Around 10 to 12 hours away from Metro Manila, Ilocos Norte has been overshadowed by its southern neighbor Vigan City as the must-see destination up north due to its proximity and due to several similarities especially the food and culture. However, if you can take another six-hour ride, Ilocos Norte can widen and diversify your Ilocandia experience.
Listed here are top destinations in the province from north to south. Also try to go outside the places in this guide and discover other nice places in Ilocos Norte.
The northernmost town of Ilocos Norte, Pagudpud has attracted a lot of attention recently as a popular destination because of its pristine beaches and clear waters. Popular beaches include Saud Beach, Blue Lagoon Beach and Hannah’s Beach Resort. Spend a night in one of these resorts or homestay with the locals. Then just pay an entrance fee when you want to hang out in the well-maintained beaches.
After spending a good time in the sea, rinse yourself at the refreshing natural waters of Agua Grande. The freshwater is from the springs and falls that drain towards the sea. There are swimming pools filled with freshwater and there’s also a river where you can sit on giant rocks and enjoy the rapids. Before going back, enjoy the coastal scenery of the ocean meeting the mountains when you pass by the Patapat Viaduct, the 5th longest bridge in the country.
Bangui Wind Farm
The largest wind farm not only in the Philippines but in all of Southeast Asia, Bangui Wind Farm generates a total of up to 33 MW. Lined up in a 9-km stretch off Bangui Bay, each wind turbine in the wind farm is 70-m high. The wind turbines cannot be unseen when you pass by Bangui and nearby areas, so just go and take a longer look. The view of the wind farm with the West Philippine Sea in the background is like no other.
La Paz Sand Dunes in Laoag
The La Paz Sand Dunes is a large part of the Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes, which was declared a National Geological Monument by the National Committee on Geological Sciences. With an estimated area of 85 sq km, it acts as a giant beach overlooking the West Philippine Sea. Composed of sand dunes that 10 to 30 m in height, available adventurous activities include sand boarding and riding an ATV or a 4×4.
Only 30 minutes away from Laoag, Paoay is home to the Saint Augustine Church or more popularly known as Paoay Church. Constructed in 1710, the church is part of the collective Baroque Churches of the Philippines, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Close to the church is the infamous Malacañang of the North, which offers a picturesque view of the Paoay Lake. It was the official residence of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos and his family whenever they stayed in Ilocos Norte. Bongbong Marcos, his son, claimed ownership of the property in 2014. But the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court said that the property is a national park and hence, is an “inalienable public domain.”