This Laoag/Ilocos Norte Travel Guide is a companion guide to the Vigan Travel Guide I published a week ago. I hope this would help you guys for your plans of enjoying Ilocandia.
I did this guide with the help of Endette of My Puerple Backpack.
1. Describe the Ilocos Norte.
Endette: The city of Laoag as a bustling city; it is the gateway to Ilocos Norte and it is one of the cleanest city I’ve visited. One can enjoy laid back activities like sightseeing to more physical activities sand boarding.
James: Laoag City speaks of Ilocos’ historic and rich past. The Cathedral, the Tobacco Industry and the Red-bricked old churches in the surrounding towns makes Ilocos Norte an interesting tourists destinations especially those interested with Philippine history. It would also be good to mention that the province is the birthplace of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
2. What do you like most about the place?
Endette: The best thing about Laoag is that the people are very friendly. Folks from the markets to the streets are very accommodating; they get out of their way to help you. The tricycle drivers are honest and they make it a point to return your change.
James: I love Ilocos Norte because each town offers something different for the tourists to enjoy. But I think I would choose my top 3 destinations- Pagudpud because of surfing, Bangui Wind Turbines because its the only town in the country with those and Adams because its just astonishing.
3. Is there anything the local government can do (or stop doing) in order to make the place more tourist friendly.
Endette: The Burgos Lighthouse needs to be taken cared for. A few years back one can climb on the top of the light house to get a 360 view of its surroundings. Unfortunately, because of its age and for reasons of safety going up to the lighthouse is prohibited.
James: I think they are doing good! I can see they are very active in their promotions and I can see them all-over. I like the concept of Paoay Kumakaway and the development of their city to accommodate more tourists.
4. Don’t go home without seeing/visiting/experiencing ____________.
Endette: Sandboarding the La Paz Sand Dunes is a must experience; one can also go for a 4×4 ride or an ATV ride. One must not also miss other highlights of the province like the Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, Bangui Windmills and Pagudpud beach. All of these destinations are located north of the city by Bus or by private vehicles. One of my favorites is the century old Paoay Church which is considered to be one of the most photographed churches in the Philippines.
James: Adams. It’s off-the-beaten path and a nice break from the Pagudpud’s white sand beach. It’s a breath of fresh air from the busy city roads of Vigan and Laoag. A different experience for vacationers who finished touring the usual spots like Kapurpurawan rock formations, Bangui wind turbiness, Saud Beach in Pagudpud in the south or the Patapat viaduct, Kabigan falls and Blue Lagoon. I made a guide last year about Astonishing Adams.
5. Don’t go home without trying/eating ____________.
Endette: Ilocos Norte is known for its delicious food. The Laoag Empanada is a must try; there are stalls located a few meters from the Laoag Provincial Capitol. Meat lovers must also try their Bagnet which is their own version of the Crispy Pata. A personal favorite is the Carrot Cake of La Preciosa.
James: Batac Empanada, Pinakbet Pizza at Saramsam Restaurant in Laoag City and Bagnet. Damn that bagnet plus crispy dinuguan. Naimas! Ohhh I should not forget the Frozen Margarita at Kapuluan Vista Resort, Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud. Just perfect after an afternoon of surfing.
6. Traveler’s Tip:
Endette: When visiting Laoag for the first time; I recommend you travel by bus. The roads leading to the province are cemented and paved. This makes the travel bearable despite being seated for 10 to 12 hours. Ilocos has diverse terrains; it has mountains, beaches and fields. The journey to Ilocos is already a treat.
James: You can see all the attractions for 2 days. If you are traveling solo, I suggest you just do it yourself stopping on each town from Laoag till Pagudpud using the public transpo. I remember just walking from the highway to Kapurpurawan Rock formations (took me 30minutes but its fun). You can also walk from the highway to the Bangui wind turbines (not wind mills, okay?). The Lighthouse in Burgos is just by the roadside. If you are are 2-3, just rent a tricycle when you are in Pagudpud so you can roam around the tourists spots. If you have an extra time, visit Adams.
Take the Cebu Pacific flight to and from Laoag to save on precious travel time. They have a night flight so you have the whole day before going back.
James: Can I bring Empanada? I love Inabel Weaving, Sukang Iloko and those small native garlic you can see along the hi-way.
8. Recommendation Hotel, Inn?
Endette: I highly recommend Casa Ilocandia; it is a pension house that has kitchen facilities. It is also near attractions in the city. Casa Ilocandia is perfect for those travelers on a budget. Fort Ilocandia Resort; is also a must try because of its facilities.
James: I stayed at Roswell hotel when I was in Laoag, Php1,200/night good for 2pax. I stayed at Edu’s Homestay when I was in Pagudpud, contact #: 0920-2504858, look for Norman Edu.
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You can read my past articles about Ilocos Norte below:
How to get to Ilocos Region?
There are at least 50 buses that goes to Vigan and Laoag from Cubao Bus Terminal and Pasay Terminal.
Don’t want to waste time on the road? Book a plane ticket! Cebu Pacific flies daily to Laoag City (Capital of Ilocos Norte) from Manila. For bookings and inquiries, go to www.cebupacificair.com or call (02)7020-888. The latest seat sales and promos can be found on Cebu Pacific Air’s official Twitter (@CebuPacificAir) and Facebook pages (/cebupacificair).