Ilocos: Travel Guide

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

By Air

Laoag International Airport is the only airport in Ilocos. It is located in Laoag City, the capital of Ilocos Norte.

By Land

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:

  1. Partas
    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.
  2. Florida
    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.

Getting Around

Do not worry if you do not have your own vehicle, because there are many locals offering tours around Ilocos.

Van

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.

Tricycle

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

Kalesa

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.

Kalesa
Kalesa

Where to Stay

In Vigan City

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

In Pagudpud

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.

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
Café Uno
Café Uno
Ginisa nga Ipon
Ginisa nga Ipon (from Cafe Uno, Seasonal)
Empanada
Empanada (from Plaza Burgos)

In Pagudpud

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
Rafael's Eatery
Rafael’s Eatery
Pinakbet
Pinakbet (from Rafael’s Eatery)
Poqui-poqui
Poqui-poqui (from Rafael’s Eatery)

Our Journey

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.

Museum and other tourist spots here have lunch breaks, so please do your research in advance and check the opening, breaks and closing of the places you will visit.

 

Sample Itinerary and Budget

Below is a sample itinerary for two (2) persons base on our trip in Ilocos.

Sample Itinerary for 2 Persons
Time Description Transpo Amount
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
Hidden Garden
Baluarte ni Chavit
Bantay Church & Bell Tower 20
Calle Crisologo
5:00 PM Plaza Burgos
Plaza Maestro
Vigan Cathedral
Plaza Salcedo
7:30 PM Uno Grille
8:30 PM Go back to hotel tricycle 40
Day 2: Pagupud
4:30 AM Early wake-up call
5:00 AM Check-out
ETD: to Partas Bus Terminal – Vigan walk
6:00 AM ETD: Vigan City (to Laoag, P157) bus 314
7:30 AM ETA: Laoag City
Breakfast
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
Lunch
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
Timmangtang Rock
Bantay Abot Cave
Maira-ira Beach
5:00 PM Saud Beach
Check-in at Casa Victoria 1,350
7:00 PM Dinner
8:00 PM Back to hotel
Day 3: Laoag, Paoay, Batac
6:00 AM Wake-up call
7:00 AM Swimming
9:30 AM Check-out
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
Laoag Tour
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.

Have fun!

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!

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