My readers know me too well. I have a love-hate relationship with mountains. My last trek in the Philippines was 2016 when I traversed for 2 hours by foot when I visited Bomod-Ok Falls and Hanging Coffins in Mountain Province. Last year, I hiked Mount Kuring-gai in Sydney, but as I always say… I’m not a mountaineer and I don’t intend to go climbing on a regular basis. I just do it at least once a year, or when a “mountain-itch” calls for it. Like I said on my Sagada post, I find trekking and mountaineering intimidating, and two years have passed, I still think of it the same way. It’s not for everyone. As a matter of fact, I could actually count by my fingers the total number of times I’ve been hiking. But, what made me decide to go this time? IT’S NOT PEER PRESSURE. I was just looking for an adventure-packed destination where I could do a little bit of this and that, all in one go. Plus, we had to visit a relative in a nearby town so… Tada! DINGALAN came into the picture.
MANILA TO AURORA
Dingalan is located in Aurora, a province in the Central Luzon. It used to take 6 hours from Manila to Aurora, but since we left early and roads in the North are fairly smooth, it took us 4 hours by private vehicle. If you intend to commute from Manila, the fastest way is to ride a bus from Cubao or Pasay going to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. It will cost you about P150-P200 (about $5AUD). There are buses and vans going to Dingalan, Aurora from Cabanatuan which will cost you about P100 ($2.50AUD).
I assure you, you will not get bored with the views along side of the road especially during sunrise. Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges will serve as your backdrop.
ADVENTURE BEGINS IN PALTIC
From Dingalan City Proper, Brgy. Paltic is about a 10-minute tricycle ride. This is where Feeder Port is located (the main drop-off going to White Beach). I highly recommend you to buy your food in the city proper as Paltic is not well-developed yet. There are no convenience stores and supermarkets around the area. You have two options. You can either rent a transient accommodation in Paltic, or you can stay in White Beach and rent beach houses or pitch a tent there.
At Feeder Port, you will be required to pay P50 ($1.20AUD) Environmental Fee. You also have to hire a local tourist guide to take you to the hiking spots for a fee of P200 (S5AUD). Though you have done your research and you feel like you are well-knowledgeable enough with the destination and spots, the local government will still require you to hire a tourist guide. This is for the safety of the guests, as the guides are trained with first-aid and rescue operations in case of emergency.
You have two options as well going to White Beach. You can go there by foot (about 35-45 minutes from port) or you can hire a boat for P800 ($20AUD). We opted for a boat-ride since we were only there for 2 days and we do not have much time in our hands.
Our first stop was Lamao Caves where we enjoyed the scenery and the cool waters that passes through. It was about 20 minutes boat-ride from Feeder Port. The weather was thankfully cooperative, as the tides were not as high. Our boat was able to stop by the cave’s passage way. However, if the current is too strong, the local government will not allow tourists to visit this spot, so I would suggest you to plan your travel wisely.
MOUNTAIN VIEW – The So-Called “Batanes of the East”
The best way to see and experience Dingalan is to hike to the summit. It’s fairly a minor hike, about 20-30 minutes from the foot to summit. BUT… it’s a steep hike. There are ropes to assist you along the trail, but make sure you are fit enough to avoid injuries and emergencies.
The majestic view of the ocean and hills are worth every sweat!
You can stay overnight in White Beach. I have to be honest… it’s not El Nido, or Boracay, or Potipot White. The sands are a bit whiter than the sands by the port, but it’s not as white as you can imagine, ok? The locals are very nice as they will assist you throughout your stay.
White Beach is also the starting point if you want to hike to Dingalan Light House for a closer view of it.
SIDE-TRIP TO CABANATUAN, NUEVA ECIJA
Though it is deemed as the hottest place in Luzon, we were bound to pass by Nueva Ecija anyway. So on the way back to Manila, we made a quick stop-over to check-out their cuisine. It is only by word-of-mouth that I’ve heard about Cabanatuan Longganisa (Meat Sausages) which we came to love the moment we tasted it.
We also tried FM’s Lomi (Egg Noodle Soup) which was equally good. A bowl for 3-4 people will only cost you P128 (about $3AUD).
DINGALAN 2D1N ITINERARY WITH CABANATUAN FOOD SIDE-TRIP
*We had a different itinerary as we visited a relative in Matawe
- 5:30 AM – Manila Departure
- 9:30 AM – Arrival Dingalan Proper
- 10:00 AM – Buy food to cook in Dingalan City Market
- 11:00 AM – Check-in Transient House
- 12:00 NN – LUNCH
- 1:30 PM – Visit Tanawan Falls (or you may opt to chase other waterfalls, as Dingalan boasts of its rivers and waterfalls)
- 7:00 PM onwards – FREE TIME, rest for your morning hike.
- 6:00 AM – BREAKFAST
- 7:00 AM – Feeder Port to Lamao Caves (by boat)
- 7:20 AM – Explore Lamao Caves
- 8:00 AM – Lamao to White Beach (by boat)
- 8:15 AM – Hike to Mountain View “Batanes of the East” (Bring a bottle of water!)
- 9:30 AM – Enjoy the waters of White Beach
- 10:00 AM – Back to Transient
- 11:00 AM – Check-Out, drive back to Cabanatuan
- 12:30 PM – LUNCH AT FM, Cabanatuan
- 1:30 PM – Explore Cabanatuan City Market
- 2:30 PM – Drive back to Manila
- 5:00 PM – ETA MANILA
MP Dingalan Transient House (Look for Remedios) – 09124032622
- Rooms are P1,500 ($37.50AUD) for 4-5 pax/night.
- You can use the kitchen for P200 ($5) a day.
Relly S. Romantico (Tourist Guide) – 09364912605
Very nice and accommodating! He takes good photos!!!
There’s too much to explore in Dingalan, 2 Days is not enough. I advice you to stay for a little bit longer if you plan to visit every spot in the area. ENJOY and HAPPY TRAVELS!