My trip to the Ilocos region in the northern Philippines was quite flabbergasting to many as this region is barely visited by any foreigner. I believe that choosing a least traveled road will expose me to something new that I could share through my posts.
Laoag is the jump off point to the Ilocos Norte. Laoag International Airport is the only airport in the region. An hour’s flight from the capital city Manila got me to the blissful Laoag City. I felt that it was an ideal thought to lodge in Laoag and do day trips to the nearby regions.
These are the 10 places that I feel you must visit when in Ilocos Norte Province.
Sinking Bell Tower
This 45 meters tall edifice is located in the center of The Laoag city, and was built in 1612 by Augustinian Friars, during the Spanish era. Some locals told me, when the tower was built a person could enter the tower on a horse back, however now a person of an average height has to lean to enter. However the tower still solves the purpose of its existence as it still rings to summon the Christian faithful for the mass.
La Paz Sand Dunes
Also known as the desert of the North is a prominent location for shooting films; it offers a panoramic view of the West Philippine Sea. You can ride on a 4X4 which can be hired with the driver for 1500 Pesos for 30 mins.
Malacanang of the North
It used to serve as the Palace of The President Ferdinand Marcos. Its now a museum which could be toured by paying 30 Pesos as an entry fees.
Paoay is a city located 20kms to the south of Laoag. I was amazed to know that the town was once called “Bombay” as the earliest inhabitants are believed to be Indians by origin.
Paoay church would take you back to the Spanish era, the walls of the church are made of large coral stones on the lower part and bricks on the upper part. The walls suggest an impressive Javanese style of architecture.
Next to the façade stands an impressive three storey coral bell tower. My tour guide told me that it was built at a distance from the church as a protection against the earthquake and it served as a watchtower for Filipino revolutionaries against the Spaniards and also to Filipino guerrillas against the Japanese troops during the World War II.
Baccara Domeless Bell Tower
This 50 meters tower was built in 1830, but was wrecked due to an earthquake in 1931. In 1983 when the disastrous earthquake of 7.8magnitude struck, it brought down the dome of the church which gave the title as the Domeless Bell Tower.
Pagudpud is often referred by locals as Boracay of north. Known for its pristine white sand beaches, coconut trees and crystal-blue water. Pagudpud is the northern most part of the mainland Philippines. Saud beach is the most visited one in Pagudpud.
Pagudpud is located at 77kms to the north of Laoag, busses ply frequently on this route, a one way ticket from Laoag city would cost 50 pesos.
Patapat Viaduct is a 1.2kms long stretch of bridge. This 4th longest bridge in the Philippines is built at 200 meters above the sea level. It is referred by some as “the French Riviera of the North”. People often visit the place to enjoy its surreal beauty, as it has the luxuriant mountain on one side and the West Philippine Sea on the other.
Patapat is about 8kms to the east of Pagudpud and could be visited by hiring a tricycle from the bus station.
Bangui Wind Farm
Bangui wind farm has 20 units of tri blades, each at 70 meters (230 ft) height. Arranged on a single row, stretching along a nine-kilometer shore line off The Bangui Bay, it reflects a graceful arc formation facing the West Philippine Sea.
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Standing majestically on the coast of the Burgos town, the rock was formed by the sedimentation of particles deposited by the waves to the shore. “Puraw” means white color in Ilocano term, which derived its name as Kapurpurawan, due to its color.
Cape Bojeador Light House
Located in Burgos, this octagonal tower was opened in 1892 and is one of the highest elevated light houses in the Philippines during the Spanish era. It offers a great view of the West Philippine Sea.