Ilocos Norte is on the north western corner of Luzon Island, 463 kilometers north of Manila, and approximately a 12-hour drive on an easy pace with limited stopovers. Yes, Ilocos Norte is quite a long haul, especially, when traveling by land. That is, what I think, the most common reason which kept travelers from journeying north. However, I listed 11 Reasons which I hope would convince you to Take The Road Trip To Ilocos Norte.
1. The Journey is the Destination.
Driving to Ilocos Norte takes you to scenic coastal highways passing by many parts of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. Bound by the vast West Philippine Sea (formerly South China Sea) on its west, the road opens to a stunning view irresistibly in dire need of a stopover simply to absorb the beauty we don’t get to see everyday. Man-made marvels like Ilocos Sur’s Quirino Bridge if you’re coming from the south, or Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud if you’re coming from northeast, made driving easier and safer, and of course, these are sights to see in this road trip.
Don’t forget to drop by the heritage city of Vigan, better yet, spend a night and take a tour of this historical city.
Patapat Viaduct and Mabugabog Falls of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.
2. Ilokano Gastronomic Delights.
I went on a pilgrimage during this Ilocos trip, and on this mission I should only eat Ilokano dishes. The sole purpose – find out why Ilocano cuisine is among the most popular dishes in the country. The outcome – I forgot what my sole purpose was and ended up just eating, nibbling, and satisfying my taste buds with Ilocos’ finest gastronomic delights. I’ve tried Dinuguan, Okoy, Warek-warek, Empanada, Longganisa, etc. before, but it never tasted this good. Where else to get the best tasting Ilocano cuisine but in Ilocos.
Crispy Dinuguan of La Preciosa Restaurant in Laoag, Ilocos Norte.
Warek-warek, also in La Preciosa Restaurant in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.
Laoag Empanada in a food stall in front of Paoay Church.
Ilocos Norte Longganisa of Kingfisher Resort.
3. Centuries-Old Religious Structures
Ilocos Region was a strategic location for spreading Christianity in the north and the Cordilleras so the Spanish built grandiose churches which amazingly stands after several centuries. Among these magnificent churches is San Agustin Church of Paoay, one of the 4 inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its aesthetic features supported by a strong architecture. Walk a few meters beside the church you’ll see its Old Convent which now lay in its brick red ruins.
Laoag‘s Italian renaissance-inspired St. William Cathedral is another famous church in Ilocos Norte not only for its beautiful facade but also for its Sinking Bell Tower – the heaviest in terms of mass. Unfortunately, it was built on soft foundation and it sinks on an average rate of an inch per year. If Laoag has the heaviest, Bacarra’s St. Andrew Parish Bell Tower, or Torre ti Bacarra, once reigned as the tallest before it was damaged by earthquakes.
St. Andrew’s Church of Bacarra.
Sinking Bell Tower of Laoag.
Bacarra‘s Bell Tower.
4. Best Beaches in the North
Ilocos Norte boasts of the best beaches in the north, and they have a Melbourne-based Sunday newspaper to back it up. This newspaper ranked Pagudpud‘s Saud Beach among the top beach destinations in South East Asia for its white-sanded beaches and untouched appeal. Another beach also located in Pagudpud is the crescent-shaped beach of “Blue Lagoon“. It was also called “Secret Beach” once, but its popularity revealed the secret on its own. If you really want an isolated beach, you might want to check out Kingfisher’s Beach in Baranggay Caparisparisan (which also brings me to my next reason).
5. Try Kite or Wind Surfing.
If you’re an adrenalin junkie seeking for another thrill-induced sport, then you have a reason to visit Ilocos Norte’s Kingfisher Resort’s Kite and Wind Surf Center. They offer the best lessons, have best teachers, provide the best equipment, and have best winds and waves to learn this booming water sports.
6. Bizarre Rock Formations.
On the rugged coasts of the Ilocos Region, two rock formations stood out the most: Kapurpurawan Rock Formations of Burgos, and, Bantay-Abot Cave of Pagudpud. The Kapurpurawan Rock Formations is made up of white limestone rock and according to many resembles a sleeping dragon. Bantay-Abot Cave on the other hand is a rock formation pierced with a hole which makes it look like a cave.
Kapurpurawan Rock Formations in Burgos, Ilocos Norte.
Bantay Abot Cave in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.
7. Southeast Asian Pioneer in Clean Energy.
Seven years ago, Ilocos Norte took a huge leap towards a greener environment through the NorthWind Bangui Bay Project or Bangui’s Windmills. It was the first wind farm built in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. The massive windmills have contributed to Ilocos Norte’s power supply and at the same time placed the town of Bangui on tourist maps.
8. The Highest Elevated and Operational Lighthouse in the Philippines.
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse or Burgos Lighthouse marks the northwestern corner of the country, and has been guiding sea vessels for more than a hundred years. The Spanish Lighthouse was declared a National Historical Landmark and a National Cultural Treasure which makes it a more interesting destination to visit.
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse of Burgos.
9. Nature Trekking.
Take an hour hike to Pagudpud‘s Kabigan Falls which is nestled beneath the mountains. It’s an easy trek anyone would enjoy for it has an established trail, and experienced locals that will guide hikers to the falls. Nature lovers would definitely find their piece of adventure in this province.
Kabigan Falls of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.
10. Museums in Ilocos Norte.
Ilocos Norte has lots of museums but I’ve only visited two – Malacañang of the North and Museo de Bacarra. Malacañang of the North was once the Marcos’s vacation house built on the shores of Paoay Lake but now a museum that houses the family’s personal memorabilia. Bacarra recently opened its museum, Museo de Bacarra, which exhibits antiquities and prized possessions of the town locals.
11. Traveling With A Good Company.
I don’t mind traveling alone, but I’d always prefer traveling with a good company. It’s fun to share the experience and the “natural high” you get from traveling with other people. I’m blessed to have friends whom I share the same passion with. I’ve traveled with them before (most of them even before BiyaherongBarat.com began), and I’d be traveling with them again sooner or later. Maybe we would crossed paths in our journeys, who knows? “The more, the merrier.” And besides, traveling with a group cuts down the budget, right?
Cheers to more travels and adventures.
This culminates the Road Trip to Ilocos Norte series. I hope everyone enjoyed reading this series of Ilokano destinations, food and adventure. Happy travels everyone.
Here are some fast facts that may help you on your trip:
1. To read more about the destination, click on links or the photos.
2. Read the entire Road Trip to Ilocos Norte series.
3. Read more about the province in Biyaheng Ilocos Norte.
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6. Happy travels everyone.