#TravelPH | Ilocos Norte: The ‘Tan-ok ni Ilocano’ Tour

Heading north? From Badoc to Pagudpud, allow yourself to be infatuated by the rich cultural heritage and natural wonders of the province of Ilocos Norte.


Badoc town houses the Sanctuary of the Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the La Virgen Milagrosa. It was sent floating in the sea by missionaries operating in secret in Japan, along with the Miraculous Statue of the Black Nazarene, Santo Cristo Milagroso, of Sinait, Ilocos Sur.


Built in traditional Balinese style, relax in truly fabulous settings that celebrate your privacy with charming thatched roof villas, private pools, unique garden bathrooms and exquisite interiors featuring Balinese art at the Playa Tropical Resort Hotel. Enjoy heavenly views from the swimming pool that looks out at the ocean. This exclusive resort reflects the wonderful romance of Bali.You will enjoy access to the Infinity Pool and unlimited usage of garden and floating huts. The calm waves and fine sand provides the best condition for water sports such as Kayaking, Pedal Boating, Paddle Boarding and Skim Boarding.

For reservation and booking, contact them through (+63) 917 570 0223 or (+63) 670 1211 or email us at stay@playatropical.com.ph.


Paoay town is gifted with one of the most unique churches in the world and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Places to see

The Church of St. Augustine, more popularly known as Paoay Church, is an impressive example of the classic baroque style and reputed to be “earthquake proof” by using coral bricks that were sealed with a combination of limestone mortar and sugar cane juice.

Once the official residence of the Marcos family whenever they were in Ilocos Norte, the Malacañang of the North is now a museum showcasing Marcos memorabilia. It promises not only interesting memorabilia to visitors’ eyes, but also a picturesque view of Paoay Lake.

Where to eat

Try local delicacies like the pinakbet pizza and the longganisa pizza, both served at Herencia Café near Paoay Church.


Batac is one of the 2 cities of Ilocos Norte. It is known as the “Home of Great Leaders”, as it is the hometown of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, founder of the Philippine Independent Church or Aglipayan Church Gregorio Aglipay, and “Father of the Philippine Army” Gen. Artemio Ricarte.

Places to visit

The Marcos Museum and Mausoleum is where the glass-entombed, preserved corpse of Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos is found. The Museum holds the memorabilia of the late President, from his stint in the Armed Forces down to his presidency.
When it comes to Empanada, Batac offers the best. The Batac Riverside Empanadaan is a showcase of the most famous product of Batac and a hallmark of tourism promotion. A home of Batac’s array of products, gift shops, food stalls offering mouth watering treats like empanada, miki, longganisa, pusit, barbecue and others.


Sarrat is a historical town being the birthplace of Marcos. It is also where the ‘wedding of the century’ between the youngest child of Marcos, Irene, and Greggy Araneta, scion of the famous Araneta clan.

Places to see

The birthplace of Marcos has been converted into Marcos Museum, which displays the antiques and personal collections of the former president and these lure all visitors.

The nipa hut cottages along the banks of the Padsan River located at barangay San Joaquin. These nipa huts are seasonal: built around December purposely for the summer season and are dismantled at the start of the rainy season.

Do you want a place to relax and unwind? The REEER Dragon Fruit Farm and Resort is a perfect place. With pools and cottages, the resort gives you a view of the wide dragonfruit farm.

For inquiries, call Engr. Esmeralda Castillo – 09998814804.


Do you want to stay overnight in a tree house?  The park features villas, performances and cuisine inspired by the old ways of the indigenous peoples group called Tingguians who live in the area.

For reservations and more information, contact Nueva Era Tourism Officer Ria Rivera (0915) 2582512.

