Ilocos attractions
Chronicles,  Experience,  Ilocos,  Luzon,  Philippines,  Vigan

Ilocos Attractions: Revisiting Mauie’s Birthday Trip

Fifty-six hours and a hundred miles or so (didn’t really keep track..hehe). We were off to some Ilocos attractions, for friendship and love of adventure. That’s what that trip was all about. Happy birthday to me.

May 15, 2009, 12mn. Quite an early start for late risers like us. But the fun just started as we braved the traffic of mega Manila to go up north of the country.

Ilocos attractions we visited


This quaint city will charm you without effort. Recently shortlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage List, Vigan is any photographer’s delight.


May 15, 2009, 9am. Nine hours after we departed, we finally reached our first destination. This “free zoo” concept is the brainchild of the incumbent Ilocos Sur governor, Chavit Singson.

ilocos attractions

ilocos attractions

ilocos attractions

Vigan Cathedral

ilocos attractions

vigan cathedral ilocos attractions

Burgos Museum

The birthplace of one of the GOMBURZA, Fr. Jose Burgos, the museum contains the priest’s memorabilia and other historical items. Click here for driving directions.

An old printing press and baskets.

Suspended in time. One of those unintended lucky shots.

Crisologo Museum

The museum guide, Ms. Remy, was kind enough to let us have a free run.



Calle Crisologo

Perhaps the most famous attraction in all of Vigan, this street features a wide array of souvenir shops and old architecture. With the exception of calesas or horse-drawn carriages (and perhaps tricycles, too, as pictured), vehicles are not allowed to trod on the cobblestone path.



May 16, 2009, 4:30pm. Before heading back to Manila, we bought more souvenirs here while waiting for the sun to set.


Pottery-making is also a source of income (and creativity) for Vigan residents as evidenced by the presence of 3 Pagburnayan areas located in the city.

ilocos attractions

Mang Bongbong (guy on the pic who told me I wouldn’t forget his name easily because of the association to Bongbong Marcos..nice mnemonic if I may say so..hehe) let Julie and me try our hand at it and the results were hilarious.


At only P150.00 an hour, renting any of these calesas sure beats the heat while touring the historic city of Vigan. We were lucky to have an even-tempered driver in the person of Lolo Santiago Quibal.

Quaint shops and restaurants like this will appeal to any hopeless romantic.


As a friend would say, Vigan is less glamorous at night but nonetheless still enthralling.


This quiet town features the Balay ti Ili, home of the illustrious Marcos family and the equally infamous dead body of the late president. Taking of pictures was not allowed inside the burial viewing area but you can bet I was sorely tempted to whip out a camera. *wink*

ilocos attractions



We credit our going there to our fast-thinking and fast ..errr.. driving driver who convinced us we will arrive there in ample time without ruining the entire trip schedule. Mucho thanks, Uncle Danny.


Click here for more on those beauties.


After 30 minutes of enjoying those seaside giants (and me getting soaked from knee down while trying to let the waves catch me), we headed to Pagudpud, the famed beach dubbed by some as the “Boracay of Ilocos Norte”.

Also read: 15 Totally Underrated Destinations in the Philippines


ilocos attractions


A mix of the old and the new architecture, Laoag also offers tasty Ilocano dishes.


ilocos attractions

Laoag’s Sinking Bell Tower and Tobacco Monopoly Monument.

Colourful murals abound the city as well.



A few kilometres away from the city proper is a breathtaking site of the beautiful sand dunes of La Paz.

(Pictured are Julie and sister Charmaine.)

It took us some time to get there as traffic was routed because of ongoing road constructions (we had fun trying not to fall into the river as the driver expertly maneuvered the van..hehe). The camera couldn’t capture the magnificent view the sand dunes afforded us. Yet despite the heat and dust, it was all worth it.

Museo Ilocos Norte

ilocos attractions

ilocos attractions

ilocos attractions

Possibly a reproduction of Juan Luna‘s Parisian Life. The famous painter and national hero is a native of Badoc, Ilocos Norte.

Fort Ilocandia

Getting inside Ilocos Norte’s only five-star hotel is a feat deserving no less than 2 Academy awards. Julie, Charmaine and I sneaked inside Fort Ilocandia (while the others waited inside the van under the sweltering heat) on the pretext of asking for room rates. Even after seeing that we don’t look rich enough to be able to afford even a night’s stay, fortunately, the receptionist, left us to get brochures. And off we went click click click. 😀



Although wikipedia says Paoay is more famous for the Paoay Lake, it was the church that captivated me. Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Paoay Lake on a sunny Saturday afternoon.


The church is also known as the St. Augustine Church.

ilocos attractions


ilocos attractions

Friend to Pachuvachuva: Should you decide to get married, do it here.

Pachuvachuva: *Chokes* Hahahaha

May 17. A million bathroom stops later, the van finally dropped six weary and sleepy “travelers” (sounds better than “tourist”) at Julie’s place in Pasig City. The fact that it was 4:00 a.m. didn’t escape us. What a trip! ^_^

ilocos attractions

Pachuvachuva taking a break and flashing a smile outside Max’s Restaurant in Calle Crisologo. Photo credits: Jezevyl Pilota

Naragsak a kasangay is “Happy Birthday” in Ilocano. There might not have been fancy cakes nor ice cream to mark that day nor my knight in his [dream] Shelby GT500 Mustang (hehehe) but yes, it was a birthday well-spent. Thank you friends. You’ve made it worthwhile. 😉

The Fort Ilocandia photos were taken using a Samsung Digimax S1030/Kenox S1030. That one of the Paoay Lake was by a Sony Cybershot DSC-W55. The rest of the photos by a Canon Digital IXUS 860 IS and a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS3. Mucho thanks to Julie, Jeanette, Jez and Chen, respectively, for letting me use your cameras. Hehehe. Copyright by author.

This blog entry was originally posted on The Traveling Reader.

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