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Thursday, July 25

Ilocos One-Day Triple Combo: Tips and Guide

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Ride to the past on a kalesa in Calle Crisologo.
Ilocos has many amazing tourist spots that both travelers and tourists keep coming back for. I am definitely one of those who love Ilocos the nth time, and even if I have been to this region already a few times, it’s as if I have never been to it like before. Old architecture churches, heritage sites, museums, zoos and more. Plus never forget the food. I am also an Ilocano, but it’s a different thing when you visit the original ones. It’s a slice of our own culture and being proud of being an Ilocano.

I have never been to the farthest known white sand beach in Region I. Before, we only reach up to Laoag City in Ilocos Norte. Two days have already been spent for this. This time, it’s an unbelievable one-day trip that hits three birds at a time—Vigan, Laoag and Pagudpud. Was that even possible?! Oh yes it was! Only I can say it’s the most exhausting trip after all and I just wished the trip was extended for another day or two! Interested in planning an Ilocos trip on a haggard one-day travel time? Keep reading this!

The Vigan-Laoag-Pagudpud Ilocos Triple Combo One-Day Panalo Trip!

Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte are the two of the four provinces in Ilocos Region. In this trip, we were able to hit the three most popular places in Ilocos Norte and Sur—Vigan, Laoag and Pagudpud. This is a fast one-day tour of the region, and of course with that plan, we were not able to see all of the amazing destinations in the North. Luckily we were able to witness the quickest time some of the most popular tourist spots in the provinces.

Central park in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

Based on our experience, here are some of our observations you might as well jot down before you go to Ilocos Norte and Sur for the shortest but farthest trip ever:

THE TRAVEL. I was not coming from Baguio this time. This particular trip was an excursion and I just hitched with my Mom. Thus we were all the way coming from Camiling in Tarlac and reaching Vigan, which was our first destination, was around 7 hours. S-e-v-e-n hours. And that was just up to Vigan. Add four more hours to reach Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. How much more when you come all the way from Manila? Like you have to add another hour or two? It's like going all the way from Manila to Sagada. And if you are coming from Baguio, Vigan is just about four to five hours away by bus. The bus ride itself is already exhausting so you have to prepare for this butt-wracking adventure. Bringing a neck pillow is so much recommended. And bring snacks and bottled water too. And if you are in a private car or on a commute, and crazily want to try one-day Ilocos trip, then make sure to travel 10-12 hours before the formal start of your activities in your itinerary. You have to make sure that you are already in Vigan at 6 AM and enjoy the rest of the day in other parts of Ilocos until 9 PM. Then go home. Realizing how exhausting the trip was—but it was all worth it.
Capitol of Ilocos Norte in Laoag City

Bangui Windmills, Ilocos Norte

THE TOURIST SPOTS. Okay. The popular tourist destinations in Vigan City can be done in a walk tour (except for Baluarte). Or you can also try kalesa, and do a hop-and-go trip. Most of the tourist spots in Vigan were museums if not churches, so Monday is not a good choice for this. If you are also on a one-day tour, then ride a kalesa (P150 per kalesa, 2-3 pax) to get you to the different destinations there. I suggest at least three hours for Vigan but if you are in a hurry, do it in 1.5 hours like what we did. That time we were not able to see the museums (Burgos, Quirino’s ancestral house, etc) but at least I saw Bantay Bell Tower for the third time. We visited Calle Crisologo again, famous for its 1600-ish houses but I was not able to stay long. In Laoag, we just stayed for while near their Capitol but prior to that we visited Paoay Church, one of the oldest churches in the Philippines made out of corals. There are still other landmarks in Laoag or near Laoag. The Marcos Museum, North Malacanang and La Paz Sand Dunes are just some. In Pagudpud, we were only able to visit Bangui Wind Farm in nearby Bangui town and Saud Beach. Pagudpud was our last destination in our trip. Hmm. All I say is, you cannot visit all of the tourist spots in Ilocos for one day. Just a few of the popular ones. The point is, at least you did. :D
Pagudpud Beach, Ilocos Norte

Baluarte, Ilocos Sur

THE TIME. We were time limited when we had this Ilocos trip. Seriously. Like you only have 15 minutes to see Paoay Church. Thirty minutes to enjoy the sunset in Pagudpud Beach. One hour to tour Vigan City. Thirty minutes to see Baluarte. And thirty minutes for lunch?! Break the rule and you are out of your planned itinerary! You have to take more pictures in lightning speed. Even if I want to stay long, just like my usual trips to other places, this time I cannot. There is a rule we should stick to follow. The thing is, your tour activity was even shorter than the bus ride itself. We only got 15 minutes in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. But to reach Paoay from Vigan means approximately 2 hours of bus-seating experience. I got only 30 minutes to enjoy Pagudpud Beach but I already spent 2 hours inside the bus from Laoag to Pagudpud. I should have called this a one long and winding road trip rather than a tour.

Kalesa lined up in Vigan

One of the historic churches in Ilocos is Paoay Church

THE FOOD. We haven’t been to the popular restaurants in Ilocos (darn it, how I wish I tasted the best bagnet after all, or that poque-poque that sounds explicit, or that pinakbet pizza or malunggay shake or dinengdeng or anything that is Ilocano original!). However, I was able to taste the empanada of Laoag. People say it’s different from the empanada of Vigan. I cannot compare so, unless a friend of mine who happen to be an Ilocano from Ilocos will bring some empanada here in Baguio. The truth is, she cannot bring the freshest of them because it has to be served hot to enjoy the yummiest empanada from Ilocos. Okay. So here, you have to search for the best restaurants in town, and those food I just mentioned are just some of the best. If you are into food tour then try to allot a slice of your time to be in an Ilocano food serving restaurant.
Laoag Empanada

THE BUDGET. I cannot make a detailed list of expenses this time, but basing it on our experience, most of the places we went to don’t have any entrance fee at all. Some of the tourist spots in Vigan only ask for donations (for the maintenance of the place). Maybe you will just have to allot your money for the fare. I did not also pay for an entrance fee in Bangui Windmills or in Pagudpud Beach but if you plan to stay in a resort there, that’s the time you have to cash out for it. Some of the museums in Ilocos ask for an entrance fee but that should not be higher than P50. Of course, you have to budget your expenses on food and souvenir items. Don’t forget about the royal bibingka and kalamay!

Vigan City

Bantay Bell Tower

OTHERS. Bring sun screen if you want to enjoy more of Bangui Windmills and Pagudpud Beach. And the camera, make sure to have a backup just in case! Ilocos is a thousand pictures worth!

There are still things to consider but those are for you to experience already. If you are already decided, go ahead and hit it. Enjoy!

A beautiful sunset in Saud Beach, Pagudpud

The Vigan-Laoag-Pagudpud Ilocos Triple Combo One-Day Panalo Trip! Travel Series:

Part 1: Ilocos One-Day Triple Combo: Tips and Guide

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  2. Thanks for sharing beautiful images and country, I will also pass this link to guests.

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