Enjoy your day at the Valdez Center where the Robinsons Mall, 365 Plaza, Freddo, and Balai Condominium stand. You may also try Bon Appetea and Tribeca coffee shop. Bon Appetea is a tea bar with an array of tea drinks and Belgian waffle sandwiches to choose from. The place has a young vibe. Tribeca, the corner coffeeshop in 365 Mall, offers pasta, tea and coffee. There are more pastries to try at the coffee shop. Both shops have affordable and reasonable prices.


The ‘sparkling gem of Ilocandia’ is the provincial capital which is laid out in Greco-Roman style.

Where to stay 

The only 5-star deluxe resort hotel in northern Philippines sprawling over 77 hectares of land amidst gentle sand dunes and pine forests with a sandy beach facing the South China Sea, Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Resort is located in the heart of the city of Laoag. The Casino Filipino is open and assisted by multilingual attendants. Its Shopping Arcade is just around the corner for you can get all you want and buy presents and souvenir for your friends.

For reservation: 09228505482, 09167720001, 0916-4858232, 0917-6926831,  0916-4348458

Places to see

Ride a 4×4 to get to the La Paz sand dunes in Laoag, get on a sandboard and cruise down the steep mountain of sand. Hollywood films “Born on the Fourth of July” & “Mad Max” as well as local classics “Himala” & “Ang Panday” were all shot here.

Originally designed as the Administrative Center of the Tobacco Monopoly in Ilocos Norte during the reign of Spain over the Philippine Islands, Museo Ilocos Norte now serves a noble purpose – a repository of GAMENG, the vast cultural heritage of the people of Ilocos Norte. The museum was primarily designed to instill a sense of pride for the roots of the young Ilocanos, Yapayaos, Itnegs and other citizens of the province. It aims to create, among both the young and old, a feeling of belonging for their ancient homeland.

Where to eat

Dine at La Preciosa, a charming old house in Laoag City with must try favorites – crispy bagnet (deep-fried pork belly), poqui poqui (egg, eggplant, tomatoes and onions) and the ever popular pinakbet (assorted vegetables sautéed in fermented fish paste).  Contact Info: 077-773-1162Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant carries the same old world charm. It offers a unique gourmet blend of international and Ilocano served at affordable prices. For details, call: (077) 771 5825

A cool place where you could unwind while thinking of taking delectable choices of international and native Ilocano dishes – be it buffet or A la Carte, Cafe Ilocandia is the main coffee house of Fort Ilocandia.

At Red 8 Asian Restaurant of Fort Ilocandia, you will discover the tastes of Cantonese flavors and Korean. It’s a seafood restaurant offering a variety of dim sum, noodles, congee and other light specialties.

Palms Bar at the Fort Ilocandia offers their assorted drinks and aperitifs while surprising you with delectable variable delicacies for fine dining or snacks. Get thrilled with their billiard tables or watch the seasonal sports competition on TV while unwinding.

Johnny Moon Cafe is famous for its fusion of traditional Ilocano dishes and Western cuisine, and its quirky interiors inspired by the works of Juan Luna. The cafe is located at La Tabacalera Ilocano Lifestyle Center in Laoag. Call 077-7715636 or 077-772-1211 loc 119 for inquiries.

Papa Pau’s Diner offers Ilocano fusion dishes like PPP (Papa Pau’s Pancit with Ilocos chicharon), Sizzling Squid stuffed with Ilocano longaniza, Paulina’s Crispy Pata a la Bagnet, and Pinakbet with Bagnet. Their boodle feast, which starts from P850, is a must try. They also have seafood fiesta at P1,500. Papa Pau’s Diner can accomodate 50 people for functions and parties. They also have a porch dining area which can sit 32 people. You can find them in Laoag at Rizal corner D.M. Castro Street. Call (077) 677 1073 for details.

