Located on the western part of Luzon, Pangasinan is just a two to three-hour drive from Manila. It is blessed with several natural attractions making it a popular weekend destination for people who want a respite from the fast-paced life of the metropolis.
It has long stretches of beach, clean rivers and waterfalls, and of course the wonder that is the Hundred Islands.
This brief guide to Pangasinan will help you plan your trip. It contains information on what to do, eat, and drink as well as the must-see spots and the best hotels.
Best Time to Visit
It’s best to visit the Philippines during the dry season. Dry season in the Philippines spans from November through April. These are the summer months in this country.
Be aware that temperatures and humidity levels are particularly high in April and May.
The best time to be a beach bum and explore the islands is from March to May.
TIP: This guide recommends that booking for Pangasinan summer trips should be done as early as possible, at least a month before your travel dates, since resorts get fully booked early.
The period from June to October is the rainy (wet) season and is best avoided due to the high possibility of typhoons. The typhoons can not only be destructive, but most tours and activities are cancelled under such circumstances. Transportation via plane and boat is also seriously impacted as well. This happens frequently so beware!
This guide recommends traveling to Pangasinan in April-May or in November-December, just before and just after the rainy season. This will likely bring fewer crowds, yet pleasant weather, and is also a great time to score a travel deal.
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
There are many ways to get here depending on your starting point. This guide recommends using the following online tools to identify all the available options and cost for each while in Pangasinan: Rome2Rio and PHBUS. The following are the major ports of entry for this destination.
The following are the modes of transportation available in Pangasinan …
SEE & DO
The following is your guide to places to see and activities to enjoy while in Pangasinan.
1 | Explore Hundred Islands
Out of more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines, more than a hundred of those are found in the Alaminos City alone. Hundred Islands National Park covers an area of 16.76 square kilometers and the total number of islands is 123 at high tide and 124 at low tide but only four of them have been developed for tourism. The whole area, believed to have formed about two million years ago, is protected. Some of the islands are blessed with white sand beaches, others with limestone cliffs. Some of the inhabitants include the Philippine Coucal, Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo, White-eared Brown-Dove, angelfish, thresher shark, and the Philippine Duck which the population is considered vulnerable due to habitat loss and overhunting.
There are several agencies and companies in the area offering island-hopping tours.
2 | See the attractions in Bolinao
Bolinao is a fishing town and is being pushed to be included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to a number of heritage sites in town. It also has several natural wonders such as Patar Beach with its golden sand and clear blue waters, Enchanted Cave with its natural pool, Bolinao Falls, and Balingasay River which is considered one of the cleanest rivers in the Philippines. The historic Bolinao Lighthouse is also a popular tourist attraction as it offers scenic views of the surrounding area.
3 | Pray at the Manaoag Church
The centuries-old Manaoag Church survived the test of time as well as earthquake, bombings and attacks. The grand structure is standing on top of a hill and inside the church are statues including that of Black Nazarene, Santo Entierro, and the Virgin Mary. Claimed to be miraculous, thousands of devotees flock to Manaoag Church every year to pray to Our Lady of Manaoag for their own miracles. Some of the miracles are even depicted in murals inside the church.
4 | Beachbum at Lingayen Beach
Located in the province’s capital, Lingayen Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Pangasinan. It’s a public beach with powdery sand perfect for beach and water activities like swimming, camping, and ATV riding. In the area are resorts and restaurants serving authentic Pangasinense cuisine.
5 | Go on a pilgrimage tour at Sky Plaza
Apart from Manaoag Church, another pilgrimage site to visit in Pangasinan is Sky Plaza, a public park and ecotourism site located at the foot of the Caraballo Mountains. On the upper parts of the hill are the grotto of the Virgin Mary, a 30-foot Holy Cross, and a 40-foot statue of Christ the Redeemer on the topmost. Aside from the religious structures, Sky Plaza also boasts of its octagon-shaped multipurpose hall, zipline, and picnic tables.
