Ilocos Sur DIY Budget Travel Guide

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Ilocos Sur has a lot to offer. Aside from rich history and colourful culture, this province also has impressive infrastructures, well-preserved historical sites, globally acclaimed destinations, and beautiful natural environment to boot.

In Vіgаn, thе capital сіtу оf Ilocos Sur and оnе оf the very few remaining Hіѕраnіс towns in the country, you can experience travelling bасk tо соlоnіаl Phіlірріnеѕ. This wеll-рrеѕеrvеd bеаutу offers соbblеѕtоnе ѕtrееtѕ, hоrѕе-drawn саrrіаgеѕ, century-old houses, and ancient structures which successfully ѕtооd thе tеѕt оf tіmе.




WHERE TO GO IN ILOCOS SUR

Calle Crisologo
Opens Everyday – anytime
Admission Fee: Free

Calle Crisologo, also known as The Heritage Village, is a half-kilometer street of old Spanish structures – the most beautiful street in the Philippines, if I may add. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hailed to be one of the most preserved part of Spanish Colonial town.

Calle Crisologo is the only town during World War II that was saved from destruction. The love of Japanese General to his child and Filipina wife spared the place when he decided to retreat and moved to Ilocos Norte with his family and army. It is best to explore Calle Crisologo by riding one of the horse-drawn carriages or kalesa. Kalesa tour costs PhP150, good for 3-4 people. Calle Crisologo is more stunning at night.

Some of the old structures around the village were converted into inns while others were converted into stores. The Syquia Mansion is now a museum. You can find cafés, restaurants, and souvenirs and antique stores around the area.

Baluarte
Opens Everyday – 7AM – 6PM
Admission Fee: PhP40

Baluarte is 80 hectares of gently rolling terrains owned by the former Ilocos Governor Chavit Singson. It offers various kinds of domestic and wild animals as well as rare bird species.  Aside from sightseeing, people can have a close encounter with various animals.

This is the most heartbreaking part of our road trip to Ilocos. These carcasses of beautiful animals proudly hanged on the walls of African Gallery in Baluarte, Ilocos Sur, serve as African game trophies of Chavit Singson. He paid millions of dollars just to kill them and have them preserved through taxidermy.

These are the most glorious kills of Chavit and they make him proud. Feeling nya mas pogi at macho sya sa dami ng hayop na napatay nya. He even levelled up his game by opening his gallery of kills to the public.

I am sure he thinks the passion of killing these beautiful beasts makes him more of a conservationist and a collector. For me, however, it only shows how cruel we humans are. Why are we so selfish that we cannot allow them to live freely like us?

I heard ohhhs, ahhs, and wows from the crowd when we entered and saw the preserved bodies of the animals, but from the eyes of my 3-year-old daughter, it’s a sad sight. She asked me, “Are they dead, Ina? Why are the animals here not moving? They are wawa (kawawa), right?”

I do not know what is the purpose of the African Gallery, and why it was opened to the public. Sana wala na lang sya sa Baluarte. It promotes killing animals than conservation eh. It promotes cruelty.

Pagburnayan Pottery
Opens Everyday – 9AM – 5PM
Admission Fee: Donation

Pagburnayan is a name of a Barangay in Vigan where you can witness how to make jars in old and authentic methods of pottery. Its root word “burnay” is an earthenware jar crafted through the aid of a potter’s wheel. Pagburnayan Pottery in Vigan dates back to pre-colonial times when immigrants from China came and settled in the country. The material used in creating jars is fine sand called “anay”, meticulously molded and heated in high temperature to ensure durability.  The local bagoong (fish sauce), sugarcane vinegar, and basi wine taste best when fermented in burnay jars.

Bantay Church and Bell Tower
Opens Everyday – 9AM – 5PM
Admission Fee: Donation

The Saint Augustine Parish Church has a deep brown color with neo-gothic façade. It is located in the Municipality of Bantay, Ilocos Sur, thus it is also called as the Bantay Church. Established in 1590, the church is one of the oldest in the Ilocos Region. Aside from its impressive structural design, this church is also famous for being the shrine of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Charity (Nuestra Señora de La Caridad) which was crowned as the patroness of Ilocandia on January 12, 1956.

The Bell Tower (Bantay Belfry) is an old historic belfry of the church which was built in 1591. It sits on a hilltop overlooking a green pasture. It served its purpose as a watchtower for invading enemy forces during the wartime because of its strategic location. From the top of the tower, you can see the neighboring province of Abra.

It is said that the ground adjoining the church and belfry had been a place where Diego Silang and his troops were said to have fought with the Spaniards in 1763.



Plaza Burgos
Opens Everyday
Admission Fee: Donation

A рlаzа іn Vіgаn nаmеd іn Hоnоr of thе Ilocano mаrtуr рrіеѕt Fаthеr Jоѕе Burgоѕ. Nеаrbу are food ѕtаllѕ selling dеlісасіеѕ lіkе еmраnаdа

Plaza Salcedo
Opens Everyday
Admission Fee: Donation

This еlеvаtеd elliptical plaza is idly sitting near the St. Paul Cаthеdrаl is Vіgаn City. It features thе 17th century Juan dе Sаlсеdо mоnumеnt, thе oldest of іtѕ kіnd іn Northern Luzоn. It wаѕ in this plaza thаt Gаbrіеlа Sіlаng was executed bу рublіс hаngіng in 1763. It is best to visit this place at night and be amazed by the dancing lights show.

