San Jose Travel Guide

Discover the best things to do, places to visit, food, accommodation, transportation, safety tips, and more in San Jose, Central Luzon, Philippines.

Introduction to San Jose

San Jose is a small, peaceful town located in the province of Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon, Philippines. Despite its size, it offers a great range of tourist attractions, from natural wonders to cultural landmarks, making it a great destination for travelers who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and experience the authentic Filipino way of life. In this guide, we will take a closer look at this charming town and everything it has to offer.

List of Places to Visit in San Jose

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

For history and culture buffs, San Jose offers various museums and historical landmarks that are worth visiting.

1. Philippine National Railways - San Jose Station

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) - San Jose Station is a historical landmark that played a significant role in the country’s transportation history. It was one of the first stations built by the PNR, connecting San Jose to Manila and other provinces in Luzon. Today, it serves as a reminder of the importance of the railway system in the Philippines.

2. San Jose City Museum

Located in the heart of San Jose, the San Jose City Museum is a great place to learn about the town’s rich history and culture. The museum houses various artifacts and exhibits that showcase the town’s past and present.

3. St. Joseph the Worker Parish Church

The St. Joseph the Worker Parish Church is a beautiful church located in the town center. It is one of the oldest churches in the province and is known for its stunning architecture and intricate details.

Natural Attractions of San Jose: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

San Jose is also home to several natural wonders that showcase the beauty of the Philippines.

1. Mt. Olivete

Mt. Olivete is a mountain located in San Jose that offers a great hiking experience. The trail is easy to moderate, and the summit offers breathtaking views of the town and its surroundings.

2. Pantabangan Dam

The Pantabangan Dam is one of the largest dams in Southeast Asia. It is located a few kilometers away from San Jose and offers scenic views of the Pantabangan Lake and the Sierra Madre mountain range.

3. Gabaldon Falls

Gabaldon Falls is a hidden gem located in the town of Gabaldon, a few kilometers away from San Jose. It features a series of cascading falls that are worth the hike.

Hiking/Biking Routes of San Jose

San Jose offers several hiking and biking routes that are perfect for adventure seekers.

1. Romualdez-Marcos Trail

Named after former First Lady Imelda Marcos and her family, the Romualdez-Marcos Trail offers a challenging yet rewarding hiking experience. The trail features a series of steep slopes and rocky terrain, but the stunning views at the summit make it all worth it.

2. Gabaldon Eco-Adventure Trail

The Gabaldon Eco-Adventure Trail is a scenic biking route that takes you through the lush forests of the Sierra Madre mountain range. It is a great way to experience the beauty of nature while getting some exercise.

Best Things to Do in San Jose: Activities and Tours

San Jose offers a variety of activities and tours that cater to different interests.

1. Farm Tour

San Jose is known for its agriculture, and a farm tour is a great way to learn more about it. You can visit local farms and experience the farming lifestyle, taste fresh produce, and interact with the locals.

2. Cultural Show

San Jose is rich in culture, and a cultural show is a great way to experience it. You can watch traditional dances, listen to traditional music, and learn more about the town’s history and customs.

Week-Long Itinerary for San Jose

Here’s a week-long itinerary that covers the best that San Jose has to offer:

Day Activities
Day 1 Arrive in San Jose; Visit San Jose City Museum
Day 2 Hike to Mt. Olivete; Visit St. Joseph the Worker Parish Church
Day 3 Take a farm tour; Visit Gabaldon Falls
Day 4 Bike on Gabaldon Eco-Adventure Trail; Visit Philippine National Railways - San Jose Station
Day 5 Take a day trip to Pantabangan Dam
Day 6 Watch a cultural show; Shop for souvenirs
Day 7 Depart from San Jose

Food and Drink Scene of San Jose

San Jose offers a variety of local dishes and beverages that are worth trying.

Must-Try Dishes

1. Salinas

Salinas is a local dish made of pork meat, liver, and intestines, cooked slowly with vinegar, soy sauce, and spices. It is often served with rice.

2. Pancit Cabagan

Pancit Cabagan is a noodle dish that originated from Cabagan, Isabela, but is also popular in San Jose. It is made of thin noodles, meat, vegetables, and topped with a fried egg.

