Also known as Ilocandia, this province in the North is a site of old churches, windmills, and highways where you can bask in the beautiful view of the sea while driving. It is a long way to go to but once you are there, it is definitely worth it.
Ilocos Norte, a wonder in Northern Philippines, for it is a region overflowing with history, sceneries and delicacies. Aside from being where the former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos came from, this region boasts of its natural wonders, its so-called thrifty but kind people, and its infrastructures. If you are on a mission to go to the best places in the Philippines, this should be on your list.
The fastest way to get to Ilocos Norte is by flight from Manila to Laoag which usually takes just 45 minutes. There are flights daily so you can practically go anytime you want to. From the airport, you can either take a jeepney or a tricycle to get to Laoag City proper.
Although Ilocos Norte has the Currimao Seaport, such is still not operational to welcome passenger boats, making the region currently inaccessible by sea to the public.
Several public bus lines like Partas, Fariñas, Florida, and RCJ, have daily trips from their terminals in Cubao or Pasay to Laoag in Ilocos Norte. The trip takes 8-10 hours which can still be relaxing given the buses are air-conditioned. You can also travel on your own car which will take a bit longer because of the necessary stops you need to have to rest yourself and your car.
Traveling between the cities and towns of Ilocandia, say from Laoag to Pagudpud, can be done by riding a bus or a van. Going around a city or municipality of the region, like Paoay, is popularly done by riding tricycles. There are tricycle tours available for tourists. You can also choose to walk around if you are visiting spots near to each other.
Who says sunsets and sunrise are only beautiful on the beach? Watch one at the background of the Bangui Wind Mills, 20 huge wind turbines facing the Bangui Bay, and be captivated more than you ever had been before.
Enjoy a panoramic view of the coast when you climb up the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. It is an old Spanish lighthouse built on a hill facing the South China Sea.
For the old and majestic infrastructures in Ilocos Norte, visit the Paoay Church which is made of coral bricks and a UN Heritage World Site; as well as the Malacañang of the North which used to belong to the infamous Marcos family.
Take adventure rides in Ilocos Norte by driving a 4x4 across the Ilocos Sand Dunes (also known as Lapaz Sand Dunes), or by riding the waves on a surfing board in the Blue Lagoon, or by driving slowly along the Patapat Viaduct to take in the scenic view along that highway.
Exercise yourself with some trekking to visit and bathe in the site of Pagudpud waterfalls and Kabigan waterfalls; or with some kayaking at the Bislak River.
Have some nature immersion along with a photography session at the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos. You can also enjoy the nature in Paoay Lake National Park where you can do bird-watching, boating and bamboo-rafting.
Try the Ilocano favorites crispy bagnet (deep-fried pork belly), poqui poqui (egg, eggplant, tomatoes and onions) and pinakbet (assorted vegetables sautéed in fermented fish paste) at La Preciosa in Laoag City.
The pinakbet pizza of Herencia Café in Paoay as well as the empanada of Dap-ayan are necessary gastronomic experience when you visit Ilocandia.
Other popular restaurants are Kangkang Restaurant in Bangui and Johnny Moon in Laoag.
Evenings in Ilocos Norte can be spent relaxingly in any of the coffee shops scattered in the region, such as Cafe Ilocandia in Laoag City, Tribeca Café in San Nicolas and Rufino’s Cafe in Paoay.
Visitors of Ilocos Norte have two options when it comes to accommodations, hotels or homestays. In the area of Saud Beach and Blue Lagoon, homestays abound such as Cathy’s Home Stay. There are budget hotels like Texicano Hotel in Laoag. There are also fancy resort hotels like Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Resort in Laoag and Kapuluan Vista Resort in Pagudpud.
Don’t forget to buy pasalubong (souvenirs), especially Ilocano delicacies like longaniza and embutido!
Bring a small bag that you can carry around as you tour the region, while leaving behind in your accommodation, or in a Savemore package counter, your bigger bags.
Dress lightly but always bring a thin sweater during cooler months or umbrellas and any other protective garment during the rainy months.