Home Itineraries 5 Days Ilocos Itinerary: Birthday Trip to Vigan, Pagudpud, and Laoag

Ilocos Itinerary: Birthday Trip to Vigan, Pagudpud, and Laoag

Allow me to take you back in time. Join me as I reminisce my Ilocos travels across Vigan, Laoag, and Pagudpud – the 5-day trip that convinced me beyond all doubts just how wonderfully fulfilling traveling is.

I was accompanied by one of my high-school best friends (let’s just call him V) and this trip was my birthday gift to myself; It happened in July 2012. I know that’s more than a year ago so forgive me for the lateness of this post. I’ve always wanted to blog about this but I just never had the perfect site to do so, until now right here.

Any price / fare / cost information posted here is definitely dated, but hopefully you can use them as reference points for your budget concerns in case you too are planning to visit Ilocos soon.

Since this is the itinerary page, I’ll keep this short and to the point considering there are 5 days worth of data to cram in here. You can read the juicy details via the expanded series:

Day 01: Arriving in Laoag from Cebu: Start of our Epic Ilocos Adventure
Day 02: Vigan – Grasping the Elusive Sands of Time
Day 03: Pagudpud South Tour – Giant Windmills, Crumbling Watchtower & White Rock Formation
Day 04: Pagudpud North Tour – Through the Green, Into the Waterfall, Across the Viaduct, and Onward to the Blue Lagoon
Day 05: Laoag – Old Churches, Thrilling 4×4 Adventure, and the Other Side of the Marcos Story

Laoag is the gateway to Ilocos Norte. Whether it’s Pagudpud or Vigan you wish to visit first, getting to those places requires starting in Laoag. Cebu Pacific and Air Phil, among others, offer flights from Manila or Cebu to Laoag so just check and maybe watch out for promos for cheap seats.

Below is basically our itinerary. Feel free to follow or pick and select. Do share too in the comments section your own Ilocos travel and what you liked most.

Day 01 (July 19, 2012)

white fluffy clouds
up in the air, on our way to Laoag
  • Cebu to Manila to Laoag
    Airline used: Airphil Express
    (Roundtrip tickets cost Php 6,532 per person; not a promo)
  • Arrived in Manila airport and had lunch inside the airport (Php 100)
  • Arrived in Laoag around 5PM and rode a tricycle to our accommodation for the night; this was also the point where we got extorted by the tricycle driver (facepalm) (Php 200; but I believe 100-150 was the right amount)
  • checked in at Balay da Blas, had an early dinner at Jollibee, then went to sleep early because we were really tired and we wanted to wake up early the next day for Vigan, woohoo! (our standard double room for the night cost Php 1,200)

***estimated per person total for Day 01 (excluding airfare): Php 950

Day 02 (July 20, 2012) – Vigan and my birthday ^^,

Bantay Church bell tower
it rained all day but the beautiful spots in Vigan, like here at the Bantay Church bell tower , didn’t fail to captivate
  • travel to Vigan on board a Partas Bus bound for Baguio (one way bus fare – Php 120)
  • hire a calesa or trike for touring around. (day tour via trike – Php 800)
  • Baluarte ni Chavit (no entrance fee but you can give a donation of any amount you want)
  • Hidden Garden (no entrance fee; donations are also accepted here and you can buy nice plants)
  • lunch at Lilong and Lilang Restaurant inside Hidden Garden (we splurged Php 435 for the local longganisa, poqui-poqui, garlic rice, drinks, and the famed Vigan empanada)
  • Ask the trike driver to take you to the market if you need anything there (we went there to buy some umbrellas since it was pouring); skip this part otherwise  (less than Php 100 for one umbrella)
  • Bantay Church and the Bell Tower (no entrance fee, donations are accepted)
  • Fr. Jose Burgos House (Php 20 entrance fee)
  • Vigan Cathedral (free)
  • Pagburnayan to have a peek into the jar industry in Vigan (no entrance fee)
  • Crisologo Museum (no entrance fee at Crisologo but donations are accepted)
  • Syquia Mansion (around Php 20 entrance fee at Syquia)
  • Crisologo Street – if staying at Grandpa’s Inn or anywhere nearby Crisologo Street, you can conclude your trike tour before going here. If you hired a calesa, riding through the street on a horse drawn carriage is a must-try at least once. Crisologo Street is of course the well-preserved street in Vigan now considered a UNESCO world heritage site. Step into this famous street and it’s like you step back in time – you will be surrounded by old Spanish houses, a long cobbled pathway, and calesas or horse-drawn carriages – simply beautiful! (super free! You can also take a short calesa ride through the whole street for around Php 150 if you rode around in a trike beforehand)
  • dinner at Kusina Felicitas restaurant (splurged Php 550 for delicious local fare of baguet, pinakbet, okilas dinardaraan, rice and drinks)
  • go to Crisologo Street again in the evening to enjoy the lighted cobbled street; highly recommended for couples
  • go back to hotel and rest (our air-conditioned room good for 2 people at Grandpa’s Inn cost Php 1,780 for the night)

