Classic but never gets old. Ilocos remains one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines.
The most common option to get to Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte is by bus with 10-12 hours travel time. Van transport is another alternative especially when you’re travelling as a group. Our visit to Ilocos on the other hand is done thru roadtrip. We selected the tourist attractions that suit our interest and time.
Paoay Church and Bell Tower
The Saint Augustine Church in Paoay Ilocos Norte is famous for its distinctive architecture with massive and thick buttresses on its sides and back. It was perceived as a support to withstand the earthquakes. Paoay Church is declared a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippines and UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines.
The Bell Tower adjacent to the church is built separately on the right side and served as observational post during the revolution against the Spaniards.
Paoay Church and its Bell Tower are places not to skip when in Ilocos.
Paoay Sand Dunes
Experience a different kind of adventure in Paoay Sand Dunes when you ride the 4×4 jeep while it crosses over and down the hills like a roller coaster ride. This bumpy and dusty thrilling ride is a must when in Ilocos. It gives you an unforgettable experience and adrenaline rush.
The sand dunes are made from loose sands and oftenly shape by the prevailing wind coming from the West Philippine Sea and lie adjacent to Suba Beach. The long stretch of sand dunes encompasses the towns of Currimao to Pasuquin Ilocos Norte.
Aside from the 4×4 ride, another worth-trying activity is the sand boarding. It is like sliding in a swimming pool, the only difference is you’ll be riding on a board and slides downhill. It is quick and easy, you just need to follow the instruction and maintain your balance. Sand boarding is unlimited when you get the package for Php2,500 good for 5 persons. We got a discounted rate of Php1,800 when someone offered it when we’re in Paoay Church.
Before you end your sand dunes experience, make sure to drop by near the beach. The place is really captivating and picture-perfect.
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
This beautiful creamy white rock formation is located in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. The limestone formation is molded naturally by ocean waves and weather through time.
Kapurpurawan today transformed entirely from a raw scenic attraction to a mainstream tourist spot. Compared to our visit in 2014, Kapurpurawan is now populated with souvenir stands and other small establishments. Horseback riding is also a common activity.
A good development in Burgos is the presence of windmills. It adds up to its originally beautiful backdrop and a big source of electricity in the province. Flying of drone in Kapurpurawan is prohibited.
The Bangui Windmills are probably one of the trademarks of Ilocos province. These gigantic wind turbines generate electricity for nearly 40% of the province’s electrical power. Ilocos Norte tends to have more wind than other provinces due to its location between the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean making it an ideal place for wind turbines projects.
Tourism-wise, these windmills attract tourists all over the country even for foreigners because of its unique charm and graphic landscape. Several times it was featured in TV segments, travel blogs and even served as prenup spot.
The Blue Lagoon is also known as Maira-Ira Point and is located in Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte. It is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the North. It has fine white sand and clear bluish water. Hotels, resorts and homestays are just around the corner giving you a lot of options to stay.
The place is also perfect for swimming with several exciting water activities like banana boat ride, jetski and zipline.
Bantay Abot Cave
Bantay Abot Cave is the nearest tourist spot from Blue Lagoon. Its significant distinction is the hole in the middle and green vegetation on its top. Getting in the interior, one needs to go down a few cemented staircases and some rock formation.
The Patapat Bridge or Patapat Viaduct is one of the most scenic and most photographed tourist destinations in Ilocos Norte. It is located on the northernmost tip of Luzon Island and connects Ilocos Norte to Cagayan Valley region.
Patapat Viaduct’s long and series of arches plus the superb ocean view are its main attractions giving the visitors an ideal picture spot.
On the way to Pagudpod, there is this beautiful cliff with picturesque windmill backdrop and beach cove at the sides. Getting here requires a short trek for at least 5 minutes. Still looking for this place’s name but couldn’t find one online. Take note, this is definitely worth visiting!
Vigan and Calle Crisologo
Not a question at all. You should visit Vigan and the famous Calle Crisologo when in Ilocos Sur and travel back in time with its preserved and timeless beauty.
It is one of the oldest towns in the Philippines and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It illustrates the Spanish era time with its cobblestones streets, ancestral houses and old buildings.
Vigan is the place to buy souvenirs, printed shirts, jars, antique home decorations, Vigan empanada, bagnet, Vigan longganisa and many others.
Day or night, Vigan is lively and pleasing to the eyes. You can’t go wrong checking Vigan when going to Ilocos.
Other Tourist Destinations
- Malacañang of the North
- Paoay Lake
- Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
- Saud Beach
- Pinsal Falls (Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur)
How To Get There
There are a lot of options to get to Ilocos, choose which mode you think is most convenient to you and your group.
- Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines offers flight from Manila to Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte.
- The best way is to use Waze
- From Manila, travel time is around 10 – 12 hours with rest stops
- Several Bus Lines like Florida Bus and Partas have regular bus trips from Manila to Vigan or Laoag.
- Bus fare may range from Php650+Php950
Travel time is 10-12 hours.