Metro Manila · Ilocos Norte
Laoag, a city in the northern part of the Philippines, is a great jump off point to a number of tourist attractions in the province of Ilocos Norte and nearby towns of Ilocos Sur. Find out more about this weekend destination.
Downtown Laoag is a mix of old Spanish buildings and American structures built around an old plaza. The plaza, frequented by locals and tourists, showcases fountains that are dressed up in lights at night making this part of the city more festive than it is during daytime.
Peaceful and almost romantic, the plaza sits right in front of Ilocos Norte’s seat of power – a large American structure painted in white.
During the day, Laoag City is a bustling commercial hub while its neighbors are frequent weekend destinations for many tourists from around the world and the country. Laoag City and the rest of Ilocos Norte offer a different flavor to visitors. Its landscape, its history, and its distinctive cuisine make the province an interesting place to go to.
What To Do
Archery and other fun activities at Fort Ilocandia Hotel, Laoag City
Get your medieval freak on by learning how to use a bow and arrow while you are in Ilocos Norte. You can also make use of the driving range, use an all terrain vehicle or go fishing if you feel like it.
Fort Ilocandia does not only offer a number of exciting activities to its guests and its visitors, it is also a great place to go to if you just want to have a nice cup of coffee or a sumptuous lunch. The old hotel is the only five-star hotel in the province and it is an attraction on its own because of its old Spanish-style architecture complete with a lush garden and courtyard. The hotel is also near the shoreline which means you can enjoy an afternoon swim right at the beach if you do not feel like swimming in the pool. The hotel also has its own golf course.
Visit the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum
The Marcos Museum and Mausoleum located in Batac is 30 minutes away from the airport. Batac is a small town but it is visited by many Filipinos all-year-round because it houses the remains of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Aside from visiting the dictator’s remains, visitors of the museum can also see the former President’s house in his hometown of Batac.
Eat Empanada, Longganisa, and Miki in Batac City
While there are other places that sell these Ilocano specialties, Batac’s empanada, pork and garlic longganisa marinated in Sukang Iloko (cane vinegar), and their version of the local chicken noodle soup are the best in the province. You can try all of these local culinary delights at the riverside near the Marcos Museum. If you are hankering for some chicharon also referred to as bagnet, you would have to go to Batac’s local wet market located a few minutes away. Because chicharon is quite popular with tourists, supplies are usually almost gone by noontime. Make sure you go there early in the morning so you can get a kilo or two of this delightfully sinful pork delicacy.
Visit Sitio Remedios, Currimao, Ilocos Norte
Sitio Remedios is a village resort in Barangay Victoria, Currimao. This private heritage village is reminiscent of Ilocano villages in the mid-50s. It is a mix of Ilocano traditional design with a heavy Spanish influence as can be seen by the structures around it and the cobblestone pavement right in the middle of the sitio. It also features a small church built for the village’s patron saint.
If you are looking for a place to stay while you are in Ilocos Norte, Sitio Remedios is a great choice. You can stay in one of the old houses complete with vintage interiors and enjoy authentic Ilocano hospitality. Sitio Remedios has a pool that faces the West Philippine Sea and has access to the beach.
Visit Playa Tropical, Currimao, Ilocos Norte
If you can’t get enough of the beach but would like pool access as well, you can visit La Playa Tropical in Currimao. Complete with Java-style villas and nice food from the Mediterranean restaurant by the pool, this is definitely a place to go to if you are in this part of Ilocos Norte.
Experience Ilocos Norte’s white beaches
The white beaches in Pagudpud are far from Laoag City but the place is worth the 2-hour drive. If you would like to spend some time at the beach, you can head for Hannah’s. It will be a scenic drive to say the least and once you reach the beach, you can try the zipline or just enjoy Pagudpud’s fine, white sand between your toes. If you you want to get away from the crowd, there are other beaches in the area. You can just ask around or just go straight to Saud Beach.
Try some Basi
Ilocos Norte is home to a number of winemakers whose families started making wine before the 1600s. Basi or sugarcane wine is the region's traditional table wine. You can find this wine in the local market and some of the Ilocano restaurants in Laoag.
Eat lobster and other seafood in Pagudpud
You would see a number of vendors along the highway but will also find some near the beach. Don’t worry about the preparations because you can just bring the seafood you bought to any of the restaurants nearby and have them cook it for you. Yes, the locals are that nice.
Go to Patapat Viaduct
Located in the coastal resort town of Pagudpud, the Patapat Viaduct has a great view of the coastal mountains and the sea. On certain times of the year, it would seem that a part of the viaduct is covered in clouds making it a mesmerizing experience to drive to that area and actually be right where the clouds are.
Visit Paoay Church
Located in the sleepy town of Paoay just a few minutes away from Batac is a church famous for its enormous buttresses. Declared as a National Cultural Treasure in the early ‘70s, this baroque church is a sight to see. Its construction started in 1694. It was completed in the year 1710.
Because of its rise in popularity as a tourist destination in recent years, another Spanish-inspired structure was erected near the church to house souvenir shops and restaurants.
Visit Malacañang of the North
Malacañang of the North served as a holiday home to the Marcoses when the dictator was still in power. This opulent Ilocano and Spanish-inspired home offers visitors a glimpse of the country’s contemporary history. Malacañang of the North is located near Paoay Lake.
Paoay Lake is a scenic spot in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. There are golf courses in the area and a few small restaurants where you can enjoy the view.
Visit the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
This rock formation in Burgos, Ilocos Norte is located by the sea. It is creamy white and looks like a modern sculpture but what is special about it is it was designed by Mother Nature herself.
Visit Ilocos Norte’s Wind Farm
The wind farm in Bangui has doubled as an energy source for the region and a tourist destination. Wind turbines on a 9 km shoreline are a sight to see in these parts.
Go to Cape Bojeador, Burgos
Cape Bojeador is an old lighthouse in the beautiful seaside town of Burgos. The cultural heritage structure offers a great view of Ilocos Norte’s landscape and as well as a breathtaking view of the sea. This is located in one of the quieter towns of Ilocos Norte but even if it is a bit far away, the drive is well worth it.
Experience peace and quiet in Adams, Ilocos Norte
Adams is located around 46 km away from Laoag City and can only be accessed through Barangay Pancian in Pagudpud. According to census records for the year 2010, the small wine-producing town of Adams has a population of 1, 785 people. Aside from tasting the tropical wines produced in this part of Ilocos Norte, visitors can chase sunsets and waterfalls.
How To Get There
Can’t wait to go to Ilocos Norte? You can ride a bus for 800 pesos to get to Laoag City. It will be a long ride but the roads aren’t bumpy so it won’t be that bad. It usually takes around 8 to 10 hours to get to Ilocos Norte’s capital so be sure to travel at night so you could just sleep the whole ride. Still willing to take the bus? Here are some bus lines that will take you there:
Maria De Leon
If you do not want to hop on a bus to Laoag, you can just board a plane from MNL to LAO. Ticket prices vary especially during summertime and Christmas but no matter how high the prices get, a short flight to Laoag is definitely more comfortable than a 10-hour bus ride.
Where To Stay
Our team visited Ilocos Norte a number of times and we have stayed in the following places during those visits: