Travel Guide: Mt. Pinatubo

Categories Luzon, Travel Guide

In 1991, a dormant volcano north of Manila discharged millions of tons of sulfur dioxide in the air when it was awaken after more than 600 years of nap, on what is considered as the largest and most catastrophic volcanic eruption in the recent years.

Ashes covered the entire Luzon landmass and even reached Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and other neighboring Asian countries.

Mt. Pinatubo

Close to a thousand perished, more than a hundred thousand lost their homes, and billion worth of crops were damaged. The eruption also brought down the world temperature by a few centigrade.

Today, it holds a beauty that covers it tragic past. The blue-green lake on a gray-brown  crater is a sight to behold. The irony is that, it is now attracting more and more people after its sudden eruption that fend off people from the area more than a decade ago.

Experience Mt. Pinatubo. A day trek to the crater will reveal the beauty that it drew. You will even forget its disastrous history.

How to Get There

The most common and recommended jump off point is via Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac trail. Going there via public transport, ride a bus going to Pangasinan, Baguio or Ilocos Provinces (Victory Liner, Partas, Fariñas Transit, Five Star Bus) or catch a direct to Tarlac bus and drop off at Capas Public Market. Fare is more or less P200.00 and travel time is around 3 hours. Philippine Rabbit (Contact No: 734-9836) has direct trips to Tarlac every hour daily.

From the market, catch a jeepney or trike to fetch you to Pinatubo Spa Town in Sta. Juliana where the Tourism Office and the base camp of Capas Pinatubo Four Wheelers Club Association are situated. You need to pay the Environmental Fee in Tourism Office and rent a 4×4 here, they can assign one for you or you may contact any 4×4 driver you know in advance.

From here the crater is just an hour 4×4 ride via Skyway and a 30 – 40 minutes trek.

Where to Stay

Trekking to Mt. Pinatubo’s crater can be done in a day, so if you are on a budget, you can save expenses for accommodation if you choose to head back home after the trek. Alternatively, you can set up a camp in the assigned camping site in the area. There are restrooms, nipa hut and source of fresh water near the crater.

But if you plan on staying in the area, before or after the trek,  you can stay at the following hotels/inns nearby:

  • Microtel Inn & Suites Tarlac
    Hacienda Luisita, San Miguel, Tarlac
    Contact No: (63-45) 985-1770
    Rates: Starts at ~P1000
  • Central Park Hotel Tarlac
    Luisita Business Park
    Hacienda Luisita, San Miguel, Tarlac
    Contact No: (63-45) 985-1912 or 24
    Rates: Starts at ~P2000
  • La Maja Rica Hotel
    Corner Mc. Arthur and Ligtasan Streets, Tarlac
    Contact No: (63-45) 611-2053 to 57
    Rates: Starts at ~P1500
  • Asiaten Hotel
    18 Don Gregorio Avenue, San Sebastian Village, Tarlac
    Contact No: (63-45) 982-0355
    Rates: Starts at ~P1500


  • Kayak and boat ride in crater’s lake
  • Try the volcanic ash massage and mud pack at Pinatubo Spa Town
  • Drop by at Capas Shrine and have a glimpse of Philippine History. It is a memorial shrine for those Filipino and American soldiers who died during the Bataan Death March during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines of World War II. See the 70-meter obelisk towers above the grounds of the former interment camp and imagine yourself  seeing The Needle of Washington DC
  • Witness the man-shaped rock formation in Sta Juliana, popularly called as Telatau – a massive totem-shaped rock
  • Go to Museo de Tarlac in Capas
  • Take a walk at Campo Santo Municipio of O’Donnell Capas with its still Spanish colonial period identity still preserved
  • Attend a mass at O’Donnell Catholic Church and see its Spanish façade decorated with lining of centuries old acacia trees
  • Feel the heat of Dolores and Bueno Hot Springs
  • See the still existing Japanese Tunnels and Caves
  • Visit the different ancestral houses scattered in the province
  • Go to Bamban Hills, Sacobia River, Crow Valley, Kalaw Forest/Falls, Lake Canarem, Anao Quina Buntok Creek and Kamikaze Memorial Shrine

Lakwatsero Experience

The lakwatsero in me trek to Mt. Pinatubo in January of 2009. See the narrative of my travel in: Mt. Pinatubo Day Trek.


There are a lot of travel groups based in Manila that organize a Mt. Pinatubo Trek, Travel Factor and TriPinas are among those. The good thing about these organized trek is that you don’t need to worry about most of the stuff, since they take care of almost everything, designed actually for busy people. The package rate ranges from P1700 – P2000 from Manila, in exchange you get to trek Mt. Pinatubo less the hassle of organizing it and you gain travel friends from fellow joiners.

Mt. Pinatubo Town Spa on the other hand offers a local rate of P1500.00 from Sta. Juliana for the package, it includes 4×4 rental via Skyway, toll fee, conservation fee, a local guide and a meal. Contact No: +63928 3410402/(63-45) 493-0031.

Meanwhile, Capas Pinatubo Four-Wheelers Club has P6,250.00 Pinatubo package from Sta. Juliana that is good for five person and inclusive of 4×4 rental via Skyway, toll fee, conservation fee, a local guide and a packed lunch. You may contact the President of Capas Pinatubo Four-Wheelers Club, Wendell Mercado at 0919-6084313.

But if you are keen on organizing your own Mt. Pinatubo tour,  a Do-It-Yourself is of course cheaper. Aside from the expenses for foods and transportation cost to and from the jump off point, other expenses are:

  • Conservation/Environmental fee – P300 per person
  • Guide fee – P500 (for one to five trekkers)
  • 4×4 rental – P2500.00 via Skyway (good for five)
  • Skyway toll fee – P500.00

Optional Expenses:

  • Shower fee – P20.00 at Baranggay Hall/P100.00 at Mt. Pinatubo Town Spa
  • Tent rental – P100.00
  • If you bring your own 4×4, a P500.00 fee is required

* A change in color of the crater lake from blue-green to dark (almost black) is observed on March 2011 and has no scientific explanation has been released yet. The change in color already happened in February 2004 which scientists claimed that was due to algae and lichens.



76 thoughts on “Travel Guide: Mt. Pinatubo

  1. Hello! Is there anyone planning to go Mt.Pinatubo 27th or 28th April. Pls contact me via email ( so we can form a group and share sa 4×4. Thanks!

  2. Me and one other friend are planning to trek Pinatubo on 3rd or 10th of Mar 2016. We will begin from Baguio City where we are staying and starting to trek from there soon on Sunday.

    If anyone has the same plan please feel free to contact us via my phone no.: 09478053473 (Daniel) or email:

    I’m looking for your information and hope we could travel together and share the 4×4 car rental.

    Thanks and BR.

  3. Good day to Ladies & Gentlement

    Me & my girlfriend is planning to go there on March 24 from BGC, Manila.
    If anyone going on that day too please contact me via phone – 09152131609 (Allan)
    or contact me via email –
    Kindly contact us if anyone is going on that day so that we can travel together n share the 4×4 car rental. Thank you in advance

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