Local Beverages

1. Kapeng Barako

Kapeng Barako is a locally grown coffee that is known for its strong and bold flavor. It is usually served black and is a perfect pick-me-up for coffee lovers.

2. Lambanog

Lambanog is a locally brewed liquor made of coconut sap. It is usually served in shot glasses and is great for celebrations.

Where to Stay in San Jose: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

San Jose offers various accommodation options that cater to different budgets and preferences.


1. Simara Hotel

Simara Hotel is a 3-star hotel located in the town center. It offers comfortable rooms equipped with modern amenities and has a restaurant that serves local and international dishes.

2. Hotel Sophia

Hotel Sophia is a 2-star hotel located a few kilometers away from the town center. It offers budget-friendly rooms and has a restaurant that serves Filipino cuisine.


1. Gabaldon Mountain View Hostel

Gabaldon Mountain View Hostel is a budget-friendly hostel located in the town of Gabaldon. It offers basic yet comfortable accommodations and has a terrace that offers stunning views of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

2. Thelmo Hostel

Thelmo Hostel is a cozy hostel located near the town center. It offers dormitory-style rooms and has a common area where guests can socialize.

What to Buy in San Jose: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

San Jose offers several souvenirs and local products that are perfect for bringing back home.

1. Handwoven Bags

Handwoven bags are a popular souvenir in San Jose. They are made of abaca fibers and come in various designs and sizes.

2. Tinapa

Tinapa is a local delicacy that is perfect for bringing back home. It is dried and smoked fish that is often eaten as a snack.

Local Culture and Customs of San Jose

San Jose has a rich culture and customs that are worth experiencing.

1. Harvest Festival

The Harvest Festival, also known as Kinalas, is a yearly celebration held in San Jose every May. It is a celebration of the town’s abundant harvest and features street dancing, parades, and local food and products.

2. Famous Personalities

San Jose is also known for producing famous personalities, such as former Philippine President Graciano Lopez-Jaena and Filipino journalist/poet Jose Garcia Villa.

Best Time to Visit San Jose

The best time to visit San Jose is from November to February when the weather is cooler and drier. It is also the harvest season, making it a great time to experience the town’s agricultural lifestyle.

Do’s and Don’ts of San Jose


  • Respect the locals and their customs.
  • Dress modestly when visiting churches and other cultural landmarks.
  • Try the local dishes and drinks.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic waste.


  • Litter or vandalize public spaces.
  • Disrespect religious icons or artifacts.
  • Haggle too much in local markets.
  • Ignore safety guidelines when participating in outdoor activities.

Safety and Health

Safety in San Jose

San Jose is relatively safe, but it is still important to take precautions, such as:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
  • Keep your valuables secure.
  • Avoid walking alone in isolated areas.

Health in San Jose

It is important to stay hydrated and protected from the sun when participating in outdoor activities. It is also recommended to bring insect repellent to protect against mosquitos that may carry diseases.

Getting to San Jose: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near San Jose

The closest airport to San Jose is Clark International Airport, located 107 kilometers away. From the airport, you can take a taxi or bus to San Jose.

Bus Stations Near San Jose

There are several bus stations near San Jose, such as:

  • Five Star Bus Terminal in Cabanatuan City
  • Victory Liner Bus Terminal in Cabanatuan City

Other Options

You can also take a private car or rent a car to get to San Jose. Local transportation options, such as tricycles and jeepneys, are also available within the town.

How to Get Around in San Jose

The most common mode of transportation in San Jose is by tricycle. You can also rent a car or bike to explore the town and its surroundings.

Where to Go Next from San Jose: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

San Jose is located in the heart of Central Luzon, making it a great base for exploring the region. Here are some nearby destinations and excursions that you should consider:

  • Cabanatuan City
  • Mt. Arayat National Park
  • Nagsasa Cove
  • Hundred Islands National Park


San Jose may be a small town, but it offers a great range of tourist attractions that showcase the best of the Philippines. From its natural wonders to cultural landmarks, there is always something to discover and experience in this charming town. With this comprehensive guide, you can make the most out of your trip to San Jose and create unforgettable memories.