This means attractions included in Vigan tours offer a historically and culturally enriching experience. It's as if you’re transported back to the 16th century when the Philippines came under the rule of the Spaniards. Museums, churches, and plazas are some of the primary places of interest in Vigan tour packages.
Besides being a seat of colonialism in the past, Vigan is home to must-visit recreational spots, including a beach with fine black sand, a zoological park, and a sports adventure zone. Vigan is also known for its restaurants and food shops featuring must-try delectable local dishes and snacks.
Bookmark this guide for the top 10 tours and activities to enjoy in the unique and beautiful city of Vigan.
Mindoro Beach has powdery black sand that makes it unique from other beaches in the Philippines. The beach directly faces no less than the West Philippine Sea. The currents can be strong so it is best to wade in the beach’s clear blue waters and admire the scenery without going into the deeper parts of the water.
Because of its location, it features magnificent sunset views The beach is being developed to offer better accessibility to tourists. You can join Vigan tours to get there easily and know the friendly and accommodating locals living here.
Photo by Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone
The Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone is located at the foot of the jagged Banaoang mountain range, where Abra River is crossed by the twin Quirino bridges. It is famous for its 400-meter-long zip line. This exhilarating adventure will propel you way above the river crossing and bring you to the other side of it.
The ride, which spans across the towns of Santa and Bantay, will not only give you an adrenaline rush but also a magnificent view of Ilocos Sur’s picture-perfect natural gems.
Getting to the Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone is a 15-minute drive from Vigan City. The entrance to the facility is just alongside the main road, so access will never be a problem. You’ll be making your way to the zip line by climbing a 5-story sturdy concrete platform. Feel the excitement build up as you inch closer to the topmost level of the platform, where your zip line adventure awaits.
Other activities they offer are their giant swing, kayaking, rock climbing, and rappelling along the mountain slopes.
Baluarte means “encampment.” It can also be a loose term for a zoo, which is the exact fitting description for this private property that belongs to a prominent government leader in the Ilocandia province.
Baluarte Zoo is a 100-hectare zoological park that houses all sorts of animals. It has livestock, such as sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, and ponies. There is also an aviary with exotic and local birds, including ostriches.
You will also encounter wild animals from snakes and crocodiles to lions and tigers. You can have a good look at the animals in Baluarte Zoo by watching the daily shows. For picture-taking, the larger-than-life replicas of dinosaurs are a safer option than standing next to live animals, especially the wild ones.
Admission is free, and it’s best to visit in the morning to catch the animals being fed and roaming the open grounds with their trainer.
From the city center of Vigan, it will only take you a few minutes of walking to reach the plazas of Padre Burgos and Padre Salcedo, where you can enjoy selfie photo-ops in the park. All that walking will probably make you hungry, not to mention your sense of smell will be brought to life with the freshness of Ilocos empanada filling the air, a deep-fried pastry made from rice flour and filled with seasoned meat, vegetables, and eggs. You can eat this street delicacy on the go or sitting down in hole-in-the-wall food joints.
For a more intimate dining experience, you’ll find several old-fashioned to more contemporary restaurants offering authentic Ilocano dishes that are also a hit in the international food scene. For instance, sinanglaw is the counterpart of Vietnam’s pho, which you can sip on its own as a soup or eaten with rice for a full meal.
Try the crispy fried pork belly known as bagnet paired with pakbet, a vegetable dish with fermented fish or small shrimps (bagoong) which is a common ingredient of many dishes from Ilocos.
While you’re in Vigan, be sure to sample some sausage or longganisa, a staple food in the Philippines but what you’ll have is the Vigan version. You’ll know it’s Vigan longganisa with its salty, tangy, and garlicky taste that will leave very nice flavors in your mouth. Bring home a pack or two to remind you of your food tour in Vigan.
Explore the creative side of Ilocos when you visit the shops of Abel Iloco Weaving, Cristy’s Loom Weaving, or Rowilda’s Weaving. These are local businesses that feature products made by weaving, the art of turning loom into fabric that flourished during the Spanish colonial period.
It all starts with spinning the yarn into balls and then feeding the thread into the weaver. From there, all the bright colors are turned into a wonderful piece of clothing.
Vigan weaving tours are very educational since they show the origins of the textile industry, helping you understand what clothes have to go through to become skirts, dresses, or pants. You’ll also be inspired to watch how weavers create export-quality and well-designed masterpieces using locally sourced materials.
Other loom weave products are blankets, shawls, bags, table runners, and glass holders.
Pagburnayan or jar-making workshops represent the Ilocos region’s rich history. In Vigan, the Pagburnayan Jar Factory is one of the few remaining jar factories that have stood the test of time.
The term pagburnayan came from the root word “burnay” or clay pot, which shows how deeply rooted in pottery Vigan is.
In this tour, you’ll get to learn about the art of making jars, which came from Chinese traders who chose to establish their families in Vigan by living among the Ilocandians during the colonial times. Fermented bagoong, homemade vinegars, and artisanal wines are aged in these jars.
