Beautifully preserved colonial architecture, rugged mountainous terrains, cobblestone streets, idyllic beaches, gastronomic adventures — all these and more can be found in the Ilocos Region, one of the reasons why you should visit the Philippines. It has four provinces, two of which are known for their historical and cultural significance: Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.
Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the must-visit architectural landmarks in the Philippines, is in Ilocos Sur. The Spanish-era residences have been well-preserved over the years, making it feel like a trip back in time.
On the other hand, Laoag is Ilocos Norte’s business and political hub. Aside from being the location of the Ilocos Region’s commercial airport, it is also home to beautifully preserved colonial architecture.
If you want to combine the two significant provinces on your itinerary when you book tours on a travel booking website like Guide to the Philippines, look no further! Here’s a handy Ilocos trip itinerary with Ilocos tours you can use for your trip with family and friends once you fulfill the needed Philippines travel requirements.
Photo by Philippine Airlines
To begin your Ilocos itinerary, you can either fly to one of the accessible Philippine airports in Luzon, the Laoag Airport from the Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which will take 1 hour, or go by land travel and get to Laoag in around 8 hours (480KM). Once you arrive, make your way to your hotel and then check-in. Make sure you have prepared all of the necessary Ilocos Norte travel requirements.
Laoag, the “Sunshine City,” is full of religious, historic, and cultural sites. After settling in, you can indulge in the hotel’s facilities, especially if you have checked in at one of the 5-star hotels in the Philippines, or go out and dine in at some of the best restaurants in Laoag. Rest up for the beginning of your Ilocos Norte tour visiting various Ilocos Norte tourist spots the next day.
The following day, you will be going on a Laoag tour. Get ready to see Philippine sceneries today in your Laoag tours, you will be able to visit multiple Laoag tourist spots in a single day, including some of the following:
Paoay Church is a Roman Catholic church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. It took 20 years to build and was finished in 1710. The church is known for its architecture, which is a mix of gothic, baroque, Chinese, and Javanese styles. It has a large pediment and bell tower that stand out on a wide plain.
Photo by Department of Tourism
La Paz Sand Dunes, also known as Bantay Bimmaboy by the locals, are a section of the Ilocos Sand Dunes that extends from Currimao to Pasuquin. It covers an area of 85KM. On the other hand, spanning an area of 88 square kilometers, the Paoay Sand Dunes are a continuation of the Ilocos Sand Dunes, with a scenic view of the coast at the top.
The Malacañang of the North is a national park and museum in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. Built in 1977 by the Philippine Tourism Authority, it was former President Ferdinand Marcos' official house in his home province. The property reopened in January 2011 as a public museum.
The bell tower of St William’s Cathedral is the highest in the Philippines, despite being 85 meters from the cathedral. The bell tower has a 90-meter base and 4 stories. Built by Augustinians after the cathedral in 1612, it has an 'earthquake baroque' design with huge columns on each corner.
Paoay Lake is the largest lake in Ilocos Norte. Around the lake in the park, there are a number of cafés that make for a good place to watch the sunset while enjoying the flavors of Ilocos. The laid-back atmosphere of the park makes it a great place to enjoy nature, go boating, or just relax.
Photo by Fort Ilocandia Resort
Fort Ilocandia is a 77-hectare area of fun and adventure with top-quality suites for both local and international travelers. It features history with touches of old-world art and modern conveniences. Fort Ilocandia Resort is one of the well-known luxury resorts in the Philippines.
The majestic St. William's Cathedral in the province's capital, Laoag City, is one of its most famous landmarks. It is also called Laoag Cathedral, and it is where the Roman Catholic Diocese of Laoag is based.
Photo by Nagbacalan Loomweavers Multi-Purpose Cooperative
The Nagbacalan Loom Weaving is right across the provincial road from the Paoay Lake Viewdeck, making it very easy to visit. The shop has a lot of abel, a type of weaved fabric, that travelers can buy as souvenirs or to decorate their homes.
After your Laoag tour, you will travel back to your Laoag hotel.
After having your breakfast, you will be checking out of your Laoag hotel and will make your way to Pagudpud, which is around 77KM away, or about 1.5 hours of travel time.
Pagudpud is a town in Ilocos Norte. It is known for its beautiful coastline and for being home to a windmill farm. It also promotes cultural tourism in the Philippines. You will be visiting top Pagudpud tourist spots, which may include the following:
Bangui Wind Farm in Bangui, Ilocos Norte, Philippines has 20 Vestas V82 1.65 MW wind turbines that are 70M tall and are lined up in a single row along a 9KM stretch of shoreline off Bangui Bay facing the West Philippine Sea.
The Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is naturally made with sand and other small rocks that piled up along the coasts because of wind and waves. The tourist spot is known for its panoramic view, which is one of the greatest backdrops for photography and one of the best geographical features in the Philippines.
The Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is the Philippines' highest lighthouse that is still in use and looks almost the same as it did when it was built by the Spanish. Today, it still serves vessels from China and East Asia to guide them away from the wide rocky coast of Burgos town in Ilocos Norte province.
With a total length of 1,300M, the Patapat Viaduct is one of the Philippines' longest bridges. It is located in the municipality of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. The bridge connects the Maharlika Highway in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, to Cagayan Valley, the province next door.
The name Bantay Abot Cave translates as "a mountain with a hole." It is an extraordinary structure that embraces the pristine blue water. The entire sight of the little mountain is reminiscent of a green whale sleeping on the beach.
