I had just returned to my empty hostel room in a small town in Southern Palawan when I got a call from the North Philippines Visitors Bureau. They broke the news that I was chosen as one of the lucky travel bloggers joining the 3rd edition of the Lakbay Norte media tour. I was overwhelmed with excitement but I had to keep it to myself … I was traveling solo and there wasn’t anyone around that could relate anyways. The timing couldn’t have been better. It was the perfect way to kick-start my 2012 season of traveling.

Lakbay Norte 3 series. Rediscover the North!

I found out later when I got the chance to go online that I was going to be stuck with five other amazing travel bloggers on the Lakbay Norte 3 tour … that’s 8 whole days across 11 provinces in North Philippines! I almost fainted at the thought of traveling with Gael from thepinaysolobackpacker, Ed from soloflighted, James from journeyingjames, Angel from lakwatsero, and Christian from lakad-pilipinas.

Photo-op with the Lakbay Norte 3 Bus at Patapat Viaduct in Pagdupud, Ilocos Norte. Photo taken by Gael.

Lakbay Norte Road Tour

Lakbay Norte is an annual media familiarization tour organized by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau aimed at introducing media groups about travel destinations in North Philippines, which includes Baguio, Bulacan, Cagayan North, Greater Clark, Greater Subic, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pampanga, Pangasinan, and Tarlac.

Carrying the tourism slogan, “Rediscover the North,” North Philippines Visitors Bureau and the Manila North Tollways Corp. play a significant role in marketing North Philippines as a premiere travel destination.

Within the circle of Pinoy Travel Bloggers, the Lakbay Norte is a much coveted event participated by our idols like Ivan, FerdzEstan, and Nina … all of whom are distinguished as winners of the Best Travel Blog category in the Philippines Blog Awards 2007-2010. When I was researching for itinerary ideas for my 11-day trip to Northern Luzon, I frequently stumbled upon their blogs and read about exciting experiences on their stopovers during the Lakbay Norte tour. I’ve always wished to join their ranks and experience traveling in North Philippines especially because being on a sponsored tour is a very different experience compared to how I usually travel :D

Lakbay Norte 3 Begins

At 3:30am, I arrived at the Victory Liner Terminal in Kamias, Quezon City. I was greeted by the organizing committee from the North Philippines Visitors Bureau and got acquainted with the Lakbay Norte Bus, which basically became our mobile home for the whole 8-day journey.

Lakbay Norte 3 Bus parked at a Petron Gas Station 

Soon enough, I exchanged smiles with familiar and new faces. I knew it was going to be an epic trip right from the get-go.

It was a pleasant surprise to find out that Kara from TravelingUp, Karlo from KarloDL, Ivan from IvanHenares, and Hannah from TheYellowAdventures would also be joining the tour aside from the five bloggers mentioned.

I reviewed our itinerary from the media kit they gave out and couldn’t contain my excitement when I saw we were going to experience surfing in Pagudpud (Ilocos Norte). Then I started skimming through the other activities: White Water Rafting in Kalinga, Spelunking in Bulacan, Sport Fishing in Nueva Ecija, Paddle Boarding in Paoay (Ilocos Norte), Airsoft in Baguio, Go Kart in Tarlac, Off Road Adventure in Pampanga … whoa! Our trip was filled with so many adrenaline pumping activities!

I looked around, examined the other participants from print and tv media. There were around 30 of us all-in-all. I immediately noticed how most of us belonged to a young age group.

My speculations were indeed true. The organizers shared that they intended to promote eco-adventure activities in North Philippines for Lakbay Norte 3 … but were surprised as well to discover how young the participants were. It was a big plus since all of us enjoyed the exhilarating activities the organized had planned.

My Best Experiences

The experience on the Lakbay Norte 3 tour was really amazing. I had already expected to visit many beautiful places, enjoy fun activities, and get stuffed with delicious food. I shared @JourneyingJames that my favorite activity during Lakbay Norte 3 was surfing in Pagudpud but my most cherished part was actually getting stuck with so many interesting and like-minded travelers for eight whole days.

