A Quick Guide to Ilocos Norte

Feel at home in Ilocos Norte with Real Living's handy guide to the province's must-sees, must-dos, and must-eats.

By Coni Tejada
November 01, 2010

The best thing about Ilocos Norte is that it is not a tourist trap—most of the pasyalan sites are in their unadulterated, pure forms. Real Living's Coni Tejada offers readers a simple yet packed itinerary for visitors to this northern paradise.

Currimao as a destination in Ilocos Norte is enough for beach adventurers, but further up north is the exhilarating beach town of Pagudpud and its many quiet resorts. Holy Week or not, you can do your visita iglesia at the 300-year-old St. Augustine Church of Paoay—make it an architectural visit as well and marvel at its enormous stone buttresses. In Laoag, there are the La Paz sand dunes, the Sinking Bell Tower near the palengke, and the Museo Ilocos Norte. And don’t miss the breathtaking sight of the windmills of the Northwind Bangui Bay Windfarm.   

Explore the ruins next to Paoay Church, which was its former seminary. (Here's a tip: It also has a plant-covered hole that used to be the Spanish friars’ secret escape tunnel.) Take a trip to Burgos and go up the hill of the Cape Bojeador lighthouse, a 1850s beauty that was one of the most famous lighthouses to guard the South China Sea. And since this is Marcos country, don’t forget to visit the former President’s remains at the Marcos Museum in Batac.

You can go to any public market for Ilocano longganisa, garlic, chichacorn, and bagnet, or get your fix of empanada at the town plaza, but among other things, you can buy freshly mined salt and rather large biscocho at Pasuquin. Try the royal bibingka (which is an oxymoron, since it is tiny—albeit very tasty) found at various food stalls in the province. For sit-down meals, go to Café Herencia right across Paoay Church for their Ilocos pizza and crunchy dinuguan.