Ilocos Norte & Sur | An I-Low-Cost Tour

Ilocos is sweeter the second time around – with a different set of friends and a break from work. Eight years ago, I’ve been at Ilocos Sur with my high school friends. We had an all-expense paid trip to Vigan and stayed at Baluarte for a week. That was the longest time that I’ve been far from home and my first time to go on a trip without my parents or relatives.
Moving forward…we joined the group of our friend’s family to complete the tour requirement and payment of P3,300 per pax inclusive of van, tour and 3 days of accommodation. For me, this is the least stressful and cheapest trip so far but the most uncomfortable 8-hour travel (back pain was my enemy).

Day 1


After sitting and sleeping for 8 hours, we woke up to this lovely view of Calle Crisologo. It was around 5am but there were already groups of tourists.
Found a better view in the farthest part of the street. I felt like Maria Clara of Noli Me Tangere while witnessing the sunrise in Calle Crisologo. The mix of lights, rustic and vintage structures and the sound of kalesas was so nostalgic.
IMG_0395The entire area has Spanish architecture and designs. The local government and the locals preserved the structures, and now, it is hailed as an UNESCO heritage site.

Hidden Garden



An affordable breakfast at a relaxing place. Also, they have a weird restroom. Imagine sitting on a toilet and the wall in front of you is a 2-way glass with a view of the plants outside – but don’t worry, you’re in a “hidden” garden

Crisologo Memorabilia Museum

A lot had changed in the museum. When I went here before, there were no labels on each display, you may touch or sit on the furniture and the floor and structure was a lot better. For more pictures, kindly click this link.

Pagburnayan Pottery Making

This is not a pottery scene in the Ghost movie.
The locals let us try the first step in pot making. I’ve tried this before and it is not easy as it looks. A wrong angle or pressure in your fingers can ruin the entire thing.
The finished products

Ilocos Norte

After another 1 to 2-hour drive, we finally reached Ilocos Norte. Our first stop was the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum. I thought we’ll be seeing the shoes of Imelda and some memorabilia’s of the late Pres. Marcos, but… but.. what we are going to see is the late President himself.
Since taking photos is not allowed inside, I’m going to describe it. So, you’ll enter a very cold room with black walls, you’ll hear a creepy orchestra-like sounds and  the spotlight is on an elevated glass casket. The wall has a Presidential seal and a stand with our Philippine flag. The late President is wearing long-sleeved barong, black slacks and leather shoes. Since we’re not allowed to get closer and touch the glass, we just stared at his wax-like skin. One word after leaving the museum: GOOSEBUMPS.

Cafe Herencia

My favorite meal of the day. We ordered crispy dinuguan, sinigang na baboy and Carbonara pizza (they do also serve Pinakbet pizza). There are also stalls in the back of the restaurant wherein you can buy assorted flavors of cornicks, bottled Iloko vinegar, Basi (local wine), hats and other souvenirs.

Saint Augustine Church 

Or commonly known as Paoay church is famous for its distinct architecture highlighted by the enormous buttresses on the sides and back of the building. It is declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government in 1973 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines in 1993. (source: Wikipedia)

Sand Dunes

The 4×4 ride was really heart pumping. I almost bit on the railings for extra support. My sweaty palms didn’t helped me in this ride.
I thought this would be easy, but the steepness and heat of the sand made it difficult. I totally sucked at this one because I fell off the sand board HAHA

Marcos Mansion



Marcos Mansion or Bahay Ti Ili was the birthplace of our former president Ferdinand Marcos. The province where the mansion is located is famous for grand ancestral homes, especially those found in Vigan. The Marcoses are reputed to have patterned the design of this mansion after the gracious Spanish colonial houses of Vigan, down to the peeling plaster.
The ancestral home is one of several grand homes owned by the family. It has a wood-paneled office which served as the office of Marcos’ father during his term as congressman, then Marcos’ congressional office prior to becoming president. It also served as an office for Imee Marcos, who went to live in the mansion during her term as congresswoman of Batac, and for Bongbong Marcos when he became governor of Ilocos. (from

Bangui WindmillsIMG_0647

Hi fans (#punintended)! These gigantic windmills were created for renewable energy sources and to help reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Enjoy the cold breeze, the lovely view of these windmills and the waves of West Philippine Sea during sunset.

Day 2

Patapat Viaduct

Let’s not burn bridges, literally & figuratively.


The bridge is elevated 31 meters over sea level. It is a concrete coastal bridge 1.3 km long and connects the Maharlika Highway from Laoag, Ilocos Norte to the Cagayan Valley Region. It rises along the town’s coastal mountains, which is the starting point of the Cordillera Mountain Range that snakes through Northern Luzon. It is the 4th longest bridge in the Philippines.

Bantay Abot Cave

Is it a hole in a mountain or a cave? As per, “This interesting geological formation is not really a cave but a rocky hill that resulted from an earthquake that happened so many years ago.
Bantay Abot Caves means “a mountain with a hole.” It is an exceptional formation embracing the clear blue sea. The whole sight of the little mountain is an image of a green whale resting ashore.”
After eating 3 sticks of carioca we proceeded to Hannah’s Beach Resort.
Cold winds at 12 noon. The feeling reminded me of the beaches in Batanes.
The entire shore was very clean. You must be very cautious when swimming – strong waves and rocks are not a good combination. You could also try their zipline and rent surfboards.
There’s something about grilled food and beaches. HAHA!
Afterwards, we proceeded to the beach behind our hostel. It was actually better – less populated and the sea was calmer. However, bonfires weren’t allowed.
Sunset appreciation is more fun in Ilocos10440844_10204781811763492_6600418752318851172_n
The most awkward groupfie photo

Day 3

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

This creamy white and streamlined limestone formations will make you scream “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS?!”
From afar, you could see the windmills. It is a long walk from the parking area and some parts are very rocky so you better wear a good pair of shoes. If you would like to conserve energy, you could also ride a horse for only P50.

Vigan again.

Aaaand we’re back for lunch and last minute shopping. Calle Crisologo is beautiful in both daytime and nighttime.
Pasalubong tips: Cassava bibingka is the mother of all pasalubongs! Buy cornick in Paoay as it is tastir, crunchier and cheaper. For Iloko vinegar and spices, ask your driver or tour guide for a quick stop over in a local market- it’s cheaper and fresher.

Cafe Leona

Vintage interiors and a menu of Spanish, Asian and Ilokano fused cuisines.
Bring out all your fried goodies! Mustn’t leave Ilocos without trying their Bagnet, Longganisa (which we had in day 1) and empanada (which we tried after having lunch)
*Some photos were grabbed from my friends


Add yours →

  1. AHHHH! This made me want to go to Vigan right now. It’s such a bummer that I did not spend the recent holiday to travel – such a wrong decision.

    Liked by 1 person

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