My trip to Ilocos Norte in the Philippines was quite surprising to many, as not many foreign tourists visit this enchanting part of the country. I believe that choosing the 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. 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 dominates center of The Laoag city. It was built in 1612 by Augustinian Friars, during the Spanish era. Locals say that when the tower was built a person could enter the tower on a horseback. However now a person of 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. It is a prominent location for shooting films. La Paz Sand dunes offer a panoramic view of the West Philippine Sea. You can ride on a 4X4. You can hire one with the driver for 1500 Pesos for 30 mins.
Malacanang of the North
It used to serve as the Palace of President Ferdinand Marcos. It’s now a museum and costs 30 Pesos to enter.
Paoay is a city located 20kms to the south of Laoag. The town was once called “Bombay” as the earliest inhabitants were Indians by origin.
Paoay church takes its visitors back to the Spanish era. The walls of the church are a combination of large coral stones on the lower part and bricks on the upper part. They suggest an impressive Javanese style of architecture.
Next to the façade stands an impressive three-story coral bell tower. My tour guide told me that it stands at a distance from the church as a protection against the earthquake. It was once a watchtower to the Filipino revolutionaries on their war with the Spaniards. Also, the Filipino guerrillas used it to keep away the Japanese troops during 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 7.8 magnitudes struck, it brought down the dome of the church which gave the title as the Domeless Bell Tower.
Pagudpud is popular as Boracay of the north. Known for its pristine white sand beaches, coconut trees, and crystal-blue water. Pagudpud is the northernmost 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 1.2 km long stretch of bridge. This is the 4th longest bridge in the Philippines. It sits at 200 meters above the sea level local call it “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. It easy to visit 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 shoreline 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 formation is the result of the sedimentation of the deposits by the waves to the shore. “Puraw” means white color in the Ilocano term, hence the name as Kapurpurawan.
Cape Bojeador Light House
Located in Burgos, this octagonal tower was opened in 1892. It is one of the highest elevated lighthouses in the Philippines during the Spanish era. It offers a great view of the West Philippine Sea.