The Ilocos Region is a popular tourist destination because of the delicious food, historical attractions, and natural wonders. The province of Ilocos Sur matches this description perfectly. There are many buses that pass through the region before arriving in Laoag. You can also directly go to Vigan from Manila. There are also regular buses from Baguio City to Laoag which stop at Vigan. This part of the region is a noteworthy destination because of the many things to do and places to visit. Here are some of them.
WHAT'S IN THIS GUIDE?
If you want to get a glimpse of the Spanish colonial epoch, visit Calle Crisologo. This cobblestone street will make you feel like you’ve entered a wormhole into the past. The traditional houses lining the street, centuries-old churches and the sound of horse hooves and kalesas are reminders of an era you’d feel nostalgic for.
Due to its popularity, it can get really crowded with many tourists taking the same photos and doing similar things. To avoid the crowds, wake up early to see the street with few to no people. The faint sunlight adds to the ambiance and beauty of Calle Crisologo.
Eat Local Cuisine
Ilocos isn’t just a famous travel destination, it also gained popularity because of its delectable dishes especially its version of Ilocos empanada. You’ll find many local diners and restaurants serving bagnet (deep fried pork belly) and longganisa (pork sausages) along Calle Crisologo. Both of these traditional dishes will keep you eating and eating until you’re full. You can also take some home as a souvenir.
This is the place to visit for learning about the creativity and craftsmanship of the locals. Here you’ll see craftsmen make earthen jars the old-fashioned way, with their hands and a traditional potter’s wheel. Try making one or just purchase one to take home as a souvenir and to support the local livelihood.
Watch the Dancing Fountain at Plaza Salcedo
After a day of exploring the region, end the night by watching a light show. The plaza looks like any other during the day, but at night it becomes magical. The different colored lights and the timing of the fountain spouts make for a family-friendly activity.
This home-turned-into-museum is the former residence of previous Philippine President Elpidio Quirino. This grand, old estate has all sorts of memorabilia during Quirino’s term leading the country. The former president also held some important meetings here. As you walk around, you’ll feel a sense of history. You’ll also see several antiques and beautiful paintings made by renowned Filipino artists such as Fernando Amorsolo. The Quirinos still call this mansion home so you’ll see some modern touches inside. If you decide to go, a caretaker will show you around.
Ilocos has many vestiges of Spanish colonial times, one of them is the ancient Bantay Church. This attraction dates back to the 1590s and follows a Neo-Gothic aesthetic. The church has survived wars and natural disasters throughout the centuries, making it an important historical destination.
Bantay Bell Tower
This attraction is the belfry of the Bantay Church. Its distinctly red bricks make it stand out from its surroundings. It served as a watchtower during ancient times and World War II. You can make a quick stop here before moving on to another attraction.
Sta. Maria Church
Ilocos has a handful of old churches worth visiting and one of them is the Sta. Maria Church. This church is a UNESCO-listed Heritage Site as part of the baroque churches in the country. The Augustinians had this built in the 1760s. This destination is a historical piece that tells a story about the country’s past. You’ll also see its bell tower several meters away from the church which is a layout that is unique to its time.
Padre Burgos House
Important figures in Philippine history have lived in Ilocos. One of them is Padre Burgos. One of the “Gomburza”, the priest was martyred when he protested against Spanish cruelty and oppression during colonial times. This house contains different exhibits and a look to the priest’s life. It’s worth a stop for history buffs.
St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral, or simply Vigan Cathedral, is a beautiful church in Vigan that has centuries of history behind it. It was only a small chapel made of wood upon its establishment in 1574. After several decades, it became a church in 1641 and grew in prominence and reach.
Years later, it became a cathedral and was the center of Catholicism in the region. The church you’ll see now was completed in 1800. Trained eyes will notice the many design influences put into the making of the church, from Baroque to Chinese to Ilocano.
Where to Stay in Ilocos Sur
There are many accommodations in Ilocos Sur, especially in Vigan, the province’s capital. You’ll find hotels along or near Calle Crisologo where you’ll get to experience spending a night or so in a traditional-style house. Staying close to or in the historical area makes it easy to wake up early and take photos before the crowds come. You can also find heritage houses or hotels designed to look like one along Quirino Boulevard. If you haven’t booked yet, you might want to consider these recommended hotels by Agoda users.
- Hotel Luna. ✅ CHECK RATES & AVAILABILITY
- Paradores de Vigan. ✅ CHECK RATES & AVAILABILITY
- NSCC Hotel Vigan. ✅ CHECK RATES & AVAILABILITY
- Hotel Veneto de Vigan. ✅ CHECK RATES & AVAILABILITY