Luzon is the largest island of the Philippines and politically and economically the centre of the country. The Luzon island group is one out of three in the country, the Visayas and Mindanao being the other two. Luzon is where the capital Manila is located and the island has around 47 million inhabitants in total.
Luzon island is located on the northern part of the Philippine archipelago and is bounded by the Philippine Sea to the east, South China Sea to the west, and the Luzon Strait on the north.
The island is mostly mountainous with two mountain ranges running north to south. These are the Cordillera Mountain range and the longer Sierra Madre Mountain range that runs mostly on the Pacific side of the island. The highest peak on Luzon and second tallest in the country, Mount Pulag, is located within the Cordillera mountains. The wide plains between these two mountain ranges is known as the Cagayan Valley. The Cagayan River, the country's longest river runs through this wide plains.
Luzon has an almost balloon like shape with a bigger part on the northern part and an elongated part to the south east that is the Bicol peninsula. Among the notable land form on the Bicol peninsula is the Mayon Volcano. At the central part of the island is its largest plains where rice fields abound.
The largest inland fresh water lake in the country, the Laguna de Bay, is located east of Manila which is located at the southern part of central Luzon.
Luzon island is part of the larger island group of Luzon which also includes the islands of Palawan, Mindoro, Masbate, Catanduanes, Romblon, and Batanes island group.
The island of Luzon is divided into 8 regions.
- Bicol Region (Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon) - Ideal region for adventurers – filled with volcanoes, beaches, caverns, coves, lakes and other natural wonders. Home to the exquisite Mayon Volcano, which is popular for its near-prefect cone shape.
- Cagayan Valley (Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya, Quirino) - Vast valleys, lush jungles, mist-filled mountains, pristine waterfalls and stunning cave systems.
- Calabarzon (Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Rizal) - Due to its proximity to Manila, this region is a favorite destination for weekend getaways. Its diverse topography and colorful culture is what attracts tourists to this region.
- Central Luzon (Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales) - The central plains of the country. The thriving city of Angeles is where the origins of the "Sisig" are found and the former home of the largest American military facility outside continental America. Historic Bulacan, on the other hand, is the seat of the first (but short-lived) Philippine government.
- Cordillera Administrative Region (Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province) - The cool highlands of the country, famous for its majestic rice terraces, pine forests and rich culture. Aside from tourist attractions, what attracts people to come here is its cool weather.
- Ilocos Region (Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan) - Jam-packed with distinct cultures, tasty cuisine, and a wide range of natural attractions. This is where the well preserved European colonial town of Vigan is situated, a town where you can learn its history in its presence.
- Mimaropa (Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon) - Its national parks, world heritage sites, palm-fringed beaches, azure waters, thriving marine life, caves and warm people will make your trip special to this less densely populated region
- Metro Manila (Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Pateros, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela) - The National Capital Region or NCR, this is where the national capital of the Philippines; Manila is situated, center of financial and commercial districts and as well as where the seat of the government is situated. It is one of the world's largest cities in terms of GDP.
- Metro Manila, including Manila, Makati, and Quezon City - the national capital, known for its blend of urban development and historical character
- Angeles - one of the fastest growing cities in the Philippines. Home to the Clark Freeport Zone, a 4,500-hectare business and leisure hub
- Baguio - known as the summer capital of the country due to its cool climate. Also known as the City of Pines.
- Legazpi - the City of Fun and Adventure, renowned for its beautiful natural scenery dominated by the iconic Mayon Volcano.
Sights and Activities
Donsol in the extreme southeast of Luzon is the Philippine capital of meeting the giant but friendly whaleshark (Butanding in local language). You can go swimming and snorkelling with them and although they have been seen in most months, the best season is from December to June with a peak from February to April.
Events and Festivals
- Hot Air Balloon Festival - Usually held on the second week of February at Clark Field in Angeles City, this annual blimp festival has been running for the last 12 years now, with more attractions added lately.
- Panagbenga Festival - A festival of flowers held at the last week of February on the mountain city of Baguio. Floats filled with flowers grown in this cool city are put into display.
- Pahiyas Festival - Held on May 15 in the town of Lucban in Quezon province. Homes are beautifully decked with colorful, paper-thin and leaf shaped rice kropeck locally called kiping. This is in celebration of good harvest.
- Obando Fertility Rites - Held May 17-19 in the town of Obando, Bulacan. A three day celebration for their three patron saints. Childless couples dance on the streets in the hope of being granted children.
- Higantes Festival - A joyous feast celebration for St. Clements held November 23rd at the town of Angono, Rizal. This features a grand procession of giants, 10 foot puppets made of paper-mache.
Other major Philippine festivals are listed in the Events and Festivals in the Philippines section.
Luzon is serviced by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for all international flights to major cities around the world while the Manila Domestic Airport connects the metro to most airports in the country. Both airports are located in the city of Parañaque. The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark in the city of Angeles serves as the second major international hub mostly used by low-cost carriers (LCC). On the northern part of the island, the Laoag International Airport is used by a few airlines that fly from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
The Luzon island being the largest in the Philippines and with the lack of a commuter rail service to bring commuters around the island, a number of domestic airports provide travelers air traffic connections mostly from Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country's main gateway or from the Clark International Airport in Angeles or from Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu.
- Laoag International Airport serves Laoag and most of the Ilocos Region at the northwestern side of Luzon with PAL Express of Philippine Airlines provide flights direct from Manila. This would be nearest airport to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Vigan.
- Tuguegarao Airport serves Tuguegarao and most of the Cagayan Valley region at the northeastern side of Luzon. Cebu Pacific Air and PAL Express also both have direct flights from Manila.
- Naga Airport serves the city of Naga in the province of Camarines Sur and most of the northern part of the Bicol peninsula at the southeastern end of the main island of Luzon. This would be nearest airport to the Caramoan islands. PAL Express and Cebu Pacific Air provides connection direct from Manila.
- Legazpi Airport serves the city of Legazpi in the province of Albay and most of the southern Bicol region. PAL Express and Cebu Pacific Air has direct flights from Manila. Cebu Pacific Air has direct flights to Cebu. Legazpi Airport offers the great view of the majestic Mayon Volcano from its tarmac. This is the nearest airport for trips to Mayon Volcano and whaleshark diving in the town of Donsol.
- Puerto Princesa International Airport serves the main island of Palawan and the city of Puerto Princesa. Cebu Pacific Air provides direct connection to Manila, Cebu, and Iloilo. Philippine Airlines provides direct flights from Manila, Clark, and Cebu. While Philippines AirAsia provides flights from Manila, Cebu, and Davao. This airport provides access to the beautiful beaches of Puerto Princesa, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, and the resort destination of El Nido.