CABANGAN TRAVEL GUIDE | Budget + Itinerary + Map

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Cabangan Zambales Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

Cabangan is one of the thirteen towns that make up the province of Zambales. It sits right in the middle of the province, bordered by the towns of Botolan on the north and San Felipe on the south. Its western side directly opens to the West Philippine Sea. It’s about two hundred kilometers from Manila, which would take around four to six hours travel time.

It was once a laid-back town with just a handful of resorts and tourists, with residents mostly farmers and fisher folks. Within the last couple of years, resorts have mushroomed all over its beachfront and tourism has started to pick up, due probably to the booming surfing scene at the neighboring town of Liwliwa.

Even with this, Cabangan is still pretty laid-back. If you’re looking for a beach getaway with not much tourists, Cabangan may just be the weekend getaway for you.


CABANGAN TRAVEL BLOG GUIDE
WHAT’S INSIDE?

How To Get To Cabangan
Understand Cabangan
Safety In Cabangan
Staying Connected In Cabangan
Getting Around Cabangan
What To See & Do In Cabangan
Where To Eat In Cabangan
Where To Stay In Cabangan
What To Buy In Cabangan
Cabangan Tourist Spots Map
Cabangan Sample Itinerary


HOW TO GET TO CABANGAN


How To Get To Cabangan Zambales

Only Victory Liner ply the Manila-Cabangan route. From Manila, you can take those with Iba and Sta. Cruz sign boards. These are available for Caloocan, Cubao, Sampaloc, and Pasay stations. Travel time is around five to six hours. Fare is at around ₱370.00, give or take.

Saulog Transit also passes by Cabangan, but its route is limited from Olongapo to Iba only.

Driving to Cabangan is easy enough. From Manila, take the NLEX (North Luzon Express Way), then connect to SCTEx (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) going to Subic. From there, take the Olongapo-Bugallon Highway until you reach Cabangan. Drive time is around four hours.



UNDERSTAND CABANGAN


Cabangan Zambales

Geographically, Cabangan is mainly divided into two land areas by the Olongapo-Bugallon Highway. West side for the beach part, east side for the mountain and river areas. In the midst of these two is the town center where the Municipal Hall, the market, banks, ATMs, food places, churches, groceries, and convenience stores are.

Cabangan Zambales

Language-wise, the town is roughly divided into two parts via the Tangway River. The northern area speaks Zambal while the southern half, Ilocano. Nevertheless, everyone can understand and speak Filipino or Tagalog fluently. And like everywhere else in the Philippines, most can understand English—though can’t speak as fluently.



SAFETY IN CABANGAN


Cabangan Zambales

It is very safe in Cabangan. Being a small community, criminality is quite low and almost non-existent. The only thing to watch out for are the numerous stray dogs along the streets (and probably a few cows and carabaos, should you wander across farmlands, lol), which can get pretty worked up upon unfamiliar tourists.



STAYING CONNECTED IN CABANGAN


Cabangan Zambales

Globe and Smart (also Sun) networks have very strong signals throughout Cabangan. Internet connectivity is also very good. Personally, I can say that the Internet speed in Cabangan even exceeds those in Manila—probably due to the low population of users in the area.



GETTING AROUND CABANGAN


Cabangan Zambales

There are three modes of public transportation in Cabangan; the tricycles, jeeps, mini-buses, and regular buses.

To get from one barangay to the next using the main highway, locals use either the jeeps, mini-buses, and regular buses that ply the highway. And to get from the highway to the barangay interiors, they use tricycles—which have specific terminals per barangay. Minimum fare for tricycles is set at ₱20.00 per person.   
   
Note that it’s quite easy to get a tricycle when you’re along the town center, but once you need one while inside the interior barangays, you might find it difficult to find one. My tip, get the mobile number of the first tricycle driver you will ride on.



WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN CABANGAN


Cabangan Beach Zambales

The main reason people visit Cabangan is the sea. Cabangan Beach is divided into eight barangays and these are easily accessible via car or public transport. The waves here are really not for everyone, it is strong most times of the year. It does get calm during the summer months, especially during the early mornings. It’s actually due to these strong waves that surfers started to flock Cabangan.

