Travel Guide: Minalungao National Park, Nueva Ecija

These days, a lot of city folk want a taste of the laid-back provincial life. When life gets too hectic in the metro, just heading somewhere you can float on a bamboo raft, enjoy simple home-cooked meals and see stunning natural sights can be just what you need to re-energize for the work week ahead. One of the fastest-rising destinations to offer this kind of experience near Manila is Minalungao National Park in Nueva Ecija.

The word Minalungao was derived from the words Mina meaning mine and Lungao which is a local word for cave. It’s been a few years since photos of this destination started circulating on social media and has since become very popular with the weekend crowds. Locals say before the park was “discovered,” not a lot of tourists visited the province of Nueva Ecija. This natural sight put the once sleepy province on the map. The best time to visit to see the emerald green waters is around summer time. It rained before our visit, so we weren’t able to see the place in its full glory.

The allure of Minalungao National Park (as with all eco-tourism attractions) is its natural beauty. Unfortunately, with popularity comes development. The place has been developed to cater to the influx of tourists, with artificial structures, a hotel in the works and even a man-made swimming pool right next to the river catering to the crowds. To be honest, I wish the place only had native cottages or a camping site instead. I really think having artificial structures ruins the whole natural vibe of the place. The highlight of our visit for me was getting to sample some unique Novo Ecijano dishes that I hadn’t ever tried.


Minalungao National Park is located at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in the town of General Tiñio, Nueva Ecija, roughly about four hours away from Metro Manila, Philippines.


By public transportation:

  • Ride a bus bound for Gapan/Cabanatuan. There are buses that play the Manila-Cabanatuan route from Cubao and Pasay. Fare is about P150-200. Estimated travel time is 2-3 hours.
  • From Gapan, ride a jeep to General Tinio. Then ride a tricycle to Minalungao Park. Fare is about P50/person.
  • You can also rent a tricycle from Gapan going directly to Minalungao for P500-600/trike. Estimated travel time is 1-1.5 hours.

By private transportation:

  • Take NLEX traveling north and exit at Sta. Rita.
  • Proceed right and go along the Candaba-San Miguel Road. Continue until you reach Bucana, Gapan.
  • Estimated travel time: 4-5 hours, with some portions on a rough road. There is a parking area right next to the picnic grounds for all types of vehicles. The area is accessible to buses, vans, sedans, jeeps, tricycles and motorcycles.


  • Ride a bamboo raft through Peñaranda River flanked by limestone cliffs. Price ranges from P100-600 depending on size of the raft.
  • Go Trekking/Hiking up 1000 steps to a grotto and glass cross. Free.
  • Try the zipline over the river. P50 (one way), P100 (two way)
  • Cross the hanging bridge to get the best view of the limestone cliffs. Free.
  • Explore the different caves in the area. Free
  • Go swimming in the river. Free.
  • Have a picnic beside the river. Bring your own food.
  • Try Cliff Diving/Jump into the water from the rocks. Free.


Most locals bring their own food for picnic-style meals by the river. If you’re on a tight budget, there are a few small eateries there selling the usual hotdog and instant noodle type meals, nothing fancy. As part of the Lakbay Norte 6 Media Tour, we were treated to a catered native buffet lunch of Nueva Ecija specialties.

One of the most interesting dishes was Pinapaitan (an Ilocano soup dish made mostly of goat innards or internal organs) with alibangbang or butterfly leaves, a souring agent similar to tamarind leaves. The local version is not as sour as the traditional Ilocano papaitan that makes use of bile, but tastes closer to sinampalukang manok.

Presentation-wise, everything felt very rustic and fiesta-like, with food served on wooden plates, bowls and banana leaves. I really liked the ensaladang labanos (pickled radish salad) and biya (goby) and ulang (crayfish) wrapped in banana leaves. Of course, you can’t go wrong with inihaw na liempo.

