Ilocos in Region 1 is one of the must see tourist destinations in the Philippines. Located in Northern Luzon, the provinces of Ilocos ( Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur) provides all the attractions a tourist could ever want, from historical churches, giant windmills, outdoor adventure, great food and affordable hotels.
There are 2 major cities in Ilocos. The Heritage City of Vigan is the capital of Ilocos Sur while Laoag City or the Sunshine City is the capital of Ilocos Norte. The distance between these cities is around 75 kilometers but you can find towns and cities along the way that are worth seeing like Paoay, Curimao and Batac.
Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte
Vigan and Laoag are also great for educational and cultural field trips. Students and kids can learn lots of things while visiting some of Ilocos’ museums and churches. The place is so conducive for field trips it is not unusual to see foreign students particularly those coming from Taiwan in most Ilocos tourist spots.
You can reach Ilocos either by plane or by bus. There are daily trips from Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines to Laoag International Airport. The flight will only take an hour, leaving you with more time to explore Ilocos.
You can also reach Vigan and Laoag by car and by bus. The usual travel time to Vigan is around 8 hours by bus. Commuting is a fun way to explore Ilocos for you can interact more with the people and see up close how the people of Ilocos go on with their daily lives.
It is easy to go around Vigan and Laoag. But if you want to see more of what these places has to offer, you can enroll on a special tour and travel package like those offered in Groupon, a popular group buying site in the Philippines. This option will allow you to go on a field trip eliminating the hassles of finding affordable accommodations, places to eat and asking for directions on where the must see sites are.
When in Vigan don’t miss out on these great tourist attractions:
Vigan Tourist Spots
- Bantay Church and Bell Tower– the bell tower in Bantay is located on top of a small hill just beside the Church.
- Baluarte Zoo– Baluarte provides tourists with a place to take their kids and see lots of animals like deer, lions, tigers, ostrich and others.
- Vigan Cathedral– the Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the best examples of earthquake baroque in the Philippines.
- Calle Crisologo– this street made from cobble stones is the place where you can find many well preserved houses that was built centuries ago. Around the area are some of the best hotels to stay in such as Cordillera Inn. My advice is to look for hotel discount coupons offered at Leading Online Group Buying sites to avail great savings for your trips in Ilocos or anywhere in the Philippines.
- Vigan Public Market– This is one of the best places to buy your Ilocos pasalubong especially Vigan longanisa, bagnet, chichacorn, kalamay and others.
- Padre Burgos Museum– This is the ancestral house of Padre Jose Burgos, one of the martyr priest of the GOMBURZA. It was built in the year 1788 and some of the furniture, pictures and other family heirloom are still intact.
When in Laoag City, you must go and visit these tourist attractions:
Laoag City Tourist Spots
- Sinking Bell Tower– It was said that a man riding a horse can enter the gates of the bell tower of Laoag during the Spanish era. Now only kids can enter the doors upright and a grown person needs to hunch down low to enter this Laoag attraction.
- Gameng Museo Ilocos Norte– this museum is just a few meters away from the Ilocos Norte Capitol. It houses some artifacts and pictures on how the Ilocano was during the past and how they are trying their best to preserve their culture now. Gameng is the Ilocos word for treasure.
- Fort Ilocandia– Fort Ilocandia is one of the best hotels in Ilocos. It has its own beach front and a casino.
- St William’s Cathedral– The church was made in the year 1612 and is still in good condition today. It is located just a few meters from the sinking bell tower.
- Tobacco Monopoly Monument– This monument was made in honor of King Alfonso XIII for ending the tobacco monopoly in the year 1881.
- La Paz Sand Dunes– the sand dunes of Laoag provides great fun for outdoor adventure like ATV rides and sand boarding. This place is also a famous spot for film making.
Other must see places and tourist attractions in the Ilocos region are:
- Marcos Mausoleum and Museum in Batac, Ilocos Norte
- Bangui Windmills
- St Agustin Church in Paoay
- Malacanang of the North
- Pagudpod and its wonderful beaches
You can also see my other article regarding Vigan for more travel tips for your affordable Ilocos adventure.
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