Ilocos Norte, Philippines · 4 hotels available
Paoay, pronounced as pa-oh-why, may be a humble town in the Philippines. Book your next travel here and you’ll quickly understand why this municipality in Ilocos Norte has charmed tourists far and wide.
The municipality of Paoay is located in the province of Ilocos Norte, Philippines. This seaside town is home to the Paoay Church, a 17th-century Roman Catholic Church declared as a Philippine National Cultural Treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its geographical location makes it a favorite among local and foreign tourists who are looking to spend a weekend of surf, sand, and sightseeing.
The most convenient way to travel to Paoay still requires a combination of air and land travel. There are daily flights available from Manila to Laoag. Flights are usually scheduled at night. From the airport, you can ride a jeep or tricycle (closed sidecar attached to a motorcycle) to the city proper. From there, hire another tricycle (starts at P250) to take you to Paoay.
Paoay is located on the northern tip of Luzon, so land travel is recommended if you are looking for cheap fares. You can also rent a car in Manila and go on a roadtrip to Paoay.
In Manila, there are several bus companies who offers a bus ride to Laoag, namely, Partas, GV Florida Transport, Dominion Bus Lines, Philippine Rabbit, and Farinas Transit. Travel time is about 10-12 hours, so schedule your trip at night. From Laoag, hire a tricycle for a special trip going to Paoay.
You can hire a tricycle to go from one point to another or take you on a half or whole-day trip. On-the-spot arrangements for special tricycle trips are common in the area, so inquire with at least two other drivers or check with your hotel accommodation for recommendations. The rates depend on the number of stops you’ll make and the duration of the trip.
Definitely visit Paoay Church. The church showcases Old World Baroque architecture, which is a perfect subject for your travel photos. Take notice of the church’s huge buttresses (24 in all!), large coral stone walls, the stone facade, and its three-storey bell tower.
The Old Convent Ruins, or the Ruins of the San Agustin Convent, is a sight to behold. Just a few meters away from Paoay Church, the crumbling walls and arches is a haunting spectacle you shouldn’t miss.
Another tourist attraction that you should definitely pay a visit is The Malacañang of the North at Barangay Suba, which was then the official residence of then President Ferdinand Marcos and his family. It has since been converted into a museum, which also houses antique Spanish and Ilocano furniture and interesting art pieces. Beside The Malacañang of the North is the Paoay Lake, a picturesque body of water long been declared a national park since 1969.
Discover the beauty of Ilocandia by signing up for a guided tour to walk you through historical and cultural sites, including the story of the Marcos family. Ilocos Norte is pretty much the political family’s territory due to their familial and historical ties to the province, and it would be convenient for you to learn more about the province’s history through a guide.
After the tour, you can also swim, kayak, fish, or take a boat ride at nearby Paoay Lake. You may also try sandboarding or drive a 4X4 at the town’s famous La Paz sand dunes. Starting at P500, you can drive (or ride) a 4x4 for 30 minutes and go sandboarding to your heart’s content.
Check out the plaza across the convent ruins and try Ilocandia’s famous empanada, an orange semi-circle hot pocket filled with meaty, vegetable goodness. Starting at P35 per piece, it is a perfect midday to afternoon snack alongside your favorite cold drink or water.
Herencia de Paoay serves a local version of the Italian pizza. Go for the Dinuguan and Pinakbet pizzas drizzled with a little bagoong isda (anchovies), and special bagnet (deep fried pork meat).
If you’re looking to eat more traditional dishes, order dinengdeng (a vegetable soup), igado (pork meat and liver sautéd in vinegar and soy sauce), and poqui-poqui (a smoked eggplant dish) at any full-menu restaurant.
There are several bars available to accommodate the nightlife in Paoay, and some are usually associated with hotel accommodations in the area. If you’re looking to unwind with cheap beers and finger food, head to the Border Bar and Cafe at Plaza del Norte Hotel. Otherwise, you would need to head out to neighboring Laoag, Saud, and Pagudpud for good places to drink and hang out.
Accommodations in Paoay are mostly travel inns and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs). Casa Dona Emilia, for one, is a nice B&B two blocks away from Paoay Church with a courtyard and decent-sized outdoor swimming pool. It is accessible to modern facilities (convenience store, restaurants), and just a walk away from Paoay’s historical sites. A room for two adults range just above P2,000 a night.
If you want more variety, you would need to look for accommodations at the city proper in Laoag. You can check in at the famous Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel, which comes with an on-site casino and golf course, tennis courts, playground and swimming pool for kids, an outdoor pool, and even a private beach. If you’re on a budget, Ziur Inn, Farmside Hotel, and Texicano Hotel (all in Laoag) offer decent rooms starting at P800 a night.
Consider booking a day tour with your hotel accommodation. This type of package tours may include transportation, meals, entrance fees to historical and cultural sites, and even airport transfers.
Ask your hotel if you can rent out a scooter or a bike to go around the town. They can be much cheaper as opposed to hiring a tricycle for shorter distances.
It is common courtesy to refrain yourself from taking items at historical or cultural sites as souvenirs.