Another unique dish we got to try was Tiniim na Manok or Chicken Tiim, a slow-cooked native chicken dish glazed in a thick sauce. Tiniim means “to absorb” and based on recipes online, the whole chicken is either simmered in a sweet and tangy pineapple marinade or vinegar, patis (fish sauce) and spices like star anise, oregano and cloves. It’s not the most appetizing dish to look at, but it’s pretty good. The sauce is pretty thick and tastes sort of sweet and peanut-based.


  • Entrance fee – P40/head
  • Parking for vehicles – P50
  • Cottages available. Floating cottages cost P800-1500 good for 8-10 pax.


  • The best time to go here is during the summer months so the water is at its bluest/clearest.
  • It can get really crowded during weekends especially on Sundays, as it’s become the go-to place for local families in Central Luzon during weekends. It’s better to visit on a weekday.
  • Avoid visiting if there’s a typhoon or during the rainy season. The river’s water level can be unpredictable during these times.
  • The road leading to the park is rough and can get really muddy when it rains. It’s advisable to bring an SUV if you’re a big group. The road is passable to sedans.
  • Leave early in the morning to avoid the traffic build-up at Candaba, San Miguel and Gapan.

NOTE: This trip was part of Lakbay Norte 6, a media familiarization tour organized by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) in partnership with the Manila North Tollways Corporation / NLEX-SCTEX, Victory Liner, Inc. and the Nueva Ecija Visitors Bureau.

Unwatermarked photos by Martin San Diego courtesy of NPVB.

63 thoughts on “Travel Guide: Minalungao National Park, Nueva Ecija

  1. Hi.thanks for sharing. Do you think the rates are still the same upto now? I’m planning to go there this April 2017. Any other reminders for me?Thanks, socorro

  2. Nice review, very informative. Just want to ask about the hotels or rooms for rent. Can I ask reservation for overnight stay? Do you have any mobile number of the people who we can talk with? Tnx

      • Hi Ms Kara! I just called Kuya Darine, and he offered me for a package of 550 per head with all the activities, parking lot fee, entrance fee and lunch. As I checked your blog, I think over price ‘yung package na sinasabi nya per pax no? Any comment please. Thank you!

        • Hi Beverly, the thing with package rates (in general) is they provide hassle-free trips but the people offering them also need to earn. You are paying for services of other people and there are many factors that go into pricing tours. It will always be cheaper to go DIY, but it’s up to you to figure your way to get around and in some places regular public transport is not always available. There are pros and cons to both 🙂

  3. It’s really an interesting place to visit. 🙂
    Just wanna ask if the parking lots are safe so we can enjoy the travel without bothering checking our car every minute? 🙂
    Please and Thank you. 😉

    • The parking area is pretty open, with lots of tricycles, jeeps and motorcycles just parked right beside the river. I’d say it’s safe, but you could always hire one of the local kids to “watch your car” for a small tip to be sure.

  4. “From Gapan, ride a jeep to General Tinio. Then ride a tricycle to Minalungao Park. Fare is about P50/person.”
    Hi confirm ko lang po ito, magkano po yung fare ng jeep from gapan to General Tinio and yung fare sa tricycle going to Minalungao Park? 50 lang po ba ang total nung dalawa? Mahal kasi kapag trike diretso sa Minalungao ehh. Salamat po

    • I haven’t tried it, but based on other blogs, they allow campers to stay overnight. There are some facilities and rooms nearby with an artificial swimming pool for overnight stays. A hotel is being constructed in the area. I don’t know the rates.

  5. Will it be a good idea to go there early Sept. or late August? I’m coming from overseas so not sure what the weather is like there. Thanks .

  6. Hellow Ms. Kara need pa po ba naming magtravel agency kapag pumunta sa Minalungao National park? thank you .

  7. we’re planning to go there on weekends kasi and there’s a post na may travel agency pala. Akakla ko pwede pumunta kahit walang travel agency? kaya ko kinokonfirm . thank you ulet

  8. Hi po, can I ask if we need to reserve a slot before we go there with my family? We live in cabanatuan, ilan hours po if from there po kme manggagaling? we plan to go there this friday may 26..

