TheCebuano in Ilocos: 20 Amazing Things to See and Do
The allure of the Ilocos Region, nestled in the northwest corner of Luzon, has long captivated travelers with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes. For Cebuanos, this region was once a distant dream, separated by hours of sea, land, and air travel. But now, with Philippine Airlines bridging the gap with direct flights from Cebu to Laoag, exploring Ilocos has become more accessible than ever.
Forget the days of long journeys. Now, you can trade Cebu’s vibrant streets for Ilocos’ rich heritage and stunning landscapes in just a few hours. So, pack your bags, fire up your Cebuano wanderlust, and get ready to discover 20 amazing things to see and do in Ilocos Region.
Are you ready, Cebuanos? Let’s begin!
History and Culture
Museo San Nicoleño (Buabobuabo)
Unearth the fascinating indigenous and colonial past of Ilocos Norte in this interactive museum. Learn about the region’s colorful past and understand the significance of the pieces on display from the museum’s well-trained student guides who not only educate but also entertain!
Balay San Nicolas
Step back in time and experience the grandeur of a 19th-century Ilocano home at this ancestral mansion. Located right at the heart of San Nicolas, this mansion is a must-visit spot in the region as it gives visitors a better understanding of how Ilocanos lived in the past.
Museo Ilocos Norte
Delve deeper into the region’s history and heritage through various exhibits showcasing art, artifacts, and cultural treasures at the Museo Ilocos Norte. Step into this fascinating museum and explore the numerous pieces that reflect the beliefs, customs, traditions, and views of the people from the olden times.
Be awestruck by the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, a cornerstone of Laoag City. The Saint William’s Cathedral is the seat of the Diocese in Laoag. With a unique 2-story facade, the Laoag Cathedral is an imposing structure in this quiet but rapidly developing city.
Laoag Sinking Belltower
Experience up close the unique power of this iconic landmark, leaning precariously yet refusing to fall. The Laoag Sinking Belltower has survived several earthquakes yet it remains standing to this day. It is said that the massive tower sinks deeper into the ground by one inch every year.
Santa Monica Church in Sarrat
Admire the architectural marvel of the Santa Monica Church – a centuries-old church in the town of Sarrat that is renowned for its intricate stonework and frescoes. Considered a true architectural gem, the church is indeed a beauty that you need to see with your very own eyes.
Marvel at the unique beauty of the San Agustin Church of Paoay. Featuring an unrivaled architectural style, this ‘Earthquake Baroque’ structure has massive buttresses on the back and the sides. These buttresses make the church resistant to natural calamities like strong earthquakes.
Nature and Adventure
Suba Paoay Sand Dunes
Experience the thrill of a lifetime at the popular geological site Suba Paoay Sand Dunes. Go on an exhilarating 4X4 adventure in the sand or try the sand-surfing experience with the whole gang. It’s definitely an outdoor experience that you will never forget!
Malacanang of the North
The Malacanan of the North or the Malacañang ti Amianan is a museum that was originally the official residence of President Ferdinand Marcos and his family when visiting Ilocos. Standing on the edge of Paoay Lake, the structure is an imposing figure in this quiet part of the region.
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Stand at the northernmost tip of Luzon and be mesmerized by the panoramic views of the sea and rugged coastline at the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. Standing at 120 feet, this 132-year-old structure is considered a true wonder when it comes to engineering and architectural design.
Relax in the heart of Vigan, soak up the atmosphere, and enjoy the amazing dancing fountain show with the locals. Then, walk around to find the best-tasting street food or pay a small amount to try the horse-drawn carriage ride around the city’s most important districts.
Bites and Crafts
Pinakbet Pizza Making
Put a twist on a local favorite by learning to make the delicious Ilocano pinakbet pizza! Simply drop by Kusina Valentin, located just across the Paoay Church, and create a new culinary masterpiece that will surely become a personal favorite. Eggplant, bitter gourd, and other pinakbet ingredients in your pizza? Why not!
Vigan City Museum
Discover the rich history and beautiful cultural heritage of the city of Vigan at the Vigan City Museum. A treasure chest of valuable relics and artifacts, this UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Ilocos Region is a stop that should be included in all Ilocos tour itineraries.
Stroll through the picture-perfect Calle Crisologo in Vigan City. A pedestrian-only cobblestone street lined with Spanish-era architecture, this street is considered one of the country’s most popular and important destinations. It is also home to numerous charming shops selling local crafts and delicacies.
Nagbacalan Loom Weaving
Learn the traditional art of loom weaving and create your very own unique souvenir at the Nagbacalan Loomweavers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. Run by passionate and skilled weavers, the cooperative can produce traditional abel blankets and pillowcases, placemats, runners, bags, and more!
Savor the iconic flaky and delicious empanada of the City of Batac, a specialty not to be missed. This delicate bite combines the flavors of green papaya, bean sprouts, and egg with the distinct taste of the Ilocos longganisa. The result is a dish that is both filling and flavorful.
Juan Luna Museum
Pay homage to the acclaimed Luna Family in their ancestral home-turned-museum in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. The museum features the artworks, memorabilia, and belongings of artist Antonio Luna, his equally famous brother General Antonio Luna, and the rest of the family members.
La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc at the Minor Basilica of St. John de Baptist
The Minor Basilica of St. John de Baptist in Badoc is one of the Ilocos Region’s major pilgrim sites. It houses the miraculous image of the La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc. The image is considered the Queen of Ilocos Norte and is known for its numerous reported miracles.
Uncover the rich history and cultural heritage of the town of Bacarra through its well-curated exhibits. The museum showcases a wide variety of antique home and office furniture. It also has religious artifacts and historical pieces from the Spanish period up to the end of World War 2.
Burgos Wind Farm
Witness the impressive sight of giant wind turbines harnessing renewable energy against a backdrop of rolling hills at the Burgos Wind Farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. Covering more than 600 hectares and spanning 3 barangays, the wind farm has 50 wind turbines which generate approximately 370GWh of electricity per year.
So, what are you waiting for, mga Cebuanos? These 20 incredible experiences await in Ilocos! So start planning your adventure today and discover the magic of the north! Magkita-kita ta sa Ilocos, mga bai!
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