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24 Mar 2018 - 5 min read

Top Things to Do in Ilocos Norte

top things to do in Ilocos Norte:

1. Visit the biggest church in Ilocos Norte

Sta. Monica Church, formerly known as San Miguel Church, is the biggest church in the region. The church was built in 1779 in honor of the first Augustinian missionaries who made their way to Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. The church is connected to a former convent known as Casa del Palacio Real and stands beside a bell tower.

Location: Barangay 6, San Leandro, Sarrat
Highlight(s): The Sta. Monica Church is known for its 137-meter nave, which is the longest in the country.

2. Climb up to Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Dubbed a national treasure heritage by the National Museum, Cape Bojeador or Burgos Lighthouse was built in 1892 atop a hill called Vigia de Nagparitan. As one of the last remaining Philippine Spanish Lighthouses, Cape Bojeador has become a busy tourist attraction despite it still being operational.

Location: Vigia de Nagparitan, Burgos, Ilocos Norte
Operation hours: 24 hours - approach the lighthouse keeper to assist you. There is no entrance fee, though tipping the caretaker would be appreciated.
Insider info: Formerly, the lighthouse used pressurized kerosene lamps to guide galleons during the Spanish colonial period. Nowadays, they make use of new lenses powered by solar panels which flash every 60 seconds.

3. Bite into local delicacies

Photo from Ilocos Norte via Flickr

Say Ilocos and one of the first things that pop into mind are empanadas, especially those from Batac City. Batac is Ilocos Norte’s oldest town and is so well-known for the empanadas that they even have a festival for it every June. Batac empanadas are a bright orange, deep fried and stuffed with hard boiled egg, green papaya and longganisa. Make sure you bite into glutinous rice treats, as well. Especially, “Tupig” which is grilled in banana leaves and topped with melted butter, grated coconut and sesame seeds. Bite into “Patupat”, which is made with coconut milk, sugar and a sprinkle of salt. And of course, try out “Sapin-sapin” which is made out of several layers of colored glutinous rice and coconut milk.

Location: Streetside vendors

4. Step back into history

Overshadowed by neighboring Pagudpud and Laoag, Sarrat is home to the biggest church in Ilocos Norte and the birthplace of former president Ferdinand E. Marcos. While visitors often opt to visit the grand Malacanang of the North in Paoay (where he lived while president), it’s quite refreshing to visit his humble childhood home.

Location: Barangay San Agustin, Sarrat
Operation hours: Open daily except Sundays. 8 am to 12nn and 2 pm to 5 pm.

5. Go sand boarding and ride a 4x4 at the sand dunes

While many opt to go to the Paoay Sand Dunes, visitors should try heading over to La Paz Sand Dunes in Laoag, as well. Just as thrilling and exhilarating, the one-hour adventure entails sandboarding lessons and a bumpy ride to the sand dunes that rewards guests with breathtaking views of the surrounding area and of the South China Sea.

Location: Laoag, Ilocos Norte
Insider info: Prepare for an incredibly bumpy ride! If you want to stand at the back of the jeep or ride an ATV, prepare for sore legs and arms as you hold on tight for dear life. Trust us when we say though, the breathtaking views of the area and South China Sea are worth the pain, though.
Activity tip: The one hour adventure is P2,500 per head.

6. Soak up the sun and get a tan

If anything, Saud Beach in Pagudpod should definitely be considered an underrated gem. With its white sand and blue water, the palm tree dotted beach is definitely a paradise worth visiting.

Location: Barangay Saud, Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte
Insider info: Depending on where you enter, the entrance fee can range from fee to P50. Also, there are several resorts set up along the beach where you can rent a cottage from - the most expensive you can rent out is P500.
Contacts: Picnic, frisbee, swimming

7. Visit the country’s 4th longest bridge

Considered one of the most photographed tourist spots in Ilocos Norte, the Patapat Viaduct is a 1.3 km long bridge that connects the Maharlika Highway to the Cagayan Valley Region.

Location: Located on the northernmost tip of Luzon.
Insider info: The winding bridge was meant to compliment the mountain it was built against - this was in the hopes that it would reduce accidents
Activity tip: The long drive offers a breathtaking view of Pasaleng Bay. And on a good day, one can see the nearby island of Fuga and Calayan.

8. Check out the Bangui Windmills

As one of Ilocos Norte’s must-see tourist spots, Ilocos Norte is the best place for the windmills due to its location between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. The wind produced is called North Westerly winds and is perfect for wind energy generation. The power production contributes to a little over 40% of the province’s power.

Location: Bangui, Ilocos Norte
Insider info: Considered the largest wind farm in Southeast Asia, 19 windmills were initially funded by the Danish Government in 1998. Since then it has expanded to over 49, with each windmill having an expected life expectancy of 21 years.

9. Visit a UNESCO Heritage Site

Also known as San Agustin Church, Paoay Church is considered one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in the Philippines. The church is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government in 1993.

Location: Marcos Ave., Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Insider info: The church’s architecture is considered “Earthquake Baroque” due to the 24 carved buttresses and thick side walls meant to make the church strong enough to withstand natural calamities.

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