The Ilocos region lies 10-12 hours away from Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines. It is made up of Ilocos Norte (north) and Ilocos Sur (south) and is a popular place for photography enthusiasts because of its picturesque towns and landscapes.
There are a lot of places to see in Ilocos and you need to spend at least 5 days to appreciate the region; 2-3 days if you just want to drop by and take pictures. I would always recommend booking a hotel and staying longer but if you only have the weekend, here are the to visit.
Top 5 Ilocos Tourist Spots
Pagudpud is a coastal town in Ilocos Norte and is the northernmost settlement in Luzon. It’s gifted with gorgeous white sand beaches that are ideal for swimming and surfing.
If you want to avoid the crowd, don’t go during summer (March to early June) and during the surf season which starts in October. We went in September and the beach was ours!
Don’t miss the Patapat Viaduct, which connects Ilocos and Cagayan Valley, and Kabigan Falls.
2. Ilocos Windmills
The windfarm in Ilocos Norte is one of the only two major windfarms in the Philippines. The other one is located in Mindoro. The most accessible windmills are located in Bangui, about 20 minutes away from Pagudpud.
The windmills are a magnificent sight. Set against the beautiful Bangui Bay, it’s a great spot for pictorials.
3. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
The rocky coast of Burgos is a must-visit. The rugged beauty of the landscape transports you into an entirely different place and time.
Kapurpurawan is the most popular rock formation. When I visited a few years ago, we were still allowed to climb the rock. Unfortunately, irresponsible tourists started leaving ugly marks on the walls of the rocks so the government closed the area and erected a viewing deck a few meters away.
4. Paoay Church
Because the Philippines was colonised by the Spaniards for over 300 years, old Spanish structures are evident all over the country. The Spanish churches give some insight into what the Philippines used to be and the lives of Filipinos under the foreign rule.
Paoay Church or Saint Augustine Church is one of the most magnificent churches I have seen in the country. It was completed in 1710 and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
5. Vigan Heritage Town
Vigan is like a Spanish town stuck in time. With old (some crumbling) buildings, horse-drawn carriages, and cobblestone streets, Vigan Heritage Town is a photographer’s paradise. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Getting to Ilocos
The most popular way to get to Ilocos is by bus. You can also rent a car from Manila so you can enjoy the scenic drive. If you have more money to spend, I would suggest flying to the town of Laoag, Ilocos Norte. The flight only takes about an hour.