This was my 5th time in Ilocos but the 1st time I witnessed the light show in Vigan. It was amazing! (Just notice the uproar from the crowd.) If you plan to visit the famous Calle Crisologo, make sure to watch the light show at Plaza Salcedo.




HOW TO GET TO ILOCOS SUR

Manila to Vigan by Air

You can take a one-hour flight from Manilaa to Laoag City in Ilocos Norte. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific offer daily flights bound for Laoag City in Ilocos Norte. Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur is just a 2-hour bus ride from Laoag City.

Manila to Vigan by Land

Vigan is at least eight hours of land travel from Manila. Several bus lines have daily trips to Laoag City, passing by Vigan. Some of them are as follows:

BUS COMPANIES CONTACT NUMBER/S
Partas 725-1740, 725-1256, 725-7303, 724-9820
Florida Bus Line 731-4473, 781-5894
Baliwag 524-7111, 525-1067, 525-3064, 525-6769, 525-2338, 525-2294)
Fariñas 743-8582

For those who are coming from Clark, you can go straight to Dau Bus Terminal via a shuttle or a jeepney. There are buses passing by the terminal from Manila going to Vigan.




WHERE TO EAT IN ILOCOS SUR

There are a lot of food choices in Vigan. You can find different kinds of foods being offered from fine dining, food chains, to street foods. Whatever you prefer, make sure to have a bite of Vigan’s specialties such as Chichacorn, Bibingka, Empanada, Bagnet, and Longganisa.

Interest: Longganisa Festival happens every January 22 where you can witness colorful street dancing competition along the Calle Crisologo. On January 25, Vigan celebrates its town fiesta in honor to its patron saint, Saint Paul.

WHERE TO STAY IN ILOCOS SUR

There are a lot of accommodation options available in Ilocos Sur from homestays to fancy hotels. Some of them are as follows. Just click on the photos to book or see more details about the hotel.

With its central location, Regency Hotel de Vigan is just a walk from most tourist attractions and businesses in Vigan City like the Vigan Convention Center.

Regency Hotel de Vigan – its centrally located, and is just a walk from most tourist attractions and businesses in Vigan City like the Vigan Convention Center. Rate – PhP2,034 – PhP2,836

Paradores de Vigan – This boutique hotel offers luxury accommodations in a quiet residential neighborhood close to the historic Crisologo Street, Vigan’s main Plaza Burgos, the Public Market on Alcantara Street, the Convention Center, a host of restaurants and interesting commercial and historical sites. Price range PhP3,586 – PhP5,459

My Vigan Home Hotel – The hotel is strategically located at the center of Viganís tourist destinations, souvenir shops and local cafes where you can leisurely take a stroll, relax and dine. Price Range PhP2,500 – PhP3,845

NSCC Hotel Vigan – The property features a wide range of facilities to make your stay a pleasant experience. Free Wi-Fi in all rooms, 24-hour security, daily housekeeping, photocopying, printer are on the list of things guests can enjoy. Price range PhP1,980 – PhP2,301 

Metro Vigan Fiesta Garden – A 3-star hotel with 53 rooms.  Price range: PhP2,622 – PhP3,586

You may also check this link for more hotel options in Ilocos Sur. 

TRAVEL CHECKLIST

  • Best time to visit is during dry season from December to May.
  • There are ATMs in the town and credit cards are accepted in major establishments.
  • Cellular signals are available for major networks.
  • Souvenirs are sold in the town.

ILOCOS SUR TRAVEL GUIDE – SAMPLE ITINERARY (DAY TOUR)

TIMING DESTINATIONS
Day 0
10PM ETD Metro Manila
Day 1
6AM ETA in Vigan / breakfast
7AM to 5PM Vigan Tour: Bantay Church and Bell Tower/ Plaza Salcedo/ Cathedral of St. Paul/ Archbishop Palace/ Plaza Burgos/ Empanadaan/ Calle Crisologo/ Punta Baluarte/ Syquia Mansion
6PM Travel back to Manila
If you have your own car and prefer fast-paced trip to cover multiple locations, you can visit Vigan (Ilocos Sur) and Laoag (Ilocos Norte) is just one day. Check the itinerary below:
7AM – 10AM Vigan Tour: Bantay Church and Bell Tower/ Plaza Salcedo/ Cathedral of St. Paul/ Archbishop Palace/ Plaza Burgos/ Empanadaan/ Calle Crisologo/ Punta Baluarte/ Syquia Mansion
10AM to 12NN Depart for Batac, Ilocos – Marcos Masoleum and Museum/ Empanadaan/Ilocos Museo
12NN Lunch
1PM ETD for Laoag
2PM to 6PM Laoag tour: Paoay Church, Paoay Lake, Malacanang of the North, Fort Ilocandia, Sta. Monica Church – Sarrat, Sinking Bell Tower, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tobacco Monopoly Marker, La Paz Sand Dunes
7PM Travel back to Manila

There are travel agencies like Sole Adventours that offer group tour packages to Ilocandia (Ilocos Sur & Ilocos Norte) covering famous destinations in Vigan, Laoag, and Pagudpud for 3 days. Rate is PhP2999 per person. You may contact them here for more details.




ILOCOS SUR BUDGET

ITEMS RATE NOTES
Bus fare Manila-Vigan v.v PhP700 / person/way
Trike Rental and Guide PhP500 – PhP800
Kalesa Tour PhP150 (good for 3-4 persons) optional
Entrance Fees PhP100
Food/Pasalubong PhP500

Safe Budget: PhP2500 – PhP3000

 




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