laoag

Discover the many exciting tourist spots in Laoag. Find out what Laoag City is known for. What are the top tourist spots, must-eat local dishes, and must-try experiences that should be included in your Laoag itinerary? When is the best time to visit Laoag? Are there other Ilocos Norte tourist spots near Laoag? How long should you stay in Laoag? Read on to find out more about Laoag, The Sunshine City of the north.

The word laoag means “bright” or “light” in the native Ilocano language of Ilocos region, that’s why Laoag City is called “The Sunshine City”. Laoag City, Ilocos Norte’s provincial capital, has a compact land area, but it’s packed with must-see tourist spots, rugged and mountainous terrain, and amazing beaches! In Laoag City, you’ll find how beautifully preserved colonial architecture mixes with but still stand out among modern infrastructure. 

Whether you want to chill along the beaches of Pagudpud, try out the fresh local delicacies, coast along the sand dunes, or just take a leisurely stroll around the city center, you will definitely be captivated by the tourist spots in Laoag at every turn. The Sunshine City deserves a spot on your travel bucket list this year!

If you’re planning to make the trip to the north of the Philippines this year, this ultimate guide can help you create that complete travel itinerary to Laoag City.


  • Check activities and attractions in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, read our Things to Do article.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

How to Go to Laoag?

The fastest way is to fly to Laoag but if you’re already in Manila or Luzon, there are also other options that you can choose from. Here are some of them:

Traveling to Laoag by Air

Laoag has its own airport, Laoag International Airport, making it more accessible to local and foreign tourists.

Flight to Laoag

1. Flying from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila to Laoag

PAL Express has direct flights from NAIA to Laoag Airport once a day every Mondays to Thursdays, and twice daily from Friday to Sunday. Travel time by plane from Manila to Laoag is about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

There are currently no direct domestic flights from major cities outside of Manila to Laoag Airport. The best option is to fly to NAIA first, as most major airlines have direct flights from Cebu/Davao/Cagayan de Oro to Manila, then take a flight to Laoag.

2. Flying from other countries to Laoag

There are currently no direct international flights to Laoag. If you’re coming from outside the Philippines, we advise to fly to NAIA first, then take a PAL Express flight to Laoag Airport. Or, you can fly straight to Clark International Airport in Clark, Pampanga, then board a bus from Dau Terminal to Laoag. Travel time by bus from Dau to Laoag is about 4 to 6 hours.

Traveling to Laoag by Land

Laoag is about 487km from Manila, and it takes an average of 10 hours to travel to the city. The land travel to Laoag may be longer than a flight from Manila but it’s cheaper. Here are some of your transport options.

1. Driving from Manila to Laoag via Private Transport

You can either bring a private car or hire a private van. The fastest way to drive to Laoag is via the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), then take the exit to SCTEX/Clark Airport. From there, follow the signs for Tarlac/Baguio/TPLEX, continue onto the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, and traverse the Mac Arthur Highway to get to the city. Total driving time from Manila to Laoag is about 8 hours.

2. Commuting by Bus from Manila to Laoag

GV Florida Transport buses depart from Sampaloc, Manila terminal to Laoag every four hours daily. Partas Bus Line also has daily trips to Laoag from Cubao, Quezon City. You can choose from a regular aircon, luxury, and super deluxe bus. From the bus terminal, you can catch a jeepney or taxi to your hotel, or to other towns and cities near Laoag.

When is the Best Time to Go to Laoag?

Laoag Tourist SpotIf you don’t want to sweat buckets during your trip, the best time to visit Laoag is during the cooler months of November to February. Christmas preparations are already in full swing by the time November comes around, so expect a lot of holiday activities during this time.

March to June are the hottest months with temperatures reaching a high of 35 degrees Celsius, with minimal rainfall. These months also coincide with Holy Week and summer break for most schools, so you may see a lot of families with school-age children in Laoag during your visit.

