Saturday, August 23, 2014

Places to Visit When You are in Ilocos, Norte

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Are you planning to explore the Philippines but couldn't decide yet where to begin at? Hmmm, why don't you start on the northern part? From the top. How about in Ilocos Region? At Ilocos Norte! Ilocos Norte is roughly a 10-hour drive away from Manila and 45 minutes if traveled by air. The province has a land area of no more than 3,500 square kilometers and composed of 22 municipalities which are characterized by amazing beaches, rock formations, old churches and more. This province is not only known for scenic landscapes but also for its rich history and culture.

How to get there?
By land, there are several bus lines that serves Manila-Laoag route. Some of these bus companies are Partas Trans, Autobus and RCJ buses. As what I stated above, travel time is more or less 10 hours. If you're not into long hours of drive or commute, you may book a flight at Philippine Airlines and/or Cebu Pacific. These airlines have daily Manila-Laoag-Manila flights.

As for this blog post, I'll try to cover some of unique tourist destinations and a must-visit spots in Ilocos Norte. Ready? Lets go!

Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino

Heads up! We didn't stayed here so please don't ask me about their room rates and stuff. We still don't have such money to spent in an accommodation like this. We're only there to visit and just check out the place. Although I find the place having a grim atmosphere, Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino is said to be a 5-star hotel. I'm not sure why I had that feeling but maybe because of our timing when we visited the place. The weather isn't fare and very gloomy that day. Nevertheless, if you want to experience a luxurious accommodation ala Ilocos Norte, this is the place to be. The resort is located in Laoag and it has 24/7 operating casino, swimming pool, beach, in-house restaurant, fitness center, recreation center, salon and spa, shooting range, horseback riding, bar, archery and a lot more! Too bad we were only there for half an hour and didn't explore the whole place.

One of the corridor in Fort Ilocandia
Walk around to learn more about Ilocos

Malacanang of the North (MalacaƱang ti Amianan)

Located in the municipality of Paoay, Malacanang of the North serves as the official residence/rest house of the Marcoses during President Ferdinand Marcos regime. This 5-hectare property was a gift to the president by his first lady and wife for his 60th birthday. To know more stories of this mansion, kindly refer to this blog post: Malacanang of the North of Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Senator Bong Bong room
Nice set at Malacanang of the north

Paoay Church 

Our next stop is the Church of Saint Augustine which is popularly known as Paoay Church. Paoay Church was built during the early 1700s and now renowned as one of UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Philippines. The church structure is a model of a Baroque church which is designed to resist strong earthquakes. The towering 24 buttresses on the sides of the church contributed a lot of its strong build. Want to know more of Paoay Church? Simply click on this link: The Church of Saint Augustine of Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Standing strong through the years
The bell tower - also made of Coral stones

Marcos Museum and Photo Gallery

The late President Ferdinand Marcos is the most famous son of Ilocos Norte. He was raised and grew in the province and done so many things to improve the life of the people here by serving them. That is why it is no wonder why there are so many spots in Ilocos Norte where they commemorate the 10th president and his whole family. Some of these spots are Marcos Museum and Marcos Photo Gallery.

Marcos Museum serves as a mausoleum which houses the body of the president. Yes that's right. Even though he died in 1989, the body still isn't buried yet. Why? It is a long story and I don't want to dig into it. Too bad taking photos and videos is prohibited inside the mausoleum. Then just a few minutes' walk away from the museum you'll see the Marcos Photo Gallery. From the name itself, it is a photo gallery of the Marcoses. It houses hundreds of photos showcasing the life of the Marcos family.

Marcos body is inside this mausoleum
Photos of the Marcoses
More photos inside the Gallery

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Designed by Magin Pers way back in 1887, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse (also called as "Burgos Lighthouse") was intended to guide navigators during the era of Spanish colonialism in the country. The 65 ft. tall tower was built in an octagon shape using bricks. It is also said that the cupola of this tower is made of bronze. Cape Bojeador is elevated at 386 ft. and offers its visitors a good view of the West Philippine Sea. It is the highest point in Burgos and in the whole region of Ilocos.

Highest spot in Ilocos Norte
Left to Right: Claire, Madam, Ferds, Donna
Old yet so nice :)

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

Still located in the municipality of Burgos, Ilocos Norte lies a stunning rock formation known as Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. Kapurpurawan was formed by the combined forces of the ocean waves and the wind. This chalk-like textured rock formation is one of the major tourist destination in Ilocos Norte. For further information of this place, click this link: Kapurpurawan Rock Formation of Burgos, Ilocos Norte.

