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Isabela Province Travel Guide : Tourist Spots, Things To Do And Attractions You Should Visit

Photo credit to Isabelino Ako Fb Page


My younger sister Mitch went on a two – day roadtrip via a private van from Irosin to Isabela province to be one of the bridesmaids for her bestfriend who got married in this province.  They’re supposed to spend a week there but unfortunately, the uncle passed away on the day of the wedding so the whole clan of the bride rushed back to Bicol right after.  She has no photo representing Isabela except in the garden where the wedding was held. She told me so many nice things so I googled about places to visit in Isabela.  How I wish when I did my mystery assignment to Tuguegarao and the many times I have been to Ilocos, I should have dropped by in the province of Isabela because of its proximity to these places I have already been.  I   got so interested about the tourist destinations in Isabela that hopefully next year I’ll be able to visit it myself.         

Made a new blog post for 2018 Travel Guide to Isabela, please click below



History of Isabela

Isabela was named in honor of “Her Royal Highness Queen Isabela II” of Spain.  At the east side of Isabela, there’s the Sierra Madre Mountain Range – composed of thick forests and mountains as tall as 8,000 feet. These are home to one of the country’s largest remaining rainforests with numerous unknown endemic species of flora and fauna and exceptional biological diversity. Its coastal area is a small strip of flat to rolling land with a 208-kilometer coastline and is home to beautiful caves, coves, bays, and rich marine life.

Isabela is the largest province in the region and the second largest province in Philippines in terms of land area. The province is bounded on the North by the province of Cagayan, on the south on Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino snd Aurora, on the west by the Cordillera Administrative Region and on the East by the Pacific Ocean.

The top  tourist attractions in Isabela worth visiting are:

AGUINALDO SHRINE in Palanan is a historic place where the First President of the Philippine Republic, General Emilio Aguinaldo surrendered to the American forces ending the Philippine Revolution in March 1901. Palanan is accessible by aircraft, boat and trail hiking thru Sta. Ana, Cagayan, San Mariano/Cauayan/Aurora/and Ilagan, Isabela respectively. Nelbusco buses in Santiago City have trips to Palanan via Dilasag, Aurora.

NORTHERN SIERRA MADRE NATURAL PARK (NSMNP) is the largest protected area in the country. The area is about 359,477 hectares and is rated No. 1 in the world’s biodiversity. Very ideal for marine and outdoor adventure, people trek its mountains to reach the coastal areas. Tours take for five days over rainforests, mountains, rivers/streams with stops at indigenous people’s communities; appreciate at close range a wide variety of flora and fauna and enjoy a relaxing dip into rivers and streams or the Pacific Ocean. From Manila, Isabela is about 10 hours b commercial airconditioned buses. Palanan Wilderness Guided Tours can be arranged through DOT Region 02 (email: and through Myrose Alvarez, Municipal Tourism Officer at 0906-721-1016.

SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF THE VISITATION OF GUIBANG in Gamu is located along the National highway frequented by travelers passing the Maharlika Highway. It is now as famous as the Piat Basilica Minore because it also comes alive on July of every year when religious pilgrims from all walks of life come to offer prayers of good health, peace, abundance and Good voyage among many other intentions. The image of the Our Lady of the Visitation was canonically crowned by the Most Rev. Carmine Pocco, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines on May 26, 1973 at the St. Ferdinand Cathedral in Ilagan, Isabela. The Catholic Bishop’s conference of the Philippines at its 52nd Annual Bishop’s Meeting held in Tagaytay City on January 24-26, 1986 have approved the petition of His Excellency, Most Rev. Miguel Purugganan, Bishop of Ilagan for the church of Our Lady of Visitation of Guibang to be called a National Shrine.

ST. CLAIRE MONASTERY in Gamu is located along the Maharlika highway and stands a few meters from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Visitation of Guibang. It is a contemplative community of poor Claire sisters from Cabuyao, Laguna established in 1991 and is open to the public.

PARISH CHURCH OF ST. MATHIAS in TUMAUNI was built in 1753 under Dominican supervision and was completed in 1805. It is an ultra-baroque church unique for its extensive used of baked clay both for wall finishing and ornamentation reflective of its Chinese ancestry. This church of stone with a unique cylindrical bell tower is the only one of its kind in the Philippines. The church has been declared a National Cultural Treasure.

OUR LADY OF ATOCHA CHURCH in Alicia and its convent was built by Fr. Tomas Calderon, OP and inaugurated in 1849. It has an antique Spanish architectural design and is located along the Maharlika Highway.

ST. ROSE DE LIMA CHURCH in Gamu is famous for its Spanish architectural design. Built in 1726 during the Spanish time, the church fa├žade was made of layered bricks and stones dating back during the 17th century and considered a pilgrimage church because of its antiquity. The feast of their patron, Saint Rose De Lima is celebrated every August 23rd.

MAGAT HIGH RISE DAM the biggest dam in the whole of Asia at the time of its construction.   supply of some 102,000 hectares of agricultural land and an ultimate capacity of 540 megawatts of hydroelectric power sufficient to supply the whole of Northern Luzon Grid. Its reservoir area of 4,460 hectares has a great potential for water-based recreation like fishing, swimming, boating and water skiing among others. Recommended for educational tours and is accessible by jeepney from Santiago City.

SAN PABLO CHURCH is the oldest town of Isabela was founded by Padre de Sto. Tomas on Nov. 30, 1646, or about 210 years before Isabela was made a province and its bell tower with six levels including the circular apex is made of adobe and is said to be the oldest in Isabela and the tallest in Cagayan Valley.

BONSAI FOREST at Sumanget, Dinapigue is about 20,000 hectares. The area is accessible by the land transportat from Baler in Aurora Province and can be seen from the plane  when travelling by air to Palanan.

CAM SAMAL HOTEL, RESORT, TRAINING CENTER & LEISURE PARK the municipality  of Tumauini operates Cam Samal which offers accommodation facilities, lagoon boating area, swimming pools and slides, rills house and restaurant and other facilities for vacationing families and big groups.

QUEEN ISABELA ARK AND THE QUEEN ISABELLA II MONUMENT inaugurated May 11, 2014 is an elaborate  work of art fashioned by Joel Pragas, one the best and most prolific artist to ever grace Isabela’s local art scene. Mini concerts are held at the Balconaje del Norte every weekends while visitors enjoy local food and drinks. 

BAMBANTI FESTIVAL is a tourism trade, investment and environmental awareness showcase focusing on development, marketing and promotion of community life heritage and history including indigenous world-class products, lifestyle merchandise items and cuisine of the Province of Isabela.

You'll certainly never gonna ran out of many activities to do in Isabela.  Every visitor coming here should take a bit of their  signature noodle dish – Pansit Cabagan, see the world’s largest butaka (chair with long arm rests), pray inside Tumauini Church and see the crocodile sanctuary in Dicatian Lake. For me the most interesting to do in Isabela is meeting Dumagats – the dark-skinned, curly-haired indigenous group who are the original settlers in this place. They are semi-nomadic, living off of fishing and hunting. They are often found in Dicatian Mangrove Forest. For vitamin SEA, I’d like to swim at the white sand beaches of Dicotcotan and Didadungan.   Click HERE my experience for covering 2018 Bambanti Festival in Isabela.

 Book your hotels in Isabela HERE via Agoda

Information source and credited from
Traveler’s Guide Cagayan Valley Region
Department of Tourism
#2 Dalan na Pav-vurulun
Regional Government Center
3500 Tuguegarao City, Cagayan

Contact nos: 078 373 9563 / 373 0785
Email add: /
Facebook page: DOT Cagayan Valley Region  

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