Backpacking Ilocos

It was the last week of September 2015 when Cebu Pacific Air had their seat sale for the 4th quarter of the year. As a constant traveler and with flexible schedule, I always look for seat sales for my travel and when there is one, I see to it that I book at least one flight to a destination that I have not been to in the past. One of which is a flight from Manila to Laoag. Although my hometown is located in Luzon, I have not been in northern Luzon as far as Ilocos. This really excites me because I will have the chance to visit many places in Ilocos.

Laoag City

I started my journey in Laoag City where the airport in northern Luzon is located. When I arrived at the airport, I asked one of the airport personnel where I could ride to reach the city proper. I was advised to ride a passenger jeepney, which I am more happy to accept. I was not expecting that a passenger jeepney will be available that time as it was past 6:00PM already. Looking at Google maps, the airport is located too far from the main road. Although there were blogs that suggest taking a passenger jeepney from the airport, it was not clear whether the location of the passenger jeepneys is just outside the airport. Having been there gives me an idea that it will take a while before you can ride a passenger jeepney. Lucky me as there was a passenger jeepney waiting just few meters away from the airport–literally, it is just a 3-minute walk! I just do not know if this is always the case whenever there are flights in the airport.

Laoag International Airport. This was taken where the public utility jeepney was waiting for passengers. You may want to check this location if you do not have means to go to the city proper. You can also ask any airport officials or employees where you can get a ride going to the city proper.

Laoag International Airport. This was taken where the public utility jeepney was waiting for passengers. You may want to check this location if you do not have means to go to the city proper. You can also ask any airport officials or employees where you can get a ride going to the city proper.

For budget travelers, you may want to look for this type of service. It will bring you to the city proper where you can tour around or ride a bus to your destination. You can also check if the free shuttle is still available to bring you to the city proper.

For budget travelers, you may want to look for this type of service. It will bring you to the city proper where you can tour around or ride a bus to your destination. You can also check if the free shuttle is still available to bring you to the city proper.

A typical sari-sari store (variety store) in the Philippines that you can find in the area where the public utility jeepney is parked. It is like a convenience store but their inventory only includes the most common goods that a typical household requires.

A typical sari-sari store (variety store) in the Philippines that you can find in the area where the public utility jeepney usually waits. It is like a convenience store but their inventory only includes the most common goods that a typical household requires.

I learned that there was a shuttle service provided by the provincial governor from the airport to the city proper. However, going back to the airport from the city proper means taking a public transportation available. Alternatively, you can hire a tricycle from the airport to the city proper but this will cost you a lot. If you are traveling a group of 3 and you do not have any choice left, then hiring a tricycle is the only option you have to get to the city proper or back to the airport.

The arc for Laoag City, welcoming the visitors of the city.

The arc for Laoag City, welcoming the visitors of the city.

I alighted at the Aurora Park where I took some photos and selfies. The city hall and the provincial capitol are just in the vicinity. After few minutes, I decided to go to Vigan City where I will spend the night. I asked some locals where I can find a bus terminal that will pass Vigan City. I was directed to Fariñas Transit bus terminal but unfortunately they are fully booked. The attendant there asked me to try RCJ Bus Lines. Like the Fariñas Transit, they are also fully booked. I literally begged to the dispatcher to accommodate me because I really do not have a place to stay. I told the attendant that I am willing to sit on the aisle. He told me that he needs to ask the conductor first. I waited about 30 minutes for the bus to arrive. I was relieved to learned that the bus conductor agreed to accommodate me.

The Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol located just in front of Aurora Plaza.

The Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol located just in front of Aurora Park.

A selfie taken at the Aurora Park with a big "LAOAG" signage in the background.

A selfie taken at the Aurora Park with a big “LAOAG” signage in the background.

The Laoag City Hall located near the Aurora Park.

The Laoag City Hall located near the Aurora Park.

The provincial capitol building at daytime.

The provincial capitol building at daytime.

The Aurora Park at daytime.

The Aurora Park at daytime.

The sinking bell towel located just right beside the SM Hypermarket.

The sinking bell towel located just right beside the SM Hypermarket.

Vigan City

The travel is about 2 hours from Laoag City to Vigan City. I alighted in front of Henady Inn, which is just located along the national road. I soon as I checked-in and put all my things in the provided locker, . I woke up at around 2:30AM and I could not go back to sleep. At 4:00AM, I decided to get up and prepare for Vigan City tour.

I left the hotel few minutes before 5:00AM. The streets are too dark. Street lights are very limited in the area. However, I found some locals having a morning walk towards the parks–it made me feel safe. I mean, I do not know about you but I feel safer in other location. Probably, it is because I am not familiar with the place–smiles.

The Henady Inn at night time, which is located along the national road.

The Henady Inn at early in the morning, which is located along the national road.

The Vigan Arc Sign, which is located just across Henady Inn.

The Vigan Arc Sign, which is located just across Henady Inn.

The good thing about Vigan City is that, most of its tourist destinations are walking distance. You can reach Plaza Salcedo, Plaza Burgos, Vigan Cathedral, and Vigan Heritage Village, among others, by foot. For me, the best time to visit Vigan City is early in the morning where most of the commercial establishments are still closed. By doing this, you will spare yourself with warm weather in the city. You can take your breakfast in Sinanglaoan eatery, which is located in the corner of A. Reyes Street and Liberation Boulevard. Sinanglao is a specialty soup of Vigan City made from beef skin and innards, flavored with bile and kamias (bilimbi). Alternatively, you can hire a calesa (a two-wheeled one-horse vehicle with a seat for the driver), which are located at the side of the cathedral for a minimal fee. If you are two, this is an affordable option and a different experience to tour the city instead of a tricycle.

Plaza Salcedo is located just in front of the Ilocos Sur Provincial Capitol.

Plaza Salcedo is located just in front of the Ilocos Sur Provincial Capitol.

Selfie at Plaza Salcedo with big "Ilocos Sur" in the background.

Selfie at Plaza Salcedo with big “Ilocos Sur” in the background.

Vigan City was named as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities.

Vigan City was named as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities.

Plaza Burgos in the dark.

Plaza Burgos in the dark.

The Calesa terminal is located beside the cathedral. To have an amazing experience of Vigan City, I suggest you hire one of these to tour you around.

The Calesa terminal is located beside the cathedral. To have an amazing experience of Vigan City, I suggest you hire one of these to tour you around.

Calle Crisologo at early in the morning where Vigan Heritage Village is located.

Calle Crisologo at early in the morning where Vigan Heritage Village is located.

An eatery, which is two blocks away from the famous Vigan Heritage Village, that serves Singlao. A local dish made from beef innards and kamias. A must try for every visitor. For our Iglesia ni Cristo friends, specifically ask to not include blood cubes in your singlao.

An eatery, which is two blocks away from the famous Vigan Heritage Village, that serves singlao. A local dish made from beef innards and kamias. A must try for every visitor. For our Iglesia ni Cristo friends, specifically ask to not include blood cubes in your singlao.

A must-try local dish in Vigan City.

A must-try local dish in Vigan City.

Vigan Heritage Village in the morning.

Vigan Heritage Village in the morning.

Vaya Con Dios is literally translated to "Go with God". A typical phrase to say goodbye in Spanish. Behind the arc is the Henady Inn at day time.

Vaya Con Dios is literally translated to “Go with God”. A typical phrase to say goodbye in Spanish. Behind the arc is the Henady Inn at day time.

Batac City

I took a bus with a “LAOAG” sign and ask the bus conductor that I will alight at Batac City. The travel time is about 1.5 hours. The city proper is about 500 meters away from the drop-off point. I just walk towards the city proper until I reached the Marcos Photo Galery also known as Marcos Museum. I went inside and checked so photos. It was a surprised when I saw a photo of Imelda Marcos and the father of the current prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. His father became a prime minister as well and he got the attention of many Filipinos especially women because of his good looks.

Marcos Photo Gallery

Marcos Photo Gallery

Inside the Marcos Photo Gallery.

Inside the Marcos Photo Gallery.

I then went to the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center also known as Marcos Family Ancestral Home. I just took some photos outside. They collect a minimal fee if you want to get inside. I looked for a place to eat and found the Empanadahan near the Batac Riverside. I ordered two varieties of empanada.

Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center

Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center

A marker for Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center.

A marker for Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center.

Crispy Empanada, a must-try when visiting the provinces of Ilocos.

Crispy Empanada, a must-try when visiting the provinces of Ilocos.

Empanada varieties and their corresponding price.

Empanada varieties and their corresponding price.

Paoay, Ilocos Norte

After few minutes, I decided to check Paoay Church, Sand Dunes, Paoay Lake and the Malacañang of the North. I thought I could find a passenger jeepney going to Paoay Church but it seems to be very limited. Also, a local told me that are no public utility vehicles that will bring me Sand Dunes, Paoay Lake and the Malacañang of the North. I decided to hire a tricycle to bring me to those places.

Park in Paoay Church

Park in Paoay Church

Selfie at Paoay Lake

Selfie at Paoay Lake

Malacañang of the North

Malacañang of the North

Interior of Malacañang of the North

Interior of Malacañang of the North

The Paoay Lake at the back of Malacañang of the North

The Paoay Lake at the back of Malacañang of the North

I just took a selfie with the 4x4 vehicles. I did not took a ride as it cost a lot for a solo traveler like me.

