Ilocos Norte is a province of historic sites and natural attractions. For history and culture buffs, there are grand colonial churches, lonely watchtowers and lighthouses, and a presidential mausoleum. For adventurers and explorers, there are white sand beaches, desert-like dunes, hidden waterfalls, and surf-friendly waves. Foodies will also be more than satisfied with Ilocano native delicacies like bagnet, longganisa, and empanada.
Ilocos has a history dating back to pre-colonial times. Some highlights:
- Before the Spanish colonization, the area was known for its gold mines and was often visited by Chinese and Japanese traders.
- The region was colonized by Juan de Salcedo in the 16th century. The Spanish occupation explains the high concentration of churches, bell towers, and watchtowers.
- Ilocos was so-named for the abundance of coves (“looc” in Spanish) along its coast.
- During Spanish times, the land was one of the major production centers for various agricultural monopolies for tobacco and wine. The region also played a key role in revolts and uprisings against Spanish rule.
- In more recent history, Ilocos Norte has become more well-known as the home town of former president Ferdinand Marcos. His remains still lie in state at the Marcos Mausoleum in Batac.
Ilocos Norte is a good place for all kinds of travelers:
- For those interested in history, culture, Christianity, and architecture, the province has many places of interest: the Spanish “earthquake Baroque” churches, the crumbling colonial-era watchtowers dotting the coast, and the Cape Bojeador lighthouse in the town of Burgos.
- For adventure-oriented travelers, activities abound: riding all-terrain vehicles across the rugged landscape of the La Paz sand dunes, trekking the eco-trail in Adams, and surfing the swells in Pagudpud.
- For foodies, Ilocos Norte’s distinct food culture offers bagnet, empanada, longganisa, and pinakbet. The area is also known for its vinegar, sukang Iloko, and garlic, which is sold in shops, markets, and roadside stands.
- For family-oriented travelers, some of Ilocos Norte’s towns like Currimao and Pagudpud offer relaxing beach resort vacations. The grand Fort Ilocandia is also a popular destination for local and international tourists.
Getting There and Away
- Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific offer daily flights to and from Laoag.
- Bus lines with an Ilocos Norte route are Philippine Rabbit, Partas, Dominion, Florida, Farinas, and Maria de Leon.