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Ilocos Norte

Ilocos Norte

A province with colonial churches, desert dunes, surfing beaches, and famous food such as longganisa and bagnet.
By TravelBook

 

Overview

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.

History

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.

Travelers’ Attractions

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.
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Fort Ilocandia

Fort Ilocandia is a posh resort with a world-class golf course and other facilities.

Saud Beach, Pagudpud

Saud Beach in Pagudpud is the most popular portion of the beach.

Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud

Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud is a white sand beach that gently slopes into the sea.

Bantay Abot Cave

The forces of wind and water have worn a hole into the Bantay Abot Cave over the years.

Kabigan Falls

The Kabigan Falls are accessible via a short trek from Pagudpud.

La Paz Sand Dunes

The dunes taper off into areas with some vegetation, though some portions are reminiscent of the desert.

Currimao Beach

Rocky outcroppings of coral formations characterize the beaches along Currimao's coast.

Paoay Lake

A sheltered view from the shores of the Paoay Lake.

Laoag Cathedral

St. William's Cathedral is a prominent landmark in Laoag.

Paoay Church

Window detail.

Sarrat Church

The red brick facade of the St. Monica Church in Sarrat has distinctive white scrollwork and a recessed niche with an image of St. Monica.

Bacarra Church

St. Andrews Church in Bacarra is a simple structure made of red brick. Its facade is no longer the same as the original Baroque design, which was damaged in an earthquake in the 1980s.

Bacarra Bell Tower

The brick bell tower of the Bacarra Church has survived numerous earthquakes. The lower floors still stand, and the bell still hangs within the structure.

Bangui Windmills

15 windmills stretch out along the coast, generating energy for the Northwind Power Corporation.

Malacaņang of the North

The regal living areas on the second floor overlook the Paoay Lake.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Visitors can climb up to the lighthouse and enjoy the 360-degree view from the top.

Patapat Viaduct

The Patapat Viaduct winds around the foothills of the Cordillera Mountain Range.

Aglipay Shrine

The Aglipay Shrine in Batac honors Gregorio Aglipay, the founder of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente or Philippine Independent Church.

Museo Ilocos Norte

The Museo Ilocos Norte highlights the province's historical and cultural artifacts.

Kapurpurawan Rocks

This bleached coral formation is an interesting feature along the coast of Burgos.
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