The itinerary for Ilocos. We’ve lightly touched this matter in various articles but never found the time to paint the entire picture. This is long overdue especially considering that the Legaspi/Donsol itinerary is already done even before the planned trip. Like the Donsol land trip, Ilocos is an adventure by its sheer distance alone. The end of the trip, in Pagudpud, brought us practically to the end of the major Philippine land mass (there’s Batanes, but that’s an island outside of Luzon).
Ilocos Trip: Day 1
The first day started early at 3:00 a.m. out of Manila. This is a lonely drive for me through the North Luzon Expressway (NLE) because my companions are trying to catch up on sleep. First stop, 7:00 a.m. for breakfast at Agoo, La Union. The Jollibee is conveniently found beside the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Charity (Sta. Monica Parish, Agoo, La Union). Ordered food and checked the church while waiting for the food to be served. This is an important comfort room stop because the next leg of the trip is a long one.
A 30-minute stop by 8:00 a.m. at the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion (Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur), a UNESCO World Heritage site. Can’t be less than 30 minutes because going up the stairs alone would take forever, for us weight-challenged at least.
Late lunch (bagnet and poqui-poqui at La Preciosa) at the designated first-day stop, Laoag City. Quick checkin at Balay da Blas to have enough time for tour at the Museo Ilocos Norte (Laoag City). We parked at the museum, then went on foot to the surrounding places of interest — Tobacco Monopoly, Provincial Capitol and the St. William Cathedral. Off to the Golden Sand Dunes (La Paz, Ilocos Norte) by around 4 p.m.
Dinner at the hotel, Balay de Blas, which allows guests to bring and cook food (we made sure to book in advance because hotels in Ilocos, during Holy Week are heavily booked). We brought adobo, bought some rice. Early rest because the next day requires more travel.
Estimated time of travel: 13 hours. Actual travel time: 9 hours, with stop-overs.
Ilocos Trip: Day 2
As the designated driver, I was the last to be waken up. They had to shower — all 7 of them — before they end my slumber. Last one to shower, first one to enter the car. Need to catch up on rest. I thought, wow, I’d do well as a long distance bus driver for an alternative career.
By 7:00 a.m., after breakfast at the hotel and checking out, we were off to the next leg of the trip, Pagudpud. All pit stops for places of interest were planned for the return trip, to enable us to enjoy the beach of Pagudpud before the sun is merciless at noontime.
We arrived in Pagudpud at 10:00 a.m. and therafter enjoyed the sun, sand and sea at the Blue Lagoon. An hour is enough. Quick shower in the makeshift shower room and we were off by 11:00 a.m. This leg definitely spills over lunch so better bring enough pantawid-gutom food. The return trip involved stops at the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse (Burgos, Ilocos Norte) and the Bangui Windmills (Bangui, Ilocos Norte).
Late lunch at 3:00 p.m. at Saramsam Restaurant in Laoag, then continue the travel towards the second designated night stop at the Philippine Heritage City: Vigan. That leaves enough time and sunlight for stops at the Marcos Museum (Bagac), San Agustin Church (Paoay, Ilocos Norte) and the Malacanang of the North (Paoay, Ilocos Norte).
By 6:30 p.m. we were in Vigan, checking in at the GranPa’s Inn. After dinner and short rest, we capped the second day with a night stroll at the famous Crisologo Street, with its cobblestones and Spanish-era buildings and structures.
Ilocos Trip: Day 3
A one-hour breakfast is enough. Off to the karetela tour in Vigan. You can ask the hotel to contact a karetela tour: through Crisologo Street, to the Crisologo Museum, the Syquia Mansion, the burnayan, the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity and the St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral. Quick snacks at Cafe Leona and a bite of Vigan empanada prepared fresh around Burgos Plaza, then back to the hotel for check-out. We left Vigan at 3:00 p.m., after dropping by Chavit Singson’s Baluarte Zoo.
We arrived in Manila at around 11:00 p.m. My passengers have been sleeping along the way but I don’t envy them. That’s the longest non-stop driving in my life. And I like it. Off to the next trip.