ILOCOS will become your newest obsession whether you’re into unique adventures, beach holidays or heritage tours,. Start with Laoag and go on cultural trips to different museums, ancestral homes and cathedrals scattered all over the city. Squeeze in a visit to the Suba Sand Dunes in Paoay. You could go by an all-terrain vehicle or you could choose to fly in a hot-air balloon. Whichever satisfies your desire better.
Then head for a unique visual treat called Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, a majestic geological formation found in Burgos. It’s like an English coastal vista, only much, much more beautiful. And not to be outdone is the beauty of Cape Boejador Lighthouse, also in Burgos. Climb up to the most elevated lighthouse in the Philippines and behold the glorious South China Sea 160 meters up in the sky.
Finally, cap your trip off by taking a dip in the white sand beaches of Pagudpud or take a shower in the cool waters of Kaaringan Falls. Either way, you will be very refreshed and ready for your next destination.
THINGS TO DO IN ILOCOS
- Dare the Devil’s drop. Dune-buggy or try sand surfingin the La Paz Sand Dunes. Either way, you’ll have the thrill of your life traversing the dunes—especially the one that’s called “Devil’s Drop.” It’s a steep drop in the dunes that’s close to a 45 degree inclination.
- Step into Marcos Territory. Visit the Malacañang of the North or Malacañang ti Amianan, the former residence of Marcos, gifted to him by his wife—the equally infamous Imelda Marcos.
- Feast your eyes on the architecture. The Philippines is a haven for east-meets-west aesthetic. Churches and fortresses dot the countryside with Earthquake Baroque, a convergence of European and Philippine design. St. Augustine Church, better known as Paoay Church, is one of those structures. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was crafted from coral stone and baked bricks, and was completed in 1710. With its gigantic buttresses, some say it is reminiscent of Borobudur in Indonesia.
- Welcome a sinking feeling. If Italy has the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Laoag has the Sinking Bell Tower. The belfry, which is part of the St.Williams Cathedral and is separated from the church, is sinking at a rate of one inch per year. It’s quite a sight as it is right smack in the middle of the modernized city center.
By Air. The easiest way to travel to Ilocos Norte is by a 45-minute Manila-Laoag daily flight. Flights from Cebu are also available. Check the local airlines. There are sales and promotions throughout the year, and a flight won’t cost you more than P4,000 (US$96) on any ordinary day.
By Land. It’s best to set off from Pasay or Cubao in Manila as many bus companies depart from these cities. Remember, there is no centralized station and each company has their own landing area. Usually, there are no reservations. Just head on to the bus stop an hour early to secure your spot. Travel time is approximately nine hours.