Back in the old days; what is summer vacation for you? For me, it’s going to my mom’s province. That’s why visiting my grandparents and relatives, became a tradition. Going in the northern part of Luzon Island, where I don’t understand mostly what my temporary playmates were saying. Summer vacation for me is spending 2 months in Sinait, Ilocos Sur.
This summer, let me take you to my mom’s hometown, ILOCOS, the home of pinakbet, bagnet, chichacorn and EMPANADA! I cannot remember mostly what my vacations were composed of, since it has been 10 years since I had a proper summer vacation. But I remember their beautiful fine sand beaches, where my cousins and I were taught how to swim. That’s why just this holy week of 2016, me and broke travel buddy Ivan joined the Ilocos Region tour with my friends.
Best time to Tour?
I guess summer would be the best time to tour Ilocos, if your main goal is to beach bum. The fair weather and cold wind of the BER months (September to December) would be the best, if you’re into the historical/heritage sites of Ilocos. It’ll be the best time to walk around places without the burning heat of the sun.
DIY? Tour Group? Commute? Van?
We chose to get a tour package, since we think it was the most budget friendly. You may look at our budget breakdown for each here.
Where to buy souvenirs and delicacies?
I would always recommend not buying one anyway, if they wanted to have something from there, then encourage them to go to that place and buy their own souvenirs. But I will still list some of their delicacies and souvenirs, where to buy and how much. Based on March 2016.
|Windmill Key chains/Ref Magnets||buy in either Bangui or Kapurpurawan||Php 20-25|
|Chichacorn/ Cornic||Nana Rosa’s in Paoay is good, but expensive. I would recommend Vigan Chichacorn! Buy one at Sister’s in Bantay together with their Amazing Royal Bibingka||3pcs of 300g for Php 100|
|Kalamay||The one in Baluarte tastes the best, but always ask for free additional pieces. They are generous they will give you 5 additional pcs||25 pcs for Php 100|
|Bagnet||Always buy in the Public Market. It’s cheaper and more authentic||1 kg for Php 380|
|Royal Bibingka||You should stop at Bantay, Ilocos Sur for some Royal bibingka||16 pcs for Php 140.00|
|Longanissa||to be bought again in public Markets. The whiter the Longanissa the fatty it is. So take note.||500 g for Php 150.00|
An 11-hour travel time is a no match to us, because we slept through it. We had our breakfast on Batac, which is an hour and a half ride from Vigan. For starters, we ate one of Ilocos region’s delicacies, “Pokpoklo”, which is a seaweed salad.
“Pokpoklo” Ilocos Seaweed Salad
After eating a good breakfast, we went to Marcos Museum and tried to absorb as much history as we could.
Former President Marcos’ Barong tagalogs
Visiting Paoay Church, during the holy week was a dream for me that came true. I have always wanted to go here since I first saw it’s poster in MRT Ortigas station.
If you’re interested in trying the well-known Pinakbet Pizza, you should visit Herencia in front of Paoay Church. I heard it’s quite pricey, so I wouldn’t recommend it (since we are really broke).
Herencia Restaurant, the birthplace of pinakbet pizza.
Malacañang of the North is the dream house of the former President Ferdinand Marcos. It’s his sweet getaway from the stressful place in Manila and where he could spend time with his family.
Malacañang ti Amianan (Malacañang of the North)
The Sinking Bell Tower of Paoay
Sand Dunes 4×4 with unlimited Sand-boarding go to our post 5 Things to do in Ilocos Norte for more information and how to contact the place.
After a tiring day, we went to our hotel and had a quick bath and prepare for the Sky Lantern Event in Fort Ilocandia.
Sky Lantern Event was cancelled due to strong winds at the Shore of Fort Ilocandia
On our second day we head to Burgos… so from Laoag… It’s a 2 hour-ride depending on the traffic and since it’s holy week (there are a lot of tourists) we had traffic all the way. I would suggest to be in your swimming attire under, if you’re planning on going to the beach at the same day.
In Kapurpurawan rock formation, you’ll be able to see the wind turbines already from afar. I’m a fan of renewable energy, so going here was a dream come true. Seeing the wind turbines and the solar panels was something that I hoped for our country to have in the future a long long time ago.
