Just recently, a friend of mine invited me to travel to Ilocos Norte.
I would want to come back, but I had travel plans in place for the summer. Then I just realized something. I’ve been to the Ilocos Norte, explored its stunning rock formations, beaches and historical sites but I don’t have a blog post about the province yet. So I promised that if I would have much more time, I would write something for Ilocos. So here it is.
Ilocos region is more than being the hometown of former President Marcos, it is an awesome vacation spot for any traveler. It’s complete. You’ve got adventure, nature, history and beaches. So if you’re planning to explore Ilocos Norte, you have to push for it to happen because it’s going to be fun!
Here are some tourists spots and attractions we visited during our 3 day travel.
1. Paoay Church
St. Agustine Church, also known as Paoay Church is a UNESCO World Heritage site declared in 1993. This is one of the remaining Baroque style churches in the Philippines built by Augustinian friars on 1710 led by Father Antonio Estavillo after two decades of construction.
The facade of the church is stunning! With its Bell tower on the left side, it exudes grandeur that showcases our rich history and culture. This is definitely one of my favorites during our trip. More than that, this was the spot where I had one of my most memorable and funny travel photos. Hahaha! – READ : Paoay Church: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ilocos Norte
2. Pagudpud Beach
The town of Pagudpud has so much incredible beaches, perfect for any travelers who want to experience a much needed relaxation after a day of touring.
One of the most famous is the Blue Lagoon located at the Miara-ira point at the tip of Pagudpud. It’s clear waters and fine sand will give you the much needed “vitamin sea” especially during summer. Before going to Blue Lagoon, our group experienced some problems and all, but we forgot our worries for a while when we were already at the beach. I would love to come back to Pagudpud one of these days. – READ: Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
3. Bangui Wind Mill
One of the most popular and iconic tourist spots in Ilocos Norte. You always see these windmills on TV or magazine, but though you already have an idea of how these turbines look like, you will still be in awe the moment you’re face to face with it. It’s huge, and feels like you’re in front of a robot with a colossal sound as it makes turns.
These were completed in 2008 with 20 turbines generating 40% of electricity for the entire province. It’s environment friendly too. READ: Bangui Windmills: Ilocos Norte’s Iconic Tourism Destination
4. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Kapurpurawan comes from the Ilocano word puraw which means white. I bet you already know why. It’s so white, it’s unbelievable! a unique creation of nature.
It’s located in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. It’s still a quite a long walk from the parking lot to the rock formation itself. You also have the option to do some horseback riding, but we preferred to walk! After enduring the scorching heat of the sun, we’ve finally arrived at the rock formation, and well, what can I say? It’s beautiful. – READ: Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, Ilocos Norte
5. Paoay Sand Dunes
Located in the town of Paoay, this is an adventure you surely don’t want to miss in Ilocos Norte!
Some parts of the province has vast sand dunes and the town’s tourism office has turned this to their advantage by creating some adventure activities like sandboarding and the 4×4 ride!
After the exhilarating 4×4 ride which is a must! We then settled to a spot at the top of the sand dunes to do the sandboarding. Obviously, I wasn’t successful with it but I had fun! That’s the most important. READ: Paoay Sand Dunes – Falling Face First While Sandboarding!
6. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Also in Burgos, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is cultural heritage structure in Ilocos Norte. It is located on top of a hill with a spectacular view of the vast land and sea.
It stands on top of Vigia de Nagparitan Hill, overlooking Cape Bojeador. This was used for galleons during the Spanish colonization time. It’s been more than 100 years since it was built and served as a beacon signaling to ships that they have entered the Philippine territory. READ: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte
7. Patapat Viaduct
Another tourist spot with stunning views! Patapat Viaduct connects Ilocos Norte and the rest of Cagayan Valley region. It is elevated at about 31 meters above sea level and located at a coastal area with a view of the mountain and the West Philippine Sea.
It was completed in 1986 with 1.3 kilometers long. This place is perfect for photo op and groufie. READ: Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud: Connecting Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley
8. Kabigan Falls
Pagudpud is more than just beautiful beaches. It also has rich forest and mountains that are also worthy to explore.
When we were there, we got a chance to explore a waterfalls in Pagudpud. Yes, there is! It’s called Kabigan Falls! It’s a chill kilometer walk from the jump off to the falls itself. Kabigan is about 120 feet. We weren’t able to swim when we were there but we knew the water was cool and refreshing by just wading to it. The best part is the lush green forest that surrounds the falls with chirping birds and cool fresh air. READ: Kabigan Falls in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
9. Sinking Bell Tower
Once you arrive in the city of Laoag, this will surely capture your attention, it’s the Sinking Bell Tower of St. William Cathedral. It’s a 45 meter bell tower built by the Augustinians in 1612. This was called the sinking bell tower because as time goes by this continuously sinks to the ground like an inch per year. Studies show it is because it was built on a sandy foundation and the tower itself is so heavy.
10. Malacanang of the North
This is the official residence of the Marcoses in Ilocos Norte, and has been an extension of the office of the President during the time of Pres. Marcos. After all these years, the mansion turned into a tourist destination. You know the expensive taste of our former first lady right?
Other Side Trips in Ilocos Norte? Marcos Museum, Paraiso ni Anton and Sarrat Church.
Ilocos Norte Food and Favorites
Here are some of the food, you shouldn’t miss!
Bagnet -deep fried crispy pork belly dish
Longganisa – local garlic sausage dish
Pinakbet – vegetable stew in shrimp paste
Igado – pork meat and liver sautéd in soy sauce with vinegar
Dinengdeng – local vegetable dish
Poqui-poqui – smoked eggplant dish
Empanada – Delicious Ilocano Street Food
Hotels and Accommodation in Ilocos Norte
Here are some of the best hotels in Laoag and Pagudpud.
How to get there
Airlines like Cebu Pacific and PAL have flights from Manila to Laoag International Airport, which is the only airport in Ilocos Norte. Once you arrived there, there are jeeps and tricycle to take you to the city proper.
You can also travel there by bus. Companies like Florida Bus, Partas and others have trips to Laoag, Ilocos Norte and Vigan, Ilocos Sur.You can also go for tour packages which is offered by agencies. It’s a hassle free travel as they prepare everything from you to itinerary, food and accommodation.