Lakbay Norte 3 Itinerary

Lakbay Norte itinerary map:


Here’s a rundown of places we visited and activities we did during the Lakbay Norte 3 media tour:

Day 1 – January 22, Sunday (Bulacan – Nueva Ecija)

  • 3:30 AM – Call Time. Meet at Victory Liner, Kamias Station
  • 4:30 AM – Departure from Victory Liner, Kamias Station
  • 4:30 – 7:00 AM – Travel Time Manila to Norzagaray, Bulacan via NLEX
  • 7:00 – 9:00 AM – Spelunking in Pinagrealan Cave, Norzagaray, Bulacan
  • 9:00 – 12:00 PM – Travel Time Norzagaray to Cabanatuan Nueva Ecija via NLEX-SCTEX
  • 12:00 – 1:00 PM – Lunch in Liquid Coffee Bar and Resto
  • 1:00 – 2:30 PM – Travel Time Cabanatuan to Pantabangan Dam
  • 2:30 – 5:00 PM – Pantabangan Dam Sport Fishing in Nueva Ecija
  • 5:00 – 5:30 PM – Travel to Lake Side
  • 5:30 – 6:30 PM – Early Dinner in Lake Side
  • 6:30 – 7:30 PM – Travel to San Jose, Nueva Ecija
  • 7:30 – 8:30 PM – Washup in Casa Teodoro, San Jose, Nueva Ecija
  • 8:30 PM – 5:00 AM – Travel time Nueva Ecija to Tuguegarao
  • Sleep in the Bus

Day 2 – January 23, Monday (Cagayan North – Kalinga)

Day 3 – January 24, Tuesday (Ilocos Norte)

Day 4, January 25, Wednesday (Ilocos Norte – La Union)

Day 5 – January 26, Thursday (La Union – Baguio City)

Day 6 – January 27, Friday (La Union – Pangasinan – Tarlac)

  • 5:00 AM – Call Time
  • 5:30 – 7:30 AM – Travel time Baguio to La Union
  • 8:30 – 10:00 AM – Travel Time La Union to Dagupan,Pangasinan
  • 10:00 – 12:00 NN – Dawel River Cruise at Dagupan
  • 12:00 – 1:00 PM – Travel Time Dagupan to Urdaneta
  • 1:00 – 2:30 PM – Lunch at Matutina’s, Urdaneta
  • 2:30 – 4:00 PM – Travel time Urdaneta to Tarlac City
  • 4:00 – 8:00 PM – Go Kart at Kart City
  • Dinner and Socials at Kart City
  • 8:00 – 8:30 PM – Travel Time Tarlac City to Luisita
  • 8:30 PM – Checkin Microtel

Day 7 – January 28, Saturday (Subic Bay)

  • 7:00 AM – Call Time
  • 7:30 – 8:30 AM – Breakfast at La Majarica and Microtel
  • 8:30 – 10:00 AM – Travel Time Tarlac to Subic
  • 10:00 – 12:30 PM – Jungle Survival, SBMA
  • Lunch onsite with Greater Subic CVB (GSBTB)
  • 12:30 – 1:00 PM – Travel Time Jungle Survival to Ritz
  • 1:00 – 5:00 PM – Massage and Free Time at Ritz Thai Spa
  • 5:00 – 6:30 PM – Travel Time Subic to Clark
  • 6:30 – 8:30 PM  – Dinner at Veranda, Mimosa hosted by Clark Development Corp
  • 8:30 PM – Rest at Hotel Vida

Day 8 – January 29, Sunday (Clark – Pampanga)

LN3 Highlights

Surfing in Pagudpud

The Manor at Camp John Hay, Baguio City

Dawel River Cruise in Dagupan City, Pangasinan

4×4 Off Road Adventure to Puning Hot Springs in Porac, Pampanga

4×4 Off Road Adventure to Puning Hot Springs in Porac, Pampanga