Travelers headed to Santiago City will enjoy a melting pot of different cultures, thanks to its rich heritage. The city’s architecture combines Christian and Islamic motifs and influences from indigenous people from the neighboring provinces.
Santiago City is located in the province of Isabela. With mountains to the northwest and the sea to the east, it is a gateway to a mix of beaches and hiking trails. Those who want to know more about the city’s culture can check out its various churches and historical sites, such as Balay na Santiago museum.
The city also has a thriving economy, being a major commercial and industrial center in the region. It is home to well-known local and international businesses, including San Miguel Corp., Mitsubishi, and Hyundai.
There are weekly flights from Manila to Isabela. From Cauayan Airport in Isabela, you can book a taxi to Santiago City.
From Manila, you can take a bus bound for Cauayan. There are also buses heading to Tuguegarao in Cagayan, which stop in Isabela along the way.
Tricycles and jeeps are the main modes of transportation within the city. These are the most efficient ways to get around and see the sights.
Santiago City hosts various local festivals, and it also has a number of historical sites. You can get your first glimpse into this city’s past at the Balay na Santiago, a house-turned-museum that features a wide array of historical memorabilia – from old photos, to antique furniture.
Another attraction is the Pattaraday Festival, the city’s annual founding anniversary celebration. True to its name, which comes from an Ybanag word meaning "unity," the festival brings together various ethno-linguistic groups to participate in the activities. These include comedy shows, beauty pageants, and street dancing exhibitions.
Finally, there’s also Art aTank, the tallest mural in the Philippines. Designated as a landmark in town since the 1970s, this masterpiece was painted on Santiago City Water District’s concrete water tank. It is almost 30 meters high and is visible from practically anywhere in town.
The mural itself was made by a group of local artists and musicians who organized a painting activity. It was an advocacy project to promote environmental protection, water conservation, and the appreciation of indigenous culture. The mural proudly displays the history of Santiago City and its neighboring towns.
For hikers, the city is an excellent jump off point to get to Northern Sierra Madre Nature Park. This reserve is a challenging trail for you to climb. It goes through the region’s deepest rainforests and oldest mountains, making it the largest preserved jungle with a wide range of wildlife in the Philippines.
Mango Suites offers quality accommodation and easy access to the city's sights. The hotel presents a vast array of services and facilities, including free Wi-Fi in all rooms, 24-hour security, daily housekeeping, a convenience store, and a business center. Another option is Isabela Zen Hotel, which offers recreational facilities and services, like an outdoor pool and in-suite massage service.
If you’re travelling with family, Spring Garden Resort is a recommended stop. Kids will enjoy the large outdoor pool with a waterslide, while more sporty family members can have fun in the resort’s basketball court.
As a major commercial center, Santiago features several fast food outlets which are also found in Manila – including Jollibee, Mang Inasal, and Greenwich Pizza. There are, however, other places to eat if you want to get off the beaten track. One of these is Patricio's Panciteria & Countryside Favorites, which serves the Pansit Cabagan – the signature noodle dish of the Isabela province.
If you’re looking for Chinese comfort foods, on the other hand, try the traditional dumplings, stir-fried noodles, and Chinese-Filipino dishes offered at the Golden Bamboo Chinese Restaurant. Those looking for a quick snack can try Blends and Bites Café and its variety of rice meals, milkshakes, and brewed coffee mixes.
Santiago City's nightlife is centered on bars and nighttime restos. Big Brother's Grill is a notable venue near Maharlika highway that features live music from local bands. This place has a selection of drinks, grilled meats, and seafood.
Another is Genaro's Bangus Grill and Special Bibingka, which specializes in dishes made from milkfish and other seafood. It also serves a menu of local Filipino dishes and drinks to cap off a long day of exploring the city.