So last March, I went to Ilocos Norte for a wedding. I’ve only gone to Sur but that was back in 2009 for my Art Studies class. I remember visiting a lot of baroque churches, Baluarte, and Calle Crisologo. After that trip, I made sure to go back.
How to get to Ilocos Norte?
You can travel by land which is about 12 hours but we opted take an airplane going there. Only PAL flies there directly so the tickets are pricey. The cost of my fare was about 4,000 to 5,000 pesos. I suggest though that you wait for a seat sale. But if you’re really on a budget, just take a sleeper bus.
Where to stay?
The wedding was in Currimao area which was 40 minutes away from the Laoag airport. We stayed in Playa Tropical Resort. It had this Balinese feel but my sister described is as Hobbiton.
Price: I got mine discounted so I remember paying 1,300 per night. Depends on the room that you get. If you plan to get a villa which has its own pool, it’s obviously more expensive.
The resort is beach front and they have a pool and a massage place. What I liked about it the most was that the food was affordable and delicious. Try their bagnet sisig!
How to get around Ilocos Norte?
Since we flew going there, we had to rent a van. Cost ranges from 2500 pesos to 3500 pesos. I forget who we rented from but the more people the better because it would be cheaper.
What to do in Ilocos Norte?
- Sand Dunes
Cost of 4×4 ride: Php 1,500
If you plan to rent an ATV, it’s a bit more expensive.
I didn’t think it would be so bumpy though. I found it scary because our driver was fast. My body was so painful after.
Our driver was nice enough to let us try sandboarding for free. You usually have to pay an extra 500 pesos.
- Paoay Church
Make sure to say three wishes.
- Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
This was so beautiful. It reminded me of Lord of the Rings. You can even ride a horse. I think it’s 150 for 30 minutes.
- Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
- Malacanang of the North
The couple decided to do a barbecue here the night before the wedding. It’s well maintained and also had a museum inside.
- Bangui Windmills
- Blue Lagoon
You can actually try the zip line here. We didn’t bring swimsuits.
- Patapat Viaduct
- Badoc Beach
Cost: 150-300 pesos
From our resort, it was 30 minutes away via boat. It was really beautiful because the water was clear and the sand was white. You can chill, swim, and surf there. They sell chips and food though but better if you bring your own because it’s very limited.
I was there for 4 days and 3 nights. I spent a total of 13,000. What made my trip expensive was the air fare and the lodging. I am sure that there are a lot of cheaper places to stay in. Food is relatively cheap so I guess you’ll survive with 500 pesos per day or less. I mentioned that we were only 3 when we rented the van so it obviously was more expensive. We could have saved if we got more friends to join us in the tour.
- Travel via land if you want to save money. Try taking a sleeper bus.
- Search online for van rental companies and make sure that you’re a lot so that you can save money.
- It’s really hot if you plan to go during summer so make sure you bring a lot of sunblock.
- You don’t have to stay in Currimao because it’s pretty far from a lot of activities.
- Be friendly especially to the 4×4 drivers in the Sand Dunes. They’ll make you try sandboarding for free.
If I were to choose between Sur and Norte, I’d pick Norte because there are more activities to do. I am sure millennials would enjoy it. But Sur is beautiful as well. It’s rich in history and really chill. I guess it depends on what you want to do. For sure my mom would enjoy Sur more because of the churches, museums, zoo, and etc. I suggest though that you visit both. Ilocos is a beautiful province! It’s really one of my favorite provinces to go to. I’m amazed that it’s preserved really well. To be honest, the Kapurpurawan Rock formation is more beautiful than Taiwan’s Yehliu Geopark. You really have to see Ilocos!!! It’s soooooo worth it.