Who wouldn’t want a nice roadtrip once in a while with your family? Last Holy Week, we decided to spend our vacation at one of my favorite provinces, Ilocos! To help you with your planning, this post will be dedicated to discussing our itinerary for the 3 days we spent there.
We left Manila at 7pm on Thursday to avoid the Holy Week traffic. Because it’s night driving, we had to make several stops along the way because my Daddy was the only one driving (total stopover time: 2 hrs). We arrived at Vigan at 4am in the morning. We went to eat breakfast at Mcdo Vigan (in front of the Vigan Church) at 5am after sleeping for an hour in the car.
Our family practice during holy week is that even if we were on a vacation, we will still do Bisita Iglesia. We went to visit the Vigan Cathedral to do some stations of the cross first. After that, we went straight to Calle Crisologo. A lot of people go to Calle Crisologo in the morning because of the sunrise, it’s one of my favorite places in the Philippines because of its abundance of culture. We stayed until 8am walking around the street. Since we’ve been to Ilocos before, we didn’t go to Bantay Bell Tower anymore. For the first timers, the Bantay Bell Tower is a must visit place as well.
Our next stop for this trip is Paoay, it’s around 1.5-2hrs trip from Vigan. We visited Paoay Church which is a popular tourist spot at Ilocos. It’s one of the most photographed places because of its beauty and the picturesque long entrance to the church. I imagined the walkway to be longer actually and the church to be in a secluded place but it’s right smack in the middle of a residential area. It’s one of the most beautiful churches I’ve been to because the structure was preserved. Go visit!
After Paoay church, we went to La Preciosa Restaurant to eat. This is one of the top 3 restaurants at Laoag according to tripadvisor. You can use waze if you want to find this restaurant. No wonder they are popular for their carrot cake because it was really delicious. The cake is fluffy and it has carrot bits on it. I am not a fan of carrot cakes but I loved it.
We checked in at Pamulinawen Hotel at San Nicolas after. This is the city outside of Laoag. There’s nothing spectacular about the hotel, it’s a little bit pricey for its amenities. If you’re going to stay at Ilocos, I think there are better and cheaper places to stay at.
We were so tired because we haven’t had a decent sleep yet so we just ate at Robinson’s which is near our hotel and stayed in for the night.
Our first agenda for the day is to go to Paoay Sand Dunes. In order to avoid the heat, we tried going there earlier. We were there before 9am but it’s so hot already. We rented one 4×4 for 2500 with unlimited sandboarding and one hour of sand dunes adventures. Guys, this is one of the best things I did in the Philippines and I will recommend this to anyone who’s going to Ilocos. I’ll be making a detailed post about the Sand Dunes!
After Paoay Sand Dunes, we went straight to the Malacanang of the North. This is the residential house of the Marcoses at Ilocos during their time. It’s now turned into a mini-museum where you can see Marcos memorabilia’s and some historical information about the achievements of the Marcoses. It has a nice view of the sea and you can imagine how grand this place was before.
We went to Herencia Restaurant after to eat lunch. This restaurant is popular for their Pinakbet Pizza but we’re not really a fan of vegetables so we weren’t able to try this. The food is Ilocano style like La Preciosa. I can’t choose which one is better because I liked the food in both restaurants. La Herencia is also included in the top 3 restaurants at Laoag.
After eating lunch, we went to Batac, Ilocos Norte to do a church visit. We’re still trying to squeeze in our Bisita Iglesia so we had the church as a sidetrip.
We went back to our hotel to change because there’s still a lot of sand in our clothes. After resting we went to Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. My mom likes to research for beautiful churches and the church in Sarrat came up. True enough, it’s one of those hidden gems. It’s an old church and it’s made of bricks so it’s really pretty. There’s also a mini ruins on the side of the church that you can check out.
After Sarrat, we went to Saramsam Ylocano restaurant at Laoag to eat dinner. This is the number 1 restaurant at Laoag and I couldn’t agree more. This is my favorite of the three. The ambiance of the restaurant is really nice, it’s very homey but with a little bit of elegance. The food was really delicious. Triple thumbs up for this place. You need try this when you’re at Laoag.
Our last stop for the day was Laoag Cathedral for the Easter Vigil. The mass was in Ilocano so we couldn’t really understand. After the mass, we went straight to our hotel to get ready for our last day tomorrow!
Today is our last day. We checked out before 8am because we’re going further north to visit the windmills. I really love Ilocos. You have teasers of what you’re going to see all the way to Bangui because there were already a lot of windmills at the top of the hills on the way there. It’s very picturesque, you can definitely stop at the side of the road when you see a beautiful view. We entered a small road towards the beach to reach the windmills. They are ginormous. You will be overwhelmed of how big the windmills are up close and you wonder why this place is not promoted enough. We spent more than 30 mins just taking pictures because you can’t take a bad picture there.
We didn’t go to the lighthouse because we didn’t have enough time so there’s something to get back to. We also didn’t go to Pagudpud because it was not really in our plan to go to the beach and we have been to Pagudpud before already. After the windmills, we went straight to Kapurpurawan Rock Formations. I swear, when we went there, the heat was too intense. You wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time outside. There are umbrellas and hats for rent and you just have to give whatever you can as donation.
The view is amazing because there’s a view of the sea and different rock formations. The tourists weren’t allowed to go near the rock formations probably because they are preserving it now especially after it became so popular. I am not sure if they allow when it’s not peak season but even from a far, Kapurpurawan is still pretty to look at. It will really standout because it’s white and shiny.
Now it’s time to go back to Manila, I can say that we were able to maximize our Ilocos trip. I really had a lot of fun and as I have said before, Ilocos is really one of my favorite places in the Philippines. We stopped by Vigan again on the way home to buy bagnet and some pasalubong of course!
Here’s a summary of our trip:
For those who haven’t been to these places, check them all out! Our country is very beautiful so let’s take time to explore it! 🙂