Visiting Ilocos and Learning Ilocano

Favorite Places In Ilocos Norte: Hannah's Resort, Paoay Church and Paoay Sand Dunes.

Hannah’s Resort, Paoay Church, Paoay Sand Dunes. (Find out more information about scenic spots to visit in Ilocos including La Union and Pangasinan in this article.)

Audio translations for useful Ilocano words can be found below. Hovering underlined texts gives you Tagalog and Ilocano translations.

Are you visiting Ilocos soon?  Ilocos is defined for its beautiful beaches, sand dunes, historical structures, and great mountains.  Ilocanos are known for their thriftiness.  Why? I don’t really know the exact answer. It could be the fact that their mindset is to keep their money for important things that their family needs.  It could be the thoughts of sending their kids to the best schools, which is a great deal of expense.  It could be the pressure of owning a house or having a nicer house. Of course, there are many shopping areas in the neighborhood and this means that people are fond of shopping and contradicts the thought about thriftiness. Forget about thriftiness, but think about hospitality, and it is what Ilocanos are good for, that is why Ilocos is one of the most visited places in the Philippines by tourists.  The friendly Ilocano atmosphere is very welcoming to many who are visiting the place.

Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur are neighbors and they share pretty much the same local culture as far as values, foods, beaches, historical spots are considered.  It is situated in the Northern part of Luzon.  Ilocos is accessible through an airplane or a bus from Manila.  It is about 7 hours to Ilocos Sur and 8 hours drive to Ilocos Norte.  People who are in the business prefer the airplane.  If your plan is to visit Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur and planning to stay for the most in these places, then reaching your destination is easier through an airplane.  Riding the bus is a good option also.  Some top of the line buses that give you a comfortable ride are Fariñas, Maria De Leon and Partas.  These bus lines offer the deluxe type of buses which are equipped with restroom, comfortable seats, and wifi.  Having a road trip gives you the option to see beautiful structures and scenic spots along the way plus the opportunity to buy good stuff on side streets.  The view of the oceans while riding on a bus is one of the highlights you won’t like to miss.  If you are coming from Manila, you will pass through Pampanga, Tarlac, and La Union before you reach Ilocos Sur and eventually Ilocos Norte.  Ilocos region comprises 4 provinces: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan.  On a trip to Ilocos, you will see pretty much of La Union on the way. Pangasinan is a little bit west of La Union, which is out of the way.  Some people love to see the whole Ilocos region as a package when they travel to the North.  If you plan on that, there are hotels mainly in the capital city of each province, but some small towns are not exempted from having good ones also.  The cities are; Laoag city in Ilocos Norte, Vigan in Ilocos Sur,  San Fernando in La Union.  And yes, these places are now in your favorite Google Maps for your exploration if planning for a travel.

Favorite Places in Ilocos Sur

Vigan, Ilocos Sur (Find out more information about scenic spots to visit in Ilocos including La Union and Pangasinan in this article.)


Ilocos Sur

Ilocos Sur’s Mestizo District is found in the City of Vigan. It contains the largest concentration of ancestral homes and other colonial-era architecture in the Philippines, built by Chinese merchants who settled in Vigan.  The houses are still preserved and maintained by the Ilocos Sur Tourism Information Center.  The district is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines.  St. Paul’s Cathedral is known as the Vigan Cathedral.  This church’s most prominent feature is its separate belfry, built 15 meters away from the main structure.  The structure was built in “earthquake baroque” style, meaning it has thick walls and buttresses that can sustain strong natural disasters.  The Palacio de Arzobispado, or the Archbishop’s Palace, was built in 1783, and it served as the official residence of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia.  Currently, it is the only surviving 18th-century archbishop’s residence in the Philippines.  Inside, it is the Museo Nueva Segovia, a museum which showcases archdiocesan archives, a throne room, antique portraits of bishops, manuscripts, and other religious artifacts from various colonial churches all over Ilocos Sur.  Burgos National Museum is the former residence of the martyr Padre Burgos, a member of the GOMBURZA priest triumvirate, is now a museum exhibiting various treasures and antiquities depicting the Ilocano culture and society.  A display of Padre Burgos’ memorabilia can also be found in the area.  Santa Maria Church, a Baroque masterpiece found in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.  It was built on a hill elevated from the central town plaza together with its distinctive bell tower.  Other places to see are Baluarte Zoo owned by famous Chavit Singson,  Noah Bulanos in Narvacan and many more!

