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Visit to Vigan, Ilocos Sur and Dingras, Ilocos Norte

We didn’t really plan to go to Ilocos last Holy Week, but this Ilocos tour was one of the travel adventures that our family really enjoyed.

Everyone in the family, including extended family members — Nanay and my husband’s brother’s and sister’s family — wanted to go, so we all went to Ilocos. The trip was set at 9 pm on Wednesday and it seemed to me that it wasn’t really a great idea because of the traffic. I was told that the trip will take 10 to 12 hours to reach Dingras, Ilocos Sur (my husband’s province), but it took us about 17 hours just to reach Vigan, Ilocos Sur. That is because many people are going out of the metro for the long holiday.

Day 1 of our Ilocos Tour

So, at about 2 pm on Thursday, the first place we visited during this Ilocos tour is Vigan, Ilocos Sur. We went to Chavit Singson’s Baluwarte. Entrance to this mini zoo park is free, but some perks require a minimal fee.  The park features several zoo animals like the tiger, ostrich, camel, sheep, snake, etc. Children can ride a pony or a calesa pulled by a pony. There are also photo shoot opps with a talking parrot and some mascot. There was also a scheduled animal show that visitors can watch for free.

Chavit Singson's Baluarte
Chavit Singson's Baluarte

The next place we visited was Vigan’s famous Calle Crisologo. It’s a preserved street in Vigan featuring antique Spanish houses. Many tourists walk down this street and look at the different Ilocos’ products and souvenir items for sale in the shops lining the street. Tourists can also ride the calesa here.

Calle Crisologo, Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Calle Crisologo at Vigan, Ilocos Sur

From Calle Crisologo, we took a brief tour of Vigan City while riding a calesa. The calesa ride cost P150 for 4 people. It lasted maybe 15-20 minutes, then we’re back to where we began in Calle Crisologo. I wish the guy told something about the different places we passed by, but I guess that would make the ride more expensive.

Groufie at Calle Crisologo

It was almost 6 pm when we decided to go on with our trip to Dingras, Ilocos Norte, where we will be staying while we continue with our Ilocos tour. Because my husband’s relatives/friends live in the area, we had a good place to stay and we are really grateful to them. After a hearty dinner, we took our baths and went to bed.

Day 2 of our Ilocos Tour

The next day, Friday, we failed to get up early. After breakfast, we visited Nanay’s siblings and their family who live in the area. It was my first time to meet almost all of them. After some exchange of stories, it was already time for lunch.

After lunch, we head out to a nearby place to cool off — the Madongan Dam. It was not like the modern resorts we usually see. It was lacking in facilities, but it was beautiful and the running water from the dam was clean, cold and really refreshing. You really can’t swim here because the water is just knee-high. Just enjoy splashing water at each other. And see how many people are having their free massage from the strong waterfall from the dam.

Madongan Dam
My sons and nephews enjoying the cool water at Madongan Dam

The only thing I don’t like here is having to walk on stones/pebbles/gravel. I did not want to wet my sandals, so I walked barefooted. The entrance fee to this place is just P10 per head and P10 for the parking fee. The cottage by the river is P400-500. There are some stores here selling food like chips and softdrinks.

We left Madongan Dam at 5 pm. When we arrived in the place where we were staying, we watched a bit of the long procession that the local Catholics do during Holy Friday. Some of them were also barefooted as a sign of sacrifice.

This day is actually my husband’s birthday and our 16th wedding anniversary. It’s the first time that this day fell on a Holy Friday. To have a very simple celebration, we just asked someone to cook Pansit and then we bought Chooks roasted chicken. Then, our family, relatives and some friends ate dinner together.

Day 3 of our Ilocos Tour

The following day, Saturday, we had to wake up earlier because we wanted to go visit more places. On the itinerary were the Bangui Windmills, the Burgos Lighthouse, the Paoay Sand Dunes and the Paoay Church.

On the way to Bangui Wind Farm, we made one stop at a beach along the road. We just went there to have some pictures taken.

It wasn’t that long yet when there was a drizzle, so we immediately rode our vehicles to go to see the Bangui Windmills. I thought there were hundreds of windmills out there, but I read there are only 20 windmills along the beach. It was an amazing sight.

Bangui Windmills
Bangui Windmills

Bangui Windmills

We bought some windmill souvenirs – keychain and pencil holder. It’s cheaper here than buying at Baluarte or Calle Crisologo.

Before going to see the lighthouse, we had our lunch in a small plaza with food stalls. After lunch, off we went to Burgos Lighthouse, also called Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, which was built in 1892. We needed to take a short/long hike to reach this architecture (Nanay rode a tricycle). As you would expect, the lighthouse is on top of a hill and it is overlooking the sea. Another beautiful sight that you don’t see everyday.

Burgos Lighthouse
Burgos Lighthouse

Afterward, our next stop is what our teen companions were really looking forward to — the Paoay Sand Dunes. It’s the perfect place for adventure seekers. People come here to rent a 4×4 jeep with driver and drive through the sand dunes. They say that it’s like a roller coaster ride; so if you have a heart disease, you should not try this adventure ride or you may get a heart attack. But for those who are looking for an adrenaline rush, you should not miss this. Some people rent an ATV and others go sand boarding.

4x4 ride at Paoay Sand Dunes
Enjoying the 4x4 Jeep ride at Paoay Sand Dunes

The 4×4 ride payment is P1,500 per 5 persons for 30 minutes; it is P2,500 for one hour. The teens took their ride for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the little kids who were very sad for not joining the ride just went hiking on a little sand hill in the area. Upon reaching the top, they had their stunning photo shoot.

After this adventure, we went to our last stop for the day — Paoay church. It’s almost sunset when we arrived in the place.

Paoay Church at night
Paoay Church at night
We just stayed awhile, took pictures and then went to my husband’s relative’s house for dinner. I think one of the really good things that happened during this trip is the bonding between the family and relatives.

Day 4 -Going Home

Well, our vacation is almost over. We still have so many places that we want to visit including Pagudpud and some other historical places in Ilocos. I guess we just need to come back again someday.

Today, we’re set to travel back to Manila. I hoped that it would not take us 17 hours again. It did not. We left after lunch at about 1 pm and we arrived in Manila at about 3 am. It took us 14 hours — good enough.

Have you been to Ilocos? What other places in Ilocos do you think we should visit next time?


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