Ilocos Norte and Sur: The Escapade

The Ilocos Region is one of the most exciting and thrilling places to go in the Philippines. From Pagudpod, the boracay of the north to Vigan where you can experience going back to the past. Every sitios and provinces that you will pass along the way has its own treasure to uphold. Experience the culture of Ilocanos who are very welcoming, nice and approachable.

If you are looking for a budget travel in Ilocos, here are some tips that I want to share from my experience traveling on the north.

FAQs

Commute:

  • It is more practical to travel by night to maximize time but for safety measures daytime is more preferable.
  • Manila to Laoag 488 Km 8-9 hour drive
  • Baguio to Laoag: 275 Km 8-9 hour drive
  • Laoag to Pagudpud: From Hotel, ride a tricycle to Mini Bus Pagudpud bus stration 1-2 hour drive. 72 Km 60-80 php per person
  • Tricycle Fare on town proper: 20-60 pesos per person
    • Vigan: Tricycle is a lot more expensive
  • Note: Tricycle driver tend to raise fare than the supposed to be especially if you are a tourist.
    • Great negotiating skills is an advantage
  • Buses and Fare:  These are the company buses that travel from NCR to Ilocos

Private Vehicle:

  • Gasoline is rather expensive: Manila to Laoag 560 km. 1 Liter/ Per 10 km estimated price wether gasoline or diesel for one way.
    • Diesel: 40-46 php
    • Gasoline: 48-56 php
  • Flexible Itinerary

    Accomodations: 

  • For Backpackers or Budget travelers: it is better to choose B&Bs or Hostels. What I do to find good cheap accommodations is to check trip advisor or Agoda.
    • Note: Always read the reviews of that certain hotel/hostel. Cheap hotels with good review are the place to stay.

PLACES TO VISIT

Pagudpud Province

Minibus going to Pagudpud
  •  Pagudpud does not have ATMs so make sure to withdraw your money on Laoag or you have enough money to spend.
  • Pagudpud town proper is small. Food stalls are as simple as Turu-turos.
  • The beach is far from the town proper and tricycle ranges from 200 pesos and above depending on where beach side you will go.
  • Tricycles can be rented for touring and can take you to these places.
    • Patapat Viadact
    • Saud Beach
Saud Beach Resort
  • Maira-Ira point also known as Blue Lagoon Resort.
  • Caunayan Landing site: First successful landing sites during the WW2.
  • Kaibigan Falls: 120 feet landing into a fresh basin of water.
  • Bantay Abot Caves
  • Don Hermanos Islands

Bangui Province

Bangui Wind Mills: We took a bus going to laoag from pagudpud town proper.

    • 60 php/person
    • We stopped by the road in Bangui, ask the driver to stop beside the waiting shed.
Bangui Windmills
  • Tricycle going to Bangui windmills: Fare 150-200 php

Burgos Province 

  • Kapurawan Rock Formation resides in the province of Burgos Ilocos Norte.
    • Getting there: Tricycle from the highway 150-200 php.

Kapurawan Rock Formation (photo courtesy of byaherongbarat.com)

  • Cape Bojeador Light House: The highest elevated lighthouse in the Philippines. It was established on March 18, 1892 by the spaniards overlooking the scenic view of the cape and the South China Sea.

  • Getting there: Tricycle: From Maharlika Highway 100-200 php
    • But if you are into nature and trekking, walking by foot uphill is a much exciting experience.

The view of south china sea at the top of the lighthouse


Laoag City: The Capital of Ilocos Norte.

Laoag City Hall
  • The Town proper sites: within walking distance
The Tabacco Monopoly Monument
  • The Sinking Bell Tower: The structure claimed to be the tallest bell tower in the Philippines. It was built by the Augustinians in 1612. It was called the sinking tower because of its reputation to sink an inch/year. According to the locals when the tower was newly built a man who is on horseback can easily pass the towers’ entrance.  Now, a person of normal height has to bend down to enter the entrance.

  • The streets of Laoag City is where you can find kalesas on modern streets.

  • The Ilocos Norte Museum:

    • Entrance Fee: Regular: 30 php/person, Students/Seniors:         15 php/person

Batac Province:

  • Ferdinand Marcos Presidential Center: The Museum shows a memorabilia of the late President Marcos.  It also consists of a mausoleum consist of a glass-encased coffin of Marcos’ embalmed body. The Family’s mortician confirms that the corpse is real, although some people suspected that it is a wax replica, and the real body was secretly buried.

Inside Marcos’ Museum

Paoay Province: 

Paoay Church in the afternoon sun

  • Paoay Church: The church was built and completed on year 1710. The church is famous for its architectural design. The church was designated as one of UNESCO world heritage site.

The Glorious Paoay Church at Night

  • Paoay Lake: According to local legends, a prosperous town was buried beneath the lake. Locals believed that the town were punished for its attachment to material possessions and the town’s people were cursed. Some fishermen even claimed that they caught fishes with earrings and jewels and that some saw a magnificent city on the reflection of the waters of the lake.
  • La Paz Sand Dunes: Famous for its sand boarding and ATV ride. It was also used as a set location for local movies like “Panday” and “Himala”.
    • 4×4 truck for one hour 2,500 php inclusive of sand board use.
  • Malacanang of the North: This is the official residence of the former President Ferdinand Marcos.
    • Located at Suba, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
    • Open from tuesday to sunday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
    • Entrance Fee: 30 php/person
    • Getting there: Tricycle ride 200-300 php
      Malacanang of the North

Vigan: The Capital of Ilocos Sur. It is one of the few hispanic town in the Philippines. Vigan is famous for its unique architecture mirroring the old spanish era. On 2007 Vigan was listed by UNESCO as the best preserved example of spanish colonial towns in Asia.

  • Kalesa Ride: Kalesas are readily available for city tours
    • 200-300 php an hour
  • Father Jose Burgos Residence: The Birthplace of J. Burgos, one of the three martyred priest (GOMBURZA).  
    • Walking Distance around town center.
    • Entrance Fee 10php/person
    • Open: 8:30 am- 4:30 pm Tuesday to Sunday

  • Hidden Garden: The Hidden Garden is located at the far most part of the city. The Garden is amazing. Different kinds of plants and flowers were sold here and if you are hungry after the tour, there are restaurants inside the compound catering traditional ilocano delicacies.
    • No entrance fee
    • How to get there: Travel by Tricycle 40-60 php

  • Baluarte: The owner of Baluarte is Mr. Chavit Singson. Baluarte is a zoo and a sanctuary for wild life. This 80 hectars of land caters differnet kinds of animals like lions, tigers, butterflies and a lot more. It is also a park and picnic ground where families enjoy to spend their weekends.
    • How to get there: 10 mins ride from town center via car or tricycle 40ph/person
    • Entrance fee is free
    • Open daily from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm
    • Contact numbers: 6377-722-7186
    • Live animal show: 4x a day for a week

  • Vigan Heritage Village: It is also known as the Mestizo District. This is the most famous part of Vigan City. The heritage village is a street where most of the businesses caters tourist. Old spanish buildings are still standing on either side of the street, restaurants provide traditional Ilocano delicacies like pinakbet, bagnet and longganisa, stores sells different kinds on antiquities and kalesa ride is rampant.

  • Pagburnayan Pottery Making

Bantay Province

  • Bantay Parish and Bell Tower: Founded in 1593 by the augustinian friars. Also known as St. Augustine Parish or Sanctuary of Nuestra Senora La Caridad.
    • The Bell Tower is located at a top of a hill where you can see the scenic view of burgos province.
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