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Top Things to Do in Ilocos Provinces (when you're in a hurry!)

Did you know that I'm so fond of Top 10 lists? I always enjoy reading them on trivia sections of magazines and watching them on YouTube. To finalize my Ilocos provinces vacation posts, I wrote this Top 10 List so I can someday remember what we did while there, and what we've missed and would try to do should we come back again. Take note, these are the things we tried to squeeze in just two days.

1. Walk through Calle Crisologo.

You haven't been to Ilocos Sur if you haven't walked through this cobblestone street lined with centuries-old Spanish houses. We checked it out past 3PM and left after about an hour.

What we will do next time: Visit in the morning and come back later at 5PM. They said Calle Crisologo is more picturesque at night. Let's see some other time.

2. Savor Ilocandia's famous cuisine.

We ate bagnet. I did just at least once in my whole life. Or while I'm in Ilocos Sur. This sinfully (to the health) delicious, crispy deep fried pork made me forget the promise I made to myself that I won't eat (too much) pork again.

Also, I've drunk way too much rice coffee every morning I was there - and several more weeks after because I brought bottles of it here in Riyadh. Fred, on the other hand, enjoyed the empanada from Vigan and easily finished three in one sitting! On our way to Manila, we bought Vigan longaniza and a vinegar from Ilocos - such perfect combination!

What we will do next time: When we reached Vigan on our first day there, we were so hungry that we forgot to check out Cafe Leona. Our friends who have eaten there highly recommended their food. Next time, promise!

Also, although I know how to make rice coffee, we still want to see for ourselves how Ilocos Norte's Banna Blend's Rice Coffee is produced. 

3. Book yourselves in a well-known beach resort.

That's what we did because we didn't search online and book in advance for accommodations. We found Hannah's Beach Resort, tried to haggle with the front desk clerk because of their exorbitant peak rates but to no avail, and ended up splurging and staying in the family suite because it's near the swimming pool and beach area.

But if you love to have your pictures taken with giant cast figures such as Jack Sully and Neytiri of Avatar or Shrek and his family, then you will love staying in Hannah.

What we will do next time: Opt for a homestay! On our way to the resort, I've seen houses with For Rent or Home Stay signs. I do not know yet how the houses look inside but if staying there spells adventure and more savings, then why not?

4. Enjoy Pagudpud beaches.

If you're like us who work abroad and who has a host city that is hundreds of kilometers from the beaches, then, by all means, enjoy the sea while you're in your home country. If Fred didn't tell me a couple of weeks after, I wouldn't know that Pagudpud is located at the northernmost tip of the Luzon Island and the sea we were facing then was connected to the South China Sea.

Did you know that we were nearer K'en-ting, the southernmost part of Taiwan which is just 399 kilometers by sea than we were from Manila which is more than 400 kilometers away by land?*

What we will do next time: Because Pagudpud beaches are so inviting, we would enjoy what nature has to offer to our hearts' content. I would swim, walk along the beach and feel the communion of sand and the sea on my feet, eat seafood at the restaurants with the sun setting at the back of the mountains as our backdrop. How I wish we lingered longer and maybe stayed from morning to the following day. Maybe, next time.

5. Pet animals in Baluarte!

Had it not for the sweltering weather, we would have stayed a little longer in Baluarte. It was an experience seeing the animals roaming freely. The ostrich walked faster when it noticed that Fred was walking beside him. The llama approached and almost licked us! The perched colorful parrots didn't mind the numerous camera shots.

What we will do next time: Check out how to get inside the mansion of Ilocos Sur's former governor, Chavit Singson. And while there, gape at its grandeur.

6. Glow with Kapurpurawan Rock Formation!

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is one of the tourist spots Ilocos Norte is known for. Our Ilocano friend told us that kapurpurawan means white in their dialect. Some locals told us that because of some graffiti on the vicinity and even on the rock itself, the local government may cordon off the rock formation. I hope they won't. And I hope tourists would be responsible enough to just enjoy the beauty of nature and leave it as it is.

What we will do next time: Touch the rock!

7. Visit the Ferdinand Marcos Museum and Mausoleum!

It was never on my travel itineraries. I didn't dream of visiting it. I only know Ilocos provinces for its famous Spanish houses in Vigan and white sand beaches in Pagudpud. So when the chance of visiting the Ferdinand Marcos Museum and Mausoleum presented itself (thanks to our Ilocano friend's wife who made the itinerary), we grabbed it and enjoyed history mounted on a well-curated museum.

What we will do next time: Linger for just a little longer.

8. Check out the old Syquia Mansion.

View from the veranda of the Syquia Mansion

One of the stunning Spanish mansions in Vigan

We learned a bit of history from the tour guide of the Syquia Mansion. We're glad we chose to explore it first over the other mansions.

What we will do next time: Check out other mansions!

9. Feel wind power in Bangui Windmills!

Contrary to the museum in #7, the Bangui Windmills has been in my must-visit Ilocos tourists spots. And I dreamed of seeing it for years. I'm so glad I finally did, thanks to our friends in Riyadh who invited us to join them and also to our host family in Ilocos Sur.

What we will do next time: Again, linger a little longer and explore the place. If I have more time, I would walk that beach from the entrance to the farthest windmill then back. Really, why not?

10. Drop by Burnayan Pottery!

We wouldn't have found the Burnayan Pottery hadn't the calesa driver pointed it to us. It is secluded in a dark, aluminum-roofed front yard and you would have to pass by stalls of Ilocos products to reach it. When most of the tourists were distracted by the colorful keychains, hats and bags and the appetizing Ilocos delicacies sold by the enterprising locals, we weren't. We were there for the culture and the potter gladly answered questions some of the curious tourists threw at him.

What we will do next time: Ask the potter for a trial!

There's just too many things to do and too many places to visit in Ilocos provinces. Next time, after trying to do those What We Will Do Next Time items, we also would like to check out other tourist destinations we've missed like the Paoay Church (and marvel at its architecture), the Bojeador Lighthouse or the MalacaƱang of the North.

Two days are just not enough when you're having fun! And in Ilocos, we just had that.


Missy said…
We didn't go to Burnayan pottery and Syquia Mansion, you're right too many place to visit in Ilocos. YOu should really try sand boarding when you plan to go back there ;-)
Beth said…
Though I think I would be frightened, I still might try sandboarding! I would include that in my bucket list. :)

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