Our trip to this region is filled with good and some bad memories but I prefer to focus more on the good ones.
It’s a long drive from Manila to the Ilocos Region so make sure your van or car has a lot of space for your legs to stretch. In our case, leg space wasn’t a problem since the van we used was surprisingly spacious. What I was more concerned about was our little boy; it will be his first looooong drive. I’m nervous he would cause a riot inside the van with 9 strangers (we joined a group tour). Luckily, we traveled at night so he end up sleeping the whole time.
Our first stop was the Laoag Cathedral which has been in existence since 1612. It has been renovated a couple of times due to damages caused by fire and earthquake.
It was the Holy Week so we already expected a lot of people!
The Kapurpurawan Rock Formation was such a beautiful landform. The white limestone against the blue sky and aqua sea makes it stand-out more. Just remember to bring an umbrella because you have to walk (5-10minutes) to get to the limestone but if you’re too tired, you can rent a horse.
The Bangui Windmills is another tourist destination because of the..well, windmills. There are 20 enormous units, standing at 7o meters and generating a total of 30 MW.
My favorite, or one of my favorites would have to be the UNESCO Heritage Calle Crisologo in Vigan. The Spanish houses along this Calle (kal-ye) or street transport you back through the time when the Philippines is still under the Spanish Colony. There were even kalesas (ka-leh-sa) or horse carriages that you can ride on to take you around.
Then we head to Baluarte, a mini zoo which is also in Vigan. This is my son’s favorite because of the animals he saw. Here we met Tom the Tiger and we got the chance to take a picture with him.
Then we head to the beach!
The Paoay Sand Dunes is for thrill-seekers out there. You can rent a 4×4 (with a driver) and he’ll be driving you around the sand dunes. Be careful not to open your mouth while driving around or you’ll end up swallowing a lot of sand! Another attraction is the sand boarding activity; it’s like surfing but on sand :D. We didn’t get to try these activities because it might be unsafe for our son. Next time! 🙂
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse offers an amazing view of Cape Bojeador in Burgos, Ilocos Norte and the West Philippine Sea. You just need to climb a flight of concrete stairs to get to the top and see the view. Afterwards, try the famous Ilocos Empanada found at the store near the concrete stairs. It’s made up of vegetables, Ilocos longganisa and egg wrapped in an orange dough then they’d deep fry it. It can get pretty oily but it’s worth a try. Trust me, I’m also not a fan of deep-fried dishes. Personally, I think, the one found in Cape Bejeador was the most delicious.
Going home I pondered on our 3-day trip. Yes there were a lot of disappointments but the beauty of Ilocos Region made us forget those easily. Plus, those bad memories (like not being able to swim in Pagudpud) are enough reasons to go back. I also suggest, if it’s your first time to go to Ilocos, consider taking a 4-day tour or more. Ours was really exhausting, maybe because we also have a toddler with us. Imagine eating dinner at 11pm with a little boy throwing tantrums because he’s too tired and sleepy to eat. I felt guilty as a mother. I have to read more blogs/articles/books about travelling with a toddler. None of his pictures show his smiling face. Poor boy. Good thing he was able to sleep during the entire trip going back to Manila. Overall, it’s a wonderful yet tiring adventure but definitely, I ‘ll see you again Ilocos.
- Bring an umbrella, sunblock, water and snacks.
- I realized that availing a tour package would mean we have no control of our time. Our poor baby had to be awaken early (5 am!) because we had to follow the itinerary. I suggest, try doing a DIY tour and renting a van. Plus, don’t forget to do a tons of research!
- Before booking a travel agency, do a lot of research. We learned our lesson the hard way (read here).
- I couldn’t stress this enough: RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH!