Since travel is still limited this year because of the pandemic, just let me retrieve some of my travel memories when the world was still in a normal situation. I am a kind of person who really into travel. I love to go anywhere as long as its about nature and adventure, whether with group of friends, colleagues, or with family. The farther the place, the more excitement I feel. The northern part of the Philippines is one of my favorite destination.
It’s been seven years ago when I went to my first longest trip to the north, the provinces of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. These two provinces were located in Ilocos Region which is in the northern part of Luzon. Ilocos is best known for its historical and cultural sites that is really worth exploring. It was a 3 day 2 nights planned trip with my school colleagues. We hired a travel agent to arrange our trip because Ilocos province is roughly 10-12 hours from Manila by bus. The best part of the long hours of travel was the scenery along the way.
Our first destination was the famous historical city of Vigan in Ilocos Sur and it was also where our accommodation located. My first impression of Vigan was like I was traveling back in time when the Spaniard colonized our country. Everything was like there are history to unfold. I felt like I was inside the Philippine history book. On the other hand, the province of Ilocos Norte is best known for the birth place of the late and controversial former president of the Philippines, the late Ferdinand Marcos. In here is found everything related to the Marcoses family.
To summarized my trip to Ilocos, here are some of the tourist spots I personally visited both in Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte and highly recommended to those who plan their trip to these two provinces.
This is the famous tourist attraction in the city of Vigan. In here you’ll find the long preserved street of old and ancestral houses which built during the Spanish times. Also you can buy yourself here a variety of souvenir items and local products. Kalesa or horse drawn carriage is also available for you to ride and tour all over the place.
Bantay Church Bell Tower
In this church you’ll experience the best view of the northeast Vigan. But you need to climb first the winding staircase to get to the top where you can see the enormous bell hanging in the middle of the tower.
The Pagburnayan Jar Factory
This is one of the few remaining jar factories in Vigan. Visiting here would give you a chance to learn pottery making and the history and origins of the art of producing jars. You’ll definitely appreciate the art of pottery making after getting a tour here.
Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo
This hundred-hectare zoological park and resort is only 10 minutes away from Calle Crisologo and owned by the former governor of the province. This place is dubbed as the Home of the Big Cats in Vigan because it accommodate bengal tigers, white lions, leopards, ostrich, deer, donkeys, camels, zebras, different kinds of reptiles and a lot more animals. There is also a Zafari Gallery where you can see the collection and memorabilia of the owner’s hobby as a hunter.
The best part of visiting churches in Vigan is the history behind its architectural design. The Vigan Cathedral was built in 1574 and was completed in 1800. It follows a Baroque architectural design and modified by the locals into structure against earthquake known as “Earthquake Baroque”.
Just more than an hour from the city of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, we reached the city of Laoag in Ilocos Norte where we continue our historical adventure. The province of Ilocos Norte will also indulge you to its different tourist spot.
The Paoay Church
This church is a UNESCO world Heritage Site. It was founded by the Augustinian missionaries in 1593 and one of the famous and oldest churches in the country.
Malacanãng of the North
It is a presidential museum found in the municipality of Paoay. This was the residence of the late former president Marcos and his family. This grand mansion is situated in a beautiful grounds overlooking the Paoay lake. The architecture and interior design as well as the furniture really defined as a royal mansion.
Bangui Windmill Farm
This iconic windmills of Ilocos Norte is situated in the municipality of Bangui. It is a 20 units of 70 meter high wind turbines arranged in a single row. These windmills supply the 40% of Ilocos Norte’s electricity needs. Aside from that, it becomes one of the major tourist destination in the province.
Best known as the ‘Boracay of the North’ , this true paradise is located in the municipality of Pagudpud. The white sand like sugar and the clear water is the best attraction in this beach. You can also view the Bangui windmills afar which added the picture perfect view of the sea especially during sunset.
The Patapat Viaduct
It is a 1.3 kilometer bridge that connects the Maharlika Highway in Ilocos Norte to the other region which is the Cagayan Region. What’s best in this bridge is its curvy path and the breathtaking scenery on both sides of it, the wonderful sea and the green mountain. You’ll definitely not resist to stop in the middle of the bridge to get a souvenir selfie or a groupie shot.