Ilocos Norte is a province of the Philippines in Ilocos Region. Its capital is Laoag City and it is at the northwest corner of Luzon Island. We had booked our trip with a tour group organized by Triple 8 Travel and Tours. Joining the tour group means all you have to do is pack your travel essentials. Pack light since the round trip transportation they provide from Manila-Ilocos-Manila is a van, but comfortable and travel friendly. Also, be sure to have all your gadgets charged as the travel time is long and you will start your tour straightaway when you reach Vigan, before they take you to Subli Subli Beach Resort where you will stay. The rooms are a little dated, but it is okay for a three days and two nights stay since you will be doing a tour the entire day. However, you can upgrade room with an extra charge of Php500.00.
Here are their package details:
The prices are for per person
- Php2, 999.00 per head MINIMUM OF 4 PERSONS
- Php3, 250.00 per head MINIMUM OF 3 PERSONS
- Php3, 499.00 per head MINIMUM OF 2 PERSONS
- Php3, 999.00 Solo Traveler
Furthermore, you need to pay Php500.00 per person for reservation. If you are in Manila, the departure day is every Thursday at 9pm in SM Mall of Asia Arena parking lot opposite side of SMX Convention Center.
Tip: When you book your trip, you can request a driver/tour guide you want.
However, since it is our first time to travel through triple 8, we didn’t request. But no regret, as Kuya Randy is really accommodating, fun-to-be-with and a good photographer. Request him when you book your tour package.
The package also includes complimentary breakfast for the second and third day.
We arrived 5:30am in Vigan and we went first to the famous Calle Crisologo for picture-taking.
After that, we ate breakfast and went to our next stop, the Bantay Bell Tower. Bantay Bell Tower is one of the famous landmarks in the town of Bantay in Ilocos Sur and overlooks the stunning view of the mountain in neighboring province of Abra and the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.
After, we went to Padre Burgos House, but unfortunately, it was close for renovation. Therefore, we decided to check-in instead since we are all exhausted from the long travel time. We reached Subli Subli at 11:00am and Kuya Randy gave us two hours to rest and to prepare for our next trip.
After two hours, we went next to Baluarte Zoo, but we stayed there for a short period of time since zoo is a common go-to-places and we are all (feeling) adults in our group hahaha. Next, we visited one of the famous and oldest churches in the Philippines, the Saint Augustine Church, known as Paoay Church.
Next is the Malacanang ti Amianan, known as Malacanang of the North or Marcos Museum. I didn’t take photos here aside from the one below as I am saving my phone’s battery and my energy for the next trip. However, Marcos Museum was a vacation house of our late former President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda Marcos in Batac, Ilocos Norte. In 2011, It was open to the public as a museum. The house been preserve and allows visitors to see the extravagant lifestyle that Marcos family enjoyed when they were in power. It has two floors, which features several bedrooms, guest rooms, dining areas, their old family photos and photos of late former President when he was still a kid.
The view of the house is the largest lake in the province of Ilocos Norte and one of the largest natural lakes in the area, the Paoay Lake.
Next trip and I consider this as the highlight of the tour as many tourists are looking forward for this part.
The Paoay Sand Dunes, it was a hell of a ride. Felt like you are riding a roller coaster without any seatbelt on. To make it scarier, you are standing and you will be holding for your dear life. Nevertheless, it is one for the books. Everyone must try this when you go visit Ilocos Norte. However, this part of the tour is optional. The 4×4 ride is Php2, 500.00 and it can carry five to six people. Therefore, if you are five in your group you can split the amount to save.
After, we ate dinner and went back to our hotel. The next day, our call time was 7:00am. We ate the complimentary breakfast and drove to Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, known as Burgos Lighthouse.
Burgos Lighthouse was established during the Spanish Colonial period in the Philippines. It was first lit on March 30, 1892 and is set high on Vigia de Naparitan Hill overlooking the scenic Cape Bojeador where early galleons used to sail by.