  9. Hi , mam.hanggang ilan po ang capacity ng ng big bamboo raft… Meron bang pang 20? Or maging 2 balsa kami in that number? Tnx

  10. Hello, i just saw this a while ago as i am looking for natural parks here in the Philippines to study for our thesis. Is the park open only during summer or we can go anytime we want? Thank you. 🙂

  11. Hi! It’s already october but we wanted to visit minalungao, is it advisable to go there at this season? Does the price already changed? Thank you. Hoping for your reply.

  12. Hi pwede po ba magsama ng grandmother sa area di po ba sya hassle sa mga senior? gusto ko kasi ipa kita sa lola ko yung lugar? thank you

    • Hello Mhalou. If you have a private vehicle kaya naman siguro pero may parts na rough road pa rin. Baka mahirapan kayo kung mag-commute kasi medyo hassle, maraming lipat, tricycle etc. Yung stairs to the grotto and hanging bridge optional naman. Yung sa rafts accessible through konting stairs pababa and would be relaxing for your lola.

    • 1. the place is not yet pwd friendly.
      2. if ur grandma uses wheel-chair the question is do u got manpower with u?
      3. if ur grandma can walk with assistance then u can have access to some point.
      but important is to check the weather 3 days prior ur visit so u don’t waste time and money for a 100 pesos entrance fee for nothing and parking.

    • Well, it’s a natural site that isn’t really gated, so there aren’t any strict business hours. You’re likely to find locals hanging out there any time of the day. Safest bet would be around 8am-5pm. Mas maraming tao around lunchtime and bandang hapon.

  13. Ask ko lang po kung required ba magaccomodate ng cottage? dadalwa lang po kasi kaming pupunta. and kung umuulan naman po ba, maeenjoy parin namin yung park kahit brown yung tubig? i mean maeenjoy pa rin yung park?
    Thank in Advance! 🙂

    • Hindi naman po required kumuha ng cottage. Depende din naman sa mga kasama mo kung mag-eenjoy ba kayo or hindi. Pwede pa rin naman mag-raft, cross ng hanging bridge, trek hanggang grotto. Pero mas maganda talaga yung kulay ng tubig pag summer months at hindi rainy season.

    • Yung mga naka-park dun nung bumisita kami mostly jeeps, tricycles, motorcycles & van-type vehicles (FX etc.). Kaya naman siguro ng Innova or Adventure yung daan. Yung mga sedan lang baka mahirapan. Baka by now naayos na yung ibang rough road.

    • yes accessible nman sya by any mode of transportation. but make sure to keep a weather update pra mas maganda at sulit ung visit. pag umuulan hwag npo tumuloy. visit din kayo sa 1917 restaurant sa bayan, 30 mins to minalungao national park.

  14. Hi gsto k pmunta ds Xmas vacation if it’s not raining mgkano po entrance fee bwat isa? At mgkano rent sa cottage? Parking fee p? Pwedeng mg overnyt kht nka cottage lng?

    • 100/pax na po ang environmental fee na tinatawag. 2k ung isang room for over night stay good for 5pax. kung may transpo kyo libre ung driver then parking fee is 50. balsa ride is around 500 for 12 pax capacity, 25 pesos lifevest rentak, zipline around 300 for 2-way. meron din cave spelunking for a minimal fee. pwede kayong magdala ng lutuan at lulutuin kung magrent kyo ng room pro bawal magluto sa cottage. may local karinderya dun kung hindi maselan sa food, medyo mahal lang.
      you may want also to visit 1917 restaurant located at the town proper. you may browse their fb page @1917restopapaya.

  15. Maganda po ba pumunta dun ngayong month (Jan2018)? Sasayad ba kami sa rough roads kasi sedan lang gamit namin at 5 kaming sakay. Thank you po sa sasagot. God bless!

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