Dapya River Cabangan Zambales

The other attractions in Cabangan can be found along its mountainous area along its eastern side. Here, you can visit Dapya River and Agbubutilya. These are actually specific areas of the Maporac River. The former is good for a laid-back picnic while the latter is better for the more adventurous visitors since it involves a bit of a hike and some cliff jumping activities.

Another river destination is the Namnel Watershed. Getting there involves passing through private roads marked with No Trespassing signs though, so I’m not sure if it’s really legal to go there.

For those wanting a bit of a hike, there’s also the Matag-Ay Lanum Falls in Barangay San Juan.

For these activities, I strongly advise that you contact the Cabangan Tourism Office.
Facebook, (0929) 816-5103, cabangan.mto@gmail.com

Bangan Pier Cabangan Zambales

Another picnic place we frequent is the Bangan Pier river cottages. Bangan literally translates to an estuary—a body of water where the river meets the sea. The water here is very warm, shallow, and brackish. Small rentable huts have sprouted along its banks and comes with unlimited balsa or raft rides.

Besides the beach, most of these tourist spots—which are picnic places—actually require a full day or, at the most, half day experience. These are especially enjoyable for big groups.

Birding Cabangan Zambales

Cabangan is also a good place for birding enthusiasts. I’m no avian expert, but I do see a lot of bird varieties every time we stay there including kingfishers, crows, bulbuls, great egrets, Brahminy kite eagles, to name a few—or actually, those are the only ones I can identify.

Cabangan Christmas Lights Zambales

If you visit during Christmas season, head over to the Cabangan Municipal Hall during the evenings to see the annual Cabangan Christmas lights display. People from all over Zambales flock the town for this.



WHERE TO EAT IN CABANGAN


LC's Stop & Chow Cabangan Zambales

Besides the usual carinderias and street food stalls found along the main road of Cabangan, there are a few notable restaurants you can visit in town. There are the classic go-to restaurants like LC’s Stop & Chow and TCT Emily’s which serves traditional Filipino and Western fares. Then there are the new ones like 21st Bean (a resto café serving fraps and pastas), 1st Streat (good for picnic take-outs), and Arya’s Chill & Grill (Middle Eastern dishes).

WHERE TO EAT IN CABANGAN

Mami Madz Cabangan Zambales

Getting food while on the beach is a bit more challenging since there are hardly any places to eat in the area except for the resorts’ in-house restaurants. One place we frequent after going to San Isidro Beach is a simple mami and goto place, Mami Madz.



WHERE TO STAY IN CABANGAN


Cabangan Beach Zambales

As of last count, there are at least seventy resorts dotting Cabangan Beach. These range from really expensive beach houses and resorts, to DIY pitch-your-tent kind of places. That’s from ₱10,000.00 plus per night to less than ₱1,000.00 per night.

For the most interesting lodgings, check out my Best Cabangan Beach Resorts article.

For affordable accommodations, I suggest checking out Google Maps, since most resorts in Cabangan don’t have Agoda listings.



WHAT TO BUY IN CABANGAN


Suman Cabangan Zambales

The only tourist related souvenir I bought in Cabangan is a San Isidro Beach shirt from Mami Madz, besides that, there’s about zero souvenir items in town.

Forget about your Cabangan keychains and ref magnets, what you can bring home instead are local foodstuff you can buy at the public market—panutsa (cannon-sized sweet sugar cane balls), pilipiting (dried anchovies), alimagmag (dried tiny shrimps), and rice cake treats like suman, patupat, and cascaron. And don’t forget the mangoes—Zambales is legendary for their sweet dinamulag mangoes they even dedicate a whole festival for it, the Dinamulag Festival.    
   
If you have a cooler with you, you can also bring home fresh barillete fishes, these are skipjack tunas which are like smaller versions of yellow-fin tunas.



CABANGAN TOURIST SPOTS MAP


Cabangan Tourist Spots Map



CABANGAN SAMPLE ITINERARY


Unlike other beach places in Zambales, visiting the town of Cabangan is not really fit for a two-day weekend. Well, you can definitely do it, if you just zip through the attractions and simply chill at the beach. Or you can remove the Day Three of the itinerary, but you’d have to sacrifice your time at the beach.

