Ins and outs of Clark

Once the biggest military base outside the US, Clark Freeport Zone is now a great place for a short break, from lounging about a hot spring pool to trying your luck at the casinos

By Ces Rodriguez

CHECK IN

Poolside at Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn. Full service with high marks for customer care. It offers guests Clark Adventure Camp for kids featuring rock climbing. It also has a full service spa. Located five minutes from the airport and the duty free shops and two minutes from the Mimosa Golf and Country Club. Room rates start at P6,820 (about US$145). Mimosa Drive, Mimosa Leisure Estate, Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, tel +632 845 1888, visit Holiday Inn.

The lobby at Hotel Stotsenberg

Hotel Stotsenberg. Laidback but close to the nightlife. Room rates start at P6,600. Gil Puyat Ave., cor. A. Soriano Street, Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, tel +6345 499 0777, visit Hotel Stotsenberg.

Clark Hostel. A boutique hotel with extended stay discounts, walking distance from the casinos and massage services. Room rates start at P2,300. Ninoy Aquino Ave. cor. M.A. Roxas Highway, Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, tel +6345 599 7500, visit Clark Hostel.

DAY OUT

Aqua Thrill Slides in Fontana Water Park
The Fontana Water Park is located at the Fontana Leisure Park and Casino. The park has swimming pools, slides and an electronically operated water pool that churns its own waves. The entrance fee on weekdays is P375, for weekends and holidays it’s P475. CM Recto Highway, Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, tel +6345 599 5000, visit Fontana.

Or, spend the day at the greens. Check out your golfing options at the Mimosa Golf & Leisure Resort. M.A. Roxas Highway, Mimosa Leisure Estate, Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, tel +6345 599 7000, visit Mimosa.

You might want to explore Nayong Pilipino, a cultural and historical theme park showcasing the country’s pre-colonial and colonial periods, or the Paradise Ranch, an eco-tourism attraction. Visit Nayong Pilipino and Paradise Ranch.

Interestingly, the access point to the outdoor delights of the famous Mount Pinatubo is in Tarlac, the province next to Pampanga. Book your tour through Ves Travel and Tours. At P2,000 per head, the package includes roundtrip transfers from Capas to Pinatubo, morning snacks and lunch, a 4x4 ride, a local tour guide and free use of showers. 588 Sto. Domingo II, Capas, Tarlac, tel +63917 548 6247, visit Ves Travel and Tours.

REJUVENATE

Puning Hot Springs by Michael Marasigan
The Puning Hot Springs is no slouch. It has 11 hot pools and two warm pools and is built atop rock formations, around a natural hot spring waterfall. A 30-minute drive via a 4x4 gets you there. Sitio target, Sapang Bato, tel +6345 499 0629.

If indoor pampering is your thing, try the New Well Being Spa, the biggest Korean-standard cold room and sauna in the Philippines. Lohas Hotel E. Aguinaldo Street, tel +6345 499 0811.

ROLL THE DICE
For gambling action, there’s the Fontana Leisure Park and Casino, tel +6345 599 5000, the Stotsenberg Leisure Park and Casino, tel +6345 499 0888 and the Mimosa Leisure Park & Casino Filipino, tel +6345 599 5999.

SHOP
There are about five duty-free shops within the hub for a spot of retail therapy. The SM mall, a 10-minute drive from Clark, is convenient for picking up groceries or the forgotten swimsuit. Visit Duty Free and SM City.

EAT
You’ll have to drive out of Clark to sample Pampanga’s legendary cuisine. To go for the best, sign up for the Culinary tour (approximately P6,000 to P7,000), which includes an architectural drive-by through some of the city’s old houses. For Culinary tour inquiries and reservations, call Angeles Tourism, tel +632917 812 2106.

Clark Freeport Zone is in Angeles City, Pampanga, around 80km north of Manila. It’s an hour-and-a-half drive from Manila through the North Luzon Expressway. Or take Victory Liner bus from Pasay or Cubao terminal to Capas. Clark Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office, tel +6345 599 6235, visit Clark.

Originally published in Inflight Traveller April to May 2009. Updated March 2016