It’s been a month since me and my best friend, Sheena, planned this Ilocos trip. We didn’t ask anyone else to come to avoid the hassle of having different schedule (sorry guys).
We’ve read a thousand words and saw hundreds of good photos to be familiar, but we’ve also thought ofcanceling it because of bad weather conditions days ahead. We were worried that our trip will be rainy and sand boarding would be mudslide, we decided to continue anyway. Feeling adventurous we boarded Partas AC bus in Cubao going to Laoag, it was June 27, 2014, 11pm.
It was a very long 10-hour ride, thanks to the driver for stopping at every corner. We started our tour at Batac, though our original plan is from Laoag – Pagudpud – Laoag – Paoay – Batac – Vigan.
No signs of bad weather as we arrived at Batac. Tricycle drivers offered us a tour for 500 pesos and we refused because we thought it’s too pricey, then one driver approached us offering a 250 ride for both of us and so we agreed, but after the tour he said that 250 is one-way only (nice marketing).
Our first destination is St. Augustine Church, most commonly known as Paoay church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After picture taking we went straight to La Paz sand dunes where we had sand boarding and 4×4 experience. Since we’re only two, they are charging us 1000 per head but we’re able to haggle it to 600.
Then we hurriedly drive to Malacaang of the North (Marcos’ mansion) in Batac, where Paoay lake is a beautiful backdrop, since they are closed from 12 – 1 pm.
We also visited Ferdinand Marcos Presidential center, or Marcos museum and mausoleum, where President Marcos remains lie since 1993. No picture taking is allowed in this area.
Before we head to Laoag, we stopped by Batac Riverside Empanadahan to try their most famous delicacy, empanada. It was so famous that I expect too much, but not my kind of food. From Paoay we ride a jeepney to Laoag, travel time is 1 hour and fare is 25 pesos.
Another reason why we want to visit Ilocos is to swim (though we’re not swimmers) to its pristine and secluded beaches. Headed north is the town of Pagudpud, where Blue Lagoon and Saud beach is located. After a two-hour bus ride, we finally arrived at Pagudpud.
We decided to stay near Saud beach because homestays are cheaper here, one of which is Hanna Lou’s. They have ac room and a fan room which we rented that costs 250 per person every night and can accommodate 4 persons, gladly, only us are there.
Excited to see what Saud is like, we hurriedly change clothes and took a short walk. There’s no entrance fee to see the clear waters and fine sand and view of Bangui windmills adds to the already is a panoramic scene.
Waves immediately greeted us as we jumped into the waters. Waves are bigger in this side during Habagat (Southwest monsoon) season. No lights along the shore and no night life yet in Saud, just you and nature.
Back at our homestay ate Fe, the owner (09213104826), already prepared us a sumptuous dinner for 50 pesos (great deal btw). Fried chicken, vegetable stew and tortang saluyot. One bite of tortang saluyot and I love ate Fe already. What a twist to saluyot, we really loved it.
We woke up early to fully enjoy Saud, our last day at Pagudpud :(, more swimming time.
A ltitle background, tours around Pagudpud is classified into two, the north and south tour. For backpackers like us, we need to hire a tricycle to visit either or both. One tricycle tour costs 600 with 3 max passengers. South tour includes Bangui windmills, Kapurpurawan Rock formation and Cape Bojeador Light House. North tour includes Aqua Grande, Kabigan falls, Patapat Viaduct, Paraiso ni Anton, Bantay Abot Cave, Timmangtang Rock, Dos Hermanos Islands and Blue lagoon.
We took the North tour only and planned to drop by Bangui and Kapurpurawan on our way to Vigan, while Burgos Lighthouse is under renovation. We hired ate Fe’s brother-in-law for the trip.
First stop – Kabigan falls, one need to register first and pay 100 pesos per group for a guide before starting. We had a chance to taste their “pako”, a green-leafy fern. It’s an easy trek and after 30 minutes we saw the magnificent falls . Only few tourists visited so we had the falls for ourselves.
Next spot is Paraiso ni Anton and Aqua grande, it is nothing much but a picnic grove so we just took few pictures and headed to Patapat viaduct.
