Ilocandia road trip (Ilocos Norte)

Ilocos Norte is the northernmost province in mainland Luzon. You actually get radio signals from Taiwan, that is if you’re still using a pre-historic walkman with FM band. The province got a long stretch of coastline with the terrain mainly slopes and hills. The northern tip of the province is Pagudpud, a small town covered with a crumpled blanket of hilly jungle. They even tag the Pagudpud beaches as the “Boracay of the North”.

There are buses going to Pagudpud from the city center of Laoag. Travel time is around 2 hours, unless you got a private van and a driver who formerly worked with Partas (bus with a death wish) who can zoom to Pagudpud in less than an hour. From Pagudpud town you can get a tricycle to the beach of your choice, we recommend Saud.

14769_179541223575_704563575_3061182_4290542_n

14769_179541203575_704563575_3061179_1906469_n

Another popular road stop is the lucrative Fort Ilocandia. Facing the South China Sea, it is located in the heart of the city of Laoag and the capital of Ilocos Norte. The resort is a complete service complex resort hotel. It’s a 10- minute drive from Fort Ilocandia Golf & Country Club in Paoay and from the Laoag International Airport. All these being said, don’t be surprised with the rates.

14769_179541173575_704563575_3061174_639541_n

Another interesting spot in the heart of Laoag is the Sinking Bell Tower of St. William Cathedral. It’s a massive 45-meter bell tower said to be one of the tallest bell towers in the Philippines and was built by the Augustinians in 1612.

The tower has earned its “sinking” reputation because it is so heavy and it was built on sandy foundations that it has consistently sunk into the ground (estimated 1 cm yearly). Stories mention that a person on horseback could enter the tower with ease back when it was built. Now, a person of an average Filipino height has to bend down just to enter the vaulted entrance.

14769_179541183575_704563575_3061176_4492361_n

The town of Burgos has a heritage structure called the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, also known as Burgos Lighthouse. It is the highest-elevated lighthouse in the Philippines and the northwesternmost in location. Built in 1892 and still standing today, a perfect setting for a high fashion photo shoot with a Rapunzel peg. The climb up the hill will take around 15-20 minutes, climb up the tower’s spiral stair will cause 10 minutes of dizziness.

14769_179541158575_704563575_3061172_3715814_n

Having a quiet moment up the light house is priceless. We wished we could have stayed longer to just sit and stare blank across the scenic view of Cape Bojeador, the landscape looks something like that in Scotland.

14769_179538518575_704563575_3061126_4921038_n

14769_179541143575_704563575_3061170_2397001_n

Ever seen the Department of Tourism video where Regine Velasquez is strangling herself with an organza shawl? Behind her are the windmills of Bangui. These became popular mid 2000 among shutterbugs because of its strong visual impact. Bangui is a small 4th class municipality before reaching Pagudpud, and this wind farm is currently supplying 40% of electricity in the province.

14769_179538613575_704563575_3061142_456210_n

Paoay is popular because of two prominent feature of the municipality. First is the Paoay Lake. Legend has it that it was the site of a baranggay filled with wicked people underwater after ignoring the warning of a mysterious old woman who came to the place. On the shores of the lake lies a mansion that belongs to the Marcoses. Second, the Paoay Church, one of the four Baroque churches that are inscripted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Known for it’s sturdy coral stone structure and unique facade. Right across the street is a restaurant where you can eat Pinakbet Pizza (Oh yes, you read it right, monette will post something about it, soon!)

14769_179541233575_704563575_3061183_7787706_n

One of my favorite stop is the Kabigan Falls in Pagudpud, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of things about this hidden gem in Pagudpud. We will be posting a separate story about this eco path.

14769_179538683575_704563575_3061153_4224781_n

We suggest that you drop by the town called Pasuquin for the local bakers treat, the Biscocho, available in soft and toasted variety. My favorite is the soft Biscocho, the moist bread got a hint of earthy taste and spice of some sort, which made me thinking and figuring-out that distinct aftertaste all through-out the trip. Another must try is the Empanada of Batac. Batac’s version is waaaay better than those in Vigan. Whole egg, garlic-y longganisa, cheese and fillers wrapped in a hand pressed soft dough and fried to perfection. Batac got the most wicked empanada in this part of the world, they even have this street treat in their town seal—Now beat that!

Ilocos Norte is one of the provinces where you need to get down and dirty when you do a road trip. There’s a lot of things to see and do, a weekend isn’t enough. To fully understand and experience the beauty of the province, you may need to take your time, talk to people, stay longer and walk off the beaten paths. The roads may be winding but it will always lead you to where you are heading, that’s for sure.

Ron

watermark9

  • Ma-an

    Wish I get to visit Ilocos soon. Loved the pictures! :)

  • flip'n travels

    everyone should! thanks! 😀

  • http://jeffofalltrades.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    Nette, I want!
    Take me there next year. It’s very pretty.

  • flip'n travels

    it’s already part of our itinerary dear… we’ll definitely go there 😀

  • http://www.limostars.com Lorine Cupe

    Very good blog post I love your site keep up the great posts

  • Sheng

    you have very nice shots..you work like a pro..NICE :)

  • flip'n travels

    hi sheng

    thanks, :-) one day, i wish to be one!

  • http://www.stonevesselsink.net/ Stone Vessel Sink

    Whoa, great read. I just found your site and I’m already a fan. :)

  • http://golfingnewjersey.sjsublog.com/ Samuel Esh

    Wow dude, that is extremely helpful information, appreciated.

  • http://www.travelwanderers.com Rane

    We are actually planning for a trip in Ilocos Norte sometime this November in time for the upcoming long holiday. You just gave me an idea on where to go.

  • flip'n travels

    welcome rane! if you have other questions about the trip, go ahead and email them to us and we’ll be glad to help out. happy travels!