Dragon Fruit Icecandy FTW! For Php 15.00 it’s a milky heaven sent!
Patapat Viaduct. It is the 4th longest bridge in the Philippines.
It was raining when we got to Bantay Abot Cave. We almost skipped this tour, but thanks to my friends’ enthusiasm with spelunking, we were able to explore such beauty.
Bantay Abot Cave
Arriving at Hannah’s beach resort, when its peak season you’ll be having a bad day falling in line to the shower room so I will advise you to go shower at around 7pm to 8pm so that most of the people are already done with their business.
Beach!! Hannah’s Resort! Pagudpud!
On the last day of our journey we head to Ilocos Sur. We checked out from our hotel after our breakfast, then had a 1.5 hour ride to Vigan.
Souvenir Shops outside Baluarte.
Calle Crisologo is famous for its antique/furniture shops. My mom bought one of our furniture there and it lasted for like 30 years. You may be able to see cheap bargains there such as Tobacco cigars and souvenirs. They say you’ll need to visit Calle Crisologo at the evening to see light coming out from the shops that illuminates the Spanish feels of the place.
Calle Crisologo in Vigan
Empanadas here in Vigan are way cheaper than the one being sold in Ilocos Norte. You can buy 1 for Php 30.00. I have been requesting empanadas whenever I go or someone visits from Ilocos. But oddly, I wasn’t craving for it at all when I did the tour. But yeah, I’m regretting it now.
Vigan’s Empanada… Heaven sent oiliness…
If you’re interested with renaissance architectures, I would suggest that you visit Vigan Cathedral and Bantay Bell Church.
There would be a donation box at the entrance of Bantay Bell Tower. You’ll log your name and your donation on their record book. I think giving something like Php 50.00 is nothing when you see the bell tower itself.
There will be “Professional” photographers that you may accidentally bump into and ask a favor to take photos of you and your friends. They know the latest popular pose you’ll need for a facebook cover or profile photo, but it comes with a price, so take note.
Bantay Bell Tower
Click here for the PDF file of the breakdown of possible expense when you’re gonna go SOLO or DIY
|09:00 PM – 08:00 AM||Manila-Batac, Ilocos Norte|
|08:00 AM – 08:40 AM||Breakfast|
|09:00 AM – 09:49 AM||Marcos Museum/Mausoleum|
|10:10 AM – 10:40 AM||Paoay Church|
|11:20 AM – 12:00 NN||Malacanang ti Amianan|
|12:30 PM – 01:30 PM||Lunch|
|01:40 PM – 02:00 PM||Ilocos Norte Municipal Hall|
|02:00 PM – 02:20 PM||Paoay Sinking Bell Tower|
|02:40 PM – 04:00 PM||Sand Dunes (4×4) w/ Sand-boarding|
|05:00 PM – 07:00 PM||Hotel in Laoag Check-in (10 pax)|
|07:25 PM – 10:30 PM||Fort Ilocandia (Sky Lantern)|
|Hotel First Night|
|09:00 AM – 11:00 AM||Laoag to Burgos|
|11:00 AM – 01:00 PM||Kapurpurawan|
|01:40 PM – 02:00 PM||Bangui Windmills|
|02:00 PM – 03:00 PM||Lunch|
|03:30 PM – 03:40 PM||Pagudpud|
|04:00 PM – 04:30 PM||Patapat Bridge|
|04:40 PM – 05:00 PM||Bantay Abot Cave|
|05:00 PM – 07:00 PM||Beach Bumming|
|07:20 PM – 08:40 PM||Dinner (Shawarma Rice)|
|Hotel Last Night|
|09:00 AM – 11:30 AM||Laoag to Vigan|
|11:40 AM – 12:30 PM||Baluarte|
|12:30 PM – 12:50 PM||Lunch|
|01:05 PM – 02:50 PM||Calle Crisologo|
|03:00 PM – 04:00 PM||Bantay Bell Church Tower|
|04:00 PM – 02:40 AM||Vigan – Manila|