6 | Enjoy the beauty of Tayug Sunflower Eco Park
Despite the name, sunflowers are not the only flowers found in Tayug Sunflower Eco Park. There are also celosia, marigold, petunia, ornamental plants as well as vegetables. The highlight of the park is its sunflower maze, the first ever in the country. The maze comprises more than 8,000 sunflowers and covers an area of over 2,000 square meters.
7 | Explore Tondol White Sand Beach
Tondol White Sand Beach is often compared to Boracay due to its fine white sand and clear waters. The long stretch of beach is perfect for families even with children as the shallow waters stretch out far from the shore.
8 | Take a dip in the waters of Cabongaoan Beach
Located in the remote part of the town of Burgos, Cabongaoan Beach is fast becoming popular among tourists due to its white sand, clear waters, and its Death Pool, a natural pool that is challenging to reach due to the rock formations. Despite its name, Death Pool is actually not dangerous.
9 | Hike Mt. Balungao
Mt. Balungao is an inactive volcano located in the town of Balungao. Its peak is at 382 meters above sea level and a perfect choice for short hikes through forested trails. The peak offers the scenic views of Pangasinan as well as the Cordilleras. At the foot is Balungao Hot and Cold Spring where you can cool down and relax after the hike.
10 | Explore Dagupan City
Dagupan is an independent city that is geographically located in Pangasinan. Aside from being one of the top producers of milkfish in the country, Dagupan is blessed with beaches and a river where you can do the river cruise. There are also other attractions such as museums, centuries-old church, and heritage sites.
NOTE: The Bangus Festival occurs annually in Pangasinan every April.
EAT & DRINK
The following is your guide to the flavorful food to enjoy and restaurants to try while in Pangasinan.
1 | Ciudad Elmina Restaurant
Located in Dagupan City, Ciudad de Elmina is not only a restaurant but also a fishing village where you can try out fishing. This floating restaurant specializes in bangus but also serves other seafood and meat dishes.
2 | Giant Taklobo Resto Grill
The restaurant offers a variety of dining setup including the resto pavilion, resto bar, and nipa huts. The whole area has a refreshing ambience as it is surrounded by lush greenery. Their bestsellers include kinilaw (ceviche) and seafood kare-kare.
3 | Great Taste Seafood and Pigar-Pigar
Your trip to Dagupan wouldn’t be complete without trying Pigar-Pigar, a deep-fried beef or carabao meat that is a specialty of the city. The best spot to try the dish is at Great Taste Seafood and Pigar-Pigar. The restaurant has a nice ambience and is reasonably-priced so it’s perfect even for budget-travellers.
4 | Hardin sa Paraiso Grill & Restaurant
The restaurant is a favorite dining destination for anyone craving for tasty Filipino dishes. Their menu is extensive with their bestsellers which include crispy pata, sisig, pinakbet, and buttered shrimps. The restaurant has a variety of dining setup and that includes a pavilion and smaller huts where you can privately dine with family and friends.
5 | Kainan ni Mang Peping
Located along the river, Kainan ni Mang Peping is a great place to enjoy good food and the relaxing views of Bonuan River. The restaurant serves an extensive choice of traditional Filipino dishes such as sinigang, crispy pata, kare-kare, and pancit.
6 | Kuya Max Restogrill
Kuya Max Restogrill is a quaint restaurant located in Dagupan City. It is known for its affordable Filipino dishes perfect for those who come in large groups. The restaurant’s must-try dishes include bangus sisig, chicken binakol, crispy hipon, crispy pata, and kare-kare.
7 | Matutina Gerry’s Seafood House
Matutina Gerry’s Seafood House is a high-end restaurant best known for their seafood dishes using the freshest seafoods coming from the ports. The restaurant has two branches in the province – one in Dagupan and another in Urdaneta City. Its price range is higher compared to other restaurants in the list but considering the quality of food, ambience, and overall experience, it is truly worth a try.
8 | Maxine By The Sea
Maxine By The Sea has the perfect setup for romantic dining as it is located by the sea which provides the picturesque backdrop for sunrise and sunset dining. It offers 180-degree view of the islands and even provides performers to serenade the guests. The restaurant offers seafood and other Filipino dishes.
