Philippines Roadtrip

Ilocos Bound: Road Trip to Vigan and Laoag

Ilocos Bound: Road Trip to Vigan and Laoag

This is the first part of our Holy Week Road trip to the northern provinces of Luzon. Road trip always makes me excited but this one is the most exhilarating so far. This trip was planned 2 weeks after our road trip to Baguio. We initially planned to drive all the way up to Ilocos Sur but I felt that we are just going to waste the opportunity, time and money if we are not going to traverse the rest of the North Luzon provinces. So, we decided to extend our journey all the way up to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

Upon plotting our stop overs in the map, I found out that Pagudpud is just 3 hours away from my mother’s hometown of Lal-lo, Cagayan which I haven’t been for over a decade so I convinced everyone to just extend our trip all the way to Cagayan Valley Region during this busy Holy Week period.

Manila to Vigan Segment

We left Cavite on Wednesday night at 10:00pm and our estimated arrival time in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur is 6:00am according to Waze app which was very unrealistic. Since it’s the longest weekend of the year, heavy traffic is expected everywhere. We spent almost 2 hours driving just to reach NLEX from Cavite and 3.5hrs from Balintawak to Urdaneta TPLEX exit. The traffic jam in NLEX was horrendous with too much volume of vehicles and on-going road works.

From Urdaneta Exit, Waze prompted me to take the road to Manaoag to Manila North Road but I knew that taking the road to La Union/Pangasinan boundary is the fastest route to Ilocos Region.

The nightmare started when we reached Pozzurubio. The vehicles were not moving due to an accident in the bridge connecting the 2 provinces with no idea how long time it will take for the traffic to improve. Bus drivers going to Ilocos made u-turn and took a longer route passing San Fabian to MANOR road which was initially suggested by Waze. I had no choice but to follow them as well.

We arrived in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur at 9:30am after 11.5 hrs drive compare to the usual 7 hrs drive during non peak season. Well this is the reason why you should avoid traveling out of town during Holy Week unless you brought a lot of patience with you.

I felt really accomplished when we reached the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sta. Maria Church since it’s my first time in Ilocos and to drive over 350kms in one leg. The church is beautiful and felt really holy being there traveling with my family. The church was built on 1765 and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 1993. The church location is elevated and you must take the 85-step stairway to reach it and enjoy its beauty up-close. We went inside for several minutes to pray and took some photos as well in its beautiful façade.

road trip to vigan

Santa Maria Church Ilocos Sur

Santa Maria Church Ilocos Sur

Santa Maria Church Ilocos Sur

Our next stop is Vigan City which is 38kms away from Sta. Maria Church. This time I asked my wife to drive since it’s just 45 minutes away. We arrived there at almost 11:00am and parked in one of the streets near Calle Crisologo. The Heritage Village was really crowded on that day but we still managed to take beautiful photos to document our visit in Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and recognized as one of the New7Wonders Cities of the World.

Calle Crisologo Vigan

Calle Crisologo Vigan

Calle Crisologo Vigan

 

Since it’s almost lunch time, we decided to have our lunch and try their famous delicacies such as Bagnet and Vigan Longganisa which didn’t disappoint our taste buds.  I spent less than Php 1,000 for a platter of Bagnet, a plate full of Longganisa and a huge dish of Pinakbet plus the drinks for 5 persons.

Calle Crisologo Vigan

Before leaving Calle Crisologo, I did buy some souvenirs at reasonable price. T-shirts for Php 130 per piece and fridge magnets for Php30 each and we rode the ‘Kalesa’ or Horse-drawn which cost us only Php 150 for an hour. It’s such a fun and a great way to stroll around the city. We planned to go to Baluarte and Hidden Garden but we were told by the locals that the road en-route is already congested so we decided to head up North instead.

Calle Crisologo Vigan

Calle Crisologo Vigan

Before we left the city of Vigan, we did a side trip in Bantay Church and Bell Tower. I was amazed in the uphill location of the Bell Tower but I did not dare to climb up as I was too weary and sleepy so I just took some photos and did pray inside the Church for a while.

