Ilocos is one of the popular regions in Luzon and easy to visit as it is just 8-10 hours away from Manila. This place will fulfill your wanderlust with different adventures, from a walk to the past in Calle Crisologo of Vigan City, up to the enormous windmills of Bangui. This travel guide will help you plan your next travel to Ilocos.
How to Get There
Laoag International Airport is the only airport in Ilocos. It is located in Laoag City, the capital of Ilocos Norte.
Provincial buses are available with travel time of 8-10 hours from Manila, depending on how long are the stop overs and traffic especially in the morning. It’s best to travel at night so you can sleep in the bus while travelling, and save you a night from hotel accommodation.
Available bus lines from Manila to Ilocos are:
Located in Cubao, just 5-minute walk from Gateway towards Quiapo/Stop n’ Shop. Fare costs P650 on air-conditioned bus.
Note: Partas do not allow advance buying of ticket even if your travel is on the same day. I visited at noon time but ticket for midnight travel is not yet available.
I have read a lot of comments recommending Florida Sleeper’s Bus. Unfortunately, we were not able to reserve, because no one is answering their phone. It seems it is better to go directly in Florida’s terminal and buy the ticket in advance.
How Long to Stay
A minimum of three (3) days stay is advisable when you visit Ilocos. One day each on Vigan City, Pagudpud and Laoag City.
Do not worry if you do not have your own vehicle, because there are many locals offering tours around Ilocos.
Tours via a van can accommodate up to twelve (12) people. Cost ranges from P2,500-P4,000 inclusive of gas and tour. Some of them also offer stay-in, a cheaper accommodation staying in a local’s house, with breakfast.
Tours via a tricycle can accommodate up to four (4) persons. There are many tricycles roaming around the province that offers tour, but make sure to haggle, because some of them offers higher price. It is advisable to look for tricycle drivers accredited by Department of Tourism (DOT).
Our tricycle tour costs P500 (Vigan), P1,500 (Pagudpud, North and South tour) and P500 (Laoag, Paoay and Batac). It seems it is higher than other tricycle tours as some says Pagudpud costs only P600 per tour, either North or South. But, for me it was worth it as we are able to visit as many places as possible with the limited time.
Listed below are the contact numbers of the drivers whom offered us tricycle tours:
- Kuya James (+63 936 338 8733) – Vigan Tour
- Kuya Jonas (+63 906 395 6176) – Pagudpud (North and South) and Laoag (including Paoay and Batac) tour
Is a horse drawn calash commonly seen in Calle Crisologo, Vigan City. They can offer you a tour around Calle Crisologo or even the whole Vigan City. Fare costs P150/hour.
Where to Stay
In Vigan City
- Escolta’s Homey Lodge is a new hotel (as of 2016) strategically located in Calle Crisologo. Given its location, it is a really great place for those who want to witness Calle Crisologo at night without the crowd of tourists. It is also cheaper than other hotels located in the area.
- While Green R Hotel is for those in a tight-budget. It is just a walk-away to Partas Bus Terminal, a good choice for those who will leave the next day going to Cubao, Laoag or Pagudpud.
- Check-out also Grandpa’s Inn and Restaurants, just a 3-minute walk away from Calle Crisolog. Though please note that due to its popularity, it is always fully booked, so make sure to make your reservation in advance.
Numerous resorts and stay-ins are available in Saud and Maira-ira Beach. For cheaper accommodation, stay in Saud Beach and ask your tour guide.
- Casa Victoria Resort & Restaurant is a resort with restaurant and beach front. Saud Beach have very few restaurants, that if you stay in other resorts and you want to eat, they will still tell you to go to Casa Victoria.
In Laoag City
- Balay da Blas. We did not stay here but my friend did and he recommended it. Though I’ve tried the restaurant inside this inn called Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant & Bar, and it offers really good food, please see below section for more info.
Where and What to Eat
Ilocano cuisines are not just delicious in taste, but also funny in names, as Ilocanos named their foods quite naughty like Poqui-poqui (woman’s sensitive area).
In Vigan City
- I highly recommend Café Uno and Uno Grille which are just opposite of each other. They both offers budget-friendly yet really delicious Ilocano cuisine.
- Café Leona is a good choice too, strategically located in one end of Calle Crisologo. Due to its popularity, it is easilly filled with diners especially at dinner time.
We ate in a karenderia at Bangui Windmills to save. While at the jump-off point to Kabigan Falls, some karenderia offers paluto where you can order in advance and they will cook the food while you are trekking. Though expect it to be more expensive than already cooked foods in karenderias.
In Laoag City
- Rafael’s Eatery offers budget-friendly yet really delicious Ilocano cuisine. I’m not a fan of vegetables especially Pinakbet, but I really enjoyed the Ilocano version of Pinakbet. Another must-try in their menu is Poqui-poqui.
- Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant & Bar inside Balay da Blas is very cozy place. You can choose from different types of room they have; the one we had is Chinese themed with indoor fountain and swimming Koi fish. You can experience here unique combination of food like the Dinardaraan (Dinuguan) Pizza.
Day 1: Vigan City
We decided to visit Vigan City first because I really want to see Calle Crisologo both day and night. It is better if you can come to Vigan as early as you can, so you can visit all the places that Vigan has to offer. We arrived around 11:00 AM which is a little late so we had to skip some museums.
Day 2: Pagudpud
On the way to Pagudpud, you will pass in Laoag City. Wondering why we still preferred to stay overnight in Pagudpud than Laoag? Because I prefer to take a rest in the beach after a whole day of exhausting activities under the sun in Pagupud.
Day 3: Laoag City, Paoay, Batac City
If you take time on roaming around museums, loves history and Marcos, then this is the place for you.
Sample Itinerary and Budget
Below is a sample itinerary for two (2) persons base on our trip in Ilocos.
|Day 1: Vigan City|
|12:00 AM||ETD: Manila (to Vigan, P650)||bus||1,300|
|10:00 AM||ETA: Vigan City|
|10:15 AM||lunch at Café Uno||walk/tricycle|
|11:15 AM||to Green R Hotel||tricycle||30|
|Check-in at Green R Hotel (1 night)||750|
|12:00 PM||Vigan City Tour (via Kuya James)||tricycle||500|
|Pagburnayan Jar Making||100|
|Baluarte ni Chavit|
|Bantay Church & Bell Tower||20|
|5:00 PM||Plaza Burgos|
|7:30 PM||Uno Grille|
|8:30 PM||Go back to hotel||tricycle||40|
|Day 2: Pagupud|
|4:30 AM||Early wake-up call|
|ETD: to Partas Bus Terminal – Vigan||walk|
|6:00 AM||ETD: Vigan City (to Laoag, P157)||bus||314|
|7:30 AM||ETA: Laoag City|
|Pagudpud Tour (via Kuya Jonas)||tricycle||1,500|
|8:15 AM||Bacarra Church & Acrobatic Bell Tower|
|8:30 AM||Pasuquin Salt Farm|
|9:00 AM||Dragon Fruit Farm||20|
|Pagudpud South Package tour|
|9:30 AM||Cape Bojeador Lighthouse|
|10:00 AM||Kapurpurawan Rock Formation||30|
|11:45 PM||Bangui Windmills|
|Pagudpud North Package tour|
|1:00 PM||Kabigan Falls||120|
|2:30 PM||Patapat Viaduct|
|3:00 PM||Paraiso ni Anton|
|3:30 PM||Blue Lagoon|
|Bantay Abot Cave|
|5:00 PM||Saud Beach|
|Check-in at Casa Victoria||1,350|
|8:00 PM||Back to hotel|
|Day 3: Laoag, Paoay, Batac|
|6:00 AM||Wake-up call|
|to Mini-bus Terminal||tricycle||70|
|10:00 AM||ETD: Mini-bus Terminal (to Laoag, P80)||mini-bus||160|
|1:00 PM||ETA: Laoag City|
|Laoag City Tour (via Kuya Jonas)||tricycle||500|
|Lunch at Rafael’s Eatery|
|01:30 PM||Museo Ilocos Norte (P50)||100|
|Paoay and Batac Tour|
|2:15 PM||Malacanang of the North & Paoay Lake (P30)||60|
|3:00 PM||Marcos Museum (P50)||100|
|3:30 PM||Paoay Church|
|4:00 PM||Paoay Lake View Deck|
|4:30 PM||Sinking Bell Tower & St. Williams Cathedral|
|4:45 PM||Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol|
|Aurora Park (front of Capitol)|
|Tobacco Monopoly Monument|
|Laoag City Hall (left of the park)|
|5:15 PM||Souvenir Shop & Public Market|
|6:30 PM||Dinner at Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant|
|7:00 PM||to Partas Bus Terminal – Laoag||tricycle||30|
|7:30 PM||ETD: Laoag (to Manila, P797)||bus||1,594|
|6:30 AM||ETA: Manila (next day)|
|Estimated Total Expenses (2 persons):||PHP 8,688|
For this travel, we spent roughly P8.7K for two (2) persons, including bus transportation but excluding food. Though please remember that you can still lower your expenses by inviting more people to your group.
This post is based on my personal travel experiences and research for this trip. Please feel free to share your experiences, as well as, suggestions or your questions on comments below.
I hope this helps you on your next travel. Enjoy!