Clark Travel Guide and Itinerary

An exciting master plan is in the works to transform this former air-force base into a city of the future. Our top tips on where to stay, where to eat, and what to see and do in Clark.

About Clark 

Clark is a sprawling freeport and special economic zone that spans the cities of Angeles and Mabalacat, and the towns of Capas and Bamban, which in turn lie in the provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac.   

The area covers what used to be Clark Air Base, a US Air Force facility turned over to the Philippine government in 1992; much of the old air base has subsequently been converted into the Clark International Airport. Aside from its rise as a hub for commercial air travel, Clark is also being developed as a leisure center for Luzon. Thanks to its location about 100km north of Metro Manila, it has become a popular weekend destination, featuring many hotels, amusement parks and sporting facilities. Clark has also become a major contributor to the Philippine economy, with multinational companies setting up shop in the area.   

 

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The decades-long US presence injected Clark with an American feel that attracted weekend vacationers in the 1980s and early 1990s. Today, the Americans are gone but some of that energy remains. The charming, whitewashed modern structures what used to be American officers’ homes, turned into restaurants and offices — still stand amid tree-dotted fields where families go on weekend picnics. There are bike paths all around and not much vehicular traffic, a gift to city-weary weekenders. 

Today, construction at New Clark City in Tarlac is still underway, consisting of mostly sporting facilities and a couple of government offices completed as of 2019. The plans for the city are as exciting as they are ambitious: The Bases Conversion and Development Authority’s aim is to decongest Metro Manila by creating a nearby urban hub. The sprawling development can accommodate over a million people and will be connected to Manila via high-speed rail in 2025. 

 

Highlights for the Traveler 

The Freeport Zone, which sits between Angeles and Mabalacat cities in Pampanga, offers plenty to do for families looking for a mall-free weekend. There’s the Clark Museum and 4D Theater, which give an overview of the region’s geography and history. There’s an amusement park featuring animatronic dinosaurs, as well as a water park with numerous slides. There are even stables with a Wild West feel, a racetrack, golf courses and casinos to keep every family member occupied — and all are within a few minutes’ drive from each other.  

The Parade Grounds fronting the museum is a great spot for picnics and is also a popular venue for sporting activities like Ultimate Frisbee tournaments. Clark has become especially popular with Koreans, who stay for weeks in the winter to take advantage of the sporting facilities, practising baseball and playing golf — so much so that there is now a Koreatown just off what is known as Friendship Highway in the Freeport Zone, with plenty of Korean restaurants and mini-marts. 

Those who have more time to spare can check out the surrounding areas for other activities: trekking to Mount Pinatubo, going on a culinary adventure to sample the famed Kapampangan cuisine, visiting hot springs and getting a hunting lesson from the indigenous Aetas. 

 

Header photo via Shutterstock.com 


Recommendations to be updated.

Recommendations to be updated.

Recommendations to be updated.

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