The Philippines – and more specifically, Ilocos – is not only a tropical paradise for vacationers and sightseers, it’s also a premier destination for adventurers! With so many islands and attractions in the Pearl of the Orient Sea, it can be hard to figure out things you can do and places you can see, so I’m gonna break it down for you guys.
You’re likely going to fly into the Philippines from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which is in Luzon, one of the primary island groups of the archipelago. You might as well see what’s good in Luzon before flying out to other islands (more on this later). The north end of the island, the Ilocos region, is a sweet spot for many travellers.
Here’s your weekend guide to Ilocos!
1. Paoay Sand Dunes (Suba)
You might have seen this adventure on my Instagram stories. If you’re up for some adrenaline, look no further than a “rollercoaster” ride on a 4×4 through the miraculous sand dunes right next to the ocean. Prepare for some stops during the ride for sand boarding, taking photos with sculptures, and just catching your breath (trust me, you’re going to need a break)!
Travel tip: Ladies, wear spandex shorts underneath a light dress or skirt for sand boarding! The adventure destination is right by the sea, so it can get windy, plus form-fitting shorts will help keep the sand away 😉
2. Malacanang of the North in Paoay
A destination for any history nut, the Malacanang of the North is massive, intricately designed mansion complete with artifacts and trivia from life the 1970’s. Within it, you can see where former president, Ferdinand Marcos, lived and more importantly, how he lived. Take a glimpse into the life of one of the most influential families in the Philippines!
3. Bantay Church Bell Tower
One of Vigan’s most ICONIC symbols is the Bantay Bell Tower. It was basically a watch tower in the 1500s and looks over the town of Bantay and Vigan.
Travel tip: Bring cash so you can make a donation for maintenance of the tower so other travellers can enjoy it too 🙂 Don’t forget to leave your name in the guestbook!
Bonus: If you’re interested in seeing more churches, you should also see the San Augustin Church of Paoay. It’s one of the oldest churches (built in the 1700s) and its famous for its distinct architecture. If you end up seeing it, feel free to send me photos! They were doing some maintenance on it when I visited, so I think it will be refreshed by the time you see it.
4. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you should definitely include the Kapurpurawan rock formation in your itinerary (yes, I know it’s a mouthful). The white limestone formations in contrast with the bright blue sea makes this place picture perfect in every way (and every angle) possible, so make sure you leave a ton of time to take photos! Don’t miss the statue of Biag ni-Lamang, a popular hero in Philippines folk epics. If you’re not looking to walk, there are also horse rides available.
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5. Ilocos Sur and Norte Welcome Arches
Forever a tourist favourite, the Ilocos Sur (aka South) and Ilocos Norte (North) arches reflect the character and history of the Ilocos region. You’re most likely going to travel by car, so feel free to stop, hop off, and snap some shots. This is also the perfect excuse to stretch your legs! While the drive up north offers beautiful views of the coastline, it’s never a bad idea to take a break.
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Have you been to the Philippines? What attractions should I see? I’ll be visiting my dad’s side of the family in Pangasinan in the next few days, so let me know what’s good! You can comment below or contact me.
Until next time,
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