Going North – Ilocos Escapade

You won’t run out of options in choosing your weekend getaway in the Philippines. You can either opt for a Do-It-Yourself Tour. The most important thing is to know the place very well and book your hotel at the center of the Tourist Spot for ease of travel. Availing the ready made travel and tours is another option Its also a good deal if you’re a busy person and want an all-in package for tours and accommodation. With this you’ve a ready made itinerary. The only downside is that you’ve to strictly follow the schedule and have limited time in enjoying the view. Unlike the DIY, you manage your own time. Good thing some travel packages has included accommodation so you don’t have to worry where you’ll spend your night.

Anyway, enough of the introductions 😛 Here’s how I spent my Labor Day Weekend travelling Ilocos with my friends. Our Agency was Q10 Budget Travel and Tours. It only cost 3700 inclusive of hotel accommodations for two nights. Below is our itinerary:

Day 0
Our meeting place is on McDonalds in front of Trinoma Mall. It’s funny because most of the customers in McDo at the time of our departures are all backpackers. The place looks like a bus terminal or something. Anyway we rode an airconditioned van going to Ilocos and at around 10PM, Thursday night. Vans are equipped with wireless radios. Drivers travel in groups so you won’t worry much if your driver will lost or feel sleepy because they keep themselves busy. 😛 And they drive really fast, so always buckle up your seat if beside driver’s seat and sit comfortably if your in the passenger’s sit. There’s no defined stop-overs so you’ve to discipline yourself especially the call of nature.

Day 1
We arrived in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte around 8AM and have our breakfast at Raphael’s Resto. Afterwhich we went straight to our first stop which is the Bacarra Town. We visited museums and galleries showcasing the history of the region as well as the Marcoses for the 3-Day Tour. Here are the places we visited in Ilocos Norte:

Museo de Baccarra – It has Old relics donated by people of Baccara. Taking Picture is allowed. 🙂

Museo de Bacarra

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation – Natural limestone rock formation. You’ve an option to explore the place thru horseback riding or walk all the way to the rock formations. Btw, its extremely hot in there specially if you plan your trip in summer. Bring your sun protect paraphernalia 😛

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Bangui Windmill – The iconic windmill of Ilocos. It has around 100 turbines and counting which is believed to be largest in Southeast Asia. It’s found in Bangui and Burgos. Some others are located in Pagudpod.
Bangui Windmill
Patapat Viaduct – a 1.2km winding viaduct called “The French Riviera of the North”. It is located at the foot of Patapat-Kalbario National Park of the North Cordillera Mountain Ranges.
Patapat Viaduct

Blue Lagoon – found at the northernmost tip of Luzon. Popular water sport activities like surfing, kite surfing, etc.

Note: Each location are far from each other. Approximately 2-3hrs ride.

At the end of the trip we rest at the Sabrina Beach Home, looking at the sunset version of Pagudpod.

On the side note, the hotel is nice. Though we experience power fluctuations. It might be caused by surge of visitors because of the long weekend. I hope they could manage it well thru power generators to avoid hassle to the visitors or provide some electric fan if possible.

Pagudpod Beach Sunset

Day 2

From Pagudpod, we went to other parts of Ilocos Norte. Again another 2-3hrs ride from our hotel. Below are the places we visited on Day 2.

Paoay and Batac Tour

Paoay Sand Dunes – This is really for thrill seekers. Experience the excitement on a 4×4 ride for 2500 good for 4-6 pax. Along the trail, you’ll have the chance to try sand boarding. A must try.

Culili Point Paoay Sand Dunes
Paoay ChurchPaoay Church – Built during the Spanish era. Its also one of the UNESCO World Heritage in 1993. Its an outstanding example of Earthquake Baroque” architecture in the Philippines.
Inside Paoay Chuch
Malacañang of the North and Marcos Museum and Mausoleum -The official residence of President Marcos during his term. Its also used as a venue for other events like weddings. We also visited his musuem which showcases his life and achievements and also his preserved body.
Malacanang of the North
Sarrat Tour

Marcos Ancestral Place – A place which showcases his birthplace. His parents are Doctorate degree holders which is amazing.

Sta. Monica Church
Sta. Monica Church and Convent Ruins– Another old church built during Spanish era. Its formerly a prison chamber turned monastery and then church. It has a museum inside which showcases Spanish-era religious artifacts.
Inside Sta. Monica Church
Laoag City Tour
 Ilocos Norte Capitol
Ilocos Norte Capitol at Night
St. Williams Cathedral
Sinking Bell Tower
Empanada Making at Dap-Ayan

Due to time constraints we wasn’t able to do the Laoag City Tour. Good thing our hotel is in Laoag so we’re able to visit some as well after we freshen up. To get there we rode a Tricycle. They have different price ranges depending on the driver. Our first tricycle ride from hotel going to Plaza costs 15 pesos each while our ride going back to our hotel was 50 pesos for 4 pax.

Speaking of hotel, we checked in at Laoag Parklane. Its a nice place. Its a bungalow hotel. Some rooms even has a parking lot for those people travelling with cars.
Day 3
On the 3rd day of the tour, there’s a complimentary breakfast. We were served with Tosilog and coffee. Here’s our itinerary for Day 3.
Vigan City Tour
Juan Luna Shrine – we didn’t visit this place since its renovation
Free taste of Ilocos Delicacies c/o Four Stars Delicacies – This is a place to buy pasalubong. We weren’t able to have some free taste because there are a lot of visitors.
Bantay Church and Bell Tower – Another old church we visited with its iconic Bell Tower.
Bantay Bell tower
Baluarte ni ChavitBaluarte ni Chavit Singson – This is a very huge place. Its like a zoo. There are other activities you can do here, there’s an animal show as well as a gallery with collections of Mr. Singson’s preserved animals. Its really cool. You can also buy some pasalubongs here.
Baluarte Animal Show
Hidden Garden 
Crisologo Museum
Heritage Village/ Calle Crisologo – This street will take you back to Spanish era, cars can’t cross this street you can choose to take a calesa ride to tour the city for 150 php. You can also buy Vigan’s best product here.
Calle Crisologo
Plaza Salcedo 
St. Paul Cathedral Vigan Church
Burgos Museum 
Note: The third day is quite compressed so you need to stick to the schedule. In our case, we enjoyed ourselves in the Baluarte that’s why we weren’t able to visit other sites in Vigan. Also, there’s also no hotel accommodation to prepare for going home, after Calle Crisologo, we went home straight.
Overall, my three day stay in Ilocos is worth remembering. I was reminded again how beautiful our country is. Its really more fun in the Philippines. 😀
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