Bantayan Bell TowerBantayan Bell Tower

Vigan to Laoag Leg

Our next planned stop is the Marcos Museum in Batac, Ilocos Norte which is 65 kilometers away from Vigan and the trip will last for approximately 1.5hrs. And as expected, there was a disruption caused by on-going bridge constructions which allowed only one way traffic to pass through the temporary bridge at a time. The trip took 3.5hrs hours as we left Vigan at 1:00pm and arrived 4:30pm in Marcos Museum.

welcome to ilocos norte

I am not fascinated in visiting museums but I just wanted to see the late President Marcos’ Mausoleum. The museum will tell you more about the Great Dictator and how he grew as a politician and a leader. I took some photos inside and outside of the museum but we were not allowed to take photos inside the mausoleum. The ambiance inside is solemn seeing his remain which I believed is just a wax replica. But according to the guards, the body is real. Well, see it for yourself and you decide what to believe. (Update 2017: The body has already been buried in Heroes’ Cemetery)

Marcos Museum

Marcos Museum

Marcos MuseumMarcos Museum

We headed out of Batac and stopped in another UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paoay Church. Built on 1710, the church still is still picturesque and a favorite tourist hotspot in the North. This is our 3rd Church stop so we still prayed and took photos after. It was pretty late already so we cancelled our plan to visit the Paoay Sand Dunes and headed straight to our hotel in Laoag that we booked online.

paoay church

paoay church

We stayed in Palacio de Laoag Hotel, 2 kilometers away from the City proper and it was not bad at all. We paid only Php 3,800 for a cozy room for 5 people including breakfast buffet. It is considered cheap especially that it’s during the Holy Week. They have a nice pool for kids and adults but I did not dip in as my legs were already tight and tired. We went out for dinner in the city and took some photos around before going back to the Hotel for a good night sleep.

laoag city

laoag city

laoag city

Continue Reading the second part of our Holy Week Road Trip (Ilocos Norte Road Trip: Laoag to Pagudpud)

Pin this photo and share this post

road trip to vigan and laoag

You Might Also Like

29 Comments

  • Reply
    Dennis
    December 9, 2017 at 1:11 AM

    Thank you for sharing your road trip. May I know where will be the best stop overs as I will be bringing my 2 year old son along as well from cavite to Vigan and the best time to travel from Vigan to Cavite including the stops as well.

    • Reply
      Jan Michael de Guzman
      December 12, 2017 at 11:20 PM

      Hi Dennis. Sorry for the late reply. I also lived in Cavite. Best time to travel is at night. Without traffic, you can travel from cavite to vigan for 9 hrs non-stop. I also traveled with my 2 y/o daughter then and it was not a hassle at all traveling at that time. You only need wee stop along NLEX or at TPLEx exit, then another stop in La Union then go to the church in Sta. Maria before heading to Vigan. Email me if you want a detailed itinerary.

  • Reply
    Dominique Green
    November 19, 2017 at 5:03 AM

    Hi, thanks for the post about your trip. I’m about to do a similar route. I don’t live in the Philippines and hoping to rent a car to get from laoag to Manila, do you know if that’s possible? And where I should look to book a car? Thanks heaps in advance ☺ .

  • Reply
    Ance Antovska
    January 22, 2017 at 5:44 AM

    Wonderful trip , sounds like you had a great time travelling with your family.

  • Reply
    Paige Wunder
    October 7, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    When I was on Luzon I wanted so badly to visit Vigan – My my cousin (by marriage) is from a village near there and we so badly wanted to meet her family, but it just didn’t work out that time. It looks like we missed out on a really great experience. Luckily I’m going back soon enough with my husband. I’ll have to look into driving instead of taking the bus, and I really love seeing couples travel with their children. It’s such an inspiration! Cheers!

    • Reply
      Wandering JM
      October 8, 2016 at 10:07 AM

      Oh I hope that you will not miss it next time as it is really worth going there. You will definitely love the place, people and the food. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kerri
    October 7, 2016 at 5:59 AM

    Road trips are wonderful. I wish more people did them and were less frightened of them. Doing it all with a little one in tow is also wonderful. Some great places here. Never heard of them before so was a great learning for me.

