December 7-9, 2016
This travel was one year in research, planning and development before it materialized. We started planning for Ilocos tour since 2015. Muntik na namin kulayan ang drawing na ‘to, buti na lang natuloy. Salamat kay John, one of our friends who just came from Dubai 🇦🇪 after a year but was not able to join us. He gave us an idea to have an outing when he comes back to the Philippines 🇵🇭. Unfortunately, we had our trip earlier before he had arrived.
Vigan City is one of the New 7 Wonder Cities in the World due to its preserved Spanish colonial houses that can be seen until today. Experience the culture and good food offered by this great old city.
Going to Ilocos must be planned thoroughly, yes they have beautiful tourist destinations but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are commute-friendly. Jeepneys are rare in the province, tricycles are the main mode of transportation. It would be really costly if you’re traveling alone. Ilocos is a very beautiful province with all that they can offer from food to people, to places, and everything but commuting would be really difficult and expensive alone especially in Ilocos Norte. It’s better to rent your own van from Manila or in Ilocos if you’re traveling in group or book with your trusted travel agency.
Bus Ride to Vigan City
We started our travel to Vigan City, Ilocos Sur the night of December 5, 2016 after the 10pm shift from Marikina. We headed straight to Partas Bus terminal in Cubao via Uber and paid only PH₱100 due to promo. Below is the schedule of Partas Cubao and fees. We reached the Cubao terminal at around 11pm, I got the discounted price of PH₱594.40 because I am enrolled in graduate school.
|BUS||DEPARTURE||FARE PH₱||DISCOUNTED FARE PH₱|
|First Class Express (45-seater)||9:00am||665.00||532.00|
|First Class Express (45-seater)||7:00pm||665.00||532.00|
|First Class Express (45-seater)||9:00pm||743.00||594.40|
|First Class Express (45-seater)||11:00pm||743.00||594.40|
*Discounted fare (20% off) applies to student/s, PWD/s, or senior citizen/s with valid ID.
If you’re from Pasay, here’s the fare table and schedule:
|BUS||DEPARTURE||FARE PH₱||DISCOUNTED FARE PH₱|
|First Class Express (45-seater)||6:00pm||760.00||608.00|
|First Class Express (45-seater)||7:00pm||760.00||608.00|
|First Class Express (45-seater)||10:00pm||760.00||608.00|
|First Class Express (45-seater)||11:00pm||760.00||608.00|
For other bus terminal, route, schedule, fees, and bookings, please visit PH Bus Online Booking for more information.
Travel from Cubao to Vigan City only took us 7 hours and it wasn’t that exhausting. We arrived at around 5 am. There’s a tricycle terminal beside the Partas bus terminal in Vigan which could take you to your destination. You can book via Agoda, Airbnb, Traveloka, or from your any trusted booking site or agency for your hotel and accommodations. Our free accommodation was at Gomez St., Ayusan Norte in Vigan City and just PH₱20 each for tricycle fare from Partas Terminal. Thanks to the relatives of our friend, Thea, who gave us shelter in Vigan City.
After settling down in the room provided for us, we had our breakfast nonetheless, the famous Vigan longganisa and the putok-batok bagnet! Yehey! Hooray for free mouthwatering and expensive breakfast. Vigan longganisa costs PH₱150 for 12 pieces and bagnet would range from PH₱300-350 per kilogram.
After the sumptuous meal for breakfast, we headed straight to our first itinerary which is the Hidden Garden of Vigan at Katipunan St. via tricycle for PH₱40 each. Hidden Garden is a restaurant situated in a huge garden which you can tour around, take photos with the plants, appreciate the cultural displays, see some birds that looks like Ibong Adarna (not Ellen), take selfies, etc. The entrance is free, and you may or may not eat in their restaurant.
Our next stop was Baluarte, owned and operated by the former Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson. We reached Baluarte via tricycle again for PH₱40 each from Hidden Garden. Baluarte is a huge ranch which doubles as a zoo of several animals not typically found in the Philippines like the deers, peafowls, lions, tigers, kangaroo, etc.
The entrance is free but Baluarte is not an ideal place to visit for those who are animal-rights advocates and endangered animals conservationists because Singson has a designated museum of all animals he has hunted down in Africa like the lions, elephant, leopard, deers, crocodile, rhino, and other critically endangered animals.
Would I return to Baluarte? Hmmm, maybe not. Would I recommend a visit there? Maybe not too. The discretion is up to you whether you would go there or not.
After our tour at Baluarte, we rode a tricycle again going to Plaza Burgos for PH₱30 each to have our lunch in their carinderia, where the locals eat. We had the authentic Vigan empanada which is made and cooked in front of you. It costs PH₱10 for regular (veggies and egg only) and PH₱30 for special (with ground meat). We also tried their local viand, the sinanglao (made with beef broth and beef innards) which really tastes good and surprisingly flavorful even together with rice. We also had their Vigan okoy (shrimp patty) which tastes great. This is the okoy that I really know, not the lumpiang toge famous in Manila.
After our lunch, we took our time strolling around the vicinity of Plaza Burgos. I took the chance to take photos of the historical sites like the church, bell tower, landmarks, infrastructures, etc.
