The countryside in Cagayan (Photo: Samuel de Leon)

Where to stay

  • Amity Hotel, National Highway, San Fermin. Value-for-money accommodation along the main road.
  • JAPI Traveller’s Hotel & Restaurant, Brgy. Sillawit, Maharlika Highway; +63 917 542 4625; A pleasant and clean option, with 24-hour room service and an outdoor pool.
  • The Hotel Andrea, Don Jose Canciller Ave; +63 78 652 3972; A business hotel located in the heart of the city, with easy access to major attractions, such as Our Lady of the Pillars Parish Church and Cauayan City Hall.

Where to eat

  • Aling Luring’s Goto and Serkele, 14 Mayor T. Dalupang St; +63 917 563 3999. Don’t miss the restaurant’s signature dishes, which are, of course, goto (rice porridge) and serkele (offal soup).
  • Ceferina’s Grill and Acoustics, Roxas St. Enjoy a cold beer or two while listening to live acoustic tunes.
  • Centrale Bar and Cafe, Rizal St. Serves up affordable chicken curry, which you can mop up with pita bread.
  • Chocolate Coffeeline, Gov. F.N. Dy Ave corner Don Juan Dacanay St; +63 78 652 0117; Wash down finger food like buffalo wings and tacos with an aromatic cup of joe.
  • Hi-Way Kitchenette, Burgos St. Check out this restaurant for an authentic pancit cabagan experience. The native delicacy is made of pancit miki, lechon carajay, quail eggs and vegetables, and is served with dark pork broth.
  • Kabayan Grill, San Fermin. Dine on native dishes like pinakbet (mixed vegetables steamed in fish or shrimp sauce), under traditional nipa huts.
  • Kusina Kawayan, 89 Don Jose Canciller Ave; +63 78 652 2622. An Asian-fusion restaurant that serves favorites like fried catfish and crab omelet.
  • Marco Paulo Café and Restaurant, San Fermin; +63 917 867 8479. The first shabu-shabu (Japanese hotpot) restaurant in Cauayan City.
  • Otep’s Tinuno, Banigan St, San Fermin. Enjoy a hearty meal of comfort Filipino food (boodle fights are available, too) in a garden-style setting.
  • Triple J Restaurant, 318 Gov. F.N. Dy Blvd, Brgy. Tagaran; +63 78 652 1105. The restaurant serves up excellent pancit cabagan (noodles with veggies, quail eggs and deep fried pork belly).

What to do

  • D’Spot Rail Park, Brgy. San Fermin; If you’re an adventure seeker, go wakeboarding at this facility that caters to both beginners and pros.
  • Gawagaway-yan Festival. Expect cultural shows, float parades, streetdancing competitions and more at this annual festival, which typically takes place over two weeks in March and April.
  • Hacienda De San Luis. Walk through the museum that showcases the history of Tabacalera’s tobacco industry, which dates all the way back to 1881.
  • Ilagan City. Take a day trip to this neighboring city, whose attractions include the world’s largest butaka or rocking chair (standing at 4 ft 11, and weighing 2,368 kg!), and Illagan Sanctuary, where you can go ziplining.
  • Isabela Green Valley Farm, Brgy. Sillawit; +63 78 897 1150. This farm is a nature lover’s paradise, with dazzling orchids, ornamental plants and bountiful, fruit-bearing trees. You can even handpick fruit, or learn how to grow them.
  • Jaycee Farm, Brgy. San Fermin. The first wakeboarding park in Isabela promises plenty of thrills and spills!
  • Mushroom Center. National Highway, Brgy. Tagaran; +63 908 408 6998. Learn more about the production of mushrooms and their related by-products. You can also sample local mushrooms cooked in various styles, such as tempura (battered and deep-fried) and sisig (dipped in salt and vinegar).
  • Old Tabacalera Warehouse. Dating back to 1902, this colonial warehouse now serves as a museum and events venue.
  • Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church, Rizal Ave. A pretty brick church that’s a must-visit for devout Roman Catholics. It’s one of the oldest churches in the country.

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