I just took a selfie with the 4×4 vehicles. I did not took a ride as it cost a lot for a solo traveler like me.

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

After checking Paoay, I went back to the national road to take a bus going to Laoag City for Pagudpud. You can also wait for a bus “inside” Vigan City to save you from walking towards the national road. It took about 2 hours travel time before I reached Laoag City. I asked a local where I could take a bus going to Pagudpud. I was directed to go to Claveria Tours bus terminal located just a the side of PLDT. PLDT is located in Lagasca St, Laoag City. This is just at the back of the provincial capitol.

Claveria Tours bus terminal is located near PLDT and PLDT is located at the back of the provincial capitol building. Their phone number is (+63-78) 866-1129. Their last trip in Laoag is 6:00PM while in Claveria it is 1:30PM.

Claveria Tours bus terminal is located near PLDT and PLDT is located at the back of the provincial capitol building. Their phone number is (+63-78) 866-1129. Their last trip in Laoag is 6:00PM while in Claveria it is 1:30PM.

While on my way to Pagudpud, I texted Kuya Ruben of Hannah Lou’s Homestay. He immediately reply and was advised to tell the driver to alight me at the Baduan Market. Baduan market is not really a typical public market. It is just like a big sari-sari store where you can buy goods commonly seen in a public market.

When I reached the Baduan Market, I texted Kuya Ruben. Saud Beach in Pagudpud is about 4.6 kilometers away from the national road. Kuya Ruben was bringing his own motorbike that basically translates into savings from my travel fund–smiles. When I arrived at their residence, I was greeted by his wife. I was also given a welcome drink and snacks! Comparing their service to high class resort which will only give you a welcome drink–at most it is just a bottled water. I must say, their warm welcome and hospitality is beyond words. They are very approachable and are open with requests. They will make sure that you enjoy your stay and get the most out of your money with the affordable services that they offer.

This is what the locals refer to the Baduan Market.

This is what the locals refer to the Baduan Market.

I got served with a welcome drink and snacks. This is really a pleasant surprised from a homestay. It is really beyond my expectation.

I got served with a welcome drink and snacks. This is really a pleasant surprised from a homestay. It is really beyond my expectation.

I decided to catch the sunset in the beach. There is a public road leading to the beach so you do not need to pay a private resort for an entrance fee just to get to the beach. Obviously, I took some photos in the beach and took some dips. I am bit afraid as I am not a swimmer and I do not have a life vest and people are too far from my location. I also feel that the water is deep with just few steps from the beach. I went back to my room. At around 7:00PM, the dinner was served. As I have eaten burger at the Baduan Market and the snacks that Kuya Ruben’s wife had gave me, I only eat a portion of what they have served me. I went back to my room and went to sleep. The room is actually a shared room with 2 single beds and 1 double bed. Since it is off-peak season, it literally became my private room–laughs.

Fishermen are readying their tools and equipment the next day.

Fishermen are readying their tools and equipment the next day.

Sunset in Saud Beach, Pagudpud while recording it in time-lapse mode.

Sunset in Saud Beach, Pagudpud while recording it in time-lapse mode.

The shore at Saud Beach, Pagudpud.

The shore at Saud Beach, Pagudpud.

If you want to experience the warm welcome, the best hospitality, the friendliness, the value for your money and being taken care of, stay at Hanna Lou's Homestay in Saud Beach, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

If you want to experience the warm welcome, the best hospitality, the friendliness, the value for your money and being taken care of, stay at Hanna Lou’s Homestay in Saud Beach, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

Hanna Lou's Homestay has only 1 room with 2 single beds and 1 double bed. It is a mixed dorm type room with an option for air-conditioner or a fan.

Hanna Lou’s Homestay has only 1 room with 2 single beds and 1 double bed. It is a mixed dorm type room with an option for air-conditioner or a fan.

I woke up at around 4:00AM to prepare for north and south tour in Pagudpud. At around 5:30AM, I went outside to take some photos. It is still dark outside and there is a drizzle. The breakfast was served at around 6:00AM. I had a little chat with Ate and with their daughter. I learned that colleges and universities are located in Laoag City. Their children need to rent a place in Laoag City just to be able to finish their college degree.

At around 6:15AM, Ate’s brother arrived. He will be my driver slash guide for my tour. Since I am solo, we just took a motorbike. For groups of up to 3 pax, a tricycle will be the option and for groups of more than 4 pax, you can take multiple tricycles or a van. Ate will make the arrangements for you so you do not have to worry about it.

Although, it is possible to commute your way to the different destinations in Pagudpud and nearby towns, it would be expensive and will take a lot of your time because buses there are very limited. You may need to wait 30 to 45 minutes for a bus to arrive and most destinations are far from the national road. You really need to ride a tricycle or habal-habal (motorbike) to reach your destination.

