Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur


In this road trip, I opted to go to some places I haven’t visited yet. Below, I have cited places which you might also want to go to.

Ilocos collectively refers to two provinces in the Philippines: Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur which used to be a single province. Inhabitants are called Ilocanos, and they speak the language Iloko, also called Ilocano.

Ilocos Norte is composed of 21 towns and 2 cities (Laoag and Batac).  It is 45 mins from Manila by air, roughly 8 hours from Manila and 4 hours from Baguio by land.

How to get there:

It is advisable if you take a night bus ride (Partas or Florida Bus ) directly to Laoag since it is estimated 8 hours trip so that you’ll arrive as early as 10 am. You may also opt to take a flight or private vehicle to Laoag.

Upon arrival from the bus terminal, take a tricycle that will take you to the Capitol. Then, you can start your walking tour right away.

Laoag City. The name of the city is a derivation of the Ilocano term “lawag”, which means light/brightness.  According to history, Laoag has a clear, blue skyline.  It was from this premise, perhaps, that the place was given the name “Laoag.”

Walking Tour:

  • St. William Cathedral is also known as Laoag Cathedral.
  •  The Sinking Bell Tower was claimed to be sinking into the ground an inch every year.
  • Tobacco Monopoly Monument was a landmark constructed at the foot of the Marcos Bridge, over the Laoag River, which commemorates the lifting of tobacco monopoly in the Philippines.
  • The Museo Ilocos Norte is a place to visit. It housed old things from the past and inside is an old house where you can see how it is to live in the past.

Afterward, charter a tricycle to take you around Paoay and Batac (Php 250.00) to start your tour.

Paoay was originally called “Bombay” as the earliest inhabitants believed to have come from India.

  • St. Augustine Church is commonly known as Paoay Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the best Baroque Churches. It has a three-storey coral bell tower constructed separately from the church building on the right side resembling a Pagoda.

Paoay Church.
Paoay Church and the Belfry.

  • Malacanang of the North also known as Malacanang Ti Amianan is located in Suba. The grand mansion is overlooking Paoay Lake and is strictly opens at 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM from Tuesdays to Sundays with an entrance fee of Php 20.00. It was said to be given to former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos by her wife and first lady then, Imelda Marcos, as a gift for his 60th birthday.
  • Paoay Lake  is commonly referred by locals as Dacquel a Danum which means in Ilocano  “big water”.
  • Herencia Restaurant is the birthplace of pinakbet pizza.
  • La Paz Sand Dunes or Bantay Bimmaboy, a name which refers to the common perception that the dunes resemble pigs in shape, is a thrill ride of the 4X4 vehicle. Sand boarding is a “must-do activity”. It costs Php 2,500.00 good for 5 pax.

 Batac City is known as the “Home of Great Leaders.” The word Batac means to “pull” so as “the people’s pulling their efforts together.”

  • Marcos Museum and Mausoleum is previously the resting place of our former President Ferdinand E. Marcos. It is open as early as 9:00 AM with an entrance fee of Php 50.00.
Marcos Musuem.
  • Based on what I read, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church is plastered with palitada (a mixture of lime, sand, water, and molasses or egg whites), a decorative plaster used to protect and decorate soft volcanic stones that form these colonial-era churches.
Batac Church.
  • Batac Riverside Empanahdahan is where you will find the best empanada in Ilocos. Empanada comes from the verb “empanar”, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. You should try either Lanie’s or Glory’s double-double which was made by two longganisa and two eggs with grated green papaya and monggo sprouts and wrapped by crust made of rice flour. Yum yum!!

Famous Empanada at Batac Riverside Empanadahan.
Burgos is a 2-hour ride from Laoag. It was formerly known as Nagpartian and was renamed after the martyred priest José Burgos who was born in the Ilocos Region. Its early inhabitants were called Mamburi and known as a wild and fierce people who prevented the Christianized natives from settling in the vicinity.

  • REFMAD Dragon Fruit Farm is located at Paayas. Dragon fruit was referred as the “vine of life” because of its health benefits and income that it gives to local communities.

Dragon Fruit Farm.
Dragon Fruit.
Dragon Fruit.

  • Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is located in Burgos which also known as Burgos Lighthouse. It is the highest elevated lighthouse in the country.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.
Stunning view from the lighthouse.

  • The Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is located in Burgos. Kapurpurwan is an Ilocano word which came from the root word, “puraw“, which means pure or white. You can see how the amazing rocks were formed by sea waves and forces of water. You have the options to trek or go horseback riding for Php 50.00.

