Ilocos Region


Recently, I had the opportunity to explore Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur for two days, making it the perfect weekend getaway. Thanks to an invitation from the DOT Region 1 Office and Cebu Pacific, I was able to fully experience the region’s finest cuisine, attractions, and heritage.

In this blog post, I’ll share our itinerary as a reference for anyone planning a weekend trip to the region. This timing is particularly convenient since Cebu Pacific has relaunched its Manila to Laoag route, offering a hassle-free way to explore Ilocos. However, if you prefer the scenic route of a road trip, that’s still a great option, though it requires allocating additional travel time.


Manila to Laoag Route via Cebu Pacific

Flights from Manila to Laoag are scheduled daily at 4:40 AM. Yes, it’s an early start, but if you’re aiming to explore Ilocos in just two days, this flight allows you to maximize your time. Our flight was smooth, and we landed at Laoag Airport just before 6:00 AM.

Manila to Laoag Cebu Pacific (1)


Day 1

Breakfast at Cafe Luca

Cafe Luca is the perfect choice for an early breakfast. Their breakfast menu is available as early as 6:00 AM, perfectly timed for your arrival at Laoag Airport. Located just a few minutes drive from the airport, Cafe Luca offers a diverse breakfast menu.

While there are plenty of options, the Ilocos Longganisa with fried rice and egg comes highly recommended—it’s a must-try dish when in Ilocos Norte. You can find Cafe Luca at the Sola Hotel in Laoag.

READ THE BLOG POST:Breakfast at Cafe Luca in Laoag

Cafe Luca in Laoag

Cafe Luca in Laoag


Paoay Sand Dunes

Fueled by a delicious breakfast, it’s time for an adventure at Suba Paoay Sand Dunes. Experience the thrill of riding a 4×4 vehicle across the vast sand dunes or try your hand at sandboarding. Don’t miss the opportunity to admire the art installations scattered throughout the area.

Despite having experienced this adventure three times already, the adrenaline rush and excitement remain unmatched.


Malacanang of the North

Just near from Paoay Sand Dunes lies the renowned Malacanang of the North. This museum was once the residence of former President Marcos Sr. during his tenure, including the martial law era. If you like history and heritage, a visit here offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Marcos family.

Malacañang of the North

Explore the rooms once occupied by Marcos Sr.’s children, including the current President, Bongbong Marcos, Senator Imee, and Irene. Also, the mansion overlooks the serene Paoay Lake, adding to its allure.

READ THE BLOG POST: A Visit to Malacanang of the North 


Nagbacalan Loomweavers

No visit to Ilocos would be complete without exploring its rich artistic heritage. Head to the Nagbacalan Loomweavers Cooperative in Paoay to witness the artistry and creativity of the local weavers, who meticulously preserve the tradition of Abel Iloko weaving.

Nagbacalan Loomweavers

“Abel” is the Ilocano word for weaving, and “Inabel” refers to their woven products. Don’t forget to check out their Inabel products and consider purchasing one to support their livelihood program and initiatives.

READ: Nagbacalan Loomweavers of Paoay, Ilocos Norte


Paoay Church

While you’re in Paoay, don’t miss visiting its most popular destination, Paoay Church, also known as St. Augustine Church. This UNESCO Heritage site is part of the Baroque Churches in the Philippines.

Paoay Church

Before exploring Paoay Church, we visited Kusina Valentin, a popular restaurant offering authentic Ilocano cuisine located in front of Paoay Church. We enjoyed brunch there and tried their famous Pinakbet Pizza, which was delicious. They even demonstrated how to make Pinakbet Pizza while overlooking the gorgeous Paoay Church.

READ MORE: A Visit at Paoay Church in 2024


Vigan City

After traveling for about an hour to Vigan, our first stop was the famous Hidden Garden restaurant for lunch. The restaurant offers delicious Filipino and Ilocano cuisine, and you’ll definitely enjoy the ambiance, especially the plants and decorations in the garden.

Then, we explored the center of Vigan. There are many sites to visit within the capitol area, such as the Provincial Farmers Livelihood Development Center, where they showcase the province’s products and services. We also visited One Ilocos Sur Cafe, which showcases the delicious and award-winning Robusta coffee of the province.

Calle Crisologo Vigan

I can attest that the coffee tasted exceptional and unique. We were pleasantly surprised that Ilocos Sur has some of the most delicious coffee in the country. It’s only a matter of time before Ilocos Sur’s coffee becomes mainstream.

If you have time in the afternoon, visit the Vigan Museum to learn more about Vigan and Ilocos Sur’s history and heritage.

At night, you can take walking tours along the historic Calle Crisologo in Vigan, or you can ride a calesa while exploring the historic city. Then, we made a stop at Irene’s Vigan Empanada to try the famous Empanada of Vigan. Remember, the Vigan empanada is a little different from the empanada of Ilocos Norte, so it’s worth trying both when you travel to Ilocos.

