Located in the northern part of the Philippines, the region of Ilocos offers tourists a different experience: from historical sites, beaches, and extreme adventures, there’s so much that this region offers and here are just some of the places and things you could do in the Ilocos Region.
Divided into two regions, Ilocos Sur where the famous Vigan is the Capital City. Further north, we have Ilocos Norte where Laog is the Capital City.
As the destination of choice, we explored the Ilocos Region for 2 Days and 1 Night. Using the tourist bus, travel time was on average 6 hours depending on the traffic. We left Manila at around 11:00 pm at night and arrived at around 7:00 am with pee breaks in between.
How to get to Ilocos?
If you are planning to commute to Vigan (Ilocos Sur) or Laoag (Ilocos Norte) , there are two bus company that I found upon checking. One is the FARINAS TRANSIT [ MANILA – LAOAG- MANILA] – Check Fares and Trip Schedules : CLICK HERE
Another bus company that travels to Ilocos is PARTAS. It travels to Laoag, Vigan, Baguio, La Union and many more. For updated rates and schedules, CLICK HERE
So during our trip to Ilocos Region, I would like to share with you some of the things we did and saw during our trip.
MIRA HILLS RESTAURANT ( Vigan Longganisa) | Bantay, Ilocos Sur
Since we arrived in the morning, a good way to start our tour was to taste one of the very famous delicacies and that is the Vigan Longganisa. And one of the best place to give it a try is at Mira Hills Restaurant. They are also known for their other meat products but since we are not often here, I really pigged out and ate as many longganisa as possible.
ST AUGUSTINE PARISH & BANTAY WATCH TOWER | Bantay, Ilocos Sur
A few hours from Mira Hills Restaurant, we then reached our next destination. This time, we visited one of the historical structures in Ilocos and that is the Bantay Watch Tower located right next to St. Augustine Parish. Built in 1591, this tower was used as a watch tower for a possible invasion. But at present, this iconic structure is one of the most visited because of its beauty and grandeur. Visitors could walk all the way up and see the stunning view of the coast.
SAUD BEACH | Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
After some historical tour, we hopped on the bus and we went to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines and that is the Saud Beach in Pagudpud. With it’s long stretch of white sand and pristine warm waters, it’s so difficult not to take a dip and relax all day.
Unfortunately, we were only there to eat lunch on the beach. But while eating, we were just drawn to the natural beauty of this place. Years ago, I stayed at Saud Beach Resort for few days and we just really had one of the most relaxing vacations ever.
MARCOS MANSION | Batac, Ilocos Norte
Used as the official residence of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, now, it is now one of the museums that you could visit in the Ilocos Region. With minimal entrance fee, you could walk around their living room, bedrooms and other parts of the house and see the different artifacts that the Marcos family left for the exhibit.
BANGUI WINDMILLS | Bangui Ilocos Norte
Used as a natural source of energy in the Ilocos region, Bangui windmills are an awesome destination if you want to get close to these very huge turbines. It’s a great place to take some photos specially with the turbines behind you. There is no entrance fee and you will find plenty of souvenir shops in the area.
KAPURPURAWAN ROCK FORMATION | Burgos Ilocos Norte
One of the most scenic places to visit in Ilocos Norte is found in Burgos. You will definitely be in awe the moment you see these natural white sand limestone rock formations of Kapurpurawan. From the drop off, you need to walk to at least 500 meters to see the rock formations. If you find the walk difficult, then you may do the trip on horseback for Php 100.00. I prefer walking because you can stop anytime and take some beautiful photos. I wished I could stay longer and just stare at the rock formations and listen to the waves. It was a beautiful place and I hope they could preserve it in its natural state.
ILOCOS GARLIC and SEA SALT (Pasalubong)
When you drive around Ilocos region, it is very common that you will find garlic and salts hanging right next to the road or in the souvenir shops. They said that the garlic here has a better or unique taste. Since they are also close to the coast, you will find natural/organic and iodized salt here at a very good price. I actually bought for personal use too!
If there is one delicacy that you must try in the Ilocos Region, it would be their own version of Empanada. A deep fried savory dish wrapped in this orange taco-like shell with mince, egg, spices and other condiments all inside. I like that you could also see how they make an empanada right in front of you. Just add a dash of the Ilocos vinegar and you start munching! Yum!
4X4 MASINTOC SAND DUNES | Paoay Ilocos Norte
If you are are looking for an adrenaline type of adventure, then go to Masinto Paoay and experience the 4×4 ATV ride. For a registration fee of Php 500.00, you will definitely be screaming the moment that the ATV starts rocking on the sand dunes. Going up and down, making sharp turns while seated at the back really made it a great adventure. Halfway through, they will take you to a spot to experience sand boarding. You can sit on the board if you want, but it’s worth taking a risk by standing up and rolling over the sand. It’s so much fun!
PAOAY CHURCH | Ilocos Norte
Considered as one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines, Paoay Church has stood proudly through time. A UNESCO Heritage Site for it’s Baroque architecture, thousands of tourists and devotees come here everyday all year long. There is no entrance fee to come in and just appreciate the rich history that comes with this church. I am not going to go through the history but I feel that your visit to Ilocos Region will not be complete without visiting Paoay Church.
VIGAN UNESCO HERITAGE VILLAGE | Ilocos Sur
If you want to go back in time, then head on to Vigan Heritage Village. Also a UNESCO Heritage site, this is one of the busiest tourist destinations in Ilocos. You can book a tour easily on a Kalesa around the village or you can simply walk around and be amazed by the architecture of these heritage houses. There are plenty of souvenir shops around which can be overwhelming sometimes.
But if you want to really appreciate the area, you have to stay for a night and visit the place when there are less people and all the stores are closed – the village is illuminated by the yellow streetlights and it is always the image I have in my mind when I think of Vigan.