  • Bangui Windmills is a wind farm located in Bangui that is capable of producing electricity. It has 20 wind turbines arranged in a single row stretching along a nine-kilometer shoreline off Bangui Bay, facing the West Philippine Sea.

Wind turbines.
Along Bangui bay.
A long stretch of wind turbines.

Next, head to the bus stop to go to Vigan.

Ilocos Sur is subdivided into 34 municipalities and 761 barangays.

Vigan is the capital city of Ilocos Sur. The name Vigan came from the Ilocano word “kabiga-an” pertaining to the plant “biga” which is a tuberous plant that once grew along the banks of its rivers. It is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia.

Upon arrival, you will see lines of Calesa near the Cathedral of Vigan.

  • Calle Crisologo or Mena Crisologo is a cobblestone street lined with heritage houses that illuminate the Spanish colonial times. This is a must visit when you go to Vigan.
Calle Crisologo or Mena Crisologo.
Calle Crisologo or Mena Crisologo.
Calle Crisologo at night.
Horsy Horsy.
  • Bantay Church is home to the miraculous Nuestra Señora de La Caridad, Our Lady of Charity and is one of the oldest churches in the region.
Bantay Church or Nuestra Senora de La Caridad.
  • Bantay Bell Tower served as a watchtower for pirates back in the Spanish colonial era, gave the town its name “bantay“, meaning to guard. It has a donation box at the entrance which needs you to log your name and your donation on their record book.
Bantay Bell Tower.
Bantay Belfry.
  • St Paul’s Cathedral is canonically known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle.  It is considered a major religious landmark not only of northern Luzon but the country as well.

Church in Batac.

  • Baluarte is owned by Mr. Chavit Singson, a well-loved son of Vigan and well-known to most Filipinos and foreigners who follow the Philippine political scene.  A must-see attraction that has a mini zoo with animals from other countries and others endemic to the Philippines.
Burmese Phyton.
Cuite birdies.
Awesome Tiger.

Address: Brgy. Salindeg, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Open everyday at 7:00am – 6:00pm.

  • Hidden Garden is absolutely cozy, green place where you can find all sorts of plants available for sale. This garden is actually for people with green thumbs.

A history of the place according to its website:

“Six years ago, Francis Flores, the owner of Hidden Garden of Vigan suffered from three heart attacks. Half of his body was paralyzed. He then realized to change his life. So he decided to start a garden and became a landscape architect. It was a garden therapy for him until it became a business. Now he is planning to place a health spa to help other people as well.”

Where’s my lover? Lol
Heart-shaped plants.

Address: Brgy. Bulala, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Contact number: 604-02-70. 

Where to eat?

  • Inihaw sa Caoayan is popular around Metro Vigan for its barbecue and the boodle fight.

Address: Don Alejandro Quirolgico, Caoayan, Ilocos Sur (near the Caoayan Church and at the Mestizo Riverside). Opens 9 AM to 10 AM.

  • Lilong and Lilang Restaurant is located at the corner of Hidden Garden. It offers a wide variety of Asian and Local Ilokano dishes. White Empanada and Halo Halo is a must try.

Address: Brgy. Bulala, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Open at 6 AM to 7 PM. Contact Number: (077) 722-1450 | (0917) 922-2827

  • Cafe Leona is located right at the heart of the city that caters irresistible Ilocano dishes. It was named after the famous Ilocana poet and playwright, Leona FLorentino. I tried their best seller bagnet, pakbet and longganisa.

Address: Calle Crisologo St., Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. 

  • Cafe Uno is located inside Grandpa’s Inn. It offers freshly brewed coffee and Espresso as wells as a wide variety of pasta and sandwiches.

Longganisa Iloko.
Address: Grandpa’s Inn, 1 Bonifacio, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Contact No.: (077) 674 0686.

Mocha and Carrot Cake fo Cafe Uno.
Clubhouse & Fettucini Mushroom with Anchovies.
Dragon Fruit Lumpia.
Halo Halo of Lilong and Lilang.
Dragon Fruit Ice Cream.


  • Most of the places I cited above can be accessed thru a tricycle or Calesa.
  • Since the place is far, it is advisable to go a night trip instead.
  • Ask the locals on how to get to the places. They are very helpful.
  • Do a little research everytime you go travelling.
  • Pack light.

Enjoy Ilocos ❤️
References: Wikipedia, Wikipilipinas, ViganPH, LaoagGov


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