Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte are two of the four provinces in the Ilocos Region (Region 1 – the two others being La Union and Pangasinan). It is rich in historical and cultural sites ranging from the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the 7 New Wonders of the World – Vigan, to the white rock formations in Burgos and the wind mills in Pagudpud and Bangui.
While it entails a 10-hour bus ride to Vigan, the butt-aches and leg cramps will have been compensated by your ultimate 4×4 adventure in the sand dunes of Paoay, and the majestic Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud.
If you’ve read my other Ilocos adventures in Vigan, Laoag-Batac-Paoay, Pagudpud, and Bangui-Burgos, then you will surely want to know the cost for planning your own adventure. Let me share with you my itinerary exactly how I did it in 2012. Some itineraries in other blog sites may differ and that’s fine, you can even compare notes. My aim here is for you to have the same (if not more) awesome experience I had, and for you to achieve the stuff I wasn’t able to do due to planning and budget constraints.
So here are some tips, along with the itinerary and bus schedules.
TIP #1: Pack light. A backpack full of shirts and shorts would be fine. Packing light allows you to move from one town to another even at uncommon hours (like the usual check in and check out time in most hotels) without worrying where to leave your suitcases, or paying for a room when you’re only going to spend less than 12 hours in the place. This is of course, unless you have a lot of time to spare per area.
TIP #2: Plan and book ahead. This goes for transportation (I suggest Partas but you may also take Dominion), accommodation, and tours. Most of the tours in Ilocos are through their accredited “traysi-tour” packages, where tricycle drives slash tour guides will take you to the tourist spots in their area. My guide (Jayson) in 2012 who became a friend in facebook, can be contacted at 0905-303-3915 and 0918-687-2603 and he’d be sure to respond to your inquiries. My Pagudpud tour spanning the Kapurpurawan White Rock Formation, Bangui wind mills, Burgos lighthouse, Patapat Viaduct, Timmantang Rock, Bantay Abot Cave and Blue Lagoon – for a day, and good for 2 pax, is only at PhP 1200 then (2012) and still is until now (2015) – as shown in the photo below. Kuya Jayson’s friend, Romel – is a traysi-tour guide for Laoag. You may reach him at 0935-540-0000.
My first night was spent in the bus from Manila to Vigan (10 hours) as you can see in my itinerary below. My last night too, was spent in the bus from Laoag to Manila (12 hours) – talk about saving 2 nights’ worth of accommodation.
For bus tickets, you can book your tickets here or call the Partas terminals below. Planning which trip to take impacts a lot of things – you don’t want to arrive in Vigan at 3am unless you know someone there.
TIP #3: Bring cash – and know WHEN to spend it. At the time I was in Pagudpud in 2012, there was no ATM around. If you’re looking for things to buy as “pasalubong”, buy them in Vigan or Pagudpud. Everything is more expensive in Laoag.
TIP #4: Eat local delicacies – apart from their very own empanada and famous bagnet, you can also try the Vigan Longganisa, tupig, puque-puque, and pakbet. Forget about fast food for the mean time.
TIP #5 – Don’t just take pictures. Experience it. While social media has been really great in promoting tourism in this day and age, it has also hindered us from making a real connection with the people who shared the trip with us and the townspeople of the place we might be visiting for the first and last time in our lives. Observe. Immerse.
So, enjoy your trip, and be your own footloose! Feel free to comment below if you want to share your own Ilocos adventure.