Whether you’re a thrill seeker craving for some adrenaline pumping activities, an art enthusiast, gastronomic traveler, culture and history geek or a solivagant, Ilocos Norte surely has a place for you. You’ll be surprised with how much wonders this province in the northernmost part of the Philippines holds – be it a natural attraction or a man-made one. If you don’t know where to start with it and you’re planning to visit soon, here’s a list of the top Ilocos Norte tourist spots to frolic in!
Ilocos Norte Tourist Spots
Solsona-Apayao road is one of the Ilocos Norte tourist spots that has been recently introduced. It is a newly opened highway that links Ilocos Norte and Apayao with the breathtaking view of the Cordilleras. It is a place that nature lovers, especially campers, would enjoy. Apparently, the only way to go there is through one’s own private vehicle. To visit this area, you would have to coordinate with the PNP stationed before the uphill drive.
In the morning, campers would witness the glorious sea of clouds blanketing Cordilleras. Contrary to the usual scorching hot Ilocos region, the breeze in this spot is cool and fresh even at midday. Take note though that they would only allow day trippers in the campsite.
Fees: Environmental fee – Php 20.00
Paoay Lake Water Park (Temporarily closed due to maintenance)
Paoay Lake Waterpark is one of the newest and the first water park in the region. It features a sprawling inflatable water park of 4,200 square-meter with over 30 exciting obstacle course floating on Paoay lake. Also, it is quite a spot to watch the sunset as you lounge on the shore under those chic umbrellas and bean bags.
|Php 399.00 (+Php 100.00 for walk in)
|Php 499.00 (+Php 100.00 for walk in)
|Php 499.00 (+Php 100.00 for walk in)
|Php 599.00 (+Php 100.00 for walk in)
Take note that these rates are inclusive of access to the lounge and other activities at the water park like kayaking, frisbee and volleyball. The resort is open from 8:00 AM to 7:30 PM but the inflatable water park is open strictly only up to 6:00 PM and wearing of life vest is mandatory.
If you’re up for some water fun adventure, Badoc Island is the best place to be. More than just a stretch of a pristine white sand beach, the island promises a brimming underwater life which can be best explored through SCUBA diving or Freediving. Other than Pagudpud, Badoc Island is one of those Ilocos Norte tourist spots where you can go surfing. However, take note that there are no surf or dive shops in this uninhabited island. If you wish to go surfing or diving, might as well coordinate with the shops on the main land prior to departure for gear rental and instructor’s assistance. Further, there are no convenience stores nor comfort/bathrooms in the island. Thus, bring everything that you may need especially food and water but take your trash with you as you leave the island.
To go to Badoc Island, you need to make your way to Badoc, Ilocos Norte by bus especially if you’re coming from Laoag City or Manila. Then, from the drop off point, take a tricycle to La Virgen Milagrosa Chapel. Fare would be around Php 100.00 per ride. Finally, charter a boat that would take you to Badoc Island. For Php 1,200.00 (boat transfer to and from) and in more or less 15 to 20 minutes, you’ll witness the beauty of this untouched island.
As of February 2024, the boat would only carry up to 4 people (boatman included). Also, the boatmen would warn you that waves tend to get rough in the afternoon. Hence, you should be back to the mainland as their boats are too small to battle against the waves. Hence, the tourism office advises the tourists to stay in the island only up to 2:00 in the afternoon.
La Milagrosa Cove and Chapel
While waiting for your boat to Badoc island, you may amuse yourself with the La Milagrosa Cove and visit the La Virgen Milagrosa chapel, too. The people named the cove after the event ages ago when Ilocano fishermen found a box floating in the ocean and was taken in here. The said box contains images of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus and the Black Cristo Milagroso. The latter image was taken to Sinait while the image of the Virgin Mary was left in Badoc.
The cove is characterized by a scenic sandy and rocky shore with the iconic chapel seated just a few steps away from the waters. On the right side of the chapel, there are floating cottages that you may rent if you wish to stay in the beach for a day.
Parking Fee – Php 20.00
Floating Cottage – Php 1,100.00 for 4 hours
Inland Cottage – Php 350.00
Pictoral Fee – Php 500.00
Use of public shower – Php 15.00
This declared National Shrine is among the Ilocos Norte tourist spots that you shouldn’t miss especially when you’re visiting the town of Badoc. The said town is the birthplace of one of the Philippine National heroes, Juan Luna who is best known for his masterpiece, Spolarium. This house burned down some time in 1861 and reconstructed to a two-storey one. The shrine showcases memorabilia and reproduction of the Juan Luna’s paintings.
Image by Ilocos Norte Tourism
Saint Augustine Church popularly known as Paoay Church, is one of the few baroque churches in the Philippines. It is built in the 1700’s and is declared as a National Cultural Treasure almost three centuries after. In 1993, it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site. What’s unique about this baroque church is that it has 24 massive buttresses and a separate bell tower which also served as a watch tower during revolutions against two of the biggest colonizers in the country long time ago.