We first went to Kabigan Falls. It is a 1-hour trek to the falls, back and forth. The trail is easy but it is their policy to have a guide in every group. I cannot remember whether there is a standard fee for each guest or tourist. What I can remember though, my guide told me that they earn more if they are guiding a group. That said, regardless if you are alone or you are in a group, you will still pay the same amount with the rest of the members of the group.

Part of the trail going to Kabigan Falls.

Part of the trail going to Kabigan Falls.

Photo opportunity at Kabigan Falls.

Photo opportunity at Kabigan Falls.

After Kabigan Falls, we headed to the Patapat Viaduct. My driver slash guide took some photos of me in the middle of the road. It was just very quick shot as this is a national road and there are buses and cars passing through this bridge. Although it known as a tourist spot where a lot of visitors take pictures, it is the responsibility of the visitors to be alert when it comes to their safety.

The famous Patapat Viaduct. This is a national road so be extra careful when taking photos, selfies or groupies.

The famous Patapat Viaduct. This is a national road so be extra careful when taking photos, selfies or groupies.

Just few meters after the bridge, we went to the Agua Grande Resort. We did not enter the resort but I took some photos in the area. We also went to groto…

Agua Grande

Agua Grande

Kalbario Patapat Natural Park is located a kilometer away from Agua Grande.

Kalbario Patapat Natural Park is located a kilometer away from Agua Grande.

We then went to Timmangtang Rock, Bantay Abot Cave, and Hannah’s Beach Resort. These are all located along the way in Balaoi, Pagudpud. The famous blue lagoon in Ilocos is located where Hannah’s Beach Resort is situated. From the blue lagoon, you can see the Dos Hermanos Islands. There are other private resorts in the area and many accommodation to choose from. I honestly believe that wherever you choose to spend your time in Pagudpud it will be worth it. You are free to swim at the blue lagoon for few hours before you head to your next destination. Just let your driver slash guide about your plan. Also, be sure to feed your driver slash guide. It will be a good gesture if you do this but is not a requirement.

Timmangtang Rock

Timmangtang Rock

Bantay Abot Cave

Bantay Abot Cave

Blue Lagoon also known as Maira-Ira Point of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

Blue Lagoon also known as Maira-Ira Point of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

We passed the Pagudpud arc and of course I do not want to miss the opportunity to take a selfie on the famous landmark in Pagudpud. We headed to the Bangui Windmills, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation and last but not the least the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. There is an entrance fee in Kapurpurawan Rock Formation and Cape Bojeador Lighthouse but since I was just alone and just riding a habal-habal, the officer-in-charge let us pass without paying the fees–lucky me!

Souvenir and snack shops at Bangui Windmills.

Souvenir and snack shops at Bangui Windmills.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. You can do a horseback riding here.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. You can do a horseback riding here.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte.

After checking the lighthouse, we went back to the national road to wait for a bus going to Laoag City. My driver slash guide had waited for me until I get on the bus. I arrived Laoag City roughly about 1.5 hours. I tried to kill time by looking for a place to stay or even watch a movie. In Google maps, there is SM City Laoag but I could not locate it physically. What I found is the SM Hypermarket. I went inside and check if there is something worth doing inside other done dining. I decided to check outside, I passed by a sinking bell tower and across it is an eatery or carinderia. I decided to kill time there. I decided to look for a jeepney that will go to the airport. I found out that passenger jeepneys bound to Gabu will pass near the airport. You will have to alight at the tricycle terminal in Araniw.

A public utility jeepney that will pass near the airport. The terminal is located near the CAP building. Just tell the driver that you will go to the airport. He will drop you to a tricycle terminal in Araniw where you can get a ride to the airport.

A public utility jeepney that will pass near the airport. The terminal is located near the CAP building. Just tell the driver that you will go to the airport. He will drop you to a tricycle terminal in Araniw where you can get a ride to the airport.

My flight is not until 7:00PM so I am too early for my flight. I killed time by watching YouTube videos with my smartphone and eating street foods within the airport compound.

Here is a short video clip of Blue Lagoon, which is also known as Maira-Ira Point of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

For travel itinerary, please click here.

For travel expenses, please click here.

This is my Ilocos trip with travel dates from 21st of November, 2015 to 23rd of November, 2015.

By | 2017-02-26T12:27:25+00:00 December 3rd, 2015|Local Travels|0 Comments

About the Author:

Elpi Garcia is a travel enthusiast who go for an adventure whenever his budget and time allow it. He is more into sight seeing for a nature-packed experience and city / town tour to understand the history and culture of the places he visit. Aside from travel, he is also interested in alternative medicine, business opportunities, website design and information technology. He maintains websites related to alternative medicine, business opportunities like eLoad Matrix and Payday Loan; and website design services.

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