#TravelPH | Ilocos Sur: The ‘Tawid ni Ilocano’ Tour

Ilocos Sur is a place where traditional world and new world meet. Planning a trip of your own? Check out this trip from Tagudin to Sinait, from heritage cities with cobblestone streets to old style towns with rich history.


This town has a rich history and played a major role in the Battle of Bessang Pass. The decisive Battle of Bessang Pass started in this municipality, at Bitalag.

Places to visit

The first sundials were constructed in Tagudin in 1841 by Father Juan Sorolla. The only sundials used by the Spaniards during their era in the Philippines, Tagudin sundials are still in use and considered to be accurate.

The Amburayan River that runs from the mountains of  Benguet and into the South China Sea serves as a natural boundary for La Union and Ilocos Sur. The bridge spanning across the river is called the Amburayan Bridge which connects the two provinces of La Union and Ilocos Sur. The river is the setting of the famed Ilocano epic entitled Biag ni Lam-ang.


Although the Aluling Bridge only spans 180 meters, it has been dubbed the ‘longest’ bridge in Ilocos Sur as it took 36 years and six Philippine Presidents before it was completed. The bridge is constructed along the Suyo-Cervantes-Sabangan Road crossing the Abra River and connecting the towns of Cervantes in Ilocos Sur and Tadian in Mountain Province. Cervantes town is considered as the ‘Summer Capital of Ilocos Sur’ due to its proximity to Mountain Province and Benguet.


Formerly named Concepcion, the town was the site of the Battle of Tirad Pass where General Pilar fought to the death against the Americans. Get fascinated by the Sibol hot spring and seven bowls, Namempengan falls and cave, Mt. Peg-an Camping site and the Tirad Pass Museum and handicraft center.


Located at the city plaza of Candon, Feria de Candon Fountain is the newest attraction of the city designed by a Korean-based company.


White sandy beaches and coves can be found in Ilocos Sur. One of them is the Santiago Cove in Sabangan village which has a perfect crescent-shaped shore. Just beside the fine sand beach of Sabangan is the Marina Beach Resort.


Formerly known as Cabagbagototan, San Esteban is a serene seaside town with a scenic locale and some Spanish era and World War II history.

Places to visit

The oldest landmark in San Esteban, Moro Watchtower is an accredited tourism site as declared by the Philippine Tourism Authority. The old folks say that this was a vanguard against approaching pirates during the Spanish times.

What used to be an area used by the US military during the World War II, Apatot Beach is frequently visited by foreign tourists and local visitors.


Santa Maria town is nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains. It lies in the central part of the province.

Places to visit

The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, known to everyone as Sta. Maria Church, is an 18th century brick church that sits on top of a hill, much like a fortress. From the highway, you simply have to climb 86 steps. Walk around the church and you’ll find an even older chapel and cemetery.

The tale of Angalo and his wife Aran is one of the few tales in Ilocos mythology, which also includes the Epic of Lam-ang. Angalo’s footsteps are said to have created a gigantic pool that leads to Pinsal Falls—a cascading blanket of water that flows into pools that feed the rivers of Sta. Maria. It is the largest waterfalls in the Ilocos Region. The grandeur and pristine beauty of these falls has long been attracting foreign and local tourists. Crystal clear water cascades down to two natural pools where visitors can frolic during hot summer.


The beauty and serenity of the Home of the famous and delicious Bagnet of the North will keep you coming back to the historical town.

Places to visit

If you’re tired from driving, take a break here and take in the view of the sea. The Sulvec town hosts to many natural landmarks like the Immagamang. Atop of the rock stands the statue of Virgin Mary where local and international tourists pay their pilgrim almost every day.

The old Spanish watchtower made of bricks and lime was used by the Spaniards in guarding the
locality of against the pirates who marauds the residents. It was also used as a light house to guide the fishermen during night time. The watchtower and the Immagamang were favorite film locations of famous action stars in the country like Fernado Poe Jr. and Ramon “Bong” Revilla.

Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub (NOAH), better known as Narvacan Tourism and Sports Complex, offers a 520–meter zipline, 280–meter vertical via ferrata, and a 100-meter rappel line.  To note, the 280-m vertical via ferrata in Narvacan is the first tourism adventure in the country.


All attractions come with a great view of the Abra river and the mountains around the famous stopover on the way to Vigan. Banaoang Bridge is highly praised for its architectural design and marvelous engineering. It connects the town of Santa and Bantay.


The Quirino bridge is home to the Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone, where you can rappel down the bridge (P150 for 2 attempts), zip line across it (P250, one-way), or ride a kayak beneath it (P200 for 30 minutes).


Bantay’s reserved forests and farms make it home to a diverse range of plants, animals, and river creatures.

Places to see

A ten-minute ride away from Vigan is the historic Bantay Belfry, which sits on a hill. This towering structure is one of the sights that should be visited by travelers not only because of its historical and cultural significance but also because of its commanding view of Vigan from the highest portion of it that can be climbed. To enjoy the panoramic view of the land set upon a background of white and blue skies, visitors must climb flights of stairs that can be accessed from the entrance in the tower’s base. The Bantay Bell tower is popular among local tourists because scenes of the well-known Filipino film Panday were shot within and around the belfry. To ensure that you can enter the belfry, it is best to register at the Tourist Center along Calle Crisologo and ask for a tour of the belfry from there.

Carballo Mountain range overlooks the Cagayan Valley and portions of Babuyan Islands, and to which the municipality partly owes its name. This is one of the few mountain ranges in Ilocos Sur and the only natural tourist spot of Bantay aside from the Abra River. Today it is a location of firing ranges, some telecommunications relay facilities (often mistaken by locals as a radar array), and hiking trails. It also houses the headquarters and nursery for a reforestation project conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Where to eat and buy pasalubong

On your way to Vigan or back home, stop over at Marsha’s Delicacies and try their leading native cake, a repackaged version of the Vigan royal bibingka. The bibingka here isn’t different from the cake-like ones in Manila. Served in small cups, the royal bibingka is gooey and chewy; the supreme version comes with extra cheese. Their coffee shop is now serving modern flavored coolers in addition to indigenous refreshments like miki and sinanglao. Their main branch is located at National Highway, Cabalanggan, Bantay. For more info, contact them: (063) 722 8119. The OneVittoria Hotel will be open to public this April 28, 2014.

Like Marsha’s, Señorita Dulce also offers the original Pinoy taste. You have to try their products from epanadita to torta, macarons to tinubong. Located along the National Highway in Bantay Señorita Dulce also serves foods for lunch and dinner. Their original taste of mini burger is a must try.

VIGANHere we go! The only UNESCO World Heritage City in the Philippines, Vigan.

Places to see

Former Ilocos Sur governor Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson’s Baluarte is absolutely free. The best part? Interact with the animals and buy pasalubongs.

Watch the people of Pagburnayan how they make burnay using pre-historic methods of production, using carabaos to knead the clay, and foot-powered potter’s wheels to turn the clay into burnay jars.

Experience the Hidden Garden and try their pinakbet and dinengdeng (P150 a palayok) at Lilong and Lilang Restaurant. Call (077) 722 1450 for more details.

Go on the heritage river cruise in Mestizo River. The Vigan Heritage River Cruise is operated by the city government to reinforce the Vigan Heritage Conservation Program using the historical Mestizo River to tell the historical timeline of Vigan from the pre-history to the present time. Through the 45 minutes river tour, a voice-over is played narrating Vigan’s origin, historical background and other significant information while passing thru 5 life-sized tableaus. River Cruise Rates: P70 for Senior Citizen, P50 for students, P100 for adult.

