Ilocos Sur Travel Guide

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

A well-known province in the Ilocos Region and founded by the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo in 1572, Ilocos Sur is an agrarian province producing rice, corn, tobacco and other crops. Occupying the central section of the region, Ilocos Sur has 32 municipalities and 2 cities, Candon and Vigan, the latter is the province’s capital. It is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the beautiful and grand Baroque Church of Santa Maria and the well-preserved Vigan City which was declared a “World Heritage City”, a best-preserved example of a Spanish colonial town in the whole of Asia.

Where to go in Ilocos Sur

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Arce Mansion

Quirino Boulevard City Of Vigan (capital), Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Region, 2700, Philippines

Archbishop's Palace

City Of Vigan (capital), Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Region, 2700, Philippines

Cabugao Beach Resort

Manila North Rd Brgy. Pug- Os Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Region, 2732, Philippines

Calle Crisologo

Crisologo City Of Vigan (capital), Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Region, 2700, Philippines

Crisologo Museum

A. Reyes St City Of Vigan (capital), Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Region, 2700, Philippines

How to Get Here

Getting Here
Situated 405 km away from Manila, getting to Ilocos Sur is a seven hour picturesque bus ride in any of the bus firms plying the Manila-Vigan route. Bus fare is around Php 500.00 – Php 600.00.

Buses going to Ilocos Sur’s capital are the following:
Parta Bus
Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines
Dominion Bus Lines
Martinez Trans
Viron Transit

Another way of going to Ilocos Sur if coming from abroad is through the Laoag International Airport which is in the capital City of Ilocos Norte. From there, it will take one hour and thirty minutes of land travel to reach Vigan.

Popular Food

Inspired by the Spanish empanada, this snack is made with flour and filled with Vigan longganisa, green papaya, egg, chopped onions and garlic and is light yellow in color.

(c) @andreahcharlyn /

A popular vegetable dish that originated in the Ilocos Region, pakbet is a dish of mixed vegetables like eggplant, bitter gourd, string beans and uses fish sauce instead of bagoong alamang.

Ilocos Sur’s native delicacy, tinubong is a sweet, sticky dessert made from glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, strips of young coconut and margarine. A bamboo tube, which is from this delicacy’s name was derived (‘tubong’ is an Ilocano word for ‘bamboo’), serves as its container which is roasted over charcoal or in ovens.

(c) @cup.keytt /

Vigan longganisa is a small and plump Pinoy version of chorizo or sausage. What makes this longganisa distinct is that is it more tangy, salty and garlicky than the other native longganisa. Vigan longganisa is best served as a breakfast fare with fried rice and eggs.

(c) @kiiiyam /

Best Time to Go

The best time to see and explore Vigan City and the whole of Ilocos Sur is during the dry months of November to May. A summer trip definitely renders striking picture-perfect shots of the province.

The months of festivals and merrymakings are also a great time to experience the rich history of the province -- Tobacco Festival, Bagnet Festival, Sinait Garlic Festival and Kannawidan Festival, to name but a few. Updating your social media is not a problem as telecom companies have a good signal in the area; credit cards are accepted in major establishments and there are several ATM machines in the city.

The province’s weather is quite humid when the sun is out so put on a generous amount of sunblock and bring mosquito repellant lotion as well.

What to Do

Do museum hopping
The province boasts of several museums, all located in its capital city. Brimming with a lot of rich memorabilia, elegant antiques, old furnishings and motley of different collection, all of which tells something of the glorious past.
Visit the old churches
Gorgeous old churches are Ilocos Sur’s pride and joy. Historic churches that withstood the test of time are reminders of the province’s spirituality and culture. Splendid and magnificent, each structure has its own significance that is worthy to discover.
Get down and dirty
Literally, get your hands dirty and experience jar-making at Pagburnayan, the quintessential pottery place in Vigan.
Shops for native products and antiques
The place has tons of shops for all the small trinkets, handicrafts like baskets, wallets, bags, abel merchandise (Ilocos province’s traditional and colorful woven products), offbeat carvings, beautiful furniture and a lot more to satisfy your spending spree.
Take a calesa ride through Calle Crisologo
The best way to complete your Vigan trip is to ride the calesa while admiring the fine, old architecture of the place; the distinct clip-clop sound of the horse-drawn carriage in the air heighten that rustic feeling while passing through the historical district.

Estimated Costs

Estimated Cost per Person
Getting around
There’s a wide array of public transportation in going to other towns, municipalities and nearby provinces:

Jeepneys – one can take a jeepney to go to a nearby municipality or town.
Tricycle – widely available public transit in the province with a minimum fare of Php 10.00 per head.
Mini-bus – a faster way of reaching nearby towns is via mini-bus. These mini-buses are not air-conditioned and usually transport market goods.
Calesa – have a grand time exploring and admiring the old structures for Php 150.00 per hour. Minimum of 4 persons are fine for a calesa ride.

Affordable – Php 600.00
Mid-range – Php 1,200.00
Splurge – Php starts at Php 4,000.00

Php 75.00 – Php 190.00

Tourist attraction entrance fee
Some museum doesn’t collect entrance fee but a donations are accepted.

Average price per day
Php 1,300.00 – Php 1,500.00