DESTINATION: Vigan, Ilocos Sur
The idea to visit the World Heritage City actually started as a solo trip – an adventure of sorts to the (so far) the farthest in the north I would have been, taking into consideration the fact that I reside in Northern Mindanao. But as the dates drew near, my family wanted IN too. By the way, my trip was scheduled March 30 to April 1. That’s 3 days and 2 nights in the magical, sepia-toned city. And like they say, the more, the merrier!
Manila to Vigan by Land
Vigan is a 10-hour ride from Manila. Several bus lines serve the route. But those that have daily direct travel are Partas, Dominion Bus, Aniceto Bus and Viron Transit. Of the mentioned, Partas is probably the most known.
Partas Bus is located along Aurora Blvd. in Cubao
Schedule: 1AM, 9:15AM, 1:15PM, 4:15PM, 7PM, 9PM, 11PM
1. 816 Aurora Boulevarsd, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
Telephone Number: +63 (2) 7278278
2. Vigan, Bus Terminal Alcantara Street, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Philippines
Telephone Numbers: +63 (77) 7222933 +63 (77) 7222935
Manila to Vigan by Air
There used to be commercial flights in Mindoro Airport of Vigan. However, it had to be cancelled due to low traffic.
The nearest airport with regular flights is in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific offers flights. Flying time is 1 hour. Another 2 hours travel from Laoag and you’ll find yourself in Vigan.
My Travel Choice
I am lucky enough to have an older sister (who has a car and is willing to let me borrow it) in Manila. That would be perfect except I don’t know how to drive. Haha *insert maniacal laughter here* *cough, cough* Anyway, remember when I mentioned my family wanted IN on the trip too? When I said family, I meant my mom, dad and younger sister. My dad volunteered to look for a driver. And presto! Kuya Nono, my dad’s childhood friend’s driver became Koko Crunch! Oh wait. That’s a commercial. (No, I’m not getting paid for this.) But you get the idea. So there we were. Five not-so-little people tucked away in our neat Honda City with just enough leg room and a whole lot of adventure ahead of us.
WHERE TO STAY
The best thing about Vigan is that you also get to experience living in Spanish-inspired architecture but with the added bonus of modern amenities. Depending upon your budget, there are a number of options for you.
Some are the following:
1. Ciudad Fernandina Hotel Mabini cor. Plaridel Sts., Vigan City
Tel. #: (077) 722-3765 / 644-0005
2. Cordillera Inn Hotel & Restaurant Crisologo St., Vigan City
Tel. #: (077) 722-2727 / 0927-313-5616
3. Vigan Heritage Mansion Crisologo St., corner Liberation Blvd., Vigan City
Tel. #: (077) 722-6469
4. Mojica Residencia Hotel Calle Reyes, Cabasaan, Vigan City
Tel. #: (077) 674-0065 / 0925-603-2629
ROOM RATES: ECONOMY
(electric fan): Double 2 pax = 700.00
STANDARD(aircon): Double 2 pax = 1,100.00
Double- Supreme 2 pax = 1,250.00
Family 4 4 pax = 2,750.00
Family 5 5 pax = 2,950.00
Family 6 6 pax = 3,500.00
Family 8 8 pax = 4,750.00
SUITE ROOM: Double 2 pax (with free breakfast) = 1,750.00
Family 4 4 pax (with free breakfast) = 3,400.00
Barkadahan 7 pax = 2,900.00
*** rates are subject to change without prior notice*** FREE WI-FI. All rooms are equipped with flat screen CATV. Parking Area.
Extra bed: 400.00, extra person: 300.00
Check-in time: 2:00 PM, Check- out time: 12:00 noon.
Strictly no smoking inside the hotel.
Yep! As you might have already guessed, I stayed at Mojica Residencia with the family. Not so much for the Spanish-inspired architecture mind you. It’s more of the limitations on my “worldly treasures”. Got to be practical, right? I also figured we would just be staying in to sleep. For the most part of the day, we will be out munching on their famous empanadas and bagnets. Besides, getting 3 rooms for 2 nights for a total of Php 6,600.00 with a room all to myself doesn’t seem like a bad deal. No, not a bad deal at all.
Ilocos CHECK LIST
Explore Calle Crisologo at dawn – (checked)
When the shops are closed and the people sleep, a different kind of stillness wraps over the city. The way the lights bounces off the walls transports you to that part of history you’ve never had the opportunity to live in – well, at least for me and all those in the younger generation.
Funny story actually. I decided to wander around on my own at 4 in the morning. And what do you know? I was wearing my BLACK, breezy dress. No wonder the people I met were looking at me funny! And when I say they were looking at me funny, I meant stares so piercing that I think they were trying to bore a hole through my soul. *chuckles*
Go on an heritage river cruise in Mestizo River
For Php 100/pax, you get to travel through history by boat. Rappler description:
“Cruise-goers literally travel through history by travelling through the river. The boat takes them to various points where life-sized dioramas stand, depicting important events in Vigan’s history. A recorded voice then narrates the story.