Visit the Syquia Mansion where the 6th President of the Philippines Elpidio Quirino once lived. The mansion on Calle Quirino is the ancestral home of his wife’s family.Visit Padre Burgos house. A bahay na bato near the Ilocos Sur Provincial Hall once housed one of the greatest names in Philippine nationalism: Padre Jose Burgos of the Gomburza trio.  It also houses Ilocano artifacts and ethnic arts of the Tinggians.

Feeling tired? Relax your mind and watch the Vigan Dancing Fountain located at at the Plaza Salcedo Lagoon. This Korean-engineered attraction is the first of its kind in the country. The light show is free. It opens weekdays every 7:30 PM (30 minutes) and weekends 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM (30 minutes each).

Explore Vigan Heritage Village at night. The famous street, Calle Crisologo, in the Philippines is lined up with ancestral houses where the rich used to live during the Spanish era.  Tourists can buy souvenirs or even ride a calesa in the well-known Mestizo District.Who said Vigan does not have a night life? Have your casual wear and dance all night at Club Legacy located at the heart of Calle Crisologo.

Where to stay

If you want a luxurious life, Hotel Luna (Click THIS for more details) is the best. This is the first hotel museum in the Philippines. It showcases the finest in Philippine Art, boasting of rare and vintage artworks and dynamic modern pieces from master painters, contemporary artists, to National Artists including Juan Luna masterpieces. The hotel museum is located at V. De Los Reyes Corner Gen, Luna St., Vigan. For inquires, contact them at (02) 373 3333 or +6323733333; +6325844945; +63776322222

Grandpa’s Inn nestled in the country’s most preserved and only surviving historic city that dates back to the 15th century Spanish colonial period, invites you to create your own magical and unforgettable moments. It is located at #1 Bonifacio St. Corner Quirino Blvd., Vigan. You may call +63(077)722-2118 or  0917-5802118 for more details.

Experience the charm of the old world in the convenience of modern day. Located at the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage Town, Vigan Plaza Hotel epitomizes the culture-filled beauty of Vigan. For queries, contact them at +63 77 7221527, +63 77 6320318, +63 77 7228553 or +639177999874

Hotel Salcedo de Vigan showcases the coming together of Asian and European cultures. Contact Info: +63 (77) 722-1200+63 (77) 722-1200; +63 (77) 722-2798+63 (77) 722-2798; +63 (77) 674-2566+63 (77) 674-2566 or 0917-856-45880917-856-4588; 0918-990-66750918-990-6675.

For those traveling in big groups, Cordillera Family Inn has large bedrooms: P5,000 for 10 people and P10,000 for 20 people.  For any inquiries and reservations, you may call 077-722-2727 or  09273135616.

Where to eat

Kusina Felicitas is Grandpa’s Inn’s signature restaurant. The dining hall is walled with the original bricks of the 18th century building. Kusina Felicitas serves authentic Ilocano cuisine with wide array of menu to
choose from, the Bagnet, Longanisa, Pinakbet, Bunog( a fish indigenous to the local river), and Ipon( a seasonal fish famous to the Ilocanos). This is the place for a perfect Ilocano gastronomy. Kusina Felicitas
also offers favorite Filipino and Asian cuisine to supplement the menu. Kusina Felicitas has two function areas for small meeting and functions, each area can accommodate 50-60 persons. For reservations, call +63(077)722-2118 or 0917-5802118

You may also try the first corner coffee shop in Vigan, Café Uno. Located inside Grandpa’s Inn, this is the perfect place for intimate conversations. Take a sip of their freshly grind and freshly brewed coffee. Café Uno have Iced Blended coffee coolers. It also offers a variety of Pasta, Noodles, Sandwiches and Mexican light snacks to fill you up.