    • Reply
      Wandering JM
      October 8, 2016 at 10:09 AM

      I love road trips and others should love it too. A great bonding moment for the family and can see awesome views along the way

  • Reply
    Jo
    October 7, 2016 at 12:24 AM

    Thats one heck of a road trip. How long are you on the road for? So cool to enjoy a lovely trip with family. The Marcos Museum sure does sound intriguing. Must be a good educational lesson.

    • Reply
      Wandering JM
      October 8, 2016 at 10:12 AM

      We had several stops along the way but we drove over 1600 kilometers for 4 days

  • Reply
    Cori
    October 6, 2016 at 10:54 PM

    You really packed a lot into such a short trip! I never have the patience to deal with traffic, so I’d miss out on these sights.

    • Reply
      Wandering JM
      October 6, 2016 at 11:02 PM

      Well not really that much. Traffic was really bad but the tri was worthy

  • Reply
    Sarah from Tales From a Fork
    October 6, 2016 at 6:52 PM

    Oh I’d love to go on a road trip like this. I love UNESCO Heritage Sites so it’s cool you went to a few! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Wandering JM
      October 6, 2016 at 11:05 PM

      Thanks. Got to visit 2 sites at once. 🙂

  • Reply
    Chantell
    October 6, 2016 at 4:41 PM

    That’s pretty amazing that you are traveling with your baby on a road trip. I am sure it must haver been tough with bad traffic. Still it sounds like you had a great time and saw a lot of UNESCO sites. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Wandering JM
      October 6, 2016 at 11:07 PM

      Well we really had a hard time but not as tough as you could imagine. As long as the car is moving then she is fine. Glad that she was always asleep when we were stucked in traffic

  • Reply
    Sally Cochrane
    October 6, 2016 at 3:50 PM

    I am actually going to the Philippines in two weeks time and although I will not be visiting this destination, I can’t wait to explore all it has to offer. More than anything, I have heard how friendly the people are.

    • Reply
      Wandering JM
      October 6, 2016 at 11:09 PM

      Yes Filipinos are friendly. We are happy to entertain tourist. Enjoy your trip and have fun

  • Reply
    Anne Slater-Brooks
    October 6, 2016 at 2:40 PM

    I am really curious. How does your daughter manage on such long journeys? Anyway, great timing as I head to the Philippines in just five weeks and am planning on spending some time in Luzon

    • Reply
      Wandering JM
      October 6, 2016 at 11:11 PM

      I planned the long legs to be at night time so she was fully asleep. During day time, we need to stop at least every 2 hours so she do not get bored. 🙂 she is also happy watching nursery rhymes so she was fine all the way.

  • Reply
    Gina Panozzo
    October 6, 2016 at 1:56 PM

    I’ve never heard of this place, but the town looks charming and pleasant based on your photos. I liked seeing the photos of the church and the places you ate because it made your road trip account all the more pleasant to read.

    • Reply
      Wandering JM
      October 6, 2016 at 11:13 PM

      Thank you. These places are rarelt discussed by tourist but they are worth visiting.

  • Reply
    tourdelust
    October 6, 2016 at 8:40 AM

    I’ve never heard of this place. It sure does look like a great place to visit especially with a family. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Manon @ The Dutch countryside
    October 6, 2016 at 5:24 AM

    I had no idea those world heritage sites were there! They look absolutely breathtaking! I hope you enjoyed your time there, but it definitely seems like it, although the traffic indeed, seems like it sucked big time..

    • Reply
      Wandering JM
      October 6, 2016 at 12:04 PM

      Yes we did enjoy our trip and so glad to conquered some of our heritage sites. 🙂 but still, the traffic was horrible.

  • Reply
    nellislife
    May 18, 2016 at 7:18 PM

    Wow, your blog is so full of inspiration!

  • Reply
    heileeandrewhei
    May 17, 2016 at 12:07 AM

    I wish its not raining on June because i plan to places…. Nice travel blog… #Admirable ✌️

  • Reply
    Chester Gamis
    May 7, 2016 at 10:04 PM

    Thanks for sharing. Very helpful.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Want to Travel The World?

Want to Travel The World?

Sign up for exclusive updates and receive the best budget travel tips, amazing adventures, road trip, flying and cruising guides. What are you waiting for? Join me and you'll also get a chance to win free gifts and exclusive offers!

You have Successfully Subscribed!