The church is open and can be visited everyday with no fees.
Paoay Sand Dunes
One of the sought after and top Ilocos Norte tourist spot is the Paoay Sand Dunes. It is a place for the Adrenaline junkies as they could enjoy snowboarding and an exhilarating 4×4 ride on its bumpy yet purely sandy terrain.
The activities itself aren’t just the only ones to enjoy in Paoay Sand dunes. You may also amuse yourself with various art installations in here. After the Himala sa Buhangin Music and Arts Festival, the famous Paoay Sand Dunes became a hub for many art installations. Two of the most recent ones are the Stacked Stones and the Mirror Installation.
Fees: The Php 2,500.00 fee is inclusive of the 4×4 ride and sandboarding for up to 5 persons.
Malacañang of the North
Malacañang of the North (Malacañang ti Amianan) is the official residence of the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and his family built in 1976. The mansion that overlooks the legendary Paoay lake is now turned into a museum.
Operating hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Adult – Php 70.00
Students and Senior Citizen – Php 50.00
Children 6 years old and below and Differently Abled Persons (DAP) – Free
Macagutogot (Makagutogot) Cove
Another path less traveled yet one of the best Ilocos Norte tourist spots is the Makagutogot Cove. This cove boasts a stretch of rocky beach with ginormous, stunning rock formations bordered by crystal clear turquoise waters that can be reached through a boat ride from Brgy. Pasaleng, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.
Boat fee – Php 700.00 for 3 persons
Operating hours: 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM only
Its beaches aren’t the only ones to look forward to when visiting the town of Pagudpud. Away from the crowd yet seated at about 13 kilometers from the national highway lies a hidden naturally beautiful waterfalls. This enchanting falls tucked in a dense jungle in Brgy. Balaoi has its waters cascading from about 87 feet (26.5 meters) above its basin. Its cold water would surely make you want to jump into it after that long trek.
To get to Kabigan Falls, you need to trek for around 30 minutes from the jump off point. The trail is mostly shaded and there is a river crossing, too. The water in this river, on the other hand, doesn’t get higher than the ankle as there are rocks to step on. Make sure though that you will be wearing appropriate clothes and footwear for the trek for comfort and of course, you’re safety, too.
Operating Hours – 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entrance Fee – Php 10.00
Tour Guide Fee – Php 200.00
Let this 1,300 kilometer-long coastal bridge that opens up to Pasaleng Bay captivate you with its panoramic view shall you visit the town of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Patapat Bridge, also known as Patapat Viaduct, is actually the fifth longest bridge in the country. Before 1986 when it’s officially opened, there used to be a road by the ridge connecting Laoag Maharlika Highway to Cagayan Valley Highway. However, landslides were very frequent in that road causing a lot of vehicular accidents, too. That’s when it has been decided that the bridge shall be constructed instead.
Presently, Patapat bridge has become more than just a viaduct. Tourists would stop by to take some photos and admire the beauty of the crashing waves down the coast 30 meters below the bridge.
Saud Beach is truly one of the visitors’ top favorite Ilocos Norte tourist spots. Travel + Leisure has even considered it as among the most beautiful beaches in the world! This long stretch of creamy-white beach with fine sand and crystal clear waters opens up to Bangui Bay and the West Philippine Sea. It even offers a view of the Bangui Windmills from afar. The coconut trees that line up at the shore gives a perfect tropical vibe. Though considered as the jewel of Pagudpud, the beach is surprisingly less crowded; more often than not, serene and peaceful.
More than just swimming into its emerald waters, you may also enjoy snorkeling, diving, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing here, too.
Image by Ilocos Norte Tourism
Operating Hours – 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Saud Beach Environmental fee – Php 20.00
At the northernmost tip of the mainland Luzon, Philippines lies the impossibly bluest waters that kisses the long stretch of stunning, creamy-white sand beach. This is Blue Lagoon, locally known as Maira-ira Beach. The beach is lined with several hotels and resorts as it is usually flocked by tourists, too. It is also the home of one of the longest ziplines in the country. During surf season, the swells are a paradise to surfers but definitely not for tourists who would want to go on a swim.
Blue Lagoon Environmental Fee – Php 20.00
EDC Burgos Wind Farm
EDC (Energy Development Corporation) Burgos Wind Farm is the second and the largest project of its kind not just in the country but in the whole South East Asia. The larger-than-life wind turbines are nestled atop the mountains of Burgos, distributed in more or less 600-hectare land covering three barangays namely: Saoit, Nagsurot and Poblacion.
