Make sure you have enough energy for a three day trip in Ilocos, as this trip can tire you out. Ilocos is full of heritage buildings that are worth the visit. This was our family-business get away to decamp from the stress with work.
Following an itinerary from Triple 8 travel agency, we leave the night before the real trip on April 27, 2017. Traveling From Metro Manila to Ilocos can take up 10-12 hours, so it was better to travel at night and sleep while traveling. Not to mention avoiding the heat and traffic in the afternoon.
We were waiting for a van in Metro Manila, which was accommodated by the agency. We waited about an hour or two before it arrived prior to the scheduled time of departure due to traffic. We had three stops, and arrived Vigan first at 8:30 in the morning to have breakfast at a place called The Hidden Garden.
The Hidden Garden
Their Vigan longganisa is worth the try!
You can also buy souvenirs like the mini-wooden Calesas and make wishes on wells. The place also has a sense of humor, “just for the sake of art”.
Baluarte Wildlife Sanctuary
The second place we went to was Baluarte by Chovit Singson. We were greeted by the roar of a lion, which was near the entrance of the place. The Baluarte is said to be a wildlife sanctuary for these animals. Among other zoos and sanctuaries, this is the first time I’ve been to a place where there are kangaroos, deer and does. And even camels. They also have birds like parrots, eagles, peacocks, and ostriches.
There are two ways to roam around this place — which is either you walk or ride the cart. You can ride the cart for P50 pesos for a two-way trip or P25 for a one-way trip. We chose the latter and walked up the hill, then rode the cart going down. There are also reptiles and insects in Baluarte. I actually love this picture of the snake sleeping.
We decided to eat ice cream to beat the heat. Just in time, a show was a start, Porky the pig was going to paint! It looks like it was enjoying the attention with it’s wagging its tail. Apart from that, you can also take a picture with the tiger or ride a horse.
For the thrill-seekers! The highlight and the last on the list of our first-day itinerary. We get to ride on a 4×4 jeep and pass up and down on high slopes of sand. I can still feel my screams. And as a plus, you get this amazing view of the sunset.
Other than the Jeep, we also got to go sandboarding on different levels of slopes. We were able to choose to sandboard from sitting down or standing up. The driver of the Jeep also offered to take a photo of us. Right after that, we got another exhilarating ride on the jeep going back to where we were picked up.
Our driver suggested eating to a place called Herencia Café, because they have a food specialty called Pinakbet Pizza. But since the place was full, we had to do a take out for our orders. As we waited, we were still able to stop buy at the Paoay church because it’s just a few meters away from the restaurant. Apparently, seeing the church at night is more stunning as seeing it in daylight.
Pagudpud Blue Lagoon
As the start of our second day, we went to Pagudpud Blue Lagoon to relax and swim. We ate lunch nearby. Had pictures by the shore, but wind and waves were so strong that it could drag us into the shallow waters.
For our second stop, we went to Patapat Viaduct, which is a 1.3 km long bridge that connects the Maharlika Highway from the Ilocos Region to Cagayan Valley.
The gigantic windmills and electricity provider to some parts of Ilocos. This place is very windy, which is really perfect for the windmills. Another reason why this place is ideal for the gigantic fans is that the place is beside the sea and the land isn’t urbanely developed. It feels relaxing to be in an unexploited land and away from the urban-polluted wind.
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Another undeveloped beautiful land to go to and see the limestone formation. The place is also windy, and you can also see the windmills. You can also go horseback riding on this location. There are also other statues that were placed in the area.
There’s also a mini Bangui windmill, which you can take a picture with for five pesos. We didn’t have coins with us so I wasn’t able to take a picture of it.
A magnificent old lighthouse that was built during Spanish rule to the Philippines. It is said that this it is still fully functional. The inside of the lighthouse was turned into a mini museum of the preserved antiques used in its time, like its old bulb and bedroom.
We could also see a nice view of the South China Sea.
Museo Nina Juan at Antonio Luna
INSIDE THE MUSEO:
This museum was the reconstructed brick house of the Luna family. What I love about this place is that it’s well-maintained, but can still give the antique vibe. This place was also used for the “Heneral Luna” film here in the Philippines.
As you enter the place, you can already see Juan Luna’s old paint palettes and brushes. The museum is also an e-learning facility which lets you interact it. There is also a projection mapping of Antonio Luna’s head speaking. Among the places we’ve visited on this trip, this was really my favorite.
Clay Pottery Making
We were also able to stop by a pottery place and make our own clay pots! The lady there will help you by spinning the round table and telling you how to place your hand on the clay.
It was a bit messy to do, but it was fun.
Our last stop for our Ilocos trip. You can get a kalesa ride as well as buy souvenirs here. This place looks like it was frozen in the old times! You’ll find the old-style architecture of the restaurants, even Max’s restaurant!
Before really setting back home, we went to our last stop to buy a kilo of Bagnet, which is a crispy deep fried pork belly.
PROS AND CONS
The people of Ilocos are proud, and can also not be that friendly. But for sure, we still had a great time.
I can’t say that the agency we were accommodated with was the best, but our driver suggests a lot of great places to eat in Ilocos, so 7/10! What I don’t love about the trip is the hotel lodging. The staff weren’t as nice and accommodating as the other hotels we were into on our previous trips. But, will we consider going back to Ilocos? Yes! There are still a lot of places worth traveling to Ilocos that just can’t fit in a three-day trip. Ilocos is a beautiful place that is just breath taking.
There are still a lot of places worth traveling to Ilocos that just can’t fit in a three-day trip. Ilocos is a beautiful place that is just breath taking.