Ilocos Region: A Journey up North

Summer is just around the corner but this time, let’s skip the beach trip for a while and head up north to see what’s in store for us!

Being 10 hours away from Manila (estimated time via land trip), the province of Ilocos is on the northern tip of the Luzon island. Thus, it is really important to plan your trip ahead if you would like to visit the region. From the usual beach trips to historical churches to wonderful sites of nature and adrenaline-rush activities, Ilocos Region has got you covered.

On a joined tour with 15 guests, me and my friends spent our long weekend at Ilocos and had a 3D2N span of time to enjoy the place. Just to be transparent, 3 days is really not enough to see all the tourist destinations; but we’re happy we were able to squeeze in all the most important spots in our itinerary. I’m excited to share with you our trip so sit back, relax and prepare to be smitten by Ilocos’ rich cultural heritage and natural wonders.

Day 1 – City of Laoag

First stop in our Ilocos Norte adventure is the City of Laoag –  the capital of the province. Ilocos Region’s only commercial airport is located in this city (Laoag International Airport). Some heritage sites like Spanish Colonial Buildings, Baroque Churches and Marcos-era mansions can also be found here.

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Paoay Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

St. Augustine Church, well known as Paoay Church, is one of the oldest church in the Philippines. Its unique style, a baroque church covered by green grass and blue sky and a picture-perfect façade makes your shot an IG-worthy picture. Check some of the pictures I have taken below:

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Inside the St. Augustine Church
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Beating the heat with some ice cream here at Ilocos Norte

A little dirt and adventure won’t hurt, will it? You cannot leave Laoag without experiencing its famous Paoay Sand Dunes.  Get your adrenaline pumping in a mixture of excitement and panic as the 4×4 jeepney stirred you across the vast arid land.

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And oh, did I mention that you can also do sandboarding after your ride? 

Re-live the Marcos-era by visiting the famous Malacañang of the North. Take a look and experience the life and grandeur of one of the most influential families in the country.

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The Malacañang of the North
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The Mansion overlooking the beautiful Paoay Lake

Day 2 – Pagudpud

On our second day, we visited the beautiful town of Pagudpud. It is a 2-hour drive away from Laoag City where we stayed at.

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This town is known for its white sand, pristine beaches and crystal turquoise blue waters, which is also the reason why they call it the “Boracay of the North.”

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You can never be sad in a wonderful place like this
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Tried local’s ice scramble and it’s really way way better compared in Manila

This coastal town is not just about the beach. Its neighboring towns, Bangui and Burgos, greet their visitors with beautiful sceneries and famous tourist spots here in the north.

Visit the Bangui Windmills – a project initiated by the government to start using clean and renewable energy production in the region. Make a stop at the Patapat Viaduct – the 4th longest bridge in the Philippines. Or catch the sunset at the Cape Bojeador and find yourself in awe on the ancient lighthouse.

Day 3 – Vigan

They say “save the best for last”, and I couldn’t agree more. An Ilocos trip won’t be complete without a glimpse on the famous street in the country which can be found in Vigan City.

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If you’re in love with the Philippine history just as much as I do, then I’m sure you will fall in love with this place. Calle Crisologo (aka “Heritage Village”) is the famous tourist spot in Vigan City because of the ancient houses that will take you back to the Spanish Era. It is indeed a place of old times, surrounded by houses and architectures that blends Filipino and colonial European design and construction.

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Calle Crisologo is considered a UNESCO Heritage Site to preserve its almost 200 ancient structures
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Only Calesas and Pedestrians are allowed to pass the street

On our way back to Manila, we also went and visited the Banaoang Bridge, also known as Quirino Bridge, which is named after the former president Elpidio Quirino. The bridge offers a scenic, panoramic view with the Abra mountain at the back.

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The Picturesque view of the mountains

The above mentioned places are just some of the tourist spots you can visit and enjoy here in Ilocos. Aside from these, go and submerged yourself in the simple living of the Ilocanos. Eat their famous empanadas, bagnet and longganisa. There’s a lot of things to enjoy here in the North; And I’m pretty sure, the almost-12-hours travel is worth it!

Have you gone to Ilocos? What are the places you have enjoyed so far? Let me know by commenting it down below. Keep on wandering!

 

 

 

 

 

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