It will take you 10 hours to get there on a bus ride. You’ve Googled for information, but you will feel that it is not enough, and so your level of anticipation will be high. You will wonder how the locals call themselves; Quirinons? Quiriñons? (It’s Quirinians, you will soon find out). You wonder what local cuisine you should try and how far apart each point of interest is from one another. You have a list of must-see spots, but you will find out that you cannot cover everything in your brief stay and should therefore choose those that you believe you shouldn’t miss. But in truth you don’t know which destinations you shouldn’t miss when everything seems to be new and not much has been written about them. You will take note of every expense, log every hour, and in your head plays a number of topics you could write about. Most of all you will fall in love with this place, so much so that you almost want to keep it a secret, but at the same time, you cannot wait to tell the whole world about it. These are my thoughts about Quirino, the landlocked province in Cagayan Region that I picked out of curiosity. And you must go there, you must give it a chance, you must take that long drive. Pack your bag, use this guide, and visit Quirino.
Where is Quirino and how should I get there?
Quirino is one of the 4 major provinces in Cagayan Valley Region. It’s a landlocked area, meaning it is completely surrounded by land and has no direct access to the sea. But what it lacks in beaches it more than made up with its breathtaking view of the Sierra Madre range, numerous waterfalls, rivers, and caves.
There are buses that go directly to Quirino from Cubao, Quezon City. Travel time is 10 hours. Take the Five Star bus in Cubao terminal; bus fare is PHP 490 (USD 9.84). For convenience, and this you should consider given the fact that you’d be on the road for 10 hours, book a seat online. Read my article, Quirino Province: A Prelude to an Awesome Long Weekend for more information.
Where should I stay?
There’s a list of recommended inns and hotels in the Quirino Province website. Rates are pretty low, and when I say low it means they go anywhere between PHP 75 (USD 1.51) to PHP 1,500 (USD 30.18). Now the question you should be asking really is, which part of Quirino should you stay in? If you want to be close to the Capitol then go to Cabarroguis. Nagtipunan, on the other hand, is close to many attractions, but I wouldn’t suggest it based on the fact that it is far compared with the other municipalities. What I’d propose is Maddela as it is the perfect jump-off point from all the known tourist destinations in Quirino.
But the biggest reason that I have for this recommendation is the van terminal that can be found in Maddela. You want to be close to this terminal as much as possible because this is where you can take the van that goes to Santiago. Travel time from Maddela to Santiago is about 2 hours. Why is this information important? Well, you will be going home eventually and Santiago is where you can find the bus terminals with Manila routes.
Sure, the van can pick you up along the way, but trust me when I say that you don’t want that option. This van service is horrible in a sense that they overload it with passengers. Imagine the conductor (yes it has one) standing on the little corner of the van, hovering over the passengers. Imagine sitting on places you shouldn’t even be sitting on (like that elevated area at the back of the driver’s seat that passengers like to use as a foot rest. If you are truly unlucky and you happen to be seated by the door, you will have to bear the pain of dealing with passengers entering and alighting from the van. And you will be sitting just a quarter of your ass on a row of seats that is only good for 4 people, but apparently, could take 5 in the eyes of the driver and the conductor. You can only be assured of a decent seat if you take this van from the terminal, hence you should be in Maddela.
Another tip, make sure to go all the way to the back of the van and do not pick the seats closer to the door. This is the only way you can travel without being disturbed by other passengers.
My friends and I stayed in Maddela at Villa Caridad Hotel. The rate for a dorm room is only PHP 200/head (USD 4.02) per day. Yes, that’s how cheap it is. You can read more about it on my article, Villa Caridad Hotel – The neglected resort in Quirino that I’d still recommend, here’s why.
What should I see?
Now the exciting part, Quirino’s point of interests and I’m happy to report that there are many of them. Not only are they all beautiful, they are not tourist infested! If you have been dreaming about that perfect Instagram photo without all the other people blocking your view then Quirino is the place for you. And because it is not yet popular with travelers, these places are generally clean and not commercialized. Imagine finding a beautiful spot where you don’t have to wait for other tourists to finish their picture-taking, oh what a joy!