Inspired by a 50’s diner, Macy’s Diner offers a wide variety of food from traditional Filipino dishes and American favorites. The ceiling has names of famous landmarks in the US and some well-known artist and singers. As a whole, it looks like Baguio City’s 50’s Diner. You may try Macy’s bestsellers like the green tea ice cream and fried ice cream. You may call (077) 770 3551 or visit them at Gen. Segundo Avenue.
Bacarra, locally known as the Balikbayan town of the Philippines, has more to offer than its crownless bell tower and rustic surrounds. This third-class municipality, locally known as the Balikbayan town of the Philippines, has more to offer than its crownless bell tower and rustic surrounds. Museo de Bacarra is devoted to the town’s religious icons from former priests to age-old images and church relics including baptismal archives that date back to 1702. Adding mystery to the museum is an underground staircase found behind the old convent and known to locals as the “secret garden.” At the bottom of the brick staircase are three tunnels, which old Spanish records said lead separately to Bacarra River, the tower and the church altar.


If you can, get the anise-enhanced biscocho at the Pasuquin Bakery. Biscocho in Spanish means biscuits and in the Philippines, it’s typically day old bread that is toasted, buttered and sugared. A trip to Pasuquin will not be complete without buying their famous product.


Burgos town is one of the jewels of the province. Mountains are full of trails, rivers and waterfalls.

Places to visit

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse can either be the most romantic or the eeriest backdrop you’ll get to see in Burgos. Make sure to climb all the way to the top to see the panoramic view of the West Philippine Sea coastline.

Standing at the edge of the sea, this massive rock formation is easily accessible via a horseback ride which costs P100 per person. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation got its name from Iluko word puraw which means white.

After visiting the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, you will see a sign “This way to Kaangrian Falls.” It is a multi-tiered stair like formation with the water cascading on every step until it drops to a pool below. Kaangrian literally means smelly place in English.

(Left to right) Dr. Conchita Gonzales, Dean of the Northwestern University – College of Business
Education, and Mrs. Edita Aguinaldo-Dacuycuy, Founder of REFMAD

Make REFMAD Farms Dragon Fruit Plantation and Resort as a side trip and you will meet the ‘dragonfruit lady’ Edita Aguinaldo Dacuycuy. The 10-hectare Refmad Farms is planted with 15,000 dragon fruits, producing 30 to 50 kilos per year for every post hosting the plants. Dried dragon fruit flowers are made into lumpia, empanadita, dumplings and burger patties and served at the café. They also have farm-baked cupcakes and cookies and ice cream.

On your way to the white sand beaches of Pagudpud, don’t forget to stop by Bangui. 20 wind turbines arranged on a single row along Bangui Bay is truly a sight to behold. The windmills are larger than life, standing at over 200ft. It is also important to note that the Bangui Windmills at Ilocos Norte is the first power generating windmill farm in Southeast Asia and the first source of clean energy introduced in the Philippines. The windmills that were meant to harness clean energy have also become a source of sustainable tourism in the province.


Pagudpud, meaning “place to rest one’s feet,” lies at the northmost tip of Ilocos before turning into the Cagayan Valley.

Places to see

Rent a bike or a scooter and drive along the French Riviera of the North, the Patapat Viaduct. This elevated concrete highway that connects Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley region is a mix of scenic nature and modern infrastructure that blended beautifully together.

At the end of the long and winding scenic Patapat Bridge, is a spot where motorists stop over for souvenir items and cool down at three mini waterfalls which are said to gush out miraculous water with healing powers, the Paraiso ni Anton.

Located right after the Patapat Bridge and before Paraiso ni Anton, Agua Grande is a picnic park with a stream of cold running water from the mountains that leads to the sea.Looking for an adventure while in Pagudpud? Put on your trekking gear, hire a guide and hit the trail to one of Pagudpud’s waterfalls, the Kaibigan Falls. The trek will for sure be worth it once you take a dip in Kaibigan’s cold pool.

Pagupud is home to Blue Lagoon and Saud Beach. Blue Lagoon is once a secret cove now slowly gaining attention from international tourists. Dubbed as the “anti-Boracay of the North,” Saud Beach boast of beautiful white beach backed by rows of coconut palms.

