As a last hurrah before summer ended, and to celebrate the birthday of my son, we decided to have a family road trip! My husband and I enjoy road trips, (and he enjoys driving) because it gives us a chance to bond as a family. We love singing in the car, telling stories and just being silly. It was extra fun because my mom and dad and nephew came along with us. Inspite of the looooooooooong drive all the way to Ilocos and being a little (okay not a little, majorly!) cramped in the car, we had a great and memorable time. It was our first time to visit the province of Ilocos, and we were prepared with an itinerary of places to visit and see. My friend VP who hails from Ilocos, and who was just there recently, helped us to plan out our short four day trip.
I want to share with you the places we went to and enjoyed, so that you can visit them too when you decide to have an Ilocos Adventure!
Okay, so our plan was to go straight to the tip of Ilocos which is Pagudpud, but visit the sights on our way up north. Just a warning, to get to Ilocos Sur from Manila will take you about 10 hours and an additional 3 hours to get to Pagudpud!!! We used an iphone GPS to help us find the places that we planned to visit. The directions are not yet 100% accurate, but it helps get you in the vicinity of the locations. It becomes easier to ask for directions when you are already near your destination.
Enjoy the sights as much as we did! I will enumerate the places we went to, in the order that we visited them so that you can have an idea for an itinerary. 🙂
1. Marcos Museum and Mausoleum
This is the famous place where the preserved body of former President Ferdinand Marcos lies. There is a separate museum beside it, where a bit of his childhood, life in the military and early years as a politician are exhibited. We got a student guide to give us a tour, and you just have to give a tip at the end of the tour. It’s nice that someone is explaining as we moved along in the museum, instead of reading each and every commentary of the photos and memorabilia. The kids also enjoyed the guided tour and they can even ask questions!
When you get to the mausoleum, taking photos are prohibited, so I don’t have photos of that. It was a good and quick tour. The museum closes at 4:30pm daily.
2. Paoay Church
A few minutes from the museum is the beautiful old church of Paoay. It really is a sight to see! This old earthquake baroque architecture was made to withstand seismic conditions of the country, thus surviving the past earthquakes inspite of it’s age.
3. Paoay Sand Dunes
This is a MUST DO activity when you visit Ilocos! This was the highlight of our trip! It’s a fun activity for the whole family, though not very safe for smaller children and senior citizens. We rented a 4 x 4 jeep where we stood at the back, and the driver took us for a wild and fun ride! Warning: HOLD ON TIGHTLY!!! It was super fun, plus the driver would stop at nice spots and take our photos! Cool right?! The jeep rental is P2,500/hour.
4. Kapuluan Vista Resorts
After the sand dunes, we drove straight up to Pagudpud, because it was getting late. Pagudpud is really far, plus we were really tired from the trip. We couldn’t wait to get to our hotel and have dinner and turn in for the night.
Kapuluan is a really great place with delicious food and great accommodating staff. With only a few rooms, the maintenance is really good. The owners Mike and Alma are always there to oversee the staff and do things around the resort themselves. They are very hands-on, and the staff are very well trained. Kapuluan is also a surf school as the owners themselves are surfers. Coming home to the Philippines for a visit and to surf a few years back, they fell in love with Pagudpud and never left! This place is a sanctuary where you can relax, unwind and have fun with family and friends.
5. Patapat Viaduct
On our way back to Vigan, we again did stop overs at the sights along the way. About 5 minutes further up north from Kapuluan Resort, is the Patapat viaduct. This long and winding bridge built around the mountains, is really a beautiful spot. From here, you can see the blending of the mountain range, the sea and the road. It’s a bit hard to stop to take a photo since the bridge is only a narrow 2-way road, but it’s worth the risk of getting run over by a car to park and shoot some photos! Hahaha!
6. Bangui Windmills
In this spot, we really enjoyed! It’s breathtaking to see the giant windmills up close, set against the beautiful sea and sky! You might be tempted to bring your car all the way to the sandy shore, but the sand is too loose and the car wheels loses traction when it sinks. Just park on the sides and walk towards the beach front.
7. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
A few minutes from the Bangui Windmills going towards Vigan, is the Bojeador Lighthouse. It was being restored when we went so we were not able to climb all the way up to the lighthouse. The steps were also steep and high, and it was hard for my mom and dad to climb. I do hope that part of the restorations and renovation will be to fix those boulder-sized steps!
8. Malacanang of the North
Sadly, we missed this place. I guess it was not meant for us to visit, since they are open daily EXCEPT EVERY 1ST MONDAY OF THE MONTH! And guess what?! We came on the 1st Monday of the month! 🙂
But I heard that this place is a must see. It was the old home of the Marcos family where their things and belongings are on display.
9. Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant
We did a stop over at Laoag City for lunch at Saramsam. This restaurant was highly recommended by my friend. We are just so happy that we did a stop over here to try the food! It was the best meal we had for this trip! I loved the cozy interiors of the restaurant and the homey feel of the decors. The food is authentic, amazing and the prices are very reasonable!
Must try food: singlao, insarabsab, kalti – their local fondue dessert! Yum!
10.Hotel Salcedo de Vigan
Finally arriving at Vigan, we went straight to Salcedo de Vigan to check in and freshen up. This hotel is situated parallel to the famous Calle Crisologo, so it’s very convenient to walk to and from the area. The rooms are nice, clean and comfortable. The room rates are very reasonable and the their online booking and reservations are also very efficient. The staff are very nice and accommodating! 🙂
11. Calle Crisologo
This famous old, cobble stoned street road will really take you back in time! You could just imagine the olden times when women would be all dressed up in beautiful ternos and the men in their smart suits and hats. I really fell in love with this street! The buildings are all Spanish deigned concrete, wood and brick structures. There are a lot of antique shops scattered along this street, though the prices are not really for “thrifting” since the items are both beautiful and a bit pricey. This place is great for picture taking and just strolling and enjoying the scenery, and imagining yourself in a different era.
12. Café Leona
At the end of Crisologo St. is a restaurant called Café Leona. They serve Italian food and an array of Ilocano fusion dishes. It’s a cozy place and a haven for your tired feet and thirsty throats! The heat outside will really take its toll on you, and it would just be lovely to come into a cool and cozy place like Café Leona!
Must try food: Pinakbet pizza, bagnet maki and the cheese pizza which the kids loved!
13. Kalesa Ride
On Calle Crisologo, you would see a lot of kalesas that you can ride to take you around Vigan. We did this early morning before heading home. The tour will take you to The Sinking Bell Tower, House of Burgos and other tourist attractions in the town of Vigan. The kalesa ride is P 150.00/hr, meaning if you go over an hour you will pay additional. This was a fun activity for the kids!
14. Padre Burgos House
As part of the kales a tour, we went to the ancestral home of Father Jose Burgos of the Gomburza trio. This is where his parents lived and where he stayed as a boy. The belongings and things of the Burgos family are on display. Too bad that an area was being renovated at the time of our visit, and we were not able to see the dioramas in the museum. I loved seeing all the vintage and old stuff in the house.
Ilocos is truly a great place to visit. It is place where a piece of our history resides. It was both a leisure and educational trip for us and the kids. This province will make you look back at our ancestors and the lives that they lived.
I hope that this list will help you plan an Ilocos trip in the near future! It is a great place to see and visit with the family. 🙂