Balungao hilltop adventure
If blue sky thinking on a zip wire above hills and across mountain peaks is your kind of thing, then head to Mt. Balungao's 1.4 km zipline. Add another 640 meter of zip-wiring to get back to the starting point. The zip wire package costs P500 (about US$11), including the the zipline ride, ATV driving (for 15 minutes), and use of the bungee trampoline. Open daily from 8am to 5pm. Visit Balungao Hilltop Adventure, call +6375 583 8421.
Landboarding in Lingayen
The wide expansive shores of Lingayen Beach is the playground for the Pangasinan Power Kite Clinic. Learn to control large kites and harness wind power to propel your skateboard across the beach. Trainer kite with lessons cost P200 per hour, while foil kite rental and landboard rental (without trainer) are both at P200 per hour. Call Pangasinan Power Kite at +63908 668 3926, +63935 298 0113.
Train ride at the salt mines
Take a locomotive ride along a three-kilometer train track, cutting across Pacific Farms' 500-hectare salt farm, with stops at the salt warehouse, salt washer area, and salt beds. The salt mountain glinting in the sun— a stockpile of about 15,000 metric tons of salt— looks like snow and is a popular spot for photographs. The train ride is at snails pace, but does give you a chance to appreciate the surreal white salt landscape. There are stops at the scenic sunrise on the hill overlooking the farm, a church ruin on a hill, the historic love bridge, the salt harvest farm, a salt lake where energy eggs (duck eggs submerged under the salt lake for three days) are harvested, mini-forest picnic park, museum and salt plantation.
Advance booking is required. There are various tour packages available, some with visits to the farm's evaporator areas for migratory bird watching and a stop at Hundred Islands. Visit Pacific Farms Agri-Eco Tour, call +632 371 4304 to 05, +632 412 5425 to 27.
Relaxing Balingasay River cruise
Cruise along Balingasay River, Pangasinan's cleanest river, exploring the area's rich mangrove system, and stop by Sungayan Gril, a floating restaurant, for a delicious and reasonably priced seafood grill and, if you feel like it, a relaxing head and shoulder massage.
Lunch buffet and river cruise cost P250 per person, minimum 30 people. A boodle fight (a style of eating where food is spread on top of banana leaves and everyone eats straight from the spread, usually with bare hands) meal costs P2,200 for a group of 10 people or less. Pay extra P1,000 to avail of the river cruise. The Balingasay River Cruise is one hour long. Call Sungayan Grill at +63912 353 4433
Pangasinan is a five to six-hour drive from Manila. There are regular buses (Five Star and Victory Liner) that depart from Manila to various points of Pangasinan, including Bolinao. By car, take the North Expressway, then the SCTEX to Luisita Estate junction to Tarlac. Make a right to McArthur highway then left at the junction after SM Tarlac.
Where to stay
Punta Riviera Resort in Patar, Bolinao, Pangasinan has 39 spacious rooms, two swimming pools and a bridge connecting the resort to a mangrove-rich island with white beach. Activities include a 4km kayak through the tranquil Ilog Malino River.
Published May 2016