Ilocos Norte's Popular Places: Bangui Beaches, Patapat Bridge, Madongan Dam, Laoag City's Bell Tower, Dragon Fruit Farm

Bangui Beaches, Patapat Bridge, Madongan Dam, Laoag City’s Bell Tower, Dragon Fruit Farm (Find out more information about scenic spots to visit in Ilocos including La Union and Pangasinan in this article.)


Ilocos Norte

Paoay Church is one of the most popular structures visited in the Ilocos Region.  It is one of UNESCO’s List of World Heritage. This beautiful old church was built and completed in 1710 in honor of St. Augustine and one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in the Philippines. Bangui Windmills have been steadily gaining popularity among travelers to the Philippines.  These energy generators standing proudly at Bangui Bay were prominently featured in one of the country’s tourism advertisements, firmly asserting its status as a tourist destination.  Laoag City is the capital city of  Ilocos Norte and is a home to a selection of tourist destinations, including Marcos-era mansions and a Spanish-inspired Fort Ilocandia Resort hotel. More importantly, the city is rich in heritage amidst its developing economy, making it a significant yet convenient traveler’s pick.  Paoay Lake’s freshwaters not only offers the tourist a magnificent view of the Ilocos landscape, but it is also a biodiversity hotspot, elevated as a national park and protected area.  Malacañang of the North was once the official residence of former President Ferdinand Marcos in Ilocos Norte.  This palace is now a museum showcasing memorabilia owned by its previous occupants.  It also presents a great view of the Paoay Lake.  The Marcos Mansion which is the ancestral house of the Marcoses has been converted into a museum displaying souvenirs of the late President Marcos’ 20-year reign. It also houses the preserved body of the late President.  Fort Ilocandia’s sprawling complex south of Laoag is a great getaway up north.  Aside from the estate’s beautiful architecture, Fort Ilocandia also has great restaurants, a shooting range, paintball, archery and a variety of water sports.  It also offers a tour of the nearby Suba or Paoay sand dunes where it is now a great area for sandboarding.  Pagudpud is hailed as the “Boracay of the North,” with the gazillion tourists.   The secluded Maira-ira Beach is commonly known as the blue lagoon brings the vacationer a most sought-after relaxation, as there are hardly any visitors on these fantastic shores.  Hannah’s Resort is one of the most popular resorts where you will see a match of the mountains, Disneyland (famous Disney characters are around the area) and New York (Statue of Liberty is standing tall overseeing the whole beach resort).  Some resorts in Ilocos Norte that can be considered worth visiting are Saud Beach Resort and Hotel, Casa Victoria Beach Resort and RestaurantKapuluan Vista ResortEvangeline’s Beach ResortHannah’s Beach Resort, Polaris Beach Resort, Terra Rikka Beach & Dive Resort, Punta Garvida Resort, Punta Azul Beach ResortArinaya White Beach Resort, Keahana Beach Resort, Agua Seda, Kingfisher, Roq’s place, Northridge Beach Resort, Villa Carlina Resort, Casa Consuelo, Madrid Beach Resort, Punta Azul Beach Resort, Jun & Carol Beach Resort, Pagudpud Rinnovati, Pannzian Beach and Mountain Resort, Kapuluan Vista Resort, Alta Vista Ilocandia, Palm Grove Saud Holiday Complex, Apo Idon Beach Hotel, Villa del Nico, Maria Exaltacion Lodge, Britanya Lodge, Ria Grande De Laoag, Playa Tropical Resort Hotel.  One can also see a view of the Bangui Windmills, the magnificent power generators situated in Bangui Bay.  Dragon Fruit Farms are also becoming popular in Ilocos Norte.  locos Norte is aiming to become the “dragon fruit capital” of the Philippines.  Get a taste of the king of exotic fruits in Ilocos.  Other places and structures to see are the Kapurpurawan Rock formation and Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos Ilocos Norte, Pekkan Falls in Vintar Ilocos Norte, Madongan Dam in Dingras, Tanap Avis Falls in Burgos and many more!

Ilocos Local Foods: Ilocos Pinakbet, Batac Miki, Dinengdeng, Royal Bibingka, Tupig, Ilocos longanisa, Igado, and Bagnet

Ilocos Pinakbet, Batac Miki, Dinengdeng, Royal Bibingka, Tupig, Ilocos longanisa, Igado, Bagnet (Below are more information about Ilocos Foods that are fun to try.)

Ilocos Foods

Don’t forget to taste some of Ilocos’ sumptuous dishes, foods or drinks like Pinakbet/Pakbet, Bagnet, Dinengdeng, Empanada, Ilocos longanisa, Igado, Pinapaitan, Pakbet Pizza, Tinubong, Ilocos bibingka or suman, Igado, Dinakdakan, Batac Miki and fresh sea foods.

