North Bound: The Ilocos Road Trip

One of my dreams has always been to visit Ilocos. I’ve seen too many pretty pictures of the place and it’s just crazy to not want to go see it myself.

Ilocos Roadtrip

E and I have long ago decided on an Ilocos road trip but have never set a date. Early this year though, one of my oldest, dearest friends, Chester mentioned that he and his girlfriend Sally and a friend, were coming to Manila on my birthday (not intentional, but I wanted to add that fact in.hehe) and were thinking of going on an Ilocos trip. When he said this,I jumped at the idea and told him that E and I have an Ilocos plan, too, and that hey, we should all go together since E’s planning on bringing his car anyway.

Unfortunately, these plans didn’t happen because it was too difficult for us to match our schedules (with work and all). So what we eventually decided on was that we’d meet somewhere in Ilocos.

So this was how we celebrated my birthday and our 52nd month together - by going on our first trip of the year! Yey! It turned out to be one of the most tiring but also one of the most fun trips we had. And there’s just to much to share. So where do I start?

Trip Duration: 4 Days --- Friday to Monday (we went during the Chinese New Year long weekend)

What we did:
Day 1: Whole day drive to Vigan, stop for the night
Day 2: Drive to Laoag and go around Laoag the whole day, drive to Pagudpud in the evening
           -La Paz Sand Dunes
           -Paoay Church
           -Malacañang of the North
           -Paoay Sand Dunes
Day 3: Explore Pagudpud
           -Bangui Windmills
           -Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
           -Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Day 4: Beach in the morning, drive to Vigan and tour Vigan during the day, drive back to Manila at night
           -Blue Lagoon
           -Marcos Museum and Mausoleum 
           -Vigan Bell Tower
           -Hidden Garden
           -Baluarte Zoo
           -Calle Crisologo

We actually just relied on this map in terms of which places to visit. I must say it's one simple but very, very useful map.=D It's got the major cities, plus all the important tourist spots. This helped us figure out our routes for each day.


All in all, I think we did well. We were able to visit all the places we wanted to visit, and more. We didn't mind being dead tired by the end of each day. Sulit!

Of this particular trip, there are two things that I’m glad we decided on:
  1. Setting a 4-day schedule – This gave us some leeway for things like: getting lost, souvenir shopping and 2-hour lunch stopovers.
  2. Bringing a car instead of taking the bus – This would have worked better if I had known how to drive so E wouldn’t have to drive all the way for more than 10 hours. But then again, that aside, bringing our own transportation gave us the flexibility to go where we want/do what we want to do at any given time. Hey, if it’s any consolation, I promise to learn how to drive by, um, end of 2013? Just so I could alternate with E and he doesn’t have to fall asleep while driving (hihi).
Getting there:
Manila to Tarlac: 4:45 A.M. to 7:00 A.M. (2.5 hours)
--1 Hour Breakfast Stopover--
Tarlac to La Union: 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. (5 hours)
--2 Hour Lunch Stopover/Rest--
La Union to Vigan: 3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. (3 hours)

DAY 1. Friday, January 20


This was a pretty much uneventful day, generally spent on the road. E and I set out at 4:30 in the morning. He drove non-stop to Tarlac, where we had breakfast at Jolibee in Hacienda Luisita. After an hour, we went back on the road and E drove straight to La Union. As much as I want to be the perfect front-seat passenger, staying up and keeping him company, I really can't help falling asleep. I fall asleep so easily, no matter how hard I try. :( But at least I tried. My hardest.

Drove by Pangasinan...


And La Union...

la union

We finally took a break at around 2 PM and had lunch at Midway Grill in La Union, since the place is familiar to us.

baby back ribs and porkchop

E got their Grilled Pork Chops (Php129), while I went for their Baby Back Ribs (Php 199).  Sorry, but sitting in the car made me hungry.haha! The food was okay and the ribs were a bit dry in some parts, but overall, it was a good lunch. Loaded up on Coke to keep us awake for the next stretch and then we were back on the road.

It was actually a very pretty drive. Like in the movies.
We savored this view and drove for a few more hours until finally, we arrived in Ilocos Sur!

ilocos sur

Once in Ilocos Sur, it took us another hour to finally get to Vigan. It was dusk by the time we arrived at our destination.


We checked in at Vigan Hotel which I found somewhat creepy. I think it was the effect of watching The Vampire Diaries in the car. The place was actually okay. If you just need a place to rest for the night and are not fussy about the facilities, it's a decent place to stay. We got an air-con dorm room. Rest rooms are shared with the whole floor, but there's a sink in each room. And for a cheap price of 895 per  night, it wasn't bad, considering breakfast was free.

We were ready to fall asleep and if we weren't hungry, we probably would have. But since our tummies were grumbling, we forced ourselves to stand up and walk towards civilization.

calle crisologo

We strolled around Calle Crisologo looking for a decent local restaurant until we finally decided to try  Cafe Leona. Sorry about not having any photos, but at this point, we were just too tired and we completely forgot. We ordered the Cafe Leona Native Special (Bagnet, Bangus, Longanisa, Pinakbet and Rice) since we wanted to eat local food.  Unfortunately, their Native Special didn't taste special at all. Cafe Leona had a nice old-Spanish ambiance which I love. Too bad the food wasn't anything great. The apple shake didn't make up for the food either. It was a bit too milky.

After dinner, we called it a night and promptly went to sleep. Well, E fell asleep as soon as he hit the bed, while I, on the other hand, entertained thoughts of ghosts and whatnot. Haha. Thankfully, my body was too tired and sleep pushed the scary thoughts out of my head. We needed all the rest because the next day was going to be another adventure.

Read about the rest of the trip here:



  1. Favorite ko sa Midway Grill yung Binagoongan nila. Last time ako nandyan mga 2009 pa. 0_0

  2. talaga? sige, ma try nga yung binagoongan next time!hehe  

  3. i feel you yz! usa sa ako goals for this year is to learn how to drive. c caj ra cge drive dri gud. hahahah... =)

  4. heeeey,  mao gani ganahan mi mag learn! =p