Known as the “Rice Granary of the Philippines”, the landlocked province of Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon is often thought of by travelers as simply as a drive stop for a quick bite or gas when traveling to other farther destinations. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Recently, Nueva Ecija started making a name for itself as a well-rounded leisure destination for all ages, thanks to the growing number of attractions for foodies, bikers and hikers, history buffs, families, and even the hip IG-crazy crowd.
Check out these worthwhile attractions that the province’s “Nueva Ecija Never-ending (Fun)” boasts of.
Located in Cuyapo, Colosboa Hills is one of the province’s newest natural attractions. The whole expanse is dotted with green, rolling hills, which draw both bikers and families looking for a relaxing picnic spot. Travelers can sample homegrown delicacies from on-site providers while enjoying fresh air, with Mount Bangcay on the horizon.
Also in the town of Cuyapo you will find Argamosa Farm, whose IG-worthy spots and yummy fare make it a favorite among locals holding intimate gatherings like debuts and weddings. The five-hectare farm houses beautiful Balinese-inspired floating huts, surrounded by tall trees and the majestic Libsung Lake.
On a hunt for sweet mangoes for pasalubong? Look no further than Espejo Farm. A short 30-minute drive from Cuyapo, this multi-awarded family-friendly farm is famous for its Catimon mangoes, which they also export to other countries.
Early birds, there’s a treat in store for you in Pantabangan. Witness an amazing sea of clouds at Forest Garden, a newly opened agritourism site. Several art installations made from native materials double as viewpoints.
Poised as one of the province’s premier spots for luxuriating, the town of Pantabangan also hosts mid-range to luxury accommodations with Pantabangan Dam as their focal piece.
Farm Ridge by Desmond Farm
This agritourism hub is popular for its cozy wooden cabins, which line a ridge overlooking Pantabangan Dam and the majestic Sierra Madre Mountain Range. Accommodations range from rustic farmhouse-style bungalows to posh villas with their own private dipping pool. All accommodations come with a private balcony.
Highland Bali Villas
Balinese-themed resorts are all the rave these days, and in NUeva Ecija there’s probably none that best embodies this than Highland Bali Villas. Boasting swanky Balinese-inspired villas with private balconies that surrounded a gorgeous infinity pool. Some of the villas also have their own private pool. There’s also a spa, plus some water activities like kayaking, jet skiing, and banana boats that you can do on site.
Nueva Ecija’s center of commerce, Cabanatuan City, is also known as the site of the infamous death of General Antonio Luna in 1899. The assassination took place in Plaza Lucero, which sits in front of the 17th-century Cabanatuan Catheral. A monument of the slain general stands on the plaza grounds.
There’s also a Luna memorial at Freedom Park, a favorite spot for locals and students.
Cabanatuan is an excellent destination for foodies, too. You’ll find here a wide array of dining facilities, from Filipino eateries to bakeshops, to modern cafes offering Western dishes.
From Freedom Park, you can jump right across the street to Hapag Vicenticos, which has become somewhat of an institution in Nueva Ecija. Quaints and homey, this restaurant boasts an assortment of mouthwatering Filipino meals, most popularly the Putok Batok, a good-for-sharing meal of chicharon bulaklak, adobong alige, crispy pata, and lechon kawali. Other bestsellers include pinakbet, sinigang na hipon, and rellenong alamasag.
Priding itself as “the first in Northern Luzon to serve coffee with a Nespresso machine”, this modest contemporary cafe in the city offers a roster of great brews and frappes, as well as cakes. They also have rice meals, as well as pizzas and pastas – both made from scratch.
Puno’s Ice Cream and Sherbet
This local family-owned brand started decades ago with a few local ingredients, which they have now expanded to signature milk-base treats cheese cashew macapuno. Their buko sherbet with lychee is also a must-try!
Founded over 20 years ago, Edna’s Cakeland is also an institution in Nueva Ecija’s thriving F&B scene. It’s a favorite stop for people looking for pasalubong, most notably their signature cheese rolls and ensaymada. Customers love their cakes and with their home-baked breads (which many say are affordable pero di tinipid), as well as their hot rice meals.
You can explore more of Nueva Ecija’s offerings by downloading the Nueva Ecija Tourist Application (NETA) app from Google Playstore.