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Ilocos Norte Travel Guide

Itinerary, Things to do, How to get there and more

Situated 477 kilometers north of Manila, Ilocos Norte has a rich and historical past that started long before the arrival of the Spaniards. The people of this region, believed to be of Malay origin, called their place “samtoy”, from “sao mi ditoy”, which literally means “our language here”. Famed for its gold mines, traders from China and Japan would visit the area to trade gold with beads, silk and ceramics. When the Spaniards reached the region in 1572, they named the place ‘Ylocos’ and the natives ‘Ylocanos’ based from the abundant sheltered coves or ‘looc’ where the locals lived. Ilocos Norte was born in 1818 after the signing of the Royal Decree splitting the Provincia de Ilocos into Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. One of the richest provinces in the Philippines, Ilocos Norte is comprises of 21 municipalities and 2 cities with Laoag City as its capital. Aside from being known as one of the country’s top tourist destinations, Ilocos Norte remains an agricultural province that produces rice, corn, root crops and tobacco.

Where to go in Ilocos Norte

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Alcon Clan

Alcon Rd Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Region, 2914, Philippines

Aurora Park

National Highway 14 Laoag City (capital), Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Region, 2900, Philippines

BELLTOWER

A. Bonifacio 14 Laoag City (capital), Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Region, 2900, Philippines

How to Get Here

Getting Here
Coming from Manila, there are different ways to reach Ilocos Norte – it can be by a land or air travel.

By land: A private vehicle or a public bus is the common mode of transportation in going to this famous province in Luzon. By a private vehicle, it is an 8-10 hour long, scenic drive to Laoag City from Manila. There are a number of bus companies servicing the province that departs from Manila daily. One can take a day trip that takes around 10-12 hours while a night trip is roughly 8-10 hours of road travel. Day trips take longer because of the traffic.

Buses serving Ilocos province has terminals in Cubao and Manila and has their last stop either in Vigan or Laoag City. Bus fare, depending on the bus type and route starts at Php 665.00 and can go as high as Php 965.00.
Partas
Farinas
Florida
RCJ
Maria de Leon

By air: Airline companies like Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific fly to Laoag International Airport from Manila. Travel time is less than an hour with airfare that starts at Php 1,900.00 to Php 2,700.00.

Popular Food

A food synonymous with the province is the bright orange colored snack called Batac empanada. Named after the oldest town in Ilocos Norte where these delicious snacks originated, Batac empanada are deep fried and with fillings of green papaya, chopped longganisa and hard boiled eggs. There is even an Empanada Festival held in the province that takes place every 23rd of June.

(c) @vince_jericho / instagram.com

Bagnet, Ilocos’ popular food is a deep fried crispy pork belly dish which is similar to ‘ lechon kawali’. It is referred to by the locals as “chicharon”. Bagnet was a handed-down tradition of cooking meat and was first introduced in the market in the 80’s. Since then, it has become one of the province’s emblematic foods.

(c) @c3leine / instagram.com

An Ilocano eggplant dish, puqui-puqui is Ilocos’ answer to ‘tortang talong’ or eggplant omelette. It can be eaten as an appetizer, a side dish or a main course.

(c) @milaiski / instagram.com

Ilocos longganisa is the most famous longganisa in the country. It is noticeably small in size and is plump. These sausages are made from ground pork, local seasonings and plenty of garlic, giving these delicious longganisa a strong garlicky taste and best served with spicy vinegar.

(c) @xsos2momhaying / instagram.com

Best Time to Go

BEST TIME TO GO
Ilocos Norte offers its best spots during the summer or dry months of November to April. The grandeur of old churches, the beauty of the various rock formations, the tranquillity of the beaches and the prominence of the different edifices seems to heighten under the bright summer sun. Explore the different tourist attractions wearing light, comfortable clothing.

Ilocos Norte has many festivals celebrated in different months of the year; all of these festivals are a showcase of Ilocanos traditions and way of life. One anticipated festival in the province is the ‘Tan Ok Festival’ which is considered as the grandest festival of the province held every February. Ilocanos and visiting tourists are treated to spectacular dance parade of the revellers from the different towns and cities that make up Ilocos Norte.

What to Do

Visit historic sites
Ilocos Norte has a good list of historic sites for all history buffs out there. Old churches which figured significantly in the history of the province, the well preserved heritage structures such as the Malacanang of the North, the impressive Cape Bojeador and the many structures that tells Ilocos Norte’s rich and colorful past are all worthy to see.
Be one with nature
See the majestic Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, frolic in the charming Saud Beach and get high playing in its fascinating sand dunes. Ilocos Norte got some of Mother Nature’s best masterpieces.
Discover the province’s hidden gems
Ilocos Norte has all these waiting to be discovered -- an amazing rock formation along the shore and the several waterfalls concealed inside the lush tropical forests. All these natural attractions will surely excite any active trekker or hiker planning to visit the province.
Food tripping
Home to unique and flavoursome cuisine, the province is a treat for all gourmands out there -- there’s the appetizing pinakbet or longganisa pizza, the filling empanada and the scrumptious bagnet. Ilocos Norte also boasts of Pinoy’s favorite pasalubongs like chichacorn, tupig and bugnay, to name a few.

Estimated Costs

Estimated Cost per Person
Getting around
The best way to move around Ilocos Norte is by tricycle or by jeepney. One can rent a tricycle from Laoag town proper to any destination that you want. Jeepney is the more affordable way of exploring the city especially if you’re on a tight budget, but hopping from one jeepney to another is a waste of time. Tricycle rental starts at Php 250.00 and accommodates 4 persons.

Accommodation
There are quite a number of hotels, inns and resorts scattered in Laoag City and Pagudpud.


Budget– Php 400. 00
Mid price – Php 750.00 – Php 900.00
Splurge – Php 2,400.00 – Php 4,000.00

Food
Cheap – Php 50.00 – Php 100.00
Affordable – Php 175.00 – Php 250.00

Tourist attraction entrance fee
Starts at Php 30.00

Average price per day
Php 1,800.00 – Php 2,000.00

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