The riverbanks are also the perfect exhibit of Vigan’s rich biodiversity. You’ll catch a glimpse of the bigaa plant from which the city supposedly takes its name.”
Ride a Kalesa – (checked)
Not only is the kalesa so old a means of transport it’s become a novelty, you also get to tour around the city with your own personal tour guide. The kalesa fits up to three people. Standard fee is Php 150/hour. Touring around will take around 3 hours so prepare Php 450 just in case.
As I already mentioned, taking the kalesa lets you tour around the landmarks in the city. This includes the following:
Bantay Bell Tower – (checked)
Syquia Mansion (Calle Quirino) – (checked)
Vigan Museum (Father Burgos’ House) – (checked)
Baluarte – local zoo
Didn’t get to visit here due to time constraints though.
Hidden Garden – (checked)
Ride through Calle Crisologo – (checked)
I am just itching to tell you about the sights and sees, about what I’ve learned and what I’ve experienced. But then, I also don’t want to rob you of the fun that comes from seeing and feeling them first hand, no expectations just simple, unadulterated bliss.
Witness Abel weavers in action
Now, this would have been very nice – witnessing art and culture in the flesh. Unfortunately for us though, it was almost 6pm when we got to this point. I would have loved seeing the weavers but by then, grandpa weaver was outside bathing in his makeshift shower. I could see him shoulders up enjoying his bath. And… we don’t want to intrude on his shower time now, do we? tehee
Going to a new place simply wouldn’t be complete without sampling their delicacies. Here is a list of treats and places that comes highly recommended:
Bagnet is love! – (checked)
For meat lovers that is. Bagnet is Vigan’s version of chicharon/crispy pata/lechon kawali rolled into one with an accompanying tomato-bagoong-onion dip.
This doesn’t even have to be for breakfast. Simply delish, I tell you!
If you want to bring home some, for your friends or even for yourself, Tongson’s sells them by the dozen. Tongson’s is located beside Cafe Leona. Just ask around. *wink*
Eat at Cafe Leona – (checked)
The cafe is located near the end of Calle Crisologo near the plaza. Sample their Vigan delicacies!
Just a tip though, if you are planning to eat there for dinner, you might want to reserve seats first. There are times when there are just so many patrons that you might not get a space.
If you ask the locals, their idea of the best empanada will vary. But if you want crunchy dough, then Evelyn’s stall near Plaza Burgos is for you. However, if you are more of the soft and chewy type, then Irene’s on Calle Salcedo is perfect. If you belong to the “unknowns” yet because you are still not sure of your preference, why not sample both and decide for yourself?
As for me? Hmm… For the five of us, I regret to say we actually didn’t get a chance to sample any of the empanadas. *gasp* Well, it’s not to say that we didn’t want to. It’s just that with all the eating around, there was absolutely no room left in our humongous stomachs. I’m not even surprised if we all gained weight from our short trip there.
Satisfy sweet cravings at Leila’s Cafe
Located on Calle Luna, Leila’s Cafe is described as whimsical and quaint. Needless to say that it is highly recommended. Unfortunately though, I for all my sweet tooth did not get to try their famous French toastwiches. Maybe you can take a bite for me?
PinaTUBO – (checked)
Tubo as in bamboo. Pinatubo is a rice treat much like suman but is cooked inside a bamboo stick. Unlike the regular suman though, pinatubo is sweet. And yummy!
Go Further! Visit Ilocos Norte! – (checked)
If you’ve got a spare day, why not go further and explore Ilocos Norte as well?
For Php 15/pax (free fee for the driver), you get to see the gigantic windmills up close.
Burgos is great. But in my opinion, the ones lining the Bangui sea shore is better. Plus no entrance fee! ^_^
Malacañang of the North
Visit what once was the residence of the Marcos family whenever they were in Ilocos Norte. You also get to see a picturesque view of the Paoay Lake.
So basically, my itenirary went like this:
Day 1 (March 30, 2015)
– road trip from Manila to Vigan
– arrived in Vigan around 2pm.
– settled in the hotel and wandered around the city
Day 2 (March 31, 2015)
– Vigan to Pagudpud by 5am
– back to Vigan by 5pm
– explore Vigan some more
Day 3 (April 1, 2015)
– bound for Manila by 5am with pit stops on the way
Hmm… Vigan – checked! I wonder where to next.
P.S. If you have recently been to Vigan, or more recently than my trip at least, and you know of any other updates that I have not included, please do tell me. That way, others who may come across this entry will also be updated. Thank you mucho!
P.P.S. All photos here are taken from my phone. So… yeah. You know what I mean.