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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.