Pampanga, Philippines · 16 hotels available
San Fernando, Pampanga is a favorite weekend destination for locals in need of some fresh air and authentic Kapampangan sisig. Known to be the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines,” San Fernando holds an annual Giant Lantern Festival to pay tribute to their number one product: the parol.
From Cubao, go on a Victory Bus Liner with a route to Olongapo. Be sure to tell the conductor that you’ll be getting off at San Fernando before hopping on a bus as not all make a stop at SF. The ride is less than two hours long.
San Fernando is a progressive city so it will not be hard for you to go around town with a jeepney or tricycle, or even a taxi.
The best attraction in San Fernando is the annual Giant Lantern Festival held every December until the first week of January. The streets are filled with enormous parols as their creators boast them off to onlookers. Various barangays also compete against each other to win the best lantern award during this time.
Another popular attraction is the Pampanga Eye, a towering Ferris wheel that’s 65 meters in height. It is found at the Sky Ranch and many a thrill seeker line up to brave the dizzying heights.
For the less adventurous, they can take a more relaxing tour of San Fernando’s heritage district filled with heritage houses, government buildings, churches, schools, and other historical buildings.
Be sure to watch the Giant Lantern Parade in December – the winds are cool and the sights are lovely. You can also go back in time by visiting historical buildings such as the San Fernando Train Station – no longer functioning today, but stands as a museum preserving the memory of the building. Finally, go on a food trip and sample the best in Kapampangan cuisine.
Start with Everybody’s Café, a post-war restaurant that serves home-cooked meals via turo-turo (pointing at the food you want to order). Be bold and daring as you try fried crickets and frogs as an afternoon snack.
Also try out Susie’s Cuisine, a former carinderia turned restaurant, and eat their bestselling pancit luglog and various rice cakes and cassava cakes.
Several bars are open until late in the evening. They serve Filipino comfort food paired with thirst-quenching beers. City Grill & Restaurant is one of the community’s favorites, and may fill up as the night grows.
There are several options to stay, depending on your budget. Backpackers can opt to stay in Maharlika Hostel for less than PhP1,000/night. If you have PhP3,000/night to spare, you can reserve accommodations in Hotel Gracelane. Those seeking three to four-star hotel treatment may book a stay at The Tavern Villas at Orchid Gardens or Best Western Bendix Hotel for less than PhP9,000/night.