeast of Tuguegarao City is one of the country's most impressive cave systems. The Callao Cave is located in the municipality of Peñablanca and is the most prominent of the caves found in Cagayan Valley. It has seven chambers but only a few are open to the public. It is part of the Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape.
The Odessa-Tumbali Cave is another must-see wonder in Peñablanca. It is considered as the second longest cave system in the country.
Another natural wonder of the Cagayan province is the Pinacanauan River. The river flows to the larger Cagayan River and runs across the protected area in Peñablanca. Cruising along this body of water is slowly becoming a popular tourist activity in the area. Kayaking is also popular among thrill-seekers who visit the river.
Tuguegarao is a city with a rich history, which you can learn more about in the Cagayan Museum and Historical Research Center. This museum has a vast collection of artifacts and memorabilia that reveal so much about Tuguegarao's historic past.
Apart from your musem visit, you should also see the Horno ruins for a more enriching historical tour. This brick kiln was used in the construction of a Spanish-era port.
For some religious experience to include in your Tuguegarao trip, a visit to Calvary Hill in the town of Iguig is a must. It is a popular pilgrimage site, especially during Lenten season, because of its Stations of the Cross.
Events and Festivals
Pavvurulun Festival is Tuguegarao's city fiesta held every August 16 in honor of St. Hyacinth, the city's patron saint. Just like other Philippine fiestas, this festive event features colorful parades, lively street dances, a beauty pageant, and fun contests like pancit batil patung eating competition.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
There are also fast food chains all over Tuguegarao for those who prefer to eat at familiar dining establishments. You'll find branches of local fast food chains like Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, and Mang Inasal as well international favorites like McDonald's, KFC, and Pizza Hut.
Restaurants and Carinderias
There are many panciterias or noodle houses in Tuguegarao that serve this city's famous pancit batil patung. Some of the more popular ones are Jomar's, Gretchen's, and J-Ren's. Aside from offering Tuguegarao's most famous dish, Gretchen's and J-Ren's also serve plenty of Filipino dishes for those who are loyal to the local flavor.
You can also head to Kainang Pinoy and Lebron Grill & Resto for some delectable Pinoy dishes. And if you've got a big appetite, Adrinel's Barbecue Corner is the go-to buffet place in Tuguegarao.
Pancit batil patung is Tuguegarao's contribution to Filipino cuisine. It is not like your usual pancit as this noodle dish is topped with egg and crispy pork bits and served with special sauce and condiments if you want to improve the flavor.
Another unique delicacy in Tuguegarao is the carabao chicharon or fried carabao rind. Aside from being a delicious snack, it is also a popular pasalubong item.
Bars and Clubs
After having your fulfilling dinner, head to La Luna Grill for a few drinks to cap off your night.
Where to Shop
If you're looking to shop when in Tuguegarao, you can check out Robinsons Place Tuguegarao for the latest trends and even for some pasalubong items. You can also go to Tuguegarao's community malls such as the Fragante Citimall Tuguegarao, Paseo Reale, and Mall of the Valley for a plethora of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
For pasalubong, you can visit the cooperative shops and souvenir centers. At Lighthouse Cooperative, food products like carabao chicharon and a variety of processed food made from carabao beef are available. There are also some affordable souvenirs like keychains, fridge magnets, and T-shirts.
ATMs and Money Changers
You'll find branches of major banks and ATMS in Tuguegarao should you need to withdraw money for your expenses. There are also money changers if you need to exchange your foreign money. There are also remittance centers all over the city.
Fare: PHP 700.00 to PHP 900.00 (Bus fare); PHP 4,000.00 to PHP 6,000.00 (Airfare)
Your bus fare depends on the amenities that you want to enjoy. Florida's "sleeper" bus has reclining seats that transform into makeshift beds so you can comfortably sleep during your trip. Meanwhile, flights range from PHP 4,000.00 to PHP 6,000.00, but you can score discounts with occasional promos from local airlines.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
You can already get a full meal at a carinderia for as low as PHP 50.00. Meanwhile, if you want to eat at a restaurant, PHP 150.00 to PHP 300.00 is the price range for a meal.
Shopping: PHP 100.00 ++
For only PHP 100.00, you can already get a simple souvenir shirt or two 80-gram packs of carabao chicharon. Meanwhile, smaller souvenir items like keychains and fridge magnets are very affordable at only PHP 50.00.
Accommodation: PHP 400.00 to PHP 1,500.00
There are many inns and budget hotels that offer affordable rooms in Tugegarao. At Villa Blanca Hotel, two people can already enjoy an overnight stay in a fan room for PHP 400.00.
Activities: PHP 20.00++
If you want to explore Callao Cave, you need to pay an entrance fee of PHP 20.00.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 150.00++
A PHP 150.00 terminal fee is charged at Tuguegarao Airport.