The months of July to October bring rain, and sometimes typhoons. The city experiences an average of 4 to 5 typhoons every year, so make sure to check weather reports regularly, especially if you plan your trip around these months.

How to Get Around Laoag?

If you brought your own vehicle, or if you rented a van for your trip, you can easily get around Laoag. If you got into the city via public transportation, you can take jeepneys to help you get around. Short trips to and from the city center are easily managed by tricycle, a motorcycle with an attached roofed sidecar. 

Going around LaoagYou can also explore the city center on foot, as most establishments and tourist spots within the city are located close to one another. But always remember to bring an umbrella to block the sun’s harsh rays, and a bottle of drinking water to keep yourself hydrated.  

Where to See the Top Tourist Spots in Laoag?

The beauty of The Sunshine City lies in the fact that it’s able to successfully mix the historic with the modern. Even if it’s a buzzing city, travelers can still feel its warm, provincial charm, especially in the top tourist spots. Here are the top places you should visit in Laoag so you can experience the wonders of both the old and the new.

1. Go to the City Centers for Museum Hopping

If you love soaking up the history, culture, and traditions of a place, make a stop at the Museo Ilocos Norte along General Antonio Luna Street. The museum used to be a tobacco warehouse and houses a large collection of Ilocano, Igorot, and Itneg traditional clothing, everyday objects, and ceremonial pieces. 

Batac Museum, also known as the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum, showcases memorabilia of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. The museum used to be the Marcoses’ family home.

Also worth a visit is Malacañang of the North in nearby Paoay. The two-story mansion was a former holiday residence of the Marcos family, which was converted into a museum. Malacañang of the North sits on the edge of the serene and peaceful Paoay Lake.

2. Visit the Beautiful Stone Churches in and Around Laoag

The Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic country. As such, it is not unusual to see numerous churches in different towns and cities. Most churches in the country are large stone edifices, like St. William’s Cathedral (Laoag Church) in Laoag. The current church was built in 1612 by Augustinian friars and constructed in the Italian Renaissance style. About 85 meters from the church is the church’s bell tower, also known as the Sinking Bell Tower. It is said that the bell tower sinks at a rate of 1 inch per year.

Some 19 km southwest of Laoag is the Paoay Church, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In contrast to St. William’s Cathedral, Paoay Church is built in the usual earthquake-baroque style, a type of Baroque architecture commonly found around the Philippines. Both churches conduct masses in Ilocano, English, and Tagalog.

3. Go Wild Along the Coastline

Get an adrenaline rush and head over to the La Paz Sand Dunes! The steep slopes of the dunes make it a perfect place for sandboarding, which involves going down a sand dune on a wooden or plastic board. Rough terrain riding enthusiasts will also enjoy an exhilarating 4x4 ride up and down the sandy hills.

You can also visit and stare in awe at the Bangui Windmills, Ilocos’ “giant electric fans” on the coast of Bangui Bay, north of Laoag. The windmills are accessible to the public, so you can just head over there to feel the wind on your face while watching the giant fan blades spin.

What to Eat in Laoag

All that walking, sandboarding, sightseeing, and picture-taking around Laoag will surely make you hungry. Fortunately, there are a lot of great food choices to choose from to whet your appetite. From traditional Ilocano dishes to fusion cuisine, Laoag City has got your tummy covered. 

One restaurant that is precious to Laoag natives is the aptly named La Preciosa. The restaurant comes highly recommended as it serves large portions of Ilocano specialties such as pinakbet (mixed vegetable stew cooked in fermented shrimp paste or bagoong), bagnet (pork belly that is deep fried multiple times in its own fat), dinardaan (offal in pig’s blood), and sarabasab (grilled pork liver in bitter sauce). Diners also get good value for their money, as you can order a main dish for 2-3 people for as low as PHP 200.00.

Pizza lovers will find great joy in having their favorite carbs at Saramsam Ylocano. Here, Italy meets the Philippines with the poqui-poqui pizza, which combines the traditional Ilocano vegetable dish made with roasted eggplants, tomatoes, and eggs with fresh pizza dough. Other options such as the pinakbet pizza and longganisa (pork sausage) pizza. For PHP 345.00, you can already order an 11-inch poqui-poqui pizza.

