Hopeless due to the countless failed attempts to travel with friends in this province, I have set aside my plans in coming to Ilocos Norte in the past years. Come 2022, when it reopened in the time of pandemic; I was finally able to set foot in this province. At last, I get to see and experience its raw island and beaches, the sprawling sand dunes, historical and cultural heritage sites, explore and savor the taste of the Ilocano dishes and more! If you wish to go down the exciting path that we took, here’s a detailed Ilocos Norte Travel Guide to help you with!
About Ilocos Norte
Far from the Metro as it seems, the province of Ilocos Norte that lies in the northern west most part of the mainland Luzon is worth visiting despite the long drive. It opens up to the West Philippine sea which gives it good swells on a certain season ideal for surfing. It is also bordered by the ranges of Cordilleras, the provinces of Cagayan in the northeast, Apayao and Abra in the east and Ilocos Sur in the south which equally offers a satisfyingly scenic route.
The province as part of the Ilocos Region, is a home to the Ilocanos who are interestingly known for being thrifty and wise spenders.
Ilocano is the widely spoken language in the region. Conversing with them when traveling around won’t be quite a challenge as they can also speak and understand Tagalog and English, too.
Best time to Visit
It is best to visit Ilocos Norte the whole year but to make the most out of it, might as well schedule your trips some time between January to the first few weeks of June and September to December. Be reminded though that it gets really hot during the dry season in the country (March to May). If you wish to go surfing or windsurfing, on the other hand, the best time to visit would be around the months of July to September.
What to Visit
Ilocos Norte has always been in my list and I have been dying to see its attractions not knowing that it’s more than those places that I have been eyeing. During our trip this year, we were lucky enough to visit the sought after, new attractions and even the less-traveled ones. Among those are as follows:
- Solsona-Apayao Road
- Luna Shrine
- Paoay Church
- Paoay Lake Waterpark
- Balay San Nicolas
- Badoc Island
- La Milagrosa Cove and Chapel
- Malacanang of the North (Balay ti Amianan)
- Macagutgot Cove
- Paoay Sand Dunes
- La Paz Sand Dunes in Laoag City
- Saud Beach
- Blue Lagoon
- Kabigan Falls
- Patapat Viaduct
- EDC Burgos Wind Farm
- Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
- Cape Bojeador
- Madongan Dam
- Bangui Windmills
Read more (entrance fees, operation hours, etc.) about these places: Top Ilocos Norte Tourist Spots in 2022
Where to Eat
If you are looking forward to an Ilocano culinary experience, this Ilocos Norte Travel Guide provides you with the list of the ones that you shouldn’t miss when visiting the province!
- Ladrillos Restaurant – A Spanish restaurant that also serves traditional and modern Ilocano dishes at the heart of San Nicolas. It is located at the ground floor of the refurnished Valdes-Lardizabal house (Also known as Balay San Nicolas) that is more than a century old. After stuffing ourselves up with some good Filipino food, we took a light walk through a tour at the heritage house where the restaurant is situated.
- Kamarinn Café – offers a Filipino dining experience with the view of the majestic Paoay lake. It is among the best places to eat in Ilocos Norte especially if you’re up for some Pinakbet pizza and other Ilocano dish while you enjoy the scene.
- Kusina ni Remedios at Sitio Remedios Heritage Village – If you wish to enjoy the scene, food and art at once, Kusina ni Remedios in Currimao is the best place to be. This restaurant embellished with art in every corner is located inside a Heritage Village with the restaurant facing the West Philippine Sea.
- Hakuna Matata Saud Beach Resort – a hippie hostel facing Saud Beach. What we love about evenings at Hakuna Matata is their buffet dinner with a wide food selection including the sushi, maki, pasta, pizza prepared on the spot and more!
- BergBlick Restaurant – best place to eat in Pagudpud especially if you’re down for some authentic German and Filipino food
- La Preciosa – a spot for your sweet tooth in Laoag City. Aside from the Ilocano dishes, it is also the best place to enjoy a good slice of carrot cake in the town.
Don’t miss out on these food!
If you are to go on a gastronomic adventure in the province, among the food that you shouldn’t miss out on are Pinakbet (mixed vegetables dish), poqui-poqui, Bagnet (deep fried crispy pork belly), longganisa, empanada and Okoy Tiyosko.
Where to Stay
I personally enjoyed our stay at Amici Resort Hotel. We checked into a private, fully-equipped and air-conditioned casitas for days and enjoyed Filipino, especially Ilocano dishes for breakfast every morning. A walk around the resort always feels like a stroll in the garden with lush and blooming flora. Though nestled at the heart of Laoag, it seemed detached to the bustle of the city making it an ideal place to take some rest after a day full of fun around the province.
Nest Resort and Hotel
Location: Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Mobile: +63 968 362 8669
Sitio Remedios Heritage Village Resort
Location: Currimao, Ilocos Norte
Mobile: +63 917 332 0217
For a complete list of Ilocos Norte’s accredited hotels and resorts, click here.
