November 12, 2005
There are only a few write ups about this 7 month old spa owned by a Korean and mostly ad or press releases. I'll give you the real score on what this is and what this is not. I have a few learnings that I want to share with you so that if you consider to visit this place, you are more prepared on what to expect.
What is it and is it not?
1. A Day Trip Experience. There are a lot of misconception that Mt. Pinatubo is too far away that you cannot do it on a day trip. This is a fallacy and this can be done in a day. If you are planning to go to the crater, you need to go there earlier before 8am. Going to the Mt. Pinatubo Spa is about two and a half hours (2.5 hours) and going up the crater is a total of six hours (6) which already includes going up and going down. So if you should leave manila at around 5.30am to arrive in the Mt. Pinatubo spa at 8am. By 11am, you will already be in the crater and back to the spa around 2pm. Enough time to get a sulfur sand shower and shiatsu massage before heading back for Manila.
2. A "communal" Spa. This is not your typical spa where you have your own privacy in the massage rooms. There are no rooms, only a communal massage center in the middle and even the sand area is communal. So stripping down to get a sulfur sand shower needs courage :) The massage area can occupy 20 or more at the same time. It is very cool since it was design for winds to pass through it and cool the place. You'll get a shiatsu massage so you have a shirt and shorts on, and won't be a problem. Although, you would see the person besides you.
3. Be prepared for Tourist prices. All the costs are peg in dollars and it is a shame that there are no local prices for local tourist :( Here is a run down on the costs which could total $45/ person for the overall experience (P2,475) for a day trip event. I was not able to go for trekking since I'm with my son, I might look at the local tourist office to get a tour guide and rent a 4x4 to get to the crater rather than pay $20 / person.
Buffet Lunch ($5) or (P250)
Sulfur Sand Shower ($10) or (P550)
Shiatsu Massage ($10) or (P550)
Trek to Mt. Pinatubo ($20) or (P1,100) either Crater or to the Hot Springs
(don't even think about buying in their souvenir shop)
4. Korean all over. This is owned by a Korean and targeted mainly for Koreans. You could feel the love of the Koreans for their own when you see that there are a lot of Korean characters in the bathrooms, massage area and sand area. The manager is Korean also so it was very difficult to get a discount. I'm sure if you have a Korean nationality with you, you can get preferential treatment and rates. My brother had a Korean girlfriend before so I should have gone to this place with her at that time. But I'm glad they decided to invest in Mt. Pinatubo.
5. No signs and poor directions. I got lost a number of times going to this place, because there are no signs along the road and the person in the spa was not very helpful. Hopefully, I'll be able to detailed out the directions for you here:
- Take North Luzon Hiway (NLEX) up to the very last exit -- Sta. Ines. We were driving at 100kph and it took me 1 hour to drive the entire NLEX.
- You should follow the signs going to Baguio and there are two routes -- one via Concepcion, Tarlac, and the other one via Mabalacat, Pampanga. You choose on which one you prefer, and for the purpose of this direction, I took the one via concepcion which should take you 1 hour to Capas, Tarlac.
- There are a lot of signs which says that you are already in Capas, Tarlac. If you took the Concepcion route, the end of this is the Mc Donalds and Caltex Station in Capas, Tarlac. If you are familiar with this route, when you arrive at this junction, you need to make a U-turn in Caltex to go to Baguio. Don't do that in this case, you should go straight until you get to the Capas Market where you will see Jollibee. At this point, you should be facing Pampanga going back to Manila. When you are in front of Jollibee, turn RIGHT in side the Capas Church. If you took the Mabalacat route, you should be facing Baguio, so you should turn LEFT going inside the Capas Church.
- From here onwards, it would still take you 30mins to arrive in Mt. Pinatubo Spa. Once the Church is in front of you (short distance), turn RIGHT. Then turn LEFT on the first available turn (another short distance). Then turn RIGHT again (another short distance) where you should see a Church of Christ I believe on your left. At this point, you should have make a short zigzag to reach this road. You should go straight for 5-10minutes past cementaries, and you should see a fork road where you need to turn LEFT. The landmark for this turn is that you should see an Ignesia ni Christo on your left.
- There is only one way and it is a long road passing by two barangays going to Brgy Sta. Juliana. You know you are on the right road, when you see the Capas, Memorial, a road sign "Tanks crossing", a Light infantry head quarters, and a Lahar portion where the roads are bad already. Better bring an SUV when you go to this place. You cannot miss the Mt. Pinatubo Spa, after the Lahar portion and it is not a gated compound but it is the only nice place in the area. You should see a big sign and map of Mt. Pinatubo. Parking is right outside.
For sure, I'll be back again to conquer the Mt. Pinatubo Crater with my brother or Maong and Di :) Let me know if you have a similar experience on this place and maybe you have some more tips.