***estimated per person total for Day 02: Php 2,170;

this was an expensive day because it was my birthday and for me that was the whole point of this trip! So we really did not hold back on the treats we heaped on ourselves this day hehe

Day 03 (July 21, 2013) – Pagudpud South Tour

the Bangui Windmills
got up close and personal with the gigantic Bangui windmills
  • take Partas bus back to Laoag, then take a smaller non-aircon bus to Pagudpud. Time to enjoy the wonderful natural attractions Ilocos has to offer! (Php 120 for bus to Laoag, less than Php 100 for bus to Pagudpud)
  • meet with your tour guide and have lunch before exploring (Kuya Arnel was our tour guide / trike driver for the day; he has become famous among many Filipino backpackers and bloggers for his great customer service. (Php 150 for lunch)
  • head to Saud beach to dump bags at chosen accommodation (we stayed at Cathy’s Homestay)
  • start the Pagudpud South Tourso you can visit these places:
    • Bangui Windmills
    • Kapurpurawan white rock formation
    • Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
    • A view deck in town where one can get a more panoramic view of the windmills that power the whole of Ilocos
    • (Php 600 for the tour)
  • Enjoy a hearty empanada meal. For me, the Pagudpud empanada tops the Vigan empanada (less than Php 100)
  • After all that, we headed back to our homestay which was located on Saud beach. We chilled at the beach for a bit but since it was rainy season, the waves were high and we didn’t fancy going for a swim. Fortunately, it did not rain at all while we were in Pagudpud, which would not be good because this part of Ilocos is best explored in sunshine! (our room good for 2 people cost Php 1,000)

***estimated per person total for Day 03: around Php 1,150

Day 04 – Pagudpud North Tour

Day 04

  • Kuya Arnel picked us up early in the morning for the north tour and some more nature immersion. Sites visited include:
    • Kabigan Falls – involved a trek and then a refreshing waterfall; for me this was easily the highlight of the tour
    • Patapat Viaduct
    • Paraiso ni Anton
    • Timangtang Rock
    • Bantay Abot Cave
    • Blue Lagoon – second highlight for me because the powdery white-sand beach with its mountainous backdrop was so beautiful; had lunch here too
    • (Php 600 for the tour)
  • Early in the afternoon, catch bus for Laoag. (less than Php 100)
  • Check in at chosen Laoag hotel. We checked in again at Balay da Blas, the best accommodation we’ve had for this whole trip (Php 1,780 for the night; we actually got an upgraded room for the amount of a standard room)
  • order dinner from the popular Saramsam Café (around Php 300 for the meal)
  • sleep early and re-energize for the next day’s trip around Laoag ^_^

***estimated per person total for Day 04: around Php 1,550

Day 05 – Laoag Tour, last day 🙁

our 4x4 ride at Paoay Sand Dunes
that 4×4 ride all over the Paoay Sand Dunes was one of the best rides I’d ever taken!
    We saved Laoag for last because, well, the airport was here and we did not relish any trouble going to the airport and possibly missing our return flight

  • meet up with your guide / tricycle driver for the day – Kuya Wawie, Kuya Arnel’s brother in law took care of us (Php 800 for the tour)
  • attractions visited this day included:
    • Museo Ilocos Norte (Php 50 entrance fee)
    • Sinking Bell Tower
    • St. William’s Cathedral
    • Ilocos Norte Capitol Building and the town square across it
    • Paoay Sand Dunes – wow what a blast! It was super exhilarating to ride the 4×4 all over the sand dunes and then do sandboarding. Definitely a highlight for me for this day. Seriously, must-try! (Php 3,000 for an hour of riding a 4×4 all over the sand dunes + sandboarding)
    • Paoay Lake
    • Paoay Church and Belltower
  • lunch at Herencia Café just across Paoay church (this was our last day in Ilocos and splurged Php 590 on food again; V and I ordered carbonara pasta while Kuya Wawie ordered Pinakbet)
  • World Peace Center aka Marcos Photo Gallery – opportunity to view the other side of the coin/the other side of the discussion; you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there 🙂
  • Ferdinand Marcos Presidential Center – basically a gallery dedicated to Pres. Marcos and Imelda Marcos (Php 50 entrance fee)
  • Pres. Marcos’ Mausoleum
  • we then bought souvenirs / pasalubong for loved ones in Cebu, went back to our hotel and had our farewell dinner for Ilocos. (Php 1,000 for souvenirs)
  • we left the region the next morning.

***estimated per person total for Day 04: around Php 2,500

***estimated total cost of our Ilocos trip per person including airfare from Cebu: Php 15,000 – 16,000 would be a safe calculation***

As you can see, we had a very packed itinerary. Our budget is probably not the cheapest, but I always believe that spending money on experiences is spending wisely. So I did not regret letting go of the 16,000, which took me around half a year to save mind you, because our Ilocos trip was highly fulfilling and we’d do it again in a heartbeat if given the chance! Laoag, Vigan, and Pagudpud are such beautiful places and V and I were really happy to have visited it no matter how shortly.

Thank you Ilocos and to all the people there who took care of us and helped us. You definitely made our official first out-of-Cebu holiday and my birthday trip a resounding success!

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