Things to Do
Ilocos Norte is among those provinces in the Philippines that has a lot to offer and I realized and a week-long travel won’t suffice to experience everything. I was really stoked to try each and every activity there is in every attraction that we visited. Below is the list of top things to do in the province:
- Freediving or SCUBA diving
- 4×4 ATV riding
- Island Hopping
- Visiting Museums
- Visiting historical churches
- Chasing waterfalls
- Playing in a Water Park
- Trying local Ilocano dishes
Sample 4D 3N Ilocos Norte Itinerary
10:00 PM – ETD Manila to Ilocos Norte
9:00 AM – ETA Ilocos Norte, Breakfast and Early Check in
11:00 AM – Start of Tour
12:00 NN – Luna Shrine
1:00 PM – Late Lunch at Ladrillos Restaurant and tour around San Nicolas Heritage House
2:00 PM Batac Empanada
3:00 PM – Paoay Lake Water park
6:30 PM – Dinner at Kamarinn Cafe
6:00 AM – Breakfast
8:30 AM – La Milagrosa Cove and Chapel
9:00 AM – Badoc Island
12:30 NN – Lunch at Sitio Remedios Heritage Resort
3:00 PM – Paoay Sand Dunes
6:00 AM – Breakfast
8:00 AM – Kabigan Falls or Macagutgot Cove
11:00 AM – Patapat Viaduct
12:00 PM – Lunch at Pannzian Resort
3:00 PM – Saud Beach
7:00 PM – Dinner at Hakuna Matata
9:00 PM – Back to Hotel
6:00 AM – Breakfast
8:00 AM – Blue Lagoon
11:00 AM – Early Check out
12:00 NN – Lunch at Bergblick Restaurant
2:30 PM – EDC Burgos Windfarm
4:00 PM – Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
6:30 PM – Dinner at La Preciosa
8:00 PM – Souvenir and Pasalubong Center; Home bound
To know the province even more, the Ilocos Norte Tourism office has curated itineraries for your that may cater to your travel preferences and interests, too! Check it out here.
Sample 4D 3N DIY Ilocos Norte Budget
- Bus fare (Php 701.00 x 2) – PHp 1,402.00
- Paoay Lake Waterpark (2-hour pass) – 399.00
- Badoc Island boat ride (Php 1,200.00/3) – Php 400.00
- Paoay Sand Dunes (Php 2,500.00/5) – Php 500.00
- Kabigan Falls Tour Guide fee (Php 100.00/5) – Php 20.00
- Kabigan falls entrance fee – Php 10.00
- Saud Beach Environmental fee – Php 20.00
- Blue Lagoon Environmental fee – Php 20.00
- Kapurpurawan Rock Formation Entrance fee – Php 30.00
- Bus fare from Laoag-Pagudpud v.v. (Php 75.00/ way x3) – Php 225.00
- Tricycle rental (Php 600.00), for 4 days divided by 3 – Php 800.00
- Hotel Accommodation for 4 days (room sharing) – Php 3,000.00
- Food (sharing) – Php 2,000.00
Total – Php 8,826.00
How to Get There
By Air (MNL – LAO)
Philippine Airlines have one to two flights daily from Manila to Laoag International Airport.
Manila to Laoag, Ilocos Norte by Land
From Sampaloc, Cubao or Pasay, take a Florida, Fariñas, Maria de Leon and Partas bus to Laoag City. Travel time is approximately 7 to 8 hours passing through North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX). Fare ranges from Php 700.00 to Php 1,100.00.
Baguio to Ilocos Norte by Land
Take a Partas or Farinas bus or van from Laoag to Baguio City. Travel time is approximately 4 to 5 hours. Fare, on the other hand, ranges from Php 250.00 to Php 400.00.
Tuguegarao City, Cagayan to Ilocos Norte by Land
Take a GMW or GV Florida bus from Tuguegarao City to Laoag City. Travel time is approximately 5 to 6 hours and fare ranges from Php 500.00 to Php 700.00.
Clark City, Pampanga to Ilocos Norte by Land
Take a bus at Dau Integrated Bus Terminal to Laoag City. Travel time is approximately 8 to 9 hours.
Private car/ van – You may book a private car or van through a van association or through arranging it with your hotel. Price is around Php 3,500.00 per day. This rate includes the drive already.
Bus – Bus fare ranges from Php 25.00 to Php 60.00/ passenger in ordinary bus and a minimum of Php 50.00 for air-conditioned ones.
Jeepney – Fare is usually at around Php 11.00 from a point to another.
Tricycle – Fare starts at Php 11.00 per more or less a kilometer. You may also opt to rent a tricycle that would take you around the tourist spots in a town. Rates range from Php 250.00 to Php 600.00.
Calesa (horse-drawn wagon/carriage) – Fare starts at Php 15.00 per kilometer. You can actually see a calesa mostly in the town proper especially in Laoag.
Travel Requirements as of May 2022
- Vaccination card or certificate for fully vaccinated tourists at least two weeks prior to the trip. You may either present the actual card or a screenshot of your vaccination details from VaxCertPH (doh.gov.ph).
- 60-hour valid negative RT-PCR test result; or a 24-hour valid Negative Antigen test result for those with only a shot or no vaccination at all.
- Triage at a designated visitor center.
Take note that they are not requiring any testing of children below 12 years old as long as they are accompanied by their fully-vaccinated parents or guardians.
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Other places to visit in North Luzon:
- Isabela Province Travel Guide 2022
- Calvary Hills Iguig Cagayan 2022 Travel Guide
- 2022 Travel Guide to Buscalan Village, Tinglayan, Kalinga with Ifugao side trip
- The Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Mountain Province and their Burial and Death Rituals
- Landingan Viewpoint, Nagtipunan, Quirino Province DIY Travel Guide
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