I’ve been looking forward to this trip since the start of the year. Even if this wasn’t my first time in Ilocos (I went there during a university field trip), this is the first time I’m visiting the extended family of my special someone. Our companion, Aizey of Aizeenerary put together the details of this trip which I know she did efficiently. As a frequent weekend warrior and rising IG star, she’s the best among our group to create the perfect most cost-efficient itinerary.
Our overall budget was just around Php 5,000.00 each. That includes the bus fares, local transportation, accommodation in Vigan, food, and a sand dunes adventure on a 4×4.
Upon arrival at Ilocos Sur, we checked in to an inn in Vigan near the historic Calle Crisologo. After dropping off our bags and freshening up, we headed by trike to Mindoro Beach for the taste of the sea breeze. The weather in June has began to send spots of showers and the open seas of Ilocos were too scary for a swim.
When in Ilocos, one should never miss touring Vigan – a city declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along Calle Crisologo, you will find the structures from when the Spaniards held the Philippines. It was as if time has been frozen here, save for the multitude of restaurants and other modern facilities. Locals have been careful to preserve history here.
As it was raining in the early morning, we were lucky to have the streets to ourselves. It was part eerie, part astonishing. It feels like you’ve walked into a film set or a ghost town – whichever you prefer. By late morning, the street will be bustling with tourists, shops, and peddlers of souvenir items.
At the end of this road, is an open ground where you can find a small carinderia that sells bagnet and other famous Ilocano dishes. Needless to say, we had our brunch here and stuffed our faces with cholesterol.
The locals are friendly and welcoming to tourists. Some will even let you try loom weaving or pottery making as long as you are the no fuss kind of traveler. Locals appreciate tourists who admire their handiwork and are genuinely interested in their skill-based arts.
The Patapat Viaduct is a long stretch of bridge in Ilocos Norte created to replace the old bridge which was destroyed by the frequent typhoons that visit Ilocos region. The view is magnificent that many tourists stop along the road to take photos. A word of caution: always look left and right for speeding vehicles as the roads have plenty of blind curves!
If you are ticking off UNESCO sites on your bucketlist, be prepared to tick 2 as Ilocos Norte is the home of Paoay Church also known as Iglesia de San Agustin de Paoay. It is part of the 4 Baroque Churches in the Philippines which were built during the Spanish era. This one in particular was built in 1710 and was made of coral stones. One of the most striking features of this architectural beauty is the use of buttresses to withstand earthquakes.
A historical visit to Ilocos Norte is not complete without visiting the Marcos Museum and Mauseoleum, whether you’re a Marcos supporter or curious cat, there is much to learn in this visual space. Though the items have been curated to highlight the achievements of Ferdinand Marcos, it is advisable to take it with a grain of salt. A visit to the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City should help balance out the details.
Postcards from Ilocos always, if not often, feature the Bangui Windmills. Basically it is a long stretch of beach with huge windmills crossing over to the hills surrounding the area. The location is perfect for “harvesting” wind power because it is situated at the tip of the Philippines, surround by the open sea. Swimming is strictly prohibited in this area as it has claimed so many lives of those who were swept by the currents.
Best time to visit this place is during the chilly dawn while the fog lies low…
Ilocos Norte is never short of places to see. Check out Cape Bojeador, an old lighthouse situated on the top of the hill. The view overlooking the greenery and the sea is tranquil.
Located on the northwest tip of Ilocos, you will find Kapurpurawan Rock Formations. The limestone have been carved and smoothed over ages by the force of the ocean waves. The place is called such because “puraw” means white in the local language.
It is a great place for photoshoots and horseback touring, just make sure to bring an umbrella and sunglasses as the creamy whites of the stones can be blinding. Watch out for the tide and don’t venture where you’re not allowed, many have slipped in dangerous spots.
When you travel with friends, you get create a bond as you get to know them more without pretenses when you face troubles during your travels. I’m glad to travel with these people and will happily do so again.
Cheers to going around the Philippines!