We walked through Calle Crisologo and it got us transported back in time. We got mesmerized with the picturesque, wonderful, well-preserved vintage houses well-converted in to commercial space. It is like traveling in Europe in older times. I really appreciate how the people and the government were able to preserve those historical infrastructures until now. They really deserve to be included in the New 7 Wonder Cities.
We stayed for a while at Coffee Break Vigan to chill out, drink some frappe, charge our phones and camera (for a fee), use free WiFi, and relax before going to our next destination. Kapagod kaya maglakad sa ilalim ng tirik na araw.
After resting, from Calle Crisologo we walked going to Bantay Bell Tower in Bantay, Ilocos Sur. It is sort of far when you walk going there but near when you ride the tricycle. Hindi ko alam bakit namin siya nilakad! Whew! Kapagod! Hahaha!
Bantay Church and Bell Watchtower
The Bantay Church and Bell Tower was dedicated to St. Augustine of Hippo. It is also known as the Shrine of the Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Ilocandia since 1956. The tower also served as a watchtower for pirates back in Spanish colonial era, thus gave the town its name – bantay which means to guard. It is one of the oldest churches in the Ilocos region.
Night Shows in Vigan City
We got so tired, we decided to ride a tricycle going back to Ayusan Norte for PH₱50 each. We went back to Plaza Salcedo to watch the dancing fountain but it was too early; instead, we watched the augmented projection show at the city hall.
After the show, off we go to Calle Crisologo to have our dinner at the Cafe Leona. It is famous for the pakbet pizza which we didn’t try. I don’t know if it was just during our visit that the service is taking very long.
While waiting for our dinner, some of us went to Plaza Salcedo to watch the dancing fountain. The dancing fountain’s schedule is at around 7:00pm and the entrance is free. It’s entertaining to some extent but the show’s very long and we needed to return to Cafe Leona to have our dinner.
Generally speaking, I would say that Cafe Leona is overrated. The food is fine to not really interested to it. The service is really slow, we were already standing up waiting for the waiter to get our payment. We could easily escape the restaurant for not attending us. Good for them and we’re not that evil. Would I go back? Nope. You could spend around PH₱200-300 each.
Town of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur
The next day (December 8, 2016) we packed our things up and readied ourselves going to Cabugao, Ilocos Sur. We rode a tricycle (PH₱20) going to Tamag, Vigan Bus Station that will transport us going to Cabugao. The travel from Vigan to Cabugao is about an hour and costs PH₱35 for an ordinary bus.
You may opt to side trip in Vitalis Villas in Santiago, Ilocos Sur (dubbed as the Santorini of the north) if you have more budget. It’s about an hour travel from Vigan if you have your own vehicle. From Vigan, you may ride a bus from Dominion Bus Terminal for more than an hour going to Santiago. We did not visit the place because it is costly. It would cost you at least an PH₱8,000 for a night per one bedroom villa for 4 people. I am not sure how much you’ll spend if you’ll just access their amenities.
Upon arrival at Cabugao, we just ate our lunch, the authentic Ilocano style at the house of another one of our friends, Alyssa.
Cabugao Beach Resort
Afterwhich, we traveled going to Cabugao Beach Resort via tricycle for PH₱10 each. Luckily that day we visited the resort, it was the manager’s birthday and we got the entrance for free! Normally, it would cost PH₱50 per head for entrance. We just had our cottage for PH₱150.
The resort is just beside the white (sort of grayish) beach of Cabugao which is pretty nice and there were only few people around which I really like. Cabugao beach deserves a recognition to be one of the nicest beaches in the country that are not that crowded. I would definitely return to that place if given the chance.
Cabugao Beach Resort has a pool facing the fine grayish white unspoiled beach surrounded by coconut trees that gives a summer tropical vibe under the glow of the golden sun back-dropped by vivid blue sky and scattered cottony white clouds that reflects over the turquoise water of the sea. Just be sure to ask the locals first before enjoying the swim in the beach whether it’s safe to go for a dip or not.
After taking a dip in the pool and drank some beer, we headed back to our home in Quezon, Cabugao. We joined drinking with the locals, the friends and relatives of Alyssa on the road while enjoying the luminous night sky.
|Uber (Marikina to Cubao)||100.00|
|Bus (Cubao to Vigan)||743.00|
|Tricycle to destination||20.00|
|Accommodation starts at P500.00/night||500.00|
|Tricycle to Hidden Garden||40.00|
|Hidden Garden Entrance Fee||–|
|Tricycle to Baluarte||40.00|
|Baluarte Entrance Fee||–|
|Tricycle to Plaza Burgos||30.00|
|Special Empanadang Iloco||30.00|
|Sinaglao Rice Meal||40.00|
|Walk to Bantay||–|
|Tricycle back to Vigan||50.00|
|Dinner at Café Leona||200.00|
|Tricycle to Tamag||20.00|
|Ordinary Bus to Cabugao||35.00|
|Lunch-Dinner-Breakfast at Cabugao||170.00|
|Tricycle to Cabugao Beach RT||20.00|
|Cabugao Beach Resort Entrance||50.00|
|Cabugao Beach Resort Cottage at P150||30.00|
*Bagnet PH₱300-350 per kilogram.
**Vigan Longganisa PH₱150 per 12 pieces.