Where to eat

Hannah’s Resto preserves the comfort and intimacy of the traditional Filipino family kitchen. It operates in the way a mother prepares for that long-anticipated weekly family gathering: always prepared to serve the all-time family favorites so as not to be missed; excited to serve variations every now and then to satisfy her beloved family; and flexible to prepare something to satisfy a family member’s whims or desires.

The Blue Bar is the ultimate place to party all night long to cap off a fun-and-adventure-filled day. Enjoy the cool ambience, groove to the pulsating party music and exciting lights, and enjoy great selections of food and drinks.

Where to stay

Nestled among endless turquoise waters and powdery white sand in Pagudpud is a seven-hectare exclusive paradise that is emerging to be the crown jewel of Ilocos Norte.  Hannah’s Beach Resort and Convention Center is a tranquil escape for weary urban dwellers and a thrilling adventure for those who want adrenaline rush. Situated right along the shores of the famous Blue Lagoon, Hannah’s is blessed to be in the part of Pagudpud where the sand is as fine as powder and the shallow beach is as clear and blue as the skies above.
Hannah’s zipline, which spans 1.2 kilometer, is reportedly the longest over the water in the whole world. You may also try water sports like banana boat, pedal boat, speed boat, surfing, jet skiing and surfing. Explore around the resort, the beach front, and the exciting trails to Surfville and Dos Hermanos islands via an adventurous All-Terrain-Vehicle (ATV) ride. This ultimate ride will take you on steep hills, rough and bumpy terrains that will definitely provide the thrills and challenge your focus and balance. Try trekking to experience the majestic view of the Blue Lagoon, the West Philippine Sea, and the verdant mountain ranges.
You may reach them at (0928) 5206255 or +632-8061477


By Air. The easiest way to access Ilocos Norte is by a 45-minute Manila-Laoag daily flight via the Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific.
By Land. Several bus companies such as Partas Trans, Fariñas Trans, Florida, Maria de Leon, Autobus and RCJ bus lines serve the Manila-Laoag route. These air-conditioned public buses, most of its stations found along Cubao or Pasay, will make your 8-10 hour travel a relaxing journey.
Ilocos Norte Tourism Office
Provincial Capitol
+63-77-772-1211 loc 119
+ 63-77-770-4242
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About the Author

Paul Michael Jaramillo
Paul Michael JaramilloExecutive Editor
Paul is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a youth and environmental advocate, leader, writer, blogger, filmmaker and an organist. He’s the former Chairperson of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Ilocos Chapter. As a writer, he has found focus and interest on reproductive health, deaf rights, youth development. At the age of 14, he has fully embraced the call of leadership by leading student organizations and college publications. He was a recipient of the PGMA Campus Journalism Award. He joined and won national contests and published some articles related to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals in a Spanish paper and website. Some of his articles were also published in leading Philippine news websites and featured in international organizations website.

He launched his career as a CPA in KPMG R.G. Manabat & Co. Paul is currently leading the Data and Analytics Network (and its university arm) of KPMG in the Philippines. He is also the Business Lead for Innovation. He provides trainings to KPMG professionals in the Philippines. He also joined Financial Services Academy for Shared Service Centres (SSC) as a presenter. He is part of the Technical Advisory Group of the Firm's Department of Professional Practice, focusing on data and analytics, audit methodology, accounting standards, root cause analysis, system of quality management, and financial statement quality control review. He represents the Firm as a resource and motivational speaker, arbiter, adjudicator and judge in academic conferences, audit conventions, accounting and audit cups, and audit case study competitions. He sits as a member of Root Cause Analysis team of the Firm. Paul is an Audit Methodology Champion and Workforce of the Future Champion of the Firm. He is also the Firm's System of Quality Management Implementation Manager.

Paul is the Review Master and Head Coach of PREMIERE Review School.

Paul is a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) and a Church officer in their locale congregation.