The Burgos wind farm became more than just a provider of energy in the region. It has also became a tourist attraction offering a dramatically spectacular view of the Bangui bay, the Bangui Windmills below and the mountains of Burgos.
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
At the coast of Burgos, Ilocos Norte you;d find one of the treasures of this quaint town – the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. These massive, dazzling white rock formations are a nature’s work of art. Scientifically speaking, these fascinating rocks were formed over the years through the process of sedimentation. Its name, kapurpurawan, is derived from the Ilocano word “puraw” which means white.
The best time to visit this attraction is either early in the morning or at around late in the afternoon to avoid the scorching heat of midday. Since the parking area is some three Kilometers away, walking is necessary. You may also opt to ride a horse.
Adult – Php 30.00
Students and Senior Citizen – Php 20.00
Children below 6 years old and Differently Abled Persons (DAP) – Free
Cape Bojeador, also known as Burgos lighthouse is hailed as the tallest lighthouse in the country in elevation. This octagonal lighthouse is above 65 feet-tall. It is built during the Spanish occupation as part of the Spaniards’ plan to illuminate the Philippines. Initially, the construction started in 1887 as designed by Magin Pers y Pers. Then, the Lighthouse Service spearheaded by Guillermo Brockman later on took over to finish it finally operating in 1892. One interesting fact about this structure is that it was build without aid of steel during the Spanish regime. This made Cape Bojeador Lighthouse quite an engineering and architectural feat.
The lighthouse is still operational guiding the Chinese and East Asian vessels; preventing them from docking into the rocky coast of Ilocos Norte.
Adult – Php 50.00
Students and Senior Citizens – Php 30.00
Children below 6 years old and Differently Abled Persons (DAP) – Free
Bacarra Church and Museum
Bacarra Church is well-known for its centuries-old, domeless belfry they call as Torre ti Bacarra. This tower has three levels and is 50 meters tall. The original bell tower, built in 1828 with coral bricks, is separate from the main church. Unfortunately, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook the region in October 2022 causing damage to this historic structure. Despite the damage, the local government unit (LGU) opted to leave the rubble and debris in place.
Bacarra Museum and Heritage Trail
Operating Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Adult – Php 20.00
Children – Php 10.00
Students and Senior Citizen – Php 15.00
Children below 6 years old and Differently Abled Persons (DAP) – Php 10.00
Who wouldn’t be amazed by the wide curtain-like cascading waters of Madongan Dam? The waters of Padsan river flowing through the town of Dingras down to Madongan river create this majestic scene.
Madongan Dam is primarily built to supply water to the nearby towns of Dingras, Ilocos Norte. Seeing the potential of the place as a tourist attraction, the locals welcomed everyone who wish to take a plunge and a refreshing dip to beat the heat of the summer time.
The dam can get really crowded during the peak season, especially during the dry season in the country (around March to May). Also, if you wish to spend a day in the dam or river, don’t forget to bring your own food as there are not much of stores in the area.
Entrance fee – Php 10.00
Airbeds rental – Php 250.00
Floaters rental – Php 100.00
Cottage Rental – Php 700.00
Getting to and around Ilocos Norte
How to Get There
By Air (MNL – LAO)
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 500.00 to Php 700.00.
Baguio to Ilocos Norte by Land
Take a Partas or Farinas bus or commuter 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.
- Calesa (horse-drawn wagon/carriage) – Fare starts at Php 15.00 per kilometer. You can actually see a calesa mostly in the town proper.
If you intend to embark into a DIY travel around Ilocos Norte, here are some of the most important contact details that you must take note of:
- Ilocos Van Tours Association – +63 917 549 3339 (Facebook: Ilocos Norte Travel Agencies Association)
- Farinas Bus Liner – 772 0126/772-1177 (Laoag); 731 4507 (Manila)
- Florida Bus Liner – 770 3645 (Laoag); 781 5894 (Sampaloc, Manila Terminal), 325 5393 (Cubao Terminal)
- Maria de Leon Bus Liner – 770 3532/09178258051 (Laoag); 731 4907 (Manila)
- Partas – 771 1514 (Laoag); 09178258196 (Sampaloc, Manila Terminal), 724 9820 (Cubao)
- RCJ – 771 3308 (Laoag); 09175533997 (Manila, Sampaloc)
llocos Norte Tourist Spots, in a Nutshell
There is truly so much to see and experience in this beautiful province of Ilocos Norte that a lot of people would often overlook. Whether you are an adventurous or a pilgrim type, a historical geek, a food enthusiast, you’ll always be IN in Ilocos Norte. Given this list of top Ilocos Norte tourist spots, which would you want to see in the flesh really soon?
You may also want to visit:
- 2024 DIY ILOCOS NORTE TRAVEL GUIDE
- North Luzon Loop Road Trip Travel Guide 2024
- The Ultimate Philippines Bucket List: Luzon Edition
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