9 | Silantro Fil-Mex Cantina
As the name implies, Silantro Fil-Mex Cantina serves Filipino and Mexican cuisine in a humble space with Mexican vibes. Their must-try dishes include caliente wings, burrito, quesadilla, and paella.
10 | Sungayan Grill
Sungayan Grill is a floating restaurant serving the freshest seafood dishes in Bolinao. You can even take a cruise along the Balingasay River and enjoy the view of the lush surrounding while eating.
KNOWN FOR: Pinakbet, a dish composed of mixed vegetables usually sautéed in shrimp paste.
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WHERE TO STAY
There are many different types of accommodations available in this destination ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts. The following is your guide to our top choices for each range in Pangasinan.
1 | Kabaleyan Cove Resort (Budget)
2 | G Beach Resort (Mid-Range)
3 | Puerto del Sol Beach Resort (Luxury | Resort)
This guide recommends using the following sites to conduct research online of where to stay in Pangasinan or for a specific destination:
Book your room with these trusted online booking sites. Booking online in the Philippines almost always guarantees the best price and a room when you arrive. We use these sites frequently to get the best prices and enjoy convenient bookings. Click each of the buttons below to find the best place for you at the lowest rates:
TIP: G Beach Resort is the best property to experience this destination.
Use the chart below to get an idea of how much to budget daily. Actual amounts will depend on YOUR travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages … some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less. Prices are in USD.
A bed in a hostel dorm costs from 350 PHP ($7 USD), but smaller dorms can cost from 500 PHP ($10 USD). For a private double, prices start around 700 PHP ($14 USD).
Most budget hotels begin at 700 PHP ($14 USD) per night for a double room and usually include free wifi and breakfast. For a three-star hotel, prices begin around 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night. AirBnB is also widespread throughout the country, with private rooms starting from as little as 500 PHP ($10 USD) per night. For entire apartments, expect to pay at least 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.
Resorts and luxury accommodations vary greatly from 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) to 5,000+ PHP ($100+ USD). However, there are some really nice resorts and luxury accommodations which are surprisingly affordable.
Local food is extremely cheap, with street food costing under 50 PHP ($1USD). For an inexpensive meal at a local restaurant, prices start around 100 PHP ($2 USD). For a meal at a mid-range restaurant with drinks and table service, expect to pay from 200 PHP ($4 USD). Knowing that their target customers are primarily tourists, Western food venues can be pricey compared to Filipino food. Also, some of the ingredients need to be imported, which contributes to the higher cost. Western food (burgers, pizza, pasta, etc.) is much more expensive but is still relatively affordable at around 200 PHP ($4 USD) for a meal and drink.
Fast food like McDonalds will cost around 200 PHP ($4 USD). A beer at the bar will cost around 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD).
A week’s worth of groceries will cost between 300-600 PHP ($6-12 USD) per person. However, food in this country is so inexpensive, and kitchens & refrigerators are hard to come by, I don’t recommend cooking your meals here since there is plenty of delicious street food to eat at very cheap prices. You won’t make it as good as they do and the food is too delicious to miss!
There are many modes of transportation available in the Philippines and each varies greatly.
Public Transportation is cheap. Bus services on the islands are inexpensive. Local buses (called jeepneys) are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD).
On islands without a bus system, a taxi or tricycle is the only form of transport with fares starting at 50-500 PHP ($1-$10) USD for short trips.
Taxis are everywhere, and they’re very cheap. Most fares shouldn’t cost you more than 500 PHP ($10 USD) around town.
To get between islands, you’ll need to take a boat or to fly. There are ferries that connect the island together since they aren’t too far apart but, generally speaking, flights are the most realistic option.
Flights between islands usually cost about 2,000-3500 PHP ($40-70 USD). However, this isn’t the cheapest way to travel. It’s only recommended if you have limited time.
Attractions & Activities
Most attractions and activities in the Philippines are pretty cheap. Most attractions throughout the area are FREE to enter, though some of the more well known and popular ones cost 5-100 PHP ($.10-$2 USD) to enter.