Next stop is Bagui Windmill Farm in Bagui, Ilocos Norte. The windmill was created to practice renewable energy sources and to help reduce the greenhouse gasses that cause global warming. This is the first “Wind Farm” project in the Philippines which is located in the shoreline facing the South China Sea and considered to be the biggest in Southeast Asia.
After the windmill, we went to Patapat Viaduct still in Pagudpud. Patapat Viaduct is the most scenic and most photographed destination in Ilocos Norte and I can prove to that.
After, we ate lunch then went to Bantay Abot Cave still in Pagudpud. It was not really a cave, but a hill wrecked by the earthquake in the 80’s leaving a hole in the middle. Sad thing, we didn’t get the chance to take creative shots with the cave as we planned, as several tourists came that day. Below are the only good photos that I took.
Second to the last trip for that day is Hannah’s Beach Resort where we had a free time for swimming and we tried the Hannah’s Zipline, known as the Asia’s Longest Zipline above water.
Superman harness – Php900.00 per person
Sit down harness – Php800.00 per person
After the beach, we drove to our last tour for that day, the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation that created by the ocean’s forces in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. We got there late that we didn’t get to see every rock formations, but the good thing is we saw the sunset by the beach with the backdrop of the mountains and windmills that made that last trip worthwhile.
The third and last day of the tour, we checked out at 8:00am and drove back to Vigan for our last destinations. When we reached Vigan, we rode a kalesa for our tour around the town. However, you can ride a tricycle too, but they suggested riding a kalesa to complete the historical Vigan Heritage Village experience.
For the round trip, you will pay Php160.00 and three people can fit in one kalesa, you can split the amount to save.
We went first to the Old Provincial Jail turned into art center. It showcases Ilocano’s rich history and culture, memorabilia of the late former President Elpidio Quirino, the classic Ilocano liquor made of fermented sugarcane juice “Basi” and several paintings of Esteban Pichay Villanueva of the 1807 Basi Revolt.
Next, we went to Pagburnayan. One of the famous and must see attraction in Ilocos Sur. It is in Barangay Pagburnayan Vigan. Pagburnayan is a place where they used the old and authentic methods in pottery. The root word “burnay” is a clay jar. It uses fine sand or anay as a tempering material and fired at a high temperature in a huge brick-and-clay ground kiln that make it harder and more durable than other terra-cotta. The local bagoong or fish sauce, sugarcane vinegar, and basi wine would not taste as good as it is if not fermented in burnay jars.
Tip: you can try the traditional way of making pottery, but you need to pay Php25.00.
After the pottery, we went back to Calle Crisologo to eat lunch and to buy pasalubong. Their famous pasalubong are bagnet and longganisa. Per kilo of bagnet is Php400.00 and 1/4 is Php200.00. Longganisa is Php300.00 per kilo.
When we finished buying pasalubong, we head back to our van and drove going back to Manila. However, as our Kuya Randy is really kind and he wanted us to visit as much as possible all the tourist attractions in Ilocos. We did a last side trip in Quirino Bridge known as Banaoang Bridge in Barangay Banaoang, Santa, Ilocos Sur.
It is named after the late former President Elpidio Quirino and it ranges through Abra River connecting the rocky mountain slopes of Santa and the tail end of Bantay. Quirino Bridge was praise because of its marvelous engineering and grand architectural design as glorified by its splendid panoramic beauty, strength, and durability when it survived the bombings of World War II. It is no longer use and replaced with a newer bridge. The scenic arch bridge stands as the iconic symbol of Ilocos Sur.
You get a picturesque view that you would not dare stop to capture it on your camera.
After, we head back to the road then we stopped over in Tarlac for dinner. We reached Manila at 12:00 midnight. By the way, the dropping place is the same with the meeting place at SM MOA. Therefore, make sure to arrange someone to pick you up particularly if you are a solo traveler or book a GrabCar for a safer ride home.
I must say Ilocos is a place worth visiting. I enjoyed this tour so much from the beaches to its historical places that definitely will take you back in time.
Thank you, Ilocos. Till next time ❤