Cagayan Valley is a region at the northeastern corner of Luzon. The regional center is Tuguegarao, and is composed of five provinces in administrative terms, namely: Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino. This guide only covers the mainland areas: Batanes is treated as a separate region for its isolation and distinct culture.
Most of the region lies in a large valley in northeastern Luzon, between the Cordilleras and the Sierra Madre mountain ranges. The Cagayan River, the country's longest river, runs through its center and flows out to Luzon Strait in the north, in the town of Aparri, Cagayan.
The Batanes islands is grouped as part of Cagayan Valley administratively, but Wikivoyage treats it as a separate region.
- 1 Tuguegarao - Regional economic center; has the primary entry point by plane.
- 2 Cauayan - Has the second airport with commercial service.
- 3 Ilagan - Tourist town midway between Santiago and Tuguegarao.
- 4 Santiago City - Secondary regional economic center.
- 5 Northern Sierra Madre — A remote region facing the Philippine Sea, it has a large national park, and three municipalities only accessible by plane and boat, or for the adventurous, hiking through the Sierra Madre. An ongoing road project is expected to make access easier here, though construction is slow.
- 6 Palaui Island — A nature reserve off the northeastern tip of Luzon island.
- 7 Southern Nueva Vizcaya — Rural area, composed of seven municipalities and two protected areas.
The region often manifests to ordinary Filipinos as large swaths of fertile plains surrounding the Cagayan River, but it is far from that. Parts of the region lie along the forested Sierra Madre, and the province of Nueva Vizcaya is mostly mountainous, lying between the Cordillera and Sierra Madre. Rainforests cover the remote eastern coast.
The region is historically inhabited by hunter-gatherer Ilongot and the lowland Ibanag ethnic groups, but they has since been displaced by Ilocano and Tagalog migrants.
Cagayan Valley used to be a single province during the Spanish era, which has since been split into smaller provinces over time. Culturally, the region is mostly Ilocano, Ibanag (in Cagayan) and Gaddang (in Isabela). The southernmost provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino have more in common with the Cordilleras than with Cagayan Valley, most of the residents being indigenous Igorot peoples such as the Ilongot and Isinay.
Cagayan Valley is a sparse region, with a largely agrarian economy centered on rice and corn production. The region largely lacks major attractions and tourism infrastructure.
The region's climate is heavily influenced by the monsoon, with a short dry season. Typhoons typically batter the region during the rainy season from June to October. The remote parts of Cagayan and Isabela have rain all year-round.
Flying may not be the cheapest, but the fastest way of reaching the region.
Tuguegarao Airport (TUG IATA) and Cauayan Airport (CYZ IATA) are served by domestic flights from Manila. Tuguegarao is the main point of entry by plane; Cebu Pacific offers flights from Manila twice a day for ₱4,110. Cauayan is served by a daily flight on Cebu Pacific for ₱3,835.
A new airport, the Cagayan North International Airport or Lal-lo International Airport (LLC IATA) has opened in rural Lal-lo, making the northeastern corner of the region accessible by plane, but is only served by flights by charter carrier Royal Air, and it remains uncertain it will be served by other carriers.
There are regular provincial bus trips from Manila to most points in the region; most ply the Cagayan Valley Road or Maharlika Highway (Asian Highway 26/Route 1) which is the main highway through the region. Most travellers enter by bus, which are cheaper, although slower than taking a domestic flight.
Cagayan Valley is connected to nearby regions by highway, but most roads pass through mountain passes, most notably the Dalton Pass at the boundary with Central Luzon, and are full of hairpin curves.
The region has a high risk for typhoons, and the climate is more close to a rainforest, that means, there is no dry season.