Depending on the activity, most day tours only cost around 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD), oftentimes less. You have more bargaining power if you go with a group. If you are expecting to do some climbing, remember to pack some warm layers. It gets cold at the top!
Other activities such as Island Hopping, scuba diving, helmet diving, swimming with whale sharks, jungle trekking, canyoning, ATVs, jet skis, wakeboarding, cruises, parasailing, horseback riding, cultural experiences, and tours can cost as much as 1,250-5,000+ PHP ($25-100+ USD).
The Philippines is one of the least expensive places to learn how to scuba dive. Learning to scuba dive usually costs about 15,000-20,000 PHP ($300-400 USD), but often includes FREE accommodation for the duration of the course, which lasts three or four days.
Always book your tours and activities when you arrive. Stick to travel agents who are selling on the ground. If a travel agent won’t negotiate with you, move on to the next until you find one that will. Booking tours online is almost always more expensive.
Typical Costs in Pangasinan in 2021:
- Hostel Dorm Bed: 250-350 PHP ($5–7 USD) night
- Budget Hotel: 700 PHP ($14 USD) night
- Mid-Range Hotel: 1500 PHP ($31 USD) night
- Street Food: 50-150 PHP ($1–3 USD) meal
- Restaurant Meals: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) meal
- Local Beer: 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD) bottle
- 1.5L Bottle of Water: 38 PHP ($.75 USD) bottle
- Jeepney Ride: 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD) ride
- Tricycle Ride: 20-100 PHP ($.5-2 USD) ride
- Taxi: 75-500 PHP ($1.50-10 USD) ride – use GrabTaxi app
- Long-Distance Bus Ride: 400-500 PHP ($8–10 USD) ride
- Public Ferry Ride: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) ride
- Island-Hopping: 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD) trip
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The following is some of our best advice on traveling to Pangasinan. Learn what you need to know BEFORE you go!
Tips & Hacks
he following are our Top 10 Tips when visiting this destination in the Philippines:
- Be aware that a tourist VISA is only 30 days. You can extend it upon arrival, or within the first 30 days, for an additional 30 days for a fee of approximately 3,000 pesos.
- Don’t buy into the fear factor. The Philippines has an unjustified reputation of being a dangerous place. It’s true there are security guards everywhere, but that is to deter theft.
- Manila is NOT the Philippines. Get outside of the cities to see the real Philippines.
- Don’t over plan. Boats, buses, and even airplane schedules are notoriously unreliable. Be flexible.
- Check the weather. The weather varies greatly throughout the Philippines daily.
- Typhoons can have a huge impact on your plans. Account for this when planning your trip.
- It’s not cool to raise your voice or show outward frustration in public.
- Be polite at all times. Realize that your country’s sense of humor may be different from Filipino humor and take this into account when interacting with Filipinos and while in public places.
- Things move at a slower pace. Accept it … don’t get frustrated … but do account for it.
- Don’t drink the tap water… but stay hydrated! Save money by buying large bottles (6-10 liters) of water and using it to fill your water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack.
For a complete list of our travel tips & hacks, check out the following guide and be sure to download a FREE copy for yourself.
The Philippines has its own currency called the Philippine Peso. Banks, ATMs, and money-changers can be found on the island. If you are exploring the neighboring islands or provinces, make sure to bring enough cash that will last until the next time you get to an ATM or bank since most tours, transportation, and budget accommodations only accept cash.
Health & Safety
While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Pangasinan, you need to use common sense just as you would in any country, especially when traveling, and in a city, town, or area you are unfamiliar with.
Consult your hotel or resort front desk as they are more likely to give you reliable information than a random stranger on the street. Be careful when approaching strangers and selective about who you approach. Always pay attention to your gut feeling and follow it.
There are many things to consider when traveling in order to stay safe … things that we may not be accustomed to during our normal everyday lives. The following are articles about tips on how to stay safe while traveling in the Philippines:
- 6 Common Accidents to Avoid
- How to Beat the Heat in the Philippines
- Taxi Safety Tips: Dos and Don’ts
- Motorbike Safety Tips
- Beach & Ocean Safety Tips
- Sun Safety Tips
Staying fit & healthy can be challenging when traveling in the Philippines.