Saud Beach, with its famed excellent fine white sand, is also blessed with stunning multi-colored corals and colorful fish. The beach is bordered by overhanging coconut trees, providing a dreamlike setting. Saud Beach is one of the many white-sand beaches in the Philippines.
The town of Pasuquin in Laoag is known for making salt. Salt beds near the sea are made of strong sand and coral and have become a household business. Several people sell fresh sea salt, onion, and garlic in plastic bags at stands along the highway.
Blue Lagoon Beach, also known as Maira-ira Beach by the locals, is a popular tourist destination. This magnificent soft white sand beach is surrounded by a lagoon with azure blue seas, where many Pagudpud resorts are lined up.
Dos Hermanos Island is situated near Barangay Balaoi and two similar mountains form the islands. It is surrounded by stunning and unspoiled beaches, spectacular waterfalls, and Instagrammable picturesque landscapes, making it a true escape from the city.
After your Pagudpud tour, you will spend the night at a Pagudpud hotel.
From your Pagudpud hotel, you will have a quick Ilocos road trip to Adams, which is around 30KM away or 1 hour travel time. Adams, one of the beautiful small towns in Ilocos Norte, is known for its ecotourism sites and wide forests. Some of the top attractions in Adams include the following:
The famous Lovers' Peak is 30 minutes from the town center. This place is a gateway to a scenic view with thick fog and rich colors of land warmed by the sun. And once the sun is fully up, you'll be greeted by a breathtaking view of mountains and wide rice fields with a clear blue sky as a backdrop.
There are 18 waterfalls and 10 hanging bridges in Adams. Anuplig Falls is the most visited of Adams' 18 waterfalls. Magliligay Falls is also an easily accessible waterfall and has 2 fall basins like Anuplig. Inuwayan Falls and Cabacan Falls are also accessible to travelers.
Inuwayan Nursery and Farms offers fruit tasting, a winery, and a chocolate-making activity. Their specialty is Bugnay Wine, and exotic fruits like plums, durian, lychee, mangosteen, cacao, and rambutan.
After the activities at Adams, you will spend the night at a Pagudpud hotel.
After breakfast/check-out at Pagudpud, you will travel to Vigan, a historic town filled with preserved colonial houses and cobblestone streets and known as one of the UNESCO heritage sites in the Philippines.
You will be checking in at one of the Vigan hotels provided you’re complete with Ilocos Sur travel requirements. Pagudpud to Vigan is 160KM or more than 3 hours. You can rest or go out and try the best Vigan restaurants.
Photo by Department of Tourism
Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur province, is one of the most beautiful streets in the Philippines, even though it is only 500 meters long. It's lined with stone homes that are hundreds of years old, beautiful tungsten lamps, and old cobblestone streets where horse-drawn carriages, or calesas, are still used to get around. In fact, the street is only for people on foot, except for calesas, which are used to see the city's historic sites.
The National Museum of the Philippines, Ilocos Complex is on Burgos Street. This group of museums is a treasure trove of memorabilia related to two famous people: the martyr priest Padre Jose Burgos and the former president of the Philippines, Elpidio Quirino.
The Vigan Cathedral, or the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Paul, is one of the city's most impressive historic landmarks. The cathedral features neo-gothic and pseudo-roman architectural styles.
Bantay Church is a Roman Catholic church in the same-named Ilocos town. It is particularly well-known for its majestic design and architecture, which are influenced by Western and European traditions. Bantay Church is a major part of Philippine history, with the church’s belfry once serving as a watch tower.
There are many historic homes in Vigan that have been converted into museums. If you want to get a feel of what it was like to belong to the class of educated Filipinos known as Ilustrados during the time of the Spanish colonial rule, then visit ancestral houses like the Arce Mansion, Syquia Mansion, and Crisologo Museum.
Photo by City Government of Vigan
Plaza Burgos is one of Vigan's two main plazas. It was built to honor Father Jose P. Burgos, who died as a martyr, but now it is best known as a food park, selling tasty dishes known in the Philippines food culture like empanadas and okoy, or shrimp patties. Local ice cream and pandesal, a popular Filipino bread, are also being sold here.
In the village of Pagburnayan in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, there are a number of small factories that make burnay or clay jars using a method that dates back hundreds of years. Burnay jars are handmade by potters in the area who have learned how to knead, shape, and bake clay, water, and sand to make the final product.
The Dancing Fountain is a beautiful show of lights and water set to both traditional and modern music. In the 30-minute show, tall columns of water dance to the beat, and colorful light displays round out the show.
After watching the show, you can go back to your hotel and relax before your trip the next day.
Make use of the hotel’s facilities or buy souvenirs to bring back home with you before heading to Laoag Airport or hitting the road.
Plan Your Ilocos Trip Now
Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur are both known as one of the most romantic places in the Philippines, because of their melancholic and picturesque spots, but with their historic and cultural relevance, it’s also a history buff's paradise and two of the best places in the Philippines for a family vacation.
Whether you’re looking for travel packages to the Philippines like vacation packages for couples or all-inclusive family vacation packages, travelers of all kinds can enjoy the wide range of things to do in the Philippines, especially in top tourist destinations in the Philippines like Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.
If you're wondering how long to spend in the Ilocos region visiting Luzon tourist spots especially when you’re about to book in a Philippines travel agency like Guide to the Philippines, this guide is for a 7-day, 6-night visit, but you may adapt it to a shorter one if you prefer a quick Ilocos Norte and Sur itinerary.