food quests and adventure. Whew! All that and more, in an Ilocos Norte trip.
Need to know
Ilocos Norte is located at the top of the Philippines. That is, if you’re looking
at a map and not at the sky – you won’t find it there.
The main dialect is Ilocano. Take note that their tone of speaking is hard and
can sound mean and harsh, so don’t think that everybody’s getting mad at
It is reachable by plane to the Laoag airport, or by a road trip that can go as
long as 12 hours.
*Museo Ilocos Norte. It would be nice to start your trip with an overview of
Ilocos Norte through a tour around this well-kept and organized museum.
Sinking Bell Tower. It’s all beautiful, but it’ll be gone later than sooner. Just
like Pisa’s leaning tower, the sinking bell tower of Paoay is also leaning to the
North, due to its soft foundation of sand. Perfect example of good façade and
bad foundation. Hopefully, it lasts long enough for you to see it in person.
*Surfing on sand dunes. Sandboarding? In the Philippines, we have that,
particularly in Paoay. You do not have to look for snow. Heck, you do not
even have to go to the Middle East! You want to surf the sands? You can do it.
You want a thrill ride aboard a 4×4? You can do that too!
*Malacanang of the North. What you’d most likely appreciate about this
mansion is that it gives you a glimpse of the glitz and glamour that the
Marcoses lived during their family’s reign. It is a huge property, with huge
beds, fine linens, and a staircase that looks like it was made for a grand debut
entrance of a Marcos lady.
*Herencia Café. Coming here is like hitting two birds with one stone. First
stone: getting to eat pinakbet pizza. Pizza with all the ingredients your
pinakbet has, complete with bagoong! The next stone hits the Paoay Church,
a gorgeous architectural marvel that stands tall and alone – perfect for
*Fort Ilocandia. Although it is basically just a hotel, it is a tourist destination
on its own. It’s Ilocos Norte’s crown, the most luxurious place to stay in
around the area. Even a day trip will satisfy – just check out the hotel, the
rooms, and dine in!
Domestic airlines such as Cebu Pacific have cheap flights to Laoag. From there,
everything should be a breeze. Some travelers prefer the highway, which means that
they’d rather take the 12-hour road trip than the uneventful one-hour plane ride.
Well, different strokes for different folks.
*This is guest post