This former US airbase is your gateway to the Philippines
Also known as the Clark Freeport Zone, Clark is a redevelopment of a former US airbase located in the Pampanga province. A suburb of Angeles city, Clark is almost as large as Singapore, at over 33,000ha. Ideally located between Singapore, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Clark offers a range of activities and sights for the business and leisure travellers who flock to the region.
For those interested in US history, Clark offers an interesting glimpse into life on a US airbase, including a charming animal cemetery for military working dogs. Museums, duty-free shopping, and water and adventure parks provide nearby entertainment, while for travellers with more time, both Mount Pinatubo and Philippine’s capital Manila are easily within driving reach.
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Things to do
Nayong Pilipino is a unique theme park set out in the style of a Filipino village, resplendent with Spanish architecture including the Colonial Plaza, complete with cobblestone alleyways, and the Barasoian Church. A great way to get a glimpse into the different regions and cultures of the Philippines, the park showcases Philippine’s biggest culture and geographical attractions in miniature, including Bohol’s Chocolate Hills.
Full of hot air
If you’re visiting Clark in February, make sure not to miss the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, the longest-running sports aviation event in Asia. While the main events are the morning and afternoon hot-air balloon flights, there’s an array of other aviation activities including skydiving, paragliding and aircraft flights.
Trek the volcano
An easy day trip from Clark, Mount Pinatubo is famous for having one of the greatest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century – though it is considered safe to visit today. Known for having the world’s largest lahar canyon and a beautiful crystal-clear lake in the centre of its crater, today Mount Pinatubo is an ideal trekking destination.
All lit up
The Giant Lantern Festival is held each year in the city of San Fernando, located a 15-minute drive from Clark. Held on the Saturday before Christmas Eve, the festival celebrates Christmas, though stems from the religious activity of ‘lubenas’. Today, lanterns are highly intricate and as large as 7 metres in diameter, making them a must-see if you’re visiting Clark in December.
Hit the big smoke
Manila, the Philippines capital, is only a two-hour drive away and makes for an excellent day trip. A blend of old and new, Manila is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, making it an eye-opening and exciting city to visit. Must-sees include Rizal Park and Intramuros, Manila’s oldest district filled with Spanish architecture dating back to the 16th century.
Distance to city centre 11km to Clark, 95km to Manila
Taxi A taxi to central Clark takes around 10 minutes and costs about USD $10; to Manila it takes around 2 hours and costs from USD $70.
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When to go
Warm year round, the Philippines climate is divided into wet and dry seasons. The best time to visit the Philippines is between December and May, when rainfall and humidity is at its lowest – its wet season can receive as much as 140mm of rain each month – however, this is also the most expensive time to visit.
In February, Clark hosts the annual Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, while in December the annual lantern festival, to celebrate Christmas, is held in San Fernando City, located a short distance from Clark.Back to top
As taxis are quite expensive and public transport limited, the best way to get around the Clark Freeport Zone is either by renting a car or motorbike, or getting around on foot. Rental cars can be found at the Clark International Airport, while motorbikes and scooters can be rented from nearby Angeles City. Buses and shuttles run multiple times a day to nearby cities including Subic and Manila.Back to top