Ilocos is one of the abundant provinces in the Philippines when it comes to tourist spots. There are many places of interest to see both in Ilocos Sur (south of Ilocos) and Ilocos Norte (north of Ilocos) but in our recent trip, we chose to travel and enjoy slow life in 3 days and 2 nights.

VIGAN

We’ve spent our first day in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. It is one of the heritage city the Philippines is proud of. It was my second time here but I still have this awestruck feeling when I strode by the famous Calle Crisologo.

After 7 hours of travel from Manila, we first took a rest in our hotel room. We booked a room in Hotel Veneto de Vigan via Travel Book PHRead more about it here.

From Partas Bus Terminal, we chose to walk our way to the hotel. Here are some of the establishments we passed by.

Vigan Convention Center

Vigan Skills Training Institute

Bahay Bulilit

It took us about 30 minutes to reach the hotel. 15 minutes, I guess, were spent appreciating the morning view of the streets.

Then when we finally settled down our things in our hotel room, we slept for 2 hours before we started the city tour.

Cafe Leona

We ate our first day lunch in Cafe Leona

We ordered Bagnet with Crab and Corn soup to fill in our empty stomach.

Location: Calle Crisologo, near Leona Florentino statue and Max’s restaurant

Baluarte

Baluarte is owned by Chavit Singson, the former governor of Ilocos Sur. It’s a 15 minutes kalesa ride from Calle Crisologo. 

Maybe, I’ve expected too much from this 80-hectares land that somehow, it disappointed me. The king of the jungle, which I expected to be in a wider cage (not saying lions should be caged but at least for the sake of Mr. Lion in Baluarte), was in this cage enough for him to just sit and sleep.

I wonder if they let him loose in a wider cage like Chavit’s tigers.

By the way, the picture above was before that very moment Mr. Tiger peed on me. I was trying to get a good photograph of him when he squirted pee on my face. Eww! I guess, he’s just camera-shy so I’ve waited for him to nap before I took this selfie. Tee-hee!

The Safari Gallery, on the other hand, showcased Chavit’s quest for wild animals.

I didn’t know he was this passionate about wildlife aside from politics.

Getting around Baluarte, I got to appreciate the birds more. Look how sweet they are!

And how relaxed they all seem to be.

Baluarte, not as grand as I expected it to be, is worth to visit for no more than 2 hours.

Location: Along Quirino Boulevard

Bantay Bell Watchtower

The famous Bantay Bell was next on our list. Right after Baluarte, we head on straight to north of the city and to this  historic watchtower approximately 100 meters high.

Established in the 16th century, Bantay Bell, from it’s name – which is to guard, served as a watchtower during the Spanish era here in the Philippines. To be able to guard the city from enemies, one may need to be in an elevation high enough to see 360 degrees view of the whole land area to protect. What a picturesque view from above!

After spending time to enjoy the scenic view above, we slowly went down and even counted the walkway bricks.

Slow life, it is! Tee-hee!

Location: Rizal St., Bantay

Calle Crisologo

After an afternoon spent under the sun, we decided to take an ice cream break in Calle Crisologo.

For only Php 20, we beat the heat! Yum!

Walking along Calle Crisologo reminded me of Intramuros, the old capital of the Philippines. With kalesa(s) roaming around…

They were so much alike that I’ve had this nostalgic feeling towards my alma mater which is inside the said walled city of Intramuros.

Anyway, it was only about 4PM in the afternoon then when we took another nap. Remember, we were here for a slow travelling life. Tee-hee!

Uno Grille

We got out again by 6PM to eat dinner in Uno Grille.

Ordered Bagnet, again but now with Vigan Longganisa.

Plaza Salcedo

After dinner, we went straight to Plaza Salcedo to wait for the Dancing Fountain.

We sat for about 30 minutes watching people while waiting for the show to start only to find out the light show is temporarily stopped for maintenance purposes. Disappointed, we just roam around again.

Vigan City Hall

Empanadahan

And ate, again. Tee-hee!

Vigan is so beautiful that I want to come back probably every year to just unwind from work week. One of the best cities to experience slow life!

How to Get There via Public Transportation:

From Manila, ride a Partas Bus bound directly to Vigan. They have terminals in Cubao, Pasay and Sampaloc. You may visit their website for the schedule. It is always recommended to book at least 3 days before your departure so you can leave on your preferred time. Upon booking, you’ll be redirected to Biyaheroes. It’s an online bus reservation website in the Philippines. If you happen to miss the schedules bound to Vigan, you can choose to book a bus bound to Laoag instead and alight in Partas Vigan Terminal.

How to Get Around Vigan

Upon arrival, if tricycle drivers notice you’re tourists, they will try their best to persuade you to hire them and tour you around Vigan. For Php 600, they’ll get to tour you around the city with all the destinations to see including Baluarte, Bantay Bell Watchtower, Plaza Salcedo, Plaza Burgos, Syquia Mansion, Pagburnayan, Crisologo Museum, St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral and Hidden Garden. If you’re the type of tourist or traveller who hates walking, then this is not a bad option since you get to help the locals earn. But if you’re on a budget, getting around Vigan can be done by foot. Only Baluarte is quite far from the city proper but it will only take you 15 minutes kalesa ride or 10 minutes tricycle ride from Calle Crisologo.

PAGUDPUD

The second day of our trip was mostly spent on the road. From Vigan, it took us about 2 hours to reach Laoag. From Laoag, it took us another 2 hours to reach Pagudpud.

Our plan to have the South Tour on the second day was cancelled because we were dead tired when we arrived in Pagudpud. So since the hotel we booked (Palm Grove Saud Holiday Complex – which I won’t recommend) is near Saud Beach, we just spent the night watching the waves.

Saud Beach

Saud Beach is one of the two famous beaches in Pagudpud. The other one is Blue Lagoon which is another hour away from Saud.

From the shore, one can already see the Bangui Windmills.

Just not in the photo above since I only took it from my phone. But the view is still amazing!

That time, we were the only ones around. Feels like we own the beach. Tee-hee!

Bangui Windmills

On our third day, since the bus we booked bound to Manila departs by 3PM, we’ve decided to just visit the Bangui Windmills.

Happiest Birthday to my baby!

Yes, it is for this reason that I brought him to Ilocos. We celebrated his birthday in Ilocos because I’ve wanted to give him this part of me and let him understand why I’ve become this gypsy soul he had loved ever since.  Because it was in Ilocos where my wanderlust syndrome started, I’ve wanted to give him that as a gift.

Lastly, I suggest that you book via Travel Book PH because apart from the discounts, you’d be able to collect points you can use for your next booking.

How to Get There via Public Transportation

From Partas Bus terminal in Vigan, ride a bus bound to Laoag. When you get to Laoag, ride a tricycle to bring you to the mini bus terminal bound to Pagudpud. Mini buses such as Drexel Express is an ordinary ride without aircon. You can also choose to ride a jeepney bound to Pagudpud or another mini bus bound to Cagayan and then alight in Pagudpud. If you plan to go straight to Pagudpud from Manila, you can still book Partas bus from Biyaheroes but origin would be in Sampaloc, Manila.

How to Get Around Pagudpud

Getting around Pagudpud is not easy like in Vigan where you can roam around the sights by foot. It’s either you bring your own car or rent a tricycle to tour you around. There are two options in the trike tours drivers will offer you, the North Tour and the South Tour. North Tour gets you to visit Kabigan Falls, Bantay Abot Cave, Patapat Viaduct, Dos Hermanos Islands and Blue Lagoon. South tour, on the other hand, includes Bangui Windmill, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation and Cape Bojeador. Both costs Php 600 each. BUT when you choose the South Tour, you need to add another Php 300 because a separate trike will bring you in Kapurpurawan Rock Formation and Cape Bojeador.

SUGGESTED ITINERARY (3 Days 2 Nights)

Day 0

22:00 ETD from Manila

Day 1

05:00 ETA in Vigan

05:30 Bantay Bell Watch Tower (Beautiful sunrise according to the tricycle drivers)

06:30 Breakfast

08:00 City Tour (Syquia Mansion, Pagburnayan, Crisologo Museum, St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral)

12:00 Lunch

13:00/14:00 Check-In + Rest

15:00 Baluarte

17:00 Meryenda in Empanadahan + Roam around Plaza Burgos and Calle Crisologo

18:00 Rest

19:30 Dinner

20:00 Watch Dancing Fountain in Plaza Salcedo (Light show schedule: Everyday at 7PM and 8PM)