We paid 25 pesos as entrance fee per person to Blue Lagoon, passing by Bantay About Cave and Timmangtang Rock formation which are just few meters apart.
Powdery white sand, clear waters, and calm waves, blue lagoon is often tagged as the Boracay of the North. It is also a good surfing spot during Amihan (Northeast monsoon) season and home of Hannah’s – the biggest beach resort in Blue Lagoon offering a 12 kilometer zipline over the water.
Half-heartedly, we left blue lagoon at 3pm. We asked our driver if he can tour us at Bangui for extra fee of 300.
We’re catching bus bound to Vigan so we didn’t spend so much time in Bangui and neither did we get the chance to pass by Kapurpurawan because it’s late.
After four hours, we arrived at Vigan and asked a tricycle driver to bring us to our homestay. We had a quick stop at an eatery to buy dinner then to our homestay. When we arrived, the driver was charging us 80 pesos for that short ride because we had two stops. Of course we battled and just pay righteous 40 pesos. Bad experience. We could have walked instead but it might be dangerous.
We stayed at Arcellana’s (09178522547), the caretaker is very nice and accommodating, that he gave us 50 pesos discount for our stay (only 200 each). The following day, we had our city tour by foot at the historical Vigan.
We had lunch at Hidden Garden, a true garden not just by its name. Don’t forget to try Ilocano’s remarkable cuisines, Bagnet and Sinanglao. We also had a free taste of Dragon fruit.
One of the most remarkable landmark for me is Baluarte, where we had a close encounter with the animals. It was my first time to be in a zoo. Baluarte is owned by former Ilocos Governor Chavit Singson. Amidst the huge sanctuary, stands his tall rest house. Sadly we didn’t have any chance to get up close with his tigers because its trainer is not available (sayang).
After an exciting experience at Baluarte, we went back to Calle Crisologo to check good restaurants. It is so nice to stroll at Calle Crisologo, especially at night.
We had dinner at Lampong’s before heading back to Manila :(. Their Miki is so delicious that I almost ordered two bowls, and it’s only 70 pesos.
We bought Vigan longganisa and Royal Bibingka for pasalubong. Good Bye Ilocos for now, I will be back soon and next time I’ll make sure to see Kapurpurawan and more time at the beach.
Here is our detailed itinerary for 3 days and 2 nights.
09:00 pm assembly at Partas Terminal Cubao
11:00pm Departure from Cubao (bus fare is 800)
09:00 am arrival at Batac
09:00am – 12:30pm Paoay church and Sand dunes 600 (paoay-batac tour 500)
12:30pm – 01:30pm Travel to laoag (25 jeep)
01:30pm – 02:30pm late lunch
02:30pm – 04:30pm laoag-pagudpud (bus 60/pax)
04:30pm – 05:00pm arrival at Hannah Lou’s homestay (250/pax + 50/meal)
05:00pm – 06:00pm free time (chill at the beach)
07:00pm – 08:00pm dinner
09:00pm lights out
06:00am – 08:00am enjoy Saud beach
08:30am – 09:00am travel to Blue lagoon (Maira-ira) north tour (600/tour)
09:00am – 11:00am Kabigan falls trekking and swimming
11:00am – 04:30pm Patapat viaduct, Aqua Grande, Paraiso ni Anton, Blue lagoon swimming + lunch
04:30pm – 05:30pm Bangui windmills
06:00pm – 10:00pm Pagudpud – Vigan
10:30pm arrival at Arcellana’s lodge house (200/pax) + trike (40)
07:00am – 08:00am walk around vigan and travel to hidden garden
08:00am – 10:30am breakfast and tour at hidden garden
10:30am – 01:30pm baluarte animal encounter
03:00pm – 05:00pm another walking tour
06:00pm – 07:00pm dinner
07:30pm Departure from Vigan
Take the De-luxe bus to Ilocos, ride is faster and more relaxing.
I recommend to start at Vigan going north or north to Vigan.
Never miss to try 4×4 ride and sand boarding.
Take a van from Laoag to Pagudupud it is more convenient, faster and fare is almost the same.
For this trip we spend a little less than 5000, and that covers all expenses. Good job girl.
Ilocos is very memorable, for it all started here, the awakening of my adventurer soul. Thanks for reading and until our next gala.