Begin your Quirino exploration in Cabarroguis where you can find the Provincial Capitol, Quirino Province Musem & Library, Motocross Mountain Track, and the Quirino Tourism Office.
Aglipay is a third-class municipality in Quirino, which main attraction is an eco-tourism site with over 37 caves called, Aglipay Caves. This can be found in Barangay Villa Ventura. You may read about our experience inside this cave on this article, Caver or Spelunker? There is Something for you in Quirino Province.
Nagtipunan is a first-class municipality in Quirino, with a land area so large it covers nearly half of the province. Driving through its road is enough to spike your excitement with the impressive views of mountain chains, corn fields, and green landscapes. It’s also home to 3 of the best attractions in Quirino, Landingan, Diamond Cave, and Siitan River.
Landingan Viewpoint is an off-the-beaten track that offers an unobstructed view of Quirino. Get a glimpse of what you can see from this viewing site on this article, Landingan Viewpoint – A Dose of Magnificent Views in Nagtipunan, Quirino.
Diamond Cave is arguably the most recommended tourist spot by the Quirinians and for good reason. You will be dazzled by the rock formation and the diamonds-like water droplets inside the cave. Read more about it on this link, Caver or Spelunker? There is Something for you in Quirino Province.
Tall and impressive limestone formations; a long and wide river, a visit in Nagtipunan wouldn’t be complete without taking a boat tour along Siitan River. Read the story here, Siitan River – The River you should add to your Bucket List.
The commercial hub of Quirino, Maddela has its own hidden beauties for you to discover and we found two.
Governor’s Rapids, just like Siitan River is part of the Cagayan River. It is equally beautiful and just as fascinating as Siitan. Somewhere along the river, there is a path that leads to a cave, which you can explore by taking a river boat tour. Read more about this river here, Governor’s Rapids: A Piece of Cagayan River in Quirino.
As a side trip, ask your guide to take you to Maddela Falls. It can be found in a forest resort, hence the path going there is established and easy to traverse.
It’s a 7-tier falls, but we only stopped at the first waterfalls. It has a man-made swimming by its foot and we spotted some kids enjoying a dip. I had the greatest urge to strip down to my swimsuit and take a swim, but we were supposed to go to another falls then so I didn’t do it. Had I known we wouldn’t push through with the last falls, I would have gone swimming here.
What Food should I eat?
Our time in Quirino was spent more on doing photoshoots than eating; nevertheless, I do have food recommendations for you.
Cabagan and Batil Patong
I forgot the name of the restaurant that we went to in the Capitol, but we loved their local pancit dishes, Cabagan and Batil Patong. They don’t really have much difference, hell they even look similar, the only way you can differ them from one another is that Batil Patong has a sauce. Both tasted amazing, although I remembered liking Batil Patong more than Cabagan. Maybe it has something to do with the sauce, I don’t know. And would you believe they are only PHP 70 (USD 1.41) a plate? Uh huh, cheap!
Yema Cake and Egg Pie at EKS
These food did not exactly originate in Quirino, but these are the best yema cake and egg pie that I have ever tasted so I felt the need to tell you about it. Not only are they delicious, they only cost PHP 20 (USD 0.40) a slice, that’s right, 20 pesos for a piece of heaven. You can get them from EKS Bakeshop and Restaurant. Their other dishes are also equally delicious especially their pork sisig.
Whom should I contact?
I have tried calling the phone numbers of the Tourism Office from the contact information that I found on blog sites, but nobody picked up my calls. Talking with the Tourism Office staff in Quirino is recommended because you can ask them to make an itinerary for you or arrange your tour. But let me make this a bit easier for you, here’s the mobile number of our contact person from the Tourism Office, Susan, +63 935-289-9053. She’s the one who took care of our van tour. When dealing with Susan, make sure that you understood the terms first. It’s funny that my friend, Silver, talked with her, repeated the information so many times, yet we still managed to misunderstand everything. I’m not even sure if this is due to language barrier. The only reason we’re still recommending her tour services is because her son, John, is an excellent tour guide/companion. You may also contact John directly through this number, +63 905-736-4351.
And because I love you, I created an itinerary including the list of expenses. You may view or download it by clicking the photo below ↓ .