Way Up North in Ilocos Norte

Sunday, March 26, 2017

We're down to the second to the last province that I've visited during my solo backpacking trip. This time we go way waaayyy north of Luzon to the province of Ilocos Norte. From La Union, I originally planned to go to Ilocos Sur first before heading to Norte but a friend suggested that it would be better to do it the other way, and so I did.

From La Union, I boarded a bus heading straight to Laoag. The travel time was roughly six hours. From the bus terminal in Laoag, I rode a tricycle that took me to the terminal where I could ride a bus going to the town of Pagudpud. That's another two hours. I arrived at the transient house in the afternoon. 

Upon arriving, I settled in and rested for a few minutes. Then I went out and walked to Saud Beach, which was just a couple of minutes away from where I was staying. I spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and then watched the beautiful Pagudpud sunset.

Saud Beach was such a beauty. The sand was so fine. The waters were clear and clean, and the waves were calm. I was lucky to have it almost all to myself that afternoon as there were very few tourists, given that it was a weekday. 

I woke up early the next morning for my tour of the area. I had arranged for a tricycle to pick me up at the transient house and give me a tour around Pagudpud and the neighboring towns of Bangui and Burgos to see the famous tourist spots there.
Pagudpud Bridge
Bangui Wind Farm in Bangui, Ilocos Norte - This wind farm is known to be the biggest
in Southeast Asia, with twenty units of wind turbines providing sustainable green energy.
 Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, Ilocos Norte - Located on the coast of Burgos,
this limestone formation is a masterpiece, sculpted over the years by natural forces.
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte - Built during the Spanish 
colonial period, this lighthouse overlooking Cape Bojeador, functioned as 
a welcoming beacon to international ships entering the north of Luzon.

By noon, the tour was done and I was back at the transient house getting ready to leave. My plan was to be back in Manila by weekend. It was already Thursday then and if I had to be in Manila by Saturday, I had to be on my way south to Ilocos Sur. Before heading to Ilocos Sur, I took a side trip in Laoag, which is the capital of Ilocos Norte. 

I had a late lunch upon arriving at the city. While I was having lunch, I took the time to check out the tourist spots in Laoag and saw that all of them are just walking distance from the bus terminal. So instead of renting a tricycle, I opted to go on a walking city tour.
 Museo Ilocos Norte - No city tour is ever complete without a visit to its 
local museum.
 Sinking Bell Tower - Built in 1612, this bell tower was given its name because 
it is consistently sinking as it is very heavy and built on soft and sandy 
foundations.
Saint William's Cathedral - Also known as the Laoag Cathedral, this church 
was built in 1612 by Augustinian friars to replace a wooden chapel. It was 
damaged by fire in 1843, and has undergone several restorations over the years.

From Laoag, I took a jeepney heading to Paoay to visit one more attraction before heading to Ilocos Sur. This one's my favorite as it truly captured my love for old buildings and structures, and beautiful designs.
 Paoay Church - Also known as Saint Augustine Church, this structure was built in 
1710 and is known for its distinct architecture. It was declared as a National 
Cultural Treasure in 1973 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 under 
the group of Baroque Churches.

So that wraps up my visit to Ilocos Norte. That evening I boarded a bus heading south to Ilocos Sur for the final leg of my trip.

Travel Notes:

How to get there:
  • From Manila, you can board a bus going to Laoag. Partas Bus Terminal offers hourly trips to Laoag, with tickets costing around Php800. Travel time is around 10 to 12 hours. 
  • Alternatively, you can also ride a plane. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines offer flights directly to Laoag and the travel time is only for an hour.
Where to stay:
  • There are lots of transient houses in Pagudpud and Laoag. For Pagudpud, I highly recommend Allen's Homestay with accommodations ranging from Php300 to Php500 per person per night. 
Expenses:
  • Accommodation - Php300 per night for a fan room at Allen's Homestay
  • Tricycle Tour at Pagudpud - Php900
  • Round trip bus fare from Laoag to Pagudpud - Php140
  • Jeep from Laoag to Paoay - Php38
  • Food - meals range from Php100 to Php200

Up next is Ilocos Sur, which is another one of my favorite provinces in the Philippines. You'll see why once the post is up. 'Til then! 
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