If you really want to maximize your time in town, three days should do it. Why that long? It’s because most destinations in Cabangan are picnic places, they require at least half a day to really enjoy it. Cabangan is a slow travel kinda place.

All these places are reachable via public transport, but it can be a challenge. Having a private vehicle is definitely an advantage. Be warned, some areas in Cabangan require rough driving, so make sure your vehicles are fit for some dirt road activities.

And again, contact the Cabangan Tourism Office for guidance and an actual physical guide if you want to go visit Matag-Ay Lanum Falls, Agbubutilya, and Dapya.

As for the travel budget for a three-day vacation in Cabangan, I have yet to know the actual rates for the far-off tourist spots in town. I have contacted the tourism office, and they said that they will formulize a standard rate for such soon. I will update this part once I have more news.



DAY ONE | ₱XXX.00 PER PERSON BASED ON A GROUP OF TWO


Bangan Pier Cabangan Zambales

Early morning arrival
Early check in at resort (leave bags at the lobby if not allowed)
  ₱40.00 - TRICYCLE TO RESORT FROM BAYAN, PER PERSON
  ₱2,000.00 - AVERAGE RESORT RATE, GOOD FOR TWO PERSONS
Swim at Cabangan Beach
Picnic lunch at Bangan Pier (bring take out food from Bayan)
  ₱40.00 - TRICYCLE TO BAYAN, PER PERSON
  ₱200.00 - TAKE OUT FOOD PER PERSON, APPROXIMATE
  ₱??.00 - TRICYCLE FROM BAYAN TO BANGAN PIER (ROUNDTRIP, GET DRIVER’S MOBILE NO.), APPROXIMATE
  ₱500.00 - COTTAGE RENTAL
Swim at Bangan until sunset
Dinner at 21st Bean
  ₱250.00 - AVERAGE MEAL PRICE PER PERSON, APPROXIMATE
  ₱10.00 - JEEP FROM 21ST BEAN TO BAYAN, PER PERSON
  ₱40.00 - TRICYCLE TO RESORT FROM BAYAN, PER PERSON



DAY TWO | ₱XXX.00 PER PERSON BASED ON A GROUP OF TWO


Dapya River Cabangan Zambales

Breakfast at resort
  ₱2,000.00 - AVERAGE RESORT RATE, GOOD FOR TWO PERSONS
Visit and hike to Agbubutilya
  ₱40.00 - TRICYCLE TO BAYAN, PER PERSON
  ₱200.00 - TAKE OUT FOOD PER PERSON, APPROXIMATE
  ₱??.00 - TRICYCLE TO AGBUBUTILYA JUMP OFF POINT
  ₱??.00 - GUIDE FEE
Hike down to Dapya River
  ₱20.00 - ENTRANCE FEE
Lunch at Dapya River (bring take out food from Bayan)
  ₱300.00 - COTTAGE RENTAL
Early dinner at LC’s Stop & Chow or at the resort
  ₱??.00 - TRICYCLE FROM DAPYA RIVER TO LC’S STOP & CHOW, APPROXIMATE
  ₱250.00 - AVERAGE MEAL PRICE PER PERSON, APPROXIMATE
Sunset at the beach
  ₱10.00 - JEEP FROM LC’S STOP & CHOW TO BAYAN, PER PERSON
  ₱40.00 - TRICYCLE FROM BAYAN TO RESORT, PER PERSON



DAY THREE | ₱XXX.00 PER PERSON BASED ON A GROUP OF TWO


Cabangan Beach Zambales

Breakfast at resort
Chill at the beach
Check out of the resort
   ₱40.00 - TRICYCLE TO PUBLIC MARKET, PER PERSON   
Buy pasalubong at the public market
  ₱XX.00 - TOTALLY UP TO YOU
Depart Cabangan




► ₱XXXX.00 ~ TOTAL BUDGET PER PERSON BASED ON A GROUP OF TWO

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