Road Trip to Pampanga

It’s been a while since me and my friends have gone on a road trip. This year, we decided to change all of that. When we heard about the annual hot air balloon festival happening in Pampanga last weekend, we decided to make that our first of many road trip adventures for the year.

Leaving at an Odd Hour

We decided to start our road trip late in the morning last Friday, partly because we had to wait for the coding window. In the Philippines, there is a vehicle coding scheme which prohibits private vehicles to be used on a road for a day, depending on the last digit of the vehicle’s plate number. But, for a few hours (between 10 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon), these vehicles are allowed on the road in certain areas.

My breakfast before the road trip

A quick breakfast in Starbucks before our road trip begins

It turned out that starting our road trip late in the morning turned out to be a good idea. For one thing, I’m not really a morning person, and leaving late in the morning still gave me time to grab some breakfast at Starbucks in Festival Mall where we chose to meet up.

Also, there wasn’t any traffic when we started our road trip to Pampanga. In fact, it only took us about an hour and a half to travel over 100 kilometers from Alabang to the Shell station located right before the Malolos, Bulacan exit along the North Luzon Expressway to get some lunch. In a country which has gained a reputation of having one of the worst traffic situations, this is definitely a welcome treat.

Detouring to Malolos

Ice taking a walk in the garden

My friend’s adorable 18-month old son, Ice, taking a leisurely walk around the gardens in Barasoain Church. Image courtesy of Erika Grino

As we continued our road trip to Pampanga, Erika and I noticed a sign on the road that the next exit would take us towards the city of Malolos, and home to Barasoain Church–a historical and iconic landmark in the Philippines. It took us just a second to decide to make a detour and go for a quick side trip to visit Barasoain Church. That is one of the things that I really love about going on a road trip with my friends: even though we have planned a specific destination for our road trip, it is something that is never rigid. There is always room in our itinerary to take a quick side trip somewhere which, for me, is one of the things that can make any road trip even more enjoyable.

The church itself was closed, probably because it was a week day, but we did manage to go around the garden at the back of the church where Ice, Erika’s 18 month old son, stretched his legs, walking and running around. We also had the chance to take a peek in the museum to look and take pictures of the different religious icons and other artifacts from a time seemingly lost to the school textbooks.

Visit my blog post on Barasoain Church to read more about our short trip.

Arriving at Our Road Trip Destination

We finally made it to Angeles, Pampanga around 3 in the afternoon. Even though it’s classified to be a provincial city, driving through the streets of Angeles reminded me so much of some areas in Manila with a seemingly organized chaos of people crossing, two-lane streets transforming into four lanes in an instant, and a throng of fast food chains lining either side of the streets.

Our first agenda after arriving to our road trip destination was to find our hotel to put down our things and rest for a bit before we go around Clark Freeport Zone where the hot air balloon festival was taking place. We called the hotel to ask for directions, and found it with no problem at all.

Staying at the Marquis Hotel

We booked our hotel for this road trip at the Marquis Hotel and Restaurant located just a few minutes away from the Clark Freeport Zone. The biggest challenge we had here was to find a parking slot since the hotel apparently didn’t have their own parking space. The guard told us that we could park right in front of the hotel.

When we were making our reservations, we had our eyes set on one of their suite rooms so that we can all fit into just one room. Unfortunately at that time, they told us that their suite rooms were completely booked and so we settled to get two standard rooms. When we went to inspect the rooms, we found one of them was quite large enough to fit all of us so we decided to just get that one instead of having two.

where we stayed during our road trip

Our hotel suite where we stayed during our road trip to Pampanga. © The Marquis Hotel and Restaurant

As we made our way towards the front desk, we got a lucky break. One of the housekeeping staff overheard our discussion with the lady from the front desk who was showing us around, and suggested to us to try and look at the room that he just finished cleaning. It was a suite room, the one that we had our eyes on when we first made our reservation. We rushed to the hotel’s front desk to see if it was still free. We couldn’t believe our luck when we found out that the room was available for our stay. It was perfect!

Not only did we have more than enough space to fit all of us comfortably. It had enough room for little Ice to run and play around.