Uno Grille provides guest with a relaxed atmosphere in a garden setting. The Grille offers charcoal grilled specialties of pork, chicken, beef, fish, seafood and vegetables where each has its own special marinade thus the distinct and varied flavors, a real gastronomical treat for the Family. The Grille can be used for big function and can accommodate 130-150 persons. For reservations, call +63(077)722-2118 or 0917-5802118

Comedor Restaurant offers fabulous Ilocano dishes, Spanish dishes, and selected international items. Located at the Ground Floor of Hotel Luna, Comedor serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between, in an elegant dining hall filled with chandeliers, and contemporary art pieces from famous Filipino painters.

An artwork by itself, Chula Saloon Bar offers you more aside from the premium selection of beers, finest wines and liquor offerings, and incredibly sumptious bar chows for extreme delight. If you are looking for an ultra stylish bar with touch of classic, artsy, and elegant feel for the perfectionist, this is the place for you. A breathtaking ceiling and brick wall pillars adorned with art pieces and bronze sculptures, will surely amaze each customer. The bar and seating area is a sight to behold with ornate furnitures and lightings uniquely designed for Chula Saloon Bar. Chula means sexy or gorgeous, the Chula Saloon Bar truly deserves such description. See it for yourself.

Coffee Break Vigan has a wide range of hot beverages to choose from. If you are in to cold drinks and refreshments they do have also a large selection. If you are looking for a light meal or merienda they also offer a selection of snacks including some local delicacies. You will definitely enjoy the place because of its youthful vibe.

Kusina de Kenyong offers the biggest and smallest burgers in the Philippines. The restaurant’s big burger features a one-kilo beef patty and costs P1,000. Its smallest burger measures just two-inches in diameter or a size of a 5-piso coin. A set of five can be enjoyed for P99. You may also try their Alter Ego Burger, a black burger that “should have been squid inked” according to the owner. The soft black bun is made of ground sesame seeds. The restaurant is located at Calle Crisologo. For inquires, call them at 09175585256.

Cafe Leona is located along Calle Crisologo, right in the heart of Vigan City. It is named after the popular Ilocano poet Leona Florentino, who is also the original owner of the house in which the restaurant is located. Get a taste of Ilocano-Italian fusion with Cafe Leona’s pizza topped with local ingredients like longganisa (P300), pinakbet (P325) and bagnet with KBL or kamatis, bagoong and lasona onion relish (P375). They also have Japanese fusion in the form of bagnet and bacon maki (P180 for eight pieces).

Do you love cakes? Treat yourself with Dulcelise Dessert Bar’s cakes, pastries, frozen yogurt, coffee, milkshakes, pasta and sandwiches.  The dessert place is owned by Patch Savellano-Singson, wife of Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Singson. She bakes herself. The restaurant got its name from Singson’s firstborn Elise. They also customize cupcakes, cakes and frosted sugar cookies for any occasion.

Vigan empanada is a must when you are in the city. Recommendations for the best empanada in the city vary from Bigueño to Bigueño. Here are the top recommendations: ELP Special Empanada (P35) in Plaza Burgos and Irene’s Vigan Empanada (P35) in Calle Crisologo. ELP’s is crunchy and its longganiza is sweet. Irene’s is soft and chewy. Irene’s uses oil made from the drippings of pork.

Where to buy the best Vigan longganiza? For affordable options, head to the public market. But if you don’t want to go outside the city proper, I recommend Gonzales Vigan Longaniza in Capangpangan, Vigan City. One dozen will cost you P130.


See where pinakbet vegetables grow and catch some tilapia in Pinakbet Farm in Nansuagao village. Feel the cool breeze that comes from a river running on one side. For P200, the prix fixe menu consists of pinakbet, grilled tilapia and liempo, served picnic-style on banana leaves and bamboo containers. ‘Kamayan’ is a must but you may request for a utensils if you don’t know how to savor Filipino food using your hands.  Apart from fishing and the lunch, visitors are entertained with a cultural show.


