Region 1 in the Philippines is one of the fascinating places to go to. It is home to one out of six UNESCO Heritage Sites in the country, the Historic City of Vigan. Though it’s a long journey from the nearest international airport (Clark or NAIA), the bus ride is worth it. Here’s an Ilocos Sur Itinerary and list of what to do in Ilocos Sur if you ever visit this region. It’s great to pair it with a trip to Ilocos Norte, too!
My mom has always been interested in Ilocos, mainly because of Vigan and Pagudpud. A week after my birthday last year, we went on a family trip to this region. Our flight was from Cebu to Clark since the tickets were cheaper, and the bus ride was shorter by an hour or two. Here’s our itinerary for our Ilocos Sur trip!
Things to Do In Ilocos Sur, Philippines
1. Ride a Kalesa along the streets of Vigan
The Kalesa was a popular means of transportation in the old days, especially when taxis and jeepneys were not yet accessible. Be transported back in olden times as you ride a horse-drawn carriage along the streets of Vigan. It’s a must experience when you visit this historic city. The ride costs Php 150 per hour and would tour you to major spots; you can usually see them in Calle Crisologo.
If you want my honest opinion, though this is a job for the horses, I felt a bit sad for them (I saw ribs poking out on some horses L.) It’s an experience I don’t want to do again. I was very excited in the first few minutes then tried to hold back tears. Eventually, I cried after; my parents were laughing at me, though.
2. Walk the streets of Calle Crisologo
Calle Crisologo is the pride of Vigan. Everything you on this street are well-preserved houses and shops. Should you want souvenirs or t-shirts, you can buy them from here. There is also a museum called Museo Balay Mestizo nestled in one antique building. It’s better to come here in the afternoon to see it on a day and night.
3. Enjoy a day in Baluarte Zoo
Baluarte Zoo is an attraction owned by billionaire politician, Chavit Singson. Initially, we were supposed to do this on our first day, but Miss Universe Contestants were being toured; so, you’ll need to check the schedule beforehand. Enjoy a hop-on-hop-off ride at 4 stations in the Zoo; you’ll get a chance to feed the animals and take pictures with them.
4. Go to the top of Bantay Watch Tower
During the Spanish Era, the Bantay Bellfry served as a watchtower for enemies. It’s near the Saint Augustine Parish Church, a Neo-Gothic and Romanesque Church, established in 1590. There’s no entrance fee going to the top; however, you can donate for the staff and preservation of the site.
5. Buy Inabel weaved by Locals
See locals traditionally weave colorful products like placemats, bags, and many more. Our tricycle driver drove us there and called it “pagawaan ng placemats.” We saw them make one using colorful threads. There’s a store where my mom bought placemats, table stoppers, and bags as souvenirs. You can take a picture, too!
6. Check out the Hidden Garden
In a place not really hidden, is Hidden Garden! Enjoy tropical plants and flowers in this spot. P.S. you can buy one, too. There’s also a restaurant inside where you can eat local dishes, especially their Empanada.
7. Try a Bit of Pottery
We went to RJ Jar Factory and see locals make clay pots from scratch. Try making your own too, it looks easy when the potters do it, but it’s a bit of a challenge. You can also buy pots you like as keepsake.
8. Eat Local Food
If you visit another region, don’t forget to taste its local cuisine! In Ilocos Sur, Vigan Empanada is a must-try, so are there Bagnet, Pinakbet, and Longannisa. We had lunch at Panganan Ken Ihawan Toy Ciudad Vigan, which our tricycle driver recommended trying their cuisine at an affordable price.
9. Museum Hop
There are many museums in Ilocos Sur, don’t forget to pass by the Crisologo Museum, an ancestral house of famous politicians from this part of the country. There is also Syquia Mansion of the Philippines’ sixth president, Elpidio Quirino. Near there is the Old Provincial Jail turned art center.
10. See the Dancing Fountain
Surrounded by Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral, Provincial Capitol, and the City Hall is Plaza Salcedo. Before 7 PM / 8 PM, save a spot in the plaza to see the dancing fountain. It’s so colorful and fun; you won’t regret it. The best place is facing the fast-food chains or the city hall rather than having your back at them.
Ilocos Sur Itinerary
Here’s our Ilocos Sur Itinerary, you can enjoy it on a day and a half or two. The time you’ll be spending on the most will be the travel from Manila or Clark to Vigan.
Day 0 in Ilocos Sur
Arrival at Clark Airport
Travel from Dau to Vigan
Stop for Dinner
Arrival at Vigan
As you can see, it’s at most an 8-hour ride from Dau to Vigan. We traveled on a Tuesday and experienced many stops along the way. Our bus was comfortable though, 4 seats per row, air-conditioned with a CR. The regular fare was Php 560.
Day 1 in Ilocos Sur
Bantay Watch Tower
RG Jar Factory
Old Provincial Jail
Museo Balay Mestizo
Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral
Plaza Salzedo – Dancing Fountain
Calle Crisologo at Night
We hired a tricycle, who seemed to be a neighbor in where we were staying for Php 600.00. After our lunch, we rested a bit since it was too hot for travel and resumed at about 4 PM.
Day 2 in Ilocos Sur
Travel to Laoag
Where to Stay in Ilocos Sur, Philippines
Honestly, we didn’t book our hotels before coming, we only looked for one when we arrived in Clark. J and A Transient was available and cheap. My parents and I are budget travelers, so we didn’t mind. The room was small good for 3 and air-conditioned with a common CR.
Hotel Felicidad is located in the city center, near Calle Crisologo, Plaza Salcedo, and the Cathedral. It’s a Colonial Style building that was built in the early 1900s. It has big airconditioned rooms with the Spanish feel. It’s a great experience when you are in the historic City.
Not Hotel de Luna, the K-Drama, but Hotel Luna in Vigan. This gorgeous hotel will make you think you are transported to another world. With magnificent architecture, a mix of the old colonial style and modern designs, and an outdoor swimming pool, it’s such a beauty! You won’t regret booking here.
Where to Eat in Ilocos Sur. Philippines
This was recommended by our Tricycle driver when we asked where locals mostly eat for Ilocano Food. It’s very affordable, and many locals, and perhaps tourists come here to eat. We tried what our driver picked for us.
If you want affordable Ilocano cuisine along Calle Crisologo, go to Lampong’s Restaurant. It’s a cozy small restaurant where you can enjoy different styles of Bagnet and Vigan Longganisa. You should stop by here after watching the dancing fountain.
In the Hidden Garden, there is a restaurant serving Ilocano dishes. Enjoy there empanada as well as other Filipino food. There’s no entrance fee to the Hidden Garden, so you’ll not only be filled with food but also the beauty of the place.
I hope you find this Ilocos Sur Itinerary useful for your travels to Region I. It’s such a beautiful city that I think every Filipino should visit to embrace history and culture. Check out also my Ilocos Norte Itinerary so you could do check this on your Philippines bucket list.
About the Writer
Hey, I’m Lyza! I once was a person who just imagined going to places “one day” but decided to pursue my dreams. My first travel abroad was in Japan, solo, last 2018, and fell in love with the journey since. I’m aiming to visit 10 countries before turning 30 and 2 new places in the Philippines every year. Besides traveling, I love organizing trips, photography, reading, and making new friends. Follow my adventures through my Instagram.