By joining the tour, you’ll have a first-hand experience of turning clay into earthenware jars using traditional tools. First, a stone wheel is used to shape the clay and cook it to its durable form in-ground kilns. The kilns are fired up to extremely high temperatures for the jars to come out very strong. You can also add designs or patterns to take your pottery-making experience to the next level.
Vigan Cathedral is an easily-seen landmark just fronting Plaza Salcedo. The church is also called the Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral, as the church is dedicated to converting the famous saint to Christianity.
One of the oldest churches in Vigan, the cathedral is an impressive model of Baroque architecture. It was commissioned by Juan de Salcedo in 1574. But it was refurbished at the turn of the 18th century. The residence of martyr Father Jose Burgos is just a stone’s throw from there.
The bell tower is located just across the street at Plaza Burgos, which is why you’ll typically see visitors taking souvenir shots in this important landmark.
This characteristic is also a strong clue to the Baroque design of the church. During that era, church construction separated the bell tower from the main building to help it withstand natural calamities like earthquakes. Today, the ancient church is more earthquake-proof, as locals have added reinforcements to the structure while keeping its beauty and grandeur.
Located within the compound of Saint Augustine Parish Church, the belfry overlooks the Bantay district in northeastern Vigan.
It undoubtedly gives one of the best views of Vigan, but be ready to climb a winding staircase to reach the top of the structure. Here, you’ll find the bell tower that the locals used to check for approaching invaders during the Spanish period and then World War II. The bell and all of its enormous size sit firmly right in the center of the tower.
Upon your descent from the tower, you’ll want to do the traditional snapshot, wherein you stand at the foot of the hill so that it looks like your palm is holding the tower. Couples can also join their hands to create a heart shape with the belfry appearing to be enclosed in it.
You can also spend a minute reflecting or meditating from the church's gardens, which the locals call Chapel by the Ruins.
Museum hopping is a top activity in most Vigan tour packages. Museum tours let you travel into the past and have a glimpse of how ilustrados or rich, educated Filipinos lived during the Spanish regime since many of these museums were mansions back then. Some must-visit Vigan museums to include in your Ilocos itinerary are:
The National Museum in Vigan is a compound which houses Padre Jose Burgos’s residence and President Quirino’s museum. Padre Burgos’ home is also known as bahay na bato (house of stone), where you’ll see his personal effects on display. Some of the most memorable items to view here are the writing tools he used to pen letters and papers.
Meanwhile, the central objects in President Quirino’s museum include his presidential suits and a replica of the president’s office. A chest with ornate designs gifted to him by Chinese nobleman Chiang Kai-shek sits in the middle of the office.
It houses the memoirs and personal effects of late statesman Floro S. Crisologo, including the last pair of trousers he wore before being assassinated in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The Syquia Mansion is named after the wife of President Elpidio Quirino and is where the couple resided. The stone mansion is a typical ancestral house with generous ceiling level, old wood flooring on the second level, antique furniture, authentic Chinaware, and majestic family portraits.
The ground floor has a vintage carriage as its centerpiece, which depicts the mode of transportation used by upper-class families like the Syquias.
Here, you can have a unique cosplay-like experience, as the staff help you into elaborate costumes of your choice. Each of these costumes represent how people of different social classes showed themselves in public during the Spanish era. They also serve dinner dressed in fancy suits from the period. The museum offers lodging accommodations if you wish to extend your visit by staying for a night or two.
Photo by the Department of Tourism - Philippines
Calle Crisologo is the first thing that comes to mind whenever Vigan City is mentioned because it’s the area’s most popular and visited tourist attraction. The street is considered the mestizo district and has the iconic look of old Spanish towns made of cobblestone grounds and pavements with ancestral houses on both sides of the street.
The street is also lined with shops selling bespoke kalesa wheels, native food products, hand-woven clothes and blankets, and other similar handcrafted goodies. Some of the best hotels in Vigan are also located in Calle Crisologo.
Calle Crisologo takes you back to a time of horse-drawn carriages, so grab the chance to take a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) ride. It’s a virtual panoramic tour, which saves you from tons of walking and lets you enjoy the sights in style.
The ride is a standard one-hour tour around the city center. It traverses Calle Crisologo with side trips on the Heritage Village, Vigan Cathedral, and lastly, Plaza Burgos. Calle Burgos rides also vary. You may want to haggle with your horseman and figure out what would fit your budget and which stops you’d like to have.
By nighttime, crowds gather at Calle Crisologo to eat, drink, listen to music, and share stories about their Vigan tour.
Relive History in Vigan
Vigan is an important part of the Filipino culture and heritage. Tour around the country’s old churches, mansions and museums, and natural sceneries. Discover everything Ilocandia from the cuisine, artistry, and more in Vigan.
With this article about Vigan tours and tour packages, can now plan your trip better and create the best Ilocos itinerary to experience the highlights of Vigan.