Organizing a family trip wasn’t easy, especially when you are all scattered across different countries with different time zones. We are one big family, so it’s even harder to keep everyone updated and hear everyone’s opinion. I was the family organizer, and trust me it wasn’t easy juggling work & finding the perfect itinerary for this trip. Good thing I found this tour operator through an acquaintance; Belviaje Remarkable Travels organized everything for us, from the round-trip transfer to the accommodation to the tour itinerary. They organize tours for backpackers/joiners as well. The coordinator was so accommodating and patient as I had a lot of questions about the said tour. It was such a relief, to be honest. Imagine if you would be the one to organize & find everything all by yourself, and you are not even in the Philippines. It’s a hassle!
Anyway, below you can find the trip’s itinerary and the tour package cost. Then we’ll get into the details.
Price: Php 2,400 per head (depends on the pick-up point); downpayment Php 500 per head
- Calle Crisologo with Street Lights
- Hidden Garden (Breakfast)
- Baluarte ni Chavit
- Bantay Church
- Bell Tower Vigan
- Paoay Church
- Culili Point (4×4 Extreme Ride/Sand Boarding)
- Malacañang of the North
- Patapat Viaduct / Patapat Bridge
- Blue Lagoon/Hannah’s beach resort (swimming & beach activities)
- Bantay Abot Cave
- Pagudpod Arc
- Bangui Windmills
- Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
- 4STAR (Pasalubong Center)
- Calle Crisologo (Kalesa rides, Heritage Village tour)
Additional itinerary: Quirino Bridge (picture taking)
Included in the package: Round trip transfer from house address to Ilocos vice versa, AC room accomodation with free breakfast on 2nd and 3rd day, VIGAN – LAOAG – PAGUDPUD Tour, Gas, Toll, Driver’s meals and accommodation.
We arrived at Calle Crisologo at around 5:30 in the morning. Just in time to breathe some fresh early morning air. Honestly, I was kind of expecting and picturing a different Calle Crisologo in my mind because of the photos I see online. I don’t know, maybe I’m expecting more, or maybe because it’s only 5:30 in the morning. Nevertheless, I was still amazed by the place, especially by the well-preserved houses. It was nice to have a glimpse of the past during the Spanish time. We took some photos with the street lights and explore the street for about an hour.
We headed to Hidden Garden after, to eat our very first authentic Ilocano meal. From this moment, I knew that I was just going to pig out the whole trip. I wanted to order bagnet, but it’s too early for that so I ordered Ilocos longganisa instead for breakfast. Hidden garden is such a beautiful place to dine in. The ambiance of the restaurant is more of a nature vibe, the foods are great and the servings are really big at affordable prices.
After breakfast, we went straight to Baluarte Ni Chavit – an interactive wildlife sanctuary and facility that is freely accessible for everyone. There is no entrance fee for this park. I was so excited to visit Baluarte Ni Chavit because it’s been a long time since the last time I visited a zoo. It felt nostalgic reminiscing the old days when I was still just a kid; but I got a little disappointed because I was expecting to see more animals around, but I only see a few. It saddens me to think how we, human beings, are causing the extinction of so many animal species :( You could take a long walk exploring the facility or you could also take the shuttle ride.
The most interesting but terrifying part of our visit to Baluarte Zoo is the Safari Gallery, where some of the exotic animals were preserved. Some of them were exported from abroad, others were personally hunted by Chavit himself . The number of animals inside the gallery was quite overwhelming, and I’m not so sure if it amazed me. Poor animals.
After Baluarte, we headed to St. Augustine Parish Church a.k.a. Bantay Church. If I could give you one tip when travelling, I suggest to always visit a church on the first day of the trip and pray to God to guide you and keep you extra safe during your travel. As much as possible make it first in your itinerary.
Alongside, you could find the Bantay Bell Tower – one of Vigan’s most iconic symbol. I wanted to go up to the top of the tower, but no one in my family wanted to join me because it was really hot in Ilocos, so I ended up not going up as well.
Paoay Church was next on our list, but before visiting the Church, we went to Herenchia Restaurant near the church and we ordered our food for lunch, and while waiting for them to be cooked, we visit the Paoay Church. I always love visiting old historic churches.