Looking for a snack to tide you over in between sightseeing? Why not try the Ilocos empanada? These deep-fried pastries are stuffed with green papaya, minced longganisa, mung beans, and egg, and are widely sold at almost every street corner in Laoag. Its dough is made of rice flour and achuete (annatto) seeds, which colors it bright orange. The best place to sample these tasty snacks in Laoag is in Dap-ayan. You can get your fill of empanada for about PHP 50.00. 

Which Laoag Hotels Should You Book?

Fort IlocandiaLaoag has several hotels and resorts ranging from luxury accommodations to budget hotels. Here are some of our recommended Laoag hotels that you can book based on your budget and itinerary:

Luxury Accommodations in Laoag

After an 8-hour drive (or a 10-hour bus ride), you just might want to treat yourself to a little luxury upon reaching the city. Here are your top options for luxury accommodations in Laoag:

1. Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel

Feel at home at Laoag’s top hotel, Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel. The air-conditioned rooms come with complete bathroom amenities, a safe deposit box, personal refrigerator, and coffee/tea facilities. An overnight stay comes with a free buffet breakfast for two, wi-fi internet access, free use of the hotel facilities, and airport transfers.

Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel has its own shopping arcade, for hassle-free souvenir shopping for your friends and family. The hotel also has its own café, restaurant, bar, swimming pool, and golf course so you’ll never run out of things to do!

Rate: Starts at PHP 3,600.00 per night

2. Java Hotel

If you want a spacious room that gives you that perfect Balinese-Moroccan vibe, book a room at the Java Hotel. The air-conditioned rooms come with complete bathroom amenities with cold and hot showers, cable TV, private balcony (for select rooms), and Wi-Fi internet access.  

The Java Hotel has its own bar and restaurant, swimming pool, tennis court, a jungle gym/playground, and a 30m wall climbing facility.

Rate: Starts at PHP 3,150.00 per night

Comfortable Accommodations in Laoag

Creatures of comfort need not worry about finding the perfect accommodations but don’t want to spend for additional perks. Here are some mid-range hotels in Laoag to suit your sensible budget and tastes:

1. Vybe Hotel

Comfortably situated near popular Ilocos Norte tourist spots, Vybe Hotel offers comfortable accommodations without breaking your budget. This 60-room hotel is a short 10-minute drive from downtown Laoag; close enough to get into the city, but far enough from the city center if you want some peace and quiet. Complimentary breakfast is available for checked-in guests. Rooms are spacious and have complete amenities.

Rate: Starts at PHP 2,377.00 a night

2. Viven Hotel

Viven Hotel is a boutique hotel near the Laoag city center. Their modern and air-conditioned rooms are perfect for guests who want to stay in a place that’s easily accessible to the city’s dining, shopping, and entertainment destinations.

Rate: Starts at PHP 1,850.00 a night

3. Casa de Renzo Hotel

Get the best value for your money by booking your stay at this small budget hotel. Its wood interior, cozy rooms, and intimate dining area give off a vacation home feel. The hotel has rooms for solo travelers, couples, and small groups. There are even dorm-type accommodations for larger groups.

Rate: Starts at PHP 1,750.00 a night

Budget-Friendly Accommodations in Laoag

Traveling on a shoestring? Laoag also has hotels that cater to solo backpackers and small groups. Check out these best options for budget-friendly hotels in Laoag:

1. People’s Inn

This small, 11-room budget hotel may have only the basic facilities and amenities, but its spacious rooms, clean surroundings, and proximity to the city center more than make up for it. The hotel is within walking distance to restaurants like Kahel de Luna, and tourist attractions like the Sinking Bell Tower and Museo Ilocos.

