Accommodation: Bill’s Inn
When we boarded the van bound for Gapan, we didn’t have any accommodation booked. We only did some research on the way, and Bill’s Inn was the first place that we saw. It also seems to be the only accommodation in the area with strong online presence. We called their number, booked their economy room at Php1000 per night for 2 people, and only found out upon confirmation that the place is not located along the highway—it’s inside a subdivision. So, we disembarked in Gapan and just took a tricycle to Bill’s Inn.
To reach the place, just tell the tricycle driver that it’s located inside the subdivision at the corner of Rustica Restaurant. Once you’re in the area, you will see signs pointing to Bill’s Inn. If you’re taking the bus from Manila, it actually passes the subdivision entrance—just ask the bus driver to drop you off at Rustica Restaurant before Gapan Bukana, then find a tricycle to bring you inside the subdivision. Or if you fancy walking, you can do that, too—you won’t get lost with all the signs inside the subdivision.
We were told when we called that there weren’t many rooms available, but there seemed to be no visitor when we arrived except for an old man (who seemed to be Bill, the owner) and the staff who helped us check in.
The interior of the hotel was elegantly charming and simple. However, the room given to us was a bit old. It had a bed for 2, a round table with chairs, an airconditioning unit, and a small TV with no reception. What initially turned me off was that one side of the wall had peeling paint—in contrast to the seemingly mint condition of all the other sides. The bathroom was good, spacious with hot shower and complete with basic toiletry. The room had one window, and it was facing a rice field.
What we loved about Bill’s Inn was the breakfast (not part of the package). Their only option for breakfast at the time was fish fillet, so we took it—garlic rice, 2 pieces of fish fillet (big and small) on a lettuce leaf, sunny side up egg, 3 slices of tomatoes, and 2 slices of fried eggplants. I’m not much of a fish fillet person, but it was surprisingly good—crunchy and tasty. And the whole plate cost only Php100. The coffee was free, part of the room package.
I think Bill’s Inn is ideal if you have a car with you, although getting in and out of the subdivision via tricycle is easy. The staff are very helpful and will even get a ride for you.
Dining: Rustica Restaurant
This is located along the highway, but it’s not in Gapan proper. If you’re coming from the town center, you can hire a tricycle. A much cheaper option is to take a jeepney to Cabiao and ask the driver to drop you off—the place is known in the area.
This restaurant appears to be one of the better places to eat in Gapan. The menu said their specialty was the Sinigang na Ulo Ulo at tiyan ng isda (fish head and fish belly), so we tried that. One order is good for 3-4 persons, and there were only two of us, so one order was too much. We also ordered buco juice and mango shake, and serving was large. Nueva Ecija being the rice capital of the Philippines, we expected rice to be cheaper compared to the restaurant rate of rice here in Manila. But it’s almost the same: Php35 per order of rice.
There are other restaurants in Gapan. Luz Kitchenette seems to be one of the more popular, but we were not able to try it. It’s located in the town center. Along the highway between Rustica Restaurant and Walter Mart, there’s a grill bar that looks great for dinner if you also want to drink and enjoy some music. If you want familiar fast food, there’s a Jollibee branch in Gapan proper, and there are also various fastfood chains inside Walter Mart (Jollibee, McDonald’s, Chow King, and KFC are among those that I can remember).