Exploring Ilocos

The longest travel I had by land, a tentative of 16 hours [with stop over] from Cavite to the most northern part of Ilocos. This is the tale of Exploring Ilocos.

It's a yearly thing already that our group travels on February to a place we've never been or became fascinated to. Sometimes we return to a place one of us already visited, just to relive his experience and share it with the whole group. Normally we are a wolf-pack of six, plus our hubbies and closed friends, but this time the Highland Army Youth Brigade is missing a leg, my friend needs to prepare for his upcoming wedding on May and so he was not able to join us. But tradition is tradition and even if this is the first time we are not complete we must pursue this.

Antique shop at Calle Crisologo, Vigan.

Personally I've heard a lot of things regarding the province in the northwestern part of Luzon; they said it is notorious for their white sand beaches, rock formations, sand-boarding, heritage sites and famed food delicacies. And if you heard those things and just like me, you might jump in excitement to get there.

Welcome to Vigan.
We did not get any formal tour package and just hired the service of Kuya Mar, a van owner/driver we knew that could take us around Ilocos. Kuya Mar fetch us at Cavite at exactly 1:00 am and once we were done loading our baggage we started our long hours of travel. We took normal stop over at NLEX and Pampanga; and by eight in the morning we were already in Vigan.

Brunch at Vigan, Empanada, Okoy, Sinanglaw

We stopped at the central square for a quick brunch, we tried their famed empanadas and boy they were good! We went to Calle Crisologo to check the heritage houses that lane on the street, a couple of selfies and photo shoots and we're off to Laoag. Unluckily we have not tried Bagnet since it was too early and some stores were still closed, our plan was to return here before heading back home.

Empanada in the making.

4x4 ride at Paoy Sand Dunes.

We reached Paoay, Laoag in the middle of scourging noon. We rent a 4x4 vehicle for P2500 [good for 5 pax] that will roam us around Ilocos' largest sand desert and try sand-boarding. Three jeeps ran around the slopes of Paoay Sand Dunes, it was an adrenaline rush as we held tight on the bars that keeping us from falling off the vehicle. Once we reached a spot in the middle of the desert, our guides cleared the sand on an almost 40 degree slope. We slid on these slopes on a DIY sandboard the locals made until there are enough sands on our pants and faces. In this whole trip this is where my buck was well spent the most.

Sand-boarding at PaoaySand Dunes

Next stop was Pagudpud, we've heard that there are two beaches that we must check on this town, Saud and Blue Lagoon. We decided to check the  [according to Kuya Mar] more beautiful Blue Lagoon, it was already dark when we reached Blue Lagoon. Upon entering Blue Lagoon locals are collecting a P25.00 environmental fee. We were welcomed by big toy statues from Hanna's, an upscale resort in this part of the planet. We passed the upscale resort and just checked for available villas and homestay that lined up in the front of the beach. After a lot  arguing we settled on Romeo's homestay, a spacious air-conditioned house that fits all 15 of us, with sari-sari store in the front, and the beach just across the street. We bum around the beach the whole day, checking their delicacies, celebrating birthday and enjoying a cold beer.

Welcome to Pagudpud.
Empanada vendor in front of our homestay in Blue Lagoon. The line of customer gets very long.
HHWW at Bantay Abot Cave

Kabigan Falls

We also checked the famous Bangui Windmill; after a couple of picture-taking we went to Kabigan falls, a majestic waterfalls at the end of a short trail. Before starting the trek we feast on our prepared boodle fight meal. We started the 30 minutes trek where the glorious cold running water falling from a tower of rocks awaits us. We dipped and got refreshed! Before heading back to Blue Lagoon we also visited the Patapat Bridge.

Pag-iibigan sa Vigan.

We returned to our homestay to spend the last night, we woke up next morning packing our bags and ready to try Vigan one more time, by lunch time we were already back at Vigan feasting on Bagnet and Sinanglaw. We roamed Calle Crisologo one last time to buy souvenirs and pasalubong before heading back to Cavite.

We reached home at around 11pm that night.

BUDGET 4D/3N Ilocos

  • Homestay  Accommodation (3 nights)  -    P12000 / 15pax  = P800/pax

  • Van Rental   (4 days)                                  -   P16000 / 15pax = P1066/pax

  • Gas and Toll                                                   -  P6000 / 15 pax = P400/pax

  • Meals  in Pagudpud                                    - P500 /pax

  • 4x4 Sand Dune                                             -  P2500 / 5pax = P500.00/pax

  • Vigan Empanada                                          - P50.oo / pax

  • Blue Lagoon Entrance                               - P20.00 / pax

  • Kabigan Falls Entrance and Guide      - P35.00 / pax
The Army

NOTE: Some photos credited to Byron Marinda.

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