Vigan is a historic town located in the province of Ilocos Sur in the Philippines. The city is riddled with old buildings built during the Spanish colonial era and this is especially true in the Vigan Heritage Village, where a street called Calle Crisologo is famous for preserved buildings built in the 1800s or even earlier.
Vigan Heritage Village
Getting out of the bus terminal, you will witness a typical Filipino tourist village setting with food stalls, tricycles, and occasional persistent villagers offering you a tour around the place. (Tip: Don’t say yes to them unless you’re extremely good at bargaining or if you have a local with you.) You will also get a glimpse of old buildings around but most of those have already been reconstructed, repaired, or totally abandoned. The last time we went there, we came across a funeral procession where they used an elaborate horse-drawn carriage instead of a modern hearse. Pretty old school!
After politely refusing the tour guides’ offers and if the weight of your backpack permits, walk around Vigan Heritage village and enjoy the daily life scenes. More often than not, you will chance upon a tourist or two, buried in their maps, trying to locate the famous Calle Crisologo. Why is everyone looking for it, you ask?
The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage site which makes it famous among local and foreign travellers but Calle Crisologo (Crisologo Street), which is inside Vigan Heritage Village, is what the city is known for. It is where you will find some of the oldest preserved Spanish-style houses (everything is ancient from massive hardwood floors to tile roofs). Some of those have been turned into hotels, cafes, restaurants, souvenir and antique shops. The street is also made of cobblestones.
The street is off limits to commuters so instead of cars, you will find carriages (locally known as kalesa). They will also offer you tours around the city and you will be charged per hour. A good way to make sure you don’t get overcharged is to book a tour through your hotel.
Don’t forget to go out during dusk and bring your camera!
Vigan Heritage Village can be reached by plane from Manila to Laoag, then a bus from Laoag to Vigan. You can also take a bus straight from Manila to Vigan or travel by rental car but this takes about 8-10 hours.