The tropical Philippines climate requires you to prepare for illnesses that you may not normally be accustomed to.
The following are our Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy while Traveling in the Philippines:
- Maintain a Balanced Diet
- Stay Hydrated but Only Drink Bottled Water
- Get Plenty of Rest
- Allow Your Body Time to Adjust
- Keep Active
- Sanitize Often
- Be Aware of Food Safety Concerns
- Take Your Vitamins
- Practice Safe Sex
- Be Prepared Should You Get Sick
You need to have a local-based SIM card in order to stay connected when in the Philippines. Network giants such as Globe and Smart have SIM cards you can use to make calls, send text messages, and also to connect to the Internet. A SIM card costs around 50 PHP ($1 USD) and usually comes with a FREE load worth 50 PHP ($1 USD). You can buy a card containing a code you can enter on your phone to replenish your load or buy an electronic load that is available almost anywhere in the city.
While you may not have problems with signal strength when in the city, it is not always the case when on islands or in remote areas of a province. So when arranging for transportation pick up, say when renting a boat to take you to and pick you up from the island, it would be best that you make it clear what time you need to be picked up before the boatman leaves.
Recommended Travel Apps
Apps for smartphones and tablets can be useful both before you leave and while you’re traveling. Most are available for iPhones and Android phones.
- Grab (taxis/ride shares)
- Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
- WhatsApp (phone calls)
- Skyscanner (flights)
- Rome2Rio (transportation)
- Agoda (accomodations)
- Booking.com (accomodations)
- AirBnB (accomodations)
- Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
- Klook (attractions & activities )
Be certain to download and set up apps BEFORE leaving on your trip to make certain each is installed and working properly.
For our complete list of travel apps that we use and recommend while traveling in the Philippines, checkout our checklist below. Download a FREE copy for yourself as a PDF.
Trying to decide what to do when traveling to a destination for the first time can be a bit overwhelming given your lack of familiarity with the place along with all of the available options.
We’ve created the following itinerary to help simplify the process and ensure that you get the most out of your trip. Although we provide a 7 day itinerary for this destination, it can always be adjusted to fit the length of your trip.
The secret to a successful and stress-free trip is to start by using a packing list. This will reduce anxiety from the start and ensure that nothing important is forgotten when packing. To make this process easy for you, we’ve created a detailed packing list. Click the link below to download it for FREE now.
Carrying your checklist with you during your travels can be useful when repacking, by helping to ensure that you do not leave anything behind.
Things to Remember
This guide recommends to take note of the following while traveling in Pangasinan or in the Philippines in general.
There is a nationwide ban which prohibits smoking in public places including indoors, the streets, on sidewalks, in restaurants , and on public transportation, requiring smokers to use designated smoking areas. Selling tobacco to and purchasing from or for minors is also prohibited. Violators are subject to fines (up to 5,000 PHP | $100 USD) and even 4 months in prison.
The minimum legal drinking age is 18. Alcohol such as beer and hard drinks can easily be bought in grocery and convenience stores. The most common alcoholic beverage is beer, generally served cold. Local alcoholic drinks include tuba (coconut wine which is usually very strong) and potent moonshine-like clear liquors made from sugar or fruit. Imported beer, wine, and name brand hard alcohol are available but expensive.
Drugs are illegal in the Philippines. Don’t use, buy, or sell any non-prescription drugs while in the Philippines … not even marijuana. It is considered an especially heinous crime to buy from, for, or sell drugs to children. The penalties are severe … up to and including death.
Public nudity is illegal in the Philippines and is not tolerated. Most locals consider it offensive. There are laws which prohibit provocative and erotic clothing and swimwear, therefore carefully consider your clothings and swimwear choices to make certain they are not too revealing.
Foreigners & Expats
If you are not a Filipino citizen, remember that you are a guest when visiting this country … be certain to act accordingly. Respect the people, their customs, and the environment and wlidlife. You can be deported and banned … so behave … but have fun and enjoy all that this wonderful destination has to offer.
Don’t Forget …
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