Kapurpurawan from afar
Ahmmm... excuse me, do you mind? This is suppose to be a selfie. hahaha

Patapat Viaduct

Patapat viaduct is one of the major project during the regime of President Marcos. It is considered as the 4th longest bridge in the Philippines having a total length of 1,300 meters that connects the Maharlika Highway (Laoag, Ilocos Norte) to the Cagayan Valley Region. People usually stops here just to take photos of the bridge.

Pres. Marcos project is brilliant!
The bridge is still operating and in great shape

Maira-ira Beach (Blue Lagoon)

Ilocos is not only blessed with rich history, picturesque landscapes and old buildings and structures but it also has pristine and drop dead gorgeous water. Maira-ira Beach for which popularly known as Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited spot in Ilocos when looking for water adventures and beach bumming. This beach in Pagudpod is characterized by fine coarse creamy sand and having a bluish beach water - a reason why it is so called Blue Lagoon. The water here is calm during the summer season but after that, big waves are expected to form into this beach in which activities like surfing and kite surfing takes place. Aside from surfing and swimming, activities available in Blue Lagoon are zip lining, banana boat ride, and jet skiing.

Just look how beautiful the water is! 
My model that day :)
This is another piece of heaven here on earth!

Bantay Abot Cave

Bantay Abot Cave is not really a cave. For me, it is just a hill with a hole in it. As per our guide, the hole was formed due to an earthquake that struck the region decades ago. In the native Ilocano dialect, Bantay means mountain and Abot means hole. Although its translation still does not give justice of its look because it doesn't look like a mountain either, the term mountain is much better than cave. Anyway, it has already been called it that way so lets just move on and leave it as it is.

Landscape at its finest form!

Bangui Windmill 

This tourist spot in Bangui, Ilocos Norte is a project of the city government which started in 2005 to practice and utilize renewable energy sources specifically wind energy. Bangui Windmill has not only generating electric supply for Ilocos Norte but also another reason for tourists to visit the said province. Read more about Northwind Bangui Bay Project: Bangui Windmills of Bangui, Ilocos Norte

Another great project of the government!

La Paz Sand Dunes 

Have you already tried skate boarding and gone surfing? Yes? Hmmm, how about sand boarding? Sounds fun right? Visit La Paz Sand Dunes in Paoay, Ilocos Norte and experience not only sand boarding but also the thrilling 4x4 ride. The activities in Sand Dunes really shake the hell out of me and my friends. This part of Ilocos Norte is really a perfect spot for adventurer and thrill seekers. Here's our full experience in La Paz Sand Dunes: Paoay, Ilocos Norte: Sand Boarding and 4x4 Ride in Sand Dunes

Stress reliever activity!
I want to try it again!

And there you have it! You've already reach the end of this tour. I hope I have inspired you to visit the province and see it yourself. The places and spots above are just some of the tourist destination in Ilocos Norte. There's more spots that one will surely enjoy when in Ilocos Norte.

Can't get enough of Ilocos? How about having a tour on one of the city in Ilocos Sur -- Vigan Tourist Spots: Calesa Tour of Metro Vigan Inn?

11 comments:

  1. I've been wanting to try sand boarding for the longest time. but the scorching sun always gets in the way

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    1. Try it out! It's really fun :) Just apply sunblock with high spf protection hehe

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  2. Great list, Geejay! Maganda ding mapasama dito ang Kabigan Falls at Saud Beach.

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    1. Kasama sa itinerary namin ung Kabigan Falls, kaya lang nagipit sa oras. Ilalagay ko nalang muna un sa bucket list ko :) Thanks din for sharing!

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  3. wow..looks amazing. Sana makapunta din ako one day

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    1. yan din wish ko a couple of months ago... ipon, plan then explore! :)

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  4. Blue Lagoon is so enticing to swim! I'll definitely see it when I come back to Pagudpud.

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    1. It is indeed one of the must visit spot in Pagudpud :)

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  5. hello geejay, pwede bang mag tanong regarding dun sa ukl ever hotel. meron ba silang safe na parking area at paano kayo nag pa-book. thank you. we want to visit ilocos this coming december:)

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    Replies
    1. Well, may parking lot sila pero sa harapan lang ng hotel. limited slots lang din kaya better inquire first pag magdadala kayo ng own car nyo. Tinawagan namin ung UKL for reservation then nirequired nila kami na mag hulog sa account nila ng reservation fee. ayun po

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