Rate: Starts at PHP 875.00 a night

2. Farm Side Hotel

Tucked away on a side street off the main road in San Nicolas, Laoag, the Farm Side Hotel is a quieter alternative for those looking for a place to stay in the city. The rooms are designed to look like small one-bedroom bungalows, for those who would like to have a bit more privacy. The hotel is within walking distance from Robinsons Ilocos Mall and is a short tricycle or jeepney ride away from the city center.

Rate: Starts at PHP 630.00 a night

Explore Laoag with this Sample 4 Days and 3 Nights Itinerary

Ready to go on an adventure to Laoag and the nearby Ilocos Norte tourist spots? Check out our sample itinerary to make sure you get the best out of your trip to The Sunshine City.

DAY 1              ARRIVAL
11:55 AMDeparture from NAIA Terminal 2 to Laoag Airport
1:05 PMETA in Laoag Airport
1:30 PMLate lunch at La Preciosa
3:00 PMLate check-in at Viven Hotel, rest and freshen up
4:00 - 6:00 PMTake a DIY walking tour around the city
6:00 PMDinner near the hotel
8:00 PMCall it a day. Start bright and early the next day.

 
DAY 2 
8:00 AMLeisurely breakfast at the hotel
9:00 - 12:00 NNPaoay Tour: Visit Paoay Church, Malacañang of the North and Paoay Lake
12:00 NNLunch at Paoay
1:30 - 6:00 PMLaoag City Tour: Visit Museo Ilocos Norte and chill at the Rizal Amusement Park
6:00 PMDinner at Saramsam Ylocano
8:00 PMBack at the hotel. Call it a day. Start bright and early the next day.

 
DAY 3 
8:00 AMLeisurely breakfast at the hotel
9:30 - 12:00 NNVisit the Bangui Windmills, Patapat Viaduct, and Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
1:00 PMLate lunch in Laoag City
2:00 - 5:00 PMLa Paz Sand Dunes: Go on a 4x4 adventure, try sandboarding
6:00 PMDinner at Cuisine de Iloco
8:00 PMBack at the hotel. Call it a day. Start bright and early the next day.

 
DAY 4DEPARTURE
9:00 AMLate breakfast at the hotel
12:00 NNHotel check out
12:30 PMLunch near the hotel
1:30 - 6:00 PMVisit Batac Museum: Pray and contemplate at St. William Cathedral, and check out the Sinking Bell Tower
6:00 - 7:00 PMDinner
Shopping for souvenirs
7:30 PMTravel to Laoag Airport
9:20 PMDeparture from Laoag Airport
11:30 PMETA in NAIA Terminal 2

Travel Tips to Keep in Mind Before Visiting Laoag

  1. Some hotels, restaurants, and commercial establishments accept credit cards, but most smaller shops only accept cash. There are only a few ATM machines in the city proper so it’s still best to bring enough cash with you.
  2. Currency exchange is available in most hotels.
  3. Most hotels in Laoag offer free Wi-Fi internet connection. However, internet access will be spotty at best when you travel outside the city.
  4. Pack light, as temperatures are almost always warm and humid. You can also opt to bring an extra shirt during your tour, so you can swap your sweaty shirt for a fresh one in between activities.
  5. Remember to also bring a jacket or raincoat just in case the weather turns cool and rainy!   
  6. As a city that gets lots of sunshine, make sure to always put on sunblock whenever you head out. Remember to bring your sunglasses, hats, and umbrellas as well!
  7. There are no establishments around the sand dunes, so make sure to bring your own bottled water and something to munch on while taking a break from sandboarding.

Laoag City is Ready to Welcome You!

Laoag is a lovely historic city that is the perfect blend of small-town traditional charm and big-city modern lifestyle. It is where centuries-old churches coexist with swanky office buildings and modern commercial establishments, and where the laid-back atmosphere works well with heart-pumping adventures.

The Sunshine City is a great place to unwind, bask in endless sunshine, and feel the fresh clean wind on your face.

Where and how to start planning your holiday to Laoag? Check out Ilocos tours and activities that will let you experience the charm of The Sunshine City to the fullest!