Shopping for Essentials

After settling at our hotel, we headed inside Clark Freeport Zone to do some shopping for essentials. We decided to head over to Pure Gold Duty Free, which gave us the best of both worlds. For one thing, most of the stuff that you can get in any local grocery store in Philippine peso, and not in US Dollar. At the same time, since it’s a duty free store, we also    managed to find a lot of really nice goodies, just like these dark chocolate M&M’s…

Dark Choco M&Ms

Image courtesy of Erika Grino

…and sugar-free Hershey’s chocolate bars.

Hershey's Sugar Free Bars

Image courtesy of Erika Grino

For me and Erika, who are both avid food and chocolate lovers, these are definitely up on the list of essentials.

While unpacking, I discovered that I left my cap at home. Knowing that the sun can be quite hot during the hot air balloon festival, I hoped to find one that I can use when we head over the following day. After going through an assortment of different caps, I managed to find one that cost me P150 (approx. $3.57).

Dinner at the Everybody’s Cafe to End Day One of our Road Trip

where we had dinner during our Road trip

The Everybody’s Cafe in Angeles, Pampanga

Since we were in Pampanga, I figured the best place to head over for dinner was at the Everybody’s Cafe. It’s been a highly recommended restaurant to try while visiting Pampanga if you really want to sample the local fare. But that was not the only reason why the Everybody’s Cafe came to my mind. Brian had often remarked to me that he would eat anything that is served in front of him, so I decided to see if he’s really a man of his word.

The only problem was, we were in Angeles and the Everybody’s Cafe branch that I know was located in San Fernando, another major city in Pampanga. Given that we needed to sleep really early that night to make it to the hot air balloon festival the following day, I figured the traveling all that way for dinner isn’t really that practical.

Nevertheless, I decided to still call them to see just how far it was from where we were at. When I spoke to one of the staff members and told them that we were coming from Angeles, he suggested to me to head over to their branch right in the main city proper. That would definitely work for us. Told my friends about it, and got the consensus to head there for dinner, and it turned out to be a great way to end day one of our road trip to Pampanga.

Click here to read about my review on the Everybody’s Cafe.


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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)
Road Trip to Pampanga, 5.0 out of 5 based on 3 ratings
About Adeline Yuboco

A natural-born foodie with an eye for detail, I started Life and Leisure to be a place where I can share on how to travel and live in style within your means. At the same time, I cover various events for DigitalJournal.com where I'm a contributing journalist. If you got a great story idea or have an event you'd like me to cover, drop me an email at the Contact page, message me on Twitter, or Connect with me on


  1. Love road trips with the girls!I had no idea about the coding thing. Is it because of traffic issues? I have never rode in a hot air balloon. I can’t wait to read about that part. Great read thus far :)

    • Thanks so much, Crystal. Yes, the coding was implemented in Metro Manila as a way to ease the traffic situation. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to ride on a hot air balloon during our trip because the rate was way beyond our budget at that time. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a chance to ride one during the event next year.

  2. Absolutely LOVING this idea of a road trip in the Philippines! I’ve never tried it before, but it brings back fond memories of small road trips my family and I would do on the West Coast. =) Chocolate (and chips) were essentials for us too! =) Can’t wait to read more about this!
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  3. LUCKY you indeed! I’d also love to stay with my companion in one room because it\’d be so much fun. :) Me and my friends used to go on a roadtrip before and it’s really exciting. Those long hours you spend traveling by road seem short enough because of the stories and laughter you share with your friends.

  4. I love to go on road trips. Sometimes I even prefer to take public transportation here in L.A. rather than hassling through traffic. I rather take my time, relax on the bus or train and read a book, listen to music and check out the areas by looking through the window.

    One of my biggest dreams is to travel through the State just on Greyhound Bus. I’m sure that would be fun.

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  5. I discovered your web site via Google while looking for a related subject, lucky for me your web site came up, its a great website. I have bookmarked it in my Google bookmarks. You really are a phenomenal person with a brilliant mind!