If you’re craving for inihaw classics, Ihawan sa Caoayan is the place to be. It is located at at Don Alejandro Quirolgico, Caoayan. Must-trys from their menu include puque sashimi (P175), prawns with
pineapple (P220), sizzling mixed seafood (P195), and ginataang alimango

There’s more inside the Ihawan sa Caoayan, a coffee shop called, TASA. Tasa is the Iluko term for “cup.” The shop is open from 10AM to 10PM. They offer coffees, juices, pastas, salads and sandwiches. Feel light and live right with Waldorf salad (P150), greens with grapes, raisins and nuts, and cucumber lemonade. TASA’s specialty is their own version of kani salad (P150)which has kani strips, shredded lettuce, cucumber and peaches. Get a taste of their pan de longganisa (P55) with slices of tomato and cucumber sandwiches.


If you’re going to Ilocos Norte, stop over San Ildefonso and buy a bottle of basi, a sweet wine made from fermented sugar cane. Bungro village offers marunggay (malunggay or moringa), paria (ampalaya or bitter gourd) and sili (chili) ice cream. The town is set to launch its Airplane Cafe this year or early next year. We will let you know. Just check out this blog for updates.


If all other hotels are fully booked, get a room at West Loch Park Hotel. A 20-minute drive from Vigan, the hotel is located in the center of Sto. Domingo town. They also offer shuttle service from the town to Vigan or vice versa. For reservations, contact them at (+63)(077) 674-0610.

They have Standard Rooms for P2,600; Deluxe Rooms for P3,500; and Premium Suites, which has a receiving area in the first floor, for P5,100.


Ilocos Sur does not only offer a special Candon Calamay and Vigan empanada. Magsingal town has a unique kakanin, the tinubong. Tinubong is a sticky, sweet delicacy made from glutinous flour, sugar, coconut milk, small strips of buko (young coconut flesh) stored in a bamboo stick. If you are going to Ilocos Norte, you will see vendors selling these delicacies in their stalls in the National Highway. But I recommend the best in Ilocos, Peros. You may call them at (63) 917-7981015 or (63) 0918-3821772. It is located along the National Highway in Sto. Domingo.


Pikkang was derived from the Ilocano word pekkang which means falls. Pikkang Falls is located at Malamin village. Malamin is a 20-minute drive from the town proper. Upon reaching, park your vehicles in the concrete pavement and ask for a tour guide.


Cabugao is the second northernmost town of the province. It is bounded on the north by Sinait and on the east by Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte and the Cordillera Mountain Ranges.

Places to see

Located along the national highway, Pug-os sloping seabed make it a top favorite of tourists for swimming, picnics or fun hiking. Two hotel beach resorts, Ponce del Mar Cabugao Public Beach and Park (Cabugao Beach Resort), serve as venues for special occasions. Discover a fine white sand beach along a majestic cove.
Sabang is the take-off point for Salomague Island. It is home to the newest surfing destination in the north. You may contact Kido’s Point at 0905 778 4292 for surfing lessons.
Not too far from Sabang is the Salomague Port. The historic port of Salomague was an ancient port of call of seafarers, merchants and traders from different Asian countries. It is now the transshipment port of goods and products to Taiwan. It is also the unloading point of commercial fishing vessels. A municipal ordinance has declared the waters around it a fish sanctuary area, thus making it more attractive to sports fishers and scuba divers who regularly visit it.
Where to eat


Kusina Ilocandia serves authentic Ilocano Cuisine in a garden setting. They have different kubo that depicts an Ilocano home setting and custom. For reservations, contact them at 09155855511.


Located on the way to Dadalaquiten Norte and Panay, Badoc in Ilocos Norte, Imelda’s Cove features white sand beaches.


By Air. The easiest way to access Ilocos Sur is by a 45-minute Manila-Laoag daily flight via the Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. Once in Laoag, ordinary bus ride costs P80 and P120 – P137 (with Senior Citizen and student’s discount) for airconditioned bus.
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-hour travel a relaxing

Provincial Information Officer(077) 722 – 2776

Provincial Administrator(077) 722 – 2776

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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.