Nueva Ecija Travel Guide

Itinerary, Things to do, How to get there and more

Known as the “Rice Granary of the Philippines”, Nueva Ecija is an agricultural and the largest province located in Central Luzon. The province is the biggest rice producer in the country and the leading grower of onions in South East Asia. Its capital city is Palayan, the most sparsely populated city in the whole Philippines. The province was named after Ecija, an old city in Seville, Spain. It was one also one of the first provinces in the country to have an uprising against the Spanish rule, and one of the provinces which proclaimed its independence in 1898. Tagalog is the main language spoken by the Novo Ecijanos, as what the locals call themselves, followed by Ilocano and Pampango. At present, Nueva Ecija is the 9th richest province in the country.

Where to go in Nueva Ecija

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Casa San Miguel

San Antonio, Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon, 3108, Philippines

Mt. Mapait

Palayan City (capital), Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon, 3132, Philippines

Mt. Sawi

Malinao Gabaldon (bitulok & Sabani), Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon, 3131, Philippines

National Shrine of Virgen La Divina Pastora

Delos Reyes St Three Kings Parish Church Compund Gapan City, Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon, 3105, Philippines

How to Get Here

Currently, there is no airport serving this landlocked province in Central Luzon. Situated 180 kilometers of Manila, Nueva Ecija is accessible via different bus firms plying the routes of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). Travel time, depending on the traffic, is around 3 to 4 hours. Buses stop at the central bus terminal in Cabanatuan City.

Departing on an hourly and daily basis, bus fare from Manila to Cabanatuan City is around Php 190.00, with terminals located in Pasay, Caloocan and Quezon City. Bus companies are:

Victory Liner
ES Transport
Baliwag Transit
Five Star

Popular Food

One of the province’s unique dishes is buko lumpia. It is a regular lumpia but made with a twist – it is filled with strips of coconut, ham and cheese, deep fried and served with vinegar. The outcome is an understated variety of the Pinoy’s snack.

Nueva Ecija has their own version of Pinoy’s breakfast staple, the longganisa. Called batotay longganisa, this longganisa is made from beef and sold along the market stalls of Cabanatuan City. Batotay has a sweet taste while the ones made from pork and has garlicky taste is called as Cabanatuan longganisa.

(c) @iambaliador /

A must try unique food in this province is the tilapia ice cream. A weird concoction developed by a professor from the Central Luzon University (CLSU), tilapia ice cream is made from mixed steamed tilapia flakes with carabao and condensed milk, walnuts, cheese and cream. Aside from ice cream, there are other cold treats like ice cream sandwich, sansrival and ice cream pops – all made from the lowly but delicious, lean white fish called tilapia.

(c) @chelemesquivel /

Tinumis sa sampalok is a popular pork dish in Nueva Ecija. Somewhat similar to ‘dinuguan’ , another Filipino dish which uses pig’s blood, tinumis uses tamarind that gives sour taste to the dish.

(c) @khristinecababat /

Best Time to Go

Summer is the best time to go and visit Nueva Ecija; April and May are typically the warmest months. With different tourist spots scattered all over the province, exploring the “Rice Bowl of the Philippines”, another nickname of Nueva Ecija, would be an exciting endeavor.

Tourists abound during the Holy Week as “The Rituals of Puncan” takes place. It is the province’s unique Lenten ritual that includes a hide and seek spectacle between the “hudyo” and “flagellant”. Come June, hundreds of tourists flocked to Barangay Bibiclat in the town of Aliaga to witness another unique festival in the region called “Taong Putik Festival”. Celebrated on the feast day of St. John the Baptist on June 24, devotees transform themselves into mud people, parading on the streets asking for alms in the form of candles or cash which will be used in buying offertory candles for St. John.

What to Do

Sample the province’s best and unique food
From the unusual tilapia ice cream, buko sherbet, yummy ensaymadas, mouth-watering longganisa and delectable dairy products, the province is definitely a place for a palatable treat; unique Novo Ecijano food that shows creativity.
Learn a thing two about the country’s staple food
Rice, the Philippines’ staple food, has a museum in this province. Dedicated to the development of rice cultivation, the museum has a collection of beautiful dioramas that show the history of rice production and old equipments used for farming. The museum also boasts of an intricately done last Supper mosaic made of painted rice grains.
Enjoy the landscapes
A serene and scenic landscape is a welcome breather from the chaotic city life. The province’s impressive sceneries are worthy to discover -- unspoiled rivers, waterfalls and mountains that are at par with other natural wonders in the country. The endless panorama of green fields will surely make a good photo collage for a photography enthusiast.
Visit cathedrals and shrines
Nueva Ecija has interesting cathedrals and shrines to see and explore. Because of the province’s important role during the Spanish, Japanese and American periods, a number of historical landmarks and sites are erected in different towns that described Nueva Ecija’s significance in Philippine history and its rich and colorful heritage.

Estimated Costs

Nueva Ecija is reachable by bus and private vehicle from Manila via Cabanatuan City. The province and its towns are easily explored by tricycle and jeepneys. Cabanatuan City is known as the “Tricycle Capital of the Philippines” because of the abundance of the 3-wheeled vehicles in the area From the city center, one can rent a tricycle and fare depends on the location of the tourist spot one is visiting.
Although Nueva Ecija doesn’t have 5-star hotels, its 3 and 4-star hotels offer comfortable and cozy accommodation and mostly are located in Cabanatuan City. There are hotels and inns around other towns as well.

For mid-range accommodation – Php 2, 395.00
For budget accommodation – Php 760.00
Php 150.00 – Php 180.00 per meal
Tricycle fare
Minimum Php 10.00
Jeepney Fare
Minimum Php 8.00
Tourist Attraction Entrance Fee
Php 100.00