It all started from jogging along the Philippine Ports Authority in Batangas. My cousins and I suddenly had this urge to go for their graduation trip (they’re both graduating from Law School) and they wanted to unwind before the start of their review for the Bar Exams.
I just remembered then that I wanted so badly to go to Ilocos. My officemates have already scheduled a trip to the Northern part of the Philippines, and I was initially part of the large group going there. However, my schedule at school did not permit so I had to turn down that invitation.
To cut the long story short, luckily, my cousins and I were able to find a window in our schedules – not to mention similar interest in going to the North – that our planning sessions began.
Here is Project Ilocandia, #jadprojectilocandia2015
Below is our planned itinerary for 3 days and 3 nights in Region I:
A lot can happen in a backpacking trip, so my cousins and I agreed that we should not try to stick so much to our schedule. Traveling overseas taught me not to pack so many destinations in one day.
If pressed for time, make sacrifices.
But you can avoid that by planning carefully. I may be nitty-gritty in scheduling, but I’m not crazy about it. HAHA.
So we had a mishap as soon as we landed in Laoag, and naturally we had to quickly act on it. After a failed bus ride to Pagudpud, we changed our itinerary to the following:
It was amazing because we were able to go to all the places we wanted to go to, eat at the restaurants that were on our checklist, and take photos of places we only see in magazines and online.
I will not detail the stories, but will enumerate a few tips and tricks that we’ve learned along the way:
- Take the sleeper bus to Laoag. We chose Partas not really for their sleeper bus, but it was the only transport I know that goes to Laoag. They don’t call it sleeper, but Deluxe Laoag. Super comfortable seats, feels like sofa bed. Spacious and I can literally roll in my seat. There’s only 168 peso difference from the First Class Laoag, which is the normal 4-seater per row. Though we were travelling on a tight budget, we decided to bite this one because hey, it was a long 10-hour ride, at night, when you want to sleep, even for just half the journey.
- You can hire a tricycle (with a driver/tour guide) from the Laoag terminal of Partas. We hired Kuya Melchor (+63 939 149 0461) to take us to the Laoag tourist sites for P700.00. We hired Kuya Melchor again for our Pagudpud tour for P1,500.00. Take note that he went back and forth to Laoag City when we were resting between 2-5pm. He also picked us up from our lodging in Paoay before going to Pagudpud.
- It is best to do the Sand dunes at sun down. The sunset there was breath-taking!
- Paoay Church is beautiful at night.
- Herencia Café at Paoay closes at 8-8:30pm, depending on the number of patrons for the night. Order a sampler pizza, it’s a serving of two pizza flavors. We chose Pinakbet Pizza (their specialty) and Ilocos Longganisa.
- Saramsam Café will prioritize their in-house customers (those checked in at Balay da Blas). Be sure you’re ready to wait for 30-45 minutes especially if you came in at 8am on a Sunday.
- Saramsam Café’s coffee is self-served. They forgot to tell us this. But that’s easily negligible only because they have great coffee. Or sugar. It’s just really good. And don’t forget to order the Bilobilo fondue – their specialty!
- After the southern tour (Lighthouse, Kapurpurawan, Bangui) we went straight to Patapat Viaduct, before Bantay Abot Cave to break the straight travel time by a few minutes.
- We did the same when we stopped over at Pasuquin Bake Shop for some soft biscocho in the town of Pasuquin.
- Buses at Partas terminal leaves for Manila every hour. On the dot. Or at least 5 minutes grace period.
- Don’t miss out on Calle Crisologo at night. The yellow lights and the cobblestones create an authentic vintage effect.
- If you’re into hunting for game (a-la Hunger Games), be sure to stop by the Museum in Baluarte. Chavit Singson has a wide display of pictures when he goes hunting for game. I honestly don’t know what to feel about the place. I think I was so disturbed when we left.
- Give the Manong at Pagburnayan a tip when he demonstrates how to create Jars. I don’t reckon it’s a must but he’ll appreciate it.
- One of the souvenir stores right in front of Pagburnayan has the cheapest white shirts in Vigan.
- Be careful of Secret Garden’s falling fruits. If you’re into plants, be sure to stop by the place and tour the landscape. It gets crowded at lunch time because of Lilong and Lilang Restaurant, but it’s only crowded upfront. The garden itself wasn’t very much.
- Syquia Mansion is the biggest in Vigan, and I think the most well preserved. We went to this place first and it feels like the rest were ordinary compared to the mansion.
- Café Uno’s coffee was a disappointment. But the Grandpa’s specialty cake (or whatever it’s called) was delish!
- Big5 Souvenir store sells the cheapest items along Calle Crisologo. They’re one of earliest to open, but also one of the earliest to close.
- Don’t forget to watch the dancing fountain show at Plaza Salcedo. It begins at 7:30pm and runs for 30 minutes. If the crowd is big, it has a re-run at 8:30pm.
- Last trip of Partas Bus from Vigan is 12mn. As much as we want to take the sleeper bus from Vigan, they’re normally already full when they leave Laoag.
Okay. That’s it for now! If I remember anything else to put up, I’ll edit this right away!
Thank you for reading!