After lunch, we rest a little so we could get ready for our next destination, Culili Point Paoay Sand Dunes! I’ve been wanting to try 4×4 extreme ride for the longest time in my life, finally I got to do it! The price is PHP 1500 for 30 minutes and PHP 2500 for an hour, sand boarding is also included. It was really fun & I enjoyed the thrill. It was a rough ride; it left me with little bruises, but I’m not complaining. This was my favorite part of our Ilocos tour. We went here at around 2:30/3:00 in the afternoon, so imagine how hot the weather was. I actually got burnt because I forgot to put sunscreen. A fresh buko shake would help endure the hot weather and you can find it at the entrance.
Our last destination of the day was Malacañang of the North. Entrance fee: PHP 30. There’s nothing much to see inside, just some of the preserved furnitures & things of the Marcos-es. But the panoramic view was such a relaxing thing to see.
After that, we checked-in to our accommodation (Brookside Laoag) at 6PM, rested a little, washed-up, and went out for dinner. We asked the driver to take us anywhere near, and he took us to one of the best in Ilocos, Cromwell’s Grill Chicken At-Atihan. Their tag line says “sasayaw ka sa sarap.” (“the tastiness of the food will make you dance”). So the question is.. did we dance after we ate? Definitely YES! All their foods are the best! A must-try!
And just like that, our first day ended.
Moving on to the second day, we started our day with a free breakfast care of the hotel. Our destination: Pagudpud. Our first stop was Patapat Viaduct, where you can find the Patapat Bridge, one of the longest bridge in the Philippines. Photo op!
After that, we went to Hannah’s Beach Resort where you could find Blue Lagoon – one of the most beautiful beaches of the North. Ahhh! I always believe I belong to the sea. I wanted to live in a tropical island with lots of palm trees, water kissing the shore, sun touching my skin. Ahhh!! Summer forever. I wanted to swim, but I didn’t bring anything, so I just enjoyed the beautiful waves and relaxed a little.
Next: Bantay Abot Cave. I took a quick glimpse of the cave together with my cousins. It’s a struggle going up to the cave, so you should be extra careful. Or is it just me because I was wearing the wrong slippers? Lol. I love seeing hidden gems like this!
We passed by the Pagudpud Arc, but no one wanted to go down to take a picture so we just went straight to Bangui Windmills. I was desiring to see these windmills for so long. It was really really hot and I could feel my skin burning. I also bought pasalubongs there.
Then we had our lunch at a local karinderya along the way, Yzza’s Eatery, where we ordered a bunch of bagnet because bagnet is life.
After that, we went to Kapurpurawa Rock Formation. To get there, you’d have to walk or ride a horse. The best option is horseback riding for 100 PHP. You could also borrow a hat, if you didn’t bring yours; they were only asking for a donation with no minimum amount. I was amazed by how the nature shows off its own beauty. I was astonished and I didn’t want to leave. The place was indeed relaxing and magnificent. Wow! In front of the rock formation is the view of the waves dramatically hitting the formations. What a perfect scenerio!
Our last destination for our second day was Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. To go up, you could take a tricycle or you could just walk since it’s near. Entrance Fee: 20 PHP. They say it still functions until now, as a welcoming beacon to local fishermen that sailors in this area. Enjoy the panoramic view of the South China sea up above.
We head to our accommodation to fix up, and we had a dinner at La Preciosa. Staffs are very welcoming and accommodating. And since we are a big family, they took us in a separate room all to ourselves. The foods were great, but it’s a little bit pricey compared to where we have eaten on the first day. And then we called it a day.
On the last day, we passed by 4Star Pasalubong Center to buy some Ilocos goodies and pasalubongs. And then we went back to Calle Crisologo to enjoy its beauty in the morning. To complete your Vigan experience, I suggest to go on a kalesa (horse-drawn carriages) ride around the city. It’s 150 PHP per hour, and the kalesa could fit up to 4 persons. We just simply explored the city with the scenes of the old times. I also got to taste “Basi,” sugar cane wine. Visiting this old town will bring you back to the Filipino-Spanish colonial era. Definitely a breath of fresh air, a quick getaway from the modern cities.
Our Ilocos trip’s one of my favorite memories during my stay in the Philippines. I enjoyed it very much, but I realized I didn’t try Ilocos Empanada because I was just seizing the moment that I forgot to try one. Lol. I wish I could share with you all of our photos, but I don’t want to drag the whole album to this blog. Haha that would be a lot!
Thanks to Belviaje Remarkable Travels for arranging everything for us and making this trip possible. Please do check out their Facebook page for more tour packages!
I tried to make this blog as short as possible. I hope you enjoyed my photos as well. If you finished my blog until here, thank you for your patience. Cheers! You could also check out the travel diary that I uploaded a month ago on my YouTube channel.