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This Unique Sand Spa is a Great Place to Unwind in Pampanga

by Tricia Lao

At the foot of one of the most destructive volcanoes of the 21st century lies Puning Hot Spring and Sand Spa, a lone resort that reflects the warmth of the thriving Aeta tribe.

This spot is only 10 minutes from Sapang Bato gate, which is located in Sitio Target, neighboring Mabalacat City. The attraction’s name derives its roots from the word punang, which in the Aeta language means “full of trees”. Despite the cataclysmic volcanic eruption in 1991, one can still find vibrancy and life teeming in the midst of a desolate wasteland.

In this hidden paradise, the Aetas serve as therapists—dressed in pristine white scrubs with tribal print accents—and take guests on the spa journey of a lifetime. Planning a visit? Here are a few things you can look forward to.

4x4 Jeep Ride

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Guests ride special 4x4 jeeps driven by a guide who is the only one licensed to operate these off-road vehicles on the way to the resort. Everyone is given helmets for safety and advised to stay seated, but of course, it’s not a 4x4 ride if one doesn’t feel the wind whipping through his face and hair. It’s a 40-minute drive to Station 2 from Station 1.

DG Tip: It’s best to take the 4x4 jeeps after a rainshower because the terrain will be extra slippery and wet. Prepare to get splashed on this bumpy ride—the muddy trail adds an extra kick of adventure!

Hot Springs

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Once guests arrive at Station 1, they will surely stand in awe at the landscaping of the different hot springs, nipa huts, and lush greenery surrounding them. There are a total of 13 hot springs with temperatures ranging from 40 to 70 degrees.

The Department of Science and Technology indicates that the springs have a 7.5 pH level, so it’s beneficial and not detrimental to the skin. Guests are welcome to immerse themselves in the different hot springs, all filled to the brim with scalding yet relaxing waters coming from the thermal spring of Sacobia River.

Sand Spa

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Station 2 is where relaxed guests can be slow roasted in an outdoor sauna as they are buried in real volcanic ashes up to their necks while covered in a breathable cotton robe. The sand is seriously warm, and being buried will cause guests to sweat profusely. The therapists also step on arms and legs for a quick and calming massage that will definitely have one nodding off to sleep.

If you think this is where the pampering stops, think again. To give guests glowing and radiant skin, therapists apply a mud pack made of Pinatubo lahar. It is said that the mud pack and sand spa is a healing ritual for rheumatic pain, and works in enhancing blood circulation, cell regeneration, and hormonal balance. The Aetas who work in the spa use pugon underneath the sand for extra heat.

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Lastly, Station 3 has eight hot spring pools and a single cold spring pool where guests can take one last look at the vast beauty that the Pinatubo landscape has to offer. Afterwards, guests are taken back to Station 1 where there is a restaurant which serves a buffet of scrumptious Filipino cuisine. Friends and families can share meals in an intimate bahay kubo, bonding over the distinct experience they went through together.

With all the stillness and de-stressing, it’s easy to see that despite the destruction and chaos caused by an eruption which took place two decades ago, one can still find beauty and peace in the brokenness. One special reason for coming back (or visiting for the first time) would definitely be the Aeta Tribe whose hospitality is incomparable, their smiles as warm as the volcanic sand and hot spring waters in this unique destination spa.

Fees & Rates: ₱3,500.00 per person (minimum of two)
Inclusions: Guide, 4x4 rental, hot spring entrance, sand spa, mudpack, buffet lunch, foot massage, towel, shirt and shorts rental

Puning Hot Spring and Spa
Sitio Target, Barangay Sapang Bato, Angeles City, Porac
(0919) 339 2795 / (045) 499-0629

puning_hotspring@yahoo.com

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About Tricia
She is an audacious daily dose of sparkle and energy. Proudly a Greenhills Girl, it’s easy to invite her for a heart to heart session in Serenitea or Omakase. As a Creative Writing teacher and Hot Yoga addict, she is a firm believer in pursuing passions and new challenges. Her dream is to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, find out when she finally does on Instagram @elaosadilim.

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