Empanada  Usually stuffed with pork longanisa or eggs  and vegetables rolled with rice flour colored with achuete oil for the orange color.  Some prefer vinegar or ketchup for dipping.  We have the Vigan version in Ilocos Sur and Laoag version in Ilocos Norte for this food . Each has a little bit distinct taste, but both are fun to taste.

Bagnet –  It is a crunchy pork belly (sometimes pork legs and other parts of a pig) that has been boiled, hung to dry, and then deep fried. You can find this dish both in Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.

Pakbet or Pinakbet – A mixed vegetables usually eggplants, string beans, bitter gourd, okra and lima beans stewed with shrimp paste, bagnet, tomatoes, onions, and fermented fish sauce. The authentic Ilocano version uses small round eggplants, baby bitter gourd and seldom uses squash.

Dinengdeng or Inabraw – It is a mixed vegetable soup usually made of eggplants, some types of gourd, malunggay (Moringa) or vegetable tops like potato tops, string bean tops, saluyot, alukon etc. boiled with fish sauce.  Some prefer it without meat toppings, but some are fond of mixing it with bagnet, grilled fish, or dried shrimp.

Longanisa – The sausage of  Ilocos which is made of ground pork with lots of garlic, pepper, and vinegar.  There are Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte version.  Both are sumptuous and has a distinct taste.

Tinubong –  It is made of rice flour,  coconut meat, and margarine.  It is steamed in bamboo tubes. You can buy freshly made ones in Ilocos Sur.

Tupig – It is made of rice flour usually mixed with coconut meat, milk, butter or margarine and sesame seeds wrapped in banana leaves. This food is popular in Ilocos Norte.

Igado – It is made of pork meat plus liver mixed usually with bell pepper, peas, and carrots with lots of garlic, ground black pepper, and laurel.

Dinakdakan – It is a grilled pork cut into small pieces with pork brain mixed with vinegar, some garlic, and onions.

Pinapaitan – It is a very popular dish among Ilocanos.  The dish consists of goat and ox innards and its meat flavored with bile, tamarind, and chilies.

Pakbet Pizza – Yes, it is a well-known local pizza served with mixed Ilocano veggies plus anchovy (fermented fish).  Some local Pizza stores make the authentic ones though  Pizza Hut serves them also.

Basi – It is a fermented drink made of sugar cane.  It is Filipino’s inexpensive wine and wine lovers are fond of buying them anywhere in Ilocos. Some are homemade by the neighborhood.

Bibingka – Ilocos makes the best bibingka.  There is a hotspot in Ilocos Sur where buses stop for a taste of local freshly made bibingka.  It is made of rice flour or grated potato mixed with coconut milk, coconut meat, butter or margarine and cheese usually seated on banana leaves and grilled slowly to perfection.

Batac Miki – It is a noodle soup made of egg noodles simmered in homemade broths topped with bagnet and hard boiled eggs.  Miki is very popular in Ilocos but you can find the best ones in the plaza of Batac.

Lastly, Ilocanos are known for eating the well known “bagoong” (fermented fish) and a lot of sea foods. They are usually part of every Ilocano dining. There is much to explore about foods in the locality. Don’t forget to take home some good stuff if you think they are good for a present to your loved ones. You can also buy some of the locally grown or made products like garlic, tobacco, Ilocos vinegar and Ilocos wine for a cheaper price in the area.

Hundred Islands, Pangasinan

Hundred Islands, Alaminos, Pangasinan. (Find out more information about scenic spots to visit in Ilocos including La Union and Pangasinan in this article.)



La Union and Pangasinan

There are cool places to see when you reach La UnionAgoo-Damortis National Seashore is a great place to see.  It is declared the National Park in the municipality of Agoo, La Union.  Another one is San Juan Beach.  It is the “Surfing Capital of the North”, with stretched white sand beach facing the South China Sea and it is a must-go place for anyone who loves to surf and has a passion for water sports. The ideal surfing months are from November to February.  If you are on a road trip through a rented or private vehicle, you may consider going a little bit west of La Union to see the beautiful province of Pangasinan. Hundred Islands National Park is the coolest place to see in the province. This national park is famous for the beautiful islets dotting the coast of Alaminos City.  Cape Bolinao Lighthouse is great to see also. This lighthouse standing at Bolinao, Pangasinan was built by the Americans in 1903 on a 300-feet high promontory at the western section of Cape Bolinao.  Up to now it still sends signals to vessels passing by the nearby sea.  Manlaleuag National Park is another must-see place.  This forest area was declared as a National Park in 1940 and is a host to both scientists and tourists interested in the environment.

Learn the Ilocano Language

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Ilocos Foods 

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