History is a subject not everyone is interested with – but, for sure, Vigan City will always ring a bell among Filipinos. This UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Ilocos Sur is part of the New Seven Wonder Cities – which I have been dreaming to see for real. So when the gang decided to visit Ilocos Region after our one week trip to Palawan, I couldn’t get more excited to visit the historical attractions that is in Ilocos Sur.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ILOCOS SUR
- Fun Facts about Ilocos Norte
- Places to Visit in Ilocos Norte
- What to eat when in Ilocos Norte
- Where to Stay in Ilocos Norte
- How to get to Ilocos Norte
FUN FACTS ABOUT ILOCOS SUR
Ilocos Sur is a coastal region located in the northwestern part of the island of Luzon. The term Ilocos is said to have been derived from the word “Ylocos” which means “from the lowlands” opposite to “Igorot” which meant “from the highlands”.
Ilocos Sur is part of the Ilocos Region which occupies the narrow plain between the Cordillera Central Mountain and West Philippine Sea. One of the most visited place in this province is the city of Vigan which exudes of rich Spanish colonial history seen through its well-maintained architecture and culture.
PLACES TO VISIT IN ILOCOS SUR
If you want to experience what it’s like to have lived during Spanish colonial period, then Calle Crisologo is the best place to visit. This street will surely transport you back to the past with its lined up ancestral homes, centuries-old churches, cobblestone street and kalesas passing by from time to time. The ancestral houses along this street have been restored and converted into souvenir shops, hotels, and restaurant – so don’t get fooled with their external façade.
Walking through Calle Crisologo at night is totally charming as the lamps along the street get fully lit and tables are setup for dining.
Burgos Museum is the ancestral house of the martyr priest, Father Jose Burgos. It hosts to a number of Iloco-Kankanay-Itneg material culture, trade ceramics, dioramas of local historical events, liturgical collections, and memorabilia of Father Burgos and his family.
The Syquia Mansion houses an extensive memorabilia of the sixth president of the Philippines, who was also born in Vigan City, President Elpidio Quirino. This is the grand ancestral home of his wife, Doña Alicia Quirino. There some identified huge oil portraits in the mansion that are said to have been painted by the national artist, Fernando Amorsolo.
Vigan Cathedral is also known as the Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral. It is one of the renowned religious landmark of Northern Luzon and serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. This church is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site declaration of the Historic Town of Vigan which was made in 1999.
Baluarte is an 80-hectares rolling terrains owned by the Former Ilocos Governor Chavit Singson. It serves as a local zoo which houses to both native and exotic animals from lions to tigers, monkeys, deer, and variety of birds.
This is, for me, the most heartbreaking part of the trip because not only live animals are in captivity of this place. There is an area inside Baluarte where visitors can see the carcasses of animals which are proudly hanged on the walls. These animals served as hunting trophies of the former governor on his expeditions to other countries.
If you’re into crafting, Pagburnayan Pottery is a something that you should not miss! This barangay is known for their jar making industry. The jars that they make long time ago were used for fermenting sugarcane vinegar, basi wine, and bagoong. According to historical records, this practice can be traced back even before the colonial period.
Bantay Church and Bell Tower
Bantay Church is one of the oldest churches in Ilocos Sur where the Shrine of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Charity (Nuestra Señora de la Caridad), the patroness of Ilocadia, is housed. This church follows a Neo-Gothic aesthetic and has survived many wars and natural disasters throughout history.
Bantay Bell Tower was constructed in 1591 and was strategically used as a vantage point to see incoming enemies. Hence, the term “bantay” which means “to guard.”
Despite the gloom it represents in history, Plaza Salcedo brightens up the present with its dancing fountain light show. It can be recalled that it is in this place where the valiant hero, Gabriella Silang, was executed in 1763.
Best time to visit Plaza Salcedo is at 7pm on weekdays and 8:30 on weekends to be able to witness the 30-minute dancing fountain show.
WHAT TO EAT WHEN IN ILOCOS SUR
Sinanglao is a soup made from beef innards. This is served with vinegar and kamias and can be added with leeks and onion rings to add more flavor.
Empanada is one of the highlighted delicacies of Ilocos Sur. It is made from rice flour filled with vigan longganisa, vegetables, and eggs. Other variation is filled with shrimp and tastes best when dipped into vinegar.
Vigan longganisa is a garlic sausage duly recognized as one of Vigan’s best delicacy. Locals of Vigan celebrates Longganisa Festival every January 22 though street dancing competitions along Calle Crisologo.
Tinubong is a sticky sweet rice cake that is sold in bamboo tubes. It is cooked in coconut milk and sugar which totally make this delicacy a perfect pasalubong.
As sugarcanes grow abundantly in the Ilocos Region, locals have fermented them and made local wine out of them.
Bagnet is one of the traditional Ilocano favorite. It is made from pork belly which is deep-fried and cooked in its fat. It is best eaten when paired with sukang Iloko.
WHERE TO STAY IN ILOCOS SUR
Because of the number of visitors that flock around Vigan City, finding an affordable accommodation in Ilocos Sur is not that difficult. Visitors may choose from heritage houses, hotels, and even transient homes for accommodation.
- Villa Angela Heritage House
Address: #26 Quirino Boulevard
Contact Number: +63 77 722-2914, +63 2 425-6473, +63 927 894 0610
- Hotel Salcedo De Vigan
Address: V. de los Reyes corner General Luna Streets
Contact Number: +63 (77) 722-1200, +63 (77) 722-2798
- Grandpa’s Inn
Address: 1 Bonifacio St. cor. Quirino Blvd
Contact Number: +63 (77) 722-2118
- Ciudad Fernandina Hotel
Address: 26 Mabini St., cor. Plaridel St
Contact Number: +63 77 722-3765
- Vigan Hotel
Address: Burgos Street
Contact Number: (077)-722-2588
- El Juliana Hotel
Address: 5 Liberation Boulevard corner Quirino Boulevard
Contact Number: 09123508350
- My Vigan Home Hotel
Address: Plaridel St, Vigan City
Contact Number: 0917 527 2304
- NSCC Hotel Vigan
Address: A. Reyes St, Vigan City
Contact Number: (077) 674-1070 / 0917 5076402.
- Metro Vigan Fiesta Garden
Address: Manila N Rd, Bantay
Contact Number: 0917 809 8909
HOW TO GET TO ILOCOS SUR
In case you’re planning to get around Ilocos Sur, here’s how to easily get to this province:
- By bus
Ilocos Sur is a seven-hour trip along the scenic Ilocos Highway from Manila. Several buses have regular trips to Vigan City – like Partas Bus Co., Dominion Bus Lines, Viron Transit, and St. Joseph/Aniceto Transit.
You may also ride buses plying directly to Ilocos Norte as they passes by Vigan City – like Philippine Rabbit Bus Line, Farinas Transit, Maria de Leon, Florida, and RCJ Transit.
- By plane
You don’t want to stress with long hours of bus trip, you may choose the easier way around which is the 45-minute airplane flight to Laoag. Then you can take an hour and a half bus ride to Vigan via buses or vans.
There are various modes of transportation that you can choose from when travelling around Ilocos Sur. Regular rates are as follows:
- Tricycle – P10/head
- Kalesa (Calle Crisologo) – P150/hour maximum of 4 people
If you are coming in groups, the best way to save is to join package tours.