21:00 Rest

Day 2

06:30 Breakfast

08:00 ETD from Vigan

10:00 ETA in Laoag + Early Lunch

11:00 ETD from Laoag

13:00 ETA in Pagudpud + Check-In + Rest

14:00 North Tour (Kabigan Falls, Bantay Abot Cave, Patapat Viaduct, Dos Hermanos Islands and Blue Lagoon)

18:00 Early Dinner in Blue Lagoon

19:00 Saud Beach

20:00 Rest

Day 3

06:30 Breakfast

07:30 South Tour (Bangui Windmill, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation and Cape Bojeador)

10:30 Rest + Prepare for check-out

12:00 ETD from Pagudpud

14:00 ETA in Laoag + Quick Lunch

15:00 ETD from Laoag (Partas Bus to Manila)

17:00 Stop over in Vigan Partas Bus Terminal + Buy Marsha’s Bibingka for souvenir

Day 4

02:00 ETA in Manila

This suggested itinerary is if you plan to visit all the destinations mentioned. If you’re in a slow pace travel like us, you can choose only some places you’ve wanted to see.

ESTIMATED BUDGET BREAKDOWN

Total Transportation Budget (at most**) – Php 3500+

Bus from Manila to Vigan (Deluxe) – Php 805

Bus from Vigan to Laoag – Php 129

Mini Bus from Laoag to Pagudpud – Php 70

Mini Bus from Pagudpud to Laoag – Php 70

Bus from Laoag to Manila (Deluxe) – Php 965

Vigan Tricycle Tour – Php 600 (assuming you’re a solo backpacker)

Pagudpud North Tricycle Tour – Php 600 (assuming you’re a solo backpacker)

Pagudpud South Tricycle Tour – Php 600 (assuming you’re a solo backpacker)

Kapurpurawan and Cape Bojeador Additional Trike – Php 300

**Transportation expenses were computed considering the most expensive options. If let’s say you chose to just book a first class bus and opt to take some of the tricycle tours, it will save you about half the price indicated.

Food – Php 1,000

Accomodation – Ranges from less than Php 1,000 up to Php 5,000 a night

Souvenirs – Php 1,000

Entrance Fees – Php 300

Total Estimated Budget Range: From Php 5,000 to Php 10,000 (per individual)

It’s always cheaper to travel in group as it may save you a lot of transpo and accomodation expenses.

Thank you for reading. I hope this has been informative for your Ilocos travel plans.

Enjoy!

Love,

D

15 thoughts on “Ilocos, Philippines | Slow Life in Vigan and Pagudpud + Commute Tips”

  1. Vigan has an amazing character with all the heritage structures it has. I loved the way you have captured the beautiful buildings in a wide angle lens. The Bangui windmills are awesome πŸ™‚

  2. Haven’t been to Vigan but thanks to your photos I felt like I already saw a glimpse of it. I would love to try out Cafe Leona when I get there. πŸ™‚

  3. Vigan looks beautiful with that old world charm and the lunch at Cafe Leona looks delicious. Bantay Bell looks remarkable we are sure it must be fun exploring it.

  4. Ahh… I miss Ilocoss, definitely one of the most beautiful places in the country. I don’t remember the Safari Gallery though, I wonder if they just opened it. It wasn’t there when I visited a few years back. It’s lovely that you visited two of my most favorite places in Ilocos, Vigan and Pagudpud, and I am surprised that to this day, Pagudpud remains as it it, beautiful and not crowded. I thought then that in a few years, when people discover it, it would be dirty and commercialized so I am so very happy that it pretty much looked the same. I think I should go back!

  5. This is one of the place I really wanted to go but felt like it was too mainstream already. Nevertheless, I’d still wanna go probably with my gf . πŸ™‚ Thank you for this. At least I have the slightest of an idea now of what to expect here. Your photo on the street was awesome. Looked like you were the only ones on the place.

  6. wooowww… I’ve seen many beautiful photos of Ilocos but I got carried away while you share your experience exploring this place… I felt I was on tour… πŸ™‚ And about Mr Lion, I agree that he shouldn’t be there…poor animal:(

  7. Very useful Ilocos itinerary! This reminds me of my trip 2 years ago. I went to all places minus the safari museum! So that’s how it looks! Thank you for sharing the lovely photos. I want to go there soon!

  8. Vigan is one of the most beautiful cities only because of those remnants of the colonizers. I am actually glad that one leg of the Miss Universe is Vigan. It deserves more attention, but the focus must not only be on tourism. It must also include the preservation and maintenance of heritage sites there.

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