Ilocos has a rich tapestry of historical, culinary, and natural attractions shaped by time. Both Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur possess a wide range of tourist attractions that provide a multi-sensory trip that delight, inspire, and enliven the senses. Here’s how to get the full Ilocandia experience when in Ilocos. 

Spanish architecture. Perhaps one of the most iconic characteristics of the region is its strong remnants of Spanish influence, which is seen in well-preserved pieces of colonial architecture found throughout both provinces. Walk along the streets of Vigan, Ilocos Sur’s Calle Crisologo, whose cobblestone paths are lined with ancestral houses and heritage establishments. In Ilocos Norte, some of the must-sees are the Laoag Sinking Bell Tower, whose 17th-century Earthquake Baroque structure was observed to be sinking gradually into its sandy foundation; the Cape Bojeador Lighthousean operational 18th-century National Cultural Treasure and one of the last Philippine Spanish Lighthouses; and the Currimao watchtowers, another National Treasure and one of the “Watchtowers of Ilocos Norte” built in the 18th century.

Calle Crisologo. Photo by Jacob Maentz courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Currimao Watchtower. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Religious attractions. In relation to Ilocos playing an important role as a trading and political hub during the Spanish colonial period, the era also produced some of the most imposing churches and religious attractions that were originally established from the 15th to 17th century. Both Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur offer a good-sized cluster of faith tourism destinations. Its wealth of majestic churches and religious pilgrimage sites are worth seeing just for the sheer scale and structure. These include the UNESCO World Heritage Site of San Agustin Church in Paoay and its notable Earthquake Baroque architecture, Museo Nueva Segovia, the country’s only 18th century arzobispado, the 15th century Bantay Bell Tower, and the The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Santa Maria Church) – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of only four Baroque Spanish-era churches in the country.

San Agustin Church (Paoay Church). Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Bantay Bell Tower. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Sweet and savory culinary delights. Ilocos cuisine comprises a large part of the culture and attractions in both Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. A cuisine marked by the region’s abundance of salt and pork, Ilocos Norte staples include pinakbet (vegetables sauteed in shrimp paste) which is sometimes enhanced with pieces of bagnet (deep-fried pork belly). An Ilocos Sur food trip won’t be complete without some Vigan longganisa (a more garlicky variety of the Filipino breakfast sausage), Vigan empanada (deep-fried crispy shells filled with vegetables and/or meat), and, in contrast to the savory richness, Candon City is also known for its traditional rice-based delicacies such as Calamay (sweet, sticky, dessert delicacy) and Tinubong (similar delicacy made with rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, and strips of coconut cooked in “tubong” or  bamboo).

Vigan longganisa. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Tinubong. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Vigan empanada. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Calamay. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Gen. Artemio Ricarte Park & Museum. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Malacañang of the North. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Artists and artisans. Aside from politicians, Ilocos has also produced prolific artists and artisans such as poet and playwright Leona Florentino, Nana Magdalena Gamayo who is the Living Treasure of the Inabel Weaving Industry, a Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) awardee, and a master weaver in the town of Pinili, Ilocos Norte best known for weaving the sinan-sabong design, Mr. Fidel Go, a National Folk Artist awarded by the National Commission on Culture and Arts in 1990 for his contribution in burnay making. He is the owner of Ruby Pottery.

Inabel woven textiles. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Pagburnayan jars. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Adventure destinations. Positioned at the most northwesternmost tip of the Luzon island, Ilocos has a magnificent variety of natural attractions shaped by forces of nature throughout the centuries. Ilocos Norte’s unique, rugged attractions may include a 4×4 ride around the Paoay Sand Dunes, climbing around the unique Kapurpurawan Rock Formation of Burgos, birdwatching to your heart’s content in Paoay Lake, surfing the tasty waves of Pagudpud, trekking to Pinsal Falls tucked away in Santa Maria’s lush greenery.

4×4 adventure at Paoay Sand Dunes. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Pinsal Falls. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Discover more destinations to see, experience, and savor in the Ilocos Region. Visit these links to map out your next journey across the Philippines. 

  1. Get Summer Feels All Year Round in the Ilocos Region (7641islands.ph)
  2. 6 Destinations to Add to Your Next Ilocos Norte Getaway (7641islands.ph)

Travel Safely!

All these tourist destinations have health and safety protocols in place to protect locals and visitors alike. Everyone is expected to comply by wearing face masks, regularly washing their hands, and practicing physical distancing.

To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel, Apple Store, or Google Playstore.