  6. Road trips are really fun! For me and my friends who got to bond every summer, we usually go out for a road trip to catch up and explore different places and of course foooood! I just love it!

  7. John Press says:

    Hi there Adeline i was wondering you have travelled or heard of anyone who has travelled on a road trip from Davao to Norhtern Luzon. I am planning to do this within the next 2 years. It shoudl be a blast I am planning to film it as there not much about on travels in the Philippines.
    What do you think let us know.
    Best Rgds

  8. What a fantastic post! I get a feeling this is going to be some road trip. What makes me always chuckle is the fact no matter where you go in the world (well not everywhere) you will find some of those creature comforts of home, such as Starbucks and M&Ms. I look forward to reading more about the adventure.
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  9. I’ve been hearing a lot about Everybody’s Cafe lately and I’m really getting curious. I just might go visit and see for myself what the buzz is all about.

  10. I love road trips and I hope to personally drive one…I’m always sitting in the passenger seat ksi I don’t know how to drive.
    Be sure to check out Bev’s most recent post…What You Should Know About RotavirusMy Profile

  11. So here is the main trip (i’ve read your side trip to Barasoain Church/Malolos last time). It seems all expected things came into place plus the isde trip… :D

  12. The advantage at having a road trip in the latter part of the morning on a weekday is you get to avoid the morning rush in Edsa. The Marquis Hotel Room is big. I also take the chance to shop for chocolates everytime I’m in Clark.

  13. Road trip is one of the things I love when I travel. Road Trip aside from the destination itself is a crucial part of my journey especially that I use a motorbike most of the time :)

  14. Here in Davao we don’t have coding schedule. When I live there in Quezon City last 2007 I experienced the traffic jam going to Bulacan. But it doesn’t give me a problem at all, I enjoy the ride trip.

  15. I really thought that the number coding prohibits certain vehicles on a 24-hour basis. It’s my first time to know that there is a window period between 10 -3. Anyway, Everybody’s Cafe looks festive, you photo exudes a Christmas-y feel to it. =)

    • It really depends where in Metro Manila are you going and coming from, Swexie. Some areas like Makati don’t have a window at all. Others, like in the case of Paranaque and Las Pinas, observe a window between 10am to 3pm. Still there are others like Taguig that don’t observe any color coding.

  16. me too:) iluv doing roadtrips-lalo na pag maraming baon na pagkain jejeje

  17. mmm… yummy pretzel! I wonder if that pretzel tastes the same as here. Pretzels here are salty with rock salts sprinkled on top but they taste better with butter filling.
    sad to know you weren’t able to ride on the hot air balloon.. oh well… better luck next time but still hope you enjoyed your road trip!
    Be sure to check out che’s most recent post…Neresheim AbbeyMy Profile

  18. It’s nice to know that you enjoyed your stay in Angeles City. Next time you are going to attend the Hot Air Balloon, you can get in touch with me and join us to get a good spot free of charge :) You can also try to visit Camalig restaurant which is just few steps away from Everybody’s Cafe in Angeles City. :)

  19. Essentials talaga eh!hahaha! I love road trips. I find it very relaxing.

  20. This is such an exciting road trip!
    Road + food + room+fun=road trip to the max!

  21. one fine trip you had there in Pampanga… you had a one lucky day .. when i did my travel in that area, itwas all series of unfortunate events… cant even find my way to clark ! lol ,,, what an event

  22. Oh that was a great itinerary. I’m actually planning on not missing the Hot Air Balloon Festival next year, so your accommodation can actually be a good place for me to stay in. Plus, Everybody’s Cafe also sounds interesting. :)

  23. Road trips are really fun, challenging and exciting at the same time. Though I have yet to visit HABF, I hope someday, I could visit them soon. ^_^

  24. everyone must do shopping to put in their hotels. even us. after we checked in the hotel that the second main things we always do haha no food shortage! xx

  25. This is what I really wanna do every weekend. Sana matuloy ang Disneyland sa Pampanga. :D

  26. I love road trips! super!
    Ng laway ako bigla sa mga chocolates…
    tempted tuloy! sinfullness !! haha!

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