We ended the day by checking into Hotel Luna, one of the most beautiful and historic hotels in Vigan. We all had a restful night’s sleep there.


Day 2

After checking out of Hotel Luna, we traveled for about 45 minutes to Badoc, Ilocos Norte. Of course, you shouldn’t miss taking some photos in front of the “Welcome to Ilocos Norte” arc.


Badoc Church

When we arrived in Badoc, I noticed the simple life in the town. Kids were going to school, and some were having their breaks. Beside an elementary school is the Badoc Church or the Minor Basilica of St. John De Baptist. According to our guide, this church was built during the Spanish colonial era, which is evident from the old design of the belfry. However, the church is now painted white.

Badoc Church


Juan and Antonio Luna Museum

Just a short walk from Badoc Church is the old two-story house of Juan and Antonio Luna Museum. This museum is dedicated to Juan Luna, the famous painter of the “Spoliarium,” and Antonio Luna who was a General during the early Philippine-American War.

Juan Luna Museam

The museum is a reconstruction of the two-story house of the Lunas. Historical accounts show that the original house was burned in 1861. This reconstruction serves as a show of respect for the brothers’ contributions to our history.

Everyone can join the free walking tours inside the shrine to learn more about the history of the Luna brothers’ lives.


The Empanada of Batac, Ilocos Norte

We traveled for more than 30 minutes to have a quick brunch in Batac and taste the famous Ilocos Norte empanada.

We visited Glory’s Empanada owned by Gloria Cocson, known as the oldest empanada maker in Batac. Since we had tried the Vigan Empanada the other day, we noticed the differences with the Batac empanada. In Batac, they use the whole egg (whites and yolk) while making the empanada. Another significant difference is the color. Ilocos Norte empanada is orange because of the annatto seeds or achuete, while Vigan empanada is pale in color.

Empanada of Batac, Ilocos Norte

Both are delicious. You also have the option to eat empanada with suka Iloko or ketchup, just like what Catriona Gray prefers. Haha.

READ: Empanada of Batac, Ilocos Norte


La Preciosa Restaurant

For lunch, we went to La Preciosa Restaurant in Laoag City. I remember visiting Ilocos a few years back and dining at this restaurant for their popular carrot cake and Ilocano cuisine. Back then, they were located in the city center. Now, it seems they have moved to a new location that is actually bigger and much better.

La Preciosa Restaurant

We were served some of the best Ilocano dishes. You should try the famous Ilocano dish, Poqui Poqui. It’s made with eggplant and scrambled eggs, similar to tortang talong. The only difference is that the eggplant in Poqui Poqui is grilled over an open flame, then peeled and mixed with egg. You should try this when you visit Ilocos.

La Preciosa also served more Ilocano and Filipino dishes such as Adobong Manok sa Suka, pancit lusay, dinuguan, and more.


Bacarra Church and Museum

We then visited one of the oldest churches in the country: Bacarra Church. Our guide said it was built in 1593 and is famous for its domeless bell tower. We all eagerly took pictures of this structure.

Bacarra Church

Just a short walk from the church is the Bacarra Museum. It has artifacts that reflect the rich history of the people and the town. Be sure to visit the museum with a guide to understand the story behind everything on display. It’s much better to coordinate with the museum and local tourism office before your visit.


Cape Bojeador

Of course, your visit to Ilocos is not complete without going to the famous lighthouse of the province: Cape Bojeador. I’ve been to this place about three times already, but the structure and the views still amaze me. This place is rich in history. Built in the late 19th century, the lighthouse has guided vessels passing through the northern part of the Philippines.

Cape Bojeador

If you have a drone, you can capture some amazing footage of Cape Bojeador and nearby areas. That’s what my fellow content creators did during our visit.


Burgos Wind Farm

I suggest visiting Burgos Wind Farm in the late afternoon to witness its breathtaking sunset. You can also learn about sustainable energy from its 50 wind turbines along the stunning coastline. I actually wrote a single blog post about our experience here.

When you’re in Ilocos, you must visit the Burgos Wind Farm.

Burgos Wind Farm


Check-in at Java Hotel

After a day of exploring the province, there’s no better way to spend your night than at a relaxing hotel like Java Hotel.

It is a Balinese-inspired hotel located along the main road in Laoag. It has a stunning facade with a tropical vibe, plus nice amenities and rooms. We had a buffet dinner at its in-house restaurant, The Eagle’s Nest Bar and Restaurant. We only stayed here overnight, but if given the chance to come back to Laoag, I would definitely stay at Java Hotel again.Java Hotel

There you have it. Here’s a sample weekend itinerary for a weekend adventure in Ilocos Region. With direct flights to Laoag, you can now maximize your travel to the north even with just 2 days.


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