Merely 2.5 hours by bus to the north-west of Manila, one of the most scenic locations in the Philippines awaits you. Mt. Pinatubo was the site of one of the most violent volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, which altered the landscape significantly. Perfect for hiking day tours or camping overnight, this place offers a thrilling adventure full with stunning views.
There are 2 main ways to experience Mount Pinatubo: a day tour from Manila or an overnight package. There are distinctive pros and cons to each, so it’s really a matter of choice. Luckily, you don’t have to worry since we offer both! Just read below and figure out what works better for you. Also, if you are interested in a DIY itinerary that includes camping at the mountain’s peak, we’ll gladly offer advice and help with the necessary arrangements.
Day tours from Manila will include a van transport as part of the package. These usually leave extremely early (03:00-04:00 AM) because even so, you won’t be back to Manila before nightfall. These vans are very comfortable, and perfect for large groups and families with small children who wish to avoid the hassles of public transportation.
If you plan to spend some time around Pinatubu, you can consider taking a bus instead. This is especially relevant for solo travelers or couples, since booking a private van would be quite costly. There are at least 6 different bus companies with lines to Capas, so it really depends on your exact travel plans. First, you should decide where you plan to stay – then pick the bus line that gets you there the quickest. You can also just contact us and we’ll help you figure everything out. In any case, the ride from Manila to Tarlac should take 2-3 hours, depending on traffic.
People who are already travelling in North Luzon should have no trouble combining a stop at Mt. Pinatubo as they make their way south towards Manila. The buses to Manila from Baguio, Banaue and Ilocos all have stops in Tarlac – either in Capas itself or at nearby locations.
If you wish to spend some time at the volcano area before the end of your trip, you could also fly to Clark and take the bus from there. There are flights to Clark airport from most popular destinations, and it will save you a lot of time compared to flying to Manila and taking the bus from there.
When choosing where to spend the night, it’s extremely important to remember that rides to the volcano stop at 10 AM. If you miss the last jeep, you’ll have no way of reaching Mt. Pinatubo and just wasted the whole day.
Other than that, the choice is entirely yours, depending on your standards and budget. Tarlac is closest to the exit point of the tour, but accommodation there mainly consist of hostels, guesthouses and other cheap hotels. If you want higher standards consider booking a room at Angeles city or anywhere else in Clark – where many luxury hotels can be found. It takes about 45 minutes to get from Angeles to Capas, so keep that in mind.
Another option would be to book a resort in Subic, a really nice destination on its own. Subic is a popular beach town, with plenty of beautiful resorts and attractions. It’s possible to spend some time in Subic, and book the Pinatubo tour from there. That said, driving from Subic to Pinatubo takes nearly 2 hours, so you’ll have to wake up pretty early.
What To Do In Mount Pinatubo?
As mentioned, there are several different ways to experience this amazing location. In this section, We’ll try cover each and provide all the necessary information. All tours and services are completely flexible and can be customized to your exact wishes.
In case you need more information before making your choice, the best solution is to simply contact us straight away. Our experts will do their best to understand your needs, and build your itinerary accordingly.
Mt. Pinatubo Day Tour
This is the most popular option, since it’s a great way to fill up your whole day while staying in Manila. You should be prepared though – it’s a somewhat grueling experience. Tours leave Manila before sunrise and typically arrive back sometime around 9 PM.
Once you arrive to Tarlac, you’ll meet your tour guide and 4×4 driver. The jeep ride to the where the hiking trail begin is a lot of fun on its own. You get a chance to see the unique landscape up close, and witness exactly how the violent eruption in 1991 changed it.
The hike itself is 5.5km (3.5 miles) long, and a relatively easy one to complete. It should take you no more than 2 hours at each direction, with only the last 30 minutes of climbing providing some challenge. As you arrive to the crater’s rim, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most beautiful views anywhere in the world – so it’s definitely worth it!
Backpacking and Camping Trips
For those on a budget, Mount Pinatubo is one of the best places in the Philippines. The volcano is so easy to reach, and tourism to it is fairly developed so making the trip is very simple. You can either take the bus from Manila in the morning, or arrive to Tarlac the night before. Tarlac has many cheap hostels so going there a night earlier shouldn’t burden your wallet too much.
There’s no way around hiring a local guide and driver through the local department of tourism, as well as paying the environmental fee. The 4×4 jeep is the only way to reach the volcano – and it will cost more the smaller your group is since you pay for 5 people either way (2500 PHP). We can help you join up with a group tour, from which you can part any at stage afterwards.
The volcano has a designated camping area, so make sure you tell your guide to take you there. The camp site has a toilet and some huts. Fresh water are available close to the crater. You should make sure to bring your food with you – there’s nothing to buy here. If you don’t have your own gear, let us know and we can also help with that.
Make sure you bring comfortable shoes and warm clothes as temperatures drop at night. For more general advice and tips, check out our hiking and camping packages, or our guide to affordable travelling in the Philippines.
Other Attractions and Activities In The Area
Capas and Clark served as key strategic areas for the U.S colonial forces. The city of Capas had Camp O’Donnell – an American air force base with significant historic importance. After the Japanese conquered the area, they used the base as a concentration camp for American and Filipino prisoners of war. Out of the 70,000 prisoners held there, it’s estimated at least a third died.
Capas Shrine is the most impressive monument commemorating the prisoners, but there are a few museums as well. The city of Bamban has some Japanese tunnels and caves – which are also quite interesting to explore. Especially fascinating are the ones partially destroyed by Pinatubo’s eruption – another testimony to nature’s violent power. Bamban also has a very nice waterfall nearby, if you feel in need of refreshment after so much history.
Another fun option is visiting the Dolores and Bueno Hot Springs . you even can combine these with a visit to Pinatubo Spa Town where volcanic ash massage and mud baths are being offered. It is a unique experience, and a nice way to pamper yourself after a hard day of hiking.
How Does Mt. Pinatubo Fit Into My Travel Plan?
Fitting in a tour of the volcano while you are in Manila is extremely easy. There are a few different ways to plan this tour, and each has its own appeal and advantages. We will be more than happy to assist you with any type of tour you choose, and make sure you have the best time.
Thanks to Mount Pinatubo’s proximity to Manila, we advise you combine this tour into your Manila package, as well as include other beautiful locations if you have the time. You can easily stop by Pinatubo on your way back from north Luzon destinations such as Ilocos or Sagada. Another option is combining the